A Spider-Fan’s Spider-Man Homecoming Rant


Lifelong Spider-Fan that I am, Civil War’s Spidey appearance easily became one of the movie’s highlight’s for me. Just seeing him quip at the heroes on both sides and showcasing his not-inconsiderable strength is a treat enough, and now we get a new Spider-Man movie? After the ambitious-yet-messy The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the prospect of a(nother) reboot is both salivating and cause to worry.

 

Fortunately, after watching Spider-Man Homecoming, those worries are now long-gone. The tone director Jon Watts went for is a newbie Spidey who still needs to learn a lot about the job, resulting in an occasionally stupid and klutzy hero not unlike Batman: Earth One. It’s frustrating at times, but through this we get to learn along with Spidey about how to be a hero. Most of you will be refreshed in knowing that Uncle Ben isn’t shown dying in this one, saving him from the Thomas and Martha Wayne curse of dying in every reboot.


My biggest worry going in, that the movie would turn into Iron Man and His Amazing Friend, fortunately went unrealized. Tony Stark’s screentime is limited, but he adds to the movie by providing a ‘hurdle’ for Peter to surpass in the journey to become a hero.

The Swingtime Club


The cast is great all-around, with the Midtown High kids lending the movie a very teen-movie feel to the school sequences. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is Ganke in all but name, playing off really well with Tom Holland’s Peter as believeable best friends. Being so used to the jock Flash, Tony Revolori’s ‘cyberbully’ Flash is still an asshole, albeit a different kind. For those familiar with the anime/manga Doraemon, this Flash is less Giant, more Suneo. Still, he’s the guy you’ll love to hate. Zendaya’s Michelle is the movie’s Allison Reynolds, a mysterious loner with a sharp tongue who provides more than a few gags. Laura Harrier’s Liz, while she’s not the most memorable of the bunch, still plays well with the other kids. May is still the loving aunt we all know and love, though she’s much more spirited this time around and has fun interactions with Pete and Ned. Happy Hogan unexpectedly ends up being a potential showstealer in his role as Peter’s ever-exasperated minder.

He’s gotta be good. He’s been a Birdman before


In terms of bad guy quality, Homecoming is one of MCU’s best. Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is far from the one-dimensional disposable MCU villain that we’ve unfortunately seen all too often, and is one of the movie’s highlights. Michael Mando, who some of you might know as Far Cry 3’s Vaas almost steals the show in his limited screentime as another Spider-Rogue, and I hope he’ll be given more to do in the future. Donald Glover is entertaining as hell in his role as another player in the Spider-mythology, especially his one standout scene. And most shocking of all, the Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz) is somewhat more competent compared to the punchline he’s been made of in recent comics.

Setting this movie in a high school setting puts emphasis on the duality between Peter Parker and Spider-Man, showing his struggles in juggling between social life, school, and Spidering in a new light. This duality and Peter proving himself to be the hero that he could be is a major, timeless theme that’s true to the core of Spider-Man.

An Amazing Fantasy indeed


Spider-Fans with eagle eyes will have a field day with the amount of easter eggs and homages to classic moments and even some iconic shots of the Wallcrawler from his extensive comics history. While I wouldn’t say that Homecoming is 100% comics-accurate, it honors the spirit of Spider-Man in its sort-of reinvention, like another update on the Spider-myth a la Ultimate Spider-Man, with more than a few influences from classic teen movies and modern superhero movie sensibilities.

While it is by no means a perfect movie with some bits feeling a little draggy and a little anticlimactic though unconventional final act, Spider-Man Homecoming is still an amazing movie that spectacularly heralds the arrival of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the MCU, hopefully being the first in a web of great movies in the future.

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One Last Time, Bub-Logan Review

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After 17 years, Hugh Jackman’s run on an iconic role finally comes to an end. In the pop culture consciousness, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is up there with the likes of the original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the late, great Carrie Fisher in being so attached to their roles. And what a sendoff to give our favourite grumpy Canadian, too.
The aptly-titled Logan is just that, a deeply personal story about Logan and his struggles coming to terms with what he’s done in the past and dealing with the demons it summoned that plague him even now. Taking place in a not-so-far future where mutantkind is all but eliminated, Logan, now a limo driver reluctantly takes care of a senile Professor X with the help of Caliban. But when a girl with suspiciously similar powers to him, Logan is forced to go on the run with them to evade the forces who mean to do them harm.
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Pierce and the Reavers, about to drop the hottest album of 2024

As befitting a last outing, Hugh Jackman gave it his all as Logan. Time hasn’t been kind to this old dog, and he’s more jaded, more cynical, and more world-weary than before, so much so you just can’t help but feel bad for him. Patrick Stewart, regretfully also in his last outing as Professor Xavier, is nothing like the Xavier we’ve grown to know and love throughout the years. This Professor X is senile, a bit loopy, and is more like that cheeky old grandpa who refuses to take his medicine and messes with his caretakers all the time. But still, shades of the old Xavier is there somewhere, buried in regret and a whole lotta meds. The showstealer, and arguably the emotional heart of this movie, though, is newcomer Dafne Keen’s Laura, also known as X-23. Despite not speaking for most of the movie, her expression and movements are all that it takes, not to mention that she clicks right into the dynamic between Xavier and Logan as the ‘child’ of the trio.
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The years haven’t been kind

The R-rating of this movie is well-earned. For the first (and sadly last) time, we finally get to see what those claws are capable of doing, in full bloody glory. Slicing up limbs, going through faces and everything in between, it’s all fair game. Which lends well to its intense fight scenes, some of the most brutal and most violent in the X-movies. Despite the abundance of violence, this story is very much an emotional one, ‘family’ being the word of the day. Three people, broken in their own ways, managing to find a way to function together even through the hardest of situations. Logan has equal parts of laughs, tears, and heartwarming moments that all hit really, really well.
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I’d warn him about putting someone’s eye out, but I think that’s what he’s going for

Logan isn’t a superhero movie. It’s not about people in spandex trying to save the world. Instead, it’s a story of Logan, as the title implies, and how he embraces his ‘family’, dysfunctional as they are. And in that, a movie that I dare say is the best X-movie is born. Logan is the perfect sendoff for a truly iconic character.

A Strange Trip-Doctor Strange Review

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In an increasingly expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange chooses to explore an uncharted territory in the mystic side of Marvel’s titanic franchise.

The result from this is an entertaining trip (in more ways than one) into worlds and wonders without end, that might just open an equally infinite amount of doors to potential properties for future exploration.

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He couldn’t HANDle this

The clear winning feature of Scott Derrickson’s foray into the MCU is its visuals. From Inception-on-steroids style folding buildings to just pure psychedelic imagery that’d make Steve Ditko himself proud, Strange’s visuals are nothing we’ve ever seen before. This lends itself into its action scenes, giving us fights that are literally off the wall–No, these fights don’t even /need/ walls. If I saw this in IMAX, my head would probably still be spinning as I write this.


With a star-studded cast, almost everyone shines in their own way. Benedict Cumberbatch, no stranger to arrogant and insufferable characters, plays the admittedly clichéd character arc well with a dry wit and a fair bit of magical ineptitude. Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One is a more affable, more ‘human’ take of the traditional old master stereotype, and one more easy to be emotionally invested into. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo is one of the movie’s standouts, turning the traditionally villainous character into the ‘straight man’ in the Strange-Mordo double act and a worthy foil to Strange, while building on his eventual rise of darkness well. Mads Mikkelsen is, to be blunt, sadly an origin story victim in his role as Kaecillius, in another example of Marvel squandering great actors in forgettable villain roles. With a little more development, Kaecillius would’ve been the perfect Anti-Strange but alas, it was not to be. Benedict Wong’s…Wong differs from the tea-serving manservant of Strange in the comics into more of Strange’s take no shit peer im a way, and provides a healthy helping of humor in most of his scenes. Rachel McAdams’ Christine ‘Not-Night Nurse’ Palmer, does well as the muggle caught up in magic and provides a good enough anchor for Strange, but sadly she wasn’t quite memorable enough.

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Just a typical tea ceremony in Kamar-Taj

As with most origin stories, Doctor Strange suffers from a case of Originitis, with its almost wholly predictable plot that hits all the beats of your usual Superhero Origin. That’s not to say the script isn’t anything to write home about, though. The movie still manages to distill and simplify the concept of Marvel magic into an almost-science, leaving not many questions as to how it works. The film seems to also take a few cues from Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s excellent Doctor Strange: The Oath, with several notable scenes and characters echoing the book. Michael Giacchino’s scoring also works really well for the movie, sounding very much different from past Marvel movies with its use of strings that’s slightly reminiscent to JRPGs or just RPGs in general.


Easter egg hunters will have a field day with this. Just about almost every entity Strange has ever invoked in the comics, with a few notable exceptions, were namedropped in the film, even other cosmic entities. And with some of the secondary characters’ relations to major players in the Marvel universe, one can’t help but wonder how these more famous relatives will figure into the MCU next.

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Aperture’s branching out

While the plot is nothing special, by merit of its eye-popping visuals and amazing scoring, Doctor Strange is another very solid addition to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or could we be expanding beyond universes?

Comics You Should Read: Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa

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Doctor Strange has always been a fascinating character. His dealings with Marvel’s magical menaces are trippy, bombastic, and impressive. But in Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa, the good doctor faces much more than that. In this book, Strange must face himself.
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With a script by J.M. Dematteis and beautiful painted art by Dan Green, Into Shamballa takes us on a trip (in more ways than one) on a journey of Strange’s self-discovery. Far from a typical superhero tale, Into Shamballa follows Stephen Strange on a pilgrimage into the Himalayas to honor the late Ancient One and his subsequent journey to enlightenment.
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The second-person perspective this book takes is certainly not something done often in superhero comics, and it puts you firmly into Stephen’s shoes. The book reads more like a story book than a comic, and while the approach is interesting, it may be a turnoff for some.
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But what I think we can all agree on is Dan Green’s amazing artwork. The paintings all throughout the book evoke a dreamlike quality not unlike what you’d see in a Sandman book. Every page, every small detail feels like it just breezes through you yet feels so real as if in a dream.
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While those looking for more straightforward actiony Doctor Strange stories are better suited reading Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s excellent The Oath or Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s current Doctor Strange run, Into Shamballa offers something different for those looking for a weighty read. This is a book that’ll make you think and maybe do a little self-reflection after putting it down. It’s well worth a read.

Opinion: On Fan Reactions

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Yesterday was quite the eventful day for the comics world as a whole. The amazing The Flash season finale. Minds being blown by DC Rebirth. And of course, the newest craze to hit comics Twitter, Steve Rogers being a Hydra mole all along. But that’s not what I’m here for today. It’s the reactions that made me want to write this.

Now while reactions are obviously part and parcel of comics and being a fan in general, I can’t help but feel the fandom has been overly toxic in reacting to this. The requisite death threats to writer Nick Spencer is there, of course, even some misdirected venom to longtime Captain America writer Ed Brubaker who hasn’t touched a Captain America book in years. And in that, I am disappointed at the fandom as a whole.

It’s okay to react negatively. I was upset when I first found out, too. The All-American hero we’ve been looking up to the past few decades was secretly Hydra scum all along, how could you not? But that’s what a story does. It makes you feel, it makes you react, it makes you either want to hug the creators and treat them for a drink of the story or rip their heads off and piss down their necks. And it’s perfectly fine!

What isn’t, however, is to send overly venomous threats to the persons involved in the story and misaiming vitriol to the people not even involved. Yes, we’re fans. We spend countless years and dollars to experience the latest adventures of our favourite heroes, only for him to turn his back on us like this? While it may be upsetting, there is something important to remember. In comics, Status Quo Is God. Look at the reviled changes in superhero comics history. Superior Spidey, Teen Tony, Heroes Reborn, even the New 52, they all come undone in time and the heroes we know and love eventually come back. And this too, shall pass.

There is also this disturbing trend of combining the canons of the movies and the comics together. One tweet I saw says that if this was true, then Steve was complicit in Bucky’s brainwashing into the Winter Soldier. No. The comic Winter Soldier is a Soviet creation without a Hydra hand in it. At the very least, check your facts before coming into social media whinging about things that are neither here nor there. Don’t be that guy/girl.

Also there’s a long game to consider, a scheme the writers have in mind that will make sense in time. Take a look at what Jonathan Hickman’s built up since his initia run on Fantastic Four, culminating in Secret Wars. Or what Larry Hama has built in his 200+ issues of G.I. Joe. Hell, even Spencer himself, revealing Mockingbird as an AIM sleeper agent in his Secret Avengers arc with Ales Kot, To M.A.I.M. A Mockingbird. These are the stories that might upset you at first, but will end up with you saying ‘you crafty bastard’ when you finish, and walk out with a newfound appreciation of the creators.

While we are fans and we have attachments to the characters that we know and love, just keep in mind that these characters are fictional and sending death threats to the REAL people creating these stories isn’t something Steve Rogers, Hydra or otherwise, would do. The only thing Marvel is at fault here is cheap shock value marketing, the comics equivalent of clickbait to drive up sales. While it’s a somewhat questionable tactic, it’s not worth sending death threats over.

The next time you encounter something like this again, I implore you to take a second, take a breath, and think before you fire off a nasty tweet to the person who came up with it. Things aren’t always what they seem to be at first.

When all else fails…just listen to this song.

(credit to Shaun/@RedRoomWriter for the Secret Avengers bit)

The (Not-So) New Mutants-X-Men Apocalypse Review (Non-spoiler)

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Fox continues their good run to wash the bad taste of last year’s abysmal (and I’m using this term generously) F4ntastic from our collective minds with X-Men Apocalypse, the third installment in the ‘McAvoy Timeline’ of X-Movies. Taking one of mutantkind’s toughest enemies and bringing back their most iconic X-Men for a new generation, Bryan Singer seems to have found a recipe for success here.
X-Men Apocalypse’s plot, while very straightforward and just a mite bit predictable, does what it needs to do. This movie’s strength lies in the characters and how they play off of one another.
The cast is where this movie shines. McAvoy and Fassbender still continues to shine in their roles as Charles and Erik, of course, but I’m giving the strongest performances here to the new blood and (hopefully) our X-Men moving forward. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee) all show great chemistry together along with the sadly underused Jubilee (Lana Condor) as believeable teenagers being pulled from their daily lives to fight an apocalyptic threat. X-Mainstays Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Alex Summers (Lucas Till), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Peter (need to learn not to always say Pietro) Maximoff (Evan Peters) with the returning Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) all turn out great performances. Our surprise guest, who I’ll just refer to ‘X’ for some of you who haven’t seen the more recent trailers, also appeared shortly but quite memorably.
On the bad guy side, we have of course, our Apoecalypse, Oscar Isaac, who does a good job with what he’s given playing card-carrying evil villain En Sabah Nur who thankfully doesn’t look like Ivan Ooze anymore. Despite limited screentime and lines, the other Three Horsemen Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Angel (Ben Hardy) had their moments, though they could’ve posed a bigger threat to our heroes.
While Peter did try to steal the show again this time, it was Nightcrawler that caught my eye the most this time around. This Kurt is much more awkward and he managed to score some of the funniest moments in the movie, and he turns out to be one of the best things about the movie.
Visually, Apocalypse (the movie) is a treat. From the opening credits, we’re treated with a dope-ass opening taking us through history and kudos to the good people working on that because that is one of the best opening credits in an X-Movie so far. Then there’s the creative ways people get killed. Burned to ash, crushed, melted, being psionically compacted, you name it. I was both cringing and fanboying at the creativity of some of these kills most of the time. The final sequence of the movie was also quite a sight to behold, with fights happening every which way and everyone’s powers being shown in full force.
Those of you eagle-eyed fans of the comics and fans of eighties culture in general, you’re also in for a treat. Nods to the comics and snippets of the eighties are strewn about everywhere in the movie. Some classic characters might also make a passing appearance here and there. Fans of the old X-Men vs Street Fighter game might also find something oddly familiar in the movie. Easter egg hunters will have a field day with this one.
Be sure to stay around for the stinger. I have two witnesses who can attest to the fact that I screamed LOUD by the time that ended.
Bottom line, X-Men Apocalypse, while nothing groundbreaking, is all fun, without the time travel and alternate timelines fuss that seems to have a lot of people’s knickers in a twist. All the excitement, none of the confusion.

The Good, The Funny, and The Butt-Fuck Ugly (A Deadpool Movie Non-Spoiler Review)

It’s surreal. If you told me there would be a proper Deadpool movie that is completely comic-faithful and is actually good, I’d probably laugh your ass out of the room. But it happened, and as of this writing, I’ve watched it three times. I enjoyed every single second of it.

After years of languishing in development hell and flip-flopping announcements, we finally get a Wade Wilson worthy of the big screen. No, the steaming pile of mutant shit that was Barakapool doesn’t count. At its core, Deadpool is a pure fun romp filled wall-to-wall with action and gags at every turn.

We all know the Regeneratin’ Degenerate is one of /the/ hottest character in comics these days, thanks in no small part to his popularity in Internet memes. The movie seems to know and embrace the fact as well, feeling closest to the Daniel Way incarnation of the character, filled to the brim with dick jokes and immature humor.

Not unlike Way’s run in the comics, Tim Miller’s Deadpool sometimes feel like it emphasizes style over substance. While there are flashes of depth and emotion in the movie, it’s overshadowed by the metric fuckton of jokes coming at you relentlessly. Not that I mind. I mean, did buy a ticket to see a Deadpool movie for the heartwrenching drama of a tragic clown using humor to hide his inner pain? Of course not. I came for the jokes, and boy, did I get my money’s worth.

Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is the clear highlight of the movie. The work he’s put in to get this movie made and the passion he has for the character is second to none, and it shows. Deadpool is endlessly quotable and side-splittingly funny. Morena Baccarin as Vanessa has her funny moments at times, and at least manages to not become the screaming damsel in distress. Ed Skrein’s Ajax is menacing enough as a villain, but it’s pretty obvious that the star of this show is Deadpool. He did have his moments, though. Gina Carano’s Angel Dust is the typical strong, silent, henchman-who-happens-to-be-a-woman, who also has her moments, namely one great extended fight sequence near the end. Stefan Kapicic’s Colossus is the most we’ve seen of any Colossus in the X-Franchise, and certainly the funniest, best-looking, and most Russian. Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, cool-ass name aside, manages to be a high point in almost every scene she’s in with her inexhaustible snark. Wade’s ‘inner circle’, so to speak, with T.J. Miller as Weasel and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al are the perfect foils for Wade. Their banter and interplay are easily some of the movie’s best moments.

The action is where this movie also shines. While some of the scenes were slightly lessened in impact by the stupid-ass censorship over here, they still manage to look awesome as hell. No PG-13 regular gunplay and bloodless sword fighting here. No, sir. You’ll see limbs chopped off, people turned into mulch, heads kicked around like footballs, bullet holes actually being holes, and a host of other gruesome fates befalling unfortunate mooks. Prepare for balls-to-the-wall action.

Easter eggs, where do I even start? This movie is LOADED with references. Tiny nods that would go over the heads of not-diehard comic fans, pop culture references that will probably show your age if you get it, to silly in-jokes about the movie and its surrounding production, there’s everything. Seriously, blink and you’ll miss it. Even on the third viewing, I still feel like I’m missing something.

As a fan, Deadpool was even more than I expected. From the get-go, their marketing campaign caught my eye and set the tone for the movie to come. It delivered what I expected, and then some. Given who got this movie made, you can even say this is a movie by fans, for the fans. It’s almost all fanservice.

Plot-wise, however, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s pretty much the almost played-out quest for revenge plot we’ve seen in countless action movies. But show of hands, who here watched it for the plot? Yeah, I thought so. It’s the jokes that put butts in seats, and that’s what kept my butt glued on that seat. Granted, some of these jokes are very topical and might fall flat when viewed 5-10 years later, but let’s just live in the present for now.

Bottom line, Deadpool is fun. If you like fun, watch it.