We’re deep into the dog days of summer and what better why to beat the heat than to sit back and watch a couple of great TV shows! In this episode, I recommend 2 great shows to watch while waiting for all your favorite series to return in the Fall! Hulu’s Castle Rock and Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger! Castle Rock is supernatural mystery/thriller that takes place in the universe of Stephen King’s novels. Cloak & Dagger is superhero, coming of age series, about 2 classic Marvel superheroes. These are 2 very different shows, but both are a blast to watch! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
This year is the 10th Anniversary of Iron Man and The Dark Knight being released in theatres. Two very different superhero films that not only changed the genre forever, but filmmaking in general. So, on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, co-host Ryan McDonald and I take a trip from Gotham City to Stark Industries and dive into these epic movies. This the first of a 2-Part episode! Is Robert Downey Jr. perfect superhero casting? What theories are there about the secret origin of The Joker in The Dark Knight? What legacy have these films left behind? Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
In this episode I make multiple references to an article I wrote about the villains of the MCU, I thought I’d put a link to the article here in case anyone wants to read it after listening to the episode:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately that the characters from the TV and Movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe need to crossover. It is long past time that the guys over at Marvel Studios, stop measuring each other’s dicks and get the heroes and characters from the Netflix shows to appear in the Marvel films.
The head of Marvel’s film division is Kevin Fiege and all of the television and streaming content is overseen by Jeph Loeb. I have a lot of respect for Kevin Fiege. I think he’s the main reason the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the success that it has. He’s always believed that following the incredible stories and characters from the comics and translating that to film has been the key to their success. I’m paraphrasing, but I’ve heard him say that as he was coming up as a junior producer on other less successful Marvel films at other studios, he’d often wonder “Why don’t they just follow the comic book?”. It’s all right their on the page. MCU films aren’t shot for shot, panel for panel adaptations of the comics they’re based on. However they completely understand why something works in the comics and then adapt that to film in the way that makes the most sense. They get the core of the stories right by respecting the incredible stories from Marvel Comics. However, most importantly Marvel Studios understands the importance of character. Marvel has incredible characters and they’ve done an excellent job of translating that to film. Character, character, character: the secret to their success. Which Kevin Fiege understands perfectly.
Jeph Loeb on the other hand I have a less high opinion on. He’s written some great comics in the past, but over the last 20 years he can be described as a hack at best. I’ve never been comfortable with him being the final word on all things from Marvel’s television division. He seems to be arrogant and egotistical. Possibly worst of all he seems to think he’s smarter than he really is. The guy wrote Commando with Schwarzenegger, he’s not exactly Shakespeare. Obviously I have a bias here. I don’t like Jeph Loeb. So even though I’m not 100% sure, I suspect he’s the main barrier that separates Marvel TV and Marvel Film coming together. This isn’t just based on my opinion. Most articles discussing when and if MCU characters from TV will make it to the movies, make it seem as if the guys making the films are more open to the idea. The TV folks, usually producers, are the ones who tend to down play the chance of a crossover. But maybe I’m underestimating Mr. Loeb. I can only judge his very uneven track record.
Marvel finally got SPIDER-MAN in their movies, they can get Daredevil into one of their flicks. Tony Stark is aware of Peter Parker’s relatively unremarkable burgeoning superhero career in Civil War, when Peter’s only had his powers for 6 months. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and the bulletproof Hero of Harlem are major news stories. There’s no way some one like Tony Stark, The Avengers, the people behind the Accords, and what’s left of SHIELD aren’t aware of these guys. Hell, New York City was in more danger in The Defenders than some of the threats in the big screen Marvel films. It would be really cool of The Avengers took notice of this.
The hero from TV I really want to see on the big screen is Daredevil (THIS Daredevil, Charlie Cox). Specifically, I’d love to see him in Spider-Man: Far From Home. I like the idea that, like Tony Stark in the first film, Peter has a hero mentor in each of his films that teaches him something new about being a hero and growing up. Daredevil is the perfect character for the second film. In the comics he’s the character Peter associates with most besides Johnny Storm who’s more of a peer than someone Peter looks up to. Peter’s also seen enough and been through enough at this point that he’d be ready for the more mature lessons he’d undoubtedly learn from a darker, street level character like Matt Murdock. He’s more of Peter’s world than Tony was and Matt could open Peters eyes to some hard truths about the way the world works in a way that Tony couldn’t.
I really think that eventually Marvel will break down this barrier and we’ll see crossovers between TV and Film. They’ve said time and again that PHASE 4 is something completely new. What better way to send that message than break some of their old, stupid rules and put Daredevil in the next Spider-Man movie? Here’s hoping…
I was ecstatic when Marvel and Netflix announced they’d partnered up to produce multiple TV shows that would be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, focusing on the gritty, street level heroes of the MCU. The original plan was to start with five series. Four focusing on the individual heroes, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, with the fifth series culminating in an epic superhero crossover, called The Defenders. These are probably my 4 personal favorite Marvel characters, so it’s always been exciting when one of these new shows premiere.
Each series ended up being much more successful than Netflix expected. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in particular were big hits with audiences and critics. As a result this already ambitious undertaking grew larger. What was originally a 5 series model, added second seasons for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, as well as a spinoff series for The Punisher (with more seasons to come including Daredevil Season 3 later this year). The first two season of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones are among the best pieces of fiction to come out of the MCU PERIOD and that includes the movies. Luke Cage Season 1 was excellent as well, but a terrible villain who popped up in the second half of the season, really brought down the show’s average. Fortunately, the creators seemed to have learned from that particular mistake, but I’ll get back to that in a minute…
It was the kind of superhero storytelling I was always looking for. These stories aren’t about saving the world, they’re about saving a neighborhood. With fantastic character work and mature content that we’d never see on the big screen in the MCU. When these shows are firing on all cylinders they are spectacular. Sadly, there’s been a dip in quality in the last few Marvel/Netflix outings. However, I’m very happy to say that Luke Cage has returned with a phenomenal second season that surpasses the first and reminds us just how good these shows can be.
First of all, as I said before, this is just better than Season One. Luke’s arc in Season Two is complex and interesting in the best way. He’s more or less accepted his roll as the “Hero of Harlem”, but he carries a rage inside of him because of everything he’s seen and been through. Luke’s struggle to find out how to channel that anger in a healthy way is a big part of his journey in Season 2. With characters like Claire Temple, Danny Rand, and the late, great Reg E. Cathy as Luke’s father, helping him deal with that anger along the way. Luke is right up there with Matt Murdock as one of the most morally interesting characters on the Netflix shows. His rage, the responsibility he feels to Harlem, his growing lack of faith in the justice system, how race affects how he views himself as a hero, and more all add up to one of the most unique protagonists on TV.
Speaking of Danny Rand, this is probably the best use of The Immortal Iron First we’ve seen in the MCU so far. Even though he doesn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked, his presence is felt throughout the season. I wish we saw him more in the season, his big team up episode with Luke is everything you’d hope for. Of course, I was very happy to see the writers planting the seeds for “Heroes For Hire” in a big way.
While we’re on the topic of cool stuff from the comics making their way to the show. After losing her right arm in The Defender’s, we finally see Misty Knight get her badass robot arm like she has in the comics (though in this version the arm is provided by Rand Industries instead of Tony Stark). The arm gives Misty a degree of super-strength and it’s just enough to bump her up into superhero territory. She also has a few great scenes with Colleen Wing, who’s always a delight to see, setting up “Daughters of The Dragon” much like “Heroes For Hire” is teased with Danny and Luke.
As fun all the Marvel Easter Eggs are and as great a hero Luke is, it’s the so called “villains” that bring this series to the next level. Mustafa Shakir as Bushmaster, Theo Rossi as Shades, and the legendary Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard elevate the show to another level as the so called antagonists. Each of them are layered and anchored in very real, human emotions. One of the biggest strengths of this series is that each of these villains have done evil, horrible things, yet at certain points you’ll find yourself sympathize with them and maybe even root for them. At times the lines between hero and villain are blurred, with cops that don’t follow the rules and villains that genuinely want to help their community, it can be hard to decide who to root for. There simply isn’t any other show right now that has such complex villains and it’s one of the best things about the series.
Bushmaster is a force of nature, who more than makes up for Diamondback, the Season One villain that really hurt the quality of the second part of the first season. It was great to see a new villain who could go toe to toe with Luke and was also as strong a character as Bushmaster. His motivations are very personal. He’s not looking to become a Kingpin, he just REALLY, REALLY wants to kill Mariah Stokes as he insists on calling her. His history with Mariah and her family is revealed throughout the season and I wont spoil it hear.
Alfre Woodard is fantastic in pretty much anything, but I don’t think she’s ever played a character like Mariah Dillard. She’s magnetic in the role. She terrifying, vulnerable, fierce, sexy, charming, brutal, manipulative, and more. Sometimes you’re not even sure which side of Mariah you’re seeing in any given moment. Is she being genuine or is this a manipulation? She is absolutely one of the MCU’s best villains.
Her relationship with Shades is complex and layered in it’s own right. These two mix business and pleasure. Their on screen chemistry is fantastic and adds something big to both of the characters. Shades, like Mariah, has continued to grow as a character from Season One. I’ve been a big fan of Theo Rossi since his days playing Juice on Sons of Anarchy and his Shades is someone you’ll find yourself love and hate in equal measure.
Lastly, one of the biggest things people will talk about after watching Season Two is how the season ends and where it leaves Luke as a character. SLIGHT SPOILERS HERE The show did a fantastic job of making this turn for the character feel earned. It wasn’t some twist that came out of nowhere. You can see over the course of the season, after everything he’s been through, why Luke would make a decision like this. In the comics, Matt Murdock does a very similar thing when declares himself Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen during Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Daredevil. It was something I always hoped they’d get to on Daredevil’s series, but in the context of the universe Netflix has built, it makes more sense for Luke to be going down this path. I really like the idea whether it’s Matt Murdock or Luke Cage because it’s a unique direction for Luke’s journey as a hero. END SPOILERS
So, Luke Cage Season Two is real return to form for the Marvel/Netflix shows. Season Two improves upon it’s already strong first season with its rich mix of music and setting, unique and compelling hero, and captivating villains. Finally, the end of the season leaves the show in an exciting place with the potential to go in a number of cool directions. If you thought the Marvel/Netflix shows were beginning to lose a step, watch Luke Cage Season Two and you’ll see there’s still some great stories to be told through this format.
It’s been a big Spider-Man week here at World’s Best Media. I wrote a pretty critical article of Peter Parker as a hero a few days ago, Mike just wrote an article about the Venom movie. Now we have this trailer for Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. I think this looks amazing. Even though I just wrote an article shiting all over Peter Parker, I LOVE Miles Morales. The first teaser for this movie was cool, but after seeing this trailer, this movie is on my radar in a big way. Check it out:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Spider-Man reached a historic milestone this week with the publication of Amazing Spider-Man #800. This was also the penultimate chapter of writer Dan Slott’s celebrated run on the series. For the finale, Slott pulled out all the stops and gave Peter Parker a truly monumental threat to face for his last story arc on the book. Slott’s story has been building to an epic confrontation with Norman Osborn, unquestionably Peter’s greatest adversary.
Though memorably played by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film series, I always hated Dafoe’s campy and cartoonish performance as one of comics’ best villains. But that’s an article for another day. In the above mentioned comic book story arc, Osborn has returned to once again torment Peter Parker and everyone around him, but this time not only has he regained his abilities that made him so dangerous as The Green Goblin, he’s also bonded with the alien symbiote worn by Carnage, creating the seemingly unstoppable: RED GOBLIN!
Osborn has never been so deadly and his new persona as THE RED GOBLIN is a terrifying, unstoppable monster. To use a cliché: All the strengths of The Green Goblin and Carnage, but none of their weaknesses. It takes everything Peter has, including the aid of everyone from all the other Spider themed heroes like Miles Morales to semi-reformed villains Venom and Otto Octavius, to bring down The Red Goblin. Hell, even MJ and Aunt May get some licks in. Ultimately, Flash Thompson, Peter’s former high school bully, turned good friend, turns the tide of the battle. Now the military war vet/super hero Anti-Venom; Flash sacrifices himself to give Peter the chance to defeat Osborn.
With Osborn beaten, Peter takes a moment to appreciate his victory and take in the destruction caused by their fight. When J. Jonah Jameson walks out of the smoke with a gun, intending to finally put an end to the death and misery caused by Osborn. It was far too close this time, Peter didn’t even come close to beating Osborn on his own. It took unprecedented amounts of help and a whole lot of luck to just barely defeat this monster.
JJ has known Peter is Spider-Man for awhile at this point
Jameson knows Norman will be back like he has so many times before to bring death and horror into their lives. Osborn has killed thousands of innocents, used a U.S. Intelligence agency as his personal kill squad when he became head of SHIELD, started a war with Asgard, and finally he was responsible for one of comic books’ most iconic and heartbreaking deaths: the love of Peter’s life Gwen Stacy.
Not to mention the countless other innocent victims that have been caught in the crossfire between Osborn and Spider-Man over the years. He knows Peter can’t and wont do what needs to be done: kill Osborn. But this is a burden Jonah is willing to bear for the young man he once saw as a menace. So, doing what needs to be done, what he believes is right, he pulls the trigger to kill Norman Osborn….
…. And Peter dives in front of the bullet to save Osborn. Taking a slug in the shoulder for the man who juts killed one of his best friends. …..Wait… …Um.. …Hold on a second… ….Ummmm… WHAT?!…. WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!….. WHY?!!!!!!
Because Peter Parker isn’t a hero, he’s a coward. With great power comes great responsibility. Flash Thompson understood that and gave his life for it. Jameson understood by the making the choice to take on the burden Peter didn’t have the strength to. When Peter took that bullet he spat on Flash’s sacrifice. Every death caused by Osborn from this moment on is Peter’s responsibility. Trust me, this is Comics. Osborn WILL be back to kill and maim again, in some form or another.
Police and their use of firearms is a very touchy subject in this country right now, so I’m speaking hypothetically here. I understand that police using their firearms inappropriately is a serious problem in this county at the moment and I take that very seriously. But stay with me here for a second while I make a quick point, hypothetically in a world where police officers use their weapon in the line of duty only in the situations where it’s absolutely necessary or if a psychopath is killing people, isn’t it their responsibility to save lives? Even if it means killing the perpetrator? Or what if an officer were defending themselves from an armed and dangerous individual? How is this different than the many times Norman Osborn has murdered people, put lives in danger, and terrorized people over and over again. If the police had encountered Osborn in almost ANY of the senario’s that Peter has, they would have killed him (if they could of course, Osborn is probably impossible for a normal human cop to take down). Peter should have put Osborn down for good a long time ago. If he really believed in dedicating his life to being a hero, he’d have realized that so many of the lives Osborn has taken are on him.
I think this is a good time to point out that Peter Parker is a superpowered, masked vigilante whose identity isn’t known to the general public. You and I cant go around taking the law into our hands, but he can. In fact, he does it all the time. That’s what being Spider-Man is. He just doesnt have the guts to kill Osborn and because of his abilities and persona as Spider-Man, this is a crime he could very likely get away with, in a way normal people couldn’t.
This isn’t the first time Peter has pulled something like this. A few years ago through a convoluted set of circumstances, Norman Osborn became head of SHILED and the Avengers instantly became outlaws. Hawkeye argues that Osborn is insane, homicidal, and cannot under any circumstances be allowed to keep control of SHIELD. Hawkeye thinks the only thing to do, the thing they need to do, have a responsibility to do is kill Osborn. The public doesn’t know that he’s a madman and potentially millions of lives are in danger with Osborn controlling the weapons at SHIELD’s disposal.
At which point Spider-Man argues that HAWKEYE is the one who’s crazy for even suggesting they kill Osborn and tells the rest of the Avengers that Osborn will inevitably shoot himself in the foot and the public will see him for the monster he really is. Well, how many people will die while you just sit around waiting for this to happen, Peter? In a world where individuals can be classified as a “Person Of Mass Destruction” isn’t it dangerously negligent for Spider-Man to have this attitude? Isn’t this the very definition of “With great power, comes great responsibility”?
This is why I think Spider-Man only works as a character when he’s a teenager. I only read Amazing Spider-Man #800 because it was a milestone issue. The only Spider-Man book I currently read on a monthly basis is Spider-Man which stars the other younger Spider-Man, high schooler Miles Morales. When a teenager sees the world in such morally black and white terms… well, they’re teenagers. What the fuck do they know? I remember when I was 16 I thought good and evil were clear lines and I’d never see the world as a place where thing like “necessary evils” must exist. But of course as I grew up, I changed and so did my view of the world. It almost seems like Peter Parker never grew up. It seems as if he never matured past his childish and naive sense of morality. So when you read a Spider-Man book or see a Spider-Man movie, they tend to be at their best when Peter is a teenager. It’s no coincidence that my personal favorite Spider-Man stories ever told were part of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man run, which chronicled Peter as he navigated the dangers of super villains and his New York City high school.
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers debate morality all the time, but they’ve never debated the morality of killing murderous, super-powered lunatics. Spider-Man is always talking about how “with great power, comes great responsibility”. But I say Peter Parker is a coward who doesn’t have the courage of his own convictions. Heroes do what needs to be done, they don’t hide behind some bullshit code. SPIDER-MAN IS NOT A HERO. SPIDER-MAN IS A COWARD. Let online onslaught of hate begin…
In all honesty, I’d love to hear your opinions on the points I bring up in this article. Please write you comments below or on our Facebook Page and maybe we’ll read your question or comment on an upcoming episode of The World’s Best Podcast.
The guys over at ScreenJunkies, who put out some pretty solid content, made this fantastic video where they argue than Tony Stark is the true villain of the MCU. I gotta say I’ve definitely said similar things about Iron Man in the past. But this is the best breakdown of why Tony Stark is a pretty big bag of shit that I’ve seen. It’s a very cool video. Once again, thanks and great job ScreenJunkies! Enjoy!
Before you get to hear Part 2 of our EPIC Quentin Tarantino discussion, here’s an new episode of “The World’s Best Podcast” where I discuss some cool news in the world of movies, comics, TV, and a BOOK REVIEW! In this episode I discuss Avengers Infinity War SMASHING box office records, this year’s Free Comic Book Day, the new season of Westworld on HBO, and much more.
I also give a review/recommendation for an excellent trilogy of books that are collectively called The Themis Files by author Sylvain Nuevel. The series consists of Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods, and the latest and final book in the trilogy Only Human. Below the podcast links I’ve posted links to each book on Amazon if you want to give them a try. But this is one of my favorite sci-fi series in recent memory, so I highly recommend these books. As always, I really appreciate you guys using the Amazon links, because going through those links helps support the website and get great content out to all of you. Listen to the podcast at the links below
Despite the dip in quality towards the second half of the first season, Luke Cage has definitely been one of Marvel’s stronger shows on Netflix. It doesn’t quite reach the excellence of the first two seasons of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones, but it’s still a great show. It was really the villain that they introduced half way through season one that hurt the series a lot. Especially when Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth was such a charismatic villain already. Even Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard and Shades were more interesting characters than the cartoonish Diamondback. I just hope the show doesn’t have the same sophomore slump that Jessica Jones had. Despite all the negativity I’m throwing around, I’m really looking forward to Luke Cage Season 2, which begins streaming on Netflix 6/22. The latest trailer is right here and below that I also posted a fun video of Luke breaking some records with his superhuman athletic prowess. Check them both out below:
Also, it’s cool to see Misty Knight with her trademark badass robot arm like she has in the comics that can do all kinds of cool shit.
Even though he can be annoying at times, Luke and Danny Rand AKA The Immortal Iron Fist, definitely had chemistry in The Defenders. Hopefully his presence in Luke Cage Season 2 brings us closer to a Heroes For Hire series!