This year’s Kaizoku-Con was just as good as every other and the cosplay was turned up to a whole other level.
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As I’m sure anyone who has gone through it can tell you, puberty is not fun. It’s a confusing transitional period. If you’ve never experienced the joys of puberty then you’re either too old or too young and this post likely won’t appeal to you. If you are on the cusp of puberty or suffering through it as we speak then this is for you. I intend to plot a course through this period in your life, year by year with the use of TV, Movies and Books all from my own experiences starting at the age of 13. That means that this isn’t a comprehensive list, nor do I claim to be an expert on this topic.
Touted as the swansong for Hugh Jackman’s iconic Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, Logan really was a film that carried a heavy burden. A burden which, in my opinion, it carried beautifully and all the way.
So, to refresh one’s memory, the X-Men franchise has been hoovering up cinemagoers dollars since the year 2000, and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for our uncanny heroes. The first two entries, X-Men and X2, are impressive and aesthetically-appealing films that capture the spirit of the comics with ample ability. However, the third movie, Last Stand, took an interesting premise of a mutant ‘cure’ and kind of made a hash of it all, delivering something heavy-handed and full of unneeded twists.
X-Men: First Class represented a wonderful return to from for our hated and feared heroes, however, starring James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender as fresh-faced versions of Charles Xavier and his eventual nemesis Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto. This was everything the franchise needed, a true update and improvement, and 2014’s Days of Future Past continued to impress. Whilst last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse had a rather bland villain and, in comparison, was a bit soulless, it still left us feeling confident for the film franchises’ future.
In addition to these, however, Wolverine, the team’s ferocious and badass main man, has had a trilogy of solo outings, concluding with this year’s Logan. With Origins: Wolverine being a disappointing outing not equal to the sum of its parts (a brilliant cast and excellent action sequences) and The Wolverine being a pretty good film for the first 75% before dropping off in the climax. And so now, concluding the tenure of a superhero who’s popularity and iconic performance are easily comparable to Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, we have Logan.
Movies nowadays don’t get much bigger than those produced by Marvel Studios. It seems, between the smash-hit films, an excessive range of high-quality comics and plethora of video games, this particular brand of superhero permeates just about every piece of media around.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe began with Iron Man (2006), and the spectacular financial gamble the ailing studio made paid off with aplomb. We were introduced to Robert Downey Jr.’s smart, charismatic, modern superhero and once that particular floodgate opened up, there was no stopping it. With few enough duds among them, Marvel’s massive series of superhero films have taken the cinemagoer’s world by storm.
Doctor Strange, released in October, tackles one of Marvel’s oldest, if not most well-known heroes, and stars the ever-excellent Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. After a vicious car accident derails his way of life, arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange journeys to Kamar-Taj to learn the mystic arts and prevent the world from being destroyed by zealot Kaecillius. I do warn you, however, YE ARE ABOUT TO ENTER THE SPOILER DIMENSION. JOURNEY NO FURTHER UNLESS YE WISH TO LEARN OF THINGS TO COME.
Hello! The Marvel Cinematic Universe now number 12 movies, verging from great to the passable. While Captain America: Civil War has met with almost universal critical acclaim, I think it’s useful to look at the other movies in the MCU that deserve praise – so without further ado, here’s my top 5 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So Batman v Superman just came out and I’m going to talk about it, but to get the full picture we have to go back and look at
Chances are, you already know a good deal of this, but bear with me while I take you through the history of the two ever-youthful grandfathers of modern superheroes. Superman’s first published appearance was in a prose story in a science fiction magazine called Reign of the Superman in 1933, but he did not get his big break until 1938 when, after 5 years of failing to pitch the Superman character elsewhere Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster sold the character to Detective Comics Inc, who then made the character the cover star of Action Comics #1. Other notable appearances in this issue were Zatara, father of prominent DC Comics character Zatanna and Tex Thompson…err, Mr America, who, despite appearing 3 whole years before the Captain of the same name has not quite had the same lasting appeal. Superman himself in this issue was quite a different beast from the one appearing in this film. There is no mention of Krypton, he has only been sent from a non-descript planet. He is turned in to an orphanage, rather than being raised by Jon and Martha Kent. He could not fly and was only indestructible to “anything less than a bursting shell”. The character we know today did not truly appear until Summer 1939’s Superman #1 where those absent elements were added. The characters’ on-screen presence began with George Reeves’ TV stint as the character in the 1951 series Adventures of Superman. It planted the character in the public consciousness before the character who defined the superhero comic book defined the superhero movie in 1978 with Superman: The Movie, directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeve (no relation to George Reeves). The film captured imaginations worldwide with its revolutionary (at the time) special effects that “made you believe a man could fly” and of course the oh-so-iconic John Williams score. The series then took several….questionable turns after Superman II before making a true return in 2013’s Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill as the man himself. The movie had a few things rough around the edges but showed true promise for the future. While questioning that future Zack Snyder and DC thought of something to add to the sequel. That something, or rather someone was…
Batman. The caped crusader first appeared in Detective Comics #27, where he wore purple gloves and killed without remorse. He led to a huge spike in the comics’ sales and was given his own book, the first issue of which included several things that define the dark knight to this day. His adversaries The Joker and Catwoman, as well as his origin story that you have doubtlessly seen countless times in film, television and even other comic books. Batman first came to screens in 1943 with Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft portraying the dynamic duo in the film serial, which had them face off against the villainous…Dr Daka? Not really an abundance of reference material there. Grant Morrison wasn’t even going there. The film had a sequel but we will now move on to one of the more iconic Batmen of the screen, 1966’s Batman TV show and movie (released shortly after the first series’ ending) was for a good time the most famous rendition of Batman and one that was somewhat unfairly maligned for not being a fair representation of the character.. The character went through several rebirths in the comics and finally, in 1989 a film came out to somewhat reflect this. TIm Burton’s Batman gave the character a darker edge while still being reasonably silly, this carried on to Batman Returns with the most perfect casting in the history of film, I am of course talking about Danny DeVito as the Penguin. And frankly, he’d still be perfect so get on that Mr. Affleck. We know you’re making that film. Just make it with this lovely little goblin man as The Penguin. Batman Forever…continued? the series with a new director and man in the cowl. Joel Schumacher is a pretty good director, but these are not pretty good films. I can take Forever for its campiness, Jim Carrey and Seal, but Batman and Robin is a step too far. The movie-going public seemed to agree, and the series vanished for several years. WB tried to bring it back with a variety of projects that were ultimately cancelled, like the earlier Ivan Reitman film starring Bill Murray as Batman and David Bowie as the Joker which was cancelled way back in 1985. These newer attempts included Joel Schumacher’s The Dark Knight Returns, which would’ve been entertaining at the very least, a Batman Beyond adaptation, Darren Aronofsky’s bizarre Batman: Year One pitch which involved a poverty-stricken Bruce Wayne taken in by a mechanic named Big Al. This project, which Frank Miller thought went over the line, was dropped for Batman vs Superman. Don’t worry, we didn’t skip anything. The 2004 project would’ve revolved around a loose continuation of the Burton/Schumacher films where the Joker kills Batman’s bride to be in the middle of their wedding. This resulted in Superman having to hold back Batman and being blamed for her death by Batman, which lead to their confrontation. In this film, Superman would have been played by Josh Hartnett, while Batman would’ve been played by Christian Bale, a descision that carried over into Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film Batman Begins. In my opinion the best Batman film as of March 24th 2016 but we’ll see how that goes. Nolan’s trilogy is the definitive take on the character for many. Just not me. Ok now hear me out please I’m so sorry. I feel the series takes the realism a bit too far, losing a lot of what makes Batman great. He’s not a man walking among gods, he’s a man walking above other men. He’s not the world’s greatest detective, he’s got people for that. To me, Nolan’s take on the character is a bit too grounded. I rarely get the sense that Bale’s Batman is the smartest man in the room and he solves his problems with punches too much. I think they’re fine films, I just can’t get behind that aspect. The series is (almost) universally loved and set high standards for the next cinematic appearance of the caped crusader after the trilogy ended with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises
The two characters have been intrinsically linked since their inception. Batman was created in direct response to Superman, to give the Detective Comics book its own similar figurehead to the Man of Tomorrow. The characters have shared many books together, from World’s Finest Comics and Justice Society of America in the Golden Age to Batman/Superman and Justice League today. The two are amazing friends, wait, that’s the other guy. Super friends, that’s the one I guess. Superman, in most adaptations is perhaps one of the only people Batman really trusts. Ignore the Kryptonite in his basement, that’s for when the mind controllers come knocking. I do just wish they could’ve met on screen under these terms…
SO HOW IS IT
Batman v Superman is a very strange film. The film is perhaps best described with its parallels to the performance of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor within the film. It’s offbeat and a little disjointed and just different enough some people will absolutely hate it. I didn’t though. Batman v Superman has problems with pacing, with scenes flashing up seemingly at random with no rhyme or reason to their order. The film takes a solid few minutes in the middle to show you a few Justice League teasers with no relation to the story. It is incredibly lazy filmmaking the way this was done but I took the bait hook line and sinker. It was on par with the scene in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where all of the Spider-Man villains’ equipment is in a basement in Oscorp for some reason but I liked this. As lazily inserted as the teasers are I think they’re very well done and it did get me, somewhat more cautiously, excited for Justice League next year. The film’s cast is almost impeccable. Ben Affleck finally plays the superhero he has had in him since 2003. He perfectly captured Bruce Wayne, regardless of his direction or script. I cannot wait to see what he does under his own direction and script. Gal Gadot embodies Wonder Woman perfectly in her admittedly short screen time, the character is a highlight of every scene she is in and her theme is top class, letting JunkieXL stretch his Mad Max muscle a little. Jeremy Irons plays what I think is without a doubt the best on-screen Alfred. It is played somewhat differently to how those Nolanites out there came to expect from Michael Caine but I feel it is much closer to the somewhat sassier Alfred of the comics and animated shows. Henry Cavill still shows promise of a Superman to surpass Reeve, but I feel direction holds him back. Those who thought Man of Steel was “not my Superman” will have less problems than they did there with this film, though some scenes may still leave them asking questions. Amy Adams as Lois Lane continues to be somewhat wasted, it is still a mystery whether it’s down to acting, directing or no-one at Warner seeming to be able to write the character properly. As mentioned before I believe Eisenberg as Luthor will be a very divisive element. He plays a very new take on the character and many seem to find it irritating. Personally, I think that was the point. At times I was reminded of Thomas Middleditch’s performance as Richard Hendricks in Silicon Valley, bratty, compulsive and calculating, he is an evolved Lex Luthor representing today’s not quite as big men at the top. Your mileage may vary.
The film looks very nice. The opening scene takes a scene that has been done countless times before and gives us without a doubt the best version yet. The team of Zack Snyder and Larry Fong can do nothing if not make films that look fantastic. It is a welcome change of pace from the constant big budget TV movie stylings of Marvel Studios’ regular outputs. The pieces of a fantastic film are all there. Though perhaps it may be a few too many. There was a “leaked” image last year that suggested the film would be split into two parts and we all scoffed at it, correctly assuming it to be fake but would it have been so bad? The film does already feel like a few films jammed into one. A sequel to Man of Steel, a Batman movie and a Justice League prequel. It functions decently as all of those but you have to wonder if they’d have been better served on their own.
My biggest question going into this movie after reading the reviews was not “Who will Win?”, it was “Could it possibly be THAT bad?”. The answer, I think, is no. Is it perfect? No, but only two films are. Is it fantastic? No, but it does have some great parts. Is it awful? No, but there’s plenty wrong with it. Who is to blame? Zack Snyder? Chris Terrio? Ben Affleck? Devin Faraci? Christopher Nolan? Joel Schumacher? Richard Pryor? Frank Miller? JJ Abrams? Kevin Feige? Mark Millar? The Estate of Bob Kane? Warner Bros Executives? That crafty old rapscallion David S Goyer? Who really knows?
In the end, I enjoyed the film a great deal but recognised enough problems that I’m not sure how easy it will be for others to enjoy it. Do I think you should see it? Maybe. Do you like DC Comics and don’t hate Zack Snyder? Then totally. Are you bored, want to go see a movie but you’ve already seen Zootopia 4 times? Yeah, go ahead. Do you have a furry friend who keeps asking you to see Zootopia with him? See this instead to annoy them, that’s what I’m doing.