Monthly Archives: March 2014

Top Ten Smack-Downs Marvel Should Do

Many people have their own preferred Marvel battles, either one-on-one fights or team vs. team battles.  There are very few of these generic battle types that I am especially partial to, but there are several battles in particular that I would enjoy seeing Marvel write up, preferably for a TV screen.

So, without further ado, here they are!

Superman_vs_Thor

(1)  Thor vs. Superman

It may be that this incident has already occurred – I don’t know for certain – but it would be interesting to see just how long the Man of Steel would last against Marvel’s Thunderer.  Some might say I have it in for old Clark Kent/Superman.  All I have to say is, “You say that your character is the best and strongest guy around?  Okay.  Then let’s see your champion beat…him.”

And, yes, I DO have it in for ol’ Superman.  Sorry…no, actually, I’m not.

Hawkeye's New SuitGreen Arrow

(2)  Hawkeye vs. Green Arrow

This is an old fight in some ways; Marvel and DC crossed their respective universes and had their two greatest archers meet during the crossover.  Still, as far as I can tell, the only fighting the two really did was a lot of bickering.

Personally, I would like to see the two duke it out, either competing on a target range or actually fighting against each other.  My money would be on Hawkeye all the way.  When listing his credentials beside Green Arrow’s, one can see the odds are in his favor.  If Marvel and DC would be willing to put these archers in single combat, I would enjoy watching them try to see which one is really the champion of comic-book marksmanship.

Hulk-Vs-Superman6

(3)  Hulk vs. Superman

Now people will say I am trying to get Superman killed.  I admit that I want to see him drubbed, but dead?  I’m not that heartless.  Besides, DC already killed him once.  Maybe they’ve killed him again in recent years; I don’t know for sure.  I don’t keep up with DC comics.  To kill Superman again, however, would be DC’s prerogative.  However, I highly recommend they avoid killing him another time.  It’s pretty sad when a writer is so desperate to sell a story or series of stories that he murders the character(s) several times over.  It’s an unimaginative way to make money; readers soon lose their interest in such stories.  I know I did, and quickly.

Still, I would enjoy seeing how long the perfect, powerful Superman would last against the rage-empowered muscle of the Hulk.  That would be more fun than RAW any day of the week – and twice on Sundays!

Black WidowMystique

(4)  Black Widow vs. Mystique

If there is one Marvel villainess I loathe above the rest, it is Mystique.  This is primarily due to her treatment of Rogue and Nightcrawler, X-Men for whom I developed a soft spot when I first began watching the 1990’s TV series.  That TV show, and subsequent TV series, only further raised my ire against the character.  I would truly enjoy watching her take a beating from one of Marvel’s heroines.

As for choosing Widow to be that heroine, it just makes sense.  Both are assassins, both are well versed in hand-to-hand combat, and deception is their game.  I would be rooting for Black Widow the whole way.  “Paste Mystique!”  “Make pancake batter out of her!”

I despise Mystique.  ‘Nuff said.

Black Widow Madame_Hydra_Viper

(5)  Black Widow vs. Viper

Viper I do not hate as much as Mystique.  On the list of Marvel villainesses I detest, she probably ranks a solid eighth.

However, this all around femme fatale deserves a smack down.  As noted above, the best one to accomplish this beating is Black Widow.  It takes a femme fatale to pulp a femme fatale.  Go Black Widow!!!

Thor vs. Juggernaut

(6)  Thor vs. Juggernaut

I’m pretty sure the Hulk and Juggernaut already went toe to toe, with Juggernaut the loser.  That is no real surprise, considering the Hulk’s strength.  And Big Jug has probably already fought Thor.  Still, that would be a punch-out to watch.

I know that Juggernaut has turned over a new leaf in the comics, but that still leaves the TV screen to host such a brawl.  So, if these two titans could ‘play’ on the tube for five minutes – in cartoon or live action format, I don’t care – that would be fun.

theIncredibleHulkVStheBlob

(7)  Hulk vs. Blob

Every now and again, when Blob is introduced in a new cartoon series, he refers to himself as “immovable.”  Well I, for one, am fed up with that title of his and would like to see what would happen when “The Immovable” meets the “Strongest There Is.”

This battle may have occurred in the comics, but I have yet to see it on film and videotape.  At a guess, I would say that Blob would be very immovable after the Hulk had finished with him.  Oooh, what a fight that would be!

Hawkeye's New SuitDomino

(8)  Hawkeye vs. Domino

Some would say that this isn’t a fair match.  After all, Domino’s mutant power is her probability manipulation, which allows her to hit targets no one else has a prayer of hitting.  Hawkeye is a normal man whose skills are his only ‘power.’

Quite frankly, I think Domino cheats.  She needs her mutant powers to do what Hawkeye has learned to do through years of practice.   Her powers only work when she’s in motion.  Hawkeye would need to catch her unawares to take her down, but he could accomplish it, I think.

So which of them would win – the one with years of practice and natural talent or the one with mutant powers?  For the record, my money is yet again solidly on Hawkeye.

SifThe Enchantress

(9)  Sif vs. Amora the Enchantress

Originally I thought that having the Scarlet Witch face off with the Enchantress would be a satisfying good girl/bad girl smack down.  Thinking it over, though, I realized that Wanda hasn’t got the power quotient or skill to go up against Amora, even with the power boost the Scarlet Witch has received in recent years.

Sif, on the other hand, is Asgardian.  That makes her just as strong as The Enchantress, albeit not a sorceress.  Plus, she and Amora both have a thing for Thor, so letting them duke it out while arguing over which of them likes Thor better would be a good way for Sif to blow off some steam.  Can you say, “Catfight”?  Me-OW!!

CAPVSSUPERMAN

(10) Cap vs. Superman

I can hear the Cap fans now: “Are you CRAZY?!!!?!”  “He’ll kill Cap!”  “Cap would never stand a chance against Superman!”

Now honestly, what kind of Marvel fan would I be if I wanted Cap to lose to Superman?  (And why are you bunch so pessimistic about his prospects?  He’s beaten guys nastier and more powerful than Superman.  Have a little faith, why don’t you?)  As a matter of fact, Steve Rogers is one of my favorite Marvel characters.  And I think he’s far, far better than Superman, who looks about as impressive as a block of wood when someone stands him next to Cap.

However, I was not going to suggest a battle of muscle between Marvel and DC’s respective titans.  I was going to suggest a battle of personalities, of wits, of character, as it were.  It could be anything from Cap and Superman reading the newspaper across from each other to the two of them playing chess.  If I were to write such a scene, I would show Cap and Superman having a conversation during this “idle” moment, in the duration of which Cap would philosophically paste Superman.  Then they would go back to their separate universes and work on saving humanity.  Again.

Now THIS is the smack down I want to see most!  GO CAPTAIN AMERICA!!!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/2014/01/25/five-animated-team-up-films-marvel-has-to-make/

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“Today we are cancelling the Apocalypse!”

Pacific Rim

For years I have enjoyed all sorts of fantastic sci-fi stories dealing with gargantuan machines.  My enjoyment of the television series Zoids: Chaotic Century and numerous Transformers TV series attest to this interest.

What makes these stories so compelling?  Why do so many people go bonkers over stories dealing with huge machines/metallic beings?  With the Transformers franchise, the answer is simple enough:  the Autobots – when they are dealing with humans, specifically young ones – take the place of imaginary friends.  After all, who hasn’t had an imaginary friend at some point in their life?  Who doesn’t want one when they grow up?  Imaginary friends aren’t the type to criticize, and they’re always sympathetic to the person who ‘creates’ them.

Zoids also has a simple answer.  There are cultures the world over with stories of people bonding with animals, sometimes called ‘spirit animals,’ who gain power from such a bond.  Scholastic Publishing has even begun producing a book series based on this idea.  But why go in for ‘spirit’ animals when you can pilot your own ‘mechanical combat unit’?  (That was New Century Zero’s description of a zoid.)  If my ears do not deceive me, I just heard the balance scales clunk to the table; the zoids have outweighed spirit animals in one fell swoop.

When it all comes down to it, these franchises are popular because the mechanical beings in the stories are powerful.  And let’s face it:  most everyone has some measure of fascination with power.  This is only bad when the attraction becomes a full-blown obsession that leads to unpleasant things.  It is definitely a fascination to be treated carefully.  Hence the absorption so many people have with these stories.

This brings me to last year’s film Pacific Rim, wherein elite pilots use giant exo-suits to battle huge, dimension-hopping alien monsters.  (Yep, that’s power in the palm of one’s hand.)

The premise for the movie sounds less bizarre when one learns that the director for this film, Guillermo del Toro, cited the original Godzilla movies as part of the inspiration for the plot.  Having seen some Godzilla films (from the sixties, a few from the seventies, and at least one from the eighties..?…I never got the line-up sorted out properly.), I can see where Pacific Rim appears to have been influenced by them.  The film has the feel of a Japanese production to it, not least because of its lead actress, Rinko Kikuchi.

There were two things – well, three, but we’ll save the third one for another day – which struck me about the film.  One was the Jaegers; these were the huge, monster-killing robotic exo-suits of the film.  The story in the film begins with an inter-dimensional rift opening in the Pacific Ocean (hence the title ‘Pacific Rim’); this portal is a gateway between Earth and a dimension of very ugly aliens.  The aliens, dubbed Kaiju (the Japanese word for large monster/huge beast), attack and wreck everything along the Pacific coast of the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.

They don’t attack all at once.  First one Kaiju shows up in San Francisco.  It takes several long days of fighting by the woefully outmatched U.S. military before the monster is killed.  (Yeah, right.  Feed the darn thing a couple of ICBMs and it is toast in minutes.)  Then another Kaiju shows up some days later.  And another.  And then another.  Pretty soon, the world figures out that the Kaiju aren’t going to stop coming.

So the countries of the world band together (blah, blah, blah) to create monsters to fight the alien monsters.  These monsters, Kaiju-sized exo-suits, are dubbed ‘Jaegers.’

Jaeger is the German word for ‘hunter,’ and this was another detail in the film which hinted at its Japanese inspired nature – for me, at least.  One of the zoids in New Century Zero (see my post ‘Ready…FIGHT!’ for more details), had interchangeable armor including one armor change built for supreme speed (think super-sonic) which was called the Jaeger armor.  Ironically, that armor was also blue, just like the armor for the most prominent Jaeger suit in the film.

This aspect aside, the second element of the show to catch my attention was the ‘Drift.’  According to the story, the Jaegers are too large for a single pilot to manage on their own.  Those who tried to pilot the machine solo came away from the experience damaged.  Although it is never made entirely clear in the introduction of the movie, it is implied that some of these initial test pilots suffered severe neural damage during their attempts to pilot a Jaeger solo.  So Jaegers cannot be piloted by a single person.

To get around this problem, the builders for the Jaegers designed a ‘neural handshake’ or ‘Drift.’  This mechanical device links two people together mentally; one person manages the left side of the Jaeger, the other controls the right side, while both people share thoughts and memories through the connection.  In essence, you have two people acting in the capacity of the two halves of a human brain while piloting a Jaeger.

There’s just one thing about this bond, one little snag.  These two pilots have to be mentally compatible.  Pilots who aren’t mentally compatible can’t react fast enough in a battle and so they would end up dead.  Therefore Jaeger pilots must either think a great deal alike or be related to each other.  In the film one pair of Jaeger pilots are brothers and another is a father-son team.  The Chinese Jaeger in the movie is piloted by identical triplets.

This is great, right?  Duos or trios of protectors for Earth, going out into the ocean to battle huge monsters – totally cool!  Right?

Yeah, it is pretty cool

Until the governments decide it’s easier to build a wall along the Pacific coastlines of the affected countries to contain the Kaiju, and then informs the Jaeger program it is getting scrapped.  But when the wall is promptly punctured by a new, improved Kaiju monster in Australia, the governments say there is nothing to worry about; the wall will do its duty and the Jaegers will become obsolete, as planned.

Yeah.  Right.  Nothing could ever go wrong with a plan like that.  Needless to say, the Jaeger program doesn’t go away.  They were built to fight and kill Kaiju, and the Kaiju haven’t been sent packing yet.  Until the Kaiju are gone, the Jaeger program doesn’t plan to Rust in Piece.

I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil the movie.  Not in this post, anyway.  However, while I enjoyed the film, I can’t give it a five star rating.  The reason why?  It’s too long.

While visually appealing and containing acceptable science fiction, the movie falters in that del Toro didn’t sew the film together well.  The actors and actresses perform flawlessly, and while the film does require a fair amount of time to detail the mechanics of the Jaegers, it is just too long for comfortable viewing.  The film drags in between fight scenes and character scenes: one example is the last thirty minutes of the movie.  Instead of wrapping up the film within the sensible fifteen minutes, the heroes have to spend half an hour killing the last attacking Kaiju and sealing the dimensional rift that let them into Earth in the first place.

If I hadn’t wanted to see just how they did it, I think I might have walked out of the theater before the film even ended.

Still, despite PR’s length, the scenes where the Jaegers and the Kaiju duke it out are visually fantastic.  I definitely recommend watching the movie for those scenes, if nothing else.  On their own, they’re great fun.  After all, who doesn’t want to watch people in a great big suit of armor go out and kill invading aliens?  While Transformers may be twenty to thirty foot tall friends (or enemies) and zoids the ultimate spirit animals, Jaegers are the dream-come-true for anyone who has ever wanted the power and freedom to travel from New York to Tokyo.  As the hero of the movie states in the opening narration:  “There are some things you can’t fight.  When a hurricane comes, you get out of the way.  But in a Jaeger, you can finally fight the hurricane.”

I’m paraphrasing here, but he has a point.  Who doesn’t want to be able to walk through a hurricane as though it were no more than a rain shower?

Michael Bay could take some pointers for his Transformer films from Pacific Rim. The Jaegers look more like Transformers than his ‘Bots and ‘Cons ever have, and they fight better too – albeit in slow motion.  He could take a cue from PR to spice up his own Autobot/Decepticon battles.  They are in serious need of work.

So if I were to rate Pacific Rim, I would give it three stars out of five for the Jaegers, the titanic fight scenes, and the ‘Drift’/mind meld between Jaeger pilots.  I’ll go back to the Drift later, when I get to the other part of the film that impressed me.

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

Who, being loved, is poor? – Oscar Wilde

Love is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction. – Antoine De Saint-Exupery, French aviator and writer

Procrastination is the thief of time.  – Edward Young, English poet

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. – Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish writer

Love is a great beautifier. – Louisa May Alcott

The best way to know God is to love many things. – Vincent Van Gogh

Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. – Benjamin Franklin, American politician, inventor

More than kisses, letters mingle souls. – John Donne, English poet

All love is sweet,

Given or returned.

Common as light is love,

And its familiar voice wearies not ever… – Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet

Marvel at the Laughter

One of the things I enjoy almost as much as a good film are the bloopers that result from making a good movie.  So I was more than a little upset when I discovered that the DVD of Marvel’s The Avengers I had did NOT include a blooper reel.  RATS!!!

Eventually, however, I was able to find the official gag reel for The Avengers.  At least, I think it is the official gag reel.  Whether it is or not, it sure is funny!

And so, without further ado, here it is!

So far, among my friends, the unanimous favorite gag is Mark Ruffalo’s joke at the end of the reel.  Personally, I get a huge kick out of watching the Captain America stuntman (or maybe it was Chris Evans, I cannot tell when they are wearing the costume) miss his landing.  Honestly, sometimes I think actors and actresses are children in adults’ bodies.  I know we all have a child inside, but not all of us have a camera filming us when the child peeks out.

While searching the Internet for bloopers for The Avengers, I came across this gag reel for Thor: The Dark World:

Is it just me, or does Tom Hiddleston make a sound like a cat at the end of this gag reel?  I think he does, but it is hard to be sure.  I know it is a short blooper reel, but that does not make it any less fun.

Come back and enjoy the videos as much as you want.  After all, everyone needs a little laughter from time to time!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian