Marvel Movie Mayhem: Phase 3

Today Marvel had a live event that announced their full 'Phase 3' plan for their cinematic universe. Looking to create media buzz and trending topics full of gasps and squeals, they went fast and furious with their reveals.

So what exactly DID they reveal?

Nine movies in all, including a female-led solo film and a film starring a person of color. Up to this point these two characters are relative unknowns to the general audience, but Marvel wants to inject some diversity into their lineup. Never mind the fact that they already had two established characters that fit the bill:

War Machine and Black Widow. I understand that using War Machine would seem a bit redundant on the heels of the Iron Man films but for Black Widow, there's no excuse. Her character has been well established across the cinematic universe and is deserving of a solo film.

So before I go on a long rant about how upset I am that a Black Widow film wasn't announced, let's get into my thoughts on 'Phase 3' of the Marvel movie mayhem:

Captain America 3: Serpent Society Civil War

Release Date: May 6th, 2016
This is the movie that was slated to go head-to-head with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, until DC blinked and moved their release date up. Leading off by stating the subtitle would be 'Serpent Society', I immediately thought of a parody of 'Snakes on a Plane' starring Nick Fury, who calls Cap for help. Twitter account The Film Stage immediately tweeted out this photo to the right. By the end, they revealed what we all knew already; the film would be called 'Civil War'. I'm looking forward to this movie as it pits Captain America against Tony Stark. Not sure how this gets resolved in two and a half hours though.

Doctor Strange

Release Date: November 4th, 2016
With the announcement that Benedict Cumberbatch has been signed on to play the lead character, my excitement level for this film is growing. His performance as Khan in the J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek, was excellent and I'm sure he is up to the task of this role. Not knowing a whole lot about the character, my only experience reading about him is when he made an appearance in The Invincible Iron Man comic books to 'reboot' Tony's brain after it was systematically shut down by the billionaire philanthropist himself. Given that was a residual storyline from the Civil War event, I wonder if Dr. Strange will make his first appearance in Captain America 3. This movie is sure to tickle your senses and will no doubt be in 3D with magical special effects.


Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Release Date: May 5th, 2017
The sequel to the 2014 surprise hit of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy, this movie will be highly anticipated. Chris Pratt danced his way into the hearts of, not only comic book fans but, the general audience. A Sci-Fi adventure comedy that came equipped with a soundtrack which was just as talked about as the movie itself, I wonder how a sequel can live up to the billing. We all knew a sequel was coming, but where will Star-Lord get new music from? I truly feel that while the story, action and characters were memorable...the music is the bow that tied it all together.

Thor: Ragnarok

Release Date: July 28th, 2017
The son of Odin continues his adventure in his third movie subtitled: 'Ragnarok'. Another story that is spun out of the Civil War event, I'm starting to see a theme here. Ragnarok was created by Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym (Ant-Man). Unfortunately because Fox owns the Fantastic Four, Reed's part in this will be non-existent. It is one of the sad realities that stems from Marvel selling off it's properties to avoid bankruptcy years ago. Ragnarok is a cyborg version of Thor, cloned from one of his hairs after Thor was presumed dead. He was created to help combat the heroes who fought against the registration act. Naturally things got out of hand. We've all seen the Age of Ultron trailer where Thor puts Tony in a choke hold right? Hmmm. The most important thing though, is this movie is sure to have a shirtless Chris Hemsworth.

Black Panther

Release Date: November 3rd, 2017
This could be the first real threat to Marvel's perfect movie record. Everything they've put out has been gold and the only one people were concerned about was Guardians of the Galaxy, but that crushed expectations. Black Panther is the first movie Marvel will release that features a person of color as the lead. Where will we see him introduced? Speculation could have him be a part of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but that's still two years off from the release of this movie. Will people forget? Will the hype train go off it's tracks by then? I would love to see this movie succeed, but unless I tell you something about the character here, odds are most of you won't know why he's deserving of a movie. Quite honestly, other than the fact he adds some diversity into Marvel's lineup, I don't know why he's deserving of a movie. Odds are he'll replace Spider-Man's role in the whole 'Civil War' event and spin out into his own movie from there. I hope it's successful. He'll be the first black comic book character in a solo film since Wesley Snipes played 'Blade'.

Avengers Infinity War Part 1 & 2

Release Date(s): May 4th, 2018 & May 3rd 2019
No doubt these films will be on an aggressive Peter-Jackson-Lord-of-the-Rings-saga style schedule, they will be the penultimate chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Could it be the end of comic book properties on film for Marvel? Probably not, but it could be the end of the Avengers story that started back with 2008's 'Iron Man'. Thanos will finally see his day in a prominent role on the big screen. By the year 2019 most general audiences could be suffering from a comic book movie overdose and the Infinity War is just the place to collapse the universe. At least for the Avengers. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America will all have had 3 movies and it's not often you see a franchise do more than that. Especially when you hire A-list actors to play the parts. They typically will want to move on and do other things. Thankfully deconstructing the Avengers in this final chapter will enable Marvel to step into the next decade by introducing new characters from their expansive lineup.

Captain Marvel

Release Date: July 6th, 2018
Let me preface this by saying I'm glad that Marvel is planning a female led solo film. Let me also say it's not the one I wanted them to do. Captain Marvel is a great character and I'm sure she'll play an important role as these movies roll on, that being said it's sad that She-Hulk (who is one of Marvel's longest standing female characters in comic books) or Black Widow (who is highly established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) will not be getting their own movie. She-Hulk would've been redundant and too high of a risk given HULK's failed movies. So I get that. Black Widow, however, would have been and should have been an amazing spy-thriller much like typical James Bond movies are. Captain Marvel will need to be built up before her solo movie drops or it will surely fail. There just aren't enough people in the general audience who know the character. I'm looking forward to seeing who they cast to direct and star in this movie.


Release Date: November 1st, 2018
I've seen people clamoring for an Inhumans movie and they'll finally get 4 years. If you've been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they've been hinting at Inhumans for quite some time now. There's a good chance if the show remains on the air long enough, it'll lead right into the 'Inhumans' movie with Skye taking center stage. If Black Panther isn't the movie to break Marvel's box office blitzkrieg, then Inhumans is sure to do it. An even less known commodity than Guardians of the Galaxy, Inhumans will have to find a way to appeal to general audiences in a way that will allow it to step out of 'cult status'. I've never personally met anyone who has read an Inhumans comic book, nor do they get talked about much. It's an idea that people get behind though because the people who love it...REALLY love it. They're passionate and I applaud them for it, however I just don't see how it can be successful at the box office. Marvel has 4 years to build up to it and if any studio has a plan in place, it's them. I'm interested to see when the hype-train leaves the station for this one.

So that's it! If you're still reading, I cannot express to you enough how grateful I am for it. There is a lot to take in here. Since I currently have blisters on my fingertips, I'm going to wrap this up by saying Marvel certainly dropped a mega-ton-gamma-radiated bombshell on it's fans. It should be a wild ride and the next 5 years will be filled with cinematic comic book goodness!

Which movie are you most looking forward to?

A Marvel Dice Masters Post: Gearing Up for Uncanny X-Men

It has been a long and grueling 5 months for many Marvel Dice Masters players. While some have been able to continue to get new product by attending OP's and WKO's, many of us in smaller rural areas have not seen new product since last May.

All of that changes tomorrow.

Uncanny X-Men is the expansion set for Marvel Dice Masters, promising new (and many repeated) characters that can be added to our teams. New powers, new mechanics and new basic actions that many of us hope will fix the meta and other broken cards.

This expansion was supposed to hit shelves last Wednesday, but WizKids announced a last minute shipping issue prevented the west coast from getting their product on schedule. This, in turn, caused delays for the rest of us because they wanted to release it all at the same time. Fair is fair I suppose!

One of my sons has lost interest in the game, the other is chomping at the bit for Uncanny. Even my daughter, who enjoys playing the game at 9 years old, is looking forward to seeing new cards. My friends and I have gathered around my dining room table and have faced each other in more matches than I can count. We've tried as many combinations as we could with zero product to speak of outside a starter set and 20-30 boosters.

I'm eager to have the cards in my hand so I can go through strategies. I've seen card lists and their descriptions but quite honestly, none of that matters to me in a strategic sense. Sure it's cool to see what's out there, but I don't want to waste my time studying cards I may never have in my hands to play. I won't start putting my strategies together until I see what I have in front of me. Since I'm not a hunter, I won't go looking for cards and dice to purchase individually to improve my team. I'm a gatherer; I pick up what I can find and make the most of it.

I play the hand that's dealt to me. There are a lot of great resources out there for tips, tricks and strategies including the website, Dice Anon. They have a great article that breaks down every card in the Uncanny X-Men set. After I get my boosters home; who am I kidding, I'm not waiting that long! After I open my boosters, I'm sure to go back to that article for reference as I target specific cards to build teams with.

So tomorrow I'll go to my local game shop, pick up my comic books and buy my Uncanny X-Men starter along with 20-30 boosters. I'll see what I have to work with, and develop my strategy from there.

Hopefully, we can start getting some OP events at the store as well. I love my kids (and friends), but I really need new opponents to meet and challenge!

For more Marvel Dice Masters posts by me, check out:
Marvel Dice Masters is Flying Off the Shelves, But is it any Good?

It Theme's Impossible (But Cyclops Rocks)!

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer - No Strings Attached!

If you haven't seen it yet, you must be:

A) living under a rock.
B) NOT living on social media sites

The trailer was leaked, initially, and then officially released by Marvel so we can have it in all of it's explosive HD goodness. And yes, I'm going to share it here because it's awesome. And it's my blog, so I can do what I want.

Warning: This trailer looks all 'doom and gloom' with melodramatic over AND undertones, but let's be honest. It's Marvel and Joss Whedon. There will be plenty of snappy one-liners and slapstick comedy to numb us all to the apocalyptic, world decimating, Michael Bay-ish destruction porn.

Batman v Superman: The Price of Justice

The folks over at ASONS solicitors created this cool info-graphic, detailing the cost of personal injury claims that could be made by Superman and Batman. Thanks to these two alone, all of us could be seeing an increase in our premiums. With the 'World's Finest' insurance customers ready to square off in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, let's take a look to see who has filed the more expensive claims over the years!

You think maybe there's a discount available for non (sorry Lobo) smokers?

If Superheroes Could Make Personal Injury Claims
An Infographic by Asons Solicitors

Knee-Jerk Reaction: Marvel Cancels She-Hulk!

Add She-Hulk to the list of characters that Squirrel Girl has defeated.

Marvel comics has released their January solicits and it's clearly labeled that She-Hulk #12 is the final issue.

This seriously feels like something DC would do, doesn't it? And they'd take loads of crap for doing it. Message boards and twitter would be exploding with criticism as to why they can't seem to get anything right. And although She-Hulk is trending on twitter at the time of this post, it's different.

This is Marvel we're talking about. They hold a significant amount of top ten books each month (except in September because DC variants rule all) and their movies live in a fantasy world where people just throw money at them.

I'm betting that the people at Marvel think they can pretty much do anything they want at this point.

Marvel NOW branding allows them to cancel a title, only to re-launch it with a new #1 issue and a freshly squeezed adjective. Maybe that is what's happening here, but honestly the backlash is warranted (and encouraged) until fans get an explanation.

Charles Soule, who writes the She-Hulk comic book, just signed an exclusive deal to write for Marvel and this is how he's rewarded?

Looking forward to it!

Update: We finally have a response from Charles Soule. He says a lot of nice things and is very gracious to the outcry of support. However that being said, the one thing to take from all of this is:

"In this day and age, every book has to justify its existence on a financial level, even one as beloved as She-Hulk. Comics is still a business, and there are considerations beyond the creative."

Good books get cancelled all the time because they don't get the financial backing. If you're reading a book you enjoy, it will need the financial backing as well. In a market where people look to cut corners on what they spend money on, these books need every sale they get to stay on the shelf. So support the good ones with your hard earned dollars and then sing its praises to convince others to do the same.

image courtesy of comic vine

Charles Soule's Love Letter to Superman and Wonder Woman

With issue #12 of Superman/Wonder Woman, writer Charles Soule closes the door on his time with DC's power couple. As with any story's end, we hope to see character development. Meaning, that when the story ends, something has changed about the characters involved.

Clark went from being nervous about going public with their relationship, to expressing his love in front of an audience on on camera. Diana went from not understanding Clark's inhibitions, to respecting that as a part of who he is.

When this title started a year ago there was concern it would be a 'dating book'. Instead we received a year full of solid storytelling that took our heroes on a journey towards saving the world, while exploring each others soul. Delving deep inside their feelings from what started off as a simple kiss, the two have learned that they don't have to be carbon copies of one another for their relationship to work.

Diana, over the years, has built up an emotional wall. A relationship with Steve Trevor fell apart as his safety became a constant concern of hers. He was dragged into a world of Gods and heroes in which no mortal man could hope to endure. And it almost cost him his life. Fearful of his safety, Diana realized that her future could not involve a man who was not on her level. Physically she was his superior in every way and emotionally, her passion created too many crossroads as her warrior spirit came out in everything she did.

Clark, having grown up around humans his entire life learned how to love them. With all the power in the world, he used it to inspire hope and never put himself before mankind's needs. Emotionally disconnected from those around him, he longed for Lois to see him as more than just a co-worker but over time he realized the two could never last in a relationship. As she sought a relationship with another journalist, finding common ground with him, Lois never picked up on Clark's longing for her.

In a moment, shared between Clark and Diana in the pages of Justice League, they realized how alone they were as Gods among men. They could not hope to live with them and share their lives with them. Not if they were to remain defenders of the world. Protectors of humanity. Their time together on the Justice League exposed them to similar desires both personally and professionally.

But how could a warrior princess with a passion for combat sustain a relationship with a man who seeks peace and is a beacon of hope for much of humanity?

Charles Soule showed us how.

Dealing with enemies from Zod to Doomsday, to combating their own feelings for each other; Soule was able to intertwine a tale of romance with an action packed adventure. The balance Soule achieved provided a different experience based on the individual reader. Perspective would determine whether the main focus was on the romance or the action. Superman and Wonder Woman evolved from a relationship that started off with a simple connection, to one of pure love.

And they still remained focus on saving the world, the whole time. Never once did they let their relationship get in the way of what brought them together in the first place: helping people.

Just add oil.
Using what once was a prop, as a symbolic focal point, Soule showed fans how real their relationship really is. And we've all been there. As a writer, you want to touch readers emotionally. You want to connect with them on moments whether they're good or bad. And the bickering that occurred in the final issue was so petty, yet so real, that I couldn't help but want to scream at the two lovers. We have all argued over silly things, when we should just accept that accidents happen and move on to learn from our mistakes.

Granted most of our mistakes don't threaten the worlds petroleum supply.

In the end, true love prevailed as they stopped the threat while realizing there were other reasons for the argument. Isn't that usually the case? Bickering over something so silly as remembering to 'oil' a plant, stemmed from outside influence. It's like having a bad day at work and getting angry because the garbage wasn't taken out. That garbage, while smelly and in the way, will not stop the world from turning and it shouldn't stop love from growing. Diana shows us that sometimes if we stop and listen, we'll discover that there's an underlying reason for the excess anger.

Over the course of Charles Soule's run, we have seen our power couple oppose each other, on occasion, but their love endured it all. They don't always see eye-to-eye, but their ability to understand and accept another viewpoint is part of loving someone. You can't (and shouldn't) change someone if you love them for who they are. If you don't agree on something, respect that and in time love will help you find common ground.

During this year long run, Superman and Wonder Woman have evolved to become not only partners, but a team. Founded on trust, built on respect and fortified by love. They will be ready to face any challenge, together.

Unfortunately, they'll have to do it without Charles Soule, the man who helped usher their relationship to a place no one thought they could go. And as he walks off into the sunset, he reminds us fans that our favorite couple will endure...

Star Wars Rebels Will Lead to A New Hope (For Fans)

I can't express how excited I am for the premiere of Star Wars Rebels tonight on Disney XD (9pm EST)! Even though Clone Wars was a great show by all accounts, I could never get into it. An animated series that was supposed to fill the gap between Episode's II and III just didn't peak my interest.

I was disappointed in the new trilogy as it portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi as an incompetent Jedi, compared to Anakin. When we watch the two square off in A New Hope, Vader seems determined to prove his worth by defeating his old mentor.

Obi-Wan was touted as a great and powerful Jedi Master.

After watching Episodes I-III, nothing could be further from the truth. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan did all he could to prevent from getting cut down by the student forced upon him by his own master, Qui-Gon Jin. The disappointment in Obi-Wan's character left me a bit empty.

To sum up, I had no desire to watch 'The Anakin Skywalker Show' that was poorly titled: The Clone Wars.

Star Wars Rebels has it's own destiny though.

Tasked to fill some empty space between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rebels borrows a page from the tale of Robin Hood. We are given a band of adventurers who are a pain in the Empire's side, while helping out the little folk along the way.

Leading the charge is one-time Jedi hopeful, Kanan (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr), who has been hiding his talents since the order to hunt and kill all of the Jedi was given. Not wanting to reveal his presence, he has traded his lightsaber for a blaster. It's not until he meets up with the street theif, Ezra, who also demonstrates the ability to use the Force, that he outs himself as a Jedi in order to train the boy.

Ezra, I must caution, appears to be older than what Anakin was when he started his training. Keep in mind the concern Yoda had about Anakin's age when he started. We could see some parallels as the show goes on. Especially since Kanan's training isn't as refined as it should be given his hiatus.

Ezra and Kanan are supported by a crew of the ship The Ghost, whose Captain is the Twilek named Hera. And what crew would be complete without the muscle? Zeb is the Chewbacca to Kanan's Han Solo. The Little John to Robin Hood. A giant, burly creature with a penchant for getting into fights. Also part of the crew is the young and beautiful Sabine, but don't let her delicacy fool you. Underneath her stolen Mandalorian armor is a girl who enjoys the art of blowing things up! Rounding off the crew is the grumpy astromech droid, Chopper. He's sure to be a fan favorite with the kids watching this show as he's sure to handle every task given to him begrudgingly.

Maybe he has a bad 'motivator'!

It won't be all fun and games for this rag-tag crew though. The Empire is growing and as we all know from the original trilogy, the Death Star is being built. As they secure the systems in the Outer Rim of the galaxy, the Empire intends to close it's fist on the core systems. What started out as a way to stabalize peace by removing the Old Republic, has now become problematic for those who long for democracy once again. Pockets of rebels are appearing, making life difficult for the Empire to secure it's hold on the galaxy.

It's up to Agent Kallum and the Inquisitor to snuff out any spark before a rebellion ignites.

The Inquisitor will be our Darth Vader for this series and by all previews, he appears to be a ruthless killer. He's better than everyone and he knows it, like a cat toying with a field mouse, as he expends very little energy when faced with a foe. Once Kanan reveals himself as a Jedi, expect the Inquisitor to be called in to deal with him. Agent Kallum assumes the role of a lesser version of Tarkin, albeit with a more 'hands on' approach.

Taking visual and audible cues from the original trilogy, Star Wars Rebels is sure to reign in old and new fans who have access to the show. Disney XD isn't the place most adults think of, but Star Wars Rebels has landed there due to the Lucasfilm purchase by Disney. As they look to add canon to the Star Wars Universe, Disney is making this an official lead-in to Episode IV. Expect to see things that appear to set up some of the events from A New Hope.

Tonight's premiere has given me something from Star Wars that I can look forward to, for the first time since Episode III was released back in 2005.

Will you be tuning in?