As some of you may know, I work at a major thrift store in Provo. We get thousands of items donated daily. I work in the back sorting through those donations to see what’s good enough to be resold and what’s not. I have been working there for eight months now and I have seen lots and lots of geeky items. If you follow me on I Love the Star Wars Prequels, you know that I post updates sometimes about prequels-related merchandise. Star Wars is perhaps the biggest franchise represented as far as action figures, toys, and collectible items. This is a sampling of some of the geek items I’ve seen at the store from a variety of fandoms and favorite media.
Yes, I can make this list work. I can come up with 17 reasons that the year 2017 is going to be a good one that are all geek-related. Can you? Is there anything on this list you didn’t think of? Anything I didn’t have room for?
Here’s a short tribute to the saddest deaths in some of our fandoms, to the ones who die without being likely to come back. None of these are necessarily in order, and I don’t have time to discuss the hows and whys of all their deaths today. But see if you can make it through this post without crying. Also, spoilers for just about everything.
Our favorite movies wouldn’t be as cool without the amazing musical scores behind them. This is a sampling of some of my favorite movie tunes.
- ‘This is Berk,’ James Powell, How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
We are getting pretty close to the end of April, which means we are getting pretty close to Age of Ultron. I already have my ticket to see it on Friday evening in IMAX 3D. I’ll be going with my brother, J. Leonard Dietz, also known as The 90s Kid. I can’t wait to see it. This also means I need to wrap up my Revisiting the MCU series here pretty quickly. The good news is today I am reviewing Thor: The Dark World, which means I only have a couple more left. In fact, this has been the stretch of films I have been waiting for while doing this project. Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy may just be my three favorite MCU films.
Thor: TDW is just a lot of fun. It was everything the first Thor film should have been. Full of action and great, massive battles, while maintaining its wit and charm. I loved it. The story was great, and it introduces us to another Thor bad guy not named Loki. The dark elves are a staple in the Thor comics, so it was great to see them on film. Male kith, the leader of the dark elves, was just masterfully played by Christopher Eccleston, even though I couldn’t help but hope he might sneak a “fantastic” in there somewhere. It was also fun to see the relationship between Thor and Loki continue to develop. It is a complex relationship, where Thor continuously tries to trust and forgive Loki, while Loki continues to give him every reason not to. Loki sitting on the throne of Asgard, I’m sure, will have something to do with Ragnarok coming.
We also get to see our favorite misfit band of scientists as they continue to study whatever it is that happens whenever the Rainbow Bridge connects to Earth. Dr. Selvig has apparently all but lost his mind, or more accurately, maybe he never got it all back after the New York incident. Jane is still looking for Thor, and is quite upset when she finds him, slapping him in the face twice! Not too upset, though, that she won’t let him take her back to his place. Of course, part of that has to do with the Aether being in her body, selecting her as its host. The Aether, course, is one of the Infinity gems or stones, or whatever, except it is neither a stone nor a gem. It’s a liquid. This is our first glimpse of one of the 6 Infinity stones not called the Tesseract. This is where we find out that Marvel’s powers that be are really taking us down a path leading to the Infinity War.
Overall, I felt like this film was well written, and well performed. The actors all did a great job, and the whole thing really came together. I feel like Thor’s character progresses, realizing that he doesn’t want to be king, instead he just wants to be with Jane, regardless of how short his time with her will be. We also see Loki continue to develop more and more into a man who is obsessed with gaining power any way he can get it. Loki will stop at nothing until he has a kingdom to rule over, and then he probably still won’t stop. The story of Thor is moving closer to Ragnarok. Odin, we assume, is dead. Fridge is dead. Loki is left in power, and Thor is busy fleeing to Earth to be with Jane. All of this will add up to trouble back in Asgard, and I have a feeling it will spill over into Midgard. Just call it a hunch.
One of the best parts of watching Thor this last weekend has to do with this photo:
This is my middle daughter, Lucy. And what I did not know prior to this screening of Thor: The Dark World, is that my two older girls, Eliza and Lucy, love Thor. I knew Thor was Eliza’s favorite, and when we said we were watching Thor after dinner, she got very excited about it, even a little red in the cheeks. My wife and I joked about it being her first crush, as much a 6-year-old can have a crush. We had no idea, though, that Lucy was so attached to Thor. When she saw what movie we were watching, she went into our toys and found a 12″ Thor figure that we have and brought it over and sat with me in my chair to watch the movie. She was pretty proud of herself and excited as she sat there with Thor in her hand and Thor on the screen. This photo was taken just after Eliza stole Thor from Lucy. She was devastated. As you can see, i am not exaggerating. It got to the point where we had to have the two of them taking turns with the figure so they wouldn’t fight, and even that didn’t work. It would appear that two of Chris Hemsworth’s biggest fans happen to live at my house, and they may be two of his youngest. As a fan of the comics and the superhero movies, part of me was pleased with their choice for a crush. As a father, I am nowhere near ready for this kind of behavior. This is why the grey in my beard has been increasing lately.
What did you think of Thor: The Dark World? Did it live up to your expectations, or was it not one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments. We love to hear from you. Check back later this week as we revisit Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The next stop on our tour through the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Thor. For me, this is where I feel like the MCU is really expanding. Up to this point, we have only seen two Iron Man movies and a Hulk re-boot. With Thor, we are getting something new and really different. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Thor because of my Danish ancestry, so I was really excited about this movie when it came out. I was also really nervous. With all the fantasy elements to Thor, there was always a possibility that it could be really cheesy and lame.
Fortunately, Thor was neither cheesy nor lame. Or at least not overly cheesy and lame. I mean, when Thor talks in his normal fancy speak, it can come across as pretty lame, but Hemsworth does it just right. This film was a great addition to the MCU and a great expansion into bigger things. I think they nailed the casting with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and of course Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I had never heard of Hiddleston before this film, but afterward, he was a household name, and with good reason. He played the role to a T. Just an excellent job.
This movie was interesting because it was an origin story, but it was different from most origin stories. Usually, the main protagonist gets his powers and there is a period of time where he or she is getting used to their powers and how to use them and all of that. There is none of that in this movie. Thor is born a god, and has his powers from birth, so he doesn’t have to get used to them. The real origin story here is how he becomes fond of Midgard, or Earth. In the beginning we see a reckless young god who makes poor decisions and doesn’t value the lives of his enemies or his friends. He is immortal, and he knows it.
This story follows what happens when he is banished to Midgard by Odin to be taught a lesson. He doesn’t really get what’s happening at first, and along the way he meets Jane Foster and her team and befriends them. They are there for him when he discovers that he doesn’t have his powers anymore, and he decides to stay with them when Loki visits him and tells him he can never come home. We see Thor grow as he begins to care about these people and develops a new perspective about what it takes to be a leader. Before, battle was all about glory and things like that. Now he is beginning to count the costs and value life. It’s not all about glory. It’s important for him to get to this point before Loki sends the destroyer down to kill him and everybody else. Because he is at this point, he is willing to face off against the giant himself with no powers. It is at this moment that he becomes the hero. He becomes worthy of his hammer, Mjolnir.
This was a fun movie in typical MCU fashion. It’s full of humor and wit. It also has great shout outs to fans of the comics. For example, when he puts on the shirt that Jane gives him and the name tag say Donald Blake, MD. This was the identity he used to assume in the comics. Of course he continues to assume it in the movie. That was cool. The best line or humorous moment was when he refers to Agent Coulson as “Son of Coul.” That was great. Overall, in the beginning of the movie we have a hard time with Thor and his reckless character, but part way through, we find ourselves agreeing with Hawkeye when he says he’s going to start rooting for this guy. And of course, I can still remember how excited I was when at the very end of the credits it says that Thor would be returning in The Avengers. It was only a year away at that point.
What were your thoughts on Thor? Did it hold up against Iron Man and Incredible Hulk? Or was it a disappointment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
In case you missed it because A. You’re not really a geek, or B. You have been living under a rock somewhere, DC made a major announcement involving 12 films between now and 2020. They even managed to one up Marvel by not just revealing the dates they have marked and set aside for the movies, they have also told us which titles will be released on which dates. It is clear, they are stepping up to go toe to toe with Marvel. This leads me to ask the question: Which is going to be better in the long run, the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) or the DCCU (The DC Cinematic Universe)? First of all, I don’t even know if the new DC movie world will be called the DCCU. I just did that because of MCU. I saw it called the DCCC or the DC Cinematic Continuum. That’s a lot of C’s, so I like the DCCU better, but of course they will need to be different from Marvel, so maybe the DCCM-The DC Cinematic Multiverse. Or maybe the DC C52-The DC Cinematic 52, because we all know how much DC loves the number 52. In any case, the question remains, will DC be able to compete with the Marvel on the big screen? Or is it too late? Marvel has been doing this for a few years now, and it seems like they can do now wrong, with Guardians of the Galaxy blowing up the box office this summer, after being a title that no one had ever heard of over the last 30 years. The truth is, I don’t think that is going to happen with every random title Marvel might try to ram down our throats, and I think DC really has an advantage to be more successful in the long run. It may not seem like it now, but trust me, it’s going to happen. Let me tell you why, I think, DC is going to outlast and eventually take down Marvel at the box office.
It might seem like Marvel has some amazing stuff coming our way, especially with the announcement that Captain America 3 is bringing us the Civil War story line. And that is probably true, but this announcement brings up what I believe are the two biggest issues facing the MCU right now. Let’s look at issue number one. Civil War is going to be massive and huge and change everything, and then what? Cap will be dead, it looks like Robert Downey, Jr. is planning on playing Tony Stark forever, we don’t know if Hemsworth will be back as Thor, and for whatever reason, Marvel has zero plans to do a really good Hulk movie. The four biggest names and most marketable characters Marvel has in the MCU will be gone. The Iron Man movies were all huge hits, and Cap and Thor did alright on their own, leading to the massively successful Avengers movie, leading to more successful sequels, that will be followed by another huge Avengers movie, which will lead to another round of successful movies for the big four (minus Hulk, sorry big guy) that will lead to a huge, epic Avengers 3, followed by nothing. Talk about a let down. The good news is that Marvel has plans to expand their universe with the likes of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. These characters are popular with hard-core comics fans because their titles typically had some of the premiere writing and stories, but they are not that marketable. Marvel led with the biggest names they had, and like it or not, they will be on their way out, just as DC is hitting their stride.
The lack of back ups for the big four brings us to issue number two. Quick think of your favorite Marvel super hero not named Thor, Iron Man, Cap, or Hulk. Did you think of this guy?
Or maybe this guy?
Or maybe these folks?
Or maybe even this guy?
Well forget about all of them. While each of the above referenced characters will be appearing in movies, none of them will be appearing in the MCU. Way back in the day, in the time before RDJ became Iron Man, the idea of a combined cinematic universe for Marvel’s characters just didn’t exist. Marvel believed their characters were marketable, and could draw in big crowds, but they didn’t have any way to put it out there. There wasn’t a Marvel Studios, and at the time, marvel wasn’t doing so hot. They did what seemed like the only smart thing at the time. They sold off the rights to their more popular characters. Spider-Man went to Sony, X-Men went to Fox along with the Fantastic Four. Other characters were sold off too, like Daredevil, The Punisher, and Ghost Rider. Their movies were so horrible, that we won’t mention them here again. The point is, this was the only way Marvel saw to get their product out there, so they sold the rights, and those studios all still have the rights, and they’re not giving them up. The only reason Marvel still had the rights to the Avengers is because nobody wanted them. That worked out well and lucky for Marvel, but the time is quickly approaching when the Avengers as we know them won’t be around, and having properties like the X-Men or Spider-Man would be nice when that happens. Plus, now that they are doing these major events like Civil War in the movies, it is going to hurt to not have those properties. Spider-Man played no small role in the Civil War story. I’m just saying.
These are the two major issues why I think in the long run, DC will do better and outlast Marvel. When it comes to forming one unified Universe in the films, DC just has the upper hand. Yes, DC is leading out with their two most well-known characters to start things off, but they have a lot of interesting, main stream characters that they can throw at us as well. I mean, Yes, Superman and Batman are as big as it gets, but the Flash and Green Lantern and Aquaman and Wonder Woman are all pretty well-known as well. The movies that they have announced are all heavy hitters, minus Suicide Squad, which will end up being DC’s version of GOTG, incase you were wondering why the rush for that title. There is not really an Ant-Man in the bunch.
Of Course, the reason why this is the case is because all of DC’s characters have been owned by Warner Bros. for a while. They have always had a medium for their films, so they haven’t sold off the rights to their characters like Marvel had to. Not only does this mean that all of their popular characters are available, it also means that there is zero crossover issues that they will need to overcome as they start making the films. If they want to throw together a “phase” that focuses on one of the Crisis events, they can, and they don’t have to worry about who they might sub in to take Barry Allen’s place to save the world and die for 30 years, since some other studio owns his film rights. They own the rights, so he’ll be in the movie. No problem. They have a whole universe, nay, a multiverse available to them. No legal barriers to stand in their way.
There are a lot of different directions DC can go too. Unlike Marvel, not every DC character or title revolves around New York City. Each Hero has his own distinct city with its own distinct feel to it. Gotham is very different from Metropolis, which is different from Coastal City or Central City. Plus, Green Lantern can be his own whole spinoff universe, going throughout the cosmos and involving the other Green Lanterns and the other corps. It is a limitless supply of backdrops, expanding way beyond just New York City.
Don’t get me wrong, I have at least one major issue with the new DCCU. Well, maybe a couple of issues, that are really rolled up into one issue:
There will be no crossover between the DC shows and the DC movies. In fact they have already announced that the guy playing Flash is not the same actor playing him currently on TV. They haven’t even announce Green Arrow having any kind of presence in the upcoming films. That makes me sad. I have enjoyed the Flash so far, and I love Arrow. Plus there is also news that TNT maybe picking up a Teen Titans pilot involving Nightwing, which may be existing in the same world as Arrow and Flash. DC is really putting together a nice little universe on TV, but it will have nothing to do with the movies. Maybe the TV shows will serve as practice for the movie universe. Who knows? But this is the saddest part of the announcement this week. I would love to see Stephen Amell show up as Green Arrow in one of these films, but I won’t hold my breath.
So what do you all think? Does DC stand a chance, or will Marvel always rule supreme at the box office? All I know for sure is that both studios will be getting a lot of money from me over the next 5 years.
The above picture represents what the Avengers may look like starting this fall. It’s pretty different from what we’re used to. It’s been making news all over the place, especially the changes to Captain America and Thor. Change to the characters in comics is nothing new. It’s been happening for generations. In fact, this isn’t even the first time that someone else has taken up the Captain America and Thor identities. This time seems different, though. These heroes have never been in the mainstream spotlight as much as they are right now. The Avengers are THE cash cow right now, not just for Marvel but for their parent company, Disney. Avengers 2 is already shaping up to be an even bigger hit than the first Avengers movie, if that’s possible. So, it seems strange to shake everything up right now. People are wandering into comic book stores and they’re looking for stories about the Avengers they see on the big screen, and now they are going to find a female Thor and a flying Captain America. Why? I recently wrote a post where I discussed some of the reasons why the changes might be happening, including it could be a gimmick to get more attention and sell more books. Today, though, I had a thought. I wonder if the changes are a result of the huge success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Stay with me here, it might actually make sense in the end.
One of the things that has always been consistent in the comics is that the heroes, the main characters never age. I mean, there’s the occasional one-off or special miniseries where they get older and you get to see what it would be like if they do get older, like Kingdom Come or The Dark Knight Returns , but for the most part, Superman, Batman, Captain America, all the big names , stay the same age. The world around them moves on and ages, but the heroes stay the same. It’s easy to do in the comics, and widely accepted. Nobody seems to mind. This is fine in a world drawn by hand. They don’t have to worry about age and things, they just draw them the same as they’ve always been drawn. This works great for comics, but not for movies. Actors do get older. It’s just a fact. It’s something that production companies have had to deal with forever. Sometimes they get creative like Doctor Who with regeneration, and sometimes they just go with a change in actors and provide no reason for it, like James Bond. Or you can go the route of just bringing in all new characters. Marvel has to find a way to keep the Avengers movies going after Avengers 3, when the contracts run out for their big three, Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, or at least their actors. Those are big shoes to fill, and there is no bench for those heroes. Avengers 4 will have Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. So how will Marvel deal with a change in actors? The same way it always should be in comics. These characters are bigger than the individual characters. They are symbols. Anyone can put on the suit or throw the shield or, if worthy, pick up the hammer. I think the change in the comics could be preparing us for the changes in the films. They’ve changed the characters before, but it’s always been temporary. I wonder if this time the changes will be more permanent because we have to get used to not Steve Rogers as Cap, not Tony Stark as Iron Man, and not Thor as…Thor. And, I hope it continues. It’s been one thing that I always thought would be cool. What happens when the heroes get old, and younger heroes take up their mantles. It could lead to some great stories and new insights on the characters. I was sad when Bruce Wayne came back from the dead and Dick Grayson’s run as Batman was done. Bucky Barnes’ time as Cap was too short. The comic publishers have always been willing to initiate the change, but they never stick to it. Maybe the long-term plans for the Marvel Cinematic universe will change that. Maybe Sam Wilson will take up the Captain America Mantle permanently. Maybe my kids will grow up reading about a female Thor. Maybe that will be the new norm. And maybe it will start happening with more heroes. I think there is a lot of potential there, and it just makes sense. Now of course, we have our suspicions that the Captain America title will be passed to Bucky Barnes in the movies, similar to what happened a few years ago when Steve Rogers was shot. Sebastian Stan has signed on to a 9 movie deal with Marvel, which means they are tying him down for something big. They still have to figure out how to move on without Chris Hemsworth and Tony Stark, and bringing in different actors to play the exact same characters is not going to go over well with the fans. A change in character makes more sense. I hope it’s the case. It will be an interesting turn in the stories of the characters and the Marvel universe as a whole.
By now, pretty much everyone has heard about the drastic changes that are coming to some of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Sam Wilson is going to become Captain America, and some un-named woman will be taking up the mantle of Thor. These are indeed big changes, and at first I had some thoughts about why Marvel was doing it, and most of those thoughts centered on the word gimmick. As in, this must be a sales gimmick. And maybe, on some level it is, but I’ve allowed myself a little bit of time to digest the announcements that seemed to be coming fast and furious yesterday (3 concerning Thor, Cap and Iron Man). That time has helped look at the whole thing differently, and I’m not sure it is all about the sales, and I’m not sure that the changes will be all that bad. So let me break them down one by one and offer my thoughts, for what their worth.
First, Iron Man. The announcement concerning Iron Man was small in comparison to the Thor and Cap announcements, so it should be easy to break that down. Tony will continue to be Iron Man, but he will have a new suit that will be silver and black, and he will be leaving Stark tower and New York, and moving to the West Coast, San Francisco. The moving part is the biggest news, i think. Marvel has always been a New York centric publisher. All of their major characters reside in the Big Apple, so to move one that is as big a deal as Iron Man is right now to San Francisco is a surprise. The release about the big move mentioned that he has some big ideas for his new city and not everyone will be on board. That’s about all we got. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I personally believe that this is the beginning of the return of The Avengers: West Coast. One can only dream, I suppose.
Next up, Thor. This announcement was a little bigger. Basically, Thor will no longer be Thor. He won’t be worthy to wield Mjolnir, the mighty hammer, for some reason. The person who will be worthy to have the hammer will be a woman. She will take on the mantle of the Thunder God…er… Goddess. This is a big departure for the character, obviously. This is not the first time that someone else has had the hammer, so that part is not new, but it is the first time that someone is a woman. This shouldn’t be a big shock to those who have read Thor recently. It is a series full of strong female characters, especially once Odin was out of the picture and Asgard was protected by three queens. So, it is not a huge stretch for this series to go in this direction. The timing was a little weird, I thought. Thor 2 had a pretty good run last year in the theaters and then on blu ray and digital download. Plus, we have The Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters next year. I know that the success of these movies has caused a few people to walk into their local comic book store (mine is Black Cat Comics in Sugar House, stop by and see Greg for all your comics needs) looking for these characters. I thought this was just another way to get people to continue to talk about Thor in between theatrical runs. The reality, though, is that when people go in and look for these titles on the shelves, what they want to find is the comic book version of Chris Hemsworth, and might be disappointed when it is some woman they don’t know. Then they will probably put it back and slowly walk away. Meaning, that if this is just a ploy to sell more issues, it’s actually a little counterintuitive.
So, then why do it? I began to think maybe it was just the opposite of all that. What if Marvel was doing this right now because of the success the Avengers have had in the theaters lately? What if they were wanting to springboard off this success and introduce just a little more diversity into the ranks? When I thought of it that way, I started to warm up to the idea. The success of the Avengers has brought Black Widow into the forefront as far as strong women characters, so why not try to capitalize on that more. How many other sting female characters have their own title in the Marvel universe? This could be a great opportunity to establish a new , positive role model for girls in the comics. I’m not saying there aren’t any out there, but it doesn’t hurt to add more, and they are still drastically outnumbered by male characters, especially in leading roles. The biggest key will be the writing and the story. There are strong women out there, but they seem to be overlooked because they are under-developed and poorly written (DC and Wonder Woman, I’m looking at you). This could be a big opportunity to change that for Marvel, and I for one hope they do. I think this change is worth checking out.
Finally, we have Captain America. I have always felt that Captain America should be bigger than Steve Rogers, and in some ways he has been. There have been others that have donned the stars and stripes and shield, including when Cap (Rogers) “died” a few years back and Bucky Barnes took over for a while. For whatever reason, I have always thought of Captain America and Batman as symbols larger than Rogers and Wayne, more than other heroes, like Superman who should always be Clark Kent, and there should only ever be one. I don’t mind the idea of Steve getting a bit on in age and needing to step away from the front lines and passing this on to Sam Wilson. Sam is a great choice, in my opinion, and will make for some interesting stories. One major difference is that Sam has never had any super serum like Steve was, so he has no super powers. He is just a regular guy. I think this makes for some potentially good story telling. Think about it. We all like that Steve Rogers was just a regular guy with a big heart, and he got the serum and became Captain America. Sam Wilson is all of that, minus the super serum part. The biggest deal, at least in the media, is that Sam Wilson is black. The fact that it’s a big deal is why that part of the story is still a big deal. Really, it’s about time that we had one of the big flagship titles have a black lead. Again, I think this is Marvel taking the success and popularity of the Avenger characters and using that to promote and push more diversity, which is not a bad thing. I am intrigued to see how Sam and the new Thor work out. I think there is a lot of potential for some great story telling, I just hope Marvel will deliver.