E3 – Marvel

Marvel came out in full force here at E3 with two major games being showcased so let’s get right to it.

Marvel VS. Capcom looks fantastic and I’m really happy that they’re putting a story mode in the new game. One of my biggest complaints about the last one was the lack of one. We get to see a bunch of new characters in this trailer and obviously the one I’m most excited for is Black Panther. I’m intrigued to see who the rest of the DLC characters will be and will be posting about them as I find out about them.

The gameplay looks to be updated from the last one and in the best way. I’m interested to see the different abilities of the Infinity Stones and to see how they mix with each different fighter.

Wow, so in this trailer we get to see the perfection of being Spider-Man in this game. There’s stealth, there’s action, there’s a chase scene and there’s a quicktime event of saving people. Mix all of those together and we might have the best Marvel game they’ve ever done. I love that they have multiple different references to the comic in these scenes, Wilson Fisk and Mr. Negative are great additions to the game and I’m excited that we’re getting characters that we haven’t seen a lot of before. Also, Mile Morales is gonna be awesome and I can’t wait to see how he fits into the storyline.

Sony’s E3 Letdown

Sony’s 2016 E3 press conference was an amazing experience. The announcements of a new God of War, a new Spider-Man, and Hideo Kojima’s first project apart from Konami were huge. Unfortunately, it would seem those announcements were premature. Not only did Sony fail to announce anything close to the scale of last year’s games, we’ll have to wait nearly another year before we actually get to play any of those big games that made us so excited last year. Sony announced very few new IPs and those that they did announce were either PSVR exclusive titles or were underwhelming in their presentation. Why so much time was dedicated to the PSVR, a device that only a fraction of Playstation owners have, is beyond me, but don’t think I’m not excited for Sony’s support of PSVR. I’d much rather the headset stick around long enough to spawn future iterations than to be stranded on Vita island, but if your coup de grace is going to be gameplay for a game we’ve already seen, followed by an announcement that it isn’t coming out until next year, maybe you ought to spend a little more time on something that the majority of fans can look forward to. The only game with a confirmed release date that isn’t small, a remake, or an expansion that we have to look forward to this year is Days Gone. Days Gone looks good, and maybe I’m being a little nitpicky since Horizon has already cemented itself as Sony’s 2017 flagship game, but why announce games like God of War, and Spider-Man, show gameplay, and not release them for another two years? I think the root of the problem is the leak epidemic in the gaming industry. It’s almost impossible to keep a secret anymore, and thanks to social media, once it’s out, it’s out everywhere. I suppose in a way, I can’t blame Sony for showing all their cards last year. If they hadn’t, it’s probable that someone would have shown them for Sony, and robbed them of what was a truly an incredible conference. From a marketing standpoint, they made the right call last year. No one who knows anything about the industry wasn’t expecting Death Stranding this year, so that doesn’t sting as bad as the others, but I’m left wondering why Sony really needed to go on stage this year. Skyrim VR and Shadow of the Colossus HD, are cool, but where is TLOU2? What happened to Sucker Punch? Why did Sony leave its biggest franchises out to dry without announcing any new ideas? it looks like Sony is done this year, but 2018 looks like a good year to be a Playstation owner.

One More Day Revisited: When Stories get Phoned In

Oh boy.

For those who don’t know, Spider-Man: One More Day is a four-part story created by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada that was released in 2007, following up the events of Marvel’s Civil War event. The story itself has received severe criticism over the years and is often considered the worst Spider-Man story ever written, which is really saying something significant. As a devout Spider-Man fan and critic of the story myself, I wanted to revisit One More Day to see if it has gotten better since its premiere almost 10 years ago. Hindsight is 20-20, right?

Well, my hindsight has revealed that the story is, indeed, a disaster from start to finish.

One More Day kicks off with Aunt May having recently been shot and basically in a coma; this is due to the fallout from Civil War in which Peter Parker reveals his identity to the world as Spider-Man. Sure enough, his enemies target his loved ones and track down his personal life, and an assassin hired by Kingpin attempts to kill Peter and MJ but misses, shooting Aunt May instead. This brings us to Part 1 of the storyline, in which Peter is in anguish over his aunt’s critical condition. His grief leads him to do a variety of extreme and uncharacteristically Spider-Man things in order to just have “one more day” with his aunt (oh, aren’t you self-aware, Quesada). Let’s look over the problems with this storyline piece by piece, shall we?

The Tragedy

OK, yes, losing Aunt May is arguably the worst thing that could happen to Peter Parker. But good Lord, is the tragedy uncreative. Aunt May is shot as a result of Peter’s enemies knowing who he is. This gives Peter incredible guilt over the experience, because Lord knows self-blame over personal tragedy has been a successful trope for comic book writers over the years. However, with the talent that Straczynski has, fans were hoping for something with a little more meat. Why not something a bit more tangible for the rest of us? Spider-Man has always been one of the most relatable characters in all of comics, arguably in all of fiction, and while we have all experienced some self-loathing for tragedy in our lives, very few of us can really connect with having a mob boss order a hit on us resulting in an unintentional death. You know what is relatable? A loved one getting cancer, or being lost in a senseless automobile accident. If Straczynski and Quesada wanted to make a story that readers could connect with, they should have made the tragedy something that was truly out of Peter’s hands: give us three issues of Spider-Man fighting off droves of enemies to protect his family, and end it with Aunt May contracting cancer or being hit by a drunk driver to showcase the real futility of Peter’s efforts. Making her death a case of assassination-gone-wrong ruins the blow of the inciting incident.

Also, why was his spider-sense, a power that has been monumentally effective in the past, so unhelpful in this case? So his power can make him dodge a bullet in his sleep but can’t let him know that his Aunt May is right behind him? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Parker’s Reign of Terror

I’ve never been a big fan of the whole “symbiote suit makes Peter lose his character” idea; it feels contrived and gimmicky to me. You know what I’m also not a big fan of? Peter establishing a 24-hr reign of terror in his grief. During the course of One More Day, we see Peter Parker do a host of things that are definitely not par for the Peter Parker course. We see him physically and verbally threaten a doctor whose hands are administratively tied; let loose his full powers on Tony Stark (something he has repeatedly sworn to never do); intimidate, threaten, and shift blame onto Stark in order to get money from him; threaten to rob people and banks in order to pay for medical treatment; and verbally attack Dr. Strange and disobey him concerning the arcane arts. While we all can understand that tragedy can make us do things we normally would not, we see Peter transform right before our eyes into something he has never been. It is completely inconsistent of his character to even think of doing any of these things, especially when viewed in light of trying to save the very woman who raised him to always do what was right. It is ironic that while every effort is made to save Aunt May, not once is any thought given to her legacy, a trend in this story that is antithetical to everything Aunt May has ever stood for.

Avengers, BE USELESS!

I have no idea what kind of bullet that assassin shot Aunt May with, but it apparently was laced with special plot-juice that makes every character in the entire Marvel Universe completely incompetent and useless. Arguments have been made that Straczynski at least tried to explain why no one else could help heal Aunt May, but in all honestly, he really doesn’t. While Tony Stark argues that the government would come after him if he gave Peter any help, refusing to help an innocent bystander is not the type of hero Iron Man has ever been (the weird recent Extremis storyline excluded). His argument also falls apart literally one page later when Jarvis shows up with a new hefty bank account to help Aunt May. Apparently, the government stops caring about Tony Stark when he just wires 2 million dollars to an account which then covers hospital bills for May Parker (oh, I’m sorry, May Morgan. As if anyone in America didn’t know who they were after the events of Civil War). Peter does the next logical thing, asking Dr. Strange for mystical help. However, Dr. Strange proves even less helpful than Tony, simply saying the magical-spiritual equivalent of “Nah, sorry fam; ain’t gonna work.” This might be the biggest problem for me: Peter goes to Steven Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, a character who can travel the globe with the Speed of Thought, who can multiply himself with comparative sentience, who can phase in and out of the astral plane at will, who has defeated clone versions of the Hulk and Namor, and who has altered all of reality too many times to count. And Strange just says, “I’m sorry, I can’t help her.” WHY NOT?! At least try to give an explanation as to why one of the most powerful beings in the universe can defeat demons and exist in several different realities at once but can’t heal a bullet wound! Further, the creators don’t even try to explain why anyone else can’t help; they simply show Peter asking the richest, smartest, and most powerful characters in all of Marvel in unexplained futility. This is one of the worst examples of plot-convenience I have ever seen, and it is unacceptable. All of these things lead to…

Mephisto

  1. OK, Straczynski and Quesada. Peter Parker, one of the most morally upright and spotless characters in all of comics, a character who refuses to kill even his most dangerous foes because he believes some things are just too sacred, whose career has been spent stopping muggings just as much as saving the universe, who’s moral resolve has been tested and proven countless times, accepts help from Mephisto, Marvel’s version of Satan. OK. Sure.

Honestly, I hate everything about this sequence. I hate that Mephisto just randomly shows up, I hate that Peter is one of the most intelligent people in Marvel and he can’t figure out what’s going on as all these weird random things occur, I hate that we just saw Peter walk the astral plane in an attempt to find help for his dying aunt then immediately is having casual conversation with random people in the street, I hate that Quesada insults his readers’ intelligence by assuming that we don’t see the little girl’s identity a mile away, I hate that Straczynski goes out of his way to ridicule an entire group of readers by saying that people who play and program video games are wasting their lives in bitterness and social withdrawal, I hate that Mephisto, one of the most powerful and evil beings in the universe, has nothing better to do than break up a marriage. If there is a single issue of comic books that I hate more than The Sensational Spider-Man #41, I have no idea what it is. It’s a series of nonsense scenes and insults to the readers that make the story feel more like a bad melodramatic David Lynch project than anything else.

Final Thoughts

One More Day is a bad storyline. You can summarize its four parts as such: Part 1, Both Peter and Tony are Turds. Part 2, Dr. Strange is Vague and Useless. Part 3, Mephisto Finishes Binging Days of Our Lives. And Part 4, Really Drawn-Out Dialogue Leads to Retcon. But bad writing is really nothing new to Spider-Man fans; we’ve had to suffer through some really bad stories in the past, but nothing felt as personal as this. The reason why One More Day stands out is not that the writing is bad but rather that the writing is lazy.

Everything that happens in One More Day is convenient for the story. Yes, in order for any story to work, certain things have to fall into place. However, when things fall into place in such a way that nothing makes sense, e.g. everyone in the Marvel Universe suddenly becoming useless to heal a bullet wound, readers start to feel as if the creators are just phoning it in. One More Day was never meant to revolutionize Spider-Man comics; it was meant to do one thing—retcon Civil War because it was inconvenient. The fact that everyone knew Spider-Man’s identity made telling a traditional story really difficult; however, rather than embracing that difficulty and giving readers something new and exciting, we get a weird retconning that makes no sense and only serves to give Quesada a way out of the box that Marvel creators had written themselves into. Yes, Civil War was a great book, but it wreaked utter havoc on virtually every mainstream Marvel title that was not Captain America. So, what did Quesada do? Give Spider-Man fans a cheap, unimaginative and nonsensical four-part story that not only destroyed Peter and MJ’s marriage but also set a dangerous precedent: if things get tough, we can always phone it in and retcon. This is why One More Day stands out as the worst Spider-Man story, for it showed readers just how terrible comics can get when creators decide that they just don’t want to actually earn their paycheck with creativity and quality content anymore.

 

Which is why I say thank God for Dan Slott. Sure, the man killed Peter Parker, but you can never say he phoned an issue in.

 

What to Expect from Spider-Man: Homecoming

So now that we’ve seen Tom Holland as our new MCU Spider-Man (spoiler alert, he’s spectacular), the rumors have been flying about his upcoming solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, a title that just exudes Marvel’s fun sense of self-awareness. Set to come out next year in July—the seventh, to be exact, if you want to be like me and mark your calendars and set up countdowns on your electronic devices—the movie hasn’t really released a ton of information about its plot or the comic book sources it may or may not be drawing from. Thus, rumors have gone everywhere from a weird pseudo-adaptation of The Clone Saga to an entirely new story straight from the MCU. As an avid Spider-Man fan, I can’t help but dive into these rumors and unsubstantiated claims and voice my opinions. Seeing as I am an admin on a genre-based blog, you all get to read these ramblings! So let’s look at some of the rumors and wishes circulating around our new web-slinger.

Kraven’s Last Hunt

This is a storyline that fans of Spider-Man have been clamoring for since Toby Maguire was under the mask, even though reports leaked in years past have shown that Morbius was a more likely villain for Raimi’s fourth entry than Kraven. And as a huge fan of DeMatteis’s story, I am personally holding out for a Kraven appearance in the years to come under the MCU. But let’s be honest here, folks: Kraven’s Last Hunt makes absolutely no sense for a year one Spider-Man.

Kraven's Last Hunt

Join with me in hypothesizing this proposed idea for a movie: for the first Spider-Man entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige is going to introduce a villain never before seen in a movie, let him apparently kill the titular hero and steal his identity, and then have (in cinematic terms) a rather anticlimactic ending with Spider-Man fighting an entirely different tier-3 villain as the aforementioned bad guy commits suicide. You are gonna have a lot of confused people in that theater. Even if MCU writers mix things up with the storyline, the whole idea of Kraven’s Last Hunt is that it is a climax from the other encounters that Spider-Man has had with him in the past. It’s the conclusion to big life phases for both Kraven and Peter alike. Making it into Kraven’s First and Last Hunt loses the real meaning of the story and just doesn’t make sense. Maybe for Spider-Man three or four. But not for year one.

Remake Raimi’s Spider-Man (How Green was My Goblin!)

A lot of the ideas for Marvel’s new Spider-Man franchise surprisingly circles around remaking older movies. While this idea makes a bit of sense—there’s perhaps no villain more essential to Peter’s history than the Green Goblin—we have already gotten three different Goblins since Raimi’s first entry. The villain, while undoubtedly will be seen soon enough in the MCU, needs some time off, and I doubt Marvel wants to associate itself so closely with any memories of the Sony franchises. We do know that Michael Keaton has been approached to possibly play a villain in Homecoming, and he would make for an excellent Norman Osborn, but I for one have serious doubts that he will be the main baddie in the movie or that he will even have his villainous origin this early in the game. There’s just too much baggage from Sony that Marvel is trying to avoid.

Birth of Venom

Story-wise, this rumor makes the most sense for inspiration. While not taking place in year one Spider-Man lore, the Birth of Venom could pretty easily be modified to fit as a first big bad for a young Spider-Man. The presence of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 just a couple of months before Homecoming even gives Marvel a chance to briefly introduce the existence of symbiotes in the universe, leading into one ending up on Earth due to the abundance of alien presence on our planet over the years in the MCU. Introducing Eddie Brock (quick plug for my fan-casting of Tom Hardy) as a reporter for the Daily Bugle, Peter’s new part-time job, offers a good opportunity to give fans a villain they’ve been asking for while not forcing an ill-fitting storyline. Add Michael Keaton as Norman Osborn in the background, and you have the groundwork for a Spider-Man mini-verse. If Marvel does use an existing story as inspiration, this one is probably the most likely.

The Death of Jean DeWolff Death of Jean Dewolff

I’ll be honest, this is my own personal rumor that I am officially starting. For anyone who has read a lot of Spider-Man—and I mean a LOT of the comics—this story sticks out to you as the moment you start to wonder if Spidey is going to actually kill someone. Go read the story for yourself; it is absolutely fantastic and stands as one of my personal favorite comic books arcs of all time. I like the idea of Homecoming being inspired by this story because it gives the MCU the chance to do a lot of new things: the tone of Spidey hunting down a serial killer could offer a crime thriller tone new to Marvel movies, it could introduce the Netflix TV universe by bringing in Kingpin and Daredevil like the comic book story, and it could give Marvel the chance to set Spider-Man apart in the cinematic universe as being the hero who doesn’t kill despite being pushed to his limit by the Sin Eater. While this is probably a long shot for Homecoming, I am going to remain hopeful we see this storyline down the road either as a future Spidey movie or as a subplot in a future season of Daredevil.

Spider-Man: Blue

This is my favorite Spider-Man story, and it would definitely make for an interesting movie. The idea is that Gwen Stacy is already dead by the time Civil War takes place; thus, Homecoming would be a set of flashbacks for Peter as he details what he has done up to now. This would show some scenes of him fighting the Green Goblin, meeting Mary Jane, encountering Eddie Brock (again, cast Tom Hardy!), hanging out with Harry Osborn, and getting into tussles with several members of his rogues gallery. Peter narrates all of this as he stands talking to Gwen’s grave, ending in a flashback to Death of the Stacy’s and a final farewell message to the girl he loved but could not save. Again, this would be a different type of movie style that Marvel could try to add variety to their roster, and it would be a fitting metaphor for Spider-Man saying goodbye to a former presence in his life—Sony—and hello to his new companion, the MCU. Again, a bit of a long shot, but intriguing nonetheless.

The Clone Saga

Stop. Just Stop.

A Totally New Story

This will probably be what we get, and I am totally fine with that. While Marvel has always drawn some inspiration from the comics in their movies, they have also definitely not been afraid to play with canon a little bit to make a unique adventure (see Civil War, Iron Man 3, and Winter Soldier as primary examples). Michael Keaton is tagged to play someone, and the popular theory is the Vulture. For the life of me, I cannot name one big Spider-Man story that features Vulture in anything more than a side role. But hey, I’m down to see what they do! Marvel is in an interesting position: Sony has already done a lot of groundwork over the years to set up Spider-Man’s world. People have a pretty good idea of who Norman and Harry Osborn are, and at least some idea of Peter’s love interests (Gwen and MJ). We have also seen the death of Uncle Ben far too many times, so no need to rehash that. Marvel gets a rare opportunity to introduce a character who has already been introduced, letting them do whatever they want with a year one story. Let’s see what they do!

Whatever it is, please Marvel, for the love of God, no more sidewalk dancing.

-Admin Red Lanyard