A Subatomic Spoiler-Free Look At Ant-Man

antman

Big things come in small packages, and that’s something that’s always been true for the hero Ant-Man. The movie adaptation of the hero’s origin, Ant-Man, opens in theaters today,  is a definite treat for the Marvel Cinematic Universe fans who might not have been as impressed with Avengers: Age of Ultron, but were huge fans of Guardians of the Galaxy.  It is the final film in “Phase 2” and as staunch fans will catch on this is with good reason, as Ant-Man will be heavily connected to many aspects of the MCU going forward – some that might not come to any fruition, and others that are going to take us to DEFCON 1.

This is a story about Scott Lang, who in comic books was the 2nd Ant-Man, and the movie sticks with that theme.  He is a self proclaimed “cat burglar” who has just gotten out of prison, and through a series of events ends up breaking into a home where he comes into possession of a suit that he can use to shrink down to a size where he can ride an ant like it is a horse.  Hence his name… get it… Ant-Man.  In a way similar to the comic book also, he is doing this for his daughter… though the circumstances are a bit different.

Comic book fans like myself, those who are familiar with the history of the Avengers have been wondering just how Ant-Man would fit into the MCU.  After all in comic books, the original Ant-Man was Hank Pym, and he was one of the founding members of the Avengers, before Captain America, Hawkeye, or Black Widow were ever members.  In comics he is the guy who created Ultron, not Stark. He has also been several superheroes including Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Wasp, etc.  So the big question for this group was just how were you going to fit this diverse a character back into the mix?

In short, this is handled extremely well.  The pieces of Pym’s story are brought in piece by piece and at just the right times.  In this way you can see the parallels between the growth of both Lang and Pym in the movie.  One thing that this movie helped me with is the Ultron that was presented in Age of Ultron – as I struggled with that interpretation.  Missing was the psycho-drama element of the Pym vs. Ultron struggle – and Ultron was turned into all the worst elements of Tony Stark instead.  Here, in place of Ultron, we have Yellowjacket – who unlike comics is NOT Pym (no spoiler here, this was all over the trailers), and as is true to the MCU is different yet analogous to his Earth-616 (soon to be zero?) counterpart.  As a result he takes on many of the personality traits of Ultron from the comic books.

There is the contingent of people who have been wondering why they should care about a dude who can shrink and talk to ants.  Well because when a dude with a bow and arrow or a gal with a guns and martial arts can stand tall against the likes of a Hulk, everything else in between can work, and a tiny dude can stand tall too. However, in case that’s not enough there are elements added to this movie that are there to help you through this particular issue.  Each a piece of the puzzle to set up so much of what will be “Phase 3” of the MCU.

While I’m sure you’ve already been taking your kids to see the MCU movies, I wanted to say that for younger, even Pre-Teen audiences, this might be the most approachable of all the films to date.  Cassie Lang being the differentiating factor there.  Because there are a lot of elements of the story that are there to make a young girl work within its context younger kids may relate better and understand more of the story.  That said, there are still guns, stuff gets blown up, crimes occur, and people die.  Overall this is a super fun movie, full of a lot of what makes comic book drama great.  MCU fans are going to want to see this.

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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A Vision of Avengers: Age of Ultron

age_of_ultron

Welcome to a new age, a new rage, a child’s cry in the darkness – welcome to the Age of Ultron, the latest Avengers movie to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  While on it’s surface the story of Ultron, which has been going on in comics since 1968, appears simple tale of Artificial Intelligence gone awry, in actuality it is so much more.  There are so many aspects to the story, many not even covered in the movie: life, death, rebirth, hate, rage, a child lashing out against it’s father, passion, desire, love, loss, oedipal complexes, jealousy.  But most of all it’s about a story about how life, despite being broken at times, can persevere.  These are the aspects that have brought to life this mad-crazed machine, Ultron, over the years.

There are several aspects of this movie that change the story, and some with very good reason.  Some I’m actually happy to see go because they are actually more violent and invasive than any supervillain rampaging through a city will ever be.  And others… well I now have concerns that we’ll never see two of my favorite heroes, Wonder Man and Adam Warlock, ever appear on screen.  Don’t worry, it isn’t as sad as it may sound, and it doesn’t mean they won’t exist, it just means their tales will have to be different. That sacrifice leads to a great adaptation of what I imagine was a difficult character to envision, The Vision.  One of the five most central characters to any Ultron story, his portrayal by Paul Bettany is remarkable, and it serves to properly portray the morality of the story.

You may just think you’re going to watch a group of ten, yes 10, superheroes on the screen battling a bad guy, saving the day.  And yes, there is much action you shall see because roughly 80% of this movie is action, and that is huge.  However, despite that you will want to see The Avengers fight and win, you will probably find yourself rooting a bit for the quirky, genocidal Ultron.  Voiced by James Spader who is well known for playing both crazy dudes and evil doers, a new aspect of Ultron comes, one not provided in comic books, humor.  And I don’t mean irony.  Ultron himself has a sense of humor, and it’s both amazing and terrifying at the same time.

What about “The Twins”? In comic books you might know them as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, the Mutant children of the master of magnetism himself, Magneto.  However, even when this movie closes its unclear if they’ll ever be known by their superhero names.  And we already know that due to business dealings they won’t ever be Mutants, and Magneto won’t be a part of their story.  Overall, I think their story as told in the movie is done well enough because it requires less foreknowledge, which is important for audiences who many only ever know these characters from the movies.

War Machine fans will be happy as there is a lot of Rhodey in this film, and his look is now closer to comic books than it has been before.  And fans will love that.  The biggest win though is Hawkeye, as fans of both the character and Jeremy Renner will get a lot of great character development as he is one of the driving forces in this story.  In other words, fans wanted more of both of these characters, and now they’ve got it.  Oh yeah, and a certain love story starts to take a lot of strides forward, even though it seems to go the same way as Captain America: The First Avenger at the end – that last statement is both vague and intentionally misleading so as to remain spoiler free.

My feelings about this movie are a little mixed.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s was utterly amazing to watch and made me shudder with joy at times.  But I’m about one of the biggest comic book geeks on the planet.  This story is all for folks like me.  It’s a lot more like reading a comic book than any other Marvel movie ever.  And I can therefore see where it won’t appeal to many who are not comic book fans.  The story is hard to follow, the motivations of the villain are not well defined without taking into account foreknowledge.  That won’t stop people from going to see this movie, it’s projected to cap $2 billion dollars when all is said and done, and it’s already made more than $250 million dollars before it’s official US opening.

There are a lot of questions left on the table with this movie.  The face of the Avengers changes a lot more than was expected even by a fan like myself.  But that’s in sticking with comic books, an Ultron story is always a game changer.  You don’t have to stay past the credits for this one folks as there is no post-credits scene, but don’t think that you’re being stiffed.  If you count carefully enough you’ll notice there are 4 equivalent scenes at the end of the movie.

Comic book fans, especially long time Avengers fans like myself will love this movie.  Marvel movie fans, will love this movie as well, though likely not as much as the first Avengers film.  It’s important to note there’s very little backstory here, it is expected that you know what’s gone before to watch this one – it is not self standing film.  It’d be like starting a 30 chapter book at chapter 16.  Go back watch at least some of the others, including the first Avengers if you haven’t.  Parents might have to explain some things to children, as there is a lot of graphic violence and scary events in this film.  This one will end up being the second biggest movie event of the year, and only because this year we get a new Star Wars film.

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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A New Avengers Trailer Is Here!!!

Avengers: Age of Ultron

A new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer is here, and all I can say is good gravy this is going to be amazing!

httpv://youtu.be/MZoO8QVMxkk

Marvel Studios presents “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.

 

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk.  Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision. Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015.

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A Heroic Look At Big Hero 6

big-hero-6

It’s become evidently clear that the purchase of Marvel by Disney has turned out to be a huge win for the company, especially when it comes to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  One of the tasks set by Bob Iger upon purchase was to search through the Marvel catalog to find out what else might be available for adaptation.  Don Hall discovered Big Hero 6 and ended up pitching it to John Lasseter.  Some of the characters had to be dropped due to their movie rights being owned by Fox, and many aspects of the characters were adjusted, but the focus remained on the relationship between Hiro and Baymax.

Due to some contention about live action vs. animation it was decided that Big Hero 6 would be set in its own universe rather than be part of the MCU and thus was born the amalgam city of San Fransokyo.  It’s nice to see creativity on this level and a step toward taking ownership of characters that, while interesting, never really integrated well into the Marvel Universe in the first place.  Each of the characters was reborn as something rooted in their original version, yet they were all now joined together with a common origin instead of having the diverse backgrounds they have in comics.  And they’re all better for it.

The movie itself is a really interesting and enjoyable take on the superhero origin story.  It has a flair to it, much the same way that Wreck-It Ralph did 2 years ago.  Disney is showing a very gratifying trend that takes them away from their “safe zone” of animated movies and starts to etch out new and exciting concepts and creations. And that’s a good thing – diversity of design shows an ability to grow and adapt that once once thought lost to the company.  One thing to look for is that at least 2 of the characters, Aunt Cass and Honey Lemon, look like modified models of prior characters Helen Parr and Lucille Krunklehorn.

I will say that while really great and enjoyable mind candy to a huge superhero fan like myself that Big Hero 6 does not have quite the “Wow!” Factor that Wreck-It Ralph did.  But it does make up for that with a very solid and well engineered story.  So instead of the wild ride that was Wreck-It Ralph at times, what you get is something a bit more grounded.  And that serves the story well, and makes the movie better for it.

The characters in the movie are really strong.  Hiro is a stereotypical teenager – sassy, smart mouthed, quippy, mopey, angsty, etc.  It’s all in there.  He suffers a lot of classic “superhero origin story loss” both on and off screen.   And when he loses his footing in the world he lashes out, and his super friends (see what I did there?) have re-ground him.  The story itself is very procedural, much like any TV crime drama where, and thus it has an endgame that very easy to piece together.  But that doesn’t make it bad, because the intricacies of getting to that point aren’t as obvious as the point itself.  So the fun is the journey in between.

So when you head out to see Big Hero 6, prepare yourself for a little slice of awesome. Your entire family is very likely to find something to make them both laugh and cry in this movie.  The same can be said for it’s opening short Feast which every dog lover on the planet will “totally get”.  Vinyl is in again. Fah-la-la-la-la.

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Coming to Blu-ray

Guardians of the Galaxy DVD

Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY arrives on Digital HD plus Disney Movies Anywhere November 18th and on Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand December 9th!

The comedic adventure is packed with never-before-seen deleted scenes, gag reel, and an exclusive look at “Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and more! 

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy film has earned over $645 million worldwide and recently passed the $300 million mark at both the domestic and international box offices. Guardians of the Galaxy opened domestically August 1 with $94.3 million to become the biggest August debut of all time and ultimately the biggest August release ever; it’s also the highest grossing film of the year and the first to surpass $300 million in 2014 domestically. After becoming the 10th straight Marvel Studios film to open at #1, Guardians of the Galaxy occupied the top spot domestically for four of its first six weekends in release.

If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

Synopsis:  From Marvel, the studio that launched the epic franchises of “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” comes an unlikely new team—the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands into the cosmos when brash space adventurer Peter Quill steals a coveted orb and becomes the object of a relentless bounty hunt. To evade his enemies, Quill forges an uneasy truce with Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly assassin Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb, he must rally his ragtag band of misfits for a desperate battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy. Featuring amazing new characters and exclusive bonus features, this must-own blockbuster will have you hooked on a feeling… of pure adrenaline!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Cast: Chris Pratt (“The Lego Movie,” TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana (“Avatar,” “Star Trek”) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (“Riddick,” “The Man with the Iron Fists”) as Drax, Vin Diesel (“Fast and the Furious” series, “Riddick”) as Groot, Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) as Rocket, Lee Pace (“The Hobbit” series, “Lincoln”) as Ronan, Michael Rooker (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) as Yondu Udonta, Karen Gillan (“Oculus,” TV’s “Doctor Who”) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Gladiator”) as Korath, John C. Reilly (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”) as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close (TV’s “Damages,” “Tarzan”) as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro(“Traffic,” “The Usual Suspects”) as The Collector.

I know that I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Guardians of the Galaxy, can you?

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Marvel Studios Begin Production on Marvel’s Ant-Man

Marvel Studios Begins Production

on Marvel’s Ant-Man

Marvel Ant-Man

Principal Photography Begins in San Francisco

 

Marvel Studios began principal photography today in San Francisco, California, on its newest Super Hero franchise Marvel’s “Ant-Man.” The film brings one of Marvel comics’ original founding members of The Avengers into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The production also shoots on location in Atlanta, Georgia, which serves as the base for the film’s production.

Marvel Ant-Man
Shot on location in San Francisco, Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man, in Marvel Studio’s Ant-Man, scheduled for release in the U.S. on July 17th, 2015.

Set for release in the United States on July 17, 2015, the film is directed by Peyton Reed (“Bring it On,” “The Break-Up”) and stars Paul Rudd (“I Love You Man,” “Role Models”) as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, and Michael Douglas (“Behind The Candelabra,” “Wall Street”) as his mentor Dr. Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly (“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Lost”) as Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym.

The film also includes outstanding additional cast including Corey Stoll (“House of Cards,” “The Bourne Legacy”), Bobby Cannavale (“Danny Collins,” “Annie,” “HBO’s “The Long Play”), Michael Peña (“End of Watch,” “American Hustle”), Abby Ryder Fortson (“Togetherness”), Judy Greer (“13 Going on 30,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), David Dastmalchian (“The Dark Knight,” “Prisoners”), Wood Harris (“Remember the Titans,” “The Wire”), John Slattery (“Mad Men,” Marvel’s “Iron Man 2”) and Gregg Turkington (“The Comedy,” “On Cinema”) and multi-hyphenate T.I. (“American Gangster,” “Takers”).

Marvel Ant-Man

Based on the Marvel comic character first published in 1962, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” continues the lineage of epic big-screen adventures chronicled in Marvel’s “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the upcoming Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Marvel Ant-Man
Marvel’s Ant-Man SDCC Exclusive concept art poster for Marvels AntMan by Andy Park

Marvel’s “Ant-Man” is produced by Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, with Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo and Stan Lee serving as executive producers.

Director Peyton Reed’s creative team also includes Oscar® winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter (“Titanic,” “21”), production designer Sheppard Frankel (“Identity Thief,” “Horrible Bosses”) costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ (“X-Men: First Class,” “Kick Ass”), visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison (Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers”), stunt coordinator Jeff Habberstad (Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) and six-time Oscar® nominee, special effects supervisor Dan Sudik (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”).  The editors include Dan Lebental, ACE (Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” Marvel’s “Iron Man”) and Colby Parker Jr. (“Lone Survivor,” “Hancock”).

 Marvels Ant Man Marvel Studio Logo

Marvel Studios’ upcoming release schedule includes Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015, Marvel’s “Captain America 3” on May 6, 2016, and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” on July 28, 2017.

Marvel Studios continued its unprecedented success in 2014 with more record-breaking films including the #1 releases of Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which recorded the largest April opening of all time at $95 million and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which recorded the largest August opening of all time with $94.1 million. Both films were the #1 film in the world when they were released on April 4, 2014 and August 1, 2014, respectively.

In 2013 Marvel Studios delivered #1 openings for Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” which grossed over $640 million worldwide and Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” which grossed over $1.2 billon worldwide and was the highest grossing film of the calendar year.

In 2012 the studio produced the critically acclaimed “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which set the all-time, domestic 3-day weekend box office record at $207.4 million. The film, which shattered both domestic and international box office records, is Disney’s highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time and marked the studio’s fifth film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.

In the summer of 2011, Marvel successfully launched two new franchises with Marvel’s “Thor,” starring Chris Hemsworth, and Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” starring Chris Evans. Both films opened #1 at the box office and have grossed over $800 million worldwide combined. In 2010 Marvel’s “Iron Man 2,” starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury took the #1 spot in its first weekend with a domestic box office gross of $128.1 million.

In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies Marvel’s “Iron Man” and Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk.” Marvel’s “Iron Man,” in which Robert Downey Jr. originally donned the Super Hero’s powerful armor and starred alongside co-stars Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub and Gwyneth Paltrow, was released May 2, 2008, and was an immediate box office success.

Garnering the number one position for two weeks in a row, the film brought in over $100 million in its opening weekend.  On June 13, 2008, Marvel released Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk,” marking its second number one opener of that summer.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit marvel.com. ©MARVEL

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Is An Awesome Mix #SpoilerFree #YoureWelcome

gotg

I want to welcome you to the end of Act 2 and beginning of Act 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Guardians of the Galaxy (yeah I know technically Age of Ultron ends Phase 2, but this one is an Act change). Having just seen the movie for a third time, I want to let you know that it holds up very well across multiple viewings.  My only real regret at the moment is that these were all previews. That means there was no not-so-secret end credits teaser scene, and that I’ll have to see Guardians again just to catch that part.  Sorry, that’s a lie, I don’t regret having to see this movie again at all.

Know that Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that is designed to appeal to a much wider audience than prior Marvel films.  Why? Because it’s not a movie about Superheroes, it’s a movie about heroism forged through sacrifice.  It’s also about murderers, thieves, bounty hunters, assassins – and that’s just the stars and heroes of the movie.  Don’t worry though you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover.  In comics, the desire and ability to do good often comes with missteps.  You’re just going to see the worst of them, become the best of them and save the universe.

Wrong minded people might not want to see a movie where 2 of the stars are a vocabulary challenged floral colossus named Groot and a bipedal, gun-toting procyon lotor with anger management issues named Rocket.  It’s a shame really because what they’d see on the screen are creatures that are so well engineered (more-so in Rocket’s case) that it’s almost hard to believe they are not living things.  That and Groot is in so many ways one of the most beautiful things you’ll have seen on screen in a very long time that you will cry.  And if that still doesn’t convince them about this movie then, to quote said racoon, “They’re d’ast idiots!”

From everything I saw on the screen, I can only say that despite all the changes from the comic books this is actually superb bit of silver screen magic packaged in a way to keep even the staunchest of comic book fans happy.  There are a number of things I’m pretty sure I saw with my only regret so far being no sign of a mane of red, white, and blue.  I can’t wait to get this film home in a few months so I can pause and study to my heart’s content.  And note there’s a Hidden Mickey that I didn’t see until my third viewing.

Right minded people will notice that this movie is far less like Avengers, and far more like Star Wars or even Firefly. As I indicated above that gives us a movie that more people can in a lot of ways more easily consume.  It’s a strong showing for Marvel as they push to keep this freight train moving ever forward (at least through 2019), and Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be in theaters for many months to come.

* Now read the first word of each paragraph

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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Guardians of the Galaxy – A Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up

On Sunday, July 27, I was lucky enough to attend a Guardians of the Galaxy movie screening hosted by the Disney Parks Blog.

Poster

When this meet-up was first announced I wasn’t completely sold on the movie, but I’ve enjoyed all other Marvel movies a lot so I figured I’d give it a shot. Plus blog meets are always a lot of fun. To begin with, I have to apologize for the lack of photos in this post. Our phones were confiscated (more on that further down) so the only pictures I have are one from before we went in and afterwards.

We were told that check in would begin at 10:00 at the AMC Theatre at Downtown Disney. Knowing how crazy parking is at Downtown Disney these days, we planned to arrive by 9:30. When we arrived, there was already a pretty good sized line forming by Bongos across from the theater. Unfortunately, most of the line was in the blazing sun.

The balloon occasionally did a good job of blocking the sun for us.
The balloon occasionally did a good job of blocking the sun for us.

Finally, they began leading small groups of people over to the theater to check in. They checked our names off on the list, we got one of four different color wristband (we would later find out what those were for) and vouchers for popcorn and a drink. We were also handed 3D glasses, very very cool 3D glasses which were themed to the main characters.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Glasses

Then the first surprise of the day – we had to check our phones! We were instructed to turn over all our electronic devices. They put them in a baggie and gave us a raffle ticket to use to pick them back up after the movie. They also had a really strict bag check at the entrance to the theater. Disney definitely did everything they could to prevent piracy for this screening.

Once we got to our seats (which were saved for us by our awesome friends), we passed the time by comparing/trading 3D glasses and lamenting on the fact that we couldn’t take selfies. Soon, people from the Parks Blog came out to speak to us. They started out by introducing some of the attendees that came dressed as their favorite superhero. Of course, the Guardians, Star-Lord in particular, were popular choices. We were then told that the wristbands that we received at the entrance would allow us to pick up a toy from the official Hasbro line once the movie was over! There were four different toys and each wristband corresponded to one of them.

Then the movie started. Watching a movie at one of these meet-ups is always a fun experience. The entire crowd is into it with clapping and laughing, and in the case of this movie a little singing and dancing in our seats. Seriously, this soundtrack is killer. The movie is so fun and I love the characters! I won’t go into a full review because that will be covered in another post. I will say, as someone who knew nothing about the story or characters going into it, if you are on the fence about seeing it – go for it! I don’t think you’ll regret it. I can’t wait to see it again.

Once the movie was over (no bonus scene after the credits for the screenings – boo), we lined up to retrieve our phones and toys. Everyone seemed really excited over the toys – they are pretty awesome! There was some trading going on, but we were happy with the ones we got.

Our toys and 3D glasses
Our toys and 3D glasses

Another fun Disney Parks Blog Meet-up was in the books and I think a good time was had by all. Are you looking forward to seeing Guardians on the Galaxy or have you been lucky enough to see it already? Do you have a favorite Guardian?

 

 

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Team Building 101 With Guardians Of The Galaxy

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With the 10th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, being released in less than a month (August 1, 2014) it’s no surprise to see that the marketing push for the movie is in full force.  There have been several trailers and featurettes released that give you a glimpse of characters that probably leave many who are not too familiar with the Marvel Universe wondering how this clearly science fiction film has any connection to superheroes in general.  For that I’m sure many will have to wait until the movie is released, but what about these characters themselves?  How does a team of a “thief”, two “thugs”, and two assassins come to be a team that is capable of doing anything together, let alone saving the universe?

That’s where the movie scene shown during the Guardians of the Galaxy IMAX Sneak Peek comes in.   Not all friendships and bonds are simply found.  Often, at times of dire circumstance, they are thrust upon you in unexpected ways.  Without specifics, what we saw on screen was a demonstration of that.  Five individuals placed into an unfamiliar location and circumstance working together to achieve a common and mutually beneficial goal… saving their own keisters.

As a comic book fan, and someone who is familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy, here’s what I felt I saw.  Four out of five characters amazingly on point for how they are in comic books, and one I’m not too sure of yet as I’m trying to figure out how much of his past has been changed for the movie.  It’s a scene central to the formation of this team and to do that it harkened back to an event and location in comic books that pre-dates their formation during Annihilation: Conquest.  There are quite a few “name drops”, and references to things that will also make fans quite happy.  All this plus lots of gunfire and some awesome mayhem in the span of 17 minutes.  Sadly though, no new songs from the Star-Lord’s Mix Tape were in this preview.

What does this mean for moviegoers?  Simply put, only good things.  From what I saw this movie could quite possibly exceed the high bar set by The Avengers 2 years ago.  These characters are removed enough (though integral to) the whole of the Marvel Universe that this movie will be an excellent jumping in point for someone who has not yet seen any or all of the other MCU movies.  And it will be well received by existing fans.  The only downside may be that this movie may be a lot for some viewers to absorb and understand clocking in at only 122 minutes (according to IMDb).  Or to quote Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, “Something good.  Something bad.  A little bit of both.

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Exclusive First Look

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy:

An IMAX 3D First Look

Guardians of the Galaxy

Features exclusive footage to be shown in 150 select IMAX Theatre locations across North America on July 7, 2014 at 7 pm

Marvel Studios announces Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”: An IMAX® 3D First Look, featuring 17 minutes of exclusive footage from the highly anticipated summer blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The sneak peek will be showcased in 150 IMAX® theatre locations across North America on July 7 at 7 p.m.

httpv://youtu.be/2LIQ2-PZBC8

Select IMAX 3D® theatres nationwide and internationally will offer the special screening of thrilling, never-before-seen IMAX 3D footage of the James Gunn-directed epic space adventure, which opens in U.S. theatres on August 1.

Commenting on the exclusive footage, director James Gunn says, “We’ve re-mastered some of our epic sequences into the IMAX 3D format, taking the scope and scale to new heights while creating a truly immersive, cinematic experience that will take you further into the Marvel Universe than ever before.”

IMAX and Marvel fans are some of the most die-hard in the world and we’re excited to offer them this exclusive extended first-look at one of the summer’s hottest upcoming movies in IMAX 3D,” said Greg Foster, Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp. and CEO of IMAX Entertainment. “James Gunn’s visionary film in IMAX 3D is going to give our audiences an immersive experience they won’t find anywhere else, and we’re thrilled to get the ball rolling and reward fans early at this unique event.”

Tickets to the July 7 Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”:  An IMAX 3D First Look are free and are available now for U.S. and Canadian screenings on a first-come, first-served basis through www.facebook.com/guardiansofthegalaxy.

Fans who attend this sneak peek will also receive a limited-edition collectible Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” IMAX poster.

Guardians of the Galaxy

An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

 

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

Kevin Feige, p.g.a., is the producer and Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Nik Korda and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman wrote the screenplay.

Make sure you like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens in theaters everywhere on August 1st!

 

About Marvel Entertainment:

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit: marvel.com. © MARVEL

About IMAX Corporation:

IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

IMAX is headquartered in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, with offices in London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing. As of March 31, 2014, there were 840 IMAX theatres (707 commercial multiplexes, 18 commercial destinations and 115 institutions) in 57 countries.

IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR®, Experience It In IMAX®, An IMAX 3D Experience®, The IMAX Experience®, IMAX Is Believing® and IMAXnXos® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information about the Company can be found at www.imax.com. You may also connect with IMAX on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

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An Open Love Letter To Captain America

Captain America
Cap

Dear Cap,

I know at first it took me a bit to decide you were my favorite Avenger, or Marvel superhero for that matter, but since I made that declaration I’ve never looked back. That doesn’t mean I don’t still love Logan and Tony too, but you, Steve (or should I call you Captain Rogers?), are the bees knees. Your entire persona is what I have been looking for my whole life in a man. You have that whole boy next door thing going on, but you have an edge to you too. From what I can tell, you never hesitate to stand up and fight for what is right to defend this county and the entire planet.

I never grew up knowing you well from the comic books, but was always drawn to your patriotic uniform. Even in my high school senior yearbook I was known for wearing red, white and blue, and wore a sweater with the American flag on it for my senior picture. So, we definitely have the love of our country in common. I think you, Captain, also have a work ethic that is unquestionable. I adore this about you. You put the needs of your country above your own and make sacrifices for others without thinking twice. This is quite the admirable trait.

I’ve always felt like I grew up in the wrong era, and that I was an old soul. My college admissions essay was focused around this, which I’m sure you can understand as a man “out of time.” Your respect for women and your manners in general are qualities hard to find in a guy these days. Captain, your list keeping of what you need to catch up on from your “nap” is adorable (and I love that Sean Connery is on that list).

Captain America, you are a man admired by other men, desired by women, and a role model for everyone. You sir, are a shining beacon in these dark times and I love that you hold true to what you know. You really are of the greatest generation and exemplify some of their finest qualities. I hope someday we can meet, maybe at Disneyland in November? Keep on doing your thing, Cap.

Love,

Betsy

 

P.S. I loved your latest movie and can’t wait to see it again and again as it is probably my favorite superhero/action movie ever.

P.P.S. Your friend Thor says hi.

Thor

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A Non-Spoilery Look At Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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When it comes to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are two types of people who will be watching over the coming months.  Those that are comic book fans and those that are not.  This is an important point, because what many believe to be the big reveal is, in fact, not the big reveal for many who will watch it.  Either way, that reveal is to me, an avid (rabid?) comic book fan, is about the fourth most important thing you should have picked up from watching this movie.  My point being this, when you’re watching keep an eye out for some of the smaller things because in a movie about subterfuge, subtlety is often key.

As I mentioned in Disney Film Project’s 2014 Preview Episode, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a movie drawing on a number of key things.  To start with you have to remember that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spy agency, and in modern culture due to certain events, such things aren’t looked at favorably or heroically.  So it became necessary for the creators of the film to roll with that in order to create a story that will, I promise, lead to a better, stronger, and more heroic organization then what you’ve already seen.  To be more specific would be spoiling this movie and a bit of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Winter Soldier was a character introduced to comics in 2005 by Ed Brubaker as part of what was considered to be another revival of Captain America himself.  Pretty much right off fans were excited despite that they knew the “big secret”, because the journey was about Cap discovering it for himself and then working to track down The Winter Soldier and help him to regain his self and sanity by regaining his memories.  In comic books, this involves a Cosmic Cube (movie fans will call this the Tesseract), and is going to be the basis for Captain America 3: The Hunt For The Red Skull (okay I made that title up, but that’s what I want it to be).  By the time you get up from your seat, you’ll know what related device will be the Chekhov’s Gun for that film when it happens.

Also in 2005, as part of the Ultimate Universe from which much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe derives, came a story called Ultimate Nightmare created by Warren Ellis.  In it Nick Fury pulls together a strike team including himself and three superheroes: Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon.  Sound familiar? It should, this is the same team that was picked for this movie.  This team is one of my absolute favorites to come from the Ultimate Universe, and it made me extremely excited to know they would be at the core of this movie.  Seeing them on screen, the buildup of absolute trust that they accrue toward each other throughout, and watching their character growth in this movie is one of the major reasons this movie is enjoyable.

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Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falon, is done fantastically in the film.  He’s always been a hard character to present well, but also since 2005 he’s really come into his own as a solid character who no longer feels like a tag along / second fiddle.  He is after all the second most important Captain America partner (the term “sidekick” doesn’t fit him. Keep in mind too that in comic books he’s not only teamed with Cap, he’s actually put on the uniform and been Captain America, and is actually an Avenger.  He also got awesome mechanical wings and guns which make for some of the best action moments in this film.

After you get up from the film you’ll probably want to look up these names as they most likely play into future Captain America movies based on the way things are going (hint: you’ll already have seen 3 of them):

This movie is just extremely solid for the first part of a storyline that took more than 5 years to tell in comic books.  It is designed in the same magical way that Marvel has created all their movies from Iron Man forward: appealing to movie fans, and appeasing the comic book fan at the same time.  It’s a mix that other movie and comic companies simply haven’t yet, and may never, figure out how to deliver on.  Will everyone like this movie? No, overall a lot of Avengers fans didn’t like Captain America: The First Avenger.  But plenty will love this movie and it is going to rock a lot of socks, and the box office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k0kkSHiiPE

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Marvel Review: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

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This time around I thought I’d discuss a story a little bit outside the mainstream norm, yet still using some of the more familiar characters.  The story Wolverine: Old Man Logan is just such a story.  Written by Mark Millar who moviegoers might not know specifically but may recognize some of his works that have been turned into movies like Wanted and Kick-Ass.  His stories are a bit more dystopian in nature.  Borrowing a theme from Wanted, he places Wolverine 50 years into the future where the villains have defeated all the heroes, and divided up the United States of America into controlled territories.

The introduction to the story is a brief and not very fact filled introduction to just what happened to all the heroes.  It tells us that Wolverine still survives, but unlike many of his friends who were outright killed, “they hurt him like no one ever hurt before”.  Now he lives on a farm in what was once Sacramento, CA with his wife and children in a territory that is now controlled by the Hulk.  When he can’t pay his rent, descendents of the Hulk come by and beat him up for it.  He doesn’t fight back, we learn that he’s become a pacifist.  He no longer goes by Wolverine, just Logan.

At this point an old and blind Hawkeye shows up at his home to offer him a job.  Not of a “legal” nature, but it will pay his rent for a long time to come.  He accepts the offer and the two head off in the Spider-Mobile, only Hawkeye is driving.  Remember that he’s blind.  Wolverine is there to help him stay on course and for protection.  After heading through some devastated areas, they end up in Hammer Falls, a place where people come to pray for the return of the Heroes – also formerly Las Vegas.  It happens to be where Thor died.  There we find out the daughter of Hawkeye and his third wife, who happens to be the youngest daughter of Spider-Man has assumed the role of Spider-Girl.

They set off to rescue her, but things don’t go very well as we learn she didn’t need rescuing, and they end up inadvertently helping her overthrown the current Kingpin (not the one you’re used to), making her the new Kingpin.  At this point we learn that being blind is barely a handicap for Hawkeye who can still hit any target that he can hear.  And again some reminders about Wolverine now being a pacifist with slowly more and more reveal into just what happened to Wolverine.  The two stop in a bar, and Wolverine tells the full story to Hawkeye.  Revealing a gruesome about how the villains broke Wolverine’s will.

From there we get to see his transformation from Logan back into Wolverine.  The pair try to complete their task, which doesn’t end well, and Wolverine is brought before President Red Skull as a trophy.  He eventually wakes up, and the two face off in the Red Skull’s trophy room that contains all the various gadgets, gizmos, weapons, and costumes of various familiar heroes who were defeated long ago.  Eventually Logan makes it back home only to find that the Hulk Gang got bored and killed his family anyway.  This leads to the story culminating with a battle between Hulk and Wolverine, which is always a good show.

This story is really strong on plot, even though it feels a little too loosely stitched together at times.  This is more because there’s 50 years of story here crammed into 8 issues of comic book.  I’d love to see a one-shot some day of the “Fall of the Heroes” story that is hinted at where we can see things like the Baxter Building being used as a weapon.  The reveal of just what happened to Wolverine is extremely tragic, and entirely plausible.  Overall I really liked it, but I can’t say that it’s something everyone will enjoy.  It is extremely graphic at points, and not a typical superhero tale.  But is is a solid story about a morphed dystopian landscape that is both creepy and intriguing with lots of nifty elements for comic fans to consume.

Reading List:

  • Wolverine (vol 3) #66 – 72

  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan: Giant-Size (vol 1) #1

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Marvel Review: World War Hulk

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World War Hulk is one of those mega-crossover events that Marvel puts out regularly. As such, it jumps through a number of titles – many old, some new – to tell it’s story.  On at least one occasion you’re bound to see your favorite heroes helping out.  This story continues where we left off after reading Planet Hulk.  The big green machine is madder and therefore stronger than he’s ever been.  His planet has been torn, his capital city destroyed, his wife killed, and his unborn child along with her.  Along with his Warbound he sets off in his stone spaceship for Earth.  His goal is simple: revenge on those who sent him into space.

The series starts off telling us about what’s been going on since the Hulk left Earth.  The answer is “a lot”.  Civil War broke out in the United States over the Superhuman Registration Act and Captain America was shot and killed (not really, but at this point everyone thought so).  Tony Stark, is now the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he’s working behind the scenes to create a nanovirus that is able to shut down the powers of physiologically enhanced post-humans.  In simpler terms, he has already predicted that the Hulk will return and he’ll need a way to “shut him off”.

To that end we learn that he’s listed the aid of the Hulk’s cousin, She-Hulk.  Of course, she has no clue what she’s doing – he has her thinking that she’s just taking care of problems that the Hulk would have had he not been missing.  Yup, she doesn’t know that he’s been rocketed by Stark and the others – in fact, outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. no one seems to know.  What we learn is that her targets matter, and she becomes a test subject for the nanovirus when she learns of what they did.  That’s when she meets up with Amadeus Cho (who we are repeatedly reminded is the 7th smartest person on Earth).  He has a cure for her, but wishes to exchange it for her help.  He’s a friend of the Hulk (not Banner), and he knows about the Hulk, and his return.  She declines, but the Renegades are born.

What happens next is the Hulk first battles Black Bolt, outside their city of Attilan in the Blue Area of the Moon.  Why? He’s considered the most powerful of Hulk’s enemies as he has previously bested Hulk.  We don’t get to see the outcome of the battle, just it’s after effects.  The moon shifts a little, and the tides are affected.  Then the Hulk parks his stone spaceship over Manhattan and tells the entire world what was done to him.  He shows the defeated Black Bolt as proof that he means business, and then declares that in 24 hours he’ll destroy Manhattan if Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange don’t surrender themselves.

Then a lot happens (as if it didn’t already).  The Hulk pays a visit to the X-Men only to discover the ravaged remains of the Mutant community (another thing that happened while he was gone).  He sees that Xavier – who admits that had he been there he would have voted to launch Hulk into space – is already suffering greatly and leaves him to continue doing so.  There are also some very good battles where the Hulk and his Warbound take down and capture just about every hero on Earth.  Though a lot of it occurs out of panel.

There is a subplot where the Heroes for Hire end up having to stop No-Name of the Brood from hatching her children and having them take over the Earth.  If you read all the connected issues this one has a lot of play, and eventually ends with the teams dissolution.  Though they do succeed.  The other relatively interesting subplot involves the creation of a team of gamma enhanced individuals called The Gamma Corps who actually do manage to take down the Hulk during all of this, but only for a brief period of time.

A lot continues to happen, but the gist of it is this – it all comes down Sentry.  A character who was retrofitted into the Marvel Universe back in the early 2000s.  He didn’t exist before then, and that’s sort of his story in a nutshell (perhaps another time).  Basically he’s the Hulk’s best friend – the Hulk calls him “Golden Man” and his power has a calming influence on the Hulk.  He’s got some problems of his own including Schizophrenia and Agoraphobia.  Bottom line, eventually he steps outside, and they fight, and it’s the Hulk who has to stop him.

Then Rick Jones, the Hulk’s first friend, is stabbed with a spear, and Hulk goes beserk.  But he learns that he’s been mislead, and that while the Illuminati did fire him into space, they were not responsible for much of what happened after that point.  He basically at this point allows for Stark, Richards, and the others to defeat him.  And is placed into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.

This series is basically the story for which Planet Hulk is the prologue.  It has a serious amount of characterization that you might not otherwise have expected.  It does draw long at some points, but the battles are good payoffs for each of those periods.  Perhaps the most interesting takeaway is this, the Hulk has a secret power.  In all his rampages, in all his wanton destruction, he has never once killed anyone he didn’t mean to, and even then only for self defense.  Of course, that’s really the point.  Never judge a book by it’s cover.  Even if that book is a giant green man in purple pants whose favorite words are… wait for it… “Hulk Smash!”

Suggested Reading Order:

  • She-Hulk v2 #15 to #18

  • The Incredible Hulk #106

  • World War Hulk: Prologue: World Breaker #1

  • Heroes for Hire #10 & #11

  • World War Hulk #1

  • World War Hulk: X-Men #1 to #3

  • Ghost Rider #12 & #13

  • Heroes for Hire #12

  • Iron Man, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #19

  • The Irredeemable Ant-Man #10

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #1

  • World War Hulk #2

  • Avengers, The Initiative #4

  • The Incredible Hulk #107

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #2

  • The Incredible Hulk #108

  • Gamma Corps #1

  • Iron Man, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #20

  • Gamma Corps #2

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #3

  • World War Hulk #3

  • Avengers, The Initiative #5

  • Heroes for Hire #13

  • The Incredible Hulk #109 & #110

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #4

  • Gamma Corps #3 & #4

  • Heroes for Hire #14 & #15

  • World War Hulk #4

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #5

  • Punisher War Journal #12

  • World War Hulk #5

  • The Incredible Hulk #111

  • World War Hulk: Frontline #6

  • World War Hulk: AfterSmash!

  • World War Hulk: AfterSmash! Warbound #1 to #5

  • World War Hulk: AfterSmash! Damage Control #1 to #3

  • Additional: World War Hulk: Gamma Files

  • Additional: What If? Featuring Planet Hulk

Next time: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

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Marvel Review: Planet Hulk

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Whether you look at him as being a superhero or a monster, the Hulk is quite a compelling character to read about.  In modern culture, the comic book portrayal of the Hulk tends to take a back seat to either fond memories of Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby and the never forgotten phrase of, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Or the more recent portrayal in The Avengers movie and the defining phrase of, “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”  Suddenly many realized, hey there’s a lot more to this character than simply, “Hulk Smash!”

That’s where reading about him in comic books is so much different.  The character is constantly changing, constantly evolving, but always breaks down into a question of what makes a man a hero or a monster.  When written well, it truly makes you wonder is it Bruce Banner who turns into the Hulk, or is it the Hulk who turns into Bruce Banner.  But one simple thing about the Hulk always carries the story, the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.  What if his anger became so focused that there became no stopping him.  That’s where Planet Hulk comes in, it is a story about pushing the Hulk to that brink.

It all starts with the Fantastic Four stopping a rampaging Hulk and calming him down for umpteenth time.  The Thing makes an offhand, joking remark to Mister Fantastic about rocketing the Hulk into space that sets the wheels in motion.  At this time in the Marvel Universe a group had formed behind the scenes calling themselves the Illuminati.  Comprised of Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Namor, and Professor X, this team voted to send launch the Hulk into space to land on a deserted planet to protect the Earth.  (note: Professor X was absent, and Namor voted against the plan and quit the group)  And they go through with it launching the Hulk into space.

From there their plan both works and fails.  The Hulk is off Earth, with S.H.I.E.L.D. training the She-Hulk as a stand in, though with an ulterior motive.  However the ship they sent him in is thrown off course by a wormhole and the Hulk ends up not on a deserted planet, but rather the planet Sakaar, a planet that has a society that is a conglomeration of other races that have been pulled through the same wormhole.  He is weakened from the journey, able to be injured, and easily subjugated by the natives with an obedience disc and made to become a Gladiator for the Red King.  One thing drives him through the storyline, his anger.

After all his friends have betrayed him, and stranded him in a place where he could be killed.  He has no knowledge that they did not intend for him to be on Sakaar, and thus his driving motivation throughout the story becomes a quest for revenge.  Along the way he makes a pact with other fellow gladiators, and together over the slain body of one of their fallen they make a pact to become Warbound to each other.  Each is in their own way as strong as the Hulk himself prior to departing Earth.

The Red King takes an immediate dislike to Hulk and the Warbound are sent off to die multiple times.  Eventually this all leads to a rebellion, led by the Hulk to defeat the Red King, free the slaves and free Sakaar.  Now that really leaves out a lot of details I know, but to find those out I’ll suggest that you take the time to read the story.  Though I promise there’s at least one cosmic surprise inside.

When all is said and done the Hulk – having defeated the Red King, and brought peace to the planet by uniting it’s cornucopia of inhabitants – is made the king of Sakaar.  And throughout the story as he’s constantly challenged throughout he becomes steadily stronger and more angry.  Then he takes a wife and she becomes pregnant.  He starts to calm down and accept his new home and his new position as its leader.  That is until the ship he crash landed in is paraded through the capital city of Sakaar where it has a warp core breach.

The ship explodes killing everyone in the city, including his wife and unborn child, and damaging much of Sakaar.  At this point the Hulk becomes pure rage and anger and all he wants is revenge.  A revenge that is targeted against the four members of the Illuminati that were responsible for sending him into space.  Together with his Warbound they take their stone starship and head for Earth.

It’d been a very long time since I’d read a comic book from a Hulk title.  It’s hard when one of your fondest comic reading memories looking back is that of Doc Sampson breaking his hand and arm to knock out the Hulk.  But really it was like riding a bicycle to read, and a great way to jump back into the standard character from a comic book perspective (with prior recent experiences being the Ultimate Hulk and Zombie Hulk).  Hulk fans who maybe don’t have as much comic book experience may struggle some with this story, but the payoff is grand for what it leads to later (see below).  This is pure raw, raging Hulk, and it’s a great story that delivers.

Reading List (approximate reading order):

  • Fantastic Four: 533 to 535

  • Amazing Fantasy (vol 2): 15

  • New Avengers Illuminati Special

  • The Incredible Hulk (vol 3): 88 to 105

  • Additional: Planet Hulk Gladiator Guidebook

Next time: World War Hulk

 

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