Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here..

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The second trailer for Captain Marvel dropped today (meanwhile those sons of bitches over at Marvel keep cock teasing us with the Avengers 4 trailer)! It looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! This looks like it’s going to be a fun space adventure, leading up to the epic finale of Avengers 4.

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Below I recorded a full trailer breakdown with all of the inside info on connections to the comic book source material, how this movie relates to the rest of the MCU, background on key character and story details, and much more!

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All of this is pretty SPOILER FREE, despite some speculation on my part regarding where the movie might go. Unless you want to know absolutely nothing going into this film, you should be ok. You can watch the full trailer here and listen to my audio breakdown below. I’d recommend watching the trailer and then playing it again along with my audio commentary for full effect:

My Trailer Commentary:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/16388831

ITunes:

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F16388831

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=57561559&autoplay=1

Captain Marvel hits theatres 3/9/19! Thanks for reading and listening! Please leave your questions and comments below!

-Paul

 

PODCAST: Daredevil Season 3! SPOILERS!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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  Daredevil is by far one of my favorite shows. When Season 1 premiered on Netflix, I was blown away. This was superhero storytelling in a format I’d always wanted, but hadn’t seen before. An adult, character driven show that took the amazing characters from the comic books and told a dark, complex story. With the first two seasons of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones, superhero storytelling had reached a new level of excellence, these shows were game changers. Even though we got a decent dose of Matt Murdock in The Defenders, it’s been far too long between Season 2 and 3. With the future of Marvel and Netflix in doubt, I’m happy to say Daredevil Season 3 delivers BIG TIME. In this episode, we discuss characters, story, deaths, twists, connections to the comic and more. So this episode is FULL SPOILERS. We had a blast recording this one, so we hope you enjoy listening to it. Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/16068431

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F16068431

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=56922667&autoplay=1

 

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I also wanted to include some graphic novel recommendations. Daredevil Season 3 draws heavily from a few different Daredevil stories, but they’re all phenomenal. You can pick them up on Amazon at the links below.

Daredevil: Born Again

Daredevil: Guardian Devil

Daredevil: Underboss

As always, thanks for listening!

-Paul

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

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

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

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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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!

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