Who is the Best Dumbledore? Paul & Mike Debate!

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We’re about to get the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, and with it, we’re getting Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore, and frankly, he looks amazing.  There is a chance he could be the best Dumbledore, but for the time being, let’s discuss the two Dumbledores that we’ve had real experience with; the old Dumbledores.

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First there was Richard Harris, who started off the Harry Potter films as Dumbledore in the first two installments.  At the time, Richard Harris was seen as perfect.  Then, he passed away, and they cast Michael Gambon who played the character until the final film in that series.  Since the final film, I hear people often refer to him as the superior Dumbledore, in fact Paul and I had a discussion about this a few months ago when the first trailers came out for FB2, and we both landed on opposite sides of the Harris/Gambon coin, so my hope is that Paul will write an argument defending his side, and you can decide for yourselves (although I’m right).

14A9E09B-B8CD-4FF2-8C75-FC5BA786D3C3Richard Harris is the better Dumbledore.  The complaints that I hear most often about Harris’ Dumbledore is that he’s too stuffy, and too serious.  I disagree.

You see, Albus Dumbledore, is supposed to be the wisest, most proficient wizard the world has ever seen. He’s the Stephen Hawking of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When you reach that level, there are responsibilities that come with the job, and part of those responsibilities, is playing the part in order to be taken seriously.  Dumbledore has a public face, and a private face.  We get the Dumbledore who sounds like a drone addressing the entirety of Hogwarts, and we get the private moments, with someone like Harry, someone who also is thrust into the ‘fame’ of the wizarding world, in which he’s playful.

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People think of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore as the guy who woodenly says “well done Slytherin, well done Slytherin” in the great hall when announcing the final house points at the end of the first film, but another moment just before that is the reality of Richard Harris’ Dumbledore.  When he’s addressing Harry alone, in the medical ward, and he has the conversation about “it’s a complete secret, so naturally the entire school knows,” and picks a ‘toffee’ Bernie Botts Every Flavor Bean, only to discover “alas earwax” with a playful sigh.

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He has the twinkle in his eye, of a man who understands this is all a bit goofy, but I have to keep up appearances in order to accomplish my goals, but with someone like Harry, I get to let that guard down, because he too is going to be a pivotal piece in the oncoming war.

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The reason I don’t think Gambon is as good, is because Gambon’s Dumbledore is always what the ‘private’ version of Dumbledore should be.  He doesn’t have a wise public face.  Is that something I admire in a person in real life? Yes.  Is it Dumbledore? I don’t think so.  Gambon’s obviously not a bad Dumbledore, in fact, if he were the only Dumbledore, he’d probably score higher with me personally, but to me, Harris is the Dumbledore of the books manifested into reality, and Gambon is a ‘take’ on Dumbledore.

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Now, in the trailers for FB2, we’ve yet to see Dumbledore interacting with anyone but Newt (that I can think of) and so it’s unclear to me if he’ll be what I want, or slightly different, but I’m very enthusiastic to find out.

Which do you think is the better Dumbledore, tell me in the comments below!

Paul’s Response: WHY MICHAEL GAMBON IS THE BETTER DUMBLEDORE…

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

I was very excited when Mike suggested that I propose a counter argument to his conclusion about which actor is the best on screen Dumbledore: Harris or Gambon? (We’re leaving Jude Law out for the time being). To be clear, I’m going to be talking about both the novels and the films in this article. So let’s get to it!

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Well, Mike is correct, I do think that Gambon is the superior Dumbledore. However, before I make my case for why I think Gambon is the better Dumbledore, I think it’s important to express how I view Dumbledore as a character. After all, I think we need to define who Dumbledore is before we can decide who better played the character.

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If there’s one thing we know about the magical community depicted in Harry Potter, it’s that they LOVE their heroes and villains. Whether it’s Dumbledore, Harry, Snape, Voldemort, Grindelwald, Sirius Black, or countless others, people in this world love to cast individuals as the champion of all that’s good or the ultimate evil. Yet in all the examples, I’ve listed above, it’s never been that simple. Dumbledore embodies the idea that people we love, respect, and look up to, people who we think have all the answers, are all too human. Understanding that our mentor figures aren’t perfect is part of growing up.

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Mike argues that we get a stiff and wooden Dumbledore from Richard Harris because the character is playing the part of the stoic, responsible, all knowing leader of the wizarding community. But that’s just not who Dumbledore is, I think that’s just Harris’ performance. In the novels, from the start, in public and in private he was a playful character. He was always way more Gandalf The Grey than Gandalf The White. It’s ironic that I think my perfect casting for the Dumbledore of the books would be Ian McKellan. Because Gandalf really is the archetypal wizard. However, I do agree that Dumbledore the character uses his persona and reputation, but not out of a sense of responsibility. He uses that persona to get what he wants and manipulate people.

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Mike makes the point that Dumbledore is supposed to be “the wisest and most proficient wizard the world has ever seen”. Well, is Dumbledore one of, if not, THE greatest wizard of all time? Probably. But, wisest? I’m not so sure… and I don’t think Dumbledore is either. Mike’s right, there’s definitely a duality to Dumbledore, but I don’t see it the same way he does.

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Another beloved pop culture character that’s a great parallel to Dumbledore is Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. On the surface, they both appear to be saintly, wise, saviors, father figures who always know what to do. However, for both men, the truth is much darker. They’re manipulative, they have dark secrets, and most importantly they exploit their reputation to get people to follow and trust them even when they have no fucking idea what they’re doing. They’re even willing to sacrifice the lives of people who put their faith in them in the name of a greater good. In Dumbledore’s case, you could argue that his entire relationship with Harry is about fattening a pig for slaughter. I’ll admit, I was playing a little bit of devil’s advocate there, but I do think there’s some truth to the idea that Harry was a pawn in Dumbledore’s war with Voldemort.

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Both in the films and the books, Dumbledore isn’t afraid to be playful and mischievous even under serious circumstances. Like his many confrontations wth The Ministry of Magic, for example. He often feels like a comedian playing to an audience of one (himself). Like his iconic escape from being arrested by The Ministry, vanishing in a burst of flame with Fawkes, his Phoenix,. in Order of The Phoenix. It’s spoken by Kingsley  Shaklebolt in the film, but in the book, one of the portraits in Dumbledore’s office delivers the immortal line to The Minister of Magic: “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts… but you cannot deny he’s got style…”.

Richard Harris was 72 when he passed away, but as Dumbledore he looked, sounded, and moved like he was 100. There are a lot of older actors who can pull off action, but I just don’t see Richard Harris’ Dumbledore pulling off that insane duel with Voldemort in The Ministry of Magic.

Dumbledore should never feel feeble, despite his age and I think with Gambon he never did.  Dumbledore needed to be a somewhat physical character. Harris looks like he’s in a wheel chair. A lot of this is moot because Harris only had 2 movies to develop this character and the vast majority of important Dumbledore moments are later in the series, when Gambon has taken the reins.

We see very little of the nuances I’ve described here from Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore. To be fair, I think that had the full series been published, when the cast started crafting these characters on screen, they may have made different performance choices. For example, though I love Snape and the late great Alan Rickman, perhaps he would have chewed a little bit less scenery had he known where the character’s story was going. Maybe Richard Harris would have put some more nuance into his performance as Dumbledore. Gambon got the juiciest Dumbledore material. The series doesn’t really hit it’s stride and become the classic that it is until the 3rd book. Unfortunately,  because of his death we never got to see how he would have handled some of the biggest Dumbledore moments in the series. With all due respect to Mike, Harris is probably the most miscast character in the series. One of the reasons I’m so excited for “Fantastic Beasts Have You Seen Them, Oh Johnny Depp’s Committing Some Crimes Now, He’s In The Case Too, They’re All In There 2” (Thank you, Mr. Sunday Movies) is because we may finally get a Dumbledore as rich and interesting as he is in the novels. Because let’s be honest in the context of all 7 book, Richard Harris simply does not work as the legendary Albus Dumbledore.

Anyway, thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the debate!

-Paul & Mike

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TRAILER: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Fantastic Beasts 2)!

Hi everyone,

The final trailer for the second installment of Fantastic Beasts dropped about an hour ago, give it a watch and then scroll down to see what I thought about it:

The first thing that I want to talk about is Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne.  Newt was amazing in the first one, and I absolutely loved what he brought to the table, but there had been some rumors that he was going to be downplayed in this film due to audience response.  I’m glad to see that this trailer looks like that isn’t true.

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Newt is a great protagonist because he’s so different from the archetypal male protagonists we’re used to in action films, unlike the universe’s namesake Harry Potter.  I mean, I love the original movies, but did you ever notice that Harry’s magical method is shouting his incantations and spells as loud as possible to make them as powerful as possible?  He’s a bit of a yeller.  Newt on the other hand is soft spoken, and it took people off guard, because they weren’t used to it, but it lent the series some real rounding out.  There’s a great video all about Newt and his ‘Fantastic Masculinity’ that I think is really eye opening, and interesting.

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So that’s my first big take away, based on rumors and my own expectations.  The second is Grindelwald himself.  Now, I loved Colin Farrell in the first film, and I have to be completely honest, I was not happy to find out we were getting a Johnny Depp filled film in the sequel (and possible the three films after this).  I’m one of the many “Johnny Depp hasn’t been reined in enough” viewers, and was worried we’d get another ‘cartoon-y’ performance.  The trailer has a lot of Depp, and it appears as if he’s riding that same sweet spot of eccentric, but not too weird, that launched him into performances like Jack Sparrow.  So I remain cautiously optimistic.  The bleached white hair, and the accent aren’t a great sign, but he never fully crosses the goofy line.

The third part is Jude Law.  I think most Potter fans were excited to see him as Dumbledore when the first pictures were released. However, seeing him in action in this confirms for me that he’s going to be awesome.  I think Jude Law is great casting, but also they seem to have Dumbledore in a more youthful, but still Dumbledorian role, relegated to being the chess master in the background again.  I think too much Dumbledore could ruin the mystique, and so this is a great decision.

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With Dumbledore, many of the fans were nervous that he wasn’t going to be directly expressing his homosexuality in this film, and I don’t know how overt it will be in the film (I’m personally game for any level), but he does tell Newt, that he cannot be the main one to oppose Grindelwald, and there is a shot that seems to show Dumbledore sadly pining for his lost love.  I imagine this is included in the trailer to appease the nervous fans, and basically say “you may not see them making out, but Dumbledore loves Grindelwald.”  Which I personally think makes sense, because it seemed as if their love happened as children and it’s over at this point.

The last thing I want to touch upon, is that they’re bringing back the main cast from the first movie and I’m thrilled about it.  I loved the three supporting characters, and I really think they helped to flesh out the differences between the muggle and wizard worlds. While also differentiating Newt from Harry.

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I’ve been very excited about this film since I saw the first one, but today after watching this trailer I’m more excited than ever. This looks awesome to me.  Comment below and let us know what you think about the trailer, whether or not you’re psyched for the movie, and whatever else this trailer stirs up in you!

What I Want to See: DCEU

It was announced today, that Henry Cavill is no longer going to be the live action Superman in the DCEU.  It was recently confirmed (and long rumored) that Ben Affleck was not going to be Batman in the DCEU.  So, the DCEU is down 2 of their three most iconic characters, and many people are speculating a ‘soft reboot’ of the DCEU in general.  Of their 5 films so far, the only success across the board (critics/fans/box office) has been Wonder Woman, and so this might make sense to do.  Especially since Wonder Woman and the upcoming sequel take place before the events of the other 4 films released so far.

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Now, I personally think this reboot idea will likely take some of its cues from what happens with December’s Aquaman film.  We already saw Jason Mamoa as the character in Justice League, and I’ve heard virtually no complaints about him, but an Aquaman stand-alone will be a completely different thing, and so we really won’t know until it comes out.

There is also the forthcoming Shazam, scheduled for next April.  Now, Shazam hasn’t appeared in the DCEU previously, so if Aquaman tanks and they go full steam ahead on the reboot, Shazam could be part of the ‘new’ universe, or if Aquaman is a success, it could be tailored into the ‘newish/soft reboot/whatever they’re going to call it.’

maxresdefaultI knew nothing about this character, and the trailer sold me.

So let’s make the assumption that some kind of reboot is going to happen, and I will tell you what I want to see with that.  Ok?

I want to see this reboot build characters individually.  I’m not saying not to put Easter eggs, or slight references to each other, but let’s not get to the second movie before we have a full blown cross over.  If in Wonder Woman ’84 we see some story about a ‘meteorological event’ which implies Kal El’s (Superman) arrival, that’s fine, but I don’t want Jason Mamoa or Shazam or anyone else to show up.  Get several stand alone films under your belts, like you should have done the first time around.

ntgk14lkrtl11Thanos’ snap was more powerful than we all realized.

The second thing that I want to see happen, is I don’t want Superman and Batman to show up for a while.  It might sound dumb, and I’m sure people hate hearing about the MCU as a model, but Marvel didn’t have access to their A listers when they started, and it forced them to build characters and not assume we knew who they were, it forced them to get creative and be better story tellers.  I think Batman and Superman are too iconic to start.  Let’s deal with Shazam, and Cyborg, and other characters that the general film going audience that aren’t comic book readers aren’t familiar with, and start world building through them.  There is some brand recognition with characters like Flash and Green Lantern, but use those characters to bridge the gap between the audience who know nothing, and the audience who totally get it.  Then once you’re several successes deep, you can start introducing Superman and Batman.  This exercise, will also help you to understand how to create those characters more memorably, to not be coming at them as the icons they are to the general public, but to fill in and establish all of the layers that have comic book fans hooked.

What I Want to See: The Women Of The MCU

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I finally saw Ant-Man and The Wasp yesterday, and I realized something, Hope Van Dyne is my favorite female character in the MCU. Realizing that made me reflect on the role of women in the MCU.

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It’s been pretty well discussed among critics and fans that for a while the MCU had a female problem.  Despite Black Widow having been introduced in the third (of 20 so far) MCU films, she took a long time to gain prominence in screen time, or plot relevance (I’m not sure we’ve even seen her have more screen time or relevance to the story, than anyone but Hawkeye).  Fans were asking for a Black Widow film, and Marvel Studios’ response was something along the lines of “when it’s right we’ll do it”. which at the time probably felt like a cop-out, but they were having the same complaints made about having a non-white main character and they were giving the same response. At the time, it really felt like the MCU had a diversity problem, but in fairness they tried to address the problem. They quickly began to introduce characters like Sam Wilson as the Falcon, Rhodey to be War Machine/Iron Patriot started to have a larger role and more screen time, they added Scarlett Witch to the team, for example. Many argued this was a half measure, they were all secondary characters and not a solution to the problem. They were definitely steps in the right direction and they filled in some gaps. It was very clear that women and non-white males needed to be the titles characters of their own movies.

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Black Widow’s 1st Appearance In The MCU: Iron Man 2

The MCU started using crossovers and the team films to be able to add new characters, layer their universe, and make it more three dimensional.  In Civil War, we were introduced to the MCU version of Spider-Man and finally Black Panther. Pretty quickly, it was clear that both would be getting their own films, but the MCU as a single cohesive piece was more important, so they tend not to rush into things and it payed off.

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Shuri stole the show in Black Panther.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big success, but Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther showed us that the MCU could handle a film with a non-white main character, a majority non-white cast, and come out with a critical and box office smash.  Black Panther not only stood on its own two feet, but it absolutely crushed the competition. The two most prominent white characters are played by Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Both are well established actors, but they’re certainly not mega-stars like Tom Cruise or Matt Damon.

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The second crucial thing Black Panther did, was almost double the MCU’s roster current of important, strong female characters.  Prior to this what did we have?  Scarlett Witch, is a decent character, but I personally don’t think she’s nearly as fleshed out as she could be.  Black Widow, tends to be used more in her relationship with which ever male hero needs her (i.e. in Winter Soldier with Cap, or in Age of Ultron with Bruce/Hulk).  Pepper?  I think we’re all honestly surprised when Pepper pops up for a cameo anymore, but really she isn’t much more fleshed out than Friday.  Jane Foster, might have been a good addition, except it seems that Natalie Portmant doesnt have much interest in playing Jane Foster anymore. So that’s not entirely the fault of the MCU.  The only two pre-Black Panther characters that seemed to be totally realized and fleshed out female characters were Gamora and Hope Van Dyne. In Ant-Man, Hope is the most capable character, the main character arc belongs to Scott Lang.

7841C1EC-837C-4572-95B8-B2F6AB8B6C5F         In Black Panther, we got three really great female characters in; Shuri (who is strong willed, intelligent, competitive, funny); Nakia who almost forces T’Challa to play the ‘fawning love-interest’ character due to her commitment to bettering Africa and the world; and Okoye who is one of the fiercest normal humans in the MCU.  Would you want to fight Okoye?  Do you think you could outsmart Shuri on literally anything?  Do you have more compassion for any group of people than Nakia does?  They’re all incredible, and while they have their ‘defining’ attributes, they’re not only those things.  Shuri is funny, and brave.  Nakia is in love with T’Challa, but refuses to let that be her guiding principal. Okoye, despite being a total bad-ass is also a loving girlfriend/wife (they don’t really say) who also stands up to her love when he is on the wrong side.

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Black Panther pushed us further toward the MCU ‘sweet spot. Now we have Ant-Man and The Wasp and it’s the first time in the MCU that a woman is one of the title characters.  The Wasp does not disappoint.  She’s the most bad-ass fighter in the film, she totally shows up Ant-Man and even the pseudo-villain Ghost. She’s a dedicated, intelligent woman trying to be reunited her mother.

16E15BD3-B591-433C-B06D-F73F450B36E324F37A45-717D-4396-97BA-B180D2B8C407Something Hope/Wasp and the women of Black Panther manage to do, is balance the characters between being what we want in super-heroes while not removing their femininity.  They also don’t play on any female stereotypes or tropes. We don’t see any of the female characters being played as ’emotionally erratic,’ while also not playing them off as unfeeling.  It’s a hard balance that Hollywood in general has difficulty was and the MCU has done pretty well avoiding those pitfalls. Which is really impressive considering that so far, all the directors in the MCU has been mad.

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So what do I want to see when it comes to females in the MCU? That leads us to Captain Marvel.  For Captain Marvel, we’re going to get our first female (solo) title character.  We’re also going to get our first female director (co-director, but to be fair, Anna Boden has directed all of her films with her husband Ryan Fleck).  I really want Captain Marvel to be great.  I want it to be as great as Black Panther and a game changer in the same way Black Panther was. I want Captain Marvel to be an amazing character with depth, but also a total bad-ass.  The DCEU had their only smash success to date with Wonder Woman because it’s a genuinely good film. I hope Captain Marvel is at least as good (perhaps with a better villain). Because Captain Marvel will not have the momentum of being the first like Wonder Woman was, but it does need to be successful.  One of the major takeaways from Black Panther and Wonder Woman was that people respond to diversity in their entertainment. However, if a movie like Captain Marvel fails, Hollywood probably won’t learn the right lesson from it.  They won’t say “oh Captain Marvel sucked, let’s try a Black Widow film instead!”, they’re more likely to say “oh maybe Wonder Woman was an anomaly and the audiences don’t really want female lead superhero movies.”  It’s bullshit logic, but as I’ve written before Hollywood almost always learns the wrong lessons.

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If Captain Marvel has some great action set pieces and the character is as well developed and well acted as Hope Van Dyne, Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, and Gamora, I think they’ll have a hit on their hands. If that happens Hollywood will do more to replicate it.  The MCU has done a great job creating this universe and I’m confident that Captain Marvel will not be an exception to that rule. I know I’m really excited.

D9297F0E-0085-4D54-9786-6A3A8D4C8636Because, honestly?  I love watching great women characters, especially when they kick ass.  That’s so much more interesting to me than the damsel in distress. I don’t know maybe I’m not ‘alpha’ enough, but something I find attractive (not just on a romantic/sexual level, but attractive in a friend, or in my wife, or when I’m proud of my sister ) is characters/people who have passion. It’s what we admire about male characters right?  You love that Tony Stark is pursuing (albeit awfully) the betterment of human kind through science, or that Captain America is passionate about the ideals of freedom and what America is supposed to be.  Why wouldn’t we look for the same in our female characters? I never understood that.

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So, what I want to see, is an excellent Captain Marvel movie, and if there is a love interest, I hope it’s not shoe-horned in.  After that, I hope that Captain Marvel opens us up to more female lead films in the MCU.  I’m patient, I know it won’t be overnight, but with a few more hits in Phase Four, and then they’ll be on a roll.

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Written by Michael Cole

Solo: Learning the Wrong Lessons!

 

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There’s a quote from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Once again you’ve put your keen and penetrating mind to the task and as usual come to the wrong conclusion!” said by Sirius Black to Severus Snape.  The quote is one of my favorites, and I cannot think of a place where it seems to apply more than Hollywood.

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If you somehow break through and make a movie about a woman who makes falls in love with a water balloon, the lesson that Hollywood would take from that is “water balloons are sexy” and you’d see some crazy slate of movies in which water balloons have sex with hot women, and drive fast cars, and airplanes, and stuff.  (Sorry about all the water balloons but I’m sitting next to a bag full of balloons, so it was the weirdest thing in eye shot.)CC061DFE-2E9C-46D1-9B5F-B81599E0CFA5We’ve seen Hollywood learn the wrong lesson from successes too many times to count, (i.e. all of the Jaws sequels, and Piranha movies and so many others).  But we also see them learn the lesson from failures.  This can be really upsetting to me personally, because it often means something is abandoned early due to the wrong reasons, and who likes their movie franchises ended early?

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The latest victim of this problem, seems to be Star Wars.  I wrote about Solo a few weeks ago, but let me catch you up.  The film seemed like a bad idea, but it was a good movie.  So now, almost a month after it’s release Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that they’re reconsidering Star Wars spin-offs due to its failure.

So let’s talk about its failure, and yes it seems it is undeniably a financial failure (although the budget hasn’t been released so it’s difficult to tell exactly).  First of all, you released 3 Star Wars 3 Decembers in a row, and they were all very successful.  Is that because the films were excellent?  I’ve liked them all, but there is a fair amount of debate on the quality of each.  A huge reason for their success was the fact that December doesn’t have much for general audiences, it’s prestige film season, which leaves the “blockbuster” crowd open.  That cannot be underestimated as a factor in their success.  Solo however, came out just 6 months after TLJ in May.  May was the traditional time for Star Wars in the previous 2 trilogies, but May’s were not as packed with action films in those years, and movies had multiple weeks (in some cases months) to rule the box office.  This year we had Avengers: Infinity War (also a Disney film, which should be a double no-no for packing them in the same 30-day period) which was the biggest film of the year (and has the potential to be the top of the decade) was released a month before, then Deadpool was released a week before, and just three weeks after Solo, came the Incredibles (again Disney, wtf were you thinking?  Spread it out more).

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So that’s the first problem, Disney put Solo out with the biggest films of the year, and even by Star Wars standards it shouldn’t have.  It’s far from the largest story, or the biggest impact in that universe.  The second problem is confidence.

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Solo suffered from a few pieces of confidence undercutting.  After the fact that many of us didn’t think the idea was a good idea, there were the production ‘issues,’ with Lord and Miller getting fired mid-production, Ron Howard having to take over and needing to reshoot (which involved recasting at least one role), and then lastly there was the rumors of Alden Ehrenreich needing and acting coach.  None of these would add up to confidence boosting, then we didn’t see a trailer until February which seemed very late in the game for a film of this size.  And lastly, TLJ, it’s a pretty split popularity, but when 50% of the audience thinks the film was a crap-fest, and think Disney has ‘ruined Star Wars,’ six months may not be enough time to cleanse their palettes.

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Let me offer an example of a time when the correct lesson was learned, and how it may benefit you to follow in those footsteps.  On November 23rd 1963, the BBC aired the pilot of Doctor Who, and it did really poorly in the ratings that night.  The executive in charge was on the side of canceling the show after the first episode, because obviously the whole thing was going to be a flop, but the creator was opposed to that.  She argued that the show had suffered from the whole world being consumed by JFK’s assassination the day before, and that if they reaired the pilot a week later, that would be a more realistic example of how the show would do.  She was right, and the show continued for 26 years before being canceled (and then rebooted, and now having 50 years, 3 movies, and 36 seasons altogether).  They realized that timing had been off.  Releasing Solo in the midst of the superhero frenzy was bad timing, don’t blame Solo for that.

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So I ask you this question, given all of those things could Solo have succeeded? Even modestly?  I don’t think it really could have.  But Disney is looking the box office and acting as if that means the movie is a piece of shit, which it wasn’t.  Please Disney, learn the right lesson. I get that you don’t want this to happen again, but if you learn the wrong lesson it likely will.  Please, I love Star Wars too much for it to become the DCEU (with all the second guessing and undercutting and ultimately not learning the right thing)…  I’m begging you.

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Written by Michael Cole

Flash War! A Special Article Co-Written By Mike & Paul!

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I don’t have any comic series that I read consistently, but I do like picking up stories that are either getting a lot of buzz, or are going to be the basis for some adaptation.  I’ve been seeing a lot about the “Flash War” event which will pit Barry Allen against Wally West.  Last week the first issue came out, and I picked it up, along with the ‘prelude’ which was in the annual.

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Barry Allen’s “death” in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Which lasted around 30 years before he was resurrected.

Hey Everybody, Paul here. As the resident comic book expert I thought I’d help fill in some of the blanks in the background with ‘Flash War”. Mike not quite having his comic book super nerd powers yet. So anytime in this article you see italics text like this pop up, that’s me putting in my two cents. It’s two authors for the price of one!

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Flashpoint!

Now, I’ve read Flashpoint, and Flash: Savage World, a couple of the Justice League trade paperbacks, as well as being a fan of the TV show, so take my opinion as that of someone who’s not an expert, but also not diving in for the first time. If you’re interested in this story, I do suggest picking up the annual with the prelude, because I found that it makes things a bit clearer in the first issue.

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The Flash: Blitz by Geoff Johns. A must read to understand Flash War.

Besides the Flash Annual that Mike mentioned earlier, the storyline that is most important to understanding Flash War is a story that goes back to Geoff John’s original run on The Flash BEFORE The New 52 and even before Barry Allen came back from the dead. At this point in DC history Barry Allen had died in the classic mega-event Crisis on Infinite Earths. For the nearly three decades after, Barry’s sidekick Wally West aka Kid Flash became The Flash full time. For a whole generation of readers (or if  you even just knew The Flash from the Justice League animated series) Wally West WAS The Flash. Anyway, this super important story was called BLITZ and it was all about how former FBI criminal profiler Hunter Zolomon, who was a good friend of The Flash, became the super villain Zoom and initiated a devastating attack on Wally West and his family. 

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Zoom AKA Hunter Zolomon VS The Flash (Wally West) during Blitz. Set before The New 52.

I’m not going to review the individual parts, but now that I have an idea of what the story is, I’m going to write about it, and then when the series concludes, I’ll write a review of it as a whole.

So, if you’re familiar with DC’s recent history, they had the “New 52” runs, and then there was Flashpoint which I believe allowed them to reset somethings after that, to try the “Rebirth” runs.  Well, there were some consequences to all of these resets and reboots, and one major one, which apparently directly stems from Flashpoint, is that the Wally West (the third Flash) from pre-“New 52” no longer exists as he did.  He is still around, but he has no history, much of his memory is cloudy due to being lost in the ever-changing timeline, and almost no one remembers him.

 

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Another must read before Flash War.

Ok so there’s actually another super important story that you need to read called DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, also written by Geoff John’s. When Barry created Flashpoint and created The New 52 as we know it, “classic” Wally West had seemingly been erased from history. This story partially shows how he escaped from The Speed Force and why there are 2 very different Wally West’s in The New 52 continuity. It also, tells us that Barry creating Flashpoint was not the only person responsible for this altered universe… Just read the story, it’s a huge reveal.

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A heartfelt reunion between Barry and Wally from DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH 

*Some minor spoilers from this point out*

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“Classic” Wally West after he’s escaped The Speed Force in DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH 

As Mike goes into here, there are now 2 Wally West’s in this reality. The adult, white, pre-The New 52, FLASH Wally West who escaped The Speed Force in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH  and teenage, African-American, KID FLASH Wally West.  Now Wally is a white red haired guy, still operating under the title of Flash (although Iris West-Allen, Barry’s wife and Wally’s aunt who doesn’t know who he is, refers to him as the new Flash because Barry is still the Flash as well.)  Wallace on the other hand, is a younger, black teenager (not sure how old he’s supposed to be, but he’s shorter which I’m pretty sure equals younger) Paul chiming in here, he’s roughly in his mid-teens and is Kid-Flash, but is also Iris’s nephew.

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Teenage, The New 52, Kid Flash, Wally West
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All of them together. From left to right: Barry, Adult Wally, Kid Flash Wally

So, they’re the same person but different people.  It’s a little confusing, but I like it, because I’m a big fan of time-travel and the idea that if anything were done differently in a time-line individuals could be genetically different people from one to another.

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Fuck these pricks.

At this point in the article, bless his heart, Mike sort of misinterpreted the chain of events. Basically, Time Agents from the 25th Century (kind of like Minority Report) all dressed like good versions of classic Flash villains, The Rogues, show up at try to arrest Iris for supposedly killing Eodard Thawne (Classic Flash villain The Reverse Flash) at some point… in the future… I guess? Even I’m a little confused on this on, guys. These Time Agents could be full of shit, but adult Wally freaks out at the idea of these assholes taking Iris, where Barry wants to let cooler heads prevail and calmly go with The Time Agents to figure out what’s going on. Some fighting and time travel ensues… One of  The Time Agents has a really cool and surprising power source I won’t spoil here.

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Eobard Thawne AKA The Reverse Flash. Just a real piece of shit. And yes I realize he looks exactly like Zoom. It’s… Well… IT’S A WHOLE THING, OK!

As the first issue comes to a close, we see that Wally has been transported to a future in which he did exist, while Barry, Iris, and Wallace were transported to the alternate future, and Hunter Zolomon aka Zoom tells Wally he’s going to help him change the past and save his children who were erased in Flashpoint.

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Zoom/ Hunter Zolomon 

This issue is kind of framed by Hunter Zolomon and his POV. To the best of my knowledge, the first time we’ve seen this version of Zoom and Wally’s kids since before Flashpoint, because they’re all pre- The New 52 characters.

I’m really excited, because as I said before I really enjoy time-travel and time line stories, I also really enjoy stories in which protagonists conflict with each other, sometimes I find it more interesting than when there is a clear protagonist.  I’m not sure to what level Zoom will participate, my only familiarity with him is from season 2 of the Flash on CW, but I’m really looking forward to what’s coming up.

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    The Hunter Zolomon/Zoom of this comic is VASTLY different from the Zoom from The Flash CW series.  I like Mike’s enthusiasm, but I think this isn’t a great comic for new readers. It’s really more for people who’ve been following The Flash and DC Comics in general for the past decade or so. I recommend new readers check out, as an alternative, the mini-series The Man of Steel by Brian Michael Bendis currently in it’s 3rd issue. You can get at your local comic book store or on your tablet on the ComiXology app. It’s very new reader friendly and all you really need to know is who Superman is and the bare minimum about his world. I hope you guys enjoyed our different takes on Flash War part 1. Thanks for reading, everyone!

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This may be a better option for new readers.

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Paul

 

Let’s Talk About Venom

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I’ve been getting back into comics the last year or so, and I’ve been finding that my tastes have drastically changed in characters and stories in my nearly twenty year absence.  As a kid, I loved Marvel comics, and didn’t ever pay attention to DC, now I’m definitely finding more in DC that I enjoy.  I used to love Spider-Man and the Avengers, and now when I am reading Marvel stuff it tends to be stuff that isn’t too closely related to any of the MCU films or other Marvel films.

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One of the characters that I used to love when I was about 12 or so, was Venom.  He was so cool.  I’m starting to think he may have been more of a ‘cool’ character, than a ‘good’ character.

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I remember reading some of the ‘Venom’ series, and thinking that he was like an edgy broodier version of Spider-Man.  I think I thought “Venom is what J. Jonah Jameson thinks Spider-Man is,” which I thought was incredibly cool.  At this same time in my life, I was also collecting all the ‘alternatives’ that were coming out like A-Next which was the next generation Avengers, and J² which was Juggernaut’s son.  I think I had crappy taste at the time.  But Venom was a bad-ass, and I was convinced that was amazing.

Then, Spider-Man 3 was coming out, and it was announced that they’d be doing Venom as one of the villains, I was ecstatic.  Even when they announced it was Topher Grace, who seemed so unlike Eddie Brock, but they explained that he was supposed to be Spider-Man’s mirror, so they sold me on it.  Then I saw the movie and thought “oh they really fucked that up.”  It was definitely the portrayal of the character, and not the character itself right?

So a couple months ago, the trailer for the new Venom movie was released, and I have to be honest, I think it looks like garbage.  I like every single person in it (especially Jenny Slate) but the way she pronounces symbiote (Sim BY Oat) is obnoxious, and I’m sure this will be like when people were telling me that the correct way to pronounce Smaug was with each and every single vowel present, and I was like “it may be right, but it’s still annoying.”  So there was strike one.  Strike two is that the actual Venom suit/skin looks horrendous.  Don’t get me wrong, it looks just like in the comics, but it looks awful when juxtaposed with non-animated characters.  There isn’t a strike three yet.  So hopefully, I’m wrong.

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Then lastly, I started reading the Venom vs. Carnage trade paperback, and after a few pages of “I’m your father, you have to listen to me,” and “Perhaps if my host had any regard for his family, I’d respect you dear old daddy” a lightbulb went off in my head.  What if Venom sucks?  What if it isn’t that the character hasn’t been portrayed right, but what if it’s that the character isn’t good, or perhaps he’s only situationally good, like in small doses, when paired with the right characters?

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Paul has talked a few times in articles and in the podcast about characters like Wolverine being best served in small doses, because they’re cool, and there is a tendency to over do them.  Maybe that’s Venom’s problem.  Or maybe unlike Wolverine who is cool, and has a great arc/background, Venom is just cool, and not ‘good’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go see the Venom film and I’m going to finish reading this book, but I’m not sure anymore about Venom.

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What do you think of Venom?  Is he just cool?  Am I missing some incredible story that does his character the most justice possible?  Let me know in the comments below.

written by Michael Cole

What I Want to See: Solo Sequel

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This is going to contain some spoilers, so be warned.  TLDR: Spoiler Alert!

I had some reservations about Solo, I didn’t think it was a great idea, and there was the mess of a production we all heard about, and then they took forever to release a trailer, and it seemed like it was going to be a stinker, but the trailers regained some of my confidence.  I saw the film last night, and I really liked it, for a letter grade, I’d say B+.

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The film tells the story of how Han starts his life as a ‘scoundrel,’ how he meets Chewie, and Lando, and how he finds the Falcon.  Of his lore, I think that’s all the big key points that were touched upon.  The film ends with Han and Chewie heading off to Tattooine to find some ‘big gangster’ for a ‘big score.’

That’s what I want to see in the sequel.  Han and Chewie finding Jabba, and starting their smuggling.  That’s the concept they obviously need to go with, and perhaps there will be some chaos with the head of the Crimson Sun, who was revealed at the end of Solo.  That’s the basic plot, and obviously that’s what they’re planning.

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But, what I want to see, comes down more to cameos, and lore.  If they’re going to be on Tattooine, we could easily see some kind of Obi-Wan cameo, same with young Luke.  I’m a little iffy on what the timeline is supposed to be, so I’m not sure if Luke’s a small child or a young teenager.

In addition to those two though, are all of Jabba’s crew; Greedo, Boba-Fett (not necessarily Jabba’s crew but on payroll), Salacious Crumb; it would be interesting to expand upon these characters.

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There is also the possible setup of new characters that could be really cool.  So if you watched Rogue One, you should have known that most if not all of the characters shown would die, because otherwise why wouldn’t they be in A New Hope, but with Han’s life before A New Hope, there is no rule that says it has to interact with the main Skywalker Saga at all.  Cameos will be fun, but lets establish some awesome new characters, and pockets of the galaxy.  By doing this, it could create some connection, to whatever either of the two new trilogies (Rian Johnson, or the GoT guys’ trilogies) because while I don’t want those two new trilogies to be about Rebels or Resistance, or anything too obvious, it would be nice to know where it falls with in the extended universe.  Han and Chewie’s adventures could definitely provide a springboard for that.

Lastly, there’s a fan theory that I like, that might be fun if it’s shown to be correct, or at least purposely kept ambigious.  This theory basically says that because we see Chewie with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith, that they clearly know each other, and Chewie definitely has a passion for liberating the oppressed, and so what if Chewie was working as a rebel agent to some degree, with Yoda.  That’s why Han and Chewie meet with Obi-Wan, and it’s not all coincidence.  It’s a good theory, especially after seeing how Chewie behaves in Solo.

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What about you?  What do you want to see from a Solo sequel?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Two MCU Films at the Box Office…

Avengers: Infinity War is coming out in just a couple weeks, and it will very likely dominate the Box Office, this isn’t surprising, and if you’d asked someone a year or two ago, they’d have known then that it was likely.  Right?  Here is what was unlikely, but is now seeming incredibly likely:

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Black Panther, will still be in the top 10 spots at the Box Office when Infinity War comes.

Never before, have we seen two MCU films (I’m not sure we’ve ever seen two films of the same franchise in general) dominate the box office at the same time, but we’re about to.  So I wonder what this means for both films.

In case you’re unaware, Black Panther has not only been raking in more money on a week to week basis than almost any other film since it’s release, but it has been moving in on the all time earners.  As of this past weekend, it took down Titanic, as the #3 earner domestically of all time.  It currently stands at #10 globally of all time (not taking inflation into account), and is only $32 million from the #9 spot, and $41 million from the #8 spot, which when you’re looking at the fact that it made $8 million last week, seem a plausible outcome.

31F3511B-8547-43DA-8488-30F23D9E75CEOne thing, that I think could happen as Infinity War looms over us, is that I think it is possible, that Black Panther gets a resurgence in the week or so prior to Infinity War, after all, if you’re an MCU fan, and there’s a chance to watch the previous film in theaters, then the following day/week/whatever watch the most current, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll take that.  Will it be some massive swell that pushes Black Panther to the #1 spot on either the domestic or global lists? It seems unlikely (the domestic record is Star Wars: The Force Awakens at $936 million, to Black Panther’s $665 million;  globally, Avatar has the record at $2.78 billion, while Black Panther is currently at $1.3 billion) but that doesn’t matter, because it’s potentially going to change a lot of things about how films are made.  It bought legitimacy for so many different aspects that may have been overlooked before.

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On the other hand, how will Black Panther affect Infinity War at the Box Office?  My guess, is that it will help it.  From the trailer, it appears that Wakanda is going to play a major role in the film, as well as including multiple characters from Black Panther in addition to the title character.  If people loved Black Panther, they’re getting a sequel of sorts, while it’s still in theaters, and I think that will translate to big Box Office numbers, in addition to the fact that the previous 2 Avengers films have both ranked higher than BP so far in the global market, and let’s face it, whether it’s a good film or not, it’s got EVERYTHING, and so this film would have to be absolutely atrocious to not do amazing numbers in the Box Office.

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Ultimately, if I’m wrong, and Infinity War somehow kills Black Panther’s momentum, it’s already done so well that it hardly matters, on the other hand, I do think that Infinity War could potentially hurt some of the films coming out in the month or two afterwards.  Whether you think Solo is going to be good or not, Disney’s kind of taking a risk putting it a month after Infinity War.  I do think Deadpool 2 is far enough away that it should be able to be successful regardless of the shadow that Infinity War casts (either way, chances are Josh Brolin has a good few months).

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What I Want to See: Avengers Infinity War

 

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Hopefully, I don’t need to catch you up on the history of the MCU, and I can just dive into what I want to see from Infinity War.  This might be a pretty controversial take on it, and as always I’m very open to whatever they’re actually going to do, but this is what I would do if I were in charge.

MARVEL’S AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Josh Brolin as Thanos

I want to see Thanos, and his team lay waste to much of the MCU heroes.  I don’t need to see him murder a bunch of them, (although I think we can agree there will likely be some major losses) but I want it to be a one-sided slaughter, I want the end of the second act to appear hopeless, like Han in carbonite, Luke handless level of hopeless.  I want the audience to honestly be borderline upset at how poorly our heroes are doing.

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Then as the third act begins, we see something falling towards the Earth, and it’s coming in too quick, and we see the heat trail as it burns through the atmosphere towards the ground, and it’s the Hulk who has been hurtling through space since whatever happens to the ship Thor and the Asgardians were on at the end of Ragnarok, and he slams into the ground, and is so pissed off from that ordeal, that he begins to pummel through each and every one of Thanos’ lackies and maybe they don’t win the fight (it seems as if this will not be the end since Avenger’s 4 comes out a year from now and originally was going to be Infinity War Part 2,) but he helps the team to at least hold off Thanos.

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I’ve got to admit, with a 2 year-old who’s favorite phrase has been “Hulk Smash” ever since he saw Ragnarok, I want Hulk to not be in the film for long, but then come in and fuck shit up.  I want to see Thanos over confident in his ability, and in his progress in destroying the Avengers and other assorted MCU heroes, and I want to have that moment everyone seems to have in the MCU where they think they know what’s going to happen, and then immediately realize they don’t have a clue.  Hulk is amazing at delivering that moment, and I want him to give that to Thanos.

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A big piece of speculation about the film has been that Thanos will not have all of the Infinity stones in this film, or at least not until the end of the film.  I’m not sure how they cover him succeeding in getting the stones, and still have any kind of victory for the Avengers.  It’s a plot point that seems—from a writing standpoint—to be insurmountable, but one that many seem to think is coming.  If it’s coming, I hope it’s the very last moment, and I would enjoy seeing the Hulk have that same “oh shit” moment of realization that I want for Thanos.  Then despite that, we see Hulk rampage forward, swing for a hit, and before it connects cut to black.

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I want to see the Hulk smash, like he’s never smashed before…

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