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…
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 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.”
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.
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!“
“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?