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Our Favorite Movies from 2016

2016 has been… well, it’s left a lot to be desired. And even that is a *drastic* understatement. If you could personify the year it would easily be King Joffrey; A cruel, inherently evil little $h1+ with no regard for human life that we all just want to watch die a painful, painful death.

That being said, there have actually been some cinematic bright-spots on this incest-born bastard of a year, and we decided to share a few of our favorites with you, our beautiful, adoring tolerating readers! Enjoy!

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Actual photo of 2016

 

Jeff

Captain America: Civil War

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I wrote in the summer of 2015 of my fear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be over saturating us with too many movies and too many heroes.

“Civil War” proved my fears to be foolish. The third Captain America movie was arguably the best MCU movie so far. And it wouldn’t have been if it hadn’t been for all those previous installments developing the characters so their appearance in “Civil War” could be so effective.

Though it wasn’t perfect, “Civil War” put the MCU in a new direction that will keep those large box office gates rolling in.

 

Deadpool

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While “Civil War” was the champion of the traditional modern era superhero movie, 2016 also featured darker, more mature super hero fare. And leading the pack among these darker pictures was “Deadpool.”

“Deadpool” ignored every convention the MCU has created in the last decade. Earning an “R” rating for its mature themes and violence, “Deadpool” was what so many traditional comic book fans have been calling for in a superhero movie.

Throw in a fantastic performance from Ryan Reynolds, some well-deserved mocking of other Marvel properties, and a promotional campaign that might have been the year’s best helped make Deadpool one of the early hits of 2016.

 

Cam

Rogue One

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Man, what a fantastic ride “Rogue One” was. Not only are introduced to some really awesome characters, we also get to see Vader really let his hair down… you know, if he still had hair instead of a mess of burn scars and regret. Anyway, I loved that so many characters from both the prequels and the original trilogy made appearances – Red and Gold leader (from “A New Hope”) are leading their squadrons during the attack on Scarif, Dr. Evazan and his butt-chinned friend are still jerks, and NYPD Blue’s Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa – plus Felicity Jones is great as the lead role, and K-2SO is just, like, so sassy. Ultimately though, it’s Donnie Yen that steals the show. His blind monk/defender of the Temple of the Whills is just so awesome. Rogue One definitely sets the bar really high for the Star Wars anthologies.

 

Passengers

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I was originally going to use my second spot to talk about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (it’s great you should see it), but “Passengers” isn’t getting the love I think it deserves, so here we are.

“Passengers” is a really fun sci-fi film, with an interesting premise, a great cast, and a sleek-as-hell spacecraft.  If you look up the reviews (particularly the critic reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes, you will notice that it is hovering around 30% right now, while the unprofessional simpletons known as the ‘audience’ seem to enjoy it, giving it an average of 70%.  I must be more simple than most, because I loved it.  In a world filled with sequels, movies based on books, movies based on videogames, and the ever constant reboot, it’s refreshing to see something original.  And if that doesn’t win you over, you get to see Chris Pratt’s butt.

Honorable Mention – “The Hollars” with John Kr.. Kraz… Jim from “The Office” is a really great independent Dramedy that was more emotional than expected.

 

Stephen

Here’s the thing… if I’m being honest, most of my favorite movies this year are ones I already wrote entire reviews on (The Witch, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane), so I’d like to mention a couple movies that I loved this year but haven’t already “waxed eloquent” about. (Don’t act so surprised. I did the same thing last year.)

Arrival

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There are alien invasion movies, your standard Independence Day type invasion movies, and then there’s Arrival. It plays more like a modernized Twilight Zone story than it does like War of the Worlds. Not that I’m bashing those other flicks. They’re fun in their own way. Arrival is just… more substantial. It’s actually hard to talk about, or even compare to other films, without giving anything away. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who is the brilliant mind behind Sicario, as well as the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Time will tell how that turns out (I have high hopes), but for now, as much as I loved Sicaro, Arrival stands as his masterpiece. It has depth and emotion that alien invasion movies just haven’t ever captured, or even attempted to capture, before. The main cast is Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Adams plays a linguist who is brought in to attempt communication with aliens who’ve landed on earth, Renner is a theoretical physicist with whom she is partnered, and Whitaker is the military colonel who brings them in. Near the end, as the hidden elements of the story begin to reveal themselves, you just kind of sit there stunned, jaw hanging down, and the emotion hits you hard, and heavy. Arrival isn’t just good, it’s beautiful.

 

Don’t Breathe

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I love horror movies, of all kinds. Slasher, monster, demonic possession, torture, etc. If it’s scary and violent, it’s for me. The best, though, is when a horror movie can be intense without anything supernatural, and even attempt to be almost realistic, or are based on something real. Ravenous was like that, Kevin Smith’s Red State is like that, and Don’t Breathe is like that. It’s directed by Fede Alvarez, who made the Evil Dead reboot from a few years ago (which was absolutely perfect). Don’t Breathe is about three people break into a blind man’s house with the intention of robbing him, but they get much, MUCH more than they bargained for. Again, as with Arrival, I can’t say too much, but suffice to say, the ending is @#$%ing CRAZY, and there is an item used, in an abstract way of the word “used”, that you never see coming, and will never be able to forget. If there is one 2016 movie that I wish everyone would see, it’s this one.

DC Rebirth, Captain America, and Other Possible Changes To Your Favorite Comics

Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Read At Your Own Risk

This New Comic Book Day has brought about many revelations to comic readers. Apparently, Steve Rogers is, and always has been(?), an agent of Hydra (Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016-) #1) and the reason for DC Comics’ reboot (DC Universe: Rebirth (2016) #1) is explained as being the result of some villainous(?) actions by the Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. (Also, the Joker has really been 3 different people?) Should we really be surprised by this stuff though? I mean, pretty much nothing these two publishers have done with comics in the last few years has made much sense. There have been so many continuity inconsistencies and character changes. Nuke was dead, and then he miraculously and inexplicably… wasn’t. Falcon is Captain America. Lobo isn’t actually Lobo, Deathstroke de-aged, Jane Foster is Thor, etc. etc. (With the one exception being X-23 as the new Wolverine. That actually makes all of the sense.) It’s a wonder they don’t just come right out and say, “Yeah… we just want your money, we really don’t care about the characters or maintaining cohesive plots and stories.” Obviously, with the new Cap and Rebirth being #1 issues, there are plenty of places the stories could go and we”ll just have to see how it all plays out, but it got me to thinking… what other big changes could potentially be on the horizon for our beloved comic characters? Here are my speculations on what we might see in the future of the Marvel and DC comic book universes.

 

Galactus has been Daryl Hannah from the remake of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman this whole time.

 

Killer Croc will discover that he actually has some alligator in his family ancestry and it will shake him to his emotional core.

 

Power Girl has actually been a drag queen all this time. (Consequently, millions of neckbeard fanboys are forced to reevaluate their sexual identity.)

 

Uncle Ben faked his death and became Uatu the Watcher (who was subsequently also murdered…)

 

Frank Castle begins seeking anger management therapy and, after finding a more fulfilling life in organized religion, decides to hang up his Punisher skull to take on a new moniker… The Youth Pastor.

 

Poison Ivy discovers that there has been a poison ivy cure for like ever and changes her name to Poison Oak. Zatanna starts to tell her that this also has a cure but is quickly stopped by Catwoman who urges her to “just let it happen.”

 

H.E.R.B.I.E., the Fantastic Four’s faithful robot… Servant? Sidekick? (Sex Toy…?), is revealed to be the driving force behind infamous government-intelligence-secrets leakers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

 

Doctor Doom forgets to renew his medical licence and is henceforth known as “Grumpy McMetalface.”

 

Aunt May, Martha Kent, Peggy Carter, and Frigga the All-Mother begin living together in a condo in Florida (yes, like the Golden Girls) and it becomes the highest and fastest selling comic book of all-time.

 

Unable to go on fighting crime due to succumbing to crippling scurvy, Batman is forced to retire and choose a replacement who can go on protecting the city of Gotham. In a delusional state, and with no one close to stop him, Bruce chooses 8 raccoons to succeed him as Batman. That’s right, just 8 raccoons in a Batsuit. One to work each arm, one to work each leg, one to work the head, and three in the torso, mostly for load bearing but also because an empty abdomen area would be a dead giveaway during fistfights. (Follow up: The raccoon’s turn out to be an even better Dark Knight than Bruce and Gotham actually becomes a city of flourishing promise for awhile, but then ultimately is brought down again because of gentrification, which, let’s be honest, not even 8 raccoons in a Batsuit can stop.

 

Now, I’m not saying that ALL of these things will happen, but it’s 100% likely that at least 90% of them will. I guess we’ll just have to keep shoveling our cash into Marvel’s and DC’s pockets until all is revealed. Now, get out to your local comic shop and pick up some comics! While we’re worshiping The Big Two with our monetary offerings, how about grabbing some indie publisher comics too! You can pick up new issues of great series like East of West, Tokyo Ghost, and Bloodshot Reborn, as well as trades for Symmetry, Ninjak, and Day Men!

4LN Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

Official Film Synopsis:

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

You’re going to hear, if you haven’t already, a lot of things about this film that are… exaggerations. You’re also going to hear things that sound like exaggerations but are 100% correct, or at least 12% correct. (I suppose an argument could be made for 15…) You’re going to hear people say that this is what Avengers: Age of Ultron should have been, that it’s good in spite of Captain America himself, that Spider-Man steals the show, and various other assessments and critiques. Without spoiling anything specific, allow me to clear up some of the questions and concerns you might have rattling around in your head.

First off, Spider-Man. Those of you concerned about Marvel revealing too much of him in trailers, stop worrying. That was only the tip of the web-slinging iceberg. There’s so much more to love from him in the final product, and you will not be disappointed. Does he steal the show? Not entirely. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s great. Maybe the best on-screen Spider-Man of all-time (or potentially at least). I wouldn’t say that he steals the entire show, however, but he does have a surprisingly commanding presence on screen. Tom Holland was clearly the perfect actor for the part because his Peter Parker and Spider-Man aren’t different. With Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield, they both played Parker and Spidey with different personalities. As if putting on the mask made them someone completely different. Though it’s only brief in the grander scheme, what we see Holland do is just play them the same. A more unified Parker/Spider-Man, if you will. It’s very refreshing and after the credits finished rolling I found myself way more excited for the future of Spidey.

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Another thing I’ve heard is that this movie achieves what Avengers: AoU failed to. To be honest, I’m not sure what that even means. Like, I clearly didn’t watch the same movie as the people who feel this way because AoU was enjoyable for me and I understood it. (Also, it banked over a billion dollars so…) I’m not gonna spend a whole lot of time defending it, but I do feel like it’s a disservice to the journey that lead us here to treat any aspect of it as superfluous. There are themes that have been consistent through every MCU film since Iron Man that come into play in Civil War and without any one of them this film wouldn’t be able to complete in the way that is does. I know, I’m being vague. I don’t want to give away anything, I just want you to take this into consideration when you’re watching the movie and trying to compare it to others.

Then out of that attitude, emerges the idea that it’s not really a Captain America movie, it’s an Avengers movie, and Cap isn’t all that crucial. These people… should not be allowed to watch movies. At all. Ever again. I am one to rarely “can’t even”, but this makes me not be able to even. I’ve never been eating a cheeseburger and thought, “You know what this doesn’t even need? Meat.” A shit ton of condiments between two buns isn’t a meal, it’s sad. Why would you think that the ingredient that pulls everything together is the one thing you can do without? Cap’s reluctant but brave resistance of the newly implemented status quo is what moves the entire plot. He may not necessarily be the engine, but he’s definitely the fuel.

So what is the engine? Well, that would be the brilliant Daniel Brühl as Zemo. His role has been mostly downplayed from the very beginning, but he’s what puts just about everything happening here into motion, and once the third act concludes you understand his motivation and significance. Brühl brings a human depth to the Zemo character that he lacks in the comics. It’s one of those things where you could argue that they really didn’t have to name him Zemo at all, but the nod to the source material is nice gesture.

I also want to acknowledge how great Paul Rudd is as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. He proves himself a perfect team member and does more than his fair share of fighting. I feel like his contribution to the film could get overlooked by all the other great performances and moments, but he doesn’t miss one beat picking up right where he left off in Ant-Man, and helping Spider-Man with lightening the mood. The first act of the film is pretty serious and rocks back and forth between action sequences to story heavy scenes with mostly dialogue. Once those two show up though, you’re laughing uncontrollably.

Another performance that really stood out for me was Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross. It’s such a unique and impressive performance from Freeman, who usually plays more shy, timid, and/or awkward characters. He turns in a very strong, very confident portrayal. I don’t want to say that I didn’t know he had it in him, but he seems like such a passive, good-natured guy that I really didn’t.

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Even though I’ve only addressed a few, every single performance was perfect. There’s not one weak link in the entire cast. Plus, the story is compelling and will have you guessing all the way through to the end. Even the parts that seemed predictable were only partially so. When you think you’ve figured something out, just know that there’s more to it that you haven’t even considered. I think the Russo Bros. have crafted a damn-near flawless blockbuster superhero film. It may not have the same type of suspense and depth that CA:WS has, but it’s a different type of film also, so it’s tough for me to superficially analyze the differences.

I’ve always sided with Cap in the Civil War debate. Part of that may be that I just don’t like Tony Stark in the comics, but RDJ is great as Tony and, while I still don’t find myself swayed to his point of view, I feel like this film did a great job of expressing why he feels the way he feels and that his actions are propelled by emotion because of his personal experiences. Cap is emotional is some ways too, but there are never moments that he seems out of control. Tony is emotionally unstable and therefore you wonder how much control he’s able to maintain over himself. I don’t worry about Cap taking things too far, and I feel like Tony has to stop himself from taking things too far. In some cases he fails and almost everyone suffers for it. It’s a cycle with this guy.

Final word: Captain America: Civil War is one of the best comic book movies ever made. It’s packed full of action, mystery, humor, and raw emotion. It collects every feeling you could possibly feel and condenses it into a two-and-half-hour roller coaster ride that leaves you excited and eagerly anticipating the future of the MCU, rather than lethargic and confused. You’ll be smiling ear to ear as you exit the theater and you’ll almost certainly seriously consider just walking back up to the box office to buy a ticket to the next showing. Save yourself the trouble and just go ahead and buy them at once so that you can keep your seat. You can thank me later.

The Philosophy of Civil War Part 2: Captain America and Deontology

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at how Tony Stark’s utilitarian outlook allowed him to justify his actions in Marvel’s Civil War.  Today I want to look at a different ethical philosophy called deontology.  The first time we looked at deontology on 4LN we were discussing why Batman does not kill.  Now we will look at how this philosophy shapes Captain America’s actions in the civil war.

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So what is deontology?

Deontology is pretty much the opposite of utilitarianism. This philosophy focuses exclusively on what one ought to do, or what is one’s “duty.” Unlike utilitarianism, deontologists believe the end does not justify the means. They also believe every person has intrinsic value and that it is immoral to use someone as a means to an end. Instead, every person is an end in and of him/herself. Immanuel Kant, a major deontologist, had a list of rules for which one could determine their duty called the Categorical Imperative, which states:

  • Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law.
  • Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.
  • Every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in a universal kingdom of ends.

That’s some dense language so I am going to try to break it down because it really does show why Captain America does what he does. Kant is saying three things.  First, he says that one should live by a code that they think could become a rule for all; then that everyone has intrinsic value and should not be used as a means to an end, but be treated as an end; and finally, that we must all act as if our personal code is a universal law and is also an end in itself.

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Cap sees the SRA as a violation of human rights, and since no person should be used as a means to an end he believes that it is his duty to oppose the bill despite it being law. This is why he refuses to back down despite the fact that his identity is not a secret. In the comics, Spider-Man asks Captain America why he refuses to give up. He responds with the following Mark Twain quote:

Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man.  To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.  If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Cap then tells Spidey:

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.  This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world — No, you move.

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There is not a shred of utilitarian philosophy in those powerful words. That is pure deontological reasoning. He is fighting for what he believes is morally correct based on his moral code. We see this side of Steve during Captain America: the Winter Soldier as well. He thinks Project Insight (an initiative to preemptively neutralize threats before an incident happens) is an affront to human rights, and that the punishment should follow the crime not preempt it.  He tells Nick Fury that he is holding a gun to the head of every citizen and calling it security, then says “This isn’t freedom, this is fear.”

This isn’t to say deontology is flawless.  Like any philosophy, deontology certainly has its sticking points.  However, these flaws don’t present themselves in this particular story, and since this is more of a philosophical overview of Civil War as opposed to a straightforward deontology vs. utilitarianism debate, we won’t go into them in this article (just look up Kant’s Nazi problem and start reading).

Both sides of the Civil War got out of hand. The reasons behind the SRA made sense. Superheroes have incredible power, and the collateral damage they cause can be staggering.  From a utilitarian point of view, the greatest happiness would be a general populace without fear, and that is nearly impossible with the ever-present threat of masked villains and vigilantes with the power to destroy small towns. If people had that kind of power in real life, I am sure almost all of us would want them controlled to some extent.  The problem is how the bill was implemented and the direction it took.  The SRA, and those that supported it, is responsible for the death of some heroes and the indefinite incarceration of many others without trial.  Despite Tony’s arc reactor being in the right place at first, he and his team are the clear villains in the conflict, but that’s not to say Captain America is completely blameless. He did respond to force with force, continuing the escalation of the war.  It’s hard to say if Cap would have ever gone as far had it not been for Tony being the catalyst for an arms race.  In the end though, Steve realizes that, while the law in unjust, it is his responsibility to end the war by turning himself in.  He does this with the hope that the judicial system will realize its error and discontinue the violation of their rights.

Well, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed this series of articles.  During this two part series, we have seen why Tony was able to justify his use of force while implementing the SRA, and why Steve Rogers felt that it was his duty to oppose the law.  We have seen why Tony’s personality pushed him to go to far in his quest for maximum utility; how Steve uses Kant’s categorical imperative to determine his moral code, and his resoluteness in carrying out what he believes he ought to do despite the odds against him.  I tried to be as unpretentious as possible while presenting these ideas and I hope I succeeded.  What do you think about the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man?  Do you think these philosophies accurately describe them?  Let us know what you think in the comments!

4LN Comic Review: All-New Captain America #1

Series- All-New Captain America
Writer- Rick Remender
Art- Stuart Immonen (Penciler)
Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker)
Marte Gracia & Eduardo Navarro (Colors)
Publisher- Marvel Comics

Summary from Comixology- “This is it! The all-new, Spy-Fi, highflying adventures of Sam Wilson Captain America and Nomad begin here! Hydra is growing, the terrorist band have has infiltrated the Marvel Universe completely! But what is their ultimate goal?”

All-New Captain America (2014-) #1

Overview –
When I reviewed the final issue of Marvel Now’s Captain America, I expressed my love of Rick Remender’s work as a writer. I’ll skip that part this time as you are welcome to look back at that to see how big a fan I am. Additionally, in that review, I made this statement, “However, while I will pick up the new Cap series’ #1 issue, I am about 85% certain that I will not continue reading it. It has nothing to do with Sam Wilson becoming Cap. I am fully in support of that and I think the character has more than earned it. I just can’t keep clinging to some of these series because I’m afraid of missing something. I have to break the addiction sometime, and that time is now.”

I bring this up to say that I will do my very best to not let this negatively influence my review. I do not intend to read this issue looking for things to dislike just so I can justify that statement from the previous issue. As I’ve mentioned, my choice to read fewer Marvel books is mostly based on the fact that there are just too many events and tie-in’s, and I’m tired of feeling obligated to read EVERYTHING. Now, I haven’t read the issue yet because I wanted to get all that out first. I’m gonna go do that now while you check out the first page of the issue and then we’ll meet back up in the “Highs” section…

click for super-sized previews of All-New Captain America (2014-) #1

Highs –
Welcome back! Wow. I gotta say, that was a pretty fast-paced, high-energy issue. Remender fascinates me because he doesn’t have a specific writing-style that makes you go, “Oh that’s definitely Remender.” It’s usually more like, “Oh wow, this is Remender?” Fear Agent, Black Science, Deadly Class, Low, his work on Punisher, Venom and now Cap… no two are the same. He just has a knack for tailoring his writing to the characters rather than making his characters fit into his writing. It gives them more freedom and personality diverseness. (Jesus, the way I’m raving about the guy you’d think I was Bill writing about Scott Snyder.)

ANYWAY… moving on to this issue specifically, I feel like Remender might be at the beginning of writing the absolute best version of Sam Wilson we’ve ever seen. In just this first issue we get to see more of Sam’s background, his tough youth growing up in Harlem, and we get to see him in a leadership role over Nomad (Ian Rogers) and expecting honor over an easy mission.

The artwork here is very good. There’s some really great detail and coloring that really pull the book together well. I was very impressed with the high-quality of work here. You can tell that Immonen and the rest if the creative art team take this very serious and have a shared vision with Remender on how Sam Wilson should come across as the new Cap.

click for super-sized previews of All-New Captain America (2014-) #1

Lows –
I can’t pinpoint anything that brought this issue down. The story and art are both really great.

click for super-sized previews of All-New Captain America (2014-) #1

The Final Say –
This is the beginning of a new era in the Captain America legacy. It’s fitting that Sam Wilson has taken on the stars, stripes, and shield of the most patriotic superhero ever. He’s been by Steve’s side for so long, fighting just as hard to keep America, and the world, safe from villains who would control and enslave it. I’m awarding this issue a 5 out of 5. It’s everything you could want in a Cap comic and more.

If you pick up All-New Captain America, let us know what you thought in the comments below!

4LN Comic Review: Captain America #25

Book: Captain America #25
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Summary from Comixology: “Who is the All-New Captain America? The conclusion to the story that began in Dimension Z as Zola strikes in unison with The Red Skull! The final fate of Jet Black!”

Captain America (2012-) #25

Overview –
Half of the reviews I write I shamelessly gush about how I’m a big fan of the writer of whatever book i’m discussing. This will be no exception. I love Rick Remender. I have his Punisher Omnibus, and Low, Black Science & Deadly Class are all in my 10 favorite books right now. I have been on his Cap series from day one. I liked the Dimension Z arc but, for me anyway, the story really kicked into gear when Steve Rogers came back to the real world (that’s a funny thing to say about a comic book). It was tough seeing him loose his super-soldier serum and become an old man, but the direction of the story and the pace has been really great. I can handle anything just about, as long as the storytelling is high quality. It definitely has been here.

click for super-sized previews of Captain America (2012-) #25

The Good –
The thing I really loved about this issue was that they didn’t drag it out. Remender wraps up the events of the previous issue, and puts that section of the plot to rest, then he reveals the new Cap without being coy. We all new Sam was the new Captain America, and Remender actually just has him say it. It’s pretty hilarious actually. Especially after that cover that none of us are falling for. Also, fart and poop jokes. Not kidding. I know most people would probably find it crude, but I was so utterly impressed with Remenders guts to include that kind of humor, albeit only briefly. It’s something that doesn’t fit into mainstream comics all that much, so when it’s done well, it’s really very funny.

The art was once again just as solid and clean as it always has been. Pacheco just started back on issue #22, but he kept up the great artwork that started back with John Romita Jr. in issue #1. The actual Sam Wilson as Cap reveal page is amazing really. The line-work and the colors are just fantastic. This series has always had a great art crew around it.

 

click for super-sized previews of Captain America (2012-) #25

The Bad –
There was nothing inherently bad about this issue. In fact, I liked it better than most final issues. That being said… the one thing that bugged me, is not something I found to be “flaw”with the creative team (I use quotation marks there because I do not believe art can be flawed, but that’s a diatribe for another time). My problem was something that the major publishers do all the time. This issue has this epilogue that sets up some mysterious, hooded figures as villains for the continuity of the new series. The major publishers go to all the trouble of promoting a “new era” for a character, and then they have to throw in things to breadcrumb the story together. The main character can’t have a new story, no. It HAS to spin out of the previous one. I just want a story to end. I’m perfectly fine with a few small lingering questions, but stop trying to story-bait me into spending more money on your books. It’s annoying, and the main reason I’m starting to read more Independent books lately.

click for super-sized previews of Captain America (2012-) #25

The Final Say –
This issue was great. It was a satisfying end (for the most part) to the story they’ve been telling thus far, and I’m not at all disappointed that I invested so much into this series. It was well worth it. I’m giving this issue a 4 out of 4, because it absolutely deserves it. However, while I will pick up the new Cap series’ #1 issue, I am about 85% certain that I will not continue reading it. It has nothing to do with Sam Wilson becoming Cap. I am fully in support of that and I think the character has more than earned it. I just can’t keep clinging to some of these series because I’m afraid of missing something. I have to break the addiction sometime, and that time is now. Hey, don’t worry about Remender, he’s still getting more money from me on the other 3 Image titles of his, I buy every month, than he is on this Marvel one. Creator owned properties > Everything else.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Spoilers

So if you saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend, you probably noticed a couple of references that maybe made you curious. And if you stayed through the very end of the credits, then you saw 2 extra scenes that were cool, but maybe you didn’t completely understand…

Well, I’m here to help with that! I’m not gonna overload you with a ton of “Easter eggs”, but there are few things worth looking at a little closer.

 

The first credits-scene was our introduction to Baron von Strucker, played by Thomas Kretschmann, who you may recognize from Wanted, Valkyrie, or most recently the NBC show Dracula, where he plays (played? god I hope that show comes back) Abraham Van Helsing.

 

Baron von Strucker is a HYDRA leader who, in the comics, worked directly with The Red Skull. The version of the character in the films may be different, since in the books he was killed and then brought back as a Life Model Decoy, and then later officially revived (The only people that actually stay dead in comics anymore are Batman’s parents).

You also would have noticed in that scene that he has acquired Loki’s scepter form The Avengers, which was given to him by Thanos. This does not bode well for Earth, Humanity, or the Avengers.

Now, how about those “volunteers” that were mentioned or, more importantly, the “survivors”… The manic, blur of a man, and the serene-but-almost-sinister girl. That was Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. Otherwise known as Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).

 

In the comics, these characters are mutant twins, and they are the children of Magneto. But, since FOX owns the film rights to everything Marvel “mutant”, they cannot be referred to as such in any Marvel/Disney films, and Magneto cannot be referenced either.

Based on the “volunteers” and “survivors” talk, my assumption is that here in the films their powers will be manufactured rather than some from-birth genetic. If you remember in Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap saved Bucky from being experimented on by Arnim Zola, but in this film he says that whatever Zola did to Buck must have been, at least partially, responsible for him surviving the fall from the train. I’m guessing that HYDRA has continued Zola’s experimentation and that’s probably where Quicksilver’s and Scarlet Witch’s powers come from. We’ll see more of these characters, though, in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Speaking of Arnim Zola, how about that return? To many of you that may not have made much sense but for us comic book nerds it was pretty epic. See, in the comics, Arnim Zola was able to transfer his consciousness into these robot/android things that he created. They all had a screen in the abdomen that displayed his face. Seeing him come back on those computer screens was just so awesome.

 

Another really cool reference was when Agent Sitwell (RIP) was telling Cap and Widow about the algorithm, that would allow HYDRA to target any threats to their plans, and he specifically name-dropped Stephen Strange, aka Doctor Strange.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has been very open and honest about their intent to bring the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen, and this little reference in Cap 2 seems like the evidence that they really mean it.

 

As far as the last scene of the film goes… that post-credits shot of Bucky (Winter Soldier) in the Captain America museum looking at his own history. That feels very much like the set up for future installments of the Winter Soldier/Bucky saga. In the comics, he goes on a journey to discover his past and what he finds very much rocks the core of who he is.

If you have a chance, I highly recommend reading as much as you can of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, as well as his Winter Soldier series. Both will give you much more insight into the nature of the character.

 

Additionally, everything that happened in Cap 2 will directly connect to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will significantly impact Coulson and his team. I know a lot of people are disappointed in the show, but I never have been and I’m excited to see how it’s all connected.

 

For more on where Marvel is taking their characters, check out this great interview with Kevin Feige:

Kevin Feige Interview: Captain America, The Avengers 2 and Doctor Strange (source – Crave Online)

4LN Movie Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

When I saw Captain America: The First Avenger, I felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones movie. I don’t mean that it’s exactly like Indiana Jones, just that the time-period, and the overall adventure nature of the film transported me back to when I was a kid watching that giant boulder chase Indy through the cave, on my friend Tyler’s big screen TV. It gave me a non-melancholy nostalgic feeling. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a completely different monster all-together. I felt more like I did when I first saw Patriot Games, or In The Line of Fire (but with about 85% more explosions).

It’s been a while since I’ve seen “In The Line of Fire”, but I’m pretty sure Clint Eastwood didn’t destroy a billion-dollar flying aircraft carrier. PRETTY sure…

 

The basic plot of the film is this, Steve Rogers is still trying to get acquainted to life in the modern world, post Battle of New York (Avengers), while still doing the occasional mission for Nick Fury and SHIELD. But he quickly becomes *painfully* aware that SHIELD has been compromised from the inside and there are very few people that can be trusted. It’s up to Cap, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson/FALCON(!) to save the day. However, the mysterious Winter Soldier isn’t gonna make it easy, and will force Steve to make some tough decisions.

This will be a spoiler-free review. We certainly don’t want to ruin any of this epic film for you guys. 4LN writer Bill and I both caught the film, he in regular format, and I in the 3-D IMAX (because I’m not a peasant), and below you’ll find our thoughts on different aspects of the film. Hope you enjoy!

“What is it Cap?” “I’m not sure Sam… but I think it may be spoilers…Nope. Never mind. No spoilers here. Wanna grab a beer?”

 

Acting/Cast:

Bill – I thought the casting and acting was really good. Personally, I felt the first Cap film was a little on the corny and lame side. This film however, is amazing. I think it’s the best superhero movie I have seen since TDKR, and that for me ( major DC Comics guy) is really saying a lot. When the Winter Solider’s identity was revealed, I looked over at my girlfriend who had NO IDEA who he was and her mind was blown. It was a pleasant surprise for anyone who isn’t a major comic book nerd.

Stephen – In addition to characters we’ve already seen (Cap, Black Widow, Nick Fury) there are some really great additions to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe this time around. The most obvious addition being the Winter Soldier. Even though Marvel has really not been secretive regarding his identity, I’ll protect it here for you guys. Suffice to say, he’s got a connection to Cap that will really hit hard.

The greatest surprise to me was Anthony Mackie as Falcon. I was not surprised that he was great, I was surprised that we got to see so much of his greatness. I assumed that he wouldn’t get very much screen time, but I was wrong. I love how they really captured the relationship between Steve and Sam. Personality-wise, Sam is who Steve would be, had he been born in this time. He’s a smart, honest, loyal soldier, just like Steve. In a way, he gives Cap some much needed hope. As just about everything else around him is shrouded in secrets and deception, Sam is a dependable and dedicated friend.

Also new to the film, is Robert Redford as SHIELD leader Alexander Pierce. He was just perfect. There are other actors of his caliber that I could imagine in that role, but none that would bring the same level of class and composure.

Chris Evans did an incredible job of capturing the “man out of time” quality of Cap. You really understand the difficulty he has coming to grips with the era he’s in being so different from the one he comes from. That’s why Falcon being a kindred-spirit is important to his character. To another extent, Black Widow is crucial because I think she reminds him of Peggy Carter a little bit. She’s a strong, no-shit-from-nobody kind of woman, just like Peggy, but she’s definitely more of a bad-ass. Scarlett Johansson really stepped up her game this time around, and she’s finally starting to lose (what I’ve always interpreted as) her discomfort in that role. She just seemed kind of awkward to me in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, but here she really shines and proves that she is absolutely the right woman for this character.

From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry for ever doubting you. Please don’t hurt me and make me cry in front of all my friends…

 

Cinematography:

Bill – I did not see the 3-D IMAX showing, that’s too rich for my blood. Instead I saw the regular showing and I didn’t feel like I missed anything, at all. I loved the way the movie was filmed. It flowed very naturally and it wasn’t one of those shakey messy movies. The brothers who directed this did a really good job. I will also let you know that there is a Pulp Fiction reference in the end of the film. That Easter Egg might have been one of my favorite things in the movie. Simple, but a nice little find.

Stephen – As I mentioned above, I saw the 3-D IMAX. Was it necessary? Nah. I don’t think so, but at least now I know so you don’t have to spend the extra cash (here at 4LN, we make the hard decisions so you don’t have to). However, while many of the fight scenes don’t HAVE to be seen in 3-D/IMAX (they tend to get a little blurry at times), the larger action sequences will absolutely blow you away if you choose to see the film in this format. The directors, Anthony & Joe Russo, did a great job of filming every scene exactly the way it required. They didn’t shoot the car chase scenes exactly like the fight scenes because, while they’re both action sequences, they require two different approaches to filming in order to best capture the moment. These guys are new to the action-genre, so if you notice some familiar shots, it’s probably because they took inspiration from other superhero films that were shot really well (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Spider-Man, etc.) I was extremely impressed with how well you could tell that they didn’t just babysit the movie and shoot a bunch of nerds-only references, they DIRECTED a very good film.

Captain America vs. Batroc. Oh yeah, did we forget to mention Batroc? It’s Batroc!

 

Story/Plot:

Stephen – The character of The Winter Soldier is taken from the comics, but if you’re unfamiliar with him that’s most likely because he’s fairly new. Introduced in 2005 by writer Ed Brubaker, the character is a mystery to most all security organizations and typically thought of as a myth. The direction of the film is really well-focused and when it ends (including the credits scenes you DON’T WANT TO MISS) you definitely have a good idea of where the characters will pick up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the inevitable third Captain America film (and maybe even some potential new film installments of the MCU, as the actor who plays Winter Soldier revealed in an interview that he signed a 9 picture deal with Marvel Studios).

The film’s pace is perfect. It’s mostly very fast, but it slows down at just the right times to sort-of drift through the curves with ease. When it’s over, you will absolutely want more. And that’s exactly what Marvel is going for.

Bill – …What Stephen Said.

“Your motivation in this scene is getting smashed in the face by a SHIELD, made of the worlds most indestructible metal, with the force of a thousand cannons… can you handle that?”

 

Overall Thoughts:

Bill – Overall, I thought this was an awesome film. Save your money and don’t see it in IMAX or 3D, you wont miss out on anything, I promise. This is the best Marvel movie since Iron Man, the first one, and it makes me super excited for the next phase of Marvel movies that will be heading our way. Plus, the Doctor Strange reference sold me on this movie.

Stephen – It’s too early to tell where this will fall in my fav-list of the MCU films, but right now I’m gonna say it at least ties IM1 for the absolute best. There were moments that shocked me, moments that had me laughing, and moments where I just sat in awe of what I was seeing. The scope of this flick is so big at times, that you will have a hard time soaking it all in. This seems to be a growing trend for Marvel. Their films continue to get bigger and bigger, without losing the sincerity and heart.

Make sure you stay til the very end. And I do mean the VERY end. Sit through ALL the credits, because there are 2 scenes (1 mid-credits and 1 post-credits) that you’ll miss if you leave early. Come back next week for a SPOILER article where I’ll fill you in on the Easter-eggs and references that you may not have known much about (this is mostly for the people who are going to text me while they’re still sitting in the theater trying to figure out “Who was that?” or “What did they mean when they said that?”)

Now, go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier! It’s your duty!

Evan’s to Leave Acting After Hanging Up His Shield

After his current stint as Captain America is up, Chris Evans plans to move on from acting.  Evans is currently under contract to suit up as Captain America for three more films (Captain America 3 as well as the Avengers sequels).

In an interview with Variety, Evans said that he would like to focus almost entirely on directing.  “I’ve known for a while I wanted to direct,” Evans says. “But (time) never really opens up. There’s another movie to do, there’s another acting job. It just got to a point where I was like, you know what — I have to do this.”

chris-evans-danielle-levitt-3

During his winter unassembled from the Avengers, Evans made his directorial with a love story titled “1:30 Train,” which follows a young woman (played by Alice Eve) who missed her train home and spends the night talking with a street musician (Evans).  He is currently editing the rough cut.

As far as other films go, Evans told Variety, “If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing,” he says. “I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.”

Evans does say that nothing is set in stone.  “For all I know, in five years, I might say, ‘Shit, I miss acting.’ Right now, I just want to get behind the camera and make movies.”

Captain America 2: the Winter Soldier hits theater’s on April 3 and if you live near Hendersonville TN, come join us at Brixx: Wood Fired Pizza for an Avengers Trivia Night hosted by Four Letter Nerd and our friends at ComicCollectorLive.com!

Coffee and Superheroes: Who Drinks What?

Coffee is an amazing thing.  It gives us the drive to power through the gauntlet that is cubicle life, as well as giving struggling writers a reason to show everyone at the local coffee shop (Starbucks) that they are, in fact, writers.  As I was sipping my morning coffee (maybe third or fourth morning coffee) out of my Batman coffee cup, I began to wonder what caffeinated beverages gave our favorite superheroes that extra pep in the step of the roundhouse kick to the ne’er-do-well’s villainous jowls.  What follows is purely speculative reasoning as to each hero’s favorite coffee.

Captain America

Captain America movie

Black Coffee, no frills.   Preferably instant coffee from a WWII C-Ration, but Maxwell House will suffice (if it’s good enough for Teddy Roosevelt, it’s good enough for Cap).

Steve Rogers is a traditional, no nonsense, American fightin’ man.  During WWII they didn’t have the fancy pants coffee we have now.  In fact, from November 1942 to July 1943, the US rationed coffee to insure the American GI could have something to keep them sharp over in Europe and the Pacific.  Cap is a natural born leader who never puts himself above his men – if his men are drinking C-Ration instant coffee, then that’s what he’ll be sippin’.

rationing

Batman

character_bio-batman_576_0

Caffeine Capsule Stored in the Utility Belt

Batman’s a busy man.  Whether he’s gallivanting around as the playboy, billionaire, or zipping around Gotham battling the criminal underworld, he doesn’t have time to sit and sip a latte.  When he needs to have a little pick-me-up, he needs it quick and he needs it efficient.  Solution? Caffeine Capsule that is stored in his handy Utility-Belt (probably named a Bat-Pill, or Bat-Caffiene Capsule… I’m sure Alfred’s working on an appropriate Bat-themed name).

The Hulk

incredible-hulk-wallpaper-l

Chamomile Tea

Hulk, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.  When his heart rate goes up so does his pant-size and anger management issues.  Caffeine is probably not the best thing for Dr. Banner to be consuming considering some of the main side-effects are increased heart-rate and high blood pressure.   No, Banner needs the soothing effects of Chamomile tea.  Chamomile has a mild sedative effect and lowers stress, anxiety, and heart rate, which would mean Banner could keep being Banner instead of Banner becoming Hulk.

Whoever made this meme had it backwards

Whoever made this meme had it backwards

 

Superman

Superman-Flying

Folgers, Cream and Two Sugars

Clark is a simple man with simple taste.  He was raised on a farm in the heart of Kansas, nothing fancy about that.  Black coffee would be a bit to bitter for his his hypersensitive taste buds so he would need it to be cut with something sweeter.  Give him a cup of Folgers Classic, throw a dash of cream and two sugars in there, and he will feel stronger than a Kryptonian on Tatooine… because Tatooine has two yellow suns… too much?

funny-Batman-Superman-coffee1

Thor

thor-comics-lepotta_887310

Mead. Only Mead.

... and the occasional black coffee.

… and the occasional black coffee.

 

Aquaman

GalleryChar_1900x900_aquaman1_04_52ab5de7275bb2.59639997

Triple, Venti, Steamed, Half Sweet, Soy, Non-Fat, Chia Machiatto, Extra Chia, Extra Drizzle, Double-Cupped

You know why.

Iron Man

18m4lcy7p565rjpg

Nitro Coffee

Nitro Coffee is what happens when you brew coffee with Red Bull instead of water, add a dash of pure caffeine powder with simple syrup, and cut it with milk and antacid.  Disgusting?  Absolutely.  Deadly?  Most likely, but this is just the kind of drink a man with as busy a schedule and as high a tolerance as Mr. Stark would need to make it through his manic bouts of invention mixed with his flying around the world in a suit of armor at Mach 3.  Do you really think a regular cup of coffee would fuel that kind of life?

Coffee may not give you superpowers, but there is little doubt that it will give you at least a modicum of morale and will power to work your way through to quitting time.  So what kind of coffee do you think your favorite superhero would drink? Let us know in the comments!