PODCAST: The X-Men In The MCU!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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In this Episode, guest co-host Mike Cole and I discuss the X-Men joining the MCU. We talk about the direction we’d like to see the franchise take. Should they somehow incorporate the existing X-Men movies into the MCU or just start fresh? What kind of stories and characters do we want to see? Finally, what casting ideas might we have about the X-Men? Oh, and where does Deadpool fit into all this? This and so much more on The World’s Best Podcast! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15874864

iTunes 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F15874864

Below are Amazon links to the excellent X-Men comics I mentioned at the end of the podcast, in case you’d like to read them for your self which I highly recommend.

New X-Men (Grant Morrison)

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https://www.amazon.com/New-X-Men-Vol-Grant-Morrison/dp/0785132511/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538621565&sr=1-1&keywords=new+x-men+morrison&dpID=512Xw6m4MaL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

Astonishing X-Men (Joss Whedon)

Ultimate X-Men (Mark Millar)

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https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-X-Men-Collection-Vol/dp/0785121870/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538621885&sr=1-3&keywords=Ultimate+X-men+Mark+Millar

Thanks for listening!

-Paul

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PODCAST: Hot Takes: Captain Marvel! Daredevil Season 3! Fantastic Beasts! & More!

Hey Everybody,

Paul Here…

In this episode there’s so much cool news! I’m joined by his father, Paul Sr., to discuss, among many other things, how the X-Men could fit into the MCU and how we’re both psyched for Daredevil Season 3 on Netflix! We also watch and give our commentary on the new trailers for Captain Marvel and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald! All this, Batman’s penis, and more on this spectacular episode of The World’s Best Podcast! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15808903

iTunes 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F15808903

Stitcher 

https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=56430726&autoplay=1

Below, we have a look at some of the topics we discussed on this episode. Including the Captain Marvel trailer and the first photos of  Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker

Captain Marvel Trailer:

 

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker

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Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, The man who will become The Clown Prince of Crime 
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Joaquin Phoenix going full Joker

 

Thanks for listening!

-Paul

Fall Comic Book Preview Part 2 MARVEL


Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

Welcome back to Part 2 of my Fall Comic Book Preview! In Part 1, we looked at some of the notable and interesting comics and graphic novels coming from DC Comics this fall, today we’ll be looking some of the big comics being put out by Marvel in the coming weeks and months. There’s a lot of cool stuff coming out of the “House of Ideas” (one of Marvel’s long time nicknames) before the end of 2018. Including a comic book miniseries marking the 20th Anniversary of Marvel’s Marvel Knights imprint, shown in the article’s banner image above. The comic, Marvel Knights: 20th,  will by written by Donny Cates and here’s an awesome cover for one of the issues from the project:

FBD98C17-F37E-4FCA-8C8B-3A151FECD8FABelow are just a few books that stuck out to me as being interesting and note worthy. However, these are only a few of the cool books coming out from Marvel soon, so make sure to keep your eyes open…

 

AVENGERS #700
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: David Marquez, Andy Kubert, Ed McGuinness
Release Date: 11/14/18

B5F099E1-B6C8-4154-96C4-652EFFEF63EFIn a massive milestone, Avengers has reached its landmark 700th issue. Jason Aaron is one of Marvel’s best writers, currently with one of the most interesting Avengers rosters in years on his kick ass Avengers title. Second only to perhaps Jonathan Hickman, Aaron excels at telling long, epic stories that pay off big time for loyal readers. With a milestone like issue #700, you can believe that this book will not only include some great Avengers nostalgia, but probably set up some big things to come for the series. Plus, you can’t beat that killer line up of artists working on this issue, so you can bet it will look fantastic.

As a cool side note, leading up to issue #700 The Avengers will be going up against The Submariner himself Namor!

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Namor often plays the bad guy more than the good guy, so whenever he shows up sparks fly. Especially considering his longtime rivalry with current Avengers chair person, T’Challa: The Black Panther…
Extermination

Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Release Date: (Issues #1-2 Now Available) Issue #3 On Sale 9/26!

89BCFB7D-F62D-465A-9B6C-528C2D8145A1This miniseries has largely served the purpose of wiping the slate clean in the world of the X-Men. Ending many of the stories of the past few years for a new beginning. Most likely in an attempt to bring in new readers. The first few issues have been solid. This is the book to check out if you’re a lapsed X-Men fan looking for a place to jump back on the book.

 

Fantastic Four #5/ Fantastic Four: Wedding Special
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Adam Hughes, Mike Allred, Aaron Kuder, Laura Braga
Release Date: Fantastic Four: Wedding Special 12/12
Fantastic Four #5 12/26

282DC7EE-C829-4B8D-B9DB-6EFDC7980C4E48DFC885-F00D-4FF3-87B7-CEE1A11857FBI’ll keep this one short and sweet. Benjamin J. Grimm and His longtime girlfriend Alicia Masters are finally getting married. But what is a superhero wedding, especially a Fantastic Four wedding, without some crazy super villains crashing the party or some other catastrophic event making things more complicated for the happy couple and the rest of “Marvel’s First Family”? So far Dan slots re-launch of Fantastic Four has been pretty excellent so I definitely recommend checking this one out. Gail Simone will co-write the Wedding Special issue along with Slott. Plus, Johnny throwing Ben a bachelor party is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The Return of Wolverine
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Release Date: Issue #1 On Sale Now!

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This 5 Part miniseries marks the inevitable return of the one true Wolverine. C’mon did anyone think for a second that he wouldn’t be back within a few years or less? The problem is that he never really left. With Old Man Logan running around I The present day with the X-Men and Laura Kinney aka X-23 taking up the mantle of Wolverine, we never really felt the absence of the character. Another problem has been how his return has been handled. We had 4 tie in miniseries under the umbrella of “The Hunt For Wolverine”, setting up his return in the main “The Return of Wolverine” miniseries. Seems like a lot of money and time for readers to invest just to read the “The Return of Wolverine”. Having said that, I really enjoyed “The Death of Wolverine“ storyline miniseries a few years ago by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. So at the very least, regardless of how you feel about the handling of deaths and resurrections in superhero comic books, I will bet “The Return of Wolverine” will at least be pretty entertaining.

 

Miles Morales: Spider-Man
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Javier Garron
Release Date: Dec 2018

39B6BA03-99DE-47FD-83C3-97FC9F575DF0When Brian Michael Bendis moved on from Marvel to work over at DC, many fans wondered what the future held for some of the beloved characters Bendis created while working at Marvel. Like Miles Morales, Riri Williams, and Jessica Jones. Fortunately they’re all continuing on with new series’ from new writers and artists. Miles Morales is arguably the most influential, fan favorite character Bendis created while at Marvel (with the possible exception of Jessica Jones). Fortunately, Miles will live on in a new series, marking the first time the character starred in his own book not written by Bendis. Miles is one of my favorite Marvel characters and I really hope we get to see him in the MCU someday. I’m excited to see what a writer besides Bendis does with a solo book focused on Miles. This a character with limitless potential, so I’m excited to see someone else take a stab at my personal favorite Spider-Man (I know, I know let the hate mail flow in…).

Speaking of Riri Williams, Ironheart will be getting her own ongoing series from writer Eve Ewing in November. I’m also a big Ironheart fan, so this looks like it’s definitely going to be a book to grab as well.

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THOR

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Various
Release Date: 10/17/18

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Jason Aaron’s Thor run has consistently been one of the best books in the comic book industry for the last several years. One of the brilliant thing is Aaron has done in his epic Thor story is show Thor at vastly different points in his life. Including my personal favorite, Old King Thor. In the present, Thor continues to fight in The War Of Realms. A massive conflict across all ten realms spearheaded by Malekith The Accursed.
As has been the case throughout Aaron’s run, we look forward to the end of time, where All Father Thor and his 3 granddaughters have restored a long desolate Earth, including creating new human life. Thor is a very benevolent and hands on God to his people. Unfortunately the universe is dying, even the afterlife is gone. SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THOR#1-5 (2018)!!!!!!!
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Still here?

As Thor searches the cosmos for any kind of flicker of hope that the Universe can be rekindled, he encounters a Phoenix possessed Wolverine! While Old King Thor is initially thrilled to see his old ally, he quickly realizes that the Logan he knew had long ago been consumed by The Phoenix and a Universe shaking battle ensues. During the fight, Wolverine tells Thor he shouldn’t have restarted life on Earth. Earth’s time was done and there are far worse things than The Phoenix Logan out there.
At which point, we cut back to Earth where a large spaceship has arrived. The Dragon, Fin Fang Foom and other old school Marvel monsters proclaim Earth’s destruction, but Thor’s granddaughters make easy work of them. Unfortunately, they’re not the terrible force Logan alluded to. Fin Fang Foom says he is but a herald for his omnipotent master…DOOM! At which point an all powerful DOOM descends from his ship and we see in addition to his normal powers, he’s wielding the powers of Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Starbrand, and Ghost Rider!

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The next chapter in the ongoing saga of Old King Thor will continue in Thor #6 released on 10/17, with Old King Thor and Old Man Phoenix facing off again DOOM!

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Issue #7 returns the series focus to present day Thor.

 

Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of my Fall Comic Book Preview!

-Paul

FIRST LOOK: Captain Marvel!

Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

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I’ve always been a big Entertainment Weekly fan. For a major publication, they were on the geek bandwagon way before it was as mainstream as it is now. Some of my favorite books, TV series, and so much more have been put on my radar because of EW (I never would have discovered The Dresden Files without them and what a tragedy that would be). I have digital subscription to the magazine and check out their website almost every day, they have great stuff. Presently, I would argue the magazine covers more sci-fi-fi, fantasy, comic book, and superhero content ( Y’know… “Geeky Stuff”) than any other kind of entertainment. Being so “geek friendly”, EW gets some fantastic scoops and access from companies and studios like Marvel, DC, Disney, and HBO to name a few.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Of course, Marvel decided to give us our best look yet at the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson as the title character. Captain Marvel real name is Carol Danvers. The cover story of their next issue is a Captain Marvel article. As much as I would have liked to see a trailer, (fingers crossed we’ll get that soon) these pictures are cool as fuck.

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As has been reported before, this movie takes place in the 90’s, so all kinds of characters are fair game that would otherwise be unavailable. Either for story reasons or because their dead. One of the coolest things revealed by EW is that even though this is an origin film, the movie starts with Carol already having gained her powers. She’s off in space working for The Kree Empire as part of a kind of alien special forces team called Starforce.

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To refresh your memory, The Kree are a race of aliens we’ve seen pop up in multiple MCU projects, most notably Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD (Surprising right? Agents of SHIELD ended up getting pretty fucking good). The Kree are blue, very technologically advanced, pretty huge pricks, and have always been fascinated by Earth and humanity. Basically thousands of years ago, The Kree experiment on a select group of humans and altered their DNA. When exposed to “ Terrigen”, a Kree chemical which can be administered as a mist or ingested, humans with Kree DNA undergo a metamorphosis that usually gives them some kind of superhuman ability. However, in some cases the metamorphosis can also change their biology so radically they no longer appear human. These individuals, anyone who went through “Terrigenesis” became know as The Inhumans. The original purpose of this was for The Kree to use these Inhumans as warrior weapons, but humans can be hard to control. The ancestors of the humans who underwent these original experiments are still alive today with Inhuman DNA. These are the people SHIELD has to deal with. Like anyone else superpowers, some of them are good some of them are bad. This is NOT how Carol Danvers gets her powers, but it is an important piece of history between The Kree and the human race.

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The most prominent Kree we’ve seen on screen so far is Ronan The Accuser, the villain from the first Guardians of the Galaxy, who also died at the end of the movie (Yeah, I know spoilers, but fuck you if haven’t seen that movie yet). With Captain Marvel being set in the 90’s, Ronan will return for this film, as you can see in one of the photos below. Also returning from Guardians Vol.1 is one of Ronan’s lieutenants, Korath played by Djimon Hounsou.

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Inhumans and The Kree have been a large part of Agents of SHIELD throughout the show. They were like the MCU’s answer to Mutants, which were off the table (But maybe for not much longer). Everyday, average people with Inhuman DNA who developed superpowers and the problems that come along with that. Like I said very similar to Mutants in X-Men.

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Some of the uglier, more evil Inhumans, secret badass Phil Coulson has had to deal with.

We also get to see Carol as an Air Force fighter pilot before she becomes Captain Marvel.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)Carol’s mentor in the movie is a Kree Captain named Mar-Vell played by Jude Law. Apparently he runs the Kree Special Forces Team she’s apart of. In the comics, he’s the original Captain Marvel, so it’s really cool to see him included. He can appear more or less human.

0C44DCB9-2522-4C29-BC18-E52B88DA2EAAOf course, at least some of the movie takes place on Earth. Again taking advantage of the 90’s setting, here we see a young Nick Fury. With both eyes! It might seem stupid, but I love that we’re going to get to see how he loses the eye. In one of the rare jumps from the small screen back to the big screen, none other than SHIELD agent Phil Coulson will be joining in on the fun.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVELNick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
They’re just getting better and better with this de-aging VFX. I mean, LOOK AT THAT!

Oh yeah, it’s the 90’s

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Possibly my favorite picture, this gives us our first look at one of the most significant alien races in the history of Marvel Comics: The Skrull. Like The Kree, The Skrull also have always had an interest in Earth. In the comics, some Skrull believe it’s their destiny to inherit (fucking take over) the Earth. Most importantly, every Skrull is born with unparalleled shapeshifting abilities. They can become anyone and that’s what makes them so dangerous. They’re master infiltrators. It’s also worth noting that The Kree and The Skrulls have been mortal enemies for thousands of years. So it’s likely this movie will draw heavily from the classic Avengers story, “The Kree/Skrull War”.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVELLeft: Talos (Ben Mendelsohn)
The Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn)

Here we see one of The Skrull called Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One), in his human form as a SHIELD agent.

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In the comics, Monica Rambeau is a superhero that has gone by both Photon (like the call sign on her jet) and Spectrum. The name on the plane is MARIA Rambeau. Is this the the same character or a relative? Are they setting up Spectrum for the Captain Marvel sequel?

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch)

This is Spectrum from Marvel Comics.

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Everything I see about this movie gets me more excited. This looks fucking great. Now we just need a goddamn trailer!

-Paul

 

* All photos source Ew.com

IRON FIST Season 2 Trailer & Breakdown!

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Netflix released an cool new trailer for Iron Fist Season 2! Check it out here and then read my trailer breakdown with pics from EW.com below:

Now THIS is more like it! After a somewhat disappointing first season, Iron First has been steadily improving as a character with each appearance in the MCU. From The Defenders to Luke Cage Season 2 to this awesome trailer for Iron Fist Season 2, it seems like we’re getting closer and closer to Danny Rand from the comics that we all want to see.

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To finally see Davos (Danny’s best friend from K’un L’un, who we met in Season 1) become his own “immortal weapon” as The Steel Serpent is so fucking cool. Many of you may not remember, but this a character that was teased as far back as Daredevil Season 1. I can’t wait to see the backstory behind Davos’ new abilities and I wouldn’t be surprised if Madam Goa had a hand in creating The Steel Serpent.

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After all, Season 1 ended with Davos and Joy Meachum discussing the destruction of Danny with Madam Goa listening intently near by. I also loved seeing the Iron Fist being used so much, I honestly think we saw the Iron Fist used more in this trailer than in all of Season 1. To my delight, much like Daredevil, it seems that Iron Fist is slowly developing a costume of his own.

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We don’t see much of the Season’s other big villain Typhoid Mary (played by Alice Eve) except for some brief fight shots. We do get to see a lot of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. I know for a fact they’re going full Daughter’s of The Dragon team-up this season, which is exciting for any hardcore Marvel fan. Now we just need HEROES FOR HIRE, DAMMIT!
The fight choreography looks like it’s improved in a big way, especially when it comes to Danny. Not to mention the fights look like they’ve upped the brutality to Daredevil levels. The Immortal Iron Fist should be the greatest martial artist in the world and I hope we finally get to see that in Season 2.

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Marvel and Netflix made another very smart move and went from 13 episodes in Season 1 to 10 episodes in Season 2. Considering the show faced some criticism for pacing issues, I think this is a smart move. As much as I love most of the Marvel Netflix shows, each Season of each show usually has one or two episodes that drag the season down, basically filler episodes. A tighter 10 episode season could add excitement and drama, giving the show the momentum that was missing in Season 1. It will be interesting to see if Netflix uses this new 10 episode model for all of their Marvel shows. It makes sense because, from 2018 going forward we’re getting 4 Marvel Netflix shows each year. This year, it was Jessica Jones Season 2, the excellent Luke Cage Season 2, Iron Fist Season 2, and Daredevil Season 3 in December.

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I went from cautiously optimistic to very excited for Iron Fist Season 2. Now, I know Rule #1 at World’s Best Media is: DON’T TRUST TRAILERS! However, despite my better judgement, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this could be the Iron Fist series we all hoped for when Season 1 premiered.

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Iron Fist Season 2 premiers September 7 on Netflix.

As always, thanks for reading!
-Paul

PODCAST: Hulu’s Castle Rock and Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger

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CABF50E1-2379-4CE3-B7B5-BC0C8951DE05

Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

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:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15429967

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2&i=1000417278055
Stitcher:
https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=55651220&autoplay=1

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As always, thanks for listening!

PODCAST: Iron Man & The Dark Knight: 10 Years Later (Part 1)

Hey Everyboy,

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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:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15270322

iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2&i=1000415991596
Stitcher
https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=55361139&autoplay=1

Thanks for listening!

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:

https://best-media-world.com/2018/03/12/how-phase-3-fixed-marvels-villain-problem-and-why-it-never-existed-in-the-first-place/

-Paul

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The MCU Needs It’s TV Characters To Start Appearing On The Big Screen

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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This is very cool, but not the real poster for Spider-Man Far From Home. Just a fantastic piece of fan art.

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.

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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…

-Paul

LUKE CAGE Season 2 Review!

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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.

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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…

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Like Hell’s Kitchen on Daredevil, Harlem feels very like much a character on Luke Cage

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bushmaster: The new Big Bad in Harlem

A58E547F-204D-4D62-B12C-73B3D2993962Bushmaster 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.

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One of the greatest aspects of this series is the fantastic music. Live musicians perform live at Harlem’s Paradise, a club owned by Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), the music is used beautifully to enhance the story and bring style to the show.

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.

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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.

762BE0CE-9665-4ADA-BF2B-5647E9A9CBA8Lastly, 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

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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.

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Luke Cage Season 2: 9/10

Review by Paul Wright