“I Have A Plan. Attack!”: Prepare for War!

Time To Suit Up For ALL-OUT AWESOMENESS…

“Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose? I’m open to suggestions” – Iron Man. 

“The threat has risen to a new level – which is really saying something,” says Robert Downey Jr.

It really is!

Considering how Rob’s first outing as Iron Man – released ten years ago next week – started this whole delirious, but irresistible, MCU malarkey that has culminated in Avengers: Infinity War – just DAYS away now(!)

It has been an absolutely spectacular decade, watching this particular Universe develop. Thankfully in all the right places.

How’s it been, Rob?  

“…It’s been the Ben-Hur of the MCU, for sure. This is huge, isn’t it? It is HUGE.”

And impossible to disappoint… right?

This Enhanced Individual Convention is arguably – creatively, logistically, budgetary – not only Marvel Studios’ BIGGEST movie, but the GRANDEST superhero epic ever (ahem) assembled. In this camp, there are no doubts that all elements will work, for writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen Freely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo – responsible for the amazing Captain America trilogy – are in charge here.

When asked how high the stakes are, Freely offers: “Is the universe high enough for you?” 

This is only the largest event movie. Ever!

Expect to see just about all the Avengers we’ve come to know so far. And the supporting characters from their respective solo movies. PLUS the Guardians Of The Frickin’ Galaxy! AND Fields overflowing with Wakandan warriors! 

As the younglings are wont to say these days, it’s only gonna be FUCKIN’ AWESOME!!

Soz, Cap…

 

Humans… They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court… death” – Chthon.

“This is the biggest film of all time,” says Benedict Cumberbatch.

You can trust him. He’s a Doctor. 

That colossal third-act battle – teased tantalisingly in the trailers – breaks out across Wakanda, because the sixth, as yet unseen, Infinity Stone languishes there, right?! 

Normally, my journalistic instinct is to uncover every juicy, spoilersome nugget of info from each major movie, but considering the scale and ambition of this EPIC, who knows what will transpire?!

Yes, so good to see Chadwick Boseman return as King T’Challa: The Black Panther – Cool. Charismatic. AND GET THIS MAN A SEQUEL! As Black Panther has become the first non-Stark MCU movie to pass a billion dollars worldwide, quite clearly, Wakanda‘s finest will be the new figurehead for the new Phase going forward.

Considering the xtreme measures taken to protect certain plot-points, it comes as no surprise to learn that Chris Evans was one of the few members of the enhanced ensemble to receive a complete script.

“The majority of people on set are like, ‘So what are we doing today?’ The Russos have to give a loose description of what’s happening. I didn’t complain. I was just like, ‘I need to know what’s going on! Give me a fucking script!'”

Uff, LANGUAGE!

“That’s not going away anytime soon…” – Captain America.  

Behold! Earth’s Mightiest Boy-Band: N-Hanced…

 

Thor: “I thought humans were more evolved than this.” 

Nick Fury: “Excuse me, did we come to YOUR planet and blow stuff up?” 

“You could call this movie: AvengersThanos if you wanted to,” says Stephen Freely“He is the main character.”

“The movie is told from his point of view,” Anthony Russo explains, discussing Josh Brolin’s performance. “It’s a very complicated character. He’s at times despicable and horrifying, and at other times oddly empathetic.”  

“He’s an exceedingly difficult character to beat. He’s stranger than the Hulk – he’s a force of nature. He is a conqueror of worlds.” 

The next statement intrigued me the most. 

“He doesn’t have a weakness, and that’s what makes him so threatening.”

How the Avengers can prevail against such an indefatigable foe, will certainly make for intriguing viewing. Having been in awe of Thanos over these past two years of Bronze Age explorations, seeing this big threat marching across the big screen will probably be quite a dewy-eyed experience as well…

“It really is mind-blowing…” adds Joe Russo, “…how sensitive a performance we can translate into a CG character now, and how much of Josh’s performance is in that character.”

Yep, sounds like all concerned know how to handle the Mad Titan here.

AND that we are all going to have to rearrange our Top 5 Movie Villains charts…

“Conflict breeds catastrophe…” – The Vision. 

“We heve not had any special death requests,” McFeely stated, confirming that he and co-writer Markus had “free reign to kill off whomever the story dictated should go.”

“It’s a cocktail of emotions,” was how Evans summed it up.

So many bloggers have speculated as to which of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will fall in this big showdown. Yes, much must be risked in War, but you KNOW how Brad prefers to concentrate on the positive, hopefully life-affirming, textured-sponge-with-a-creamy-filling things in life, so no morbid discussions to round off this particular blog-post, ta very much! 

Plan to watch The Movie Of The Decade this weekend having avoided – for once – all rumours, leaked clips, TV spots and what-have-you. Just looking forward to finding out what this jaw-dropping spectacle has to offer.

We began with Rob Downey Jr. – is it with him where it will all end…? Well, let’s close with him here anyway, speaking highly about IW’s lead actor: Josh Brolin.

“I love him,” Downey leads the praise, having known each other for thirty years, and so happy to see him become a solid participant in the MCU. Brolin doesn’t take himself seriously, but there’s a lot of weight in how he’s portraying this guy. We literally are all little bit scared when he’s done cracking wise and steps into it. 

“Get ready… the Brolin Effect is coming.”

“I hope they remember you…” – Thanos. 

 

Panther Tracks: The Rough Guide To Wakanda

This Is NO Rinky-Dink Panther…

“Strange! Though we’ve never met, I have a feeling about you. Why do you search my face so intently?” – T’Challa.  

“The tracks are gouged deep into the snow as if seeking permanence against an umpermanent environment. The Panther moves as the great cat, stalking impulsively…”

“Jungle Action was a collection of jungle genre comics from the 1950s, mostly detailing white men saving Africans or being threatened by them,” recalled writer Don McGregor. “I voiced a lament that I thought it was a shame that in 1973 Marvel was printing these stories, and couldn’t we have a black African hero…” 

He remembered that back in 1966, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had introduced an African superhero called the “Black Panther” – none other than King T’Challa of the secretive state of Wakanda – in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) so planned to make the title the Panther’s own. 

Hard to believe now, but giving a black character his own ongoing series was deemed to be such a risky move back in 1973. Although Jungle Action was cancelled after only 26 ishs, with McGregor‘s amazing writing – plus art by Billy Grahamit has become a cult classic. 

Anyway, ever since this character bewitched me in an extraordinary ish of Fantastic Four – #241, Render Unto Caesar! April 1982; reviewed here: – at the very beginning of my quest for Bronze Age awesomeness eighteen months ago, knowledge of this king and his country has been duly sought.

The most crucial point to bear in mind is that in the Marvel Universe, as Earth‘s solitary source of vibranium – the most precious, but least understood, mineral of all – Wakanda has become the most scientifically and technologically advanced country in the world.

Lee and Kirby may have brought the Black Panther to life, but McGregor can be credited with not only developing T’Challa’s character but creating the cultural and geopolitical entity that is the kingdom of Wakanda. 

And what a truly marvellous country it is too!

 

Wenzori: “Watch out, Jakak! It‘s that panther-devil ! Get out of my way and I’ll sear him in half!”

Jakak: “But how can it be him, Wenzori? We were with Killmonger when we left him for dead… left him for the wolves of the mist to devour!!”

“The ruby lasers infrared scope changes the night into weird, surrealistic shapes. The sleek, pantherish figure becomes an abstract being against a spectral icescape. It is easier to kill an abstraction than a human being!”

Jungle Action Featuring: The Black Panther is a phenomenal classic title.

The story arc: Panther Rage – unravelling from #s 4-26 (1973-76) is regarded by comic historians as the very first graphic novel, and one of the masterworks in an age brimming with experimental and groundbreaking comics.

Recently – on my last few expeditions into the capital – this series his eluded even my superior tracking skills. Did manage to find a collection of back ishs in excellent condition, but they were going for extortionately-high prices…

However, only last month, a single copy of Jungle Action ish #13 (January 1975) emerged @ my local awemonger’s emporium. The God Killer is an intriguing story; much of the action takes place on an icy tundra – can this really be the heart of Africa?!

Page 14 is just sensational; here is Billy Graham’s original pre-colour draft:

“It was almost like a mythical place to us – to a lot of us, as African-Americans. And that was a very big deal for me to be able to tell this story” – Ryan Coogler.

“There are two major religions in Wakanda. T’Challa wears th sacred attire of the Panther religion. It is torn and crusted with blood and sweat, but it is no less sacred a garment. 

“The regal, savage beings that congregate below him are the foundation of  Wakanda’s second religion. They have the stature of gods… the awe-inspiring White Gorillas!”

Undoubtedly, Wakanda is a deeply spiritual place.

In ancient times, the panther goddess Bast bestowed the power of vibranium to the very first Black Panther, granting himand all his descendants – super-strength and enhanced agility.

Fast forward to 2016, and what appeared to be a baffling appointment: National Book Award winner: Te-Nihisi Coates to write the current manifestation of Black Panther.

No worries, it has become a critically-acclaimed, unputdownable success – highly recommended. Not to be left out, your correspondent was glad to pick up #17 (October 2017) and yes, that is Storm of the X-Men sharing the cover. They were married, (until the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover forced T’Challa – as High Priest of Wakanda – to annul that union.)

Rather helpfully, Te-Nihisi included a map of Wakanda. Landlocked, and seemingly impenetrable from the outside world by the mountainous Jabari-Lands to the northwest and the sprawling Lake Nyanza to the east, any outsider would, nevertheless, recognise its big and bustling cities (known in the Wakandan tongue as ‘Birnins’) sprawling into the jungle and touching the sky with super-sleek skyscrapers.

All seven Birnins are named after the greatest Panthers in antiquity, and each actually resembles a fortress, rather than an urban area. The Panther Throne is set in Birnin Zana (th Golden City), while the spiritual centre of the country lies to the south of Birnin Bashenga. 

Mena Ngai (The Great Mound) is where the vibranium lies – hidden in plain sight…

“Move! Or you will be moved!” – Ayo.

“The sun never penetrates Serpent Valley! It is banished from the lush, primeval interior by the dense cloud forest that has been the only “sky” this land has ever had…

“Erik Killmonger maintains his brisk, tireless pace. The others sweat profusely, but Killmonger’s brow remains dry and he seems not to notice the sweltering vapour…”

Before signing on to make the 18th MCU movie, writer/director Ryan Coogler informed Head Honcho Kevin Feige that he would have to travel to Africa to be able to effectively create an amazing African adventure. 

Although Wakanda is a fictional country, it was deemed imperative that the essence of Africa – its sights, sounds, smells and tastes – be represented in all its stirring vitality on film. Ryan spent several weeks (alone) in various locations in South Africa.

Was he able to capture th essence of Africa on film? 

“We’re trying to explore that through every means of communication. Through the music. Through the language. Through clothing. Through production design. Through the structures of the building and the colour of walls. And through the ugly stuff too. Through conflict. Through weapons.

“It’s all those things. We tried to look at both sides, and as you would with any human being or human society. 

“You know what I’m saying?”

Judging from the ultracool clips we’ve glimpsed so far, the movie looks every bit as cool and colourful, exciting and emotional as any of the MCU’s finest entries. Besides, how can a movie set in a highly-advanced Afrio-futuristic wonderland where the Monarch of the Panther Throne is protected by a crack troop of female bodyguards: the Dora Milaje (see above!) NOT be awesome?! 

“He has not spoken for 24 hours, and the words come from blistered lips, deeply split by the glacial cold. Dried blood is on his tongue, and speaking has ripped the healing wound open. Fresh blood spills into his mouth. 

“He wonders if they have understood one word of his clever repartee…”

Blood and death? Is this all I am to hear for the rest of my days? Could you not find pleasure in the act of love… or have you become so perverted that you find excitement and entertainment only in brutality?” – The Black Panther.

 

Homecoming Scream!: Is Comic Book Movie Fatigue Setting In?!

Tell me, do you despair? You will… 

SPIDER-MAN AGAIN: Why?! How about Spider-Woman? After sex, the female spider EATS the male - who wouldn't pay good money to go watch THAT?!
SPIDER-MAN AGAIN: Why?! How about Spider-Woman? After sex, the female spider EATS the male – who wouldn’t pay good money to go watch THAT?!

“I’m not overly fond of what follows…” – Loki. 

Of all that’s sacred! Another one?! 

Still reeling with dismay from the announcement that the umpteenth Spider-Man movie is forging (or should that be spinning?) ahead, it’s even been given the title: Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now this is quite possibly the lamest tag EVER concocted; what a pun – alluding to Peter Parker’s high-school frolics as well as “coming home” to Marvel after enjoying box office success in the hands of Sony.  

Ahem, is there anyone celebrating this news?

Sure, the original Spider-Man movie with Tobey McGuire was an enjoyable outing. Good to see Sam Raimi on top of his game, but Willem Defoe as the Green Goblin stole the show and rightly so. When the inevitable Spider-Man II came out, it looked okay, but made me realise that there is more to life than sitting through sequels. By the time No. 3 came along, there was no incentive to go watch; many agreed – in fact, a universal arachnophobia had set in. And then for some ludicrous reason – which STILL  thwarts my investigative journalistic powers – with the dust barely settled on this non-starter, we were subjected to: the reboot. This time it was The Amazing Spider-Man. The obligatory Stan Lee cameo happened to be the only amazing aspect of this forgettable movie.

Sorry, Spidey, but Ant-Man was always more intriguing. Even when only seven years old – and in the prime of his comic-collecting duties – yours truly could never accept the Webslinger’s red and blue costume. Nah, Ant-Man had a cool helmet, and the ability to shrink to ant-size really appealed, especially as a viewing of Jack Arnold’s classic: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) at around that time had thrilled my infant mind beyond measure. 

But press me on the issue (hypothetically of course) of an Ant-Man franchise and yours truly would have to respectfully decline. Don’t get me wrong, last year’s Ant-Man movie was like a dream come true, but, bearing in mind the wonders that can be achieved now with modern sfx, the exploits of the tiniest Avenger really don’t suit the big screen.

PANDA-BOY BEGINS!: What?! Neither DC nor Marvel publish a book called Panda-Boy?! Honestly, if you wanna job done properly...
PANDA-BOY BEGINS!: What?! Neither DC nor Marvel publish a book called Panda-Boy?! Honestly, if you wanna job done well…

“Never rub another man’s rhubarb” – The Joker.  

Initially, the prospect of a Suicide Sguad movie did not instill too much confidence in me. So we’ve never heard of them before, but such was the case with Guardians of the Galaxy, and look what an awesome bundle of fun that turned out to be…

The astonishing success of Deadpool in February showed that cinema-goers want something different… something fresh. Hell yeah, Sguad is so fresh, it’s got the Fresh Prince playing Deadshot who, admittedly, is the only member of this mental mob of misfits one can identify from the comics. It is difficult to tell whether this will be a smash or a mere cult hit – talk so far has centred mainly, (worryingly), on the music used in the trailers, rather than the sort of action on offer.

The big news is that this pic will feature an exhilarating new version of the Dark Knight’s archnemesis: the Joker, played -with tattooes?! – by Jared Leto. Personally, Heath Ledger’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime seemed so fantastic and fearsome, that any subsequent portrayal would seem misguided.

If, however, that is Leto in the Panda-Boy disguise in the above pic, then sure – what the hell! – let’s have a butchers… 

In Squad We Trust? 

We can find out if these bad’uns do good from 5 August. 

SEARCH & DISTRAUGHT: Argo-Man scours the blogosphere in vain for any favourable reviews...
SEARCH & DISTRAUGHT: Argo-Man scours the blogosphere in vain for any favourable reviews…

“Next time they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it. The Bat is dead, buried. Consider this mercy…” – Superman.

So, most critics and bloggers unanimously agree that DC’s initial entry of their own Cinematic Universe is just a Dawn of Just Ass. Honestly, how can a movie featuring the two most iconic superheroes EVER turn out to be SUCH a phenomenal FAIL?!

Believe me, as someone who collected both Superman and Batman comics as a kid, the thought of seeing them finally spar against each other in one epic blockbuster was overwhelming to say the least! (Given the choice who to root for, it would be very difficult for me to pick a side). Unfortunately, we read the somewhat underwhelming reactions from reviewers and bloggers alike…

One of the few warmly-received aspects of Batman v Superman (or BS for short) was Ben Affleck’s seemingly definitive portrayal of the Dark Knight. Fans are rejoicing at the prospect of another solo Batflick written/directed by Benaffleck – the very same fans who, incidentally, were cursing the casting director when news of Dawn of Justice broke…

If this is the Dawn we’ve all been waiting for, a lie-in has never seemed a sweeter option. And if this “dark and gritty” approach is what we should expect when the DC Cinematic Universe expands, then all does not bode well for a Justice League movie. As a Brit, Brad finds himself rooting instead for the imminent Captain America movie (a character he’ll never tire of watching!) – where’s the Justice in that?

Civil War (released on 6 May!) is shaping up to be another cracker, but personally, the build-up has been marred with a tad too much speculation as to whether – uh-huh, him again – Spidey would make an appearance… in the latest trailer…  

Couldn’t care less? You bet…

Ooh, but Brad! Did ya see that cool thing Spidey did with his eyes?

Yeah… so what?

My attention falls instead on Black Panther. His appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about time and would be most welcome. And a standalone Black Panther movie? Sure: a previously unseen character, and an exploration of diversity – why not? 

But PLEASE – for the love of cake – DON’T give us ANOTHER Spider-Man cameo!!

avengers1-are-we-done-here

“Are we done here?” – Steve Rogers. 

Be sure to join me next time for more cynical banter an’ japes! Same Brad time, same Brad channel.