Iron Man

Marvel Movie News

Tom Cruise Again Rumored For The MCU

Rumors again surround Tom Cruise coming to the MCU, but this time not as Iron Man, possibly as another Marvel character. The rumors again come from YouTuber Grace Randolph who previously said Tom Cruise is going to play Iron Man in Doctor Strange 2, as it is claimed Feige’s plan is to use actors that

Marvel Movie News

Zack Snyder Likes Marvel, Hulk, Iron Man

Justice League director Zack Snyder participates in a Q&A where he is asked if he likes Marvel and responds in the affirmative adding he also likes Hulk and Iron Man. Snyder answered questions as part of Wired’s “Answers the Web’s Most Searched Questions” series on YouTube. “Does Zack Snyder like Marvel?” Snyder read out loud.

Marvel Movie News

Bring Back Tony Stark Billboard Goes Up

A fan or group of fans really wants Iron Man back in the MCU as a “Bring Back Tony Stark” billboard has gone up in Los Angeles. “For our beloved hero, please bring back Tony Stark,” states the billboard that encourages fans to tweet on Saturday using the #BringBackTonyStarkToLife hashtag. A new billboard has been put

Movie News Marvel

Brie Larson Reveals Porn-Inspired Audition

Brie Larson reveals that thanks to porn, she landed the role of Envy Adams in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. In her latest YouTube video, Brie Larson goes over the “good, the bad and the ugly” of her auditions, revealing the roles she tried out for and obviously didn’t get, which also happens to

Marvel Video Game News

Marvel Comes To Fortnite: Galactus, Wolverine, More

Galactus threatens Fortnite as the Marvel heroes are now available within the game as part of the latest Battlepass for Season 2: Chapter 4. The teaser shows that the Marvel heroes are plucked from their universe and transported to the world of Fortnite where Galactus can be seen from a distance as part of the

Marvel Video Game News

MARVEL Super War Shows Off Adam Warlock, Season 3

The MARVEL Super War mobile game shows off Adam Warlock, Space Armor for Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and more. MARVEL Super War is the first multiplayer online battle arena (MOBO) game from Marvel for mobile. Not familiar with the game? That’s because it hasn’t been given a global release as it is available only in

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Iron Man 3 (IMAX 3D)

Phase 2 Fizzle

A Film Review of Iron Man 3

By: Lawrence Napoli


Thanks to Robert Downey Jr. (and him alone), the Iron Man franchise has become a household name for the Marvel/Disney Super PAC that isn’t named Spider-Man, Wolverine, Mickey Mouse, Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker.  His performance breathes life into the inanimate and has raised the bar substantially for actors taking roles in the contemporary action/adventure/blockbuster film that is more than likely based on a comic book.  Unfortunately, Iron Man is still a man, and apparently Downey isn’t interested in doing these movies for the rest of his career.  Yes, Downey is in for The Avengers 2 (which is what Phase 2 is all about), but Iron Man 3 is clearly the official beginning of phasing out Tony Stark from this film universe (thus confirming the rumor that alpha personalities tied to this franchise are walking away) and this impacts Iron Man 3 in a negative way.  The parallel to The Dark Knight Rises are undeniable and though we can debate over which final chapter was better than the other, both films could have and should have been more than the final product we all witnessed.  Iron Man 3, like Iron Man 2 before it, is guilty of being an average (but expensive) blockbuster.  It isn’t fresh and inventive like the first Iron Man, nor does it approach the greatness of Marvel’s The Avengers.  For this entire movement of putting the Marvel Universe on film with the infinite resources at its disposal, the crime of going through the motions is inexcusable.


Is Iron Man flying or falling?  You be the judge.

Once enough people fork over the cash to see Iron Man 3 (and don’t you even consider the increased prices for digital DLP projection or IMAX because the 3D effect is 100% NOT worth it), we will finally know what Joss Whedon meant when he was quoted as saying “Now what am I supposed to do now?  What am I going to do in Avengers 2?”  Everyone in the news media press presumed this was some posturing to the effort made by director/co-writer Shane Black by acknowledging that Whedon’s own plot for the next Avengers would somehow pale in comparison to what others have described as Iron Man’s “epic,” “bombastic,” and “incredible,” third installment.  Go ahead and watch the film, then think about that quote one more time.  Whedon wasn’t bowing.  He was pulling the last strands out of his balding dome over the plot and character limitations imposed on him as a result of Iron Man 3.  There are no spoilers here, so if you want to know what I’m talking about, read EIC Matt McGloin’s thoughts.  There are only so many places Whedon can go with the Avengers’ MVP and now those possibilities are cut in half.


So buddy.  Where do we go now?

Ultimately, the story of Iron Man 3 is a whole lot of blather that involves Tony Stark’s spring cleaning of some trivial domestic issues back in the US.  The Mandarin is blowing up American landmarks and he’s a crazy terrorist that needs to be put down.  I found it hilarious how his buddy James Rhodes actually makes reference to this situation: “Aren’t you running around with the Super Friends now?” as to suggest that his involvement in this plot is a little low-ball for Tony.  What was suggested as a terrorist plot for some sort of world control boils down to a personal grudge between massive egos in this fictitious, scientific community.  What was hinted as Tony becoming an even more devoted partner to Pepper Potts is glazed over thanks to a time consuming, Sherlock-ian investigation and is used as a shameless plot device to usher in what will be the end of Robert Downey Jr. in these films.  What would have been possible in seeing the fallout of the invasion of New York is completely swept under the rug with another convenient plot device of Tony’s frequent panic attacks which allows this script to ignore The Avengers completely. 


You know, I could have used you in The Avengers.

I didn’t like any of this.  It reaffirms the fact that while Iron Man is a cool Marvel personality, he has the worst rogue’s gallery of every major comic book hero.  It tells me in a world where aliens have invaded and can potentially invade again, terrorism in any capacity is somehow still relevant.  This script only introduces more important, personal issues with Tony Stark (the man) only to ignore them in order to focus on the active plot of pitting Iron Man against some obscure villain.  The story is still funny in that it still shows off Tony Stark as an ego driven, genius, philanthropist, playboy, but there’s just so much of it shoved in your face from start to finish that the audience is left wondering if even Stark is taking any of this seriously even when he gets angry after the conflict hits way too close to home.  The climax and resolution of this film treats the audience like children by presenting us with several brand new toys (plot twists) and then taking them away immediately, never to be seen again.  The bullet points of Iron Man 3 too closely resemble those of Iron Man 2 and nothing that happens in this film (even in the post credits teaser) introduces, suggests or even slightly hints at anything that could be happening for The Avengers 2.  Perhaps this is Hollywood mimicking the comic book industry by employing a lot of writers all in charge of their own projects and are somehow expected to be relevant to the crossover arc the company as a whole is trying to promote.  Whedon was right.  I have no idea what the heck he’s going to do with Tony Stark now.


Don’t tell me the dream is dead.

Iron Man 3 is not a total loss (despite the fact it is a big disappointment) and most of that credit goes to the action and visual effects on display.  $200 million yields plenty of massive set pieces that get devastated from gun fire, missiles and massive explosions.  It also yields lots of awesome Iron Man aerial maneuvers, combat and technology.  I must say that it was a real treat to see Stark’s ‘Iron Family’ at work during the climax, but my criticism of them is twofold.  First, they only pay off in a minimal way thanks to how they end up (but that’s another writing criticism) and second, the different armors don’t really show off their individual specializations very well.  The only one that stands out is the ‘Hulk Buster’ armor we’ve all seen in the trailers, which is used to do one thing and never seen again.   As a result, the Iron party is more like a lot of copy/pastes with different paint jobs that still look sleek and realistic, but all do the same thing.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Robert Downey Jr. engaging in a lot more action out of the suit in this film, but those sequences are surprising at displaying Tony Stark’s martial prowess (I’m pretty sure Matt Murdock isn’t his sensei).  I like that the plot forces Tony out of the tin can for no other reason than giving the audience something different to look at which is still stimulating, though not as sexy as the suit.  Eye candy alone will see this film easily double its budget, but it won’t see Avengers money.


Here we come to save the day.

I have no complaints about the performances in Iron Man 3 because the overall cast demonstrates their veteran prowess.  Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian is your stereotypical bad guy/crazy evil genius, and I knew his character was going to be that way because the man’s made a career of playing *ssholes in movies.  Don Cheadle, the man who should have been established as James Rhodes in the first Iron Man, produces another fine performance as the Iron Patriot who secretly pines for a resurrection of War Machine which produces a few memorable laughs amidst Stark’s constant “I’m a needy genius” comedy throughout.  Jon Favreau is thankfully limited to screen time in the beginning of the film as Happy Hogan (ugh, how is he still skulking around the sets of these films?).  Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen presents a character meant to be plagued by the ethics/morality of science unchecked (which is a plot point that dies before given a real chance to live), but she is hilarious when making reference to her role in Ben Affleck’s The Town in the beginning of the movie.  Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is once again personable, elegant and charming, and I really enjoyed when her character is called upon to get her fists dirty, but that too is muffled thanks to shoddy writing.  Paul Bettany simply does not get enough credit as the voice of Jarvis in all of these films, so I’ll give him a much deserved shout-out now because his dignified delivery is matched only by his brilliant comedic timing.


Wait a minute!  We can do stuff outside of the armor?

A word on Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3: I totally get what they were trying to do with this character, but I cannot fathom how Shane Black lured an actor of Kingsley’s caliber into this film with the red herring his character represents.  Let’s not confuse the quality of his performance with the irrelevance of his character.  Kingsley delivers; plain and simple.  You may think the lines of dialogue we’ve all heard in the trailers may sound annoying thanks to his disjointed delivery, but that goes away to reveal something much more entertaining, hilarious and actually thought provoking when considering the world’s modern experience with terrorism.  Perhaps the uniqueness of the satire is what hooked Sir Ben; that and one fat paycheck.


I am more (or less) than what I appear to be.

Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark.  It’s all been said and it’s all true once again.


Seriously?  Were you expecting anything less?

This movie was good, but it is not great.  Iron Man 3 is very entertaining in presenting amazing visual effects while coalescing them with uniquely hilarious dialogue and circumstances.  Unfortunately, without any effort to move the Avenger franchise forward with Tony Stark’s individual efforts in this film, it makes this story a complete waste of time.  It’s great that Tony still cares about stuff at home, both in his country and his personal life.  It’s great that he’s still at work doing his innovative Iron-Man-thing.  It’s great that he feels anguish over the invasion of New York.  But let’s expand on all of those plot points, not just leave them behind in the dust.  For a character all about transformation and improvement, there really isn’t a concept of change that matters for Tony Stark.  He’s the same human dynamo that is simply put into another dangerous situation that he can skillfully address thanks to his own efforts.  A $200 million dollar investment should be thinking about doing more than giving me another day in the life of the amazing Tony Stark especially when you consider the future of the character moving forward.  Phase 2 is in like a lamb, and it is left to Joss Whedon to insure that it goes out like a lion.   

Comic Book News

“Just What the DOC Ordered: Your Summer Movie Reading List!”

“The Book Is Always Better”

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley



Another comic book inspired season is upon us at your local theater and no fan is happier than I am! With intense blockbuster sequels, franchise dependent re-dos and some obscure independent debuts, it is a cornucopia of genres that is sure to make us believe, cheer and possibly question the reason they are being made in the first place! Comic fans and non-fans alike will be making their way to theaters in droves this summer, but where do these bigger than life movies come from? From the back issue bins of comic shops of course, and I’ll give you the rundown in order for you to catch up on some inexpensive summer reading before you drop $20 a ticket for 3D IMAX seats! Without further ado, Lights!,Camera!,Action!



Let’s begin with a movie that has comic fans heated and Tom Cruise fans jumping on couches in delight! Oblivion! Opening on April 19th, Oblivion is another look at a post-apocalyptic world that portrays Tom Cruise as a human version of Disney/ Pixar’s Wall-E! While this is being advertised as coming from the 2012 graphic novel by indie publisher Radical Studios, written by the movies director Joseph Kosinski(Tron:Legacy), the graphic novel doesn’t actually exist! At the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, “concept art” pamphlets were handed out to fans to promote the alleged book, but it never came to fruition. As a matter of fact, it is questioned if a graphic novel was ever truly going to be in the works or if the “concept art” for it was only to help push Kosinski’s movie idea to the forefront! Looks like it worked! You can find the “concept art” books on eBay for varying prices but don’t get fooled into thinking you are acquiring anything more than beautiful visuals! But, if you are looking to get your hands on a Radical Studios graphic novel that will actually in a more productive manner that just conceptualizing, I suggest you get your hands on the Hercules:Thracian Wars TPB for around $15! You have plenty of time before the Rock lays the smack down next July to get as much reading done as you can!



Next up is Iron Man 3, starring fan fave Robert Downey Jr. and releasing everywhere on May 3rd! By now everyone knows the tale of Tony Stark, even if we do want to forget Iron Man 2, but how much do non-comic fans know about this years two big baddies that will threaten our hero? To help ease you into the  rivalries between the Mandarin, Dr. Aldritch Killian and Tony here are a few “must reads” to get you ready for battle! To find the first appearance of the Mandarin you will have to grab yourself a copy of Tales of Suspense #50 from 1964. Now, you have two choices, you can go for the 8.5 CGC graded version that will set you back $1,245 or you can download a copy from Comixology for #1.99! Your choice! But, if you are like me and like to actually hold a book you are reading, you can acquire a copy the Revenge of the Mandarin hardcover published in 2012 for around $15. Between the covers you will find reprints of Iron Man #8-#14(1998), Fantastic Four #15(1998) and Iron Man/Captain America Annual ’98, and stories that revolve around Tony losing control of his armor, the Mandarin destroying things and War Machine coming to Tony’s aid. I also recommend Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s stunning Iron Man: Extremis TPB(2007) that gives you issues #1-#4 of the series and also gives the first taste of the Extremis armor that will be featured in the film as well as the depth of Dr. Aldrith Killian cunning to destroy Tony at all costs. This one will set you back another $15 bucks but it’s well worth it!




June 14th will be the day that makes or breaks DC and Warner Bros movie franchise! Not only does the Man of Steel have to save the world from battle hardened Kryptonians, he also holds the weight of building a cohesive “movie world” on his shoulders! What looks to be an amazing movie seems too far away for fans to wait. So, until we “believe a man can fly” again you can satisfy every super need with a single book. DK Publishing put out the Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel in 2002 but has just updated the cover with a more modern picture that reflects Supes New 52 costume. For $20 you can get all the general knowledge you need about Clark Kent and his alter ego. If you are looking for something a little more in depth and see how a a hero goes from boy to “super” man, I recommend Geoff Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman: For All Seasons. It is a coming of age book that will meld nicely with the more human side of Superman that seems so prevalent in the movie trailers. Also, for something more brutal, pick up Superman Vs Zod TPB(2013) for $12.99. This collection reprints Adventure Comics #283, Action Comics #473, #548-549, DC Comics Presents #97 and Action Comics Annual #10 and contains all the best battles of a pre New 52 DC Universe!



July 19th gives the comic book industry some offbeat indie comics to check out on the big screen. Both are starring a bevy of big name actors and actresses but will that be enough to drive non-comic fans into the seats. It might not be enough to drive comic fans into the seats either! These “off-beat” movies are going to need as much help as they can to beat out the “Big Two” movies this summer, so let’s build their fanbase with a little reading! First up is RED 2. Now, RED 2 doesn’t really have a comic attached to it, and the first movie was so different from the original Homage Comics(an imprint of Wildstorm Productions now owned by DC) three issue action/suspense shooter, by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, that it really didn’t matter if you read it or not. So, instead of checking out the goofball comedy/action flick starring Bruce Willis, try the 2009 Red TPB for $15 instead! Then check out the 2010 prequel, written and drawn by Cully Hammer, Red:Eyes Only($4) which explains what horrific event took place to make Paul Moses retire from the CIA. in the first place!



 Second up on this day is the “dead cop” buddy movie starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in a strange time travel, body jumping, demon killing western called R.I.P.D. This comic was an original four issue series that focused on a character named Nick Cruz who was killed and after 100 years of service in the R.I.P.D. was given the chance to find out who murdered him. R.I.P.D. Vol.2: City of the Damned is a four issue movie prequel series that focuses on Roy Pulsipher and his partner Nick Walker as they expel demons in the Wild West and find the true history of Roy Pulsipher’s past. Both are great reads and can be had for dirt cheap! R.I.P.D. Vol.1 (2nd edition) published by Dark Horse, will only set you back $12.99 while R.I.P.D. Vol.2: City of the Damned can be bought as a bundle on Dark Horse digital downloads for a mere $5.99 for all four issues! That’s WAY better than spending $20 for a migraine at the theater!



The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, cuts it’s way into theaters on July 26th and fans are anxiously awaiting anything to purge their minds of the horrendous Wolverine:Origin fiasco! Based on the classic Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine #1-4 solo series from 1982, this movie is getting fans “x-cited” again and July couldn’t come soon enough. There are hundreds of Wolverine stories out there but you only really need to acquaint yourself with a single storyline this time in order to fully immerse yourself in Logan’s Japanese adventure. Considered THE best Wolverine story, you can get your hands on a CGC 9.8 graded copy for around $250 or you can try and find yourself a first edition hardcover reprint of the four issue series for around $50. Me, I think I’ll stick with a newer edition that collects Claremont and Miller’s Wolverine #1-4 for a measly $14! As soon as I get my Barnes and Noble rewards coupon –it will be even cheaper!




August heats up with the prequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire! Now, this one is going to be a little tricky! When Zack Snyder made the original 300 from Frank Miller’s outstanding graphic novel, he actually had a one stop shop in order to procure Miller’s artistic vision. This time around there isn’t one to get! Well, not really. See, there is no graphic novel for 300:Rise of an Empire, there isn’t even a solo comic series to get all the ideas from either. This time around, Frank Miller and Dark Horse comics released Miller’s prequel story, revolving around the egomaniacal Xerxes, in a series of comics. Beginning in (and helping to re-launch the series in 2011) Dark Horse Presents #1 and finishing in Dark Horse Presents #6, you can acquire the entire story that the movie will be based on. Now, that doesn’t seem too bad, especially since you can still find copies at your local comic shop. The bad part is when you see the price tag when you finish acquiring the story! You see, each issue of DHP comes in at a hefty 80 pages and will cost you around $8 each! That’s $48 for a single story! But, with no collected edition in sight, at least at this time, that’s the only route you have to read the original story. Me, I’ll just pay the $15 at the movies and sit in awe like I did with the first one! 




Finally, on August 16th, Mark Millar unleashes his foul, brutal and awesomely good Kick-Ass series on the big screen again! Kick-Ass 2 will show us all how villains can make heroes even better than they were, when the Mother F*#*#! tears down Kick-Ass’ world! Vibrant, funny and extremely violent this sequel actually needed two different comic series to make a single movie! But don’t worry you can still acquire them both for under $50! First you will need to pick up the Kick-Ass 2:Balls to the Wall TPB(2012), in which everything in our hero’s world comes unraveled. A super hero team is formed but the streets aren’t what the need to look after, it’s the past that will kill them. This trade will cost around $15 and can be found at your local comic shop undoubted paired with this next trade. The Kick-Ass 2 Prelude:Hit-Girl hardcover was just released on March 6th and tells the tale between the first and second Kick-Ass series. It follows Mindy in her quest to lead a “normal” life and put the katanas down. It is a great read that shows how socially awkward such a badass character is in the “real” world. This hardcover will run you about $20 but it’s well worth the cover price! You don’t need to read them both in order to enjoy the story but who doesn’t want to know how Hit-Girl handles High School?

So, before you go and spend an ungodly amount of money at the movies, at least give yourself some background information on them before you do. Plus, it’s always more fun when you can enjoy the “Easter eggs” movie studios love to throw into their films. Or, if you don’t get to see them for any reason, at least you will have the knowledge that you have the best version sitting directly in front of you, waiting to be enjoyed whenever you want!

Movie News Reviews

Top 10 Best Movie Girlfriends

(Some of) The Best Girlfriends/Wives in Movies

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:5651:]]Happy Valentine’s Day!  February 14th may be considered a shameless money grab that makes you want to gag over the rampant PDA by people who seem far too happy to be genuine.  But maybe (just maybe) you have someone special in your life you’d be willing to swallow your pride for and participate in a little conventional gift giving, smile sharing and love making.  This is a day for love, but not necessarily romance because one doesn’t require a sexy sweetheart to appreciate this day.  This isn’t a definitive list by any means, but the women in some of these films are the kind of companions that can fill the human heart with pure joy for their kindness, their talent, their courage and their dedication.  These characteristics and much more combine into what makes someone truly beautiful and we would be remiss to not see these elements in the real people we love in our lives.  These are some of the best girlfriends and wives in movies and the reasons why they can show us some personal meaning to Valentine’s Day.

(Editor’s Note: Head on over here for Lawrence’s Top 10 Worst Movie Girlfriends list)



10) Nina in Bulworth (1998)

Sometimes the sorts of people that “get” us aren’t exactly the ones we would consider “our type.”  Nina is a young, black woman looking to find some cash to pay off the dangerous men her brother owes money to.  Economically lucrative opportunities in the ghetto aren’t exactly robust so she involves herself in an assassination plot to kill US Senator Jay Billington Bulworth.  The man is more than twice her age and as white as the day is long, but the Senator’s crazy political renaissance incorporating brutal honesty with hip-hop charisma draws her to the man.  She surprises Bulworth with her political acumen and impresses him with her coolness under pressure.  She also has an uncanny ability to get Bulworth to cut loose on the dance floor and show a fun side he certainly never knew existed.  Their relationship is strong enough to introduce him to her family and to dissuade her from putting a bullet in his skull.  Sounds like a keeper to me, too bad corporate America had other ideas for Bulworth.



9) Trish in The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

Sometimes the people we get involved with accept us despite our personal eccentricities that would otherwise drive some people up the wall, off a cliff and into an insane asylum.  The fact that Andy is a 40 year old virgin is only one thing.  His social anxiety, self esteem issues and inability to relinquish his childhood would equate him to a jellyfish for most women.  However, Trish sees the genuine attraction he has for her, the sweetness in his heart and the care he shows for her daughter.  These are all significant pluses in a potential mate and so Trish pays Andy back with two of the most important things a woman can give a man.  No, I don’t mean THOSE.  I mean patience and understanding.  This allows Andy and Trish to understand each other and the issues each bring to the table as well and their efforts culminate in a marriage that is meaningful.



8) Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997)

Strong women are very independent and don’t exactly require a lot of coddling or superfluous attention.  That may be an instant attraction to some, but despite Leeloo’s strength, superior intelligence and keen fashion sense, the fact remains that she’s a magnet for trouble and completely ill equipped to save the universe herself.  Leeloo is revered for being “the superior being” whose body happens to be the final component in the weapon against evil, but it is her vulnerability that inspires Corbin Dallas to think way outside the box of his military training in helping her mission.  Simply seeing her smile amends Corbin’s cynical outlook on people and opens his heart to the possibility of love.  Yeah, yeah, it took “the perfect woman” to do this for Corbin, but I think the real message was that finding someone who was “perfect” for us as individuals could have the same effect. 



7) Becky in Clerks II (2006)

They say “never date anyone you work with” and the main reason for that is the inevitable conflict that arises when the politics of the job interfere with the politics of the relationship.  That may be true of work places that can be considered “career worthy,” but what if you work at a lesser establishment?  Work romances can often be one of the only good things to come out of “jobby jobs” and this was certainly the case for Dante.  Becky and Dante get to know each other in an environment where talking about each other’s gossip was the priority of the day.  Talking to someone in this manner over the course of time allows two people to really get to know several sides of each other to the point where they had a one night stand.  Becky throws Dante a curve by revealing she’s pregnant, but sometimes shock can inspire positive activity.  Dante snaps out of his “woe is me” attitude on everything to realize what he truly wants: a life with Becky.  There’s something to be said of a girlfriend that makes you get your sh*t together.



6) Cassandra in Wayne’s World (1992)

How cool is it to be with someone who’s into the same stuff you’re interested in?  Suddenly, you don’t have to get the boys together to talk about music, movies, video games, anime, comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek, Magic the Gathering . . . well, you know what I mean.  Not only is Cassandra an exceptional rocker to compliment our hero, Wayne Campbell (excellent), but she is gorgeous, career minded and motivated.  Basically, she is everything that Wayne isn’t which is somewhat curious to anyone with a pulse as to why she’s attracted to him in the first place.  How kind hearted is Cassandra?  Well, she likes Wayne because he makes her laugh and because he’s a good person.  This is the kind of woman that can make a man change his tune for the better or completely take for granted.  Thankfully, Wayne is positively impacted, but even if he messed it up (which he almost did multiple times), Cassandra would be a great movie girlfriend for any character. 



5) Neytiri in Avatar (2009)

Finding love in the most unlikely of places is the starting point of the relationship between Neytiri and Jake.  They aren’t even the same species, yet a connection was made between them as warriors.  Jake was more than physically crippled; having lost a twin brother, a reason to fight and a reason to live.  Needless to say, he didn’t ship off to Pandora in the best mental state.  As Neytiri trained Jake in the ways of the Na’vi, she was teaching him about life, its interconnection with nature and the importance of community.  Finding someone that can open your eyes to completely new perspectives on how you previously experienced life can be a soul altering experience, but one that can lead to untold attraction and bliss.  Jake was reborn on Pandora and he found a companion that pushed him every step of the way while finding moments of levity amidst the interplanetary conflict between their people.



4) Pepper Potts in Iron Man (2008)

So you’re a billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist who doesn’t have a particular interest in the mundane toils of actually running your own business.  Naturally, you acquire the services of someone who can do that for you, but not just anyone could tolerate the difficulties of dealing with the enigma that is Tony Stark.  Pepper has an unfathomable surplus of patience, maternal instinct and down to Earth pragmatism that grounds Tony in such a spectacular way that he realizes that Pepper is the only woman for him.  Pepper can handle Tony’s ego maniacal persona because deep down she believes in his brilliance and his heart and that he has something genuinely good to give the world.  Any other woman could easily fall for Tony’s money, but Pepper knows the real man behind the spectacle.  A woman that loves you for who you truly are is a precious gift.  Realizing that she has discovered such truth is priceless.



3) Trinity in The Matrix Saga (1999-2003)

What if love was truly destined?  Would that mean the efforts of so many people around the world to find it were making a vain attempt to control their lives?  Trinity, a cyber warrior of Zion is hit with this kind of information in addition to the fact that her relationship with Neo would confirm the fact that he was “the one” to save the world.  No pressure.  Despite a modest attraction to Neo’s “pretty eyes,” there wasn’t much to be said of this noob fresh out of The Matrix.  Neo’s main problem in surviving and thriving in this completely new reality is not ability, but belief and it is his observation and admiration of Trinity’s sense of duty, love for her shipmates and belief in the cause of “saving the world” which inspires Neo to believe in himself.  This unlocks his various abilities to overcome all odds, which in turn, attracts Trinity right back to him.  This is the power of symbiotic belief in each other which can be more powerful than any other similarity or synergy to justify the relationship.  All you need is love, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if you look good in tight leather outfits.



2) Helen in True Lies (1994)

Mrs. Helen Tasker is a textbook housewife leading a textbook life, but she has the dubious task of having to deal with a significant betrayal by her husband Harry for discovering he has been a secret agent for the entirety of their marriage and, for all intents and purposes, is a completely different man.  What makes her a good wife is that she doesn’t leave Harry immediately even though she’d be completely justified in doing so.  What makes her a great wife is understanding that she still loves him despite everything and shows it by risking her life to step into Harry’s dangerous world of seductive intrigue to save her family, her husband and the old US of A.  Finding someone you want to marry is not particularly easy, but it is frightening how quickly one can succumb to comfort and routine once the union is formed which takes the supposed “love of your life” immediately for granted.  Helen proves that to forgive is truly divine, but Harry really was a royal jerk for keeping that kind of secret from her, even if it was for her own protection.



1) Jennifer in Marley & Me (2008)

Any long lasting relationship needs love and its complimentary emotions to deal with the inevitable stress life throws our way.  John Grogan is a decent guy all around, but gets freaked out by his wife’s desire to have children.  John uses Marley the puppy as a delaying tactic, but winds up introducing even more stress to their lives.  Jennifer is constantly berated with issues like uncertainties with her husband’s job, unsafe neighborhoods, her biological clock and the K9 from hell.  She loses her temper frequently, but keeps it together and apologizes for hurtful comments made in the heat of the moment.  She genuinely cares for her man with moments like throwing a surprise birthday party as well as giving him his special gift afterwards.  She even makes herself and the children available to take a huge risk by moving to a completely new city, just because John wants a crack at reporting for a newspaper as opposed to simply writing columns.  This is the kind of woman who desires true partnership and a willingness to be with you through thick and thin.  Valentine’s Day is an extra day of appreciation for this kind of person in your life should you be blessed to have one.

Movie News Reviews

The Future of Hollywood Entertainment through The Avengers’ Eyes

Guess What?  It’s Still Good and Still Worth Your Money

A Meta-Review of The Avengers

By: Lawrence Napoli



Here we are, faithful, three weeks removed from the release of The Avengers and (hopefully) you have all subjected yourselves to the unmitigated joy and undeniable fun that can be found within.  Our three part podcast discussion covers the major bullet points of what generally worked and what may have fallen short, so please refer to that for any specifics (spoiler free, of course!).  This article seeks to solidify my opinions, observe this film’s affects despite its short history and project what it all means for Hollywood, adaptations, the comic book industry and the future of entertaining us all: the nameless, faceless consumers.

The Avengers is a text book lesson in summer blockbuster movie production and a helpful refresher course in “Making IP adaptations work on celluloid.”  The likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Uwe Boll should take note.  This film’s hype rivaled the coming of a new Star Wars trilogy, thus the margin for error was fairly small as the shrieks of fanboys are not easily silenced thanks to the internet.  The Avengers is a film that is equal to the task by incorporating a hefty amount of character development with a fairly simple (some would argue as “cookie-cutter”) plot while using an intimidating amount of CG to make the impossible look and feel real.  It is true that every director doesn’t have access to Mickey Mouse’s wallet, but it really wasn’t the massive set pieces, explosions, CG aliens, and wowing visual effects that made this film great.  It was really about the characters themselves and the performances that conveyed a natural chemistry, camaraderie and oft overlooked believability of such iconic personalities in close proximity to each other.  Every Avenger is connected and relevant.  Every Avenger has screen time.  Although some were overused (Hawkeye) and some may have been underused (Captain America), no Avenger was left behind as balance was clearly on Joss Whedon’s mind at every stage of this film’s production.  The action constantly escalates, the comedy eases the pace, and the dénouement combined with the final reveal not only satisfies the viewer, it compels him or her to maintain a vested interest in the future fiction of this franchise. 

Sounds like a pretty good time right?  Unfortunately, the other constant in life besides death and taxes are haters, and even a film like The Avengers has a couple of curious instances of marquee level criticism that caught my attention.  The first has to be the rather tepid review this film received in Entertainment Weekly.  I am not so self indulgent as to criticize another film review (I won’t even acknowledge the writer’s name), but the references and plot synopsis within said article are inaccurate to the extent that I question whether the writer actually saw the film as opposed to forming an opinion out of rough cuts and press releases.  Entertaining opinion is what we do ladies and gentlemen, but realizing that everyone on the Internet, reading magazines and watching TV are having their opinions formed by these featured observations is a fact that ought to demand a level of professionalism beyond flippant whimsy.  Please everyone, express your opinions, but for those in the media I must add that we must get beyond the “what” and express the “why.”  This is what allows even a negative review or opinion for a film to be valuable to the reader beyond turning them off to the film entirely.  For instance, I do feel that Joss Whedon went to the CG well once too often for the effects and action sequences in The Avengers which added to its plastic visual style and overall absurdity of what was actually happening onscreen.  That was the “what” and by itself represents a basic, but negative observation that might turn readers off to CG heavy films.  However, the scale of danger to the planet within the story demands an equally epic nature to the grandiosity of the effects that simply cannot be expressed practically with wire work and pyro.  That was the “why” which seeks to justify a necessary evil in the final product because fireworks for explosions just aren’t going to cut it.  Thus, any viewers who may prefer a little less CG in their films are tipped off, but if they are drawn to plots that are dangerously planetary, their interests may be peaked.

The next was the well publicized feud Samuel L. Jackson had with a certain film reviewer from the New York Times for producing an unimpressed opinion of The Avengers.  Once Sam started firing his displeasure over the article via Twitter, many were quick to defend the reviewer for simply expressing an opinion.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side you personally agree with because both were expressing their feelings in an industry where doing so gets you paid.  I found it odd and somewhat refreshing to see a major media entity to not simply get down on its knees for the summer juggernaut that is The Avengers because the unwritten rule is: the larger the media conglomerate, the higher the probability for it to acquiesce to anything resembling positive reception so as to maximize profit by conforming to the mainstream.  The remarkable thing about this entire confrontation is that in this day and age, with the technology Americans have at our disposal, an actual dialogue can result once something is written, recorded or filmed and then distributed by the media machine.  Social media generates intrigue because it is an active way to digest information by giving the consumer an opportunity to respond.

Let’s take a look at some of the cold, hard facts in regards to The Avengers and in Hollywood land, the only facts that matter are dollars.  With an initial budget of $220 million dollars, this film is the kind of production that is looking to print its own money, but if it misses, jobs will be lost, careers will be tarnished and stock prices could take a dip.  The Avengers proceeded to set the all time record in money made in its (domestic) debut weekend to the tune of just over $207 million dollars, effectively making back its budget in less than a week.  Globally, the film has already made over $1 billion dollars and it’s only been out for 3 weeks in this country.  Even at this early point, one can say in full confidence that this film is an absolute commercial success.  Some are even making claims that it could challenge the all time cinematic money king: Avatar, but it appears even these super heroes are not immune to the law of 50% diminishing returns at the box office.  Weekend #2 yielded a gross of $103 million while weekend #3 generated $55 million.  Sure, this film is still raking in the cash and is still number one at the box office, but its rate of intake is sputtering worse than a Dodge Neon, and it’s a long road to the $3 billion dollar mark.  Still, it doesn’t take an MBA to interpret these kind of numbers as a globally positive reception for this product, and it doesn’t require the reanimation of Nostradamus to predict that the Disney/Marvel alliance will continue to expand its roster of superhero films knowing full well that regardless of their individual performances, the true pay day exists years later when even more characters are drawn into the super film Avengers 2 or whatever they wind up calling it.  This film will continue to be profitable for as long as theatres decide to keep screening it.  If they are smart, they’ll have at least 1 screen reserved for it for the whole summer.

So what does this all mean for the future of cinematic entertainment?  Well, the immediate future sees a record setting run for The Avengers which proves that people sincerely enjoy this type of entertainment regardless of their familiarity with the source material.  It also means that the only other film that has a realistic shot at challenging this phenomenon, The Dark Knight Rises, has a very difficult task ahead of it with no Heath Ledger incident to artificially boost its exposure.  There are a number of reasons why TDKR WILL NOT match, let alone exceed, The Avengers at the box office, and some involve Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph-Gordon Levitt as NOT Robin, NOT Nightwing or NOT Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael.  However, the big reasons why we should crown The Avengers as the box office king of 2012 right now are far more obvious.  TDKR gets released awfully late in the summer season on July 20th, it cuts right in the middle of The Amazing Spider-Man’s run (released on July 4th’s weekend) and last, but not least, involves the end of the trilogy, franchise and gathering of all the fine actors attached to Chris Nolan’s reinvention of DC’s most valued asset.  We’ve seen so many Easter Eggs at the end of these types of films that suggest the possibility of more around the corner that we’ve taken them for granted.  How can Chris Nolan possibly satisfy the audience when we know that no matter what happens onscreen, the story is done?  Whether additional sequels are green-lit for these kinds of productions is not important.  It is the hope (false or otherwise) of the possibility for a further evolution of the story that adds that extra level of interest to it.  Of course, this only works if the movie was actually good and has little to no affect for the ones that we’d like to forget.  Did anyone really care that it looked like “Africa wouldn’t allow” Alan Quartermain to remain deceased at the end of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)?  

The long term future of Hollywood entertainment is somewhat alarming in that certain industry trends will have an impact on the quality of its product without reducing the cost to the audience.  The telling of stories involves the construction and application of ideas, and the only way to get those thoughts out of people’s minds is through good writing.  You’ve all seen a significant downturn in the quality of this element in Hollywood films, so should it be to no one’s surprise that Hollywood has all but deferred to the comic book industry to be the engine for nearly 100% of its action/adventure/sci-fi films?  It was smart and mutually beneficial for Buena Vista to acquire Marvel, but how smart is it to simply own the rights to an established success without being thorough in the proper adaptation of said license? 

Geoff Johns rose to the top of DC’s food chain by reinvigorating the Green Lantern comic books with fresh and edgy writing.  He all but single-handedly made that character second to Batman in terms of popularity.  He also was a co-producer for the Green Lantern film adaptation and so he shares a direct responsibility for that extremely poor production.  How on Earth could such a successful alpha male in the comic book industry allow his “adoptive baby” to be kidnapped like that?  At last year’s New York City Comicon, I was waiting in line to meet Amanda Conner and a few of her associates were discussing comic adaptations in general and her husband’s experience with the atrociously made Jonah Hex adaptation in particular.  To which Amanda Conner stated, “You don’t handle Hollywood.  Hollywood handles you,” which sums up the problem quite perfectly.  Studios only care about the name of whatever license they’ve purchased.  They don’t care about story, character and the boundaries established by both as evidenced by the fact that Hollywood productions rarely involve comic book creators during actual productions beyond the role of “consultants” which really shouldn’t apply because they are being ignored.  If Hollywood is too lazy to produce the next Die Hard, Terminator, or Alien (all of which originated from Hollywood during the 80s and early 90s) then they should subcontract entire productions to the comic book industry all together because clearly, Hollywood directors, writers and producers haven’t a clue despite thinking they have some unquestionable authority over anything that requires pointing a camera at.  This industry trend is only going to get worse because Hollywood doesn’t care about “doing it right.”  Even deplorable films like Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and LXG make enough profits in rental, retail and global ticket sales for the concept of “quality” to be completely null and void. 

The other troubling trend I see in Hollywood is how globalization has seeped into its bloodstream like malaria and is causing the outsourcing of the last great American industry.  Twenty or so years ago American studios couldn’t care less about global ticket sales at the box office because a film’s performance in the domestic market was the benchmark for all the deals that get made on the studio’s behalf in terms of distribution and licensing.  Today, the international market is more important, and we have the economic rise of China to thank for that.  Business is a numbers game, and like any other business, Hollywood seeks to constantly increase profits.  There are more non-Americans than there are Americans in the world so why should Hollywood seek to limit its audience?  It is an economic model that is eerily similar to Nintendo’s marketing and production of the Wii (a game system that clearly caters to non-gamers as opposed to gamers).  We see shades of Hollywood’s preference for the international market in the fact that Europe got to see The Avengers on April 26th of this year (more than a week before the US).  We see hints of Hollywood’s desire to exploit the international market in the fact that Disney is making Iron Man 3 as a 50% co-production with DMG Entertainment, a Chinese production company.   It remains to be seen how the shifting focus to the international market will affect the quality of Hollywood films here at home, but if we take every other American business that has done so to maximize profits, the future doesn’t seem pleasant.  For example, it practically took the entire American economy to melt down before our auto industry started making cars that we actually wanted to buy.  Iron Man 3 is going to be the next significant step in this process and will greatly determine the extent to which China influences Hollywood for the foreseeable future. (Editor’s Note: China recently purchased AMC Theaters – American Made Matt).

The Avengers is a movie that is an experiment in super-filmmaking that has its sights set on profits much larger than even the most gullible American markets can provide.  It’s the kind of fanboy adaptation that has me excited to see more characters and larger crossovers, but it also makes me wonder that in the interest of maximum economic efficiency if I will ever see an adaptation of Superman through the eyes of an entirely Chinese production company.  How far removed is Iron Man from Superman to non-comic book industry professionals and fans?  Something about that last thought seems all too wrong, not because Superman himself is considered an American (he’s not, he’s Kryptonian), but the idea of Superman, truth, justice, so on and so forth IS American and the possibility of selling that idea out to China, on top of everything else, is stomach turning.  I constantly lobby for higher quality in the production of Hollywood films in my reviews, but never once did it occur to me with the ever decreasing sales in the domestic market that Hollywood could give America the finger and relocate overseas, until this moment.  Sure, a lot of doomsday scenarios would have to play out in the business world for that to happen, but the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me gravitates to the extreme negative.  The future seems bright for Hollywood, but its potential to “flame on” is equaled by its potential to flameout here in the US of A, leaving the rest of us out in the cold.