Mar 25, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #66

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #66
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Don Heck

Mysterio returns!




POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 8
  • The Vulture: 7
  • The Kingpin: 6
  • Mysterio: 5
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
BEN:  “Gwen Stacy cries” consecutive issue count: 7


DUY: Peter sells his moped, and there's a cameo of Norman as the Green Goblin. We don't count that as an appearance.  Don Heck and Mick Demeo ink Romita on this. Based on how much better this looks than the Heck-only issues, I'm going to bet Mick Demeo is the reason it looks fine here. Who's Mick Demeo? Apparently Mick Demeo was the former name of Mike Esposito, who will go on to ink Spider-Man for quite a while.

BEN: I don't know if it's the art or what, but this issue was much better than the previous ones.

PETER: Peter once again doesn't go after a criminal (Mysterio in this case) because of self-pity. He'll fight him if he's there, but won't knock himself out to find him, because the police can handle it. This is the kind of decision that almost always backfires on Peter.



WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: I love Captain Stacy and Robbie hanging out.



DUY: Robbie and George working together has all the makings of a crime book, the kind of thing that works better in Daredevil, or in the 80s onwards. Spider-Man was Marvel's original crime book, even if it's not exactly the right spot for the genre.

BEN: Is this the first time he’s referred to as Joe Robertson? Is this another mistake that has to get fixed?

DUY: I'm fairly certain his name was never officially "Robert Robertson," so Robbie must have been a nickname from his last name. And I will say, the visual of fighting over a tiny amusement park or city or whatever never gets old. It's such an effective visual for implying scope but reminding you there isn't really any.

BEN: I've always loved miniatures.

DUY: Must... resist.... easy joke.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN:  Mysterio hiding under the grate made me laugh. I love Mysterio.



DUY: Is the Daily Bugle hiring dumb photographers who are cowardly bad aging, or is Jonah just cheap?



BEN:  Aunt May is frightened of a news report.



NITPICKS

BEN: What about Aunt May’s shattered door frame?


DUY: Damn it, Peter.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  I’m trying not to cheat by picking the last page splash.



DUY: Screw it, I will pick the last page splash.




WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: John Romita Sr, who gave us so much good stuff to look at.

BEN: He may not have been as good a storyteller as Ditko (who is) but his pictures were prettier.

DUY: Provided he had the right inker, apparently. Which, isn't Don Heck a legend in this business?

BEN: I don’t want to keep killing him, but I feel like if he’s known, it’s as the “other artist” in those early days. And in all fairness, most artists would be the “other” guy in a room with Kirby, Ditko, and Romita.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

Mar 18, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #65

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #65
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Jim Mooney

Having passed out fighting the Vulture, Spider-Man is taken to prison, where a riot ensues once they take George Stacy hostage!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: “Gwen Stacy cries” consecutive issue count: 6.


DUY: Jim Mooney takes over as Romita's inker.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: So I don't know if it's the context of the last few issues being bad, but I loved this issue. The whole idea of Spider-Man breaking out of jail and pulling a big con on the other criminals is clever. The art is a huge improvement. The cover looks really good and might have made me buy it off the rack if I'd seen it then. Jonah is Jonah.

BEN: It’s nice to see both Captain Stacy and Robbie sticking up for Spider-Man, two of his biggest supporters. Mooney on inks has improved the quality of the art. Romita has clearly been doing rough layouts.

DUY: So it was definitely Heck that was bringing it down for me significantly. The story was already not that captivating prior, but in addition to everything, I didn't even like looking at the art. Jim Mooney has come on a couple of times now and it's much better and makes it easier to look at.

BEN: Poor Don Heck, we’ve been very unkind, but also fair.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: Mary Jane Watson, maybe if your friend is going through hell, you reach out instead of making fun of him.



BEN: She’s being as ugly on the inside as she is the outside. (Direct your hate mail to Duy).

NITPICKS

BEN: With all the time Spider_man has been unconscious in the prison, I’m fairly certain someone would have peeked under the mask at some point.

DUY:  May Parker says "You've never kept things from me before!", but Peter has. Like all the time.

BEN: That's a parent thing though, believing that.

DUY: Point.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine:



DUY: It's not often that I say that a classic comic made a great color choice and sets a mood effectively through color, but this one did it. And it has Jonah.


WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: As with last issue, the real winner is us, as readers, for getting this book back to the level of "good."

BEN: I’d like to thank ourselves for this prestigious award, and no one else. We’ve done it completely alone. It’s been a lot of hard work, but if anyone deserves it, it’s us. The glory is entirely ours.

DUY: I'll take it.

BEN: Let us celebrate with the consuming of alcohol.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

Mar 11, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #64

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #64
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Don Heck

Spider-Man fights the Vulture across the city with one arm! Plus, Mary Jane Watson gets a haircut for some reason.



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • The Vulture: 7
  • The Kingpin: 6
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
BEN: “Gwen Stacy cries” consecutive issue count: 5.


DUY: Wow, she even cries twice in the span of two pages. And it's completely unnecessary. Remove the tears from those images and they're still effective.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: The cover is subtly great. The soft pencil background really makes Spider-Man and the Vulture pop. I also like Gwen’s dress:


DUY: Robbie saving JJJ from certain death is great, and really highlights Robbie's character and integrity, compared to his boss.



BEN: Robbie is a good person, which makes him way less entertaining than Jonah.

DUY: No one is as entertaining as Jonah.

BEN: Gwen is!

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: This:



DUY: So I recently saw the explanation that the reason they cut MJ's hair here is because they gave Gwen MJ's hairstyle, and they were deliberately propping up Gwen at MJ's expense, which may or may not be the truth, but it sure is a conspiracy theory–laden way of looking at comics.

BEN:  I can’t imagine they’d sabotage one character on behalf of another back then.

DUY:  In addition to Mary Jane's "ginchy new hairdo," Gwen crying at every possible instance is annoying.

BEN: Five straight issues of crying.

NITPICKS

DUY:  My nitpick is that this is a terrible stretch of Spider-Man comics, and I am so bored, and they make it worse by decompressing every bad storyline into multiple issues.

BEN: The Heck era has been less than robust.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: I like the Vultures face, the rendition of Spidey, the weird background, the colors:



DUY: I swear my favorite panels is just the J. Jonah Jameson clipshow:



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: It is so hard to pick any winner for this stretch of issues. Everything is so lackluster. Even Ditko's worst ones are at least interesting.

BEN: I nominate us as the winners, for our fortitude and commitment.

DUY: I'll take it.

BEN: Let us celebrate with the consuming of alcohol.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

Mar 4, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #63

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #63
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Don Heck

Adrian Toomes, the original Vulture, returns, breaks Blackie Drago, the other Vulture, out of prison, and they get into a fight, and of course Spider-Man is caught in the middle.



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • The Vulture: 6
  • The Kingpin: 6
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • Sandman: 4
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
BEN: The return of Adrian Toomes as the Vulture.

DUY: That did not take long at all. He supposedly died in #48, 15 issues ago. Is this one of the first blatant resurrections?

BEN: "Gwen Stacy cries" consecutive issue count: 4.



WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: Harry predicting the Flash and Peter friendship.



DUY: Why did anyone ever think Drago was a good idea?

BEN: They probably had a few readers complain that Toomes was way too old to be a physical threat, on account of Ditko drawing him to look as old as Aunt May. Toomes is a far better Vulture than Drago. It was smart to “resurrect” him.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: Coming off the Spectacular magazine, this feels particularly phoned in artwise.

BEN: Romita must have been stretched thin at this point.

DUY: Did Toomes really prevent his own death by sheer force of willpower?

BEN: I mean look at him, he’s clearly a human dynamo.


NITPICKS

BEN: I don’t know if he’s ever had trouble with his webbing in the rain before or since.

DUY: Are you telling me that Peter has never encountered rain in the previous 60+ issues?


BEN: Captain Stacy says Gwen is on a date and Peter doesn’t think a thing about it. Even I as a reader was thinking, “with who?”

DUY: And yeah, just how did dating work in the 60s? Gwen can just date and Peter's okay with it? I thought they were offical.


BEN: Why is his arm always injured against the Vulture?

DUY: Why is it that when "Spider-Man is injured" it's always his arm?


FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  A splash, but whatever.



DUY: This is such an underwhelming stretch of issues and all the art looks rushed. The Osborn stuff should be high-suspense, and it's not. It's hard to pick a favorite panel, so I'll just pick an Osborn one anyway.



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Who wins this story, Ben? Who??

BEN: Ugh, I guess Toomes right? He did pull himself from deaths door by willpower.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

Feb 26, 2020

Spider-Rama: The Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #63
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Jim Mooney

In this special double-sized black-and-white issue, Spider-Man must contend with a politician, Richard Raleigh, who has created a superhuman to menace New York to make himself look good in the mayoral race. And in a back-up tale, the origin of Spider-Man is retold.



POINTLESS TRIVIA

DUY: In 1968, publishers were trying out comics magazines and this is the first Marvel tried, which counts as the first Spider-Man spinoff (unless you count the Amazing annuals) and the first to hold the Spectacular name. (We'll get to the Spectacular series eventually.) This was just an experiment and would last two issues.

BEN: First Jim Mooney work on Spider-Man. First full retelling of Spider-Man’s origin.

DUY: Although it will never be revealed explicitly, this particular sequence is probably more important than it lets on.



BEN: How so?

DUY: I'm assuming George putting together that Peter is Spidey was a gradual process and didn't just happen overnight. It is revealed sometime in the 90s exactly when he put it all together, but I'm sure it was a process. Peter disappearing and then Spidey fighting the bad guy is too much of a coincidence for him to not take note of.

BEN: It makes sense he’d be looking at it differently than the kids too, since he’s a detective. Same with Robbie as a journalist.

DUY: In the backup retelling the origin, it adds a scene to Peter's origin where, after getting bitten by the spider, he runs into a couple of bullies and throws a punch. Peter lets the burglar go before he gets on TV. Probably doesn't make that much of a difference, but it's the exact opposite from later interpretations, like Ultimate Spider-Man or the Sam Raimi movie, where he would let the burglar go because he wanted to spite the promoter. What exactly is the point of this revision?




BEN: They probably couldn’t think of too many places to expand the most perfect story ever produced by mankind.

DUY: Wait till Bendis does it 33 years later.

BEN: What if... Uncle Ben had a ponytail?

DUY: What if... Spider-Man's origin took five whole issues?

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: The art looks great. I don’t know if that’s because of Mooney inking, or because Romita was putting all his effort into this instead of Amazing Spider-Man.

DUY: You know I'm not the biggest fan of Romita's art, but it looks so good like this with the graytones. I could really stand more black and white comics having graytones. Compare this to the black and white Essential volumes and they're worlds away..

BEN: Essentials are basically coloring books.

DUY: Artistically speaking, it must be Mooney's inks, because Bill Everett tries the graytones in the second story and it's not the same.

BEN: I can definitely see Mooney’s style specifically on Gwen. And speaking of Gwen, here's MJ taking digs at her.


DUY: JJJ is supportive of Raleigh, and Peter is instantly suspicious. That kind of behavior applies today to politicians, still. The ending of the main story is really good. Raleigh dies, it's his own fault, and JJJ is too stubborn to even consider the fact that he might be wrong about him. That's somehow so close to how people are actually like, whether it's 1968 or 2020.


WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: It should be clear to anyone Raleigh is evil.

DUY: Did that age well or badly? Because Donald Trump is still president, and it was the most obvious thing that he was evil.

BEN:  Shhh.

DUY: In 1968, this was fine. In 2020, it's "Nobody can move like that... except Spider-Man, the other Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, and probably some mutants we've never heard of."

BEN:  “Nobody can move like that, except 17 other known super humans!” Not as catchy.

DUY: It does not age well that all the women in the story are so easily taken in by Raleigh. Not Gwen so much, but everyone else. The only ones skeptical are Peter and George Stacy.

BEN: Don't be jealous.

NITPICKS

BEN: I don’t agree with John Byrne about much, but saying RR would be too awkward.



DUY: I think my biggest nitpick is the fact that this is the most predictable plot ever. You know from the start that the villain is a plant by Raleigh.

BEN: Yes, but you didn’t know he had a cyborg superhuman controlled by remote control.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  Heh heh, polish my button, heh heh.



DUY: This panel is my favorite, since it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.



DUY: Artistically, though, this one is amazing.



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: I'm not sure who the biggest winner here is, but I know who loses, and that's the "Comics were never political" crowd. It's literally about being discerning of the officials you elect.





CONTINUITY

BEN: So this has to be somewhere around where we are, with all the Osborn setup, and Romita is obviously busy doing something else.

DUY: But Peter gets along with Gwen here, so it has to be before the brainwashing stuff.

BEN: Oh, the Goblin shows up in the second issue.

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next Wednesday!

Feb 25, 2020

Margot Robbie Is Harley Quinn, AKA The DCEU's Best Player

Ben and Duy saw Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), and we had thoughts. Foremost among those thoughts is...

Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn

BEN: In The Book of Basketball, writer Bill Simmons reconfigured the NBA Hall of Fame into tiers, with the best players ever in the highest tier, named “the pantheon.” If we were to separate every actor to play a superhero character in a movie into tiers, Margot Robbie has undoubtedly made her case for the pantheon.



DUY: Who's in the pantheon, would you say? Just looking at the protagonists, I've got Christopher Reeve, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and maybe Chris Hemsworth. It's not a long list. My criteria would be irreplaceability, a natural charisma to handle the character, and also a degree of difficulty. I feel like all the characters they handled would have faltered under lesser actors. But also, even within that tier, there's a clear divide between Reeve and Downey versus Evans and Hemsworth.

BEN: Evans and Hemsworth don’t get enough credit for how badly those characters could go, but they’re also not as showy as Stark.

BEN: I’ll give an honorable mention to Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, who I think falls just below the pantheon, and I can’t even say why, because he *is* Deadpool

DUY: No, I'll concede it, let's put Deadpool in the Pantheon.

DUY: Any case for Hugh Jackman? I know he's not the ideal Wolverine, but he was also Wolverine for 20 years, and I think he wore me down like Duncan and Kobe.

BEN: If we’re sticking with basketball analogies, he’s Karl Malone. Really good for a really long time, but never great.

DUY: He did go out great though, so it'd be like if Malone left on a title.

BEN: Maybe Jason Kidd, he left on a title but it wasn’t all because of him. The villains include Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Heath Ledger’s Joker, and (sigh) Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.

DUY: I hate mentioning Phoenix, but I'd like to believe that in the hands of a lesser actor, the movie would have been — people would have realized it wasn't a good movie. He elevated it. What about Thanos?

BEN: He’s a pantheon villain, but I can’t give that credit to Brolin.



DUY: So now we're saying Harley has made a case for the Pantheon. Some DC fans might be annoyed that we didn't mention Gal Gadot and maybe Jason Momoa. To you what sets Robbie apart?

BEN: In Suicide Squad, Margot stood out despite some bad writing and bad directing. She didn’t get any good punchlines or memorable moments, but she was so magnetic it didn’t matter. In Birds of Prey she got all the best moments and lines, but the rest of the movie literally couldn’t reach her level. So, I’d say Momoa and Gadot were equal to Margot in Suicide Squad, but in Birds of Prey she became Harley Quinn.

DUY: To me the difference is simply that Margot is much better at acting than the other two, and that as much as Gadot embodies Wonder Woman and Momoa has made Aquaman his own, their abilities and limitations will eventually hit a dead end and it won't be sustainable. Margot may be playing a cartoon, but she has moments of genuine emotion and drama and she can switch so easily between the two modes.

BEN: When Roman slaps her while she’s tied up, you can feel her anger radiate off the screen. It was a moment I was looking forward to see pay off later, but it’s a Warner Bros movie so of course it didn’t.

DUY: I liked how Harley plays dumb, but then she'll say something that reminds you she was a psychiatrist, and Margot makes you believe it. Birds of Prey to me was such a cartoon — Kurt Busiek called its Gotham an R-rated version of Adam West's — and only Margot was dialed up enough to really make you feel the cartoonishness of the whole thing.

BEN: If Warner Bros could ever give their lead stars a competent movie to be in, they’d start making some noise. Because Momoa, Gadot, and Robbie can’t do it all alone. (Wonder Woman is a very good movie, so this is a generalized statement.) If anything, I wish Birds of Prey had less plot, because I could have watched Harley try to get egg sandwiches and stuff like that for the whole movie.

DUY: The action scenes with Harley were great. Very refreshing to see something well choreographed, but also really funny.

BEN: The smile on her face as she raids the police station, she was having so much fun.

DUY: Scrambling among the deadly weapons, so happy when she spots the baseball bat, is something straight out of The Simpsons.

BEN: So how does she compare to the best? Ryan Reynolds is the easiest comp, but as much as I love the Deadpool movies, I think Margot is doing more acting than Ryan is.

DUY: I think it's because Deadpool is a clear, clear comedy, but Harley thus far, while a comedy, has had moments of genuine emotion. Another thing is that compared to Gadot and Momoa, she kind of really stands on her own. Gadot can be compared to Reeve and Evans. Momoa to Hemsworth. Margot can only really be compared to Reynolds, and even then it's not the same.

BEN: Ryan Reynolds probably doesn’t get enough credit because Deadpool happened to be so similar to the comedic style he’d been famous for his whole career. Speaking of Evans, he’s arguably the most faithful character translation from comic to the screen, until Margot Robbie.

DUY: I kinda wanna say that Robert Downey Jr. is the best comp for Margot, but I don't really know how to defend that.

BEN: I think we could separate the pantheon into two camps; those that brought the comic character to life, and those that made it their own. Evans, Gadot, Reynolds brought the characters to life. RDJ, Hiddleston, Momoa, Ledger made it their own. Hemsworth did both. Oh, and Reeve definitely brought comic book Superman to life

DUY: Robbie is definitely in the second camp, which makes my RDJ comp more indefensible.

BEN: I’d say she’s both. The difference with RDJ is that he’s been the best actor in great superhero movies, while Robbie has been the best part in otherwise pretty bad movies. If we were to continue the NBA analogy, Margot is the great player that drags a bad team into the playoffs on her own, while RDJ is the best player on championship teams. NBA players always say the second is harder to do.



DUY: RDJ has been both too. Let's not forget Iron Man 2, and, as much as I like Iron Man 3, a lot of people don't. So Margot I think has the necessary chops to still headline a great movie.

BEN: Hopefully we’ll see it in Suicide Squad 2. So what’s your ranking, as of right now?

DUY: I go 1. RDJ, 2. Evans, 3. Reeve, 4. Margot, 5. Hemsworth and Reynolds. I also think I might be undervaluing Hemsworth on purpose because I know I'm biased.

BEN: 1. Robert Downey Jr., 2. Margot Robbie, 3. Heath Ledger, 4. Chris Hemsworth,
5. Tom Hiddleston

DUY: It's generally hard for me to rank villains along with the heroes. It's not the same job.

BEN: Harley is a villain!

DUY: Fine, protagonists and antagonists. Also when you're the less evil villainin the story, you're not the villain.

BEN: Fair. Does Cate Blanchett make it?

DUY: I don't quite think she gets there. Does Killmonger?

BEN: Tough call, his performance seems to be polarizing for some reason.

DUY: Let's talk about Birds of Prey in particular. Overall I'd say the movie is decent, not bad. It's the execution that was lacking. But Margot brought it, and brought it some more, and what's more, the first third of the movie where she was narrating it and it was jumping around was some pretty innovative storytelling for superhero movies.

BEN: I thought Jurnee Smollett-Bell was pretty good as Black Canary, but pretty good looks worse next to greatness. The rest of them were in a different movie, to the point you mostly want to get back to Harley the whole time

DUY: I think my problem with Canary is that she looked like she was in a serious movie. Huntress at least was played for laughs. That also makes Canary the one who I thought would transition the best to a serious movie, though. And teah, every time Harley was off the screen, I thought "Where's Harley?" like Poochie, but cool.

BEN: How much does faithfulness to the source material matter for you at this point?

DUY: If you're going to deviate, you can still keep me by making me care. I tend to see them all as Elseworlds.

BEN: I’m less critical of DC characters because I don’t know them as well, and frankly you can’t honestly point to a definitive version of most DC heroes, they reboot so often. I’ve always said the MCU gets the spirit of the characters right, but RDJ wasn’t really any version of Iron Man we had ever seen before. Holland is the closest I’ve seen to the comic Spider-Man, but everything else about his movies is not faithful. So I guess the key is to just be good.

DUY: As you've said elsewhere, the least faithful character here is Cassandra, and she's great. The most faithful is Huntress, and she's the worst. Also, let me just get this out of the way quick. There's a bunch of people who think this movie sucks on principle because they call it SJW propaganda. First, women need representation. Second, they get mad at it because they don't think Margot is sexy enough. What world do we live in where Margot Robbie isn't sexy?

BEN: I think they mean naked enough. They don’t know the difference.

DUY: They've never seen a real live woman?

BEN: They truly believe comparing a half-naked drawing of a woman to a real live beautiful woman makes sense. But the drawing won’t tell them no, I guess.

DUY: To close this off, you know, I wrote back in July a long, detailed analysis of why the DCEU should give the keys to Margot Robbie. Just center the universe around Harley Quinn the same way the MCU revolved around Iron Man. After watching her performance, I'm going to stick by that.

BEN: Man, you write one thing the entire last year and you think you're Jesus.