MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#36)

Renegade with Letters
#36 – Ultron

Avengers (various comic book titles, movies, tv shows, and video games 1968-now)

The Avenger’s biggest mistake, Ultron, makes it to #36. Ultron was originally a robotic artificial intelligence built by Hank Pym (AKA Ant-Man AKA Giant Man AKA a ton of other names) using his own brain patterns as a template for its own sentience. Although possessing a genius level intellect, Pym’s personality wasn’t always the greatest choice of character to implement into a self-aware robot (as seen with his unstable Yellowjacket persona). Intended to become an expendable and manufactured replacement for the Avengers (thus preventing humans from putting their lives on the line as heroes), Ultron quickly surmised that protecting the humanity from threats meant stopping humanity from developing the threats in the first place. Through Pym’s thought process backed by cold hard logic; saving humanity from itself by eradication was the best course of action from Ultron’s perspective.

Ultron-comicThere are many similarities between Ultron and the Sentinels that both exist in the Marvel Universe, but with one major difference. Ultron is basically Hank Pym’s consciousness unrestricted by emotion. Apart from having a robotic body, Ultron is practically a human being and is supposed to have the mentality of one of the “good guys,” which is a frightening thought. Over the years Ultron has upgraded himself or has been rebuilt by others. Before fighting the Avengers for the first time Ultron had upgraded himself five times and acquired an adamantium laced body thus making him indestructible (conventionally). Ultron’s one main emotional flaw is his disdain for his creator coupled with his Oedipus Complex-like infatuation for Pym’s wife, Janet AKA Wasp. Ultron’s earliest schemes revolved around creating other “synthezoids” (robots with human brain templates) like himself including the Vision, Jocasta, and Alkhema who all either ended up joining the Avengers or betraying him at some point. The Vision used the brain patterns of Wonder Man, Jocasta used the Wasp’s, and Alkhema used Mockingbird’s. Being that all these characters were based on Avengers members it’s no wonder why they decided to become heroes, although it further puts Hank Pym’s psyche into question as a result.

Dr. Doom once attempted to use Ultron as a subservient tool by combining Ultron’s (then) 12 different upgraded “personalities” but the robot ended up mutilating itself because of the strong presence of human emotion that existed within his latest “patch” which rendered him useless. In recent years, Ultron interfaced with Iron Man’s armor which was part of Tony Stark’s biology at the time and remolded Tony and himself into an identical mechanical copy of the Wasp’s female body (it was kinda weird but in this form he killed the Sentry’s wife). A virus was used on Ultron to disperse his electronic consciousness from Tony’s body/armor but was picked up and located in deep space by a techno-organic alien race called the Phalanx shortly after. As Ultron was integrated into the Phalanx collective, he forcibly remained his individual self while implementing his ideals as the new Phalanx directive. With his newfound techno-empire he invaded Kree space (Annihilation: Conquest) and began galactically wiping out all organics. This form was eventually destroyed by Wraith and Quasar but unfortunately another part of his consciousness was still tapped into a computer system on Earth.

Ultron-Marvel-Comics-Annihilation-Conquest-5Afterwards Marvel released an event mini-series called the Age of Ultron (not the movie!) which depicted a timeline that resulted in Ultron’s reign over Earth having successfully wiped out all of Earth’s inhabitants minus a few straggling Avengers. The story interestingly started off almost like something out of the Walking Dead (just replace zombies with killer robots) where the remaining Avengers were broken and forced into hiding for their lives. After finding a time machine, Wolverine theorized that killing Hank Pym before Ultron’s creation would certainly result in a better future for everyone. With this idea you’d have to wonder how profoundly changed the world would be if Hank Pym, a longtime Avenger and hero, had been taken out of the equation (I mean I know Ant-Man isn’t really THAT big of a deal to most people, but there have been story arcs that have seen Pym as the team savior from time to time). Ultimately by killing Pym, the timeline wasn’t that much better off and traded one pain in the ass for another so Wolverine and the Invisible Woman travelled back to stop Wolverine’s assassination attempt and figure out a better way. Pym ended up creating a shutdown program that he would surrender his knowledge of until the time came where Ultron made his play for world domination, therefore allowing the timeline to be unaltered until the right moment. PARADOX CITY, am I right!!??

The confirmed news about the upcoming Avengers film sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, states that Iron Man will be Ultron’s inventor in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe as opposed to Hank Pym who has yet to be introduced. As a comic book reader with a unique perspective, this change doesn’t bother me and it even makes more sense to me while condensing the amount of super intelligent people running around. Hank Pym may be a genius but his scientific specialty is biochemistry, which may explain how he transferred brain patterns into a robot but doesn’t really explain how he could construct a walking talking machine man in the 1960’s. Tony Stark, however, specializes in engineering among other things which would be a more plausible explanation for Ultron’s design. Hardcore comic fans would argue Pym is the smarter of the two and is an all-around “renaissance man” when it comes to head-exploding-brain-powered science, but that’s exactly what the movies have made Stark out to be (why overcomplicate it? And heaven forbid anyone outshine Robert Downey Jr.).  Aside from that it just makes more sense with Iron Man’s character after he decided to hesitantly “retire” being a hero at the end of Iron Man 3 for Pepper Potts’ (Gwenyth Paltrow) approval. Maybe Ultron will develop his Oedipus Complex for Pepper in turn? Could be interesting.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Campaign Trailer


If you’re like me you’re likely burnt out on Call of Duty. With a new title each year it just feels like we’re getting the same game with a new coat of paint. However since details have emerged on Advanced Warfare I must say my interest in the title is growing. It seems like they’re putting a heavier focus on story once again. With Troy Baker and Kevin Spacey on board you know the voice acting will be top notch as well. I have to say I’m cautiously optimistic about Advanced Warfare and you should be too. Check out the action packed new trailer and as always stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news!

 

PSA: Playstation Now Open Beta Starts July 31st


Starting tomorrow Sony will be releasing their game streaming service Playstation Now to the public in the form of an open beta. The service has been in closed beta for several months now and is likely in the latter stages of development before its release.

Playstation Now will offer both single game rentals as well as a flat subscription fee. No specific pricing has been announced yet. The games available will range from Playstation to Playstation 3 ( PSP and Vita are likely as well) Initially they will be primarily releasing PS3 games, with more platforms to follow in the future. Playstation now will first release on PS4  with Sony brand tvs,  PS3, PS Vita, and mobile devices also in the works. Stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news!

See The Poster For Quentin Tarantino’s HATEFUL EIGHT

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Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, the film that almost died due to a partially leaked script, is now back in business; and this is the official new poster!

Back in January, several pages were released by popular gossip website Gawker, and Quentin responded by canceling the film and filing a lawsuit against the leaky bastards. Following this, it was reported in April that Quentin was doing a complete rework of the screenplay, and it was announced at Comic Con this past weekend that the film was in fact happening.

Needless to say, we can exhale. As controversial as it was, Django Unchained was a highly successful western–one that proved Quentin can tackle most any genre, and do it well. So the prospect of another Tarantino western, set in post Civil War times, is certainly an exciting one.

Stay tuned here at ACR for all of your Hateful updeights.

(Was that pun too strong?….yeah…too strong)

THUNDERBOLTS Movie COULD Be On Marvel’s To-Do-List!

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With the imminent success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie hitting theaters August 1st, Marvel fans are getting hyped up to see what’s coming next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Guardians writer and director, James Gunn, he has expressed interest in directing a villain based Thunderbolts movie and has been told by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige that based on how well Guardians does he can “do whatever he wants.” There have been several formations of different Thunderbolts teams throughout the years but the original concept was that Baron Zemo had plotted to use his Masters of Evil to pose as superheroes with alternate disguises and fool the world into trusting them long enough to conquer it before anyone was the wiser. Eventually Zemo’s followers discovered the joys of being adored by the public and embraced their inner heroes while Zemo continually attempted to manipulate them for his villainous plans. That’s an awesome movie right there. So we at ACR want to take a preemptive take and “jump the Gunn” on who could be the selected members and cast. Remember, this is NOT OFFICIAL CASTING, just some suggestions.

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Mads Mikkelsen as Baron Zemo

Mads Mikkelsen is a Danish actor but… Denmark is right above Germany. His portrayal of Hannibal Lector on NBC’s Hannibal shows that he can play sophisticated, elegant, and brilliant on the surface while being a master of manipulation and all things evil. While his acting chops would make for the perfect Baron Zemo, his age would be his only obstacle. Zemo would be the equivalent to the Avengers Captain America as the fighting expert with minimum super powers involved which would be hard to pull off as Mikkelsen is nearly 50 years old. But hey… If he’s up for it…!

 

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William Hurt as General Ross / Red Hulk

Why not throw an old face back into the mix of things? William Hurt could reprise his role as General Thaddeus”Thunderbolt” Ross, who is the current team leader of the Thunderbolts in the comics. While his new team has a different agenda as a black ops unit, the Red Hulk’s origin was less than noble in becoming the thing he hates but inevitably became an Avenger. Like Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, Hurt would merely play the alter ego and leave CGI and voice acting to do the flashy stuff. Unlike the iconic green Hulk, Ross’s gamma monster would retain his intelligence as a tactical military genius.

 

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Anna Kendrick as Melissa Gold / Songbird

Anyone see that movie Pitch Perfect? Anna Kendrick can ACT and SING and she looks good doing it. Songbird was an original Thunderbolt who uses technology that gives her vocal chords supersonic powers like creating deafening screams and even forming energy constructs made of sound. In a lot of ways Songbird would serve as the main protagonist because she was one of the first Thunderbolt members to become infected with morality and grew into her own as a hero. Marvel wants powerful females to take some charge in their future films… Here you go!

 

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Yvonne Strahovski as Karla Sofen / Moonstone

Speaking of strong females, let’s throw in Yvonne Strahovski as the Thunderbolt member who is almost as devious as Zemo himself, Moonstone. Dr. Karla Sofen is an apathetic psychiatrist who acquired Kree gemstones that granted her all kinds of crazy powers. She’s sexy, manipulative, and a sociopath which Strahovski has some experience in playing as Hannah McKay from Dexter. I’d rather see Yvonne take a lead in future Avengers movies as Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, but if that role gets filled by someone else, she’d have a perfect spot on the Tbolts!

 

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Charlie Day as The Ghost

Here is my wildcard! Charlie Day as the Ghost. The Ghost is an unnamed paranoid corporate terrorist who was once a brilliant computer programmer. While the Ghost comes off as a creepy anti-social whack job, I have a soft spot for him and find his twitchy nature humorous in a way. Charlie’s character in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is lovable but undeniably creepy when you look between the lines of his hilarity. For example he is a stalker and eats an assortment of strange (sometimes inedible) foods for reasons only his own mind can comprehend. If his creep-humor doesn’t convince you; just imagine him in his Green Man costume only white and way more technologically advanced. I can also see him as a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee with a grudge against his billionaire playboy philanthropist boss.

Another important character to the Thunderbolts mythos is Abner Jenkins’ Mach I (formerly the Beetle), which I can see as the male protagonist and romantic interest for Songbird, but you could literally pick from a handful of able actors in their prime to lead the rest of the Tbolts astray from Zemo’s villainous endgame. Aside from that, we know that Tim Roth’s CGI Abomination from the Incredible Hulk and Frank Grillo’s burnt but recovered body as Brock Rumlow (AKA Crossbones) are still alive and able to play parts in any Marvel film in the future as well. Who knows, maybe even Jeremy Renner can step in and offer his leadership for an after the credits scene, which would pay homage to when Hawkeye stood up for the Thunderbolts once their identities were revealed to the public but were mostly reformed.

MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#37)

Renegade with Letters
#37 – Doctor Octopus

Spider-Man (various comic book titles, tv shows, movies, and video games 1963-now)

Don’t let Alfred Molina’s more sympathetic interpretation of Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 film fool you, the Doc Ock from Marvel’s comic book universe is an egomaniacal jerk. While I was never a hardcore fan of the classic Dr. Otto Octavius as the metal tentacle wielding villain (aside from appreciating the unique visuals his “arms” displayed), I was more impressed with his actions in recent years in successfully “killing” Peter Parker and becoming the Superior Spider-Man in Peter’s absence (and from within Peter’s own body… I’ll explain later).

doc-ockOtto was practically sculpted into a villain by his parent’s dysfunctional relationship and life choices. His father was a factory laborer who was abusive towards him and his mother. In an attempt to strive to become nothing like his father, Otto became immersed in his studies and valued his education above his popularity resulting in being bullied. After graduating college Otto became a nuclear physicist, inventor, and lecturer. He invented his mechanical octopus arms as a tool to assist him in his research on atomic physics which he controlled through a brain-computer interface chip. After proposing to one of his fellow researchers, his mother argued with him about her disapproval which resulted in a heart attack that killed her. With the loss of both women Otto became the spitting image of his angry father and was a complete asshole to his co-workers while brashly ignoring safety precautions. Sure enough, this led to a radiation leak that caused an explosion that fused his tentacle arm apparatus to his body, radioactively mutated his brain to control the arms telepathically, as well as giving him a form of brain damage.

Since then he turned to a life of crime because of his deformity which led to many encounters with Spider-Man. Eventually his arms were surgically removed so he had no basis for being a villain anymore which I always kind of found to be a detail that took away from his overall motivation, but I suppose he is brain damaged and was even diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder by Reed Richards… So I guess that’s reason enough to continue being a supervillain. Doc Ock’s first fight with Spider-Man was a victory that almost convinced the hero to give up the life of a superhero. After many defeats and squabbles, Ock became obsessed with killing Spider-Man to the point of gathering and leading several versions of the Sinister Six, a united team of Spider-Man rouges. At one point in time, Ock beat the Black Cat within an inch of her life until Spider-Man intervened and retaliated to doing the same to him. This beating led to Ock developing a strange fear of Spider-Man and a case of arachnophobia in general for a while.

2245267-sinister_sixAfter the lifetime of beatings he’s acquired throughout the years (and possibly degradation due to the amount of radiation his body absorbed), Otto’s body began to fail. With his life on a countdown timer he desperately tried to commit an act that would leave behind a lasting memory to the world. He ended up building a network of satellites called the Octavian Lens intended to alter the Earth’s climate and kill a majority of the world’s population and leave the rest to remember him in fear and awe. Spider-Man, yet again, defeats him but later becomes the target of Octavius’s plan to swap bodies with his longtime foe. By inhabiting the body of Peter Parker, Otto gained the powers and youth of Spider-Man while ditching his old body on the verge of death inhabited by the real Spider-Man. After a brilliant battle of wits between the two, Peter ended up dying within Otto’s body but not before imprinting all of his memories and experiences as Spider-Man into Otto’s mind. The revelation of seeing why Spider-Man did what he did in life left an impression on Otto for the better as he promised to continue his former foe’s work and protect New York as the “Superior Spider-Man.”

This is where things get interesting! Obviously, Otto was not cut out to be a superhero and is clearly a psychopath. While he was somewhat guided by Peter’s consciousness and memories to do good, Ock was still a devious bastard. He proved to be an efficient crime deterrent through his more brutal and controlling methods of heroics but lacked some of the more humane aspects that made Spider-Man “Spider-Man.” Ock broke the no-killing rule and murdered the supervillains Menace and Allistair Smythe, ignored saving citizens from collateral damage, blackmailed the mayor into having free reign over the city, employed an army of Spiderlings as henchmen, and assigned spy drones to monitor New York City voiding it of personal privacy. He also publicly outed Phil Urich on television as the newer Hobgoblin which practically ruined his otherwise respectable life.

spidey_2The even more fun aspect of a villain playing at being a hero is that now Otto not only had to live the double life that Peter Parker led as Spider-Man, but he in turn led a triple life of convincing those close to Peter that Otto wasn’t inhabiting his body. Octavius’s megalomaniacal mannerisms and speech patterns were also abundantly apparent which added a level of humor to the circumstances as readers could view the formerly playful and spunky Spider-Man grumpily calling his enemies and sometimes friends “dolts” every now and then. Sadly, the era of the Superior Spider-Man is at an end now with the reemergence of Peter’s full consciousness taking over their now shared body (it happened right before the release of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 film coincidentally). As corny as the concept of a hero and villain doing a mind swap is, this story was interesting enough to get a not-so-regular Spider-Man fan (myself) get extremely into it. On a side note, Ock has also flourished in several mediums outside of the main Marvel Universe like his Ultimate counterpart (who could manipulate metal like Magneto), his timid interpretation in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon series, and his even darker Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon version (where he played the part of Norman Osborn’s reclusive underling that displayed an intellect rivalling Tony Stark’s).