Doctor Strange: The Bradscribe Review

Open Your Eye…

bripjeb5zbecvhnqjdpj

“It’s Strange” – Doctor Strange.

“Maybe, who am I to judge?” – Kaecilius. 

When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain.

When Bennybatch is Strange, Marvel go ALL OUT to make the fourteenth – and latest – entry in their formidable Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange, a spectacular and one-heckuva-trippy outing. 

Straight after the new, enhanced Marvel Studios logo is unveiled, we are led on a blistering ride of energy-harnessing and reality (re)shaping.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a long way from Holmes in the role of arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, whose self-centred world comes crashing down around him after losing the use of his hands in a horrific car accident. He is advised to travel to Nepal, where answers of a mystic kind can be attained… providing he foregoes his stubborn defeatist attitude that “this material universe is all there is.”

Cumberbatch has the right look, mood and elocution to create this extraordinary character – no wonder the studio upheld production until he had completed his Hamlet sting in London’s West End!

Having got over initial reservations concerning visuals designed TOO closely to the aesthetic originally concocted for Inception and The Matrix, such scenes as soaring through the multi-dimensional vortices and the confrontation with the dread Dormammu are suitably good fun.

“Have you seen THAT at a gift shop?”

Fortunately, complementing the impressive visuals is a really snappy script: bold, intellectual, coherent and invariably humorous. 

For a handy intro to this character, see here:

cvktmgflste8nfgvdb4k

“You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?” – The Ancient One. 

Much controversy centred around Tilda Swinton’s casting as The Ancient One. Changing the ethnicity to Celtic (?!) was (ahem) strange, but when you consider that the original setting for all those mystic arts was switched from Tibet to Nepal so as to appease the Chinese box office, it all becomes so painfully politically “correct.”

By the Rings of Raggadorr, the Power of Yen conquers all it seems. Business is – annoyingly, regrettably – business. 

Wong (Benedict Wong)his forever-faithful, forever-making-tea manservant from the comics – has been upgraded to Head Librarian. Amazingly, the titular role and the librarian are both played by top British thesps who share the same forename: Benedict – how strange!

Kaecilius – as noted before, is a character NOT found in the comics. Maybe he is not given as many memorable dastardly moments as we would like, but hey! The fact that it is played to sinister perfection by Mads Mikkelsen, possibly my – and your! – fave villainous character actor provides enough reason to rejoice.

And when you’re starting to wonder how this visual treat ties in with the rest of the MCU, there IS the honorary Stan Lee cameo – that is hilarious! To help bring further MCU relevance to these proceedings, Wong helpfully states:

“The Avengers protect the world from physical enemies… we safeguard it against more mystical threats.”

Too right, Wong!

j8lej6jyhdze465psqjf

whoa-marvel-s-doctor-strange-trailer-just-dropped-and-you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it-931393

“Steve Ditko is one of the greatest Marvel artists in history… We are now able to take his trippy comic panels and have the technology to put that into big 3-Dimensional space on a movie screen… it’s amazing” – Kevin Feige. 

Okay, let’s get the most annoying problem (which applies to too many movies these days, not just Doctor Strange) out of the way first.

As is all too painfully predictable in modern cinema these days, Rachel McAdams has woefully little to do here, worryingly described as the “love interest.” As is so often, her “appearance” is reduced to insipid underdevelopment. And Stephen shows little Interest anyway. Yet again, we are left wondering what necessitated her inclusion at all…

It would have been really groovy if Martin Freeman’s American character from Cap America: Civil War had made a cameo somewhere here! Talk about opportunity missed…

Once again – as expected, Vishanti be praised! – Marvel has produced another great hit. It’s well worth checking out. Remember to stay for the post-cred scenes; BOTH are impressive – one features a cameo from one of Marvel’s well-established heroes (Hint: he does NOT like tea!)

As for me, multiple repeat viewings are assured – while you go and enjoy this one, Brad will be pleasantly coming down. Preferably with tea.

No mushrooms! Just tea. With a little honey. 

tumblr_inline_o5k26le94b1sypkn8_540

ve3yn7ciyeave60bv8gb

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 Eyes of Agamotto out of 5 – hey, four Eyes is nothin’ ta snigger at!

From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

all-star-squadron-ass2

“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

0baa341106f4322e11a7353fc99044f1__SX640_QL80_TTD_

727913

“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

339599-3033-21083-2-legion-of-super-hero

“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

ff241_15-16

“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

indianathing

  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

fantastic_four_vol_1_241_001

1898175-x_men131_09b

“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

dawnstar-larocque-stars

“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Sci-Fi nom noms to tickle the taste buds, bust the gut and confound the lower intestine

sleeper-instant-mix

“My God! I beat a man insensible with a strawberry” – Miles Monroe. 

Whilst researching and blogging about food and nutrition matters, and wondering how and when this next Post can ever emerge, by following that age-old tradition of doin’-everythin’-at-once, it was thought best to combine the two objectives and explore the culinary delights that can be savoured in the realms of sci-fi. So, let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Everyone has to eat – even the aliens. Not that we should eat the aliens, but watch out, to them we might be the tastiest looking delicacy on this side of the Outer Rim territories. What tasty morsels can we look forward to? Well, by some odd happenstance, foodstuffs – even the necessary act of eating – are hard to come by in this particular genre. Why should this be?

As an essential part of life, food should be a defining element of science fiction, but after close inspection, there are a relatively few instances to select from. Come! On! Where is deep fat when you need it?

“No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?” 

“Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.”

“Incredible.”  

alien-mealtime

“Hot dog? There’s no dog in this… Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soybean meal, niacin, dextrose, and sodium nitrate flavouring” – Nestor 1.  

Gotta get me some galactic goodies before navigating the Nebula. Yet it seems that for all the wild and wonderful exploits in outer space, from defying the evil empire, guarding the galaxy, getting lost in the Mutara Nebula, even making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, calls for some top nosh, but where is it?! Maybe that’s why there is so much aggro in outer space, because protagonists can only dream of partaking a hearty meal, and it’s doing their head in. As well as their stomachs…  

When the crew of the Nostromo celebrated Kane’s recovery with a slap-up meal – culminating in one of SF’s most memorable moments – we still didn’t get to see what their spread consisted of. Even in the sequel when the marines emerge from cryo-sleep, all they seemed to dine on was cornbread. Not even Ripley liked that; no wonder they got wiped out – insufficient protein is no excuse for anyone. Well, if you thought the cornbread was bad…

In keeping with their war-like tendencies, what do Klingons eat? Their signature dish has the mouthwatering name of “Gagh,” which just happens to be a plate of worms of course. A dish that is best served cold, presumably? 

Today’s Menu:

Blade-Runner-noodles

rest-at-end-of-universestar-trek-food

shawarma-avengers

Waiter: “Would you like to see the menu? Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?”

Zaphod Beeblebrox: “That’s cool. We’ll meet the meat.”   

The astronauts of the Discovery: Bowman and Poole are sampling a tray of colourful but bland gunk; in rainswept Los Angeles, Rick Deckard (ex-Blade Runner/ex-cop) only wanted to have noodles; in The Road Warrior, Max Rockatansky shovells out a can of Dinki-Di dog food. Grief, best not to dwell on those post-apocalyptic days… Yes, but amidst the battles to control water, or petrol, how and from where are all those shoulder-padded loons of the near-future going to get their munchies? And let’s not mention what’s being consumed in Soylent Green.

At least after all he went through, Tony Stark of the Avengers knows a shawarma joint “about two blocks from here.” Not sure what was more spectacular: the team taking out that huge Chitauri millipede thing… or the fact that Stark didn’t even know what shawarma is and wanted to try it?!

Is that it? Let me know if there have been any delectable delicacies excluded from this Post.

Right, that’s it, then: the next sci-fi project to be developed by this writer –  whatever part of the galaxy they end up in, whatever tight spots they get stuck in – most of my characters will (have to) be crazy about Mexican, Thai or Japanese food. And they will stop at nothing to acquire it in it’s natural form, as delicious as poss. Why should that have to sound like such a groundbreaking plot device? 

And then they can wash everything down with a mind-pummeling pint of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which as The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (whose second course is entitled: The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe) quaintly puts it: “…the effect of which is like having your brain smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.” 

2001-mealtime

recipes

Enjoy your meal!

Anty Matter: Can Marvel’s Latest Blockbuster Succeed?

Little Big Man. Heroes Don’t Get Any Bigger? 

ant-man-marvel-movie

“The thing about Ant-Man: it’s different. There’s never been a superhero like that. These days, if you can come up with something that’s different and unique, and then do it well, which is the only way Marvel would do anything, you’ve got a great shot at getting a hit” – Stan Lee.  

Will the latest offering from the mighty Marvel Studios: Ant-Man – which opens internationally this Friday – be worth the ticket price? It seems that the last entry in Phase 2 of Marvel Studios’ grand cinematic strategy will star their smallest character in possibly their biggest gamble. 

As a keen follower of this hero back in the day, his sheer outlandishness was an intriguing plus, yet it is the one off-putting factor that has consigned Ant-Man to the lower confines of the Marvel canon, and has taken this long to get his own motion picture at all. 

This is a pity for the character of Ant-Man/Dr. Hank Pym, created in 1962 by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, holds a special place in the Marvel lexicon. The scientist originally responsible for inventing – and first wearing -the amazing ant-suit, was one of the co-founders of the Avengers – extraordinary to think that he did not feature in either Avengers movie; he was also responsible for creating Ultron, not Tony Stark as Marvel’s last blockbuster erroneously portrayed.

Only now do the powers-that-be at Marvel believe that the level of special visual effects has reached a standard sufficient enough to create the story of a man who can shrink to ant-size and command armies of soldier ants through special receivers in a specially designed helmet.

How, on Earth, do you pitch something like that?!

Screen-Shot-Ant-Man 

“I think our first move should be calling the Avengers” – Scott Lang.  

After both powerhouses of Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys  failed to give me much satisfaction, Ant-Man looks far from revitalising my rapidly diminishing faith in the current spate of blockbuster movie-making. Just look at the pile of minus factors going against it. Apart from the aforementioned obscurity of the character, how significant will the late departure of original writer and director: Edgar Wright have on the fortunes of this film?

And as for the casting, well…! Michael Douglas?! As Hank?! How is that possible? What about Paul Rudd as Scott Lang? He is ideal for making entertaining lunacy like Anchorman, but judging from those (bland) trailers, he looks to be mismatched with this material. But then again: ask me who would make a better Ant-Man, and that would be a toughie. 

Both trailers seen so far hardly worked up any enthusiasm for the subject-matter. Rather than instill any sense of ant-icipation, this lacklustre fare is generating nothing but ant-ipathy…  

Perhaps more than any other Marvel character, this peculiar material has a particularly tough task in trying to translate to the big screen. Can it be done?  

Alan Mooreliving legend among comic book writers – stipulated that none of his work should be developed into movies. In one interview, when asked how he would adapt his own outstanding classic: Watchmen – voted as one of the greatest novels of all time – into a movie, he just replied without hesitation: “I wouldn’t.”

antman-poster

“This is not some cute tech like the Iron Man suit!” – Dr. Hank Pym. 

So what compelled me towards Ant-Man as a comic character worth reading? This is some question, considering that the similar, yet vastly more popular, Spider-Man never appealed to me. There was something really cool about Ant-Man’s helmet, whereas nothing amazing was to be had from Spidey’s curiously red and blue costume.

Ant-Man did not have his own series during my comic-collecting days, but would guest star in other titles. Unfortunately, none of those strips were kept for long, so it is difficult to recall which issues did grace my stash of comics, yet there was a single page which – after three decades – still remains crystal clear in my mind’s eye.

Lo and behold, an online search (for other comic art, incidentally) suddenly brought it up, and all the fond memories associated with this masterpiece (by the incomparable John Byrne; who else?) came flooding back.

For those of you taking notes, this is page 15 of Marvel Premiere #47 from 1979.

197904 Marvel Premiere 47 p15 John Byrne

“You think you can stop the future? You’re just a thief!” – Yellowjacket. 

Considering how we were subjected to an Amazing Spider-Man reboot even before the dust had been allowed to settle on Spider-Man 3, it is reassuring to learn that Marvel Studios is ready to tap into Marvel Comics’ rich and diverse pool of several thousand characters

Ant-Man  may not reach the same heights of last Summer’s deliriously fun smash: Guardians of the Galaxy, but at least it continues Marvel’s bold and warmly welcomed ploy of unleashing lesser-known characters upon a cinema-going public suffering from remake and sequel fatigue.

Some comics were never meant to be filmed, and should have stayed on the printed page – some may argue that Ant-Man is one of them – but let’s hope that the time and effort put into this movie will pay off.

Anyway, it can’t be as awful as Punisher: War Zone… can it? 

Ant-Man-Marvel-Comics-Lineup

“This ‘dorky looking helmet’ is the only thing that’s going to protect me from the real bad guys!” – Magneto.

comments

Cheers!

Ultron Rocks!: The Avengers Shoot To Thrill Yet Again!

No strings attached… No spoilers neither!

Ultron-up

“I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler…” – Tony Stark. 

Avengers, reassemble! 

You can’t escape it – it’s too big; you can’t deny it – it’s too mega; Avengers: Age of Ultron is the first genuine smash hit of the year. After avoiding some lacklustre releases so far this year, it is a pleasure – and a welcome relief – to reassure you that this sequel is a triumph! This penultimate instalment in Phase 2 of the MCU certainly has everything you could possibly want from a Hollywood juggernaut; thrilling comicbook-style action: check! Groundbreaking effects: check! Fictitious Eastern European countries: …er, check. Dodgy Eastern European accents: ho hum, ‘fraid so… 

Ultron was one of the classic villains from the original comics, and his menacing appearance here is truly unforgettable. Admittedly, there were doubts in this camp at the thought of James Spader providing the voice of what is (here, at least) Tony Stark’s creation. From the very first moment you hear it (trust me, you won’t forget it!) this creepy chrome-mech AI makes for a particularly distinctive villain: sorta like a Terminator exoskeleton with unnerving charisma – a dastardly droid to savour…

With all the premise-setting and character-intros sorted three years ago, this outing commences immediately with a heavy-duty action sequence. Hey, it’s really cool to see the gang again; as well as some welcome additions to the ranks, some old friends pop up along the way.

As for superhero-maestro Joss Whedon, it comes as no surprise that Age of Ultron will be his last Marvel epic. After juggling the stories of about a dozen supes and crafting some of the most extensive delirious and delightful set-pieces, anyone would be left mentally and physically drained!  

“I’m done. I’ve made ensemble movies exclusively. And this one was harder, by far, than all of the others combined.” Okay, did it top the last one? “It’s a different story, it’s not bigger; it is, in fact, one minute shorter. A personal accomplishment.” 

thor-hammermjolnir

“I am Thor! Son of Odin! As long as I have breath in my breast I… I‘m running out of things to say!” – Thor.

What set The Avengers (2012) apart was its deft handling of fun moments amid the heavy-duty costumed clobbering action, particularly Stark’s cache of wisecracks. Although he has significantly fewer memorable one-liners, this time it’s Thor who gets his fair share of magic comedy moments. Having already enjoyed the instant classic party scene with Thor’s anxious expression – priceless – as Cap America manages to dislodge Mjolnir “a tad,” there are, thankfully, countless other entertaining merry morsels amid the mayhem.

You could argue that this 2015 model is just a copy of the 2012 classic; expect to see plenty other heroes plucked from Marvel’s illustrious vault as this genre expands further over the next few years, but don’t expect to find much character development therein…

The effects have reached such a slick level that the action sequences get so multi-layered and convoluted that they can just wash over you. Such is the modern role of the “actor”: go through the required motions and have some bizarre concepts digitally added/enhanced later. More than ever, Hulk’s actions – even his facial contortions – are more intricate this time and-

hold on: how does Hulk even show up against a green screen?…(!)

Vision-Paul-Bettany-Poster-Avengers-2-Age-of-Ultron

“I beg your pardon, I am a synthozoid, not a robot! As such, I am a perfect meld of computer micro-circuitry and living, synthetic flesh. In all ways, I am a fully functional man!” – Vision.  

So, having waited only a measly thirty-five years to see my favourite Avenger on the big screen, did Avengers: Age of Ultron deliver? Well, from his fantastic introductory scene, Paul Bettany is striking as the Vision. It’s odd to see a purple synthezoid, considering how he’s always been depicted in a yellow and green costume. Yet the most curious aspect of this big screen realisation of Vision is the fact that he has… pupils in his eyes. Maybe Bettany is adverse to wearing contacts? Most curious… 

Did we really have to see Black Widow get the hots for Bruce Banner? The only love interest in the Avengers Universe that matters is the bond between Vision and Scarlet Witch. Both appear in this sequel, but their intriguing characters have little opportunity to evolve here – literally, blink and you’ll miss the scene they share together while droids are eliminated and a city crumbles around them…

Seriously, for such an integral member of the team, it’s a travesty that Vision doesn’t get much to say or do! The sheer wonder of this character lies in his ability to lower his density and mass until he is lighter than air. Sure, we see him fly, and fire energy beams through that jewel embedded in his forehead, but where is his trademark trick of flying through walls or disappearing through ceilings with that “almost imperceptible crackle” as so lovingly told in the comics? Opportunity (sorely) missed, methinks…

But the most nagging “problem” with this mighty blockbuster has to be: how can The Avengers: Infinity Wars (Parts 1 and 2 expected in May 2018 and May 2019 respectively) possibly top this?!

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a blast! It’s a humdinger! And – ha ha, yeah – it’s a MARVEL!

Ultron-Fan-Art-Matt-Broox

“I was designed to save the world. People would look to the sky and see hope… I’ll take that from them first!” – Ultron.  

Groovy, but it’s only fair that the lady should have the last laugh

Black-Widow-Ultron

“You’d be surprised at how un-macho male actors are. All of us are extremely emotionally delicate, regardless of gender. Once you put men in tights, it’s a great equaliser” – Scarlett Johansson. 

comments

 

Cheers!

Blurred Vision: Where Is The Android Avenger?!

Then, silently, effortlessly… like some great, vengeful bird of prey… he swoops into the moonless, cloud-draped sky. Behold… the Vision! 

ultron creates vision

“What difference if I have the same brain waves? I AM UNIQUE! I am THE VISION…! And thus… I am content” – The Vision.  

Another month, another Avengers trailer… but still no sign of him. Unfortunately, this veteran comic book afficionado has yet to see that member of the Avengers who drew his attention to the title all those years ago! Naturally, when the first Avengers movie came in 2012, it was assumed that the amazing android known as The Vision would get his big screen debut there and then, but… nah. 

The latest trailer turned out to be quite a letdown; no Vision, and neither Maximoff siblings: Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver for that matter. Incidentally, there were hardly any shots of Ultron himself; worryingly, there was emphasis on a Hulk vs. Iron Man face-off which, quite frankly, is the last thing my tired retinas want to absorb right now. There is, therefore – unsurprisingly – a distinct lack of excitement from this corner of the blogosphere…

With just three months until Age of Ultron is released, there is only conceptual art of the android Avenger to whet my appetite, and this is made more frustrating by Breaking News that the Vision will have an extended role in the cinematic universe – it now “seems likely” that the Vision will appear again in Captain America: Civil War (June 2016)

How ironic: we are unable to see The Vision now!

paul bettany vision header

“He has the ability to change his density and that’s awesome… Vision is able to do something otherworldly and it’s kind of great. And he’s discovering it all as he goes along” – Paul Bettany. 

As a highly advanced synthetic being – even he describes himself as “a thing of plastoid flesh – synthetic blood” – the Vision can alter his molecular density to not only fly, but pass through solid walls and floors; as an eight year old, that was the coolest thing you could possibly see, and is probably the sole reason why he is so well-respected. In addition, he can shoot energy beams (from the jewel encrusted in his forehead). Astoundingly, despite being artificial, he had taken Scarlet Witch as his wife. Thus, his back-story had acquired tremendous depth and significance.

Having provided the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man films (and the first Avengers movie of course), it does not sound so surprising that British actor Paul Bettany was cast as The Vision. Although quite understandably reticent to reveal too much about his upcoming character, Bettany did explain that having only recorded lines, he’d never actually watched any of the Marvel movies; as preparation for the role, he sat through all of them. Just how can anyone “prepare” to portray such an enigmatic figure?

Apart from alluding to the extravagance of the sets: “we were in a set that felt like a town,” it is most curious that we actually know so little about his onscreen persona. Come on! The waiting and anticipation is anxious enough as it is… We’ve barely been given any insight into his costume, what and how much action he will deliver, or even what his dialogue will be like. Heck, what will he sound like?! 

And you know, that release date fast approaches… 

Vision-and-Ultron

vision (1)

“No… no! It’s some sort of unearthly inhuman vision!” – Janet Pym. 

As new intriguing Avengers news filters through, it does appear slightly annoying that The Vision is referred to as the team’s newest member! This distinctive, green-skinned character was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, making his debut in Avengers #57 (1968). Originally constructed by Ultron as a villainous machine programmed to destroy the Avengers, the Vision betrayed his master and sided with the superhero team instead. At one time, the Vision became leader of the Avengers; it would later be revealed that the Vision’s body was the remains of the original Human Torch. As for the odd name, Ant-Man’s girlfriend unwittingly provided that in one of the series’ more memorable speech bubbles…

Out of all the mind-blowing characters to have graced the Marvel Comics Universe, The Vision must surely count as one of the most extraordinary. Reading some Avengers comics, my attention was always drawn towards the more bizarre characters like Ant-Man, The Beast, even Thor if you will, and of course, The Vision. So, “ordinary dudes” like Captain America and Iron Man were never really going to appeal, and yet, right now, they have both dominated the Big Screen in their own separate highly successful series’, plus had hefty roles in the 2012 movie together.

Okay, so the Vision hasn’t made an appearance in the first movie and neither trailer for the second thus far. Still, no reason to feel upset…

…or is there?

vision5

Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released 24 April in the UK and 1 May in the US. 

Make Mine Marvel!

 

Posted: 11 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be

“Marvel was pioneering new methods of comics storytelling and characterization, addressing more serious issues and in the process keeping and attracting readers in their teens and beyond” – Peter Sanderson.

Having watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night which, in this case, thoroughly deserves the overused tag: “awesome,” the whole phenomenon of comicbook movies has proved its worth, and looks set to be the most bankable genre of all time. A tremendous amalgam of superhero action and the twists and intrigue of a political thriller, The Winter Soldier showcases all that should be big and spectacular about the modern blockbuster.  

It cannot go unmentioned that Marvel comicbooks greatly inpiring my own writing. The standard of scripts was engrossing. Even now, skip through a certain classic and the descriptions and dialogue still look superbly crafted.

The Avengers movie (2012) not only invigorated the Marvel franchise, it practically blew every other blockbuster out of the park. Having grossed $623.4 million in the US and $1.5 billion worldwide, it has become the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Only had one Avengers comic, and that was just to get scenes with The Vision (my personal fave Avenger) the “synthozoid” who can alter his own density to walk through walls, and spoke some of the more poignant dialogue of any comicbook.

Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics
Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics

“You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said” – Stan Lee.

The one aspect which Bradscribe loves about the Marvel movies is the numerous cameos by Stan Lee, the mastermind behind Marvel Comics. His best appearance must surely be in Hulk (2003) in which he appears as a security guard talking with a colleague played by Lou Ferrigno, who played the green giant in the original TV series; if only the rest of this dull movie had been as good as this charming moment…

Back in 1980/1981, the heyday of my avid comic accumulation period, whenever given the opportunity to peruse the latest copies on the newsstands, there was a tendency to select a different title every time; if the cover carried the epithet: “Stan Lee Presents” it was sure to be a winner.

It is estimated that more than 8,000 characters exist within the Marvel Universe alone. Thus, there is an unlimited trove of possibilities for Marvel Studios to dominate the multiplexes for the foreseeable future. An enlightening prospect considering that Marvel had filed for bankruptcy in 1994! Moreover, when Disney snapped up Marvel Entertainment in 2010, the former’s stock price tumbled; Sony Pictures owned the film rights for Spider-Man while Fox controlled the X-Men. When a big-budget production of Captain America was mooted, it seemed nobody believed that the success of Iron Man could be repeated…

The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!
The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!

..Stan Lee had this huge breakthrough of two-dimensional characters. So, they dress up in costumes and do good, but they’ve got a bad heart. Or a bad leg. I actually did think for a long while that having a bad leg was an actual character trait” – Alan Moore.  

The comicbook which excited me the most was The Uncanny X-Men. During 1987/1988, a friend’s overflowing comic collection spurred the second wave of my comix-fix. Classic X-Men (which began in 1986)reprinted the hard-to-obtain earlier editions from the 70s. In addition to Chris Claremont’s writing, brilliantly realised by John Byrne’s artwork, it was amazing to learn the frustrations and complications suffered by mutantkind. X2 (2003) remains my personal favourite Marvel movie, perhaps coming closest to transferring the tight script and catchy characterization from comic pages to the big screen.

Like Iron Man and the Hulk, Thor was a co-creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Just a few issues of The Mighty Thor comic inspired me to peruse Norse mythology, and expand the scope for creating my own historical fiction. Even at such a tender age, the “peculiar” way in which the Thunder God spoke enthralled me.

When news of a major movie production was finally confirmed, this fan became anxious. How would they treat the Thor-talk?! The result (2011) was agreeable; appreciated the choice of director and the presence of Anthony Hopkins as Odin, but as usual, any gravitas it could have achieved was submerged under a deluge of frenetic fights, CGI tomfoolery and… Thor just didn’t sound right.   

Never mind, Captain America is turning out to be a major franchise; who knows, it might be big and cool enough to entice kids off computer games and back to comicbooks!