Captain America

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Marvel Movie News

Chris Evans In Talks To Return As Captain America

It’s reported that Chris Evans is in talks with Marvel to return as Captain America in the MCU. Deadline offers that insiders have filled them in that Chris Evans is expected back as Steve Rogers and Captain America in some form. It’s said if the deal closes that Evans will be back for at least […]

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Marvel Video Game News

Captain America Comes To Fortnite; Teases Thor

Following Aquaman, Captain America now comes to the Fortnite video game just in the for the 4th of July. “Assemble in Fortnite this week and get The First Avenger… Captain America! Debuting today in the Item Shop, Cap’s Outfit includes two items: his Proto-Adamantium Pickaxe and Back Bling. Wield the shield as your pickaxe, or

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Movie News Reviews

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Ultimate Victory

A Film Review of Captain America: Civil War

 

There are event films and then there are EVENT FILMS.  So many studios own so many licenses and they all want to convert them into license-to-print-money franchises and most of them fail to reach that threshold because the studios want their cash back and then some ASAP.  Phenomena like Star Wars (for instance) don’t just happen overnight and these types of cinematic universes require multiple, high quality entries to build legacy.  As we look back to the beginning of these Avengers films, few could have predicted that the first Iron Man could have set the stage for the immense and ever growing success of this franchise as a whole.  Even super-producer Kevin Feige, the man most singularly responsible for making these films reality, could not have predicted this kind of windfall even if he was gifted with infinite resources and unrivaled decision making power.  The latest entry in Marvel Studios’ amazing galaxy of super-people represents a new pinnacle for what these films can accomplish in the entertainment industry.  The genre is not about cookie-cut-outs in cheesy costumes playing hyper stereotypes in fictional scenarios anymore. 

Of course, no film is without flaws and this film did have some practical difficulties.  To begin, I saw this movie in IMAX 3D, and I must say that I do not recommend anyone to experience this film in that format.  There seemed to be frame rate issues from the opening action sequences that my eyes never fully adjusted to even by the film’s end.  I don’t know if the reason for this is because I wear glasses and placing the (rather uncomfortable) IMAX 3D glasses on top of them causes too much distortion for my eyes to process as smooth motion or the rotoscoping effect the filmmakers used inside the frame to enhance the already hectic action.  Either way, I found it physically uncomfortable to process all the action on such a large screen with 3D that I would recommend standard screenings (editor’s note: we noticed frame rate issues in 2D as well)

Second, a runtime of 2 hours and 27 minutes seems about standard for epic blockbusters these days, but that doesn’t make it any less of a challenge to sit through despite even this film’s excellent effort at balanced pacing.  Obvious tips like “don’t drink too much soda” and “go to theaters with comfortable seats” helps with every cinematic adventure, but I would also add “don’t see this at the end of a busy work day.”  Third, there is a ton of content in this film to process.  Without at least a cursory following of the Iron Man and Avengers (proper) films, Civil War can be difficult (but still enjoyable) to follow and only the most devoted fans that have seen every satellite installment will connect all the dots.

Captain America: Civil War is a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe primarily interested in expansion.  The Avengers’ roster of super-people has grown and thus, its ability to intercede anywhere on the planet has become unprecedented.  With Hydra in shambles and other nefarious individuals causing trouble off-planet, the only conflict currently posing a challenge to this new global power is itself.  This presents a convenient opportunity for the movie to spend an inordinate percentage of its total runtime on character development rather than presenting another single-serving antagonist to punch in the face.  As such, every single hero has a moment to shine both in drama and in combat all while introducing two brand new and pivotal characters to the franchise in Black Panther and Spider-Man. 

Normally, this type of film buckles under the pressure of accomplishing so much in so little time resulting in abandoned characters and abbreviated subplots, but those films also had a “big bad” to wrap up by the end.  Civil War has no such task and this film’s story yields fragmentation and uncertainty; a recession if you will for an organization representing the pinnacle of human endeavor.  Some may see this overarching plot as dull and unproductive, but it demonstrates a maturity in its self-criticism of the inevitable fallout that occurs when heroes save the day.

Action Style

There’s so many different styles of action to make note of.  We begin with high speed vehicular chases bridging to firearm combat to fisticuffs to super-powered stunt work and then Spider-Man does what a spider can on top.  There’s almost something for just about everyone who likes action.

5/6

Action Frame

Granted, the dynamic cinematography on display throughout is thanks most in part to frames compiled purely in a computer, but they had to be conceived by someone and the frame is anything but static.

4/5

Lead Performance

Almost everyone qualifies as a lead and not one single person phones it in.  Chadwick Boseman is impressive in his debut as T’Challa/Black Panther.  Anthony Mackie continues to exude pure charisma as Sam Wilson/Falcon.  Scarlett Johansson is reliably unpredictable as Black Widow, Sebastian Stan’s intensity is unrivaled as Bucky/Winter Soldier, everybody likes Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Elizabeth Olsen shows a more tender side to her Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany continues mystify as the Vision, Jeremy Renner brings the all important sarcastic laughs, Don Cheadle produces a fine rationalist perspective and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man brings great hope for the future of his satellite franchise as well as the importance of his character in the grand scheme of things moving forward.  Amidst all these fine performances it is easy to overlook our diametrically opposed protagonists: Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Evans once again channels the tempered idealist from the classic white knight archetype while Downey discovers a new level of concern and despair for Tony Stark that has transplanted Stark’s signature attitude with something more dire and serious. 

6/6

Supporting Performance

Not to be outdone by a healthy contingent of leads, the supporting roles effectively round out a brilliantly assembled cast.  William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross is a prototypical authoritarian without coming off as whimsically maniacal.  John Kani’s King T’Chaka is absolutely brilliant in virtually no screen time.  Emily VanCamp continues to add credibility to her Sharon Carter.  Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo may not have been a physical, mental or phsycological match for the heroes, but no one could argue with his motivations and his ability to convey his character’s despair makes him Marvel’s most effective villain since Loki.

4/5

Music

Acceptable, but not quite iconic enough.  My favorite soundtrack moments were those stylized instrumental screeches signifying Winter Soldier activity.

4/6

Sound F/X

Sharp.  Clean.  Diverse.  Creative.  No complaints whatsoever.

5/5

“Moving” = 28/33

Digital F/X

These films exist to deliver top mark CG and the fusion with live action is all but seamless.  Surprise, surprise, these moments peak at the battle royale among our heroes showcasing everyone’s abilities in an explosion of visual brilliance.  

6/6

Special F/X

With so many computer generated imagery flying about the screen simple pyro, wall crumbles and explosions pale in comparison.

3/5

Costumes

Every hero looks as great as they have in their respective films while the new Black Panther is much more ornate than film trailers make him and Spider-Man’s costume is a welcome classic configuration.

5/6

Hair & Makeup

Well done, but nothing exceptional being accomplished here. 

3/5

Exteriors

An exceptional collection of diverse locales representing very different parts of the world.

5/6

Interiors

These also do no not fail to impress as the futuristic tech of Avengers’ facilities contrasts quite well with more mundane government facilities and even more average settings such as obscure apartment spaces in Queens.

4/5

“Picture” = 26/33

Hook

The Avengers may be the newest superpower in the world, but they are beyond perfect and not above the machinations of those who wish to control them as agents of some prescribed agenda.

4/4

Conflict

Heroes have been beating each other up in the comics for many years thanks to underdeveloped villains, but their live-action counterparts now going through the same motions adds to the realism because even people of supernatural ability are bound to disagree with the fundamentals of what they do and who they are.

3/4

Resolution

Agreeing to disagree is as open ended (or non-existent) as resolutions come, but it also leaves the audience in an uncertain and uncomfortable place regardless of whether they were on #teamironman or #teamcaptainamerica. 

2/4

Dialogue

For all the characters that already know each other, their natural speak and camaraderie shines through.  For newcomers Black Panther and Spider-Man, their fresh takes and commentary are well placed, justified and completely in character.

5/6

Exposition

With so many MCU films in the can, the only real exposition required are the one or two films that preceded it.  A couple of expository sequences early in this film attempt to bring everyone up to speed, but every Marvel movie from this point forward cannot be relied upon for a thorough rehash at some point in every first act.  Also, more probably could have been done to flesh out the antagonist’s perspective, motivation and methods.

2/5

Character Uniqueness

Black Panther and Spider-Man provide some welcome new blood, but I am even more impressed with Tony Stark’s shift back towards the establishment as it shows that even a man of his infinite ego is not beyond an ever growing sense of guilt over his inability to solve every problem.  Then again, it is almost as surprising for Steve Rogers to take the path he chooses after his insider information is revealed.

5/6

Character Relatability

Not to continue beating a dead horse, but once again, Black Panther and Spider-Man provide the perfect gateway for all viewers to get in on the ground floor in terms of connecting with these super-people.  Vengeance and the desire to please/impress are powerful and commonplace motives that most can identify with.  Still, these people can bench press cars and we did just meet them.

3/5

“Story” = 24/34

Overall MPS Rating:  78/100

Captain America: Civil Waris as entertaining as special effect blockbusters featuring larger than life spectacles come.  Kevin Feige and whoever else he considers his brain trust at Marvel Studios continue to prove they know how to make spectacular comic book adaptations.  They have also proved they know who else to trust with their most prized licenses with the Russo Brothers directing their first Avengers film and absolutely delivered the goods.  This installment also happens to be its darkest not because it coats the frame in black, but for people that have this kind of ultimate power, their worst enemy is what they see in the mirror; that is until Thanos reveals himself to Earth’s mightiest heroes. 

P.S.  I found it interesting that the directors of Infinity War Parts 1 and 2 did not deliver even a hint of Infinity Stones, Thanos or anything else even remotely cosmic to parallel the chaos on Earth with the chaos amassing in the cosmos.  It is a bit disappointing, but not entirely soul-crushing.

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Comic Book News Marvel

Advanced Review: Captain America: White #1

It has been a very long time, seven years to be exact, since the duo of, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, have put out Captain America: White #0. Why the long wait? Not too sure, all I know is that when Loeb and Sale get together to work on one of Marvel’s “Color” books, something profound is created.

Captain America: White #1 is a brand new tale dealing with the emotional shock Cap faced after awakening in a time not his own amidst modern marvels and Avengers. Loeb immediately takes the tale back to WWII as Cap reminisces about the loss of his best friend and compatriot, Bucky. We see the brutality of war and how even the greatest of soldiers can have their focus distracted when it comes to the safety of a dear friend. We are also graced with Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos and how they react to America’s “Boy Scout” both on and off the field of battle and deal with the duality of heroism.

Loeb and Sale have done an exquisite job on molding a tale that delves deeper into the consciousness and sorrow of one of the greatest comic book characters ever created. It, like their other “Color” tales, not only focuses on emotional upheaval in a first person point of view, it also takes us to the true core of the characters. They show first hand how even the mighty need to persevere tragedy and come out stronger due to their emotional scars.

This is a tale to be revered with the highest standards and, in my opinion, is the best read of the week. Don’t let the high price point of $4.99 deter you from one fantastic story, because you actually receive two! Not only do you get the first installment of this limited series but you also receive a reproduction of Captain America: White #0! And as an extra bonus, you will also be able to read an interview with Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb conducted by Richard Starking, from seven years ago, chock full of Tim Sale sketches, drawings, birthday cards and photos of the creators from their childhoods! You couldn’t ask for anything more!

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Movie News Reviews

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Holy ‘Merica!

A Film Review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

By Lawrence Napoli

 

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As we approach the end of the Phase 2 Marvel Studio films, we see an upward trend in the quality of these individual blockbusters which continue to prime an already rabid (and ever expanding) fan base for Avengers: The Age of Ultron.  Captain America’s second installment is a very well balanced action/adventure that ups the intensity in hand-to-hand combat, gunplay and vehicle stunts without its plot degenerating into a half baked Die Hard sequel that should never have seen the light of day.  If Hollywood sees fit to add the month of April as the new starting point for the parade of summer blockbusters, then I couldn’t pick a better film in The Winter Soldier to thaw us all out of this chilly “Spring” as quickly as humanly (or in this case, superhumanly) possible.

The story, by itself, is one that several war, action and science-fiction films have addressed a multitude of times in the past: How much security does the world need at the expense of liberty?  This will forever be a hot button issue for humanity as the military industrial complex continues to proliferate and specialize into increased automation which dehumanizes the task of enacting security, allowing those in power to make drastic choices efficiently without the burden of diplomacy, ethics or morality.  Obviously, the difference is we’re seeing this dilemma unfold in the Marvel Universe with its most iconic soldier thrust into the epicenter, but let’s be frank, we’ve seen this before.  It becomes quite clear that an organization as powerful as S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t content with simply cleaning up any messes The Avengers leave behind, let alone sitting on the bench when it comes to “protecting the planet.” 

I like how the script continued to touch upon Cap’s “man out of time” theme while the character entered this personal conflict between following orders and simply doing the right thing, but then we all saw how upset Steve Rogers got at Nick Fury in The Avengers when that whole Tesseract WMD project was revealed.  Personal connection, trust and a moral compass are the things that drive Captain America to have a mission in the first place.  Without them, even regular men would begin to find difficulty in being soldiers, police or any security personal with the power of using lethal force to maintain order.  As a result, the audience is taken on a journey that sees Steve Rogers develop as a leader not just as a combatant, but as a tactician and an inspiration.  I only wish the story had time to shed this kind of light on Black Widow, Falcon and Nick Fury, but alas, Cap had some serious character maturation going on here, and it demanded just about every minute.

If all you really care about these individual Avenger films is checking out some kick-ass action, The Winter Soldier absolutely has your back with high quality special and visual effects, explosions, but most importantly fight choreography.  Captain America doesn’t fly, shoot lightning or steps on his opposition, but he does punch and kick and throw his shield with improbable accuracy, and it is the speed at which the camera captures it that makes it impressive.  Every close quarter combat sequence masterfully blends ballet-like strikes and counter-strikes with gut wrenching brutality.  There are several moments during fight sequences when the camera gets in a little too close and stays there for the duration of each conflict that it might get too blurry for some in the audience to maintain who’s who and what exactly just happened, but I didn’t find this too problematic.  There are enough moments when the camera pulls back to let you catch a breath in order to appreciate the impact of the action, but close-ups and quick cuts will forever be the director’s best friends when it comes to capturing stunt actors doing what they do best as opposed to faking it with lead actors hooked up to wire rigs yanking them all over the place.  I also really enjoyed how weapons were incorporated into every fight.  Pistols, machine guns, knives and of course, the shield, are in constant use and showcased at every conceivable range from far out to in your face.

The performance of the cast as a whole is without any glaring deficiency, but also without an absolute standout akin to the signature eccentricity of a Robert Downey Jr. or the charisma of a Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston.  For instance, all of the supporting characters that return from previous Avenger appearances retain their previously established reliability.  Samuel L. Jackson is still a bad-ass Nick Fury; Scarlett Johansson is still a sexy, innuendo-dropping Black Widow, and Cobie Smulders is a no-nonsense and businesslike Maria Hill.  In their defense, none of these actors are really given huge opportunities to give the audience something new, but the plot puts a noticeable dent in the mythos of this fictional world that I would have appreciated a more significant shift in character status from all these actors.  Anthony Mackie provides a successful integration into the world of the Avengers as a solid sidekick in Falcon, but his scenes as regular guy Sam Wilson are much more compelling and provide some golden nuggets of dramatic chemistry with Chris Evans.

The villains are not much to write home about because the real “villain” happens to be the flawed system/philosophy behind contemporary global security/control.  But Cap needs to punch someone in the face, and Sebastian Stan gets ripped to go toe-to-toe with the Star Spangled Man.  He also gets very proficient with a consistent death glare he sends everyone he shares any screen time with because his character has precious little dialogue to speak of.  Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce was more than I was expecting when compared to Ben Kingsley’s hilarious, yet ultimately irrelevant portrayal of “The Mandarin.”  Redford is icy cool and matter-of-fact, but never deviates from that level of emotional tenor. 

The plain reality is that The Winter Soldier is all about the growth of Steve Rogers/Captain America and the actor that plays him: Chris Evans. Once again, Evans successfully channels the boy next door who gets abs and arms and buns of steel, but there’s just something missing in his Captain America that simply playing him as “just another guy from the block” doesn’t quite cut it in this film and will most certainly not fly for the remainder of his Avenger appearances.  I’ve seen enough of the plainest superhero alive.  Evans shows moments of Cap’s signature heroic assertiveness towards the end of this film, but the fact is he’s been Captain America for a while now, and Steve Rogers has had a handle on his personal sense of right and wrong well before his mannish head never grew into his formerly boyish body.  Don’t get me wrong.  Evans absolutely nails his down-to-earth Steve Rogers with Peggy and Steve Rogers with Sam moments.  It’s nice to see heroes with their capes off just trying to be people, but eventually the capes go back on and I’m still waiting for that moment where I see Evans own it onscreen as Captain America: the iconic hero that every Marvel superhuman acknowledges in some way.  He’s more than capable, and I hope he gets there before his character is killed off or cast aside or dealt with according to Kevin Feige.

This is the first must-see of the Spring/Summer run of blockbusters and the number one reason to do so is for the action.  Effects and eye candy would be reason number two.  The story and characters are all well and good, but I see a whole lot of place holders for even more significant things set to happen in future films involving Captain America.  I happened to see this film in IMAX 3D which wasn’t distracting at all, but I wouldn’t qualify this film as an absolute necessity to experience it in that format.  Obviously, you have to wait for all the credits to roll to get those teases for where Ultron might be heading, but I was more enthralled with the Easter Eggs throughout Cap 2, particularly the nod to Dr. Stephen Strange.

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Comic Book News

COVER SHOOT: The Top 5 Comic Book Covers For 10/30/13

COVER SHOOT

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

This weekly feature will take a look at THE most visually compelling comic book covers on the market today. Whether they be rare variant editions or just your standard fare, these are the top 5 covers that stand out amidst the bevy of books released each week. They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”  but these covers are worth more than that! No matter the storylines behind them, these covers compel you to at least check them out, which can be worth exponentially more than just words to the companies that publish them! Enjoy!

 

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1.  Sandman: Overture#1 (DC): Fans have long awaited the return of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed series and today, they not only get their wish but this amazing cover to go with it! Done by the talented J.H. Williams III, this cover is filled with a myriad of vibrant colors surrounding the dark and shadowy central figure, creating  a vortex effect that is stunning. This is a true work of art!

 

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2. Captain America: Living Legend #12 (Marvel):  Adi Granov is known for his visually perfect, photo-realistic covers and this one is top-notch. The faded background lets the eye focus it’s attention solely on the central figure, one that embodies all the facets of a perfect Cap picture. Steel nerves, honor and relentlessness in the face of great odds, fans can feel all of it with this single image. Perfect!

 

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3. Witchblade #170 (Variant Edition) (Image):  Marc Silvestri pays homage to himself with this amazing cover! Returning to his early days as an X-Men artist, Silvestri mirrors his fan favorite cover for Uncanny X-Men #251, with this amazing pencil sketch of Witchblade. You can see every detail in this cover, from subtle fades of shade to bold crisp lines. Sketch covers are where you can see the true talent of an artist and this one exceeds every expectation!

 

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4.  Superior Spider-Man #20 (Variant Edition) (Marvel):  Few artists are more well known for drawing the female form than J. Scott Campbell and this cover further proves the reason why. Bringing back Spidey’s favorite “bad girl” would have been missing something if Campbell hadn’t been involved! A stark white background makes you focus solely on the central figure and Campbell’s fun, stylistic sense of the female form. Plus, Halloween is tomorrow and you always need a Black Cat around for that!

 

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5. Infinity #5 (Variant Edition) (Marvel):  Scottie Young covers have become some of the most coveted things out there in recent years. Baby versions of Marvel characters may seem silly to some, but my daughter and I love these things and try to get as many as we can. Not only cute and amusing, Young is a fantastic artist bringing his “cartoon” style to the front of comics today, letting it be known that ALL styles of art should be used in the medium. Plus, read what Cap is saying on the cover, it sums up all of Marvel Cosmic in one blurb!

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Movie News

Super Hero Squad Online: Update For March 17, 2012: Captain America

Squaddies Assemble!

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:938:]]With The Avengers movie approaching ever closer and a brand new comic on the shelves — Avengers Assemble, was there any question that the latest character to be released for Super Hero Squad Online would be the first Avenger! That’s right, the newest character is none other than — Captain America, Super Soldier! Draped in his WWII fighting uniform, pretty much the same one from the Captain America movie, you can now take the fight to the frontlines for a mere 600 gold! 

But having Cap join the ranks of your squad isn’t the only update for this week! S.H.S.O. has also released two new card quests that revolve around yet another classic Avenger — the Scarlett Witch! Each quest will set you back 200 gold, but it’s well worth it if you are looking to acquire some magic based cards for your decks!

But the best news from S.H.S.O. are the upcoming teasers they are sending to us! Coming soon, two more Avengers will be released to fans and they are amazing! First up will be everyone’s favorite archer — Hawkeye! Now you can take out a bevy of villains with a quiver of trick arrows! Secondly, we will see one of the most nostalgic characters come to the gaming world — ever! The original Iron Man suit, Iron Man MK I, will crash onto the screen in the upcoming months! And there is even more! The new loading screen also teases Scott Lang Ant-Man and everyone’s favorite android — the Vision! 

As releases continue, I will have full reports as to when and how you can grab all the latest updates for a great game that helps bring comic memories for parents and children alike! It’s Hero Up Time!