Secret Empire #1: Hydra-Verse and Marvel PR damage control in full swing

Marvel’s comics division has been taking it on the chin in terms of bad press for well over a year now, and the official kickoff to its latest event is no exception. This week saw the release of Secret Empire #1 and a tie-in issue for Free Comic Book Day, which theoretically should bring elicit smiles across the country. Wrong. In fact, the project is so controversial that Marvel had to put out a statement earlier this week asking fans to be patient (even though the story has been building for well over a year).

My latest Youtube review covers the good, the bad and the ugly of writer Nick Spencer’s reality-warping Hydra-Cap tale. And yes, on some level it is good — but the whole situation is a bit complicated.

Anyway, check out the review and let me know what you think in the comments section below. Also: If anyone knows YouTube’s exact rules for using music clips without getting copyright infringement strikes, then let me know — I don’t want to make a habit of joke-singing songs like “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses…

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Joss Whedon Watch: Batgirl director uses teen cancer survivors as political weapons

At what point does a man look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m politically unhinged and I need help before I sink into an ideological abyss and drown.” If your name is Joss Whedon, now would be a good time to ask that question.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to social media today, you missed the moment when Warner Bros.’ Batgirl director decided it would be a good idea to use teenage cancer survivors as a cudgel with which to beat President Donald Trump. Seriously. We have reached the point in Mr. Whedon’s life when children who somehow survived countless rounds of chemotherapy are fair game as weapons in a rhetorical war against political enemies.

Warner Bros. executives, if you’re listening, I have a question for you: Do you really want a man who is this unhinged — a man who brings this much baggage with him — at the helm of a big-budget superhero film? If so, then you too might want to consider getting your heads examined.

Check out my latest YouTube video to see Joss Whedon publicly demonstrate how easy it is for a man to die inside from ideological hemlock poisoning. Then, when you’re done, take a moment and vow never to emulate his behavior. You’ll be glad you did upon your own deathbed.

Whedon Watch: Political radiation turns Joss into ‘rage’ monster

Question: What happens when a man plays with political gamma radiation for far too long?

Answer: Just like Hollywood director Joss Whedon, he turns into a rage monster who will destroy anyone in his path to achieve ideological ends.

I covered Mr. Whedon’s slow-motion descent into partisan madness on this blog for years, but a new segment on my YouTube channel has officially launched with the name Whedon Watch.

If you’re interested in seeing how talented men often go from artistically inspired to hulking partisan hacks, then check out my latest YouTube video. Given that Mr. Whedon shows no signs of pulling back from a poisonous void, I fully expect there to be many episodes of Whedon Watch in the years to come.

Joss Whedon unravels as political cancer eats his soul

Hollywood director Joss Whedon has been on a slow-motion political implosion for about six years, but last week it became much more obvious when he wished one of his fellow Americans were raped — by a rhino. Yes, as bizarre as it is for your friendly neighborhood blogger to chronicle this sad turn of events, on some level it is not the surprising. After all, Mr. Whedon also began using coup-like rhetoric after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

If you want more details on Mr. Whedon’s embrace of Ultron-level hate, then check out my latest YouTube video and let me know what you think in the comments section below. And, if you like the format, then be sure to subscribe for regular updates.

Mark Waid and Dan Slott: How hyper-partisan writers hurt Marvel

The modern American comic book industry is a shadow of its former self. There are numerous reasons for this, but one contributing factor is the emergence of activist-writers. Companies like Marvel claim to want to reach a “diverse” audience, but these days its employees spend an inordinate amount of time demonizing nearly half of its potential customers.

Two writers who perfectly encapsulate the “activist-writer” problem for the industry are Mark Waid and Dan Slott.

If you have been wondering why Marvel’s sales are lagging these days, then check out my newest YouTube video below. Then, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Also, make sure to subscribe if YouTube videos on the comic industry are up your alley. I try to get out at least one per week.

‘Captain America: Civil War’: Russo brothers deliver mic-drop worthy Marvel movie

Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is downright amazing. It’s scary-good. It’s so good that it makes one wonder if Joe and Anthony Russo cut some sort of weird deal with Mephisto to make it happen. The script is so tight and the direction is so proficient that employers should ask questions about it during job interviews — any candidate who says Civil War is a rotten film should be told to have a nice day and shown the door due to their unfortunate lack of good judgment (I’m kidding … sort of).

For those who have been living in an underground bunker for the last year, Civil War involves the disintegration of the Avengers when the international community demands regulations governing the actions of super-humans. The United Nations has had enough with civilian casualties and diplomatic headaches linked to free-wheeling superheroes, and Tony Stark agrees. Steve Rogers decides the world is safest if he and his allies are only beholden to their own consciouses, and the disagreement puts everyone on a collision course.

Since this is a spoiler-free review, I will concentrate on what the Russo brothers professionally accomplished and only talk in broad brushstrokes about the of the film.

Imagine you’re the Russo brothers.

Now imagine Kevin Feige gives you $250 million and tells you to find a way to utilize Captain America, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man, Spider-Man, Crossbones, and Zemo. You need to make sure the script is tight, juggle all the weirdness that actors bring with them to the set, navigate countless professional mine fields, and then somehow deliver a product that can impress a fanbase that has been spoiled with excellence since 2008’s Iron Man.

The verdict is in: Captain America: Winter Soldier was not a fluke. These guys not only met expectations given an almost impossible task — they exceeded expectations. Civil War is a modern superhero classic and should be used as the gold standard by which future installments are judged. One almost feels bad for the pressure their own greatness has created as production on Avengers: Infinity War – Parts I and II begins.

Regular readers of this blog know I am a stickler for superhero stories that work on multiple levels. If some child (or an adult) just wants to see Spider-Man swing across the screen and come to blows with other superheroes, then he or she will exit the theater with a smile. If intellectually curious individuals want their superhero flicks to be much more than “popcorn fare,” they too will be happy after the end credits roll.

Civil War has gravity, but it also has lighthearted humor. There is plenty of action, but the blows actually mean something because the script took the time to adequately address every character’s motivations. As an added bonus, the world will now get to see cinematic killjoys attempt to nitpick the film into oblivion (e.g., Well, the score wasn’t all that great and it was a bit too long.)

“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t — don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No. You move,'” S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carton (Emily VanCamp) says at one point of advice her aunt once gave her.

After watching Civil War, it is obvious that the Russo brothers had a vision and refused to compromise on all the issues that mattered.

If you are a fan of superhero movies, then you owe it to the creative team that put Civil War together to see it before it leaves theaters.  When you are old and grey you will watch it again and say, “Those were the good old days.”

Lone Avenger: Robert Downey Jr. soars above his liberal critics

Scarlett Johansson openly shills Obama-themed clothing and accessories—and no one cares. Robert Downey. Jr. gave a 2009 interview where he intimated that his time in prison taught him to shun liberalism, and there is no doubt the waves are still rippling. Telling. Very telling.

In 2009 Robert Downey Jr. was interviewed by the New York Times. When I read it I smiled, because the old phrase, “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality,” seemed to ring true for the good actor:

“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”

It turns out that one paragraph in a single interview years ago made quite a few waves in the Hollywood community, so much so that Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere tried his hand at character assassination in 2011. I wonder if he’ll do a companion piece, since Joss Whedon wants to insert Democratic talking points into Captain America’s mouth; Mark Ruffalo (i.e., The Hulk) wants to stop oil companies from providing gas and heat to our homes; Samuel L. Jackson (i.e., Nick Fury) admits that the only reason he voted for Barack Obama was because he’s black; and Scarlett Johansson (i.e., Black Widow) hawks Barack Obama clothing and accessories for his re-election campaign. I won’t hold my breath.

Given all this, the universe demands that I write something pro-Robert Downey Jr.

Let us first establish one thing: Liberal Hollywood actors get to be activists. They get to loudly and proudly state their opinions. They get handed megaphones in front of large audiences or microphones off to the side of a fashion show runway. Robert gives a passing reference to rejecting liberalism and he’s attacked. Here’s what an anonymous source told Wells:

“His values are pure Republican values … He’s a serious materialist. He loves the great clothes, the beautiful house, the cool cars. He’s a ‘protect the rich’ guy. Why should the rich have to pay for this or that? The people who have it should keep it, and the people who don’t have it shouldn’t complain.”

Really? So Robert Downey Jr. tells the New York Times that his time spent in prison had a profound impact on his politics, but somehow we’re supposed to believe it’s really about wanting to swim in Olympic-sized pools of gold like Scrooge McDuck? Consider me skeptical.

What’s more likely: that Robert Downey Jr. found out that there are some really bad, really evil people behind bars…or that he just loves designer clothes? What’s more likely: that Robert Downey Jr. learned that allowing someone to suffer the consequences of their actions is often times better than perpetually shielding them from blow back…or that he wants to have a really nice house he can lord over the rest of us?

Robert admitted to the New York Times that he didn’t talk politics too loudly at dinner tables in Hollywood. Can anyone blame him? Even somewhat obscure allusions to a conservative streak gets the guy lambasted by his peers. It would be incredibly dangerous for Hollywood’s “Iron Man,” … someone as “cool” as Downey, to be openly conservative. The kiddies might take to such a message if it was articulated by an actor with a respected resume that runs the gamut. Downey can give a serious performance in an art house flick, he can do dark comedy, or he can do the summer blockbuster. And so, Hollywood must make the message loud and clear: “Great career you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

I’m sure that liberals in Hollywood aren’t happy that Iron Man 3 is getting The Tom Clancy treatment, particularly if that includes a script infused with Clancy’s conservatism. And so, I will leave them with one more comment to ponder. During his time directed by Joss Whedon for The Avengers, Downey said this:

“I will never mess with your intent. I will question every day how you plan to get there. But I will never mess with what you’re trying to accomplish.”

That sounds like many conservatives I know. Conservatives are much more inclined to say, “I know that you want to create a better place. However, your policies are naive, they don’t work in the real world and they actually have the opposite effect of your intended goals.” Remember when liberals used to pride themselves on questioning authority? Now it’s up to conservatives and libertarians; the Progressive college students soak up everything they’re told and liberal Hollywood stars blindly follow Barack Obama off a financial cliff.

Anyway, God bless you Robert Downey Jr. You’re one hell of an actor. See you opening night.

Related: Robert Downey Jr. ambushed over politics: Reporters want Iron Man to be a liberal activist

Robert Downey Jr. was at the 2008 Republican convention. What are the chances a full-court press effort was immediately underway to “re-educate” him? Probably good. I’m sure Iron Man can make up his own mind, but the pressure in Hollywood to conform to liberal orthodoxy is strong. Regardless, when liberal blogs attack him for not towing the line, I will defend.

Update: Since Robert Downey Jr. has attended a Barack Obama fundraiser, I have addressed the matter in depth.

Related: Iron Man 3: Americans will love it, but so will moviegoers who hate America

Pelosi seeks ‘windfall profits’ tax on Avengers ticket sales

If House Democrats have their way, your favorite Marvel superheroes will be hit with a "windfall profits" tax once an arbitrarily defined level of success has been met. Republicans argue that this will result in fewer superhero movies making it to the market.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to find an 11th hour solution to Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, which is primed to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Sources close to producers Avi Arad and Jon Favreau have confirmed that the California Democrat has been in touch with Marvel Studios, and that a “windfall profits” tax will be in place before Friday, May 4 if Democrats can cobble together enough votes.

The Associated Press received the following from Pelosi’s office late Monday:

“Investments.” “Risk.” “Reward.” Such is the language of the Republican Party. Extremists. The GOP would have you believe that it was a “risk” to set up an Avengers movie with a series of films based on many of the individual characters: Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. They would have you believe that an Avengers movie was no sure bet, and that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these movies and their marketing campaigns by no means guaranteed success. Rubbish! It’s high time Hollywood paid its fair share. If Democrats have their way, Marvel Studios will be the first to pay a windfall profits tax on its flagship characters, in addition to their corporate taxes (which also need higher rates). Warner Bros. will then follow suit in August, when The Dark Knight Rises takes number one at the box office. Behind every Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark movie are greedy Hollywood producers; that will change starting today.

The Hollywood Reporter seems to back up the Minority Leaders predictions, at least in this isolated case, although the philosophical debate is something that will have to be settled inside the Beltway on on cable news airwaves:

Avengers also is tracking better than Lionsgate’s blockbuster The Hunger Games, which posted a record March bow of $152.5 million to score the third-best opening of all time behind Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Dark Knight, respectively.

According to first tracking, unaided awareness in Avengers is 13 percent, compared with 10 percent for Dark Knight and 11 percent for Hunger Games; first choice is 23 percent, tying with Hunger Games and higher than the 19 percent for Dark Knight.

Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for Dark Knight and 74 percent for Hunger Games; definite interest is 61 percent, versus 62 percent for Dark Knight and 54 percent for Hunger Games.

Asked to comment, House Majority Leader John Boehner set up a stark (pardon the pun) contrast between Republicans and Democrats:

“The windfall profits tax proposed by Democrats will go nowhere because Americans want more Marvel movies, not less—and taxing Marvel Studios will result in less movies. Let me tell you what House Republicans will do to this bill in a way that Marvel fans—and fans of The Hulk—can all understand. BOEHNER SMASH!

Avengers vs. X-Men: A sad commentary on our culture

If you ever wondered why superheroes have been increasingly likely over the years to beat the crap out of each other rather than super villains, you're not alone. What was once the occasional story to satisfy "What if?" questions among loyal fans has now become a common occurrence. It's a result of a cultural change that's happened under the radar---and it's not good.

These days, even non-comic fans are familiar with The Avengers and the X-Men. There was a time when I was a kid, however, that referencing Cyclops…was not cool. Wolverine’s claws were not instantly recognizable. The name Tony Stark was not something Hollywood executives were dropping in connection with possible summer blockbusters. Comics have come a long way, but not necessarily for the better. Although, truthfully, it’s not the comics, but us, that there is something wrong with. Notice anything interesting about some of the big events from the last few years?

  • Avengers Disassembled: The Scarlet Witch (an Avenger) loses her mind, resulting in the death of Hawkeye and generally wreaking havoc across the Marvel Universe.
  • Marvel’s Civil War: Heroes fight each other over the government’s “Superhero Registration Act,” an allegory of the Patriot Act that brings about the “death” of Captain America.
  • Avengers vs. X-Men: The two huge superhero teams are pitted against one another over the return of “Phoenix Force,” and what it means for earth.

If you wondered what the super villains were doing while the superheroes were beating the hell out of each other, then send me your address and perhaps I’ll send you a cookie. If you wondered why I didn’t mention Captain America targeting the Tea Party movement, then kudos—it’s related to what I’m talking about, but that’s more a result of liberal writers and editors than the overarching cultural problem I see reflected in the stories.

While fans have always had debates (e.g., Who would win in a fight, Captain America or Wolverine?), and writers have sometimes satisfied the demand to know, in general the stories flowed naturally. It would be logical for more traditional heroes to possibly come to blows with those known for vigilante justice. Today, it appears that the “good guys” are much more inclined to fight each other—and by extension ignore the “bad guys”—than ever before. The good guys are more inclined to make deals with (for all intents and purposes) the Devil. The lines have been blurred so much between characters who used to be good and those who used to be evil, that comics are more character studies than any sort of vehicle from which we can teach right from wrong.

For Avengers vs. X-Men, what can we expect? Marvel’s executive director, Tom Brevoort tells us (h/t Four Color Media Monitor):

“We’re definitely going to get to more punching and hitting very quickly…There will be a significant amount of eye gouging and knee biting.”

Do you know what, Tom Brevvort? I don’t want to see Captain America gouge out Cyclops’s…eye…or visor…(you get the point!) for months on end. I don’t want to see Wolverine tear apart guys who should be his allies for any extended period of time. It’s weird. It’s also another reason why guys like me don’t buy your product like we used to.

Captain America: Courting Jihadi Film Clubs and Euro-Wonder Weenies?

Dear Marvel: American Exceptionalism is real. Courting Jihadi movie goers, Euro-weenies, and moral relativists to make a few extra bucks is the wrong answer.

Regular readers know that I’ve been exposing Captain Liberal America and the hypocrisy of liberal writers at Marvel whenever I get a chance. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the guy at the helm of the new Captain America movie is setting the moral relativist tone early:

“He wants to serve his country, but he’s not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver,” Johnston said. “He’s just a good person. We make a point of that in the script: Don’t change who you are once you go from Steve Rogers to this super-soldier, you have to stay who you are inside, that’s really what’s important more than your strength and everything. It’ll be interesting and fun to put a different spin on the character and one that the fans are really going to appreciate.”

Congratulations, Joe Johnson, you’re making Captain America without the American Exceptionalism. You’re giving the fans a “spin” they’ll “appreciate”? Well, I’m a fan and I don’t appreciate Captain America hollowed out and watered down into a United Nations Smurf Blue version of his former self so you can make a few extra bucks overseas.  We already have DC turning Wonder Woman into World Community Consensus Woman in order to make an extra dollar when her movie finally gets the green light—we don’t need Marvel courting American Jihad sympathizers, terrorist wannabes, and the South Park meltdown extremists in the Middle East.

And, while I’ve said it before I have to ask again: When will the Black Ops Cap pulled off in Afghanistan be told in a Marvel comic?  When do we get to see Taliban heads cracked?  Wouldn’t it be nice to see Captain America’s shield decapitate terrorist scum just before they were going to chop off an “infidel’s” head (as a propaganda video was streaming online, to boot)?  How great would it be if, just as the dull knife drew blood of an innocent Western woman and the hoots and hollers of “Allah Akbar” rang out if a red, white, and blue adamantium disc did what it was meant to do—preserve freedom while protecting the innocent and punishing monsters.

But that will never happen.  I love you Marvel, but you’ve fallen on hard times. I always thought Captain America’s greatest enemy was the Red Skull. Who knew he’d be toppled by moral relativism?

Cap spent too much time concentrating on the Red Skull and got blind-sided by moral relativism.