Separating The Artist From The Art: The (De-)Glorification of Celebs With Bad Behavior

In today’s society more than ever, is it possible to enjoy art and performances from celebrities, athletes and artists that have checkered pasts?

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What’s The Deal With?…The DC Film Universe

With arguably the most recognizable heroes and villains filling out their roster, the DC Film Universe has struggled to keep pace with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How have things gone so wrong for the majority of these franchises?

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What’s The Deal With?…Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise is arguably the most well-known brand in terms of the films, toys, video games, novels, TV series and comic books. Are fans growing tired of the galaxy far, far away? Let’s discuss all things Star Wars.

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How Will Marvel Incorporate Their New Properties Into The MCU?

Last month, news reports began to surface regarding 21st Century FOX interested in selling off the majority of their film & TV properties to Disney. Though said talks eventually stalled, they began to heat up again recently and the blockbuster announcement was finally made this past Thursday (December 14th 2017).

The deal, reported at $66 billion, will send properties like the X-Men, Fantastic Four & Deadpool back to Disney along with Avatar, The Simpsons, The Alien franchise & many more. When the initial talks first surfaced, I wrote an article about whether the comic properties would be a good fit in the MCU. Though most fanboys and fangirls everywhere will welcome these heroes with open arms, the question of fit is certainly an interesting one to ponder. Let’s take a look at how Disney can fit these newly acquired properties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Deadpool

Let’s start out with the merc with a mouth, Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds did an amazing job portraying the potty-mouthed mutant in the first solo film back in 2016, making a solid $783 million worldwide. The hard R-rating didn’t stop fans from coming out in droves to see a different kind of superhero movie. With Deadpool coming into the MCU, would he still be the same Deadpool we’ve grown to love?

After the acquisition, Disney CEO Bob Iger assured us all that Deadpool would remain an R-rated property, which is what the fans want. But how will he fit into a shared universe with the rest of the Avengers? In terms of simply putting him into the universe, Deadpool’s case could be one of the simplest ones. Deadpool is a character that frequently breaks the fourth wall in the comics and in his first film. He knows that he’s a comic book character and mentions relevant pop cultural happenings. Simply plopping Deadpool into the current MCU will be an easy transition in terms of the universe he inhabits. Things could get messy if he appears in a team-up style film with other PG-13 characters, but it’s a fun problem to have. Expect plenty of vulgar Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess jokes after Deadpool arrives into the MCU after Deadpool 2, which is hitting theatres next June.

Fantastic Four

Fans were made to sit through two terrible Tim Story-directed Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007, respectively, but things got even worse when Josh Trank attempted to revitalize the franchise in 2015. Now that the First Family of Marvel is heading back home, how will they be introduced?

The backstory regarding how Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben got their powers revolves around them traveling into space and being exposed to cosmic radiation. This event could take place either in current time or set in the past. If set in the past, the team could be shown to have gotten trapped in the parallel universe known as the Negative Zone in the comics, preventing them from returning to earth after initially gaining their powers.

Going back to the premise that their introduction is set in current time, the prospect of having the Avengers Tower becoming the Baxter Building is very intriguing. As shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark has sold Avengers Tower, as their new base of operations is now in upstate New York. But who did he sell to? Could it become Oscorp? Tying the Fantastic Four into this universe could reveal that it has been sold to Reed Richards.

Along with the main team, the Fantasic Four property also includes characters like Silver Surfer, Galactus and Doctor Doom, among others. With Thanos being the biggest big bad in the current MCU, what will the future hold after Thanos is (assumedly) defeated? A cosmic villain like Galactus would be a perfect fit to replace the Mad Titan atop the hierarchy of threats to the universe. On a smaller scale, Doctor Doom could be an incredible foil to any and all heroes in the MCU.

With James Gunn continuing the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and spearheading future space-based Marvel films, the Silver Surfer is a perfect addition to what’s to come. Incorporating him into storylines with the likes of alien races like the Kree, Chitauri, Badoon, and Skrulls, the possibilities for more cosmic-centric films has increased exponentially.

X-Men

The X-Men franchise has seen its share of ups and downs since it first debuted back in 2000. While films like the original X-Men, X-2, First Class, Days of Future Past and Logan have been very solid films, the converse can be said about X-3, Origins and Apocalypse. With new X-films set to release next year with the likes of Dark Phoneix, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, putting these characters into the MCU as they currently are would be nearly impossible.

As with Fantastic Four and Deadpool, the X-Men occupy a completely separate universe. Though there are “powered people” and Inhumans in the MCU, the term “mutant” is not in the dictionary. Kevin Feige cannot simply drop the X-Men as they are right into the mix. Characters like Apocalypse, Magneto and Wolverine have been around for a very long time. Knowing this fact, how could they be explained away as to have always been in this world?

The only logical way to put the current X-Men into the current MCU would be some sort of reality-changing event. With Avengers: Infinity War releasing next May and Avengers 4 the year after, it is conceivable that Thanos warps reality with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and accompanying stones. The premise of multiple worlds and parallel universes has been discussed in the MCU by Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor: The Dark World and even on the current season of Agents of SHIELD. Though this could be an easy fix, it could also cause logistical problems. Does Kevin Feige WANT the current actors and actresses reprising their roles? Does he WANT the previous X-continuity to remain canon? And what about the two different versions of Quicksilver?

If the answer is no, the only other option would be to completely reboot the X-Men. Introducing a completely new roster of mutants would be the only way to go on this one. The X-gene will have to be something completely new, coming by way of genetic manipulation, a virus, or something extra-terrestrial. All mutants in this scenario would have to just be getting their powers, so expansive backstories for Magneto and Wolverine would not exist as we know them.

The MCU Post-Infinity War

Before this deal went through, Kevin Feige previously stated that there are currently 20 new films in development. After next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, we’re getting Ant-Man & The Wasp, Captain Marvel and the currently untitled Avengers 4. Keeping the trend of sequels going, one would assume that Black Panther will at least get a sequel if not a trilogy. The same can be said for Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting a third film).

With current plans for a giant slate of upcoming films, would Feige and Marvel/Disney want to reboot the entire universe to accommodate for the newly acquired properties? The complexity of this new process of fitting these new additions is extremely difficult and will take a lot of hard work.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts to all of this and it will be a lot of fun to follow over the next few years. Each upcoming Comic-Con and D-23 events will most likely be our look into Kevin Feige’s plans. Though fitting all of these new characters into the MCU in some capacity will be a problem, it’s certainly a good problem to have.

If the MCU is rebooted entirely, fans should take time to appreciate what we have gotten since 2008 when Iron Man first hit the big screen. This expansive world has given us hours and hours of enjoyment in both film and television form (except for Inhumans). The time of speculation is now upon us all.

Now that the news has broken, how do you see these new characters fitting into the MCU? Do you want the current X-Men ushered in? Do you want to see these properties rebooted? Does the MCU need to be burnt down and rise from the ashes like a phoenix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

 

Would Fox’s Marvel Properties Be A Good Fit For The MCU?

Earlier this week, reports from CNBC surfaced stating that Disney has been in talks to buy film & television properties from 21st Century Fox. Though said talks have seemingly stalled, the premise of having characters like the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four is immediately intriguing to Marvel fans everywhere. Whether or not a deal of this magnitude comes to fruition, it was certainly a shocking headline to come across.

A large portion of Marvel fans would be absolutely delighted to see Wolverine sharing screen time with the Avengers or a full-fledged version of the Illuminati, but would these characters fit into the MCU in an organic way? Last year, I wrote an article about my issues with the X-Men film franchise. Their continuity issues and general lack of regard for cohesion has driven fans of the franchise crazy for more than a decade. However, there are also plenty of fans that truly enjoy the X-Men films for what they are and don’t want to see them “return home” to Marvel Studios. Though Fox has done a great job with some of their X-Men films and Deadpool, films like X-3, Apocalypse, X-Men: Origins and every Fantastic Four movie have been huge disappointments to fans.

In this article, I will highlight my reasons for and against adding Fox’s roster of Marvel characters into the MCU and how their inclusion could and could not work in a way that feels both seemless and fluid.

Let’s start out with the positive side of things. The opportunity for Marvel exec Kevin Feige to truly have uninhibited access to the complete roster of Marvel characters is certainly enough to sell anyone on the issue. The MCU has had to make backdoor deals with studios like Fox and Sony in order to be allowed to incorporate different characters into their films. The deal allowing Spider-Man to swing into the MCU was a groundbreaking feat.

No longer would the term “mutant” be banned. No more would we need multiple versions of the same character in different universes like that of Quicksilver. No more changed storylines and character usages because of rights issues. We’ll finally have the opportunity to have more faithful comic adaptations using these characters in the ways they were meant to be used.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Hugh Jackman at the press screening for Logan. I asked Hugh if he would be interested in appearing in an Avengers movie, to which he replied that he would. Though he has retired from the role of Wolverine, he could be enticed to return with this new opportunity. After all, he is the Wolverine we deserve.

Think of all the amazing storylines and films that we could see: Avengers vs. X-Men, House of M, Civil War 2, and even an Infinity Gauntlet the way it was meant to be done. In the comics, characters like Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four are imperative to some of the major story arcs. Villains like Galactus and Doctor Doom would be incredible foils in a post-Thanos MCU.

Stepping aside from the film world, the opportunity for various TV series is also a major plus. Some of the offshoot X-Men teams would be prime candidates for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Building a cohesive universe in all areas of visual media is such a wonderful thing to think about and would truly unite the characters we’ve grown up reading and watching.

With all of the positives out of the way, let’s talk about some of the negatives. The inclusion of Fox’s Marvel characters would most likely require rebooting. There’s no logical way that I can think of to have the current roster of X-Men suddenly appear in the current MCU. The X-Men are very much intertwined with political and human rights issues that would have shaped the way society thinks of super-powered beings. It wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War that the Sokovia Accords came into existence to keep track of our heroes, so adding a stable of mutants into the mix just would not fit. Characters like Magneto, Apocalypse and Wolverine have been around for a very long time; having them suddenly appear in the MCU wouldn’t make much sense.

The tone of the Fox universe is also vastly different from that of the MCU. We’ve gotten R-rated movies in Logan and Deadpool that wouldn’t mesh well with the more comedic stylings that the MCU has to offer with properties like the Guardians of the Galaxy or even with the newly-released Thor: Ragnarok. If Deadpool were to pop up in a film with Spider-Man, would he still be the foul-mouthed mercenary we fell in love with last year? Figuring out a way to mesh these different tones would be a difficult task for sure.

Having different properties at different movie studios also gives fans the opportunity to have a greater number of these films. This year, we were given Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming,  and Logan. In the coming years, we’re getting two more Avengers films, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Gambit, New Mutants, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Deadpool 2, X-Force, Venom, Silver & Black and two more Spider-Man films. This is a huge workload for one studio to undertake (though Sony is still in the mix). Having a huge slate of films under a single studio could mean a smaller output of film releases in a calendar year.

There are certainly many pros and cons to having all of our heroes together under one unified branch. Where do you stand on a possible merger? What team-ups would you like to see? What are your ideas as to how Fox’s Marvel characters could be introduced into the MCU? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

 

The Cinescape On 93.3 WMMR

After our very special 1st birthday episode with special guest Steve Morrison of the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR (which was just voted as the greatest rock station of all time), Steve gave us a “butt plug” on their show today. We’ve also been featured on WMMR’s website!

(Click “play” to hear our “butt plug”

The Cinescape – Changing the landscape of movie & TV news and reviews!

What’s The Deal With?…Comedy In The MCU

Ever since Robert Downey Jr. first suited up for Iron Man back in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their slew of directors have had a daunting task of mixing various elements of action, adventure, science fiction and comedy into their plethora of super hero films.

Despite the alien invasions, civil wars, and intergalactic settings, comedy has always been a mainstay in the MCU. Whether it’s Tony Stark throwing out off-handed jabs, Rocket Raccoon stealing limbs or Thor smashing cups, MCU head honcho Kevin Feige and his underlings have made it a point to break the tension with these comedic tones. Each film in this shared universe always diverts from the main storyline to add in one-liners and laughs for fans of all ages, which inertly isn’t a bad thing. But is too much comedy in these films, especially with growing stakes heading into Avengers: Infinity War, too much?

Let’s explore a number of instances from various MCU films, starting off with the most recent addition in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom Holland certainly made an impact when he debuted in Captain America: Civil War, bringing a sense of youth to Peter Parker/Spider-Man that had been sorely missed in both Sam Raimi’s and Marc Webb’s attempts at bringing the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the big screen. Seeing Holland on-screen in Homecoming was refreshing and the comedic aspects to that film were well-warranted. Spider-Man has always been a smart ass kid, often talking trash to his adversaries during battle. It was a no-brainer that comedy would be a big part of this film, and rightfully so. At no point did these moments take me out of the film, as this element is a core essential characteristic of Spider-Man. The storyline was nicely plotted out and the comedy blended well within the overall film. I had no issue with comedy in this film.

On the flip side of this argument, jump back a month to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Not only did I not enjoy this film for it’s story, the film was loaded with cheap comedic moments that wholly took me out of the film. Whether it was repeated beats from the first film, Drax making poop jokes, Baby Groot being shoved down our throats or how much Mantis was dumbed down as a character, this film spent way too much time trying to get cheap laughs and it really deterred from making this film great, especially with how well James Gunn did with the first film (even with Star Lord’s dance off with Ronan, yikes). A huge miss on this one.

There are plenty of other instances of badly used humor throughout the MCU, such as Kat Dennings’ terrible character of Darcy Lewis and her calling Mjolnir “meow meow” in the Thor films, Quicksilver’s “You didn’t see that coming?” babble in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Trevor Slattery’s mere existence in Iron Man 3, or Kaecilius getting beat up by the Cloak of Levitation in Doctor Strange. I could go through each film and pick out the most cringe-worthy moments, but it would take entirely too long to do. The bottom line here is that I believe Marvel is trying to cater to the casual fan too much.

Obviously, the point in releasing these films is to make money. The MCU has to cater to an extremely large range of fans worldwide, not just the casual fan. Trying to make strict adaptations of these comic stories for the big screen is not a feasible business practice. A film like Ant-Man has to appeal to both comic readers and audience goers that have never heard of the character, so adding humor is certainly a great way to bridge the gap in these instances. The formula that Marvel & Disney have implemented cannot be disputed financially, as these films have gone on to gross billions of dollars for the studio. But is there a point where enough is enough?

When Avengers: Infinity War hits theatres next year, the fate of the entire (cinematic) universe will be in jeopardy. Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet literally have the power to destroy everything in existence. As the roster of characters pretty much includes every hero we’ve ever seen so far, what are we going to expect: Rocket, Star Lord and Iron Man cracking jokes as Thanos is throwing pieces of destroyed planets at them? Feige and the Russo Brothers need to understand the dire straits our heroes will find themselves in and reign back the use of humor a bit. That’s not to say there can’t be any kind of humor added in, but the circumstances need to dictate the banter going on in a way that doesn’t make it feel like it’s made for a 5-year-old.

Before I end this rant, I’d like to point out a quote from Thor: Ragnarok director Taiki Waititi from his recent interview with the LA Times on this very topic:

 “If we were taking things a little too seriously, I would say, ‘Never forget that we’re making a cosmic adventure with a space Viking,’” said the director by phone. “That sort of captures it all. We’ve got the Incredible Hulk, and a giant woman with antlers. We’ve got aliens and spaceships. It’s almost like a bunch of kids were asked what they wanted to put into a movie, and then we just did that.”

While Waitit’s comments make sense within the context that these characters are mere figments of the imagination, it angers me a bit to think that these directors may not be giving these characters the treatment that hardcore fans think they deserve. I feel for the most part that the use of humor has been more positive than negative, but the highlighted instances have done a lot to make me fearful for the future of these franchises. I don’t want to see our heroes acting silly when things are at their bleakest.

Now I turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on the use of humor in the MCU? Do you think it needs to be toned down heading into film’s like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War? What have been your favorite and least favorite comedic moments so far?