During their long stint as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers have faced countless villains over the years. There are very few “Big Bads” in The Marvel Universe that The Avengers haven’t tangled with at some point or another. Heroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men have their own fantastic rogues galleries of villains. By contrast, The Avengers only have a few MAJOR villains to call their own. Villains who are seen as Avengers villains first and foremost. Sure, The Avengers may come up against Doctor Doom fairly frequently, but Doctor Doom has always been, and always will be, the nemesis of The Fantastic Four. However, when it comes to mortal enemies, what The Avengers lack in numbers, they make up for in their sheer level of badass. These motherfuckers are some next level threats. The Avengers have 3 iconic villains as primary enemies and we’ve already see 2 of them in The MCU: Thanos, Ultron, and Kang The Conqueror. I’ll get back to Kang in a minute.
First, let’s do a quick rundown of the mega-bad guys Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have faced so far. I’m not counting Loki for the same reason I don’t count Doctor Doom, Loki may have fought The Avengers, but he’s Thor’s problem first and foremost. Anyway like I said, we’ve already seen 2 out of 3 major Avengers baddies, so let’s start with Ultron. In the comics, Ultron is a fucking nightmare. He can never truly be killed, some piece of code always survives. Because he’s an artificial intelligence, every time he comes back, he’s a little more dangerous, a little smarter, and little more deadly. Tony Stark himself has said it on multiple times, it’s an inevitability: one day Ultron will simply win. Ultron may have lacked a lot of this menace on the big screen, but I still feel like there’s a lot to like in The MCU‘s portrayal of the character. James Spader put in an underrated performance as the deranged artificial intelligence, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Some fans felt that the film and it’s titular villain were disappointing. However, I think Ultron is much more interesting than people give him credit for and I would love to see the character pop up in a future MCU film.
Then, of course, there’s Thanos, who made his first appearance in the post credits scene of the original Avengers film. After years of build up, Josh Brolin delivered an already iconic performance as The Mad Titan, Thanos. Cementing his spot not only as the best villain in The Marvel Cinematic Universe, but one of the best villains on the silver screen period. But even as Thanos was wowing audiences in the epic finale of Marvel’s Infinity Saga, some were wondering who would take his who would take his place as the next “Big Bad” of The MCU.
Which brings us to “Big Bad” 3, Kang The Conqueror. Fans have been speculating for at least a couple of years now about which villain will become the next big threat in The MCU. With Ultron and Thanos out of the way, the smart money seemed to be on Kang The Conqueror. Now, it looks like those predictions are likely to come true. Recent reports from outlets like Deadline, indicate that Jonathan Majors currently starring as Atticus Freeman in the excellent new HBO series Lovecraft Country, has been cast in the role of Kang The Conqueror. These new reports also indicating that the character will be making his debut in Ant-Man 3. I haven’t seen Majors in many other roles besides Lovecraft Country, but he’s excellent in that series, so I really like this casting. I think there’s a lot of excellent potential here.
So who is Kang The Conqueror, anyway? Born Nathaniel Richards, Kang is a human from several thousand years in the future, he’s even a descendent of Reed Richards. Kang’s defining characteristics are his mastery of time travel and his brilliant strategic mind. In the far future, Kang utilized his genius-level intellect and advanced weapons taken from across the timeline, to conquer Earth and expand his empire throughout the stars. Kang considers himself the ruler of time itself, with all of history under his domain. He’s gone by many names over the years, but he is the warlord or king of whatever age he finds himself in. He traveled back in time to ancient Egypt and was worshipped as a god because of his incredible technology. He spent years there, ruling as a pharaoh under the name Rama-Tut. During this part of his life, Kang crossed paths and swords with En Saba Nur aka Apocalypse, one of the greatest adversaries of the X-Men. With the X-Men making their debut in the MCU sooner or later, this opens up a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities that could come out of that connection.
One younger version of Kang, is disgusted when he finds out about his future as a time-traveling despot, so he travels back in time to “The Age of Heroes”, to join The Avengers in an attempt to avert this future. This Kang actually joins the Young Avengers under the name Iron Lad. Much later in his life, Kang takes up the alias, Immortus, serving as a quasi-guardian of the timeline. It’s easy to see the many possibilities for great storytelling at play with a character like Kang. Kang is so dangerous because he’s a brilliant strategist on par with Captain America or Nick Fury with technology at his fingertips that is thousands of years beyond what even brilliant minds like Reed Richards or Tony Stark have at their disposal.
Ant-Man 3 may seem like an odd choice to debut this character, but it was Pym technology that gave The Avengers access to time travel in the first place. Perhaps Kang doesn’t like other people messing around in, what he views to be, his domain? There are also rumors that Ant-Man 3 could also see the debut of The Fantastic Four in some way. Could this be a jumping off point for the future of the MCU in the same way a movie like Captain America: Civil War was? What do you guys think of Kang The Conqueror joining the MCU,? Do you like the casting? Let me know in the comments below!
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1984’s Ghostbusters is a classic. Hell, I’ll do you one better, Ghostbusters is one of the best movies ever made. It a damn near perfect blend of comedy, supernatural thrills, a killer script, and excellent characters. But after that first, perfect film, the franchise has been on a weird journey ever since.
A few months ago, Jason Reitman, son of legendary comedy director Ivan Reitman (director of Ghostbusters 1 & 2), put out a proof of concept teaser trailer for a potential new Ghostbusters film. There wasn’t much to the actual teaser, but it was extremely effective. The stage was set: we see a creepy, old barn with strange disquieting lights and sounds emanating from the rickety building. The camera pans inside the barn where a vehicle is completely obstructed by a car cover. The wind picks up. The front of the car cover starts to flap off. We see the front of an old white jalopy with New York plates . The license plate reads “Ecto-1”. That’s pretty much it. It was a teaser, it didn’t need to be much else. More than anything it was a proof of concept trailer that communicated a very specific tone that this film would be going for. The message was clear: this is NOT the Ghostbusters we saw in 2016. It may have been short, but it was a great teaser. It was atmospheric, it was creepy, it tone. It sent the message that this is a Ghostbusters that’s a little different than what’s come before. You can see what I mean yourself, I have the teaser posted below…
Now months after that original proof of concept teaser, we have the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, hitting theaters July 2020. I have to admit I loved this trailer. I can see how some people might have a problem with the shift in tone. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a typical Ghostbusters film. But that’s one of the reasons I liked it so much. If you just watched the first minute of the trailer, you wouldn’t be able tell it’s a Ghostbusters movie. The whole thing has a real Stranger Thing/IT Chapters 1&2 vibe. I haven’t been this excited about the prospect of a new Ghostbusters movie… well, ever! Before we go any further make sure you give it a watch if you haven’t already. Check it out right here:
Ever since I was a kid, Ghostbusters was one of my favorite movies (it still is). I even think Ghostbusters 2 gets a bad rap. It’s a blast and it has some of the funniest moments in the series. My love of film and my interest in what went on behind the scenes, began in the late 90’s. When I was 11 or 12, I remember going to Blockbuster video with my grandmother, and as we waited in line I picked up a magazine called Cinescape. Inside the magazine were stories about the long in development movies that sounded like something out of a dream. A fourth Indiana Jones movie?! Another Star Wars trilogy?! James Cameron’s Spider-Man movie (if you know about that failed project, you’re certainly an old school film junkie like me). Tim Burton was directing a Superman movie starring Nicholas Cage that would include a cameo from Michael Keaton’s Batman?! Holy shit!
On a sidenote, reading that Michael Keaton as Batman would be in a Superman movie, these Qi existing side-by-side, this was the first time I understood the concept of a shared universe. This film that never came to be made me realize that Batman and Superman and I’ll kinds of other heroes interact with each other all the time. I never really understood that until that point. Tim Burtons attempt at making a Superman film is a fascinating story. The late great Jon Schnepp made fantastic documentary about the project called The Death of Superman Lives: What happened? It’s a fascinating look at what might have been. This project came very close to coming to fruition and personally, the more I’ve heard about it and read about it over the years the more fascinated I was by it. I would’ve loved to see this Superman movie. It certainly wouldn’t have been a traditional Superman film by any means and it almost certainly would’ve been quite bizarre but there were some truly fantastic ideas at play. Despite some seemingly odd creative choices, the film as Burton saw it was surprisingly faithful to Superman lore, but with that quirky, off kilter point of view that Burton brings to all his projects. Comic book fans, movie fans, and people who love the idea of what is and what might have been, will love this great documentary.
Anyway, the above mentioned movies had been rumored and talked about for years before I picked up this magazine and they were all stuck in varying degrees of development hell. Only new Indiana Jones and Star Wars films ever saw the light of day. As I flipped through the magazine waiting in line, briefly scanning some of the articles, I was hooked. That was my point of no return. I would now and forever be a movie nerd. It’s important to remember that this was in the 90s, long before the Internet was commonly used. So as a kid, reading about upcoming adaptations and sequels to some of my favorite movies of all time absolutely blew my mind.
After that I made sure to pick up Cinescape magazine every month. I loved reading every article, rumor, and review I could find about cool upcoming sci-fi/fantasy/adventure movies. While reading Cinescape, I learned that another one of my favorite film series was developing a new installment: Ghostbusters 3. Like I said before, I love both Ghostbusters movies and once I started following films like this through magazines like Cinescape, Entertainment Weekly, Empire, and eventually the internet, I always kept an eye out for news about Ghostbusters 3.
Over the next 30 years, it seemed like the movie was perpetually starting and stopping. Clearly there was fan interest and Dan Aykroyd, from the original cast who also wrote the screenplay for the original Ghostbusters, was the main player from the first 2 films that was really fighting to make a Ghostbusters 3. Sadly, arguably the most important Ghostbuster, Bill Murray’s iconic Dr. Peter Venkman, was fairly ambivalent about Ghostbusters 3. He was hot and cold on the project. One minute he would say he’s on board the next minute he would say he wasn’t going to do it. He wasn’t happy with how Ghostbusters 2 turned out and he had a falling out with his longtime friend and costar on Ghostbusters, Harold Ramis. Sadly, Harold Ramis passed away a few years ago, but at least he a Murray buried the hatchet and became friends again before he passed.
The first two Ghostbusters films were cash cows for the movie studio, so over the last 3 decades, Sony had been trying to get the 3rd movie made. Dan Aykroyd and many other writers took cracks at story ideas for Ghostbusters 3. Some of them are actually fairly interesting. There were versions of a Ghostbusters 3 script that involved the original Ghostbusters taking a backseat to a new team or a new generation of Ghostbusters. All of the original Ghostbusters would be a part of the film, but eventually the new team would take center stage. I remember names like Eddie Murphy and Chris Farley being thrown around a lot when rumors of who the next generation of Ghostbusters would be. While that could’ve resulted in a great movie, it never came to pass. I remember another version of the story saw the Ghostbusters going on a journey into Hell. In the script, Hell was described as a nightmarish version of New York, with all of the cities worst attributes dialed up to 11. Endless traffic gridlock, slime covering everything, ghosts and demons everywhere, that sort of thing. If I remember correctly a glimpse of heaven is also seen at one point and it’s the opposite of Hell. It’s like New York, but a perfect, pristine, paradise version of New York, with the mortal New York smack dab in the middle. Another interesting idea that was probably shot down because it was too expensive to create entirely new worlds.
The 2016 film remake of Ghostbusters directed by Paul Feig starring Melissa McCarthy was extremely controversial due to the backlash the film received for its all female cast. I’m sure many people saw this as a gimmick, but most of the attention was on the idea that the fan base hated the movie because it was starring four women. Speaking as a diehard Ghostbusters fan, I think the 2016 Ghostbusters is pretty bad, but it has nothing to do with the fact that all of the Ghostbusters are women. The film didn’t fail because of the gender of the cast, it failed simply because it wasn’t a good movie. In my opinion, the jokes didn’t land, the tone was off, and the film didn’t quite work. I think everyone is pretty much wrong for their part, except for maybe Melissa McCarthy, who I always enjoy. I get what they were trying to do with Kate McKinnon as the crazy, weird, Egon-ish character, but she just came across as annoying. With Leslie Jones, they were trying to go for a blue-collar, non-academic character who really knew the history of the city. She could’ve been a crucial part of the group because everyone else has essentially been working in a lab all their lives. This could’ve worked and I don’t think Leslie Jones was necessarily the problem, but the terrible script that relied on cheap jokes and stereotypes didn’t do her any favors. With better material I think she could’ve done much more with this part. Then there’s Kristen Wiig, and to be honest, I just dislike her performances.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie didn’t fail because of its all female cast, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some truly vile and toxic shit going around the internet about everyone involved in the film. Of course the worst online bile was directed towards the cast in a display of the worst kind of fandom. Surprise, surprise this was mostly on social media. Many of the things that were said about the actresses in this film were disgusting and vicious. I hate cancel culture, I strongly disagree that we need to start watching every little thing we say for fear that it will be taken out of context, but that doesn’t mean we should go around using social media to feed the worst parts of ourselves and espouse our most puerile, hateful ideas. There has to be a happy medium.
Anyway, even the villain in 2016’s Ghostbusters sucked. He was boring and uninteresting, especially compared to big bads like the ancient demigod Gozer and Viggo The Carpathian. I have one final point about Ghostbusters 2016, the filmmakers made a huge miscalculation that a lot of people tend to overlook about from the original Ghostbusters films. In the original movies, the jokes come from the characters, not the supernatural threat. The ghosts and the paranormal elements of the movies were never played for laughs. There’s a palpable danger to the situations the Ghostbusters find themselves in. If you take out the comedic moments of the original Ghostbusters, there are some genuinely scary horror moments in there. A good rule to go by for any new Ghostbusters movie to work: The ghosts have to feel dangerous, so the comedy comes from the characters and how they react to the situations they find themselves in.
Now, in Summer 2020 we have Ghostbusters: Afterlife making a go at becoming the first truly successful film in the franchise in 30 years. I was very surprised to see this trailer. I knew that director Jason Reitman had filmed a proof of concept teaser. However, I had no idea a brand new film had actually gone to production with Jason Reitman directing and Paul Rudd starring. So when a full trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife dropped this week, I was very surprised. One of the best things about the trailer was that up until about halfway through, you would never guess in a million years that this is a Ghostbusters movie and I mean that in the best way possible. I loved how unique it felt, so when Ghostbuster elements began to be introduced in the trailer, it’s a genuine surprise.
The story seems to be about family (including Carrie Coon from The Leftovers, Finn Wolfhard Stranger Things) moving to a small Midwestern town when they inherit a piece of farm property from a deceased relative. As the kids begin to explore their new home, they eventually find cash of all the old Ghostbusters equipment. The Proton Packs, The Ghost Trap, even their iconic vehicle The Ecto-1. The kids are the grandchildren of one of the original, unnamed, Ghostbusters (my money’s on Egon). It looks like they’ve stumbled on this equipment just in time because there seems to be some serious paranormal activity creeping up in this small town and the world that hasn’t seen a major paranormal event since Ghostbusters 2 in the 80s. There’s a cool bit in the trailer where the kids bring some of the Ghostbusters equipment to school with them to show their science teacher, wonderfully played by Paul Rudd, hoping to get some answers.
After realizing the Ghostbusters equipment is real, Paul Rudd shows his students some old clips of the original Ghostbusters in action (they look like they’re taken straight out of the original movies, which is a nice detail). Apparently Paul Rudd’s character lived in New York during all that crazy, paranormal shit that went down with Gozer and Viggo back in the 80’s. I think casting Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) are brilliant choices for a take like this. I bet their names come up often when studios discuss casting these types of films. Both actors have proven the can more than deliver It doesn’t seem like they’re making an attempt to re-create a “Bill Murray-type” character. No one plays the lovable wise ass like Murray, but in lesser hands, I could see the filmmaker is trying to make Paul Rudd‘s character into a stand-in for Dr. Peter Venkman. But nobody pulls that off like Bill Murray and any attempt to do it without him will inevitably fall short. Though I doubt he’ll have a large roll in the final film, Bill Murray and the rest of the surviving Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson (RIP Harold Ramis), are slated to appear in the film as their original characters. . I’ll say it again this looks like a fun supernatural adventure that has some comedy in it, not a comedy about ghosts, which is a very important distinction. I love next generation movies, I’m kind of a sucker for them, especially when they’re done well like Creed for example. So I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this film. We may finally be getting the Ghostbusters sequel we’ve always wanted.
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Holy Fuck! Avengers: Endgame is finally here! I wanna say right up front that there will be absolutely NO SPOILERS in this article. However, we go into FULL SPOILERS in our deep dive review of Avengers: Endgame on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast! My Marvel Movie companion, Paul Sr. and I had a chance to see the movie a few days early, but we wanted to wait until at least some of our listeners had a chance to see the film, before we posted this SPOILER-RIFFIC review.
It so rare for movies to live up to the hype, but Endgame manages to surpass expectations. One of the many things fans love about comics, especially from DC and MARVEL, is the interconnected universes. You could be reading a Spider-Man comic and the X-Men or Iron Man or Daredevil would pop up. That was the ingredient that had been missing from superhero movies when the “Superhero Boom” began with movies like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Singer’s X-Men.
It seems so obvious, but it was still brilliant. I remember seeing Iron Man for the first time and being blown away that SHIELD was in the movie. It seems so small now, in retrospect, but that little addition made it feel like the Marvel Universe (It was also the first appearance of fan favorite character, Agent Phil Coulson). Then of course there’s the immortal post credits scene from the first Iron Man film, when Tony meets Nick Fury which I’ve posted here below:
Building off the incredible success of IronMan and then creating 22 films that make this beautiful tapestry of a story, is mind blowing. The fact that out of the 22 films released so far, there have been so few missteps is astonishing. Even their weakest movies, and there’s only 3 or 4 like Thor: The Dark World, are pretty good or not bad at their worst. Everything else is more less gold.
The Russo Brothers, who’ve directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and now Avengers: Endgame, absolutely stuck the landing with this movie, it’s a must see. The films directed by The Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, aired the 4 best films in The MCU. Who would’ve thought that guys who worked on TV shows like Community would go on to tell some of the most epic stories of our generation? For the record, I loved Community.
I think the real hero in all of this is Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios. He was not only a massive fan of the source material, but he’d seen what mistakes other Marvel superhero films had made in the past and learned from them. So when it was time for Marvel Studios to start producing their own films, he knew what he was doing and he got the right people involved to work with them. Another huge kudos goes out to Casting Director Sarah Finn, who’s worked on almost all of the films, if not all of them. With maybe one or two exceptions out of literally hundreds, each character was a flawlessly cast. We owe a lot to her work as the reason these films came out so well.
On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast I’m diving into The Quantum Realm to review the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man & The Wasp! I keep it SPOILER FREE in the beginning and then transition into FULL SPOILERS, but I make sure to point out when the SPOILERS begin. Thanks for listening and enjoy! Listen here or subscribe Stitcher and ITunes:
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.
Ant-Man is one of the most underrated MCU films. I think it’s easily the best stand alone “Origin” film (like Iron Man or Doctor Strange). Director Peyton Reed is returning and he said if the first movie is a “Heist Film”, the next movie would be a new genre. I’ve heard rumors that this movie will introduce the Mutilverse, like alternate Earths. With new additions to the cast like Lawrence Fishburne, Walton Goggins and Michelle Pfeiffer this is definitely a movie to keep an eye on. Check out the trailer here, I can’t wait!