Category: rants & nostalgia

The Case for the Snyder Cut

black suit superman justice league snyder cutOver the past few months, we’ve seen a slow-drip of news stories detailing what Zack Snyder’s version of the much-maligned Justice League film would’ve looked like, had it ever been completed (famously, Snyder left the project midway through due to a family tragedy and was replaced by Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers).

But, then, this week, that slow-dripping turned into a full-on flood, as Snyder himself finally opened up a bit about it in a fan Q&A, at The Director’s Cut panel at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.

The big thing that fanboys have latched onto from the event is the quote of Snyder saying they needed to “grow the [F] up” if they thought that Batman wasn’t a cold-blooded killer of criminals.

That quote, and the idea behind it, has been one of the primary criticisms of his short run of DCEU films, beginning with Man of Steel, continuing on through Batman v Superman, and partially bleeding into Justice League.

Most fans of the comics agree that Batman (and Superman) don’t kill criminals for several very good reasons – that is, it’s not heroic; it alienates the characters from a younger audience; and it makes them no better than the criminals they’re trying to bring in.

Batman in particular already walks a very fine line when it comes to his nighttime vigilantism.

I can’t imagine a world in which the Gotham City Police Commissioner has a Batman-signaling device on the roof of police headquarters while Batman is out murdering criminals. It just doesn’t make any sense.

But I digress. While it’s a stupid quote, it’s by no means the worst thing Snyder said in his Q&A last weekend. (more…)



Theory: Loki is the Main Villain in Avengers: Endgame

loki infinity war
This morning, I posted a rather brilliant (IMO) theory about how Loki is still alive in Avengers: Infinity War, posing as his brother Thor ever since Thanos destroyed their Asgardian ship at the start of the film.

While writing that theory out, I merely wanted to make a case for Loki faking his death somehow at the start of the film and masquerading throughout the rest of it as his brother.

But I stopped short of theorizing on any of the main details of his Master Plan.

So let’s do that now:

Loki is the ultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he’s been using Thanos since the first Avengers movie to collect the Infinity Stones on his behalf, so that he can exact his revenge on The Avengers and rule the entire universe.

While I like the character of Thanos, and I appreciate how much work Marvel spent trying to build him up as their main Big Bad, he’s still nowhere near as villainous as Loki.

Thanos has a relatively well thought-out plan (if you ignore the fact his “snap” could just double the amount of resources rather than removing half of the population consuming those resources, if that’s really what he’s so worried about), but he’s not altogether evil.

He seems to have the greater good in mind, which makes for a sympathetic bad guy, but there’s no room for subtlety or nuance in a movie featuring talking raccoons and flying wizards.

What Endgame needs is a villain worthy of all this buildup. They need a mustache-twirler. They need somebody who not only bested all of the Avengers physically, but who outsmarted them, as well.

In other words, they need Loki.

Let’s go back in time and examine a few clues. (more…)



Loki is Alive and Well in Infinity War

Before we start, I think I should probably slap a spoiler warning up here. What is to follow is entirely speculation, but I feel like it’s so completely plausible that it might actually end up spoiling a significant plot twist in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

avengers infinity war poster high res
If you recall, back in the last Avengers movie, Infinity War, when we first meet the Guardians of the Galaxy, they’re answering a distress beacon.

As they arrive at the beacon’s source, they find the wreckage of the Asgardian ship Thanos just destroyed earlier in the movie, and they also find Thor.

They bring him aboard their ship, so they can ogle him while he’s sleeping, like a team of little Sandy Bullocks, and so that he can recover from whatever left him adrift in the first place.

After he wakes up, he’s rummaging through the ship’s food and whatnot, and the team starts questioning him about what’s going on.

He explains to them that Thanos is collecting the Infinity Stones.

Also, it’s widely known that the Reality Stone has been safe with the Collector on Knowhere for quite some time. Since that’s common knowledge, you can expect that’s where Thanos is headed, to collect the Stone.

Quill interjects and says, “If it’s with the Collector, it’s not safe. Only an idiot would give that man a stone.”

Thor replies, under his breath, “Or a genius,” and the scene moves quickly on.

Let’s stop here, though, and flash back to Thor: The Dark World – the second in his standalone series – for just a moment. (more…)



A few thoughts on last night’s WWE Elimination Chamber PPV

WWE put the worst elements of their booking on display last night, and the bright spots even managed to prove the rule.

Elimination Chamber was symptomatic of a bloated creative team that hides its lack of good ideas in overwhelming volume—overwriting the simplest and most compelling elements of what makes competition resonate with people.

The Intercontinental Title Match

Inexplicably this match turned into a two-on-one match, presumably because someone who doesn’t understand how sports or competitions works thought Finn Balor would look more sympathetic and more impressive going against the odds in this way. But this is the point of view of a moron, because implicit in these two-on-one rules is that Balor can (and did) win the title by pinning either member of the two-person team, even though only one member was the defending champion.

So WWE expects this to be a significant moment when Balor wins the Intercontinental Championship — which he does by pinning the defending champion’s hype man. Balor wins the title by not defeating the champion. How is that supposed to get him over? How is that supposed to feel satisfying? Right away, he’s undermined by booking that routinely broadcasts its own lack of awareness of how athletic competitions work and why they resonate with audiences. (more…)



How a Single One-Liner Ruins Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy

batman begins movie poster

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, there was one particular scene – one line in one particular scene, to be more specific – that bothered the hell out of me, and I have wanted to talk about it ever since.

To paraphrase John Mulaney, I know it’s kind of stupid to complain about a movie that came out 14 years ago, but I wasn’t a blogger back then, so I have to do it now.

The scene in question is the audience’s introduction to The Batman.

I’m coming in hot on this one. Let’s just dive right into it.
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Rated ‘D’ for Doom: A Look at Superhero Movies in 2019

spider-man far from home movie posterHello, and welcome to another installment of “Rated ‘D’ for Doom,” my annual look at the year’s upcoming superhero movies!

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote one of these, but that’s only because we haven’t had any new superhero movies come out lately. I guess they’re just not that popular with general audiences anymore.

But fear not! It’s a whole new year, and it looks like several of the major film studios in Hollywood are going to risk it all once again and roll the dice on a few of these properties. Hopefully they don’t lose their shirts!

No, but, for real, the stakes have never been higher than they are right now – last year, three of the top five highest-grossing superhero movies of all-time were released. At the domestic box office, six of the top ten highest-earners on the year were superhero movies.

Studios have a lot riding on this fad, and they’re determined to milk it for all it’s worth.

You thought Solo was a gross cash-grab in the Star Wars Universe? Well wait until you see the TV spin-offs for Scarlet Witch, Loki, and the Winter Soldier!

Drain ‘em dry!

But this year, we have more superhero movies coming out than ever before (don’t, uh… don’t fact-check me on that), so we don’t have any time to waste on looking back or talking about TV spin-offs.

Let’s get right into it!
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Uncanny X-Men: History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But it Rhymes

uncanny-x-men-disassembled-header

X-Men has, for too long, been floundering as a franchise. By my highly subjective opinion, since near the beginning of the Chuck Austen era, though I’ve found that many, many people hated the Grant Morrison run, which I find … odd.

The franchise has been at war with wanting to forge ahead and create new wild ideas with the Marvel insistence on a reset to orthodoxy. There have been sporadically interesting books within there … Mike Carey’s run, Legion, Wolverine and the X-Men, and, to an extent, X-Men Blue, but on the whole I haven’t connected with X-Men in years, which is a shame when it’s your favorite comic. One problem was the sheer length of Bendis’ run, who told an ambitious, but unfilling, long term arc.
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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…)



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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