This weekend I, like so many other Netflix users around the world, sat down and binge-watched the second season of The Umbrella Academy. When the first series came out, I didn’t know much about it. All I knew was that it was based on a comic book series written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. Now, I admit that Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is one of my guilty pleasure albums but I’ve long outgrown MCR. I didn’t expect to enjoy the show but Netflix is clever. It kept playing the trailer over and over until I couldn’t help but watch. I was quickly obsessed. It was a great show and the soundtrack was phenomenal. It felt new and nostalgic at the same time. I couldn’t wait for the follow-up season and, though the narrative wasn’t quite as slick, it was still bloody entertaining. So, when I realised I wouldn’t finish a book in time for today’s review, I knew I had to do something drastic. I bought the Kindle edition of the first volume of the comics. I had to see for myself.
Last weekend was International Women’s Day. The one day a year when all of the pathetic men out there can go on social media and say “er… but when is International Men’s Day?” Yep, you can really see why the patriarchy has thrived for so fucking long, can’t you? It’s such a fun time. Still, the day is always a good excuse to celebrate women and their impact on the world. Reading books by female writers or watching films directed/written by women. This week I’ve been reading the final part in Alexis Marie Chute’s fantasy trilogy. I’ve also been watching some fantastic female superheroes. So, I decided to carry on the comic book theme and discuss some of my top female characters. Most of them will be very obvious because I’m an obvious person and I’ll miss out plenty I’m sure. There are just too many of them!
In the Marvel vs DC debate, I’ve not been the kind of person who shows loyalty to one over the other. It’s weird. There are characters on both sides that I love and those that I don’t care about. I’m not entirely sure that it’s as much of a thing as it used to be now that so many people have been introduced to graphic novels and comics. Maybe I’m just naive though. I’m just happy to embrace anything well-written and well-drawn. However, that’s only for the comic. When it comes to the film side of things, I’m a Marvel gal all the way. DC films just haven’t had the same impact on me. They’ve just never been able to match the skill and precision that Marvel has become known for. And I don’t say that trying to pretend that Marvel films are perfect because there are still plenty of flaws. It’s just that they have embraced different approaches and have such a tight grip of where they’re going. Some might call it overthinking or overplanning but it’s clearly working. Just look at those box office figures mixed with the critical response.
When we discuss Batman storylines, Hush has to be up there with the best of them. The original story arc was written by Jeph Loeb and ran from December 2002 to November 2003. The artwork by Jim Lee is phenomenal and Hush features some absolutely great moments. It’s also kind of dodgy in its own way but not everything can be perfect? Whatever you might think about it, Hush made sense for an adaptation because it was already so cinematic in scope. The artwork was already begging to be shown on the big screen and the story includes so many well-known faces. So, it makes sense that this year Hush was finally going to be adapted as one of DC’s straight-to-video animated features. And, after listening to the Empire podcast discussion about Batman and Superman in the movies, I was feeling a bit inspired. I don’t tend to give DC the same attention that I give Marvel. So, despite the fact that I’ve got my copy of Endgame calling to me to watch it over and over again, I sat down to celebrate its rivals.
Who knows if there will ever be another film event like Avengers: Endgame. It was a film that had major consequences for fans and for the entire MCU. With half of the people in the universe going MIA for 5 years, we were left with an interesting situation. The people who were left behind had mourned, possibly moved on, and aged since their loved ones disappeared. How were Marvel going to deal with this in their first film after the event? And how exactly has the loss of Iron Man and Captain America had on the world as we knew it? I was excited to find out. Marvel have always dealt with the aftermath pretty well. Iron Man 3 broke the traditional superhero movie mould when it portrayed Tony Stark dealing with PTSD. And then, during the events of Endgame, Tony was coming to terms with seeing Peter Parker get snapped. So, considering how everything went down a few months ago, how is Spider-Man coping after losing his mentor and father figure?
Marvel may have cornered the market for superhero movies but the first two X-Men films are still two of the most influential and well-made comic book movies of the last 20 years. Bryan Singer’s first two mutant-based films changed the game and, arguably, paved the way for the last 11 years of Marvel greatness. But it hasn’t been plain sailing since those early days. As much as we like to forget about it The Last Stand was horrific and only seemed better once X:Men Origins came out 3 years later. The reboot/prequel series that started with X-Men: First Class in 2011 and, for a little while, everything looked okay. Days of Future Past was as fantastic as we all wanted but then Apocalypse. Boy, was that a whole load of nothing. Basically, it’s been difficult being a film fan and a lover of these comics. So, when Disney took over 20th Century Fox recently, it looked as though we might finally get to see the X-Men film that we all deserve. It just might take a really long time. So, if I continue to not count New Mutants, Dark Phoenix is going to be our last real look at these characters in the cinema. Which makes it a massive shame that people seemed determined to ruin it before it even hit cinemas.
I’ve not had the best history with DC films. I loved Wonder Woman but part of me suspects that I just got caught up in all the celebration. I mean, she was the first female superhero to get her own film. I was already going in feeling excited. I haven’t seen Aquaman yet and I’ve only made it halfway through Justice League. However, I’m pretty confident in saying that my relationship with the DCEU is dicey. So, when it was announced that they were going to release Shazam! I remained unconvinced it would change my opinion. Then I saw the trailer. And it looked really good. I was still kind of skeptical of DC trying to go down the Marvel route after so much Zack Snyder but it seemed like it could work. I mean Zachary Levi as the lead and Mark Strong as the villain? Both of those things sounded great to me. And it’s about time DC had a little bit of fun, right? Shazam! looked like it was going to be a great change of pace.
It’s safe to say that there was a lot riding on this film for me. I found Wonder Woman to be a fantastic celebration of female superheroes. So much so that, as you may remember, I started tearing up during the opening scene. But I’ve never been that big a fan of Wonder Woman as a character. I’d not really read the comics and I’d not seen the TV show. She wasn’t really on my radar. Unlike Carol. I love Carol. I loved her as Ms Marvel. I love her as Captain Marvel. I love the idea of Brie Larson playing her. This film definitely sounded like it was being made for someone like me. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to be loved. A difficult thing considering it was already under threat of trolls before its opening weekend. Let’s be honest, this was never going to be given a fair hearing from a lot of male fans and film critics. You know who I mean: men who see themselves as being as cool as Tony Stark, as sweet as Steve Rogers, and as intelligent as Bruce Banner. But men who are, in actuality, only as cringe-inducing as the Spider-Man 3‘s dancing Peter Parker. I know it’s what we’ve come to expect from pathetic fan boys and the fragile white male ego but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier to stomach. But let’s not give them any more attention and get on with the real work.
I’ve only just started it but this is already turning out to be an extremely odd post to write. For one thing, it’s that time between Christmas and New Year when nobody ever knows what day it is so I wasn’t expecting to have to post until tomorrow. For another, I’ve already posted my Top 10 Films of the Year list with this in the top spot. So, it feels like I’ve already reviewed this and should probably just move on. Finally, my family and I only really celebrated Christmas together today. We exchanged presents after a New Year’s Day lunch and it’s making it even harder to figure out what day it is. I just don’t know what to do. It’s going to take the rest of the month before I really know what day it is. But who cares. At the very least, I have a wonderful day with the people I love and I’m planning on finishing (or getting as close as possible to finishing) my current read before I go to bed tonight. If the first day is anything to go by, 2019 could turn out to be quite a lovely year. But then again, the world is still going to shit… if only superheroes were real and could sort this mess out for us.
I’ve been behind the Ant-Man series of films since the first rumblings of an adaptation. Yes, he might not be the obvious choice for a standalone movie and he may not be the most impressive of all the potential Marvel heroes. But I like him. And initially having Edgar Wright sign on as the co-writer and director only helped to increase my excitement. Unfortunately, as we now know, that was to be nothing but a fantastic dream. Though we also know that the first Ant-Man film was pretty good all things considered. It wasn’t the film we had expected or even the film he deserved but it was entertaining and charming. Paul Rudd has proved, every time he’s donned his shrinking suit, that he is the perfect choice to play Scott Lang. He was a true high point in Civil War and was sorely missed in Infinity War. So, the question was, what exactly was Scott doing whilst his friends were trying to stop Thanos from snapping half of the Earth’s population to dust? Well, thankfully Ant-Man and the Wasp is here to answer it… with added Michell Pfieffer.