#43 – Sam Wilson

And we finally have a Marvel character on the list! I feel like were getting nervous that I was just doing DC but no, it’s a fairly even list all the way through.

 

Sam Wilson is the Falcon, a man who uses metal wings to fly and has an almost telepathic ability to connect with his bird, Redwing. Sam was a notable character in the late 60’s and early 70’s because at the time he and Black Panther were really the only two heroes of Color.(This was a few years before characters like Luke Cage, John Stewart and Black Lightning step up) But even beyond him being a symbol of diversity and the civil rights movement, Sam has always been a hero of the people such as : His very first appearance involves him stopping a group of Former Nazi’s from turning the natives of a tropical island into their serfs…So yeah, if you’ve got a problem then Sam has your back, no matter what.

The best part about Sam is his ability to take things as they come and keep pushing on. He’s always been a fighter like that and that’s why he and Steve Rogers are such good friends. They’ve each overcomed tragedy through the years but it never changes who they are.

That fact was made even more relevant in recent years. There was a point where Steve retired as Captain America and Sam stepped up to fill the role. Many people were angry with this development, even protesting with slogans like “Not My Captain America” and he just kept going on and doing what he did best : saving people. There were even a few times where he went against S.H.I.E.L.D. just so he could keep fighting the good fight and that’s what we can take from all of this is that Sam will take hits from every side but he’ll always remain that kind of person and that kind of hero.

Anthony Mackie has portrayed Sam in four different Marvel films and Each one has just gotten better, much like he does. They adapted his storyline a little bit to better fit in the films but every decision makes perfect sense and they do it in a way that doesn’t hurt his character.

Comics 101 : The Death Of Gwen Stacy

Every person in their lives has a turning point, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a new job, a new city or even a new friend. It’s a constant fact of life that things will happen which will change everything you knew before. The same thing happens in our stories, Frodo finds the ring, Luke loses his aunt and uncle and Bruce loses his parents, these moments affected these characters deeply and set them on a new path and Spider-Man is no different. Peter Parker is a character that has never been unfamiliar with tragedy, his very origin story involves his uncle dying while trying to stop a mugger, later he would witness the death of Captain Stacy and his best friend’s struggle with Drugs but it wasn’t until Amazing Spider-Man #121-#122 when he and comics would truly change forever.

In 1972, Gerry Conway started writing for Amazing Spider-Man, his run on the comic was truly phenomenal and only got better as it went on and it has to be stated that he started writing it while he was only 20 years old which is insane to think of all that he was doing. He began to craft a story that was very personal, his Peter struggled constantly in the same way that he did during Stan Lee’s run but he never stopped being who he was. He had everyday problems like the rest of us and that struggle which made him even more of a relatable character. His love life had almost always been in flux until he got to Gwen, Gwen Stacy was the love of his life and she was perfect for him. She was sweet and kind and everyone who knew her loved her. She was never a big fan of Spider-Man though and even less so after her father died during one of Spider-Man’s fights with Doctor Octopus. Peter was going to explain everything to her and reveal his identity to her when the tragedy struck.

Norman Osborn had returned as the Green Goblin and found out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man were the same person. He kidnapped Gwen to draw Peter out and took to the top of the George Washington Bridge. A battle ensues where Gwen is pushed off the edge of the bridge, Spider-Man has seconds to act and he spins a web to catch her and it grabs her ankle but the whiplash causes her neck to snap. Peter doesn’t realize what he’s done until he pulls her up and resuscitate her.

This moment shook the character and the world of comics as a whole, it’s ramifications are still felt today in the issues of Spider-Man’s various comics. This turning point caused us to realize that our heroes can fail. Up until this point every hero was always able to save the day…until Spider-Man. Now, I can hear people already : “So, you hate Spider-Man?” or “So you think he’s a bad hero?” Nope. Spider-Man will always be one of the world’s greatest even after everything that happened and it’s how they wrote it that makes it that way. Peter is devastated after Gwen’s death and his entire career after that is working to avoid that situation but when it ultimately comes down to it : it was no one’s fault. It was a tragic accident that no one could’ve helped. It was a moment where we truly felt connected with Spider-Man because we’ve all felt helpless before where no matter how hard we try to fix something it never seems to get any better. But what do we do when that happens? Do we give up? No, we carry on like Peter does. His choices following this moment all have immensely more weight to them due to this and are even felt today.

It has to be spoken of how great of a job they did with the Peter and Gwen relationship in The Amazing Spider-Man films. I know, they may not be the best movies but the two of are done incredibly well in them and I loved that they handled her death in a very personal way that really focused on Peter’s love for her.

Gwen Stacy has since become an even more important character in the comics now due to where she stands as a figure of Peter’s past and his constant reminder of how to carry on. Different stories have referenced her in the years since she’s been gone and some of them have been awful but stories like Marvels, Spider-Man : Blue and The Clone Conspiracy have handled her incredibly well and made her character much more than just a girlfriend who died. Gwen was his life and he lost her that night.

Once Upon A Review : Beauty And The Beast(2017)

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this page was the idea of it growing to feature other writers and fandoms that I might enjoy but might be too busy to write about. Thus, we have our guest writer, Megan King to take care of the Disney reviews…so without further ado :

*Mild Spoiler Alert*

 
I want to go on record stating that I was just shy of 6 years old when Beauty and the Beast released on November 22, 1991. It was a true cinematic adventure for a 5-year-old girl who desperately wanted to grow up to be a Princess. It caught my attention like no other Disney movie previously had, because here was a girl like me- a girl who loved to daydream, who loved her books (albeit at 5 years old I was WAY more into coloring books than trying to read), and who’s upbringing was considered a little unconventional, being the child of divorced parents in a time when divorce was not as commonplace as it is 20 years later. Here was a common girl with big dreams and an equal intellect who, despite unfortunate circumstances, found romance, love and (most importantly to my 5-year-old mind)- became a Princess. Belle was truly a critical part of my foundation as a person. So believe me when I say that going into the 2017 live rendition of Beauty and the Beast, I had high expectations for what this film should and should not be, and equally what it should and should not include. While I could ramble on and on about all the things I absolutely adored about this movie, and the few things I thought interesting (though not bad!), I have to keep this concise otherwise none but the most diehard of Disney fans will read. Allons-y!

 

Imagine my delight as the Beast’s beautiful chateau is pictured at the opening instead of Cinderella’s castle. I squealed and repeatedly smacked my BFFs’ arm in excitement, because I have a serious distaste for Cinderella and anything to do with her (rooted in my childhood incapability of finding anything Aurora in lieu of Cinderella). I got shivers, and the 5-year-old in me was hooked on the cinematic beauty that is Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast. Condon truly kept to the very heart of everything that this story entails. The movie unfolds almost scene for scene, with a few changes along the way. Kept are the iconic musical number in which we see Belle (Emma Watson) in her village, and her odd role within it. Changed, however, is her role from the dutiful, daydreaming daughter of the town’s eccentric inventor into one who is a free thinking, educated and independent young woman, daughter of the town artist. Her new development truly reflects the independence of women today and subliminally speaks to how the role of women today has changed and is further evolving- going from a society where women reading and having ideas is shunned into one where it is welcomed. Maurice’s (Kevin Kline) character becomes a little less eccentric himself into someone caught in a sad, romantic past he cannot entirely escape from.

 
Belle and Maurice aren’t the only two characters who have changed. Gaston’s (Luke Evans) character has developed from a man whose entire character was based in small-town naivety and egoism into a true bully and brute, someone who has seen the world through war, and has been left marked because of it. He has been left bloodthirsty with serious anger issues. With LeFou (Josh Gad), we have a realistic explanation for his enchantment with Gaston.

 
The Beast (Dan Stevens) hasn’t changed much as far as his character behaviors go, however we discover the basis for his emotional instability- an emotionless father, and a mother who died while her son was young. Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and Plumette all did not deviate from their original characters, either, with the exception of Cogsworth losing his sass. While I didn’t catch the lack of his dramatic flair the first time I viewed it at the Thursday night sneak peek, I definitely noticed it lacking the second time I saw the movie when I took my children.
There were a few new characters, as well- Pere Robert (the village priest) and Maestro Cadenza.

The enchantress was given a larger role in the new film, becoming a watcher of the town and castle she enchanted with her curse, seeming to have more invested in the area than just a removed punishment. What, truly, is her connection to the area they resided in, or the royal family she signaled out? Why did she pick this Prince to punish for his transgressions, shallowness, and selfish ways? Was it something he did, or his father? Madame Garderobe also took a more prominent role in the movie than she had in the animated film, due to her relationship with Maestro Cadenza.

 
As a whole, the village was a true epitome of a small town- everyone knew everyone (and the business that went with each individual), they were all like-minded due to their close, small proximity, and were stand-offish if not downright unwelcome to the idea of change and forward thinking, as made apparent when Belle tried to teach the young girl to read. Did anyone else notice how the village, whom had probably spoken pretty badly of their monarch due to high taxes for his lifestyle, immediately welcomed and rejoiced at his return (and the return of their memories) when the spell was broken? This same town also never gave a second thought to the man they had just lost, the man who they had raised up, praised, and envied. Basically- these hoes ain’t loyal. Good for Belle to get out of that, because how stagnant and crippling a community, where they judge and tear each other down so freely, a community where leaders and role models are forgotten so easily. Might I add here that Stanley (of the Tom, Dick, and Stanley trio, played by Alexis Loizon) was an unexpected delight and personal surprise favorite in the movie, because YAS QUEEN during the famous battle for the castle.

Stanley (Alexis L)I

When it comes to the storyline, I was delighted that it kept true to its’ beginnings. I was also delighted to discover more of Belle and the Prince’s backstories- why Belle was in that village, how the Beast was turned into who he was. While the movie lacked the impromptu, surprise wedding celebration, we did see the monstrosity that was underneath Gaston’s glamor when he left Maurice for dead in the woods, prey to the wolves. We saw how and why the Prince was raised to be such a shallow, self-serving Prince. We discovered the heartache that Maurice kept from his daughter, and why he chose to keep her in the safety of a small village. But was physical safety worth her mental and emotional well-being? The visuals that went along with the story were absolutely, in a word, breathtaking. It was enough to move one to tears (and I did cry). The color, the beauty- both simple and extravagant, were dead on the mark of the time period the movie was set in, albeit an ideal, fantastical period (for it definitely lacked anything visually ugly that would have been true of the time). And the ballroom left me utterly speechless, whereas I had been engaged in singing (and sometimes speaking) along with the movie. The emotions of the movie were truly moving, truly stirring.

 
The new score for the movie was absolutely glorious, too. You can hear the emotional ride that the movie goes on in the soundtrack alone (which I have listened to almost obsessively since I last watched the movie, and am currently listening to). We were given the old favorites, given new life: Belle, Gaston, Be Our Guest, Something There, and Beauty and the Beast. Left out was a relatively unknown To Be Human Again, and we gained three new wonderful, moving songs: How Does a Moment Last Forever, Days In The Sun, and Evermore. I just want to ask- how did we ever live without Evermore as part of the original? The song occurs after the Beast lets Belle go back to her father, and truly epitomizes the love and loss the Beast feels for her, knowing he did the right thing by her while simultaneously coming to terms with the things he’s done, the things he feels, and the future he thinks he will have without her. It is a sad, powerful score of love, loss, and hope. I get chills every single time I hear it.

 
Overall, this movie was- for me- the movie of the year. It is definitely everything that I had hoped and prayed for it to be, and more. Other than wishing Ian McKellen and Bill Condon had kept more of Cogsworth’s sassiness and sarcasm (Because who wants to live without lines such as “If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!” and “Oh the usual things- flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”). 2017’s Beauty and the Beast is truly a movie for all ages, a neo-classical addition to the trademark tradition of magic that Disney is famous for. I believe that had there been the chance, Walt himself would have given the Mickey-eared stamp of approval.

 
Happily Ever Yours, Megan King

#44 – Jason Todd

There’s a few characters that only got better with age…or whenever they became another character entirely. This was the case with Jason Todd.

Jason was the second person to carry the title of Robin, He was a troubled kid living on the streets when Batman found him trying to steal the wheels off of the batmobile. He was obviously a very different case than Dick Grayson, who was the first Robin. Jason had a chip on his shoulder due to the terrible things that had happened to him after his parents left him and he had to fend for himself. When Bruce found him he had hoped that he could help him to become a better and stronger person but Jason was never quite good enough. It’s difficult for someone to build themselves up and become this great hero when they’re full of rage and just want to kill the people they’re fighting.

In 1986, Jason was killed by the Joker and cause Batman to nearly go insane thinking that he led Jason into this death by not caring for him and not training him enough.

Years later, a Vigilante known as the Red Hood came out of nowhere and started taking out Criminals in Gotham. It was discovered by Batman and Nightwing that this man was none other than Jason Todd.

When Jason became Red Hood he became who he needed to be. He’s the perfect embodiment of what an Anti-Hero should be. He started out a villain for The Bat-Family(and still has his moments on occasion) then later he started working with them. Now, when I say working with them, what I mean is he shows up, gets his part of the job done and leaves. Jason is still full of a lot of rage and doesn’t always make the best decisions but he’s trying to do better and that’s what makes him an interesting character.

He’s only gotten better whenever people like Scott Snyder and Tim Seeley were able to use him as a side character in their respective runs on Batman and Batman : Eternal. I still believe that Seeley should be writing the Red Hood comic but hey, that’s just me.

As for his appearance in the DC Animated Feature, “Batman : Under The Red Hood.” Jensen Ackles voices him to perfection. Most of the time that I read Red Hood, I hear Jensen Ackles. Under the Red Hood is also a great adaptation of the comic it’s based on.

In closing, Red Hood is something that Gotham needs. He’s willing to use what Batman taught mixed in perfectly with what he’s learned on his own. He’s deadly, but he’s certainly not vicious and he’s is definitely good at heart.

#45 – Superboy

I have a few characters that when I see them I immediately get excited about them being in my comics. Superboy is one of those characters.

Now, I must clarify something, in the mid 90’s Superboy was a kid in a leather jacket, with an earring and a skin-tight, spandex supersuit. (Because it was the 90’s and of course he did.) I’m not a huge fan of that version.

In fact, that version would not have made my top 50 but then a few years later they changed up his look and his backstory a bit and Superboy is awesome.

Superboy was a clone of Superman made in Cadmus Labs. He joins up with Young Justice and after they disband he joins up with the Teen Titans. He wants to be like Superman, he even takes on the name Conner Kent and starts going to Smallville High. Jonathan and Martha Kent raise him and try to teach him the same way they did with Clark.

Everything’s fine for him until he and Tim Drake figure out that he’s only 50% Superman and the 50% is DNA from Lex Luthor. This obviously cause a dichotomy in Conner. He’s either the world’s greatest hero or it’s most intelligent villain. Conner worries about this for a long time and he even worries about if he has a soul while being a clone until Raven explains to him that he had a different kind of Soul, one that grew while he was among his family and friends.

Conner is the epitome of a solid redemption story. He starts out annoying and petulant but then he discovers what it means to be a hero and to work with a team.

Conner is also featured heavily in the show “Young Justice” and was one of the best characters on the show. He went through the exact same kind of emotional changes because he starts out as a jerk and then he becomes a true hero.

Connor’s true shining moment was like that of many heroes : A moment of true self sacrifice and a willingness to save as many people as he can.

Infinite Crisis was an event where Superboy Prime(From Earth Prime, I know it’s weird just stay with me here) and Alexander Luthor JR.(From Earth 3, Please don’t leave yet.) Decide that the modern day heroes are terrible heroes cause they’re killing people, they’re letting others die, their teams are falling apart. So their goal is to take parts from all the different earths and make them into one perfect earth. In the midst of all of this is the war between Superboy Prime and Conner. Conner has quit the Teen Titans and is just living on the Farm right now. Prime comes and calls him out and says that once he removes Conner then he’ll be the new Superboy. Naturally, he and Conner have a huge fight and the titans all get involved and then Superboy Prime goes insane and starts killing people.

But I told you all of that to tell you this. Conner has been wondering the entire time what it means to be a true hero. He hurt his teammates recently by being under Luthor’s control and quit the team because he felt terrible after the fact. When Conner realizes that he has to stop Superboy Prime he steps up and stops him from killing anyone else and he destroys The machine that would destroy the Earth. He does all of this while sacrificing his own life. He asked his girlfriend, Wonder Girl if everyone was alright and told her not to let the real heroes forget who and what they are, she assured him that everyone was saved because of him and she held him until he was gone.

In the end, Conner was just like Superman. Truly selfless and willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone. That’s why he makes my top 50.

#46 – Deathstroke

If you ask the right fan : Who’s the deadliest assassin in DC Comics and you might get a Deadshot answer here or a Lady Shiva answer over there but more often than not, you’re only gonna hear one name : Deathstroke.

Deathstroke has appeared in many different DC comics since his first appearance in 1980’s New Teen Titans #2 and has since become something of a primary villain for characters like Batman and Green Arrow. He’s a brilliant strategist that can hold his own against just about any foe and has even challenged the entire Justice League before. His code of honor is something that really separates him from a lot of other characters in a strange way : He will never reveal who hired him or who his informants are, even to the point of allowing his own son to be kidnapped and have his vocal chords cut to where he would become mute the rest of his life. So, yeah, he’s incredibly cold hearted and has a strained familial relationship to say the least.

Deathstroke has always worked for the best interest of only himself with his loved ones being mere puppets for him most of the time but honestly that kinda makes him interesting because who will this man not cheat? Even in his most famous story : “The Judas Contract” he uses Terra to destroy the Teen Titans and because she’s a mentally broken runaway she believes in him the entire time, which leads to a soul crushing finale and an epic showdown between Deathstroke and Nightwing.

Deathstroke has been adapted for other forms of Media such as his appearance in The Batman Arkham games and The Arrow T.V. Show but my personal favorite version of him will always be “Slade” from the original Teen Titans animated series. They did his role in such a great and mysterious way that he was always one of my favorite cartoon villains growing up. From the episode where he made Robin his apprentice to the episode where he’s a follower of Trigon, this version of the character will always be in my memory.

Deathstroke is the definitive assassin and that’s why he’s on my top 50.

#47 – Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is a character that I’ve struggled with over the years. She’s annoyed me at different times throughout her history but recently upon further inspection into her character I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading about her a lot more.

For those of you that don’t know, Harley didn’t actually get her start in comics and instead was created for Batman : The Animated Series. She started out as a simple lackey for Joker until she really blossomed into her own character. When she was finally given an origin we discovered that she was a renowned psychiatrist named Harleen Quinzel that wanted to try and cure the Joker but in doing so she fell in love with him and became Harley Quinn.

Harley’s at her best when she’s fighting against him, her story arc involves her constantly going back and forth between her love for him and her attempts to return to normal. Much like some people do when they’re in a bad relationship. I’ve always had the belief that even though Comics are supposed to be fantastical versions of our world with Heroes that are nearly perfect and Villains that are pure evil that when a complex character like Harley sneaks in is when you get some of the most interesting stories. We as readers want her to leave and we want her to stay because we know that she’s crazy but we love her because of that. That’s why Harley worked in the Animated series and has in many of the various comics.

In the latest DC Film : Suicide Squad, Harley is portrayed by Margot Robbie and although I was not a fan of this movie I was very pleased with Robbie’s portrayal of the character…not so much with the character design but hey that’s just me. Robbie brought her to life in a way that exceeded my expectations and I genuinely loved the scene where she’s just so dejected after thinking that Joker has died and then immediately goes back to her “Normal” self when the team returns. It’s a great and very personal scene that the film could’ve used a lot more of.

In conclusion, I’ve changed my thoughts on Harley Quinn in the past few years and I’m happy to add her to my top 50.

“What it feels like” Logan Review

I just got done watching Logan for the first time and most of my thoughts on the film involve heavy spoilers but I’ll try to refrain from them for the first half or so. I’m going to have a lot of people disagree with me about this film but I will stand by my opinion.

First and foremost, Hugh Jackman deserves an Oscar and he should absolutely be considered for it in 2018…even though he won’t be. Him and Patrick Stewart both give out some truly phenomenal performances in their final outing as these characters. These aren’t the Logan and Charles Xavier that we’re used to, no these are hardened versions of themselves that have lived through far too many tragedies in their lives. They’re worth the price of admission just by themselves.

If you didn’t know then X-23 is the primary side character after the first 20 minutes or so. She’s a newer, young mutant which is why it’s so crazy when Logan sees her for the first time. Most people had thought that mutants had become all but extinct until she shows up. It’s a great performance by Dafne Keen, she adds a lot of heart to the character which says a lot because she’s basically just a tiny killing machine throughout the first half of the film which is one of the reasons that the film works and doesn’t work.

The plot of Logan is very linear, and not in the best way. Effectively it’s a bleak road trip from Mexico to North Dakota. Logan is supposed to transport X-23 to a safe haven with Professor X tagging along. It’s a genuine connection between those three characters and that’s what makes the movie succeed. Without them, it’s honestly just go here and fight people, go here and fight people and go here and fight people. Which made me wonder who Wolverine hadn’t killed by the end of the film.

It’s probably the best of the X-Men franchise which has been a struggle since the changes of Days of Future Past but it doesn’t really change anything about the movie besides that you have no idea what’s happened leading up to this.

For the end of the spoiler free stuff, it’s a perfect send off for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. If you’ve followed these characters and grown up with these actors performances like I have then you owe it to yourself to watch it because it’s worth it for them.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Here’s a giant film poster to help separate the segments!

 

 

 

Alright, so the main reason that I struggle with this film is because of my love for heroes and make no mistake that Logan is very heroic in this film. Now, when I heard that James Mangold was going to have more freedom this time then I knew that it was effectively going to be a tragic biopic about Logan which totally works for me until I realized one major plot point that could possibly effect comic films as a whole.

When he picks up the comic and says : “In the real world, this s@%# doesn’t happen. People die.” I took that as he’s saying that these stories aren’t worth anything unless they’re the hyper-realistic versions. Which just isn’t my preference because I believe that although the world can occasionally be as dark as these films let on I still believe that heroes exist to counterbalance it. Which Logan does in this film multiple times but unfortunately the film often refuses to accept that and instead drives home the message of futility against the darkness.

The death of the happy little family about halfway through the film was just the worst thing that could happen and I’m worried that it sets a tone for future films. My brother put it best when he said that “When they’re at Hawkeye’s house in Avengers : Age Of Ultron you never have a fear that somehow everyone that we’ve just met is about to die but in this film, it can and does happen.” It’s a genuine tragedy but it’s one that is fairly unnecessary unless you were trying to push the agenda of turning all of these comic book films into a watchmen-esque murder fest.

Yes, Logan is a tragic character but because of the X-Men he learns how to become a better person through the love he has for his teammates and I think that Hugh Jackman maintains and understands that but the film doesn’t until right before he dies.

The visual aids of that death scene with the bloody wolverine figure, or the X over the grave signifying him as the final X-Man are all very on the nose saying that these heroes don’t actually get to have a happy ending and I hate that it’s come to that. Especially when your ending is preceded by a beautifully bittersweet death scene which Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen just make you experience every emotion you can at once.

I’m nitpicking quite a bit here but it’s because I’m concerned about what this means for comic films as a whole. My personal hope is that a year from now I can look back on this article and laugh at how silly I was being but I have a fear that I won’t be able to do that. With DC’s films alienating half the fanbase and the fox films losing it’s biggest asset I am concerned that this film is going to have the same effect on comic book films that Unforgiven had on westerns.

Overall : At the end of the day, even for all of my complaints, Logan is still a very well made film that absolutely deserves a viewing if you get the chance. Thank you to Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart for all they’ve given us over the last 17 years.

Comics 101 : The Films

Comics 101 is a series I’m doing which focuses on different facets of the Comic Book industry as a whole. Each article can be read separately without having to read other articles first so you can read at your own pace, or if you wanna read them all in order then hit that button at the top right of the page. The purpose of these articles is to make comics more accessible to people who aren’t too familiar with them. This article will be talking about the films based on comics, which is where most people begin with these characters and stories.(Including me) So let’s get to it!

(Real quick though, obviously I can’t mention every single film that we’ve had over the years so please excuse me if I skip over any of them.)

Throughout the years we’ve seen multiple different versions of some of our favorite characters on the big screen. Currently, Batman and Superman still have the most on screen appearances but characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man are definitely catching up to them. Why do these characters work so well on screen and why have some been almost oscar worthy and others have been almost unwatchable? Well that’s what I’m here for.

DC Comics

 

The films of DC’s Heroes go back to the classic Batman and Superman Serials of the 1940’s. Different characters starred in different serials as the popularity grew but it all unfortunately withered away following the end of World War II and the death of George Reeves.(The actor who played Superman.) Most of these characters wouldn’t see the screen again until the late sixties where we got Adam West as Batman in the film which spawned the T.V. Show(But we’ll be talking about those next time)

DC did really well on the big screen with the success of Superman in 1978 which was highly praised and  got three sequels and one spin-off with Supergirl. I still love the first Superman movie and I will say that it’s the best live action version of the character as of this writing. The second film was a lot of fun as well but it struggles with itself due to director/producer power struggles and the third and fourth films are better left forgotten. Batman in 1989 did just as well as the first Superman and also got three sequels which I struggle with because, yes I grew up with all four of these films but as I’ve gotten older I’ve also realized that even the ones we thought were good just weren’t as good as we really thought.(I’d be happy to do reviews of these if anyone would like my opinion on them.)

1997’s Batman and Robin was and still is widely considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all time and because of it’s failings it would be eight long years before DC would release their next big film : Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.

In 2005, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan gave us Batman Begins. In the film, we get to see Bruce Wayne in a very realistic setting. This Batman is one that could happen in real life so all of the villains in the trilogy are grounded in reality such as Ra’s Al Ghul, A toned down Scarecrow, Two-Face, Catwoman and a Venomless Bane. This would lead to two sequels : The Dark Knight, (which is widely considered to be the greatest comic book movie of all time) and The Dark Knight Rises (Which isn’t looked on as fondly as it’s predecessor, unfortunately. But it was just really hard to top that greatness.)

These films were widely considered a turning point for comic book movies as a whole with Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and the rest all giving Oscar caliber performances and with Screen writing that was as air tight as you could make it. The Dark Knight never wastes a single scene, every single one in there is there because it needs to be. Seriously, go rewatch Dark Knight and then watch any other movie and the Dark Knight has more scenes that actually move the story along. It’s a masterpiece of Filmmaking and should be carried down and talked about for years to come.

Also, it has this scene which is one of my all time favorites…as in film in general, not just comic book movies :

In 2006, Bryan Singer released Superman Returns. It wasn’t well received by many critics and fans and I was among that number until recently. It’s honestly not as bad as I originally thought, it just isn’t as good as it could be or should be.

Throughout the next few years DC released dud after dud with films like Jonah Hex and Green Lantern. It wasn’t until 2013’s Man of Steel that they would have a successful film that wasn’t Batman related…which is kinda funny cause it immediately lead to them making Batman V. Superman : Dawn Of Justice to attempt to follow the powerhouse success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. This latest DC Cinematic Universe that they’re trying to build has hit quite a few snags in the last month, let alone the last year. I’m a solid DC Comics fan but I agree with most people that their films are falling short, I have hopes for Wonder Woman but I wouldn’t be surprised if this fall’s Justice League is the last DC film that we see for a while.

Unless they let me write them…

Marvel Comics

The 1960’s were a great time to be a fan of Marvel with their merchandise, television appearances and comics being everywhere but much like the roaring twenties it all came to a screeching halt in the mid 80’s for Marvel. While their comics were on the rise, their films had been commercial and financial flops at the box office with films like Howard The Duck and The Punisher they kept trying to get back to where they had been with their shows but they couldn’t find any big studio that wanted to help them which resulted in the 90’s versions of Fantastic Four and Captain America. Both of which were never properly released in theaters and considered to be genuinely terrible films. With their films flopping under their guidance they began to sell off their film rights to any studio that they could just to keep the lights on. This was a terribly low point for Marvel and this act of selling, in the mid 90’s, would go on to still have ramifications almost 20 years later. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Now it’s around this time that we see Marvel just start bombarding us with films. After the early success of Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man we then got a plethora of sequels and spin-offs which lead to incredibly high points such as Spider-Man 2 and incredibly low points such as Elektra. 

The Spider-Man franchise was really great for their first two films and then the third one just fell off the deep end unlike any other. Although many people complained about him I always really liked Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, I fully understand that I’m in the minority of that discussion and I also understand everyone’s complaints about him but I think he manages to pull off Peter Parker very well. After Spider-Man 3 was a critical disaster, the following reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 was headed up by Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Both this film and it’s Sequel were met with lukewarm responses from a critical standpoint but no one had a bad word to say about Garfield or Stone who were brilliant in their roles.

The most successful of these Franchises would have to be 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise but once again it was plagued with High points like X-Men : First Class and low points like X-Men The Last Stand, X-Men Origins : Wolverine and X-Men : Apocalypse. These films have all been carrying on through the years and they’re still going strong..which I am both happy and sad about but we’ll get to that momentarily.

Many different studios besides Fox all owned different properties which is why we never saw any crossovers for a long time until in 2008 they released their first film which would take Marvel leaps and bounds beyond what they were already at : Iron Man. The Iron Man film was the brainchild of Producer Kevin Feige and Director Jon Favreau, Favreau gave us an amazing first film and Feige began working on the rest of the building blocks that would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the following four years, Feige headed up the concept of Marvel creating their own studio and building The Avengers Team on screen by showing their different films for Hulk, Captain America and Thor while having characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye make small appearances in the other films before they all came together in Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012, which was also the first official Marvel Studios Film.

Avengers was incredibly well received and since then Marvel has only gotten better. With a backing of new and old fans Marvel has had the freedom of building up their roster of Characters which gives us Powerhouses like Black Panther but also gives us the more odd choices like Guardians of the Galaxy. They earned our trust by handling these films with the attitude of building the best possible story. Which also leads to this scene which is another one of all time favorite scenes in film :

They cut it off a bit soon but they both survive and Bucky actually saves Steve from Drowning.

Marvel has just connected everything so beautifully that we can enjoy multiple different cameos of other characters that it truly feels like Marvel Comics come to life and that’s why we love them so much.

 

Now, the main reason I have issues with Fox is because they won’t release the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four back to Marvel. Now you might be thinking : “well they’d lose money.” Well tell that to Sony. Sony allowed Spider-Man to be in Captain America : Civil War with their merger and because of it everybody wins. Each company gets a percentage of the profits and we get to see Spider-Man with the Avengers. It’s perfect for everyone!

Now if only we could get  X-Men in there…

And I don’t even like the Fantastic Four that much but I know that they can be a lot better than those last three awful films so give them back to Marvel too!

Independent Comics

Yes, I hadn’t forgotten about the Film versions of some of our favorite Independent Comics(Any comic that isn’t from Marvel or DC) There’s many out there but I’m just going to be looking at two of the biggest ones in this article.

The first major one was The Crow in 1994, it’s dark aesthetic and the brilliant performance by Brandon Lee is what makes this film work. Eric Draven isn’t really a hero. Instead he’s basically just a man on a revenge quest. It was a great film overall and definitely deserves a viewing.

Another major comic book adaptation was SIn City which was almost shot for shot from the comic during the first film and it connected the stories well and made you want to know more about this world of wild characters but for some reason the second lost a lot of what made the first one great. Mickey Rourke as Marv will always be one of my favorite performances and he’s great in both films and honestly makes them worth it.

I’ve never actually seen either of the Judge Dredd films but I plan on checking those out soon. Also, yes, I refused to mention Spawn anymore than I had to.

What makes one great?

We’ve covered a lot of different films in this article and I skipped over quite a bit just so I could hit the big points in the history but we’ve mentioned really great and really bad versions of these properties. So what makes one great? Well I think that for a lot of people Comics and their characters mean different things to different people and that’s why these productions are difficult unless they’re taken with a serious attitude. The greatest danger that we face is the concept of people taking over these productions and either not caring about the source material or caring about it for the wrong reasons. This is what I think certain companies forget while they’re coming up with their stories. They focus so much on what will work with audiences that they forget why they’re doing this in the first place. I will admit, fans are the hardest people to please and I believe that as long as the characters are true and the changes that are made don’t change who they are then that adaptation can still be a good film. Every comic book film is going to take some liberties but it’s more about the characters and who they are than if the costume looks cool.

In closing, these films mean a lot to me and to a lot of other people. They’re what we typically start with and it’s why we love these characters. Everyone has their moment when they truly became a comic book fan and mine was the first Spider-Man film and because of that, Spider-Man will always have a special place in my heart. What was your moment?

#48 – Cyborg

Cyborg is the heart and soul of the Teen Titans. Plain and simple. When it comes down to it the Titans are a team that focuses on the idea of younger heroes coming together to learn about their powers and grow as people. It’s basically DC’s answer to the X-Men and that’s where Cyborg really shines because he gets to be the one who suffered through a tragedy and gained abilities that he didn’t really want in the first place. The fact that takes those abilities and uses them to help people in the best way possible is one of the reasons I love him. In his later years he was always viewed as someone who would try to look on the bright side of things but of course these things happen to where he’s overcome with the depression and anxiety of his most recent years. His connection to people who go through different struggles is what has made him a DC mainstay over the last few years.

Victor Stone was a highschool football star when an accident happened causing to lose all but one of his limbs and many of his organs. His father, Silas Stone built him a new body with advanced cybernetic prosthetics thus making him Cyborg.

Initially Victor doesn’t want to live anymore but after he realizes all the good he can do, he accepts his new role as a hero.

He joins up with the newly reformed Teen Titans and quickly becomes a solid member with enhanced strength and incredible technology that him into one a powerhouse for the titans. Victor at time had risen to the rank of leader when Dick Grayson and Donna Troy would either step down or would be injured. He became a mentor for the next generation of Titans when they came of age.

In the New 52 reboot Cyborg was actually one of the founding members of the Justice League. Although being the youngest, the team never looks down on him and he can definitely hold his own. Especially after saving them during Throne Of Atlantis, Forever Evil and Darkseid War. Cyborg honestly kinda became that guy that you could just always count on to be there and save everyone.

Cyborg was also a huge part of the fantastic 2003 Teen Titans show. Always being that driving force thay the team needed and always trying to look on the brightside. He definitely deserves to be a part of my top 50.

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From “Throne of Atlantis” this scene above truly shows who amd what Cyborg is. He has to get rid of his last human lung so that he can go and save the team. He has to constantly make those decisions of how to maintain his humanity while still having the ability to save everyone. This, to me, makes him one of the most selfless heroes in DC Comics.