Max Rants: Marvel’s Untapped Potential

Going along with my previous rant about how Captain Marvel and Black Panther need to be Marvel’s new showcase heroes in the comics and the big screen, I wanted to highlight two more characters that have a great amount of potential and may be in need of some update magic. One has always been there but just hasn’t been enough and the other was hardly used in the comics to begin with. We probably won’t see these characters in a Marvel film for at least 5 to 10 years… or ever, but boy would it be fun to!

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#1 Hercules. Everyone knows Hercules! Even though Hercules is the Roman spelling of the Greek “Heracles” he’s often associated with Greek Mythology in many forms of popular culture and it’s no different in Marvel comics. Like Thor, Hercules is an immensely strong, immortal, super tough god/demi-god-like character hailing from a pantheon of “gods” from another realm or dimension. He’s as strong as Thor, he has a Odin-like father in the form of Zeus, he’s a long-time Avenger, he’s often portrayed as a belligerent drunk who delights in the majesty of battle, and Marvel is often showing him clash with today’s “mortal” culture as opposed to his own. So.. he.. is.. Thor..?? But why isn’t he as popular as Thor?

Well obviously he is a Thor “clone” in many aspects, so I would suggest separating him from that. How do you do that? Well, Marvel’s Hercules has a very vivid lack of depth to his character which needs some re imagining. I don’t even believe he was given an origin story beyond how he was born, that he had performed the “twelve labors” in the past, and was cursed by Hera in that harm would come to any woman that he came to love. This developed a “womanizing” trait which is used in a comedic way but could have some real depth to it given the right writing. Does anyone know why he had to perform twelve labors? To redeem himself after killing his own wife and children when Hera had driven him mad! Hera is the wife of Zeus (Hercules’ father) who scorned his children that he had with other women. What’s that? An original concept for a female villain? A hero with step-mommy issues? Marvel: stop making Loki a woman every once and a while and make Hera some sort of banished Olympian goddess out for revenge. Even that TV show with Kevin Sorbo depicted Hera out to be the main villain and she was a stone cold bitch! …In a good way. Sheesh… at this point I’d rather see Hercules as a female character than Thor or Loki (while we’re on the subject).

Wouldn’t killing your wife and kids be a horrific thing to bear? Especially if the wife was a romanticized soul mate that Hercules wanted to be with forever? Instead of banging any chick he feels like “just so long as he doesn’t love them,” let’s have his dilemma be that he’s this super hunky guy that all the ladies want but lets his guilt over the past scar him for an immortal lifetime. He could act like a womanizer but it could internally eat him up inside. Then all you would have to worry about is making him appeal to people. Change his design up. His costume hasn’t been updated since day one! Give that man a shirt! He looks like a douchebag!!

LIONy

#2 Lionheart. This character is actually badass. Kelsey Leigh was once a happily married British schoolteacher and mom until her home was broken into by robbers who gang raped her. While her husband proved to be a coward, she fought back so hard that one of her attackers slashed her face with a broken beer bottle in retaliation. While the brutality of this scenario could probably be toned down for wider audiences it still establishes her as a fighter in the face of adversity. Weeks or even years later, her family was caught in the middle of a brawl between the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew. As Thunderball had the upper hand on Captain America, Kelsey instinctively grabbed Cap’s shield and protected him ultimately at the cost of her own life.

This brave act caught the attention of the current Captain Britain, Brian Braddock, who was also the current ruler of “Otherworld,” a kind of nexus point between Marvel’s many alternate realities. Through his magical craziness he offered her the role of the new Captain Britain as well as a choice between the Sword of Might and the Amulet of Right as a basis for her new powers. Thinking she could do more good against evil with a sword than a necklace, Kelsey chose the sword unknowingly choosing the path of violence. According to this detail her “wrongful” decision cursed her into not being able to see her children anymore without it killing them. She then acted as a tortured, reckless, and vengeful Avenger for a short time while the Avengers took care of her kids for her at their mansion base. Eventually she was manipulated into being a bad guy and took her frustrations out on Braddock and his New Excalibur team but the situation was absolved by Braddock lifting the curse and allowing her to reunite with her children. I don’t know why it was necessary to take her kids away from her in the first place… I mean she was already a rape victim, why make her life any harder? Way to go, Captain Britain, ya dick!

I would like to ask why this character slipped through the cracks of the Marvel spotlight. A lot of it had to do with Chuck Austen writing the Avengers and handing it over to Brian Michael Bendis shortly after her creation only to see the cancellation of the title as a result of Bendis’ “Disassembled” storyline. She may have been conceived so close to the end of the series that she was simply forgotten about. But, come on! She hasn’t been anywhere near an Avengers book since 2005! I thought she had a really slick design; like a union jack ninja with a big honkin’ broadsword. I especially like her with the name “Lionheart,” it seems much more iconic and far less corny than Captain Britain. Potentially I think this character could grow to be a strong mom version of Batman for the Marvel Universe. By that, I mean Batman witnessed a terrible event as a child while Lionheart… well… witnessed a terrible event happen TO HERSELF as a mother. She has A LOT of willpower and an unhinged motivation for righting wrongs. You take her kids out of the equation and she’d be going full blown Bruce Wayne on everyone’s asses.

IN REVIEW: GOTHAM’S Pilot

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If you read the comments shared by the many fans of Batman lore, there is one question that stands universal when it comes to the brand new FOX television series, and that question is; can we care about a Gotham City without Batman?

Our answer to that question is yes, you can.

Gotham is a beautiful landscape straight from your favorite Batman comics. It’s not too dreary, or grey, which has often been a persistent problem in many other incarnations. It’s retro cars parade past neon lights, and when the rain finally clears, and the sun finally makes it’s way out of hiding; it’s almost like an atomic bomb had just reached ground; as the sky becomes washed out and almost too bright for human eyes. Man, those Gothamites just can’t catch a break…

The actors bring with them a perfect amount of camp, while also grasping the seriousness of their characters. Jada Pinkett-Smith cranks things up to 11 as Fish Mooney, and Robin Lord Taylor plays a Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot that will leave you shaking in your boots. When clips from the show first aired, they just didn’t do the acting style any justice. Now that we’ve seen a full episode, it’s easy to grasp the feel that the show is looking for. Each character spits out dialogue straight from a comic book panel, with a cadence that mimics a neo-noir style unlike any other cop drama on television.

Does this episode suffer from the issues that many a pilot have suffered from? Sure. We are introduced to what feels like 18 villains at once (definitely not that many) but it does feel as if they are laying it on thick. When you have the “who’s gonna whack who first?” dynamic between Fish Mooney and Oswald Cobblepot, there’s really no need to introduce Edward Nygma, Selina Kyle, Carmine Falcone, Poison Ivy, and a potential HUGE easter egg villain in the first episode.

Can we get to that easter egg now? Let’s do it. We here at ACR have a theory that could develop over the course of season 1, or even the entire series, and it’s a pretty big one.

(This is a total spoiler moment)

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In a scene where Fish Mooney reveals to Oswald Cobblepot that she thinks him a rat, we see that Fish is trying out standup comedians for her night club. Why is this important? Well, the show runner Bruno Heller has already discussed the idea of tackling the Joker, Batman’s famous arch nemesis, and THE definitive origin of the Joker was told by Alan Moore in his famous graphic novel The Killing Joke. In TKJ, the Joker is depicted as a rather un-funny standup comedian who turns to a life of crime to pay the bills and feed his family. Was this comedian in the pilot episode meant to serve as our Gotham Joker? Maybe not. Could Fish Mooney potentially meet the Joker in future comedian auditions? Absolutely. Only time will tell.

The only perceived problem for this series, is that many folks are expecting a show about Batman, when what they are really getting is a cop-drama set in the world of Batman. The idea for this series originated with the popular comic series Gotham Central written by Greg Rucka, and although the premise has been tweaked a little, the show will still center around Jim Gordon kicking the crap out of Gotham’s peskiest foes. So if you love not only Batman, but the world in which he inhabits, then this is the show for you.

We give it: 8/10

IN REVIEW: Destiny

So what is Destiny? Is it a MMO? A competitive multiplayer shooter? An action filled story driven space opera? The marketing behind Destiny makes you believe that it is an entirely new genre of game that mixes social aspects of an MMO and the gameplay of a modern day first-person shooter thats never been attempted before. But Destiny is a definite dungeon crawler that looks gorgeous, plays fantastic, but overall, is a complete mess.

Bungie’s first game in the last 10 years without the word ‘Halo’ is structured around a campaign that had me confused in the first several hours upon playing it.

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The plot — or lack thereof — is where I first noticed Destiny’s potential and its failure to live up to it. The universe Bungie has created here operates on a simple premise: Humanity (alongside a few other friendly races) explored and populated huge swaths of the known universe during a Golden Age, until some mysterious force known as “the Darkness” halted that progress and pushed back. Humanity is now down to one thriving city, and all that remains elsewhere is ruins and wreckage.

Bungie has crafted an astoundingly beautiful and detailed series of ruined worlds to support that fiction, but Destiny seems scared of taking players to the most interesting parts. That devastated city you can see on the skyline? Yah, It’s going to remain a background fixture while you’re stuck running through bland, look-alike factories and “warbases” over and over.

The most exciting part of running through these generic spaces is often stumbling across other players, who will sometimes populate the same area as you while you’re on a mission. You’ll never more than a handful at a time, and the game rarely gives you any reason to actually interact with these players, but it can be fun to temporarily team up to take down a group of enemies.

Branching off from the campaign Destiny offers what are called ‘Strike Missions’. These strike missions are where you’ll end up spending most of your time while in Destiny if you don’t chose to play The Crucible – Bungie’s lackluster attempt at competitive multiplayer in Destiny. But we will touch base on that here shortly. Strike missions are your cookie cutter dungeon crawls that you would find in games such as Diablo and Neverwinter Nights. Fight through waves of enemies, encounter mini boss battle, fight some more enemies, FINAL boss battle. Collect loot. Repeat. Though Bungie does it well, it just was not what I expected when picking up Destiny.

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If the dungeon crawling aspects of Destiny is not your cup of tea then maybe you would like to get up close and personal with some PVP competitive multiplayer.

Destiny’s competitive component takes place in the Crucible — a special selectable playlist that includes control point, team deathmatch and free-for-all modes taking place in ten competitive maps.

If there’s any place to talk of Bungie’s legacy, it would be here. Three modes and just four multiplayer environments feels like an afterthought, especially in comparison to the Halo series’ ever-swelling roster of locations. But the number of maps isn’t the problem.

Instead, the Crucible’s biggest failing is its reliance on your character’s progression to power you through against other players. While damage numbers for weapons are evened out, you remain at the mercy of other players’ weapon types and skills, especially against players who find the motivation to grind on beyond level 20.

You’re also at the mercy of class abilities that were tuned to look cool in cooperative play rather than balanced for multiplayer. This became most obvious the second or third time a Titan player’s air-stomp splash damage killed everything in a six-foot radius. The care and refinement that defined Bungie’s previous multiplayer efforts just doesn’t seem present. Hopefully Bungie can address these issues allowing new players throughout the holiday season to jump into a multiplayer game in an instant without becoming immediately frustrated.

Repetition is everything is Destiny. The sole fundamentals of the game are to collect loot in order to obtain a cool weapon or piece of gear. Level up that certain item so you can gain access to even COOLER gear, and repeat. Loot and items are obtained throughout all areas of gameplay in Destiny. But if you want to purchase that badass looking sniper rifle appropriately named ‘THE FINAL BOSS” you have to strictly grind out countless hours in The Crucible in order to obtain it or become lucky and hope the Destiny gods are nice to you and acquire it from a random item drop in a strike mission.

With all of this said, is Destiny a terrible game? No. Destiny is an enjoyment that has had me locked away in my room for countless hours already. Even though it has had its launch day flaws and disappointments. The most important thing to remember about Destiny is that is has potential… lots of it. When Activision and Bungie announced that they would be making a 500 million dollar investment into Destiny over the span of ten years. That alone had me believing that Bungie had big plans for this game through its lifespan. With a week into release we’ve already seen the release of its first raid, which took the first players over TEN HOURS! to complete and DLC planned to be releasing in December. This is only the beginning for Destiny. I’m quite excited to see if Bungie can keep me coming back for more in the coming months.

 

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SPAWN: THE RECALL Fan Film Is Better Than Actual SPAWN Film

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The first rule of the Spawn Fan Club? Don’t talk about the Spawn movie made in 1997….yeesh.

As per usual with the whole “we tried that and it didn’t work so we just gave up” trend with Hollywood comic book adaptations, chances of another Spawn flick are pretty slim. The character does have a rather huge potential at the box office if done right, and this new fan film is definitely an indicator that fans are still interested.

Spawn is the alter-ego of former Assasin turned CIA agent Al Simmons. After Al began to question the government and it’s intentions, he caught the attention of some of his superiors; who then concocted a plan to get rid of him. Having knowingly killed innocent people during his tenure in the CIA, Simmons’ soul was sent to hell; where he made a deal to come back to the surface world in the form of a Hellspawn.

Bingo. That sounds like one kick-ass set up to me.

Here’s the synopsis for the new fan film, written and directed by filmmaker Michael Paris:

Spawn: The Recall is the story of a former witch and her son, who try to live a normal life away from the darkness. While they’re shopping in a supermarket, the child suddenly disappears. She starts looking for him, freaked out knowing evil forces are still lurking. A security guard comes to her help but while they are checking on the surveillance cameras, something happens. She can sense it, they are here…

Check out the film here (and make sure you wait till the end):


What do you think folks? Is there enough interest in the character to ramp up a new flick? Or should Spawn stay hidden in the depths of the underworld? Let us know in the comments below!

Destiny Is Now The Best Selling New IP Ever


Mere months after Watch Dogs broke the sales record for a new IP, it seems Bungie’s brand new shooter has ousted Watch Dogs as the best selling new IP of all time. Destiny made a reported $325 million dollars within its first 5 days. No specific sales numbers have been released yet, but early speculation has the PS4 version as the front-runner,  with the Xbox One version not far behind. Destiny also released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Bungie reports that players have logged over a million hours of online play, with 137 million activities completed. Needless to say Destiny has been a huge hit. Watch Dogs sold 4 million units in its opening week, so it will be interesting to see what region Destiny hits in its first week. The game has been met with criticism, but really in today’s era of over-hyping  every new game that comes out, it’s not that surprising.

Destiny certainly has its flaws, what game doesn’t? We here at ACR have enjoyed our time with the game for the most part and have been streaming it several times a week since release. Check out our live streams both myself and CJ have been playing nonstop, and as always, stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news!

Microsoft Has Purchased Minecraft Studio Mojang For $2.5 Billion Dollars


As confirmed on Mojang’s official website, Microsoft has bought the studio for a cool $2.5 billion dollars. Studio founder Markus ‘Notch’ Persson along with co-founders Carl and Jacob will be leaving the company after the sale is finalized. Notch cited the pressure of owning a huge property like Minecraft as the primary reason for selling the company, saying that a game of the magnitude of Minecraft makes it difficult to try and pursue new projects.

Persson has said several times over the years that he prefers the indie approach, and has refused several buyout offers in the past. It seems that Microsoft’s offer was just too much to pass up and it gives the founding trio a chance to possibly open a new, smaller studio and get cracking on a new project. The sale of Mojang does seem to leave other Mojang titles like Scrolls in a limbo at the moment, with the main focus of the purchase being Minecraft.

The studio had the following statement in regards to the sale;

“Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.”

 The studio has also assured the community that all versions of Minecraft will continue to be supported and grow over time. It seems that Microsoft is taking a similar approach to their own business model used for their Office products, allowing the program suite to be used on multiple platforms. I think that in the end this will only strengthen Minecraft. The game will now have the backing of one of the richest software companies in the world allowing Minecraft to reach new heights. Stay tuned to ACR for all your gaming news!

Max Rants: Marvel Beyond Ant-Man and Dr. Strange…

Superheroes, they’re EVERYWHERE right now! Marvel Studios has brought characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to life so far and they aren’t stopping there. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron is going to introduce Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Vision (possibly more?). Then Scott Lang’s Ant-Man, a possible Wasp, and Dr. Strange in movies to come in the near future. It seems like they plan on making a movie adaption to every character in their comic book universe that has existed for 60+ years, BUT they have two major obstacles going against them! ONE; Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to 3 of their biggest franchises (X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man). That means Wolverine and Spidey aren’t joining the Avengers anytime soon and Marvel can’t use any characters connected to those franchises unless there is a legal loophole. TWO; Actors like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth are only contracted to play their high profile characters for 2-3 more movies. Sure, they could get recasted (but can anyone really live up to RDJ as Tony Stark?), their characters could get killed off (pissing millions of fanboys off in the process), or their characters could pass the torch to someone else (like Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier taking over as the new Captain America) but worst case scenario; we’re looking at a cinematic universe without any of Marvel’s biggest players. So here are two characters Marvel should focus on filling in the big boy shoes in both the comics and movies.

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#1 Captain Marvel. Not a boy, but a girl! I really wanted her to be a cameo or easter egg in Guardians of the Galaxy. Why? Because she’s closely related to the Kree aliens, in which the villain of the film, Ronan the Accuser is. Carol Danvers started off as a United States Air Force officer and the civilian love interest of the Kree alien superhero in disguise, Captain Mar-Vell. An explosion somehow fused Mar-Vell’s Kree powers onto Carol and she later became the energy absorbing, strong as Thor super heroine, Ms. Marvel. She had a very rough career as a superhero though. She abandoned humanity for space, became an alcoholic, and got her powers sucked away by Rogue of the X-Men. Despite that she’s overcome her problems in recent years and is now a motivated and militant badass big leaguer.

In a movie sense; I say screw her boyfriend, Captain Mar-Vell, and throw him under the bus. Make him out to be an undercover alien scout on Earth planning the Kree invasion just like he was in the Ultimate comics. Once Carol finds out about his true identity there will be hell to pay! Have the two break up, fight, find love again, leave each other for the greater good, name herself after him. DRAMA! That should be the focus of the movie; love, betrayal, and aliens! The only trick would be solidifying her origin story on how she got her powers. I mean it’s junk. Let’s add some believable super science and make it work. Have the villain of the movie be the Kree Supreme Intelligence or the Kree army in general and throw in as much supporting characters you can from the comics surrounding Carol and Mar-Vell. You know what I always say; a good hero needs like 4-5 good villains to make them great. So let’s create some well thought out villains for her in the comics in the meantime. Black Widow ain’t shit compared to Carol Danvers. There’s your strong female lead, Marvel.
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#2 Black Panther. Black Panther was technically introduced in the Fantastic Four comics but I believe Marvel has been in talks of making a movie surrounding him for quite some time… Maybe another loophole. At any rate, there are two rare things in the Marvel Universe. One is the sound absorbing durable metal known as vibranium and the other… is black superheroes. The answer is T’Challa, prince/king of the made up African country of Wakanda. Wakanda is uncharacteristically wealthy and futuristically advanced for an African nation because of their ample supply of vibranium which crash landed in the country in the form of a meteorite long ago.

Sometimes Black Panther is a lot like Batman in that he has no powers and uses his brains/fighting skills/resources mainly as weapons. Other times he is gifted with supernatural Panther-deity powers. The Ultimate comics featured him as a mute mutant who had pseudo-Wolverine claws that barely pop out of his knuckles and he was pretty much abandoned by his people after SHIELD saved his life from a fatal incident and trained him as a weapon under US care. The constant thing about him is that he has a genius level intellect, he’s observant, he’s sneaky and quiet, and cuts the bullshit by being straight to the point.

The Panther “rank” in the Wakandan kingdom is passed down from one generation to the next, so obviously a movie would involve T’Challa being raised by his father T’Chaka, eventually witnessing him die by unnatural means, and reclaiming the thrown as the new king. There are rival clans within Wakanda represented by other animals such as the White Gorillas, Lions, and Crocodiles… So potential movie villains could be shown by various leaders of these tribes going for the throne or T’Challa’s adopted white brother, White Wolf, who became a mercenary after being exiled from the country for being a brutal law enforcer. I’d say Black Panther’s most high profile villain would be Ulysses Klaw, an outsider scientist who plots to steal the vibranium for his own experiments and eventually becomes a being made of “solid sound” and is able to use sonic vibrations as a weapon. But I like the idea of Marvel taking a C-Lister like White Wolf and turning him into something of a Loki-status villain. He doesn’t even have to be a white guy, his character would still make sense as T’Challa’s actual brother (Let’s try not to make it too much like Thor and Loki).

I would opt for that along with mixing elements of Black Panther’s mainstream and Ultimate origin. The hard truth is that separating Black Panther from Africa, at least for a good half of a movie, will allow American audiences to identify with the character more as an immigrant who went from riches to rags rather than a king of a secluded xenophobic country. Plus if Wakanda shuns him instead of making him king, he would be less obligated to return to Africa fulfilling his kingly duties and more obliged to help the Avengers. Just sayin’.