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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
Here’s the new poster for the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp. Apparently it’s going to take place either right before or around the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War and the new trailer will drop on Tuesday. As soon as that’s available, I’ll make sure we have it up on the site.
Like destiny and Thanos, it’s finally here… Avengers: Infinity War! So on this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”, Paul Sr. and I have a FULL SPOILER discussion/Review of Marvel’s ultimate crossover event. This movie is fucking EPIC! This movie is a gift to all the Marvel fans who stayed with this franchise since Samuel L. Jackson told Tony Stark about The Avengers Inititive in the first Iron Man film . We discuss ALL the juicy details so make sure you check out the movie before listening to the podcast. Because this film fucking delivers big time! I hope you enjoy this episode, listen here or subscribe on iTunes:
You can buy the “Infinity Gauntlet” graphic novel here at our Amazon Affiliate link, which helps support the site, here:
In the latest episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”, I review the new thriller A Quiet Place starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. I also do a little speculation on casting for a possible Fantastic Four Movie in the MCU. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes:
I go into more detail in the podcast but I think John Krasinski and Emily Blunt would make a great Reed Richards and Sue Storm, as a lot of other people have speculated. But check out this picture below and tell me John Krasinski couldn’t pull it off …