MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#2)

Renegade with Letters
#2 – Darth Sidious

Star Wars (various movies, comics, cartoons, and video games 1980-now)

All these villains talk about conquering the world or the galaxy, but this guy actually did it. Palpatine AKA Darth Sidious schemed his way into being voted into a position of absolute power by concealing his true face and intentions for several decades… Not to mention, he’s arguably THE most powerful Sith lord that ever existed in the Star Wars universe (mainstream or extended). He’s pure evil. If you ask a majority of the diehard Star Wars fans out there, they will tell you that the “prequels” (Episodes I-III) are a terrible disappointment for a number of reasons. While I agree that the films made a mockery of what could have been an epic background telling of the more popularized villain, Darth Vader, if you put those details aside to pay attention to what Darth Sidious puts into motion and ultimately grasps at the end of Episode III, it’s really quite amazing.

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Before the storyline depicted in the films , many details of Palpatine’s origin have been laid out in the extended Star Wars universe. He was born on the planet of Naboo, to a family of politicians, which is not uncommon because all citizens of Naboo are required to enlist into politics around the time of adolescence for a brief period of time. After living a spoiled childhood under the roof of an abusive father with whom Palpatine constantly disagreed with politically, he rejected his given name only to be addressed by his family surname. His first name was never truly revealed. Additionally he took an interest in ancient Sith artifacts and used his family’s vast wealth to collect various texts and runes in secrecy. He made a habit out of going to prestigious schools, being expelled by random acts of defiance, then having his father pay to cover his lengthy would-be criminal record through bribes to preserve the family name. As a young man, Palpatine even crashed a speeder and killed two pedestrians, which he held no guilt or remorse over. The incident even gave him a sense of invulnerability believing himself untouchable.

After catching the attention of Darth Plagueis (the only remaining Sith lord at the time)  by political connections, Palpatine was recruited to become his spy and eventually Plagueis’ apprentice after being influenced to kill his entire family finally giving into the hate that had fueled him all along. After Plagueis covered up the murders through his civilian disguise he began Palpatine’s Sith training as Darth Sidious unknowning that Palpatine was already well versed in some techniques thanks to his artifact collection. The first year of his training was spent on the frozen planet of Mygeeto, where Plagueis used the intense cold to hone Sidious’ determination, hate, and survival skills. Plagueis had schemed to use Palpatine as a hidden Sith lord corrupting politics as he himself attempted to learn the secret of immortality while guiding Palpatine’s direction. While under Plagueis’ apprenticeship, Palpatine was given a baby Zabrak who he would later train to become his own apprentice, Darth Maul. Essentially Maul was like Palpatine’s own son who was brutally trained beyond breaking points at his merciless hands but was ultimately diehard and loyal to him. While training Maul, Palpatine furthered his career into becoming a mild mannered galactic Senator with a smile that the public adored and continued to gain allies in the form of politicians, military officers, and even some Jedi.

Upon moving his personal belongings into his quarters on Coruscant, Palpatine hid his Sith artifacts and light saber within various art sculptures throughout his residence and they would remain there for several decades. During the period of time that Episode I took place, Sidious used his disguise to instigate an attack on Naboo using the Trade Federation in a scheme to usurp Chancellor Vallorum in order to springboard himself within the Senate. After a bunch of political backstabbing mumbo jumbo and countless deaths on Naboo Palpatine was able to get the Senate to boot out Vallorum and become the new Chancellor. On the night before his inevitable election, Palpatine struck out against his master, Plagueis, by getting him drunk and blasting him with force lightning in his sleep. While killing Plagueis, Palpatine delightfully mocked him announcing that he had been manipulating his master for years and that he had no intentions of sharing his power. Here Sidious instilled a new Sith doctrine of the Rule of One, which decreased the emphasis of apprentices (using them only as pawns) to ensure that he would not be overthrown like so many other Sith masters before him.

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After the loss of Darth Maul, Palpatine turned his focus to Anakin Skywalker, who came to the attention of Plagueis as a force anomaly before his death, but sought out the manipulation of his political confidant, Jedi Master Count Dooku, viewing a youth to train full-time to be too much of a burden with his new position as Supreme Chancellor. Dooku had resigned from the Jedi Council after the death of his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn (who was killed by Sidious’ apprentice, Maul) and became bitter towards their passive ways essentially blaming them for Jinn’s death (a bit ridiculous…). Together Dooku and Palpatine enacted Darth Plagueis’s master plan of creating a civil war which would thin the herd of Jedi across the galaxy and eventually lead to the Republic being completely overthrown to his will. In order to do so they commissioned the cloners of the planet Kamino to create a clone army based off the genetics of the Mandalorian bounty hunter, Jango Fett. Thus began the grandplan to use a legion of clone stormtroopers to fight off the immediate threat of Seperatists (which were a united front against the Republic all manipulated by Palpatine himself as well) in order to cement Sidious as the Galactic Emperor.

Fast forward through decades of seemingly endless droid, clone, and Jedi death because of a war that he orchestrated throughout the galaxy, Palpatine was able to do just that. After sewing seeds of mistrust about the Jedi Council to Anakin Skywalker and promising him the power to save his loved one from a death he had forseen, Palpatine finally revealed himself as the dark lord behind everything. Instead of taking Palpatine down directly like a responsible Jedi, Anakin alerts Mace Windu. With the Jedi forces spread thin throughout the galaxy, Windu takes a team of 3 other Jedi Masters to arrest/kill Palpatine fearing that he would be too dangerous to be left alive. Palpatine immediately disposes of the the 3 Masters and plays weak to Mace Windu’s mercy in order to influence Anakin into helping him kill Windu in a heat of the moment decision. With Anakin now pledging his loyalty in becoming Palpatine’s new apprentice, Palpatine gives the order for his clone troopers to wipe out the Jedi that they had been aiding for an entire war in one fell swoop. He then sends Anakin as “Darth Vader” to wipe out the leaders of the Seperatist movement, thus eliminating all the different factions playing a part in the Clone Wars and transforming the Republic into his Empire. (I know the prequels were weak… but Darth Sidious’ rise to power is undeniably awesome).

Sidious even used his malformed face that he received from backlash from his force lightning attack against Mace Windu as a rallying gesture of “taking a punch for the people” against a rebellious Jedi attack (though it has been disputed that his face had been like that for a long time because of Sith techniques weakening his body and he merely dropped an illusion technique in order to appear weak forcing Anakin to act). Another testament to his deceitfulness is that he gained this power of absolute control by a democratic VOTE at the promise of establishing peace and security. His Empire would rule over the galaxy for 25 years, while instilling terror with the planet destroying Death Star, seemingly infinite storm troopers, and apprentice, Darth Vader (who had plotted to kill his master for years but never quite got around to it… out of fear). The dude was scarey…

Eventually Vader was able to kill Sidious while he was attempting to recruit/kill Vader’s son, Luke, to become his new apprentice… but that wasn’t the end of him. Sidious was such a master of the dark side of the force that he had learned to transfer his essence into other bodies and did so into a slew of reserve clone bodies. Beyond the movies, Sidious demonstrated his most impressive feat by ripping the time-space continuum creating a “hyperspace wormhole” through his harnessed hate and anger. With this technique he could conjure a “force storm” while standing on a planet and controlling it to destroy planets or armadas in deep space. Holy. Shit.

The many details of Darth Sidious’ 1,000 year lifespan are robust and would take a book to describe in full. I will say though; according to the extended Star Wars universe, Sidious did eventually turn the original hero of the franchise, Luke Skywalker, to the dark side as his apprentice. So kudos to Darth Sidious. Aside from that he has every single bad quality you could ask for in a villain and he’s remarkably patient for how much sick pleasure he gets from torturing and killing people. It must have been agony for him to act like a cheerful gooby Senator. Not to mention he could conceal himself from being sensed as a Sith lord while standing in the same room as Master Jedi’s such as Mace Windu and Yoda… In other words, he clouded the minds of the most powerful Jedi with relative ease.

MAX’S TOP 100 VILLAINS (#3)

Renegade with Letters
# 3- Richard Guyot

Bio Boosted Armor Guyver (manga and anime series, 1985-now)

I already covered the basics of Guyver anime on my top 23rd villain, Aptom, but I will recap a bit: In the Guyver-universe, human beings were intentionally created as biological weapons by an advanced race of aliens. Apparently every human being’s genetic makeup was tailored to evolve into giant superpowered beasts called Zoanoids. These “Creators” also specially hand crafted a more advanced telepathic human to lead their future army against enemies unknown. This leader was Archanfel and his power source came from the alien Zoa-crystal that was fused to his body. At the early stages of prehistoric man, the Creators abandoned their project and decided to leave Earth and toss a meteor our way to destroy what they had created (possibly in fear of human potential for war). Luckily Archanfel was able to deter the meteor and the human race was able to flourish through several centuries. As time went on, Archanfel shared fragments of his Zoa-crystal with eleven other men (making them “ZoaLORDS”) to make up the Council of Twelve, which became the inner circle of the multinational conglomerate known as the Chronos corporation. Who is Richard Guyot then? He’s the final, most powerful member of the council (aside from Archanfel himself), and head of the American branch of Chronos. Why is he awesome: I’ll get to that, but if you need reassurance right away… just look at his hair. Glorious.

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The storyline of the Guyver anime/manga begins when an average high schooler from Japan, Sho Fukamachi, stumbles upon one of the Creator’s alien suits and accidentally bonds his body to it becoming the potentially ultra-powerful Guyver. The series starts off slow when the baseline human leader of the Japanese Chronos branch, Genzo Makishima, fumbles around throwing weak low-level Zoanoids at the Guyver to obtain the suit at the cost of Sho’s life. When these attempts continue to fail, Richard Guyot comes in to take command of the operation. Right off the bat, Guyot is imposingly cool as he laughs at the Zoanoid development that the Japanese branch has made and introduces the concept of Hyper-Zoanoids (Zoanoids with bonus abstract superpowers) such as his bodyguard, Zerbebuth, and the Lost Number Commandos. When Genzo Makishima failed his last chance at gaining the control metal of the Guyver suit, Richard ruthlessly subjected him to a customized Zoanoid optimization that would not be fully completed (which gave him one week to live due to how unstable his incomplete body transformation would damage his cellular structure). As the Zoanoid, Enzyme, Genzo Makishima could not revert back to a human form, had corrosive blood, and anti-Guyver poison laced claws, teeth, and a tail.

Using his Zoalord telepathy, Richard Guyot controlled Enzyme into fighting the Guyver to the death. After a grueling battle, Enzyme had succeeded in tearing out the Guyver’s control metal seemingly killing Sho. Unaware that Sho’s mindless Guyver-body could still function without brainactivity, Sho’s body attacked Enzyme once again only for Guyot to telepathically implode Enzyme’s body and melt both of them with the corrosive blood. That’s just cold; blowing up your own man who you condemned to live only a week anyway like that. But it got the job done. The Guyver was dead and Guyot had obtained it’s control metal… Until the metal reconstituted Sho’s body on it’s own from storing it’s hosts DNA and creating a clone body out of nothing. WHAAA?? That’s alien technology for you. Before Sho reawakened Guyot revealed that Chronos had plans for world domination by placing Zoanoids in selected government positions across the world and taking it over the course of one fell swoop by launching nuclear warheads and sending the world into panicked submission. He also revealed that he views humans that can’t withstand the Zoanoid optimization process are genetic failures that don’t deserve to live. After the Guyver had seemingly destroyed Chronos Japan’s headquarters, Richard escaped and established his new base at Relic’s Point (which was a facility within a mountain hiding one of the Creator’s alien ships… Which is were the Guyver units and knowledge about the Creators came from).

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When plotting how to break Sho Fukamachi’s spirit, Guyot was so detached from humanity that he was facinated to learn that attacking Sho’s loved ones and taking away his “everyday life” would hurt him the most. Richard and a fellow Zoalord, Dr. Hamilcar Barcas, then set out an elaborate plan to kidnap Sho’s father and transform him into another version of the Enzyme type Zoanoid. In this second battle, Sho’s brain was damaged and caused the Guyver to act on it’s own causing him to mercilessly kill his own father. That one hurt pretty hard. Guyot then conducted an attack on Sho’s allies himself and showcased his raw mastery of gravity by burying them alive under several tons of rubble. Thanks to Sho’s ally and renegade prototype-Zoalord, Masaki Murakami, his friends survived the attack and were even able to find refuge in the lower levels of Relics Point and were housed by a defective science division of Chronos.

Months go by as the heroes regroup and gather their strength to take Guyot and Chronos down from right under their noses. During this period of time Guyot secretly had his top scientist investigate another alien artifact which he believed was a Guyver-remover mechanism. Because Guyver hosts can cheat death by being copied by the Guyver unit control metal itself, a remover device would be ideal for permanently detaching the suit from the human (thus making it equip-able to a new host and being able to kill the old one). Against the will of the Council of Twelve, Guyot intended to use the remover and become the new host of the Guyver. If a non-augmented human could be so powerful just imagine what an already powerful Zoalord could do with one equipped. I believe while the other Zoalords wished to conquer the world and upgrade humanity into their controllable Zoanoids, they started off with some sort of deluded intention of doing it to protect humanity from an alien threat. The thing that makes Richard Guyot such an awesome villain is that he went against all of his evil comrades and said, “Nope, I’m not sharing with anybody” and decided to gain more power simply to destroy the rest of them for standing in the way of his selfish ambition.

Suspicious of his radical intentions, Dr. Barcas informed the rest of the Zoalords across the globe and of course the first one to arrive was the god-like Archanfel. When Archanfel approached Guyot for his treachery his usually calm demeanor was reduced to a frustrated panic and Guyot nearly destroyed the entire facility running away from the demi-God. Even when Guyot lost his cool he still proved to be incredibly clever by luring Archanfel into a wide open area and unleashing a self-made black hole that destroyed Relics Point even more and ended up sucking Archanfel in. With Barcas’ help he is able to stabilize the black hole but in doing so causes him to collapse and fall several hundred stories down to where the heroes were hiding. Here Guyot kills his prototype, Murakami, and the scientist that allowed the heroes to stay at Relics Point. He also battles Sho and the third Guyver and came damn near fulfilling his goals of using the remover on one of them until Archanfel reemerges from nowhere, breaks his Zoa-crystal, and blasts Guyot in the mountain now erupting with lava.

Remarkably enough, that hadn’t killed Guyot because he somehow reemerged several years later in the Guyver timeline as a member of a new Rogue Zoalord group with a synthetic Zoa-crystal giving him new power and a spider-like bottom half of a body. The dude is just a beast. I mean he took on 3 protagonists after staving off the attacks of the most powerful character in the series and opened/closed a black hole… Guyot just refuses to go down easily. He’s as slick, confident, and selfish as Lex Luthor. He’s almost unkillable, devilishly deceptive even against his own superiors, and he basically spit in the eye of a demi-God… So I have some mad respect for this guy.

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Ryan Reynolds Confirmed For Deadpool Solo Film

Grab yourself a Chimichanga, the identity of the merc with the mouth has been revealed! Fox confirmed today that Ryan Reynolds will be reprising his role as Deadpool. We last saw Wade Wilson in the not so spectacular X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Let’s hope this film fairs better than that!

Tim Miller is attached as director, with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) handling the screenplay. Comic fans everywhere have been clamoring for this film for years, let’s hope that Fox is able to come through with a satisfying take on the beloved character. Judging by how well X-Men Days of Future Past was handled, I have high hopes that this film can reach the same heights. Stay tuned to ACR for all your Deadpool news!

Benedict Cumberbatch Officially Announced As Doctor Strange

Marvel confirmed what has been perhaps the worst kept secret on the internet, Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the lead role in the Doctor Strange film. Marvel released the following statement in regards to the casting news.

“Stephen Strange’s story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity,” said Marvel Studios president and Doctor Strange producer Kevin Feige said in a statement. “In 2016, Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character.”

Doctor Strange is set to be directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister)  writing duties are being handled by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). No story details have been released yet, but we do know that the film is set for release on November 4th, 2016. Stay tuned to ACR for all your comic book movie news!

This Could Be Your New SUPERGIRL

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According to a recent report from Comic Book Resource, actress Claire Holt, Star of The CW’s The Originals, is set to be cast as Supergirl on the upcoming CBS series.

Supergirl (also known as Kara Zor-El) is the cousin of Superman, and arrived to earth much like he did-via an escape from the doom-ridden Krypton. She arrived on Earth at the young age of 12, and was taken in by the Danvers family to be raised up right.

Ms. Holt certainly boasts the looks, and the chops to pull it off, so we are definitely keeping our fingers crossed on this one.

What do you think, Supergirl fans? Is Claire Holt a good pick for Kara? Let us know in the comments section below!

IN REVIEW: TUSK

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If you’ve heard about Tusk, you’ve likely heard that it was a total box office flop, or that it was the “worst film of Kevin Smith’s career,” or that it was completely/awesome disgusting and disturbing.

Yep, let’s go with option #3.

Unfortunately, at the time of it’s release, Tusk did so poorly in the box office that we here at ACR were unable to view it–as it was very quickly pulled from theatres. Now that it is out on digital and VOD (definitely worth the 13$) we thought we’d give it a review for you fine folks.

Tusk is a movie that was made for me, and when I say that–I mean that it was a movie made specifically for those people who voted #WalrusYes on Twitter, after listening to episode #259 of the Smodcast podcast. The episode was titled “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and in it Kevin Smith and his long time friend Scott Mosier discuss a rather odd classified ad Kevin had found online. In the seemingly authentic ad (it was later revealed that it was a prank) an old man poetically speaks of his travels at sea, how he was saved by a walrus named Gregory before drowning, and offers to let you live with him if you’d only dress up like a walrus for 2 hours a day. <<You read that correctly. This captured Kevin’s imagination, and he invited listeners to vote “#WalrusYes” or “#WalrusNo” on Twitter, and if the idea received generally positive feedback, he’d bring it to life on the silver screen.

Kevin’s version tells us the story of Wallace Bryton, an American podcaster who can be a little bit of a dick. His job on the podcast is to travel and interview internet celebrities, and we find him embarking on a journey to Canada in attempts to interview “The Kill Bill Kid,” a young man who literally cuts his own leg off. Disappointed by unforeseen circumstances that forbid Wallace of getting his interview, he responds to an interesting ad that details an old man with many stories to share.

But, as with any situation like this, the man ends up being totally obsessed with Walruses and wants to turn Wallace into a human/walrus hybrid….pretty standard procedure.

I will try my best to sound completely unbiased here, but the critical backlash Smith received for this film was in my opinion completely unwarranted. From a proper film standpoint–Tusk has a very clear 3 act structure, the cinematography/color grading is excellent, the performances (particularly by newcomer Genesis Rodriguez) are stellar, and let’s be honest–It’s a film about a man who turns another man into a walrus. Shouldn’t the bold nature of taking on a project like that be commended?

Tusk is both hilarious, and totally fucked up. Michael Parks as the villainous Howard Howe had me crying with laughter at parts, mainly due to his poetic interpretation of such classic phrases like “better out than in,” but he also had me terrified. The movie is exactly what it promises to be, a completely ridiculous gross-fest, but it also delivers some truly emotional moments that really surprised me. Genesis Rodriguez boasts two very emotional scenes that really showcase her talents, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

So is Tusk worth a watch? Absolutely. So do yourself a favor, go to Itunes and look up “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” listen to where the idea was born, and enjoy the movie that was made for you. It’s a great day to be a Kevin Smith fan.

We give it: 8/10