November is starting to fly by for me. I think going through this list of characters I put together and listing why they have meant something for me has been a lot of fun and has contributed to the month going so quickly. It will be Thanksgiving before I know it. It has also been fun to start seeing some of the reactions to my list of 30 characters. Starting tomorrow, each week will have a specific medium from which the characters will be drawn. This upcoming week will be comics. To finish out this week, though, it’s one of my all time favorite characters of any medium.
If you haven’t heard by now, Jake has decided that The Geeky Mormon needs to go in a new direction, and as me contributing articles does not fit with his vision for the site, I will no longer be writing. For the time being, plan on me still writing, but exclusively for my personal blog, The Jedi in Jeans. It was a pleasure writing for The Geeky Mormon and sharing all of my geeky thoughts with you. Before I go, here are a few things I want to share with you that I have learned from both my interests in sci-fi and fantasy, and from my faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in other words, from being a Geeky Mormon. I won’t elaborate on some of the themes too much. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so I will include pictures/quotes from our favorite stories as well as appropriate scripture references. I may very well have addressed some of these themes in my other posts. Other than that, I will leave the interpretation to you.
Someone compared the end of 2016, or maybe just the whole year, to the Battle at Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings. This is one of my favorite parts of the film series. It is one of my favorite battle scenes in any film I have seen. Besides being a great action sequence, it is a pivotal moment in the story. During this battle it seems totally hopeless for the people of Rohan. They are outnumbered and outgunned, as it were. The elves come to help, but they still have all the odds stacked against them. There is a moment where you can see that even Theoden has lost all hope, when he orders them to fall back to the Hornburg. He has given up.
Recently, Tim Champlin tweeted me and asked if I could do a list of my ten favorite movies. I thought it sounded like a great idea, so I jumped at the opportunity to do it. Before I get into this list, I want to set a few ground rules. First, these are my favorite movies. I don’t know how to quantify “favorite,” but I do know that it is not the same as a list of the ten best movies. Some of these movies may not be great, but they are movies I could sit and watch again and again, for the most part. Also, you can’t argue someone’s favorite movies. You just can’t. Another rule I set for myself was limiting myself to one movie per series. Otherwise, this list would be nothing but Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. That would be boring. So, in no particular order, here is my list.
Part of this essay is based on a term paper I wrote for my English 333 class at BYU
This is mainly about The Hobbit but I cite Steve and Bucky as an example because Civil War is still on everyone’s minds.
Steve: Remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?
Bucky: Was that the time you used our train money to buy hot dogs?
Steve: You blew three bucks trying to that stuffed bear for a redhead.
Bucky: What was her name again?
Steve: Dolores. You called her Dot.
Bucky: She’s got to be 100 years old right now.
Steve: So are we, pal.
My wife challenged me recently to come up with a list of my ten favorite books. This was a pretty big challenge. I don’t know that I could say that his list would be my definitive list, since I am continuing to read new books all the time, and meeting new favorites all the time. In other words, I feel like this might be my ten favorite books right now, but that could change in a month. As I put together my list, I thought about series, like Harry Potter or Wheel of Time. If I included all the books from those series, it would be impossible to keep it down to just ten. I decided I could only count one from any given series. I even tried to keep it to just one from each author (I also cheated on both of these rules). I also excluded any religious texts. Yes, I love the Book of Mormon, but I thought of this as more secular titles. So, all of that considered, here is my current, as of today, list of ten favorite books.
I grew up hearing that The Lord of the Rings films were actually pretty close to the books. When I finally watched them, however, I found out that the films were actually quite a bit different. True, there were some things I liked better, and some of the changes were understandable or more interesting, but on the whole, I liked the books better.
That’s actually all I’m going to say about LOTR for this post, but it serves as an introduction to an important discussion. I am a book geek. I have been since the first grade. I will be until I go blind in old age. But that doesn’t mean I a hundred percent hate movies that are based on books. I don’t always read the book first, but I am the kind of person who prefers to. This is the case especially when I’ve heard good things about the book as well, for instance, Life of Pi. On the other hand, sometimes I refuse to read the book because the film/television version I grew up watching is completely different and I don’t want to tarnish my feelings for the film (a lot of Disney movies I like are this way). But if the movie is based on a book that I have read and liked, then I am going to hold it to a certain standard.
(I’m writing my Christmas post now because my next post is most likely to be my reaction to The Force Awakens)
This is a bit of my OCD talking: I’m a skeptic when it comes to mixing sci-fi and fantasy with Christmas. I was raised in a family where the religious side of Christmas was always observed, and I’ve continued that in my adult life. Mixing Christmas with Disney princesses or superheroes or so forth can make me a little uncomfortable. Holiday specials featuring these characters can get a little on the cheesy side so I tend to avoid those. Storm troopers in Santa hats? I’ll have to tell you no. If we’re talking fan art, I might be a little more receptive. Yes, I believe that Christmas is “magical,” but I don’t like to mix it with other people’s definitions of that magic. Christmas should be about Christmas! I’m not a total purist, I’m just really picky.
This is part 3 of the 3-part Road to Civil War series.
WARNING! SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN BELOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The question everyone seems to be asking is why the Civil War installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Captain America movie? The truth is, we won’t have all the answers until it comes out. However, here are some of my thoughts from what we’ve heard about the plot and based on my observations of Steve Rogers.
Captain America as a Leader
At the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Captain America squarely in charge of a new Avengers team. The actions of this team under his leadership will lead to the debate over the regulation of superheroes.
Steve Rogers thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier, but he has always been a leader. I f people expect Captain America to lead them, then he expects them to work like an army does. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he is the unquestioned leader of the Howling Commandos, and even the directors of the Strategic Scientific Reserve look to him to lead the fight against Hydra. We don’t see much of the men who followed him aside from Bucky, but I think he had a good working relationship with these guys that probably set his expectations for similar experiences a little high.
When Captain America goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the situation is far from ideal. What Steve Rogers expects from those who work with him is trust. He prefers to know what other people are doing and what’s going on, whereas Nick Fury thinks it’s safer to “compartmentalize” assignments and secrets. Finding out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was controlled by Hydra is the last straw. From then on, Captain America doesn’t want to be in a position where he isn’t calling the shots. Being in control is Steve’s way of coping with the fact that he can’t trust other people’s motives.
Cap in the Age of Ultron
Steve decides to take out the remnants of Hydra, but it is unclear whether he asked the other Avengers for help or if they volunteered. But destroying Hydra is Steve’s project, so they let him decide what they do. To an extent they consider him the leader, and he may even think of himself as one.
Tony Stark referred to Captain America as “the boss” at one point during Age of Ultron, but Tony doesn’t treat him the way Steve expects he would if he really thought that. In The Avengers Tony is condescending and even resentful toward him. After the two work together for some time, there’s a little more respect and even some liking. Yet Steve expects that the other Avengers follow his directions and not do anything to jeopardize them or their mission. Tony Stark does his own thing. And Steve mistrusts Tony for this.
Steve is more concerned at first about preventing Ultron from causing more problems. But then Wanda Maximoff warns Steve the being Ultron was creating with the Mind Stone could be put to use by Tony Stark—and Steve takes it very poorly. His only thought is to prevent Tony from creating another Ultron, and he’s offended that Tony’s attitude and behavior are hurting the team as well as the world. Civil War as good as almost started over Vision’s cradle.
It would be wrong to say that Steve isn’t sad to see the breakup of the original Avengers. But at the same time I think he’s looking forward to working with the new team that has come together, probably more or less at his invitation. He has an advantage with this new team because he can set new terms for their working relationship. He can teach them how to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other in ways that the original Avengers never could: the way he wants them to.
So one of the hard parts of Civil War will be watching all of Steve’s hopes and expectations for the new Avengers go down the drain.
A Product of War
Captain America was created to fight a war that, for the rest of the world, ended seventy years ago. But the war never ended for Steve, and the best thing he can think of doing is continuing to fight.
During World War II, all civilian resources—food, clothing, and even entertainment—were redirected to the military and to mustering support for the war effort. It was a time period when people ate, slept, and breathed war. Cap went on the ice. The rest of the world had time to transition, but Steve didn’t. So a part of him still eats, sleeps, and breathes war because he didn’t get to see it end. And whatever closure he thinks he has—Hydra being vanquished, for instance—is an illusion.
When he got up, furthermore, he was asked almost right away to help save the world from Loki. Steve never intended to be Captain America for the rest of his life, but that’s what nearly everyone else wants him to be. So he has chosen to be a superhero: that is “home” for Steve now. And if it is his job to keep the world safe, then he will do whatever he thinks is right to get the job done. His job from the war, stopping Hydra, was left undone, so he is going to finish it. And his mind, it is an army—in this case, the Avengers—that is the best chance of stopping Hydra.
Doing the Right Thing as a Weakness
A lot of people don’t see why Steve had to crash the Valkyrie at the end of The First Avenger. My explanation is that Steve didn’t want the world to have access to the Hydra weapons or technology that was on that plane: Hydra was so evil that he wanted to destroy it and every evil thing it created. And, of course, he held Hydra responsible for Bucky’s “death.”
Steve does whatever he thinks is right at all costs, and if you disagree with him about what it takes to keep the world safe, then he is not giving you the benefit of a doubt.
In Captain America: Civil War, Steve will encounter a serious barrier to his goal of fighting Hydra just as Hydra is regaining strength, and his attitudes and choices in that time will put him in conflict with Iron Man and other superheroes. And then we have the Ant-man post-credit scene. From the dialogue and other inferences about the situation, we know that Bucky Barnes turning up again in this manner only complicates an already difficult situation. But why did Marvel choose to show this scene in particular? Steve wants to help his best friend, at whatever cost to himself, and if he has to break the rules—if he has to fight Tony Stark—to do so, needless to say it’s going to get ugly.
Bucky is the only thing Steve has from the life he used to know: before he was a soldier, before ANYTHING. If Steve can save Bucky, then he will be able, in some small way, to “come home.” It isn’t right this time: it’s personal.
But Steve, however, will put his personal happiness on the line to do what he thinks is right. I am prepared at this point to accept the possibility that Steve might even die in Civil War. What I am really worried about is, can Steve put up with all of this and still be a good person?
That’s the best speculation I can give you for now. But of course, it could all change the moment the trailer comes out.
Who doesn’t love a major blockbuster franchise? I think everyone does, especially the studios who make said films, and consequently make lots of money. These films have a tendency to be a huge part of our lives. We literally spend years waiting for the next one to come out, and then when it does come out we pick it apart with our friends and begin waiting for the next one. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t anticipating a new film. Granted, sometimes I was waiting for films that probably weren’t really coming out. That was before our magical information age, so I was relying on friends, who had no more information than I did.
In any case, I have taken it upon myself to seek out the 10 greatest geeky film franchises, and then to rank them from 10 to 1. Why? Because, obviously, I love starting arguments. You won’t agree with my list. That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, however incorrect it might be. Just joshing’ you. A list like this is absolutely subjective, so your list would definitely be different from mine, and that’s ok.
You’ll notice that the Marvel movies did not make my list. I love these films, for the most part, but I felt like a whole “Cinematic Universe” was too broad. Since I am the one making the list, I felt comfortable making the rules, like that one. I also did not include two franchises that were the same, like the 1990’s Batman and Nolan’s Dark Knight, or Star Trek and the new Star Trek. I picked one or the other.
This list is supposed to be anything ground breaking. Mostly it was just for fun, and to hopefully start a conversation or two. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. We love hearing from you.
10. The Spider-Man Trilogy
This trilogy seemed like the first big Superhero hit of the century. This thing was just massive when the first one came out. It was well done, as it brought Spider-Man to the big screen for the first time. It’s interesting because this was before Marvel Studios was really a thing, so they were more invested in this one. Go back and watch these films. They feel like the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, more than the recent Amazing series. Tobey Maguire was great as Peter Parker and was decent as Spider-Man. The suit was spot on. Everything was pretty good. It was a shame that it was rebooted so quickly after the third film was released.
By far, in my opinion, the best film of the trilogy was number 2. The story seemed to flow the best, and Doc Ock was fantastic. I think it worked because there was one, count ’em, one villain in the film. That just seems to work the best. It built on to what we saw in the first film, and had the classic moment where Pete decides to hang up the suit for good. As well as the classic moment where he saves the train and the people of New York finally really embrace him as a hero. Start to finish, this installment was the most watchable.
Number 3 is the infamous franchise killer. If this installment had just been any good at all, Tobey Maguire may be getting ready for his close up in Avengers instead of a new Spider-Man being cast. Start to finish, this film was just not good. Part of the problem? It was the opposite of what we saw in 2- it had too many villains. For some reason there always seems to be a desire with a superhero franchise to begin character cramming. It never turns out well. Ever.
9. Back to the Future
There were few movies that were as cool as Back to the Future when I was a kid. I loved these films. Each of them was one of my favorites growing up. I always dreamed of someday having a DeLorean of my own. It has yet to happen, but I am holding out hope. I loved watching the adventures of Marty and Doc, and I always get sad when number 3 comes to an end and it’s all over. Despite all the 80s references, it is still timeless in a lot of ways. My kids watched the first one a couple of weeks ago and really liked it quite a bit.
The best of the series was the original. It had the tightest story (notice I said tightest, not necessarily tight), and the fewest gimmicks. It seems like the second and third movie thrived on the gimmicks and the same jokes from the first one, just replayed in different times. The first one was just so original, it is hard to top. It is the main reason why the franchise has endured as long as it has.
Number 3. It was just too cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, number 3 is still a lot of fun, and out of nostalgia, I still love watching it, but it is just not the same quality of the first film.
Where does the X-Men movie franchise end? is it 2 separate franchises, or just one? With Days of Future Past, it became one franchise. I grew up in the 90s watching the old X-Men cartoons, and I was in love with them just as much as any other kid alive at the time. It was just amazing when this franchise was launched, and seeing Hugh Jackman step into the Wolverine role for the first time was just incredible. He was born to play the part. As was Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. I remember thinking he would be a perfect Xavier if they ever got around to making an X-Men film. I was right.
My personal favorite was X-2. I always liked the story of how Wolverine becomes Wolverine. I have also liked the Nightcrawler character. I’m sure is has nothing to do with the fact that he is German. The second movie was a lot of fun from start to finish. Although, First Class is a close second for me. It was also very solid and enjoyable.
Easy. Last Stand. I am can’t tell you how happy I am that Days of Future Past basically retconned that Last Stand never happened. It should have never happened. I wish it hadn’t. Unfortunately, I do remember paying good money to see it in the theater.
7. Harry Potter
One of the best modern book series became one of the best geeky movie franchises. There is a definite shift in these films as they transition from Chamber of Secrets to Prisoner of Azkaban, just like the books did. The young actors were not very good at first. They got by mostly on just being “cute,” but they grew into their roles and each one was pretty good toward the end. The movies may not have followed the books perfectly, but I think they did a great job capturing the feeling of the books, which is really almost the best one can hope for.
For me, I have to say, I really dig any of the movies from Order of the Phoenix onward. They are paced well, and pretty action packed. That’s saying something, because I did not enjoy the Order of the Phoenix book. It was one of my least favorites.
The Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for our British friends). The kids were just learning how to be actors and just developing their chemistry together. Plus, it was like a Disney version of Harry Potter. It was way family centric and almost kid focused. It started getting better with Prisoner of Azkaban.
Superman: The Motion Picture was pretty amazing for its time. I understand it doesn’t compare to what we see today as far as special effects, but it’s not bad either. Plus, Christopher Reeves will always be Superman in my mind. I admit that this is probably higher up on the list for me simply because I grew up watching these movies constantly. I’ll admit right here that Superman has always been my favorite, and I know I am opening it up for all the Batman and anti-Superman folks to send me hate mail or stop following my blog, but I’m proud of my love for Big Blue.
For me, none of the films in this series touches Superman II. That was always my favorite. I think the main reason why is because Superman actually had a real challenge on his hands with 3 other beings just as powerful to fight against. Then to top it all off, he had just given up his powers to be with Lois. Yes, the costumes definitely date the movie, but 30 years from now, some other blogger, or whatever they will be doing then, will be writing about how the costumes in Man of Steel date that movie.
Superman III. Out of all the stinkers on this list, this one is the one that I will say go ahead and just skip it. There is no reason to watch it, unless you have a couple of hours you simply don’t want.
5. Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones was the reason I wanted to study History as I got older. I know, he was an archaeologist, but in High School, History was as close as I could get to Archaeology. Then I found out that archaeologists don’t have adventures like Indiana Jones, plus, in History class, I learned about how the Nazis were not really around anymore, so it kind of lost some of its magic. Not completely, though. Indiana did really teach me that there was value in the past and that it was worth studying. I credit him for my love of History. Plus, Harrison Ford was pretty much the coolest guy in the late 70s and through the 80s and early 90s. Who am I kidding, after walking away from that plane crash last week, he’s still the coolest guy around. Indy was so iconic, with his fedora and his leather satchel and jacket, and the whip. He was awesome. I loved this trilogy growing up, and I even have fond memories of seeing Last Crusade in the theater and thinking it was awesome. What a way to end the series. Let’s all pretend that’s how this paragraph can end.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is tough to beat. While Last Crusade will always have a special place in my heart because I remember seeing it in the theater and it started in Utah, Raiders is the superior movie. It is a classic in every sense of the word. This movie, along with Star Wars launched Harrison Ford from being a relative unknown to being a super star.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Pretty easy choice, if you ask me. Maybe I need to go back and revisit the film, but it is just so hard. I left the theater thinking, “Why?!” Last Crusade was so perfect, this one just did not need to happen.
4. The Dark Knight Trilogy
In an attempt to stem the thousands of comments I was sure to receive about how Batman is better than Superman, I have ranked Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy above the Superman series. It would be hard to rank it below. This was a very solid trilogy, and what I love most about it is that it was a trilogy. Nolan is not coming back to do another Batman film. He told his story, and now he has moved on. This trilogy really showed what Superhero movies could be. It’s no coincidence that this series is the highest ranking superhero franchise on my list.
Could there be any other choice? The Dark Knight is one of the most perfect films from start to finish. It was a masterpiece, from the storytelling to Heath Ledger’s Joker, it is hard to find a lot of fault with this movie. It has to be the best of the 3.
The Dark Knight Rises. It just didn’t flow as well as The Dark Knight, and Bane was a poor substitute for Joker, but for obvious reasons Joker did not return in this film. It wasn’t a horrible movie, so maybe calling it a stinker is unfair, but I had to pick one film to be a stinker from the trilogy.
3. Star Trek
10 movies puts this franchise at the top of our list as far as number of installments. It is a testament to the endearing qualities of Star Trek that have allowed the franchise to last as long as it has and still be relevant. I selected the original, prime universe, franchise, and not the new rebooted universe franchise because of how long it lasted. I have always thought of Star Trek as the best of the best as far as Science Fiction goes, at least on TV and on film. Trek was such a big part of my growing up. I used to go through my house and pretend that there were sliding doors in every doorway, like my house was a starship. I would even do sound effects as I went from room to room. I mean I eventually grew out of it…when i got married and I was too embarrassed to let my wife know that I did that kind of weird stuff. Ok, fine, I do it when she is not at how and the kids are in bed. It’s really not that weird.
When you have so many films, it is hard to choose which one is the best. I have always been partial to First Contact because Picard is so awesome in it, but I think for the Best, I have to go with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is the movie that saved the franchise after the first Star Trek Movie was less than good. It is also the movie that set the pace of every even-numbered Star Trek being good, while each odd-numbered was typically not as good. Go ahead, look ’em up if you don’t believe me. It pretty much works out that way.
When you have this many movies, chances are there are a couple of stinkers in the bunch, but the stinkiest of the stinkers has to be Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. So much bad heaped into one movie. They almost had to make VI just to save the franchise and get it back on track. They couldn’t with this dung pile.
2. Star Wars
Let the arguments begin. How is this not number 1? I hear you, but I think it is indisputable that this belongs in the top 2 with my number 1, and the 2 franchises could be interchangeable, at least in my mind. So how did Star Wars end up at number 2? The stinker was just a little more stinker than number 1’s stinky. Star Wars has so many fond memories for me, but what I love is that the series remains pretty timeless. I know the prequels get a bad wrap, especially by people my age and older, but for my kids, the prequel are just part of the story, good or bad, it is the way it is. This and X-Men were the only franchises I had on this list that we know for sure are still going on. I will be eager to see how Episode VII turns out, even if it is a Christmas release. However, good news today as it was announced that Episode VIII will be end of May in 2017. That just feels right.
This comes down to A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back. For me personally, it is Empire Strikes Back. There was just always something great about this movie for me. The characters seemed more developed, more comfortable in their roles, and more complex. The story was also really good and flowed well. I love watching Empire Strikes Back, and the big reveal scene never gets old, even when I know it’s coming. I am right there with Luke shouting NO! Literally. I mean my wife usually has to calm me down and remind it’s only a movie.
A lot of people will say it Phantom Menace. I disagree. For me it is Attack of the Clones. I think part of the problem is the name. I could never get past the name. It just sounds stupid. I think the other part, and this is the bigger part for sure, was Hayden Christensen. Attack of the clones was painful for me from start to finish. This is the movie that is responsible for Star Wars at 2 instead of 1. This movie and Jar-Jar.
1. The Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit
First of all, congratulations on making it to the end of what has ended up being a very long post. Congratulations, and thank you for reading and sticking with it. Yes, The Lord of the Rings is my number one. When you think about it, it has a lot in common with Star Wars. Both had very solid original trilogies, followed up with prequel trilogies that were not as good. In my mind, the Hobbit trilogy, although obviously not needing to be a trilogy, is better than the Star Wars Prequels. Hence, it takes the number 1 spot. These movies are huge time commitment (much like this post), but they are always worth it. I can’t think of a time when I have been bored while watching these films, at least the original trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. The scene when Sam picks up Frodo and carries him up the mountain, it just hits me in the feels every time. So much so, that I won’t include the video here.
It is hard to say which of the Lord of the Rings movies is the best, and really they were all shot at the same time, and are all one continuous story, so the whole trilogy is the best, and should always be consumed in one sitting. Always.
The Desolation of Smaug. Just shouldn’t have happened. The Hobbit was too long by about one whole installment, maybe two. But definitely this one. And whoever heard of a romance between an elf maiden and a dwarf? No one, not even Tolkien.
Well, there’s my list. What did you think? Which ones do you agree with? And disagree? Let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you, and love talking about this stuff, so let me know. In any case, there’s a pretty good list of movies for you to watch, if, you know, you’re bored or anything like that.