Review: Captain America

Saw Captain America. Loved it.

Captain America is better than Thor. It may even be better than Iron Man, though that could be me liking Captain America better because I just saw it. Cap definitely has the better villain.

The acting in Captain America is pretty good, though Iron Man wins there. I usually like Neal McDonough, but I wasn’t crazy about him as Dum Dum Dugan. Chris Evans did a good job of portraying pre-serum 98 pound weakling Steve Rogers and then transitioning into Captain America.

The art direction is fantastic. The color palettes are well-designed. The stuff – weapons, planes, laboratory apparatus, the Nazi miniature submarine that suddenly appears – are all cool-looking.

Worth seeing.

If you loved Marvel Comics as a kid go read Jim Shooter’s insider history

Master of Kung Fu Green Cover

Reinforcements arrive. And NO GREEN BACKGROUNDS!

(ASIDE: Funny thing about Stan. I’m not saying he doesn’t love the comics, because he does—but in his heart of hearts, what he really wanted was a successful syndicated strip or a successful “real” magazine.

Remember, Stan grew up in the day when comic books were the lowest rung on the ladder. Comic books were where you ended up after schlepping your portfolio around to every single syndicate, showing your brilliant samples of the next Terry and the Pirates or Abbie an’ Slats and being rejected by everybody. Or, where you scrounged a living while waiting for the syndicated world to acknowledge your genius. Working on comic books was an embarrassment. A lot of people changed their names for their comics work to keep their real name untainted. Like Stan Lee, who wanted to reserve his real name, Stanley Lieber, for his strip, his magazine, or, who knows, the Great American Novel.

And this:

Meanwhile, it had come to the attention of President Jim Galton that we’d had to scrap a print run. He ordered me to fire Marschall. I called Marschall and left a message saying he must come in the next day, a Friday. He didn’t. So, I called again, got him and fired him over the phone.

He later got a friend at the New York Times to write a major article for the business section all about how I was driving talent like him away from Marvel. Whatever. Good riddance.

And how Hank Pym accidentally became a wife beater because of the artist who drew him that issue.

Review: Green Lantern

We took the kids to see Cars 2. They decided they’d rather see the Jim Carrey movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We took them to Cars 2 again on July 4th. They still didn’t want to see it. This time they wanted to see the Selena Gomez movie Monte Carlo.

Their mom took them to that and I went to the theater next door to see Green Lantern. A couple people told me it was better than the reviews, so I lowered my expectations and dove in. Lowering expectations is a time-tested method of increasing your enjoyment of movies, especially comic book movies. I recommend it.

If you like comics and comic book movies and aren’t too critical, Green Lantern is … serviceable. It definitely doesn’t transcend the genre and people who aren’t comic fans may not like it. The dramatic bits, love story, and characterizations are super simple. X-Men 2 rules there. Recent superhero movies have attracted name actors like Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Hopkins, and Christian Bale.

The best Green Lantern coughs up is pretty boy Ryan Reynolds. Best acting props go to Peter Sarsgaard, who I always think of as Zack Braff’s underachieving, grave-robbing buddy in Garden State. Here he plays a twisted, socially awkward scientist who is seduced by the power of fear.

Conversely, hardcore Green Lantern fans may not like it. As with Thor, the producers made Green Lantern more of an approachable character. The arrogant thunder god Thor became a likeable frat daddy while Hal Jordan became a cocky weisenheimer who watched too many Top Gun reruns. One reason the latest Batman franchise works is that they let Batman be Batman – a dark, joyless obsessive who spends his days peering into the abyss.

On the other hand there’s plenty of action and thrills, which are at the top of my wish list for any superhero movie. You have to give them credit for putting the Lantern universe and the Guardians on the big screen. Green Lantern gets fan service points for bringing in Amanda Waller. She’s a minor but recurring D.C. character I always like seeing.

So yeah, if Green Lantern sounds interesting to you, go see it. Just lower your expectactions appropriately.

The Connoisseur

XCKD

My wife is a connoisseur of ice. She has favorite restaurants around town because she likes the ice they put in their soft drinks. She especially likes air-puffed ice because it’s crunchy, but not too hard.

Bad but not surprising news, Green Lantern fans

The reviews ain’t good.

I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. I’m not a GL fan anyway. I like my comic book heroes to have drinking problems or dead father issues so they’re struggling against something besides Lex Luthor’s new death ray.

I was talking to Steve K the other day about superhero movies. Thor wasn’t perfect, but I was impressed they tried it and that it turned out pretty well IMO.

You know which superhero would be hard to turn into a movie? The Flash. He ain’t just a guy who runs kinda fast, like the kid in third grade you always picked for your kickball team. Flash can circle a racetrack a hundred times in a second. He can vibrate his molecules so fast that bullets pass through him

Even in the comic books the writers constantly have Flash telling the reader what he’s doing. “I searched the city for 20 blocks and didn’t find him,” he says to his buddies in the Justice League before anyone realizes he went anywhere. It’s going to take a really creative director to bring the audience into that amazing world for two hours.

X-Men First Class: Bryan Singer is Back, Baby

Bryan Singer – probably still best known for The Usual Suspects – has been the key to the X-Men movies. Singer directed X-Men and X-Men 2, which were outstanding. He was supposed to direct the third movie, but negotiations broke down with Fox and he bailed out to produce Superman Returns. X-Men 3 wound up being the weakest of the three movies by far.

On Saturday I saw the new X-Men First Class twice. Then I watched X2 on Sunday for comparison.

The new X-Men may displace X2 as my favorite comic book movie – it’s amazing. It looks good, the actors are excellent, and there’s a dynamic between the heroes and villains. It was great to see Charles Xavier and Magneto as young friends.

The Villains

A superhero story is only as good as the supervillains.One reason X-Men 2 was so good was that William Stryker (Brian Cox) was such a menacing, effective bad guy with an intense hatred for mutants. Motivation – he had it.

The supervillains here are the best yet. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is the Nazi who killed Magneto’s mother. His team includes classic X-Men character Emma Frost (played by January Jones), Azazel, and Riptide. All of them are competent and powerful enough to be deadly to the hero and have believable motivations – exactly what you want in your villains to have a good drama.

The golden age of comic book movies rolls on.

Go See Thor

If you ever liked Thor go see the movie, preferably in the most modern theater you can find so you can enjoy the AV. Thor fixtures like the rainbow bridge, the gatekeeper, and Aasgard are brought to life. Anthony Hopkins is amazing as Odin. My wife and daughters weren’t enthusiastic about seeing the movie, but wound up loving it.

Anime and Autism Spectrum

Why do so many people on the autism spectrum like Japanese anime?

Job Opportunities for Marvel Fans

Join SHIELD.

Monday’s XKCD comic explained with YouTube videos

Yesterday’s XKCD comic strip:

Batman:

Land of 1,000 Dances:

Katamari Damacy:

Hey Hey Hey Goodbye:

See also XKCD Explained and Marmaduke Explained.

What if superheroes were hipsters?

Medium LOLs. I’m linking it because of my weakness for comic book stuff.

superhipsters-5

Sabretooth Takes Broadway

Since I only know Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine I was surprised to see him in this NY Times theater piece. And with Black Widow on his lap.

So yeah apparently he’s a Tony award-winning stage actor. He and Black Widow are up for Tony Awards tonight. And his first name is pronounced Lee-ev, which I had wondered about.

P.S. I didn’t realize Black Widow was married to Deadpool and that Deadpool will soon be Green Lantern.

PreviouslyFour Broadway Shows: Chicago, The Color Purple, Doubt, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Pants-only Costume? Smart Move, Hulk.

24699-1CrackedThe 5 Most Impractical Aspects of Superhero Costumes.

If you plan on fighting crime while sporting a pair of boobs, you can find whatever you need at the same fetish shop that outfits half the Matrix. We can’t tell you why this is the case, just like we can’t tell you why blind people shop for sneakers at the same place as priests and basketball referees. Nor are we complaining. Be it leather, latex, PVC or rubber, if it’s skin-tight and it’s shiny you are apparently required to fight crime in it.

Ms. Rocket’s sampled the full range of fabrics available to superheroes, and has pretty convincing arguments as to how you’d be just as well served in Velcro parachute pants. “Leather is warm and doesn’t move easily. Latex is very warm, doesn’t breath at all and people have been known to pass out while wearing it.”

The Hulk’s purple pants are sounding better and better all the time. Plus, pants have pockets for carrying stuff and a zipper for takin’ a whiz.

PreviouslyWhat Comic Books Have Taught Me

Now I Know Why Some People Didn’t Like X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I mentioned that I had heard bad things about X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yet when I finally saw the movie I liked it.

Adam explained to me why some people didn’t like it. They had read the various comic books, and the movie was way different in some places, like the origin of Deadpool and what powers he possessed.

It’s like the way people who read I Am Legend hated it, but I hadn’t read the book so I liked the movie pretty well.

I think the lesson is clear: don’t read books.

I kid. The lesson is when I can’t understand why people hated a movie I liked, it’s probably because they read the book and the movie wasn’t like the book.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I heard bad reviews and never saw it in the theater. Finally watched it on TiVo Memorial Day.

Maybe it’s the Memorial Day warm fuzzies – I have warm fuzzies for movies I see at Saturday matinees, too – but I liked it a bunch. Tons of action, a huge cast of mutants to keep things interesting, and good FX and acting (though will.i.am should keep his day job). That the cast has two Losties is a bonus.