Sam Rockwell clearly needs to play Multiple Man

CREDIT: 	David Shankbone

CREDIT: David Shankbone


After X-Men: Apocalypse, the main lineage of X-Men movies seems to be waning. Supernova (or whatever the title ends up being) could resurrect interest in the franchise, or it could retread water and end up a moderately better version of The Last Stand. Whatever it ends up being, it needs to not be three hours long like Apocalypse.

But that brings us to something else: the recent success of the franchise hasn’t been in the sequels, but the sidequels. Logan drew rave reviews, even in untraditional places. Legion is setting a new standard of weird on TV while hinting at a bigger story integrally tied to the movies while existing as a separate entity. Deadpool is a verifiable cult hit. After a few missteps, the X-Men spinoff attempts seem to finally be hitting their stride.

This is exactly why Sam Rockwell needs to play Jamie Madrox in an X-Factor Investigations movie.
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JBL must go.

There’s no way around it—JBL has to go.

WWE’s bullying culture has been known for decades, but some unfortunate timing and sympathetic victims have launched the issue into the mainstream. Much of the judgment has swirled around John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a former cowboy-themed / occult-bodyguard themed / J.R. Ewing-themed wrestler-turned-Fox Business analyst-turned color commentator.
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JBL’s penchant for bullying has been well documented, but a confluence of two victims’ stories has recently focused a spotlight on his behavior. Play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo is likely done with WWE as a result of how JBL’s bullying preyed on Ranallo’s battle with bipolar disorder. Former ring announcer Justin Roberts recently published Best Seat in the House, in which he speaks frankly about his experience on the receiving end of WWE’s bullying culture.

WWE is hardly the first company—or organization—to have a history of bullying, but locker-room justice is a blunt object that’s hard to align with an organization’s values.

Veterans coming to JBL’s defense have been pointing out that this is a thread running back to the history of the business. Whether it’s sports, fraternities or the military, hazing and bullying have long been leveraged to build bonds between participants who need to trust their colleagues, and to preemptively weed out those who can’t handle the pressure before the eventual caving can cause damage. And in a business like professional wrestling, trust and reliability are essential to the safety of the talent.
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Culture has power; a 2016 DeLoitte survey showed 82 percent of global respondents believe culture is a competitive advantage. Companies are increasingly learning about the importance of clearly defining and taking ownership of their culture, cultivating it with care and harnessing its potential to drive their business.

And that’s why WWE needs to part ways with JBL sooner rather than later. For WWE to fully reap the benefits of its bullying culture, they need someone who truly excels at preying on the less powerful on all fronts; JBL is not that man. (more…)



I-Earn Fists:
Iron Fist: Episode 1

iron-fist-with-fist

Welcome to I-Earn Fists, the review of Netflix’s Iron Fist, where I assess attributes of each episode based on how many fists they earn. Given the limitations of the human body, these assessments will be made on a scale of zero fists to two fists, where earning zero fists means “bad” and earning two fists means “great” and earning one fist means “okay.”

Scratch that, I haven’t reviewed a thing yet, so let’s change the rules. Fists will now be earned based on punishment that needs to be dealt. If you earn zero fists, you’re doing all right! But if you earn ten fists, you’ve earned yourself a beating!

I’ll tell you why I called this audible: I expect bad things from this show. It’s terribly reviewed, but garbage like Daredevil got pretty positive reviews. If something as bad as Daredevil gets good reviews and this thing gets piled on, it’s probably going to earn a lot of fists.

Before watching a second of this show, I will tell you that I love Iron Fist, the comic book character. I became a fan late during the Brubaker / Fraction run, and I despise his rendition in the recent Power Man and Iron Fist series, where he’s little more than comic relief.

NEW POWER MAN AND IRON FIST SERIES: “How many fists do I-Earn?”
JIM DOOM: “You earn 10 out of 10 fists!”

fist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-smallfist-small

There, that’s how it’ll work. Spoilers and fists follow.
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Doom & Doomer: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman v superman posterDOOM DELUISE: Hello, and welcome to the latest installment of Doom and Doomer, wherein Jim Doom and I take a back-and-forth look at comic book movies.

Today, we discuss Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the sequel to 2013’s abysmal Man of Steel. Was this film able to rise above that one, or is this whole DC Comics Cinematic Universe doomed before it’s barely even started?

We’ll get to that eventually, but overall, in regards to Batman v Superman, what did you think, Jim?

JIM DOOM: I think I told you that I was going in with an open mind, ready to be pleasantly surprised. But I have to be honest, even with good intentions I was ready and eager to hate this movie with all my heart.

And it’s still not the movie I would have made, and I still won’t be all that bothered if Zack Snyder gets booted from the franchise (and it looks like that might happen sooner rather than later), but this movie at least did a lot of the things right that I think Man of Steel did wrong, and while that’s basically the measuring stick that I hold it against, it makes me more hopeful for the movies that are coming up.

So where should we start? All the things that are terrible about it? Because I really hate the terrible things, and there were plenty.

DOOM DELUISE: Sure, we can start with the terrible things, but then I don’t think we’ll have much left to talk about after that’s out of the way. (more…)



Triple H Is Leaving As Champ: Wrestlemania 32 Prediction

I’ve been saying it for months now, ever since Triple H won the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble:

He’s leaving Wrestlemania as champion.

It’s not necessarily for any one reason, but as is always the case when the winds shift at the last minute in his storyline favor—for a confluence of reasons that just happen to align at just the right time.

It’s no secret to anyone that Roman Reigns is not getting over as WWE’s lead babyface. Nor is it any secret, particularly after this past week when they had to cut essentially the same promo twice, that The Authority is a tired force lording over WWE programming. Furthermore, the talent roster is thin—particularly following some ill-timed injuries—and in need of an injection of fresh blood.

And Triple H just happens to provide the silver bullet for all of their problems.

wweSo first thing’s first—how does Triple H leave Wrestlemania as champion when they’ve spent so much time and effort building up Roman Reigns as the new top face?

I’m old enough to remember when WWE invested time and money into a particular anti-Authority wrestler, on a path to topple the power-abusers and show once and for all that they could be beaten. And then, even after the storyline had played out over two calendar years, WWE made the decision at the last second to change the finish and have Triple H go over, throwing away all of the buildup for a finish that made no sense.

That was last year.
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Batman vs Superman in the Comics

Batman vs Superman Dark Knight ReturnsUnless you’ve been living under Iraq (quick, what’s the statute of limitations on making puns about Saddam in his hidey-hole?), you’ll know that Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is hitting theatres this weekend, and it seems poised to shatter some records at the box office, to say nothing of its title characters’ bones.

Now, personally, I have pretty much the same reaction to a screening of Zack Snyder’s version of this fight as I do to a dog eating its own poop: Yes, I know it’s happening all over the world this weekend, but I don’t much feel like seeking it out and paying money to watch.

See, to me, the most appealing thing about watching Batman and Superman get into a fight is in seeing the contrast between the two characters. Every time they lock up in the comic books, those differences are always highlighted so that the reader can easily pick a side in the fight (hint: It’s Batman. It’s always Batman).

But in the movie — at least from what I’ve seen of it in the trailers, which is probably all of it, let’s be real — those differences have all but been erased thanks to the efforts of DC/WB to make Superman fit into the world of the Dark Knight.

Instead of the overly-patriotic, relentlessly optimistic “Big Blue Boy Scout,” this film seems to be giving us a militaristic, angsty, tortured soul dressed in a dark costume and forced to scowl for two and a half hours straight. Cracking a smile is this Superman’s Kryptonite. (more…)



Rated ‘D’ for Doom: A Look at Superhero Movies in 2016

Hello, and welcome to another installment of “Rated ‘D’ for Doom,” my annual look at the year’s upcoming superhero movies!

Now, before we move into the current year, I always like to take a moment to reflect on the prior year’s releases and see how they fared.

Last year, we only had three big releases in the genre, and boy were they all over the place in terms of success. They were all three Marvel properties, though only two were released by Marvel Studios.

I’m speaking, of course, about Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Fantastic Four. The first two were both critical and commercial successes, though the sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers (nobody calls it that) couldn’t help but be a bit of a let-down, considering the level of expectations surrounding it.

At the time of its release, Jim Doom and I discussed it at length, though my thoughts on it have changed a little bit over the past few months, and not in a good way. I think I’d be hard-pressed to justify ever watching it all the way through again, what with how long it is and how little happens in it.

Ant-Man was also a movie that came out last year, though I don’t know if I could tell you a single scene from it that stands out today (that I’m not simply remembering from the trailer, that is). It’s just a really forgettable movie with a formulaic ending.

And, lastly, we have Fantastic Four, the only non-Marvel Studios superhero movie that came out last year. The less we say about it, the better. I saw it. I regret seeing it. Let’s move on.

This is a new year, Jack! And if you like superhero movies, well, you’d better get ready to drop some serious coinage. In 2016, we have SEVEN new superhero movies coming out, and that’s actually down from what was originally slated, as Sony had to scrap Sinister Six after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shit the bed and ruined that entire “shared universe” that they were hoping so hard for.

The good news out of that whole debacle is that Spider-Man will appear in one of the movies coming out this year! And it’s alongside the other Avengers! There aren’t enough exclamation points for this!

We’ll get to that soon enough, though. For now, let’s run these films down, one by one, and we’ll talk about Spider-Man when the time is right. (more…)



New Japan Acquisitions: Is This WWF 1984 or WWF 1999?

The news this week that four New Japan stars may soon be headed to WWE has sparked some unexpected and intriguing speculation about WWE’s plans for this talent, particularly revolving around the former members of New Japan’s Bullet Club.

It’s the kind of thing that has me completely flipping my opinion on whether I’d like to see Finn Balor in WWE.

bc2Prior to this week, if you’d asked me if I’d like to see Balor get called up to the main roster, I’d have said “No” without hesitation. Whether it’s the embarrassing mishandling of money main-eventers (Sasha Banks) or the midcarders who still deserve better than instant obscurity (Tyler Breeze), it’s becoming increasingly clear that the creative force(s) driving WWE’s main-roster product have absolutely no idea what to do with NXT talent.

But the prospect of putting Balor at the helm of an American version of the Bullet Club on WWE TV has me more excited for potential storylines on Raw than anything has in a while–because Balor and a Club of talent that got big in Japan on WWE’s main roster would signal that they’re finally recognizing top talent can come from somewhere else. It’d be indicative of a perception shift that hasn’t budged since roughly May of 2001.

That excitement is because I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s making some assumptions as to what kind of acquisition this is. And there’s pretty good reason to assume this isn’t the kind of acquisition I’m excited about.
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Thoughts on Leto’s Joker

I was skeptical of the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker.
He didn’t look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker.

He didn’t sound like Jack Nicholson’s Joker.

He didn’t act like Jack Nicholson’s Joker.

But once we saw him, it was clear that the way he looked, sounded and acted was awesome.

A lot of the most noticeable discussion around Jared Leto’s Joker, as revealed fully in the new Suicide Squad trailer yearerday, involves these comparisons, as do the inevitable defenses.

“Oh, you just don’t like it because it’s such a different take on The Joker from what Heath Ledger did.”

And that’s true.

Jared Leto’s Joker doesn’t look like Heath Ledger’s Joker.

He doesn’t sound like Heath Ledger’s Joker.

He doesn’t act like Heath Ledger’s Joker.

That’s ok. None of those comparisons are necessary.

Because Jared Leto’s Joker doesn’t look, sound or act in a way that I would describe as awesome.

The comparisons are irrelevant. 

What is relevant is the fact that his portrayal looks and sounds really stupid. 



Dawn of Justice trailer review: Revealing Superman’s true identity

The expression on Superman’s face at the beginning of the trailer for Dawn of Justice really sums up the tone:

“I don’t have time to explain to these stupid people how lucky they are that I’m clumsily destroying their city.

“But if you’re going to make me explain myself…” (sigh) “…I’ll humor you.”

(It doesn’t help that Henry Cavill plays this disdainful character perfectly.)

I’ll admit that this trailer made me more excited for the movie than I had been. The previous trailer looked as if Zack Snyder was just redoing Watchmen, only this time with more valuable intellectual properties. Almost entirely thanks to how great Ben Affleck appears to be playing Batman, I’m significantly more excited — but not without skepticism.

I hated Man of Steel. I thought it was a terrible movie that made no sense as a Superman movie.

“If you want to make that movie,” I thought to myself and said out loud to anyone who would listen, “why make a Superman movie?”

Snyder recently told Entertainment Weekly that the destruction in Man of Steel was always part of the point — that there would be consequences for what happened.

Barring anything short of leaked emails from screenwriting discussions before the production of Man of Steel, I would be willing to guarantee you Zack Snyder is lying.

And the main piece of evidence is the movie he made.

Half the city is laid waste, and what does Superman do? He stops to make out with Lois Lane.

There is absolutely zero acknowledgment of the consequences amid the damage. Absolutely none! Snyder has gone on to say that the “thesis of Superman” is “that you can’t just have superheroes knock around and have there be no consequences.”

Beyond the point that WHEN HAS THAT EVER BEEN THE THESIS OF SUPERMAN? (which supports the idea that Zack Snyder was not setting out to make a Superman movie, but an indulgent Zack Snyder movie using DC’s properties) that theme was not reflected in Man of Steel at all.

Snyder’s defenses betray an exasperation — “I don’t have time to explain to these stupid people how lucky they are that I’m making epic films for them.”

And I’m afraid that explains what we see in this trailer.

Given the fact that there is absolutely no evidence for Snyder’s claim in the film he made, his defenses come off as baseless rationalizations. He has to pretend this was what it was all about to begin with.

And now he’s made a movie to bring those rationalizations to life.

The theme of this trailer is clearly that Superman is a benevolent godlike creature who is here to save us in spite of ourselves. Whether it’s our rash and cruel judgment (Batman) or our cynical fear (Luthor) only we as humans can really deny ourselves the salvation we desire.

The symbolism reflecting Snyder’s disingenuous quest to legitimize his blockbuster blunder suffering under the knife of jealous critics and insecure fanboys is a little creepy.

I really hope I’m wrong about this. Visually, Dawn of Justice looks like it’s going to be exciting. And I am fully aware of the fact that you can’t judge a movie based on a selectively edited trailer.

CJzHAU5WgAAfa0mAnd I hope that’s the case! Because when you peel back the spectacle and step back and look at this, what do you have?

A contemptible Superman who offers audiences absolutely nothing to sympathize with.

A Batman who appears set up to be a rage-fueled madman hellbent on crippling Superman for no real reason.

Humanity, through the form of the masses and the politicians, who appear to desire nothing more than to be led.

Who wants to watch a movie like that?

I’m clearly skeptical, but also hopeful this might end up being halfway decent, so I showed my girlfriend the trailer to get her opinion. She liked Avengers and the Thor movies (largely because of Chris Hemsworth) but has no dog in the comic book movie fight. She never saw Man of Steel (which is a good thing, because the movie is terrible).

Her first words — “My jaw dropped.”

I was surprised — maybe this looks good after all! So I asked, “You’re excited to see it?”

She was, but for one reason — to see Batman kick Superman’s ass.

“It took me about half a second to be on Team Batman,” she said.

As cool as Batman looks here (He wears armor! He’s in an inexplicable fight in the desert!) there’s little about this trailer, through the apparent moralizing and positioning, that suggests Batman is going to win this fight.

It concerns me that Snyder and DC are so unaware of their completely unlikeable take on Superman that they’re setting up a downer of a movie.