Apr 27, 2015

The 50 Best Marvel Movie Moments, Part 5

The 50 Best Marvel Movie Moments
Part Five – One Love
Ben Smith

It’s taken me lots of time, lots of strenuous movie watching with a notepad. Concentrating, calculating, napping, and then concentrating some more. I don’t think any of you can appreciate the level of stress that comes with watching Iron Man 2. Yet, I powered through, and now we’ve come to the pulse-pounding climax to the single most important list you’ll read right at this very moment.

As with most lists, this was completely determined by my own personal opinion. I’d be more than happy to hear what moments anyone else would have included in their own personal list. What did I miss?

I AM NUMBER ONE

Iron Man – Gulmira

“He’s all yours.”


Tony Stark, enraged by the sale of Stark weapons to terrorists, watches his former captors reign terror upon Yinsen’s home village of Gulmira. Unable to take it any longer, Stark unleashes the full power of the Mark II suit for the first time. From the pinpoint targeting of the enemy, and the exploding tank, this is the Iron Man the audience had been waiting the whole movie to see (and possibly their whole lives). With the underlying aspects of it being Yinsen’s home village, and Stark getting revenge against the men of the Ten Rings, this marks the best scene of the inaugural Iron Man movie. Certainly the initial test flight of the Mark II suit or the end battle against the Iron Monger could have been included, but as I’ve said previously, it’s the emotional core of the movie that makes it so great for me, and that was represented best in the scenes I picked.

The Incredible Hulk – Hulk Smash

“Hulk smash!”


‘Nuff said.

Iron Man 2 – The Widow Strikes



In a preview of badassery to come, the Black Widow unleashes a beatdown on a group of guards. This was the first glimpse of this type of fight choreography in the Marvel movies, and it was easily the best part of the movie. Before now, we’d only seen the brute force of the Hulk, or the weaponry of Iron Man. Plus, you get Scarlett Johansson in a tight black bodysuit.

(It probably says something about the movie that the best moment in it, is not about Iron Man.)

Thor – Worthy

“Brother, however I have wronged you, whatever I have done that has led you to do this, I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent, taking their lives will gain you nothing. So take mine, and end this.”


Thor pleads with Loki to stop attacking, essentially sacrificing himself to the Destroyer. This act of self sacrifice completes the personal journey Thor had been on to becoming worthy of Mjolnir once again. I'm a sucker for a good self sacrifice scene, and the heroic comeback.

(I just now considered that Thor spends almost the entire first movie powerless, which may be why it's one of my least favorite to rematch. The Wolverine, Spider-Man 2, and Thor have all played with the story of the hero being powerless, which may work well in comics as a change of pace, but I'm not so sure it makes for the best superhero action movie.)

Captain America: The First Avenger – The Goodbye

"I’m gonna need a raincheck on that dance.”

Steve Rogers says goodbye to Peggy Carter as he steers the Red Skull’s ship into the ocean below, sacrificing himself to save others. Anybody that doesn’t get a little misty as the two unrequited lovers say goodbye (without saying goodbye) is a heartless automaton. (Even more heartless than Stark's robot arm assistant.) Steve’s relationship with Peggy is the undercurrent of the entire movie, and it gets the saddest of endings in this, the best scene of the movie.

The Avengers – Raggedy Loki

“Puny god.”

In what was easily the most crowd-pleasing scene of the movie, Hulk ragdolls a pompous Loki into the ground. I saw this movie at least a half-dozen times in the theater, and this scene killed every single time. From Loki trying to intimidate the Hulk at the beginning, to the look on his face after, this is a pitch-perfect bit of comedy in the middle of all the action and drama. The best moment of the best movie that Marvel has made to date.

Iron Man 3 – Monkeys

“Remember that game, Barrel of Monkeys? This is how it is, we got to catch all the monkeys!”

Iron Man rushes to save the occupants of Air Force One as they plummet to their death. A tense and action-packed scene of Iron Man coming to the rescue. I especially love the way the ocean below frames the sequences. S'pretty.

Thor: The Dark World – Loki’s Deception

“Malekith! I am Loki of Jotunheim, and I have brought you a gift! I only ask for one thing in return; a good seat from which to watch Asgard burn!”


Thor and Loki attempt to trick Malekith by having Loki appear to betray Thor. Hiddleston and Hemsworth are the two main reasons to watch a Thor movie, and they’re at their best combining their forces in this electric scene. Hiddleston, in particular, is transcendent when he gets to cut loose with the Shakespearian-type malevolence of Loki. This scene represents a microcosm of the entire movie, which shines mostly when Thor and Loki are on the screen, but otherwise suffers under the weight of its own needlessly complicated plot.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Zola

“People will fight for their freedom if people try to take it from them. But if you cause enough trouble, people will willingly give up their freedom for a more secure world.”


Captain America and Black Widow track down a lead to a hidden underground bunker, where they find the computerized mind of former Nazi scientist Arnim Zola. This is a complete comic book geek-out moment, with Zola’s face on the monitors representing his freakishly weird comic design. It also raises the stakes of the movie, giving the conflict an added layer of complexity with a real world allegory about the costs of freedom. It is the best moment in what is probably the most well-made Marvel movie to date.

(You're either in the Nolan camp or you're not, but I'd much rather have the Winter Soldier movie's theme about freedom versus security, than whatever simplistic "deep messages" the Dark Knight trilogy claims to have, by virtue of beating the viewer over the head with it.)

Guardians of the Galaxy – Baby Groot


Baby Groot dances in his pot. What else could it be? There's not a single person I've met on the planet Earth, that doesn't love this scene. My sons both have limited attention spans, but they will demand to watch that clip on repeat every time they see it. I fully expected Rocket to be the kid's choice winner of the movie, but it weirdly seems to be Groot instead. Not bad for the Monarch of Planet X.

Best Moment in Marvel Movie History: Guardians of the Galaxy. (It was pretty much down to Raggedy Loki versus Baby Groot, but dancing Groot is a full-on phenomenon unlike anything I think I've seen from the Marvel movies. It's the clear choice.)

There you have it. Like I said before, I'm all for hearing any scenes or moments that anyone felt I missed. Let me know what your favorites are, leave a comment, or ignore us as usual. It's not depressing at all.

Next time... I don't know. Probably a list.


Apr 20, 2015

The 50 Best Marvel Movie Moments, Part 4

The 50 Best Marvel Movie Moments
Part Four – 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted
Ben Smith

Sometimes I talk to myself, and I say, “Self, don’t listen to those voices in your head that want you to burn things.” Always good advice. I do, however, frequently listen to the voices telling me to write multi-part lists of inconsequential topics of discussion. Of what importance is a superhero hall of fame, or the best Marvel Studios produced movie moments, when there are prisoners still locked away in Guantanamo Bay? Regardless, it must be done, or I resort to setting things on fire.

I humbly present to you, Spider-Man and X-Men free, the second best Marvel movie moments from every film. (I’d love to include tall and handsome Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, because he’s the true Wolverine, but I can’t. X-Men movies suck.)

IT TAKES TWO

Iron Man – He Lives, He Walks, He Conquers

“Thank you for saving me.”
“Don’t waste your life.”


Yinsen sacrifices himself, so that Tony Stark can finish powering up the Mark I suit and escape. As awe-inspiring as Stark unleashing the first Iron Man suit is, it’s the emotional goodbye to the man that inspired him that sets this scene apart as one of the best in Marvel history. As I've said previously, it’s the heart at the center of this movie that put it above any other superhero film up to that point.

The Incredible Hulk – Abominable

“You don’t deserve this power. Now watch her die!”


Hulk, armed with a smashed cop car, goes head-to-head with the Abomination in the streets of New York. Watching this movie again, you can really tell just how much the CGI has improved since then. Still a great action sequence with Hulk finally letting loose against a super-powered opponent.

(All that, and The Wire’s Michael K. Williams makes a cameo as a pedestrian during the chaos. That would normally be enough to earn the top spot, but not this time.)

Iron Man 2 – Packed and Ready

“Gimme the case!”


Whiplash attacks Stark on the racetrack, while Pepper and Happy rush to bring him his newest armor, contained in one single suitcase. Longtime comics fans are well aware of the suitcase armor, so it was a real joy to see it on screen.

Thor – Brother Against Brother

“Is it madness? Is it? IS IT? I don’t know what happened on Earth to make you so soft! Don’t tell me it was that woman?... Oh, it was. Well maybe, when we’re done here, I’ll pay her a visit myself!”

Loki and Thor face off on the rainbow bridge. Hiddleston absolutely killed it in this scene. I could feel all of Loki’s rejection, pain, and anger seething out of him. It had the right amount of emotional weight that pulls me right in. This was also the moment when I knew Hiddleston was going to be something special.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Erskine

“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”


Abraham Erskine and Steve Rogers talk the night before the super soldier experiment. Erskine was never expanded on much in the comics, but he’s given real motivations and personality in the scenes he’s given in this movie, and this is the best of them. A man haunted by the past mistakes of both himself, and his country.

The Avengers – The Death of Coulson

“You lack conviction.”


Agent Coulson tries to stop Loki all by himself, and gets a scepter through the heart for his trouble. The character that linked every Marvel movie together up to that point, provides the emotional push the Avengers needed to come together as a team. If you didn’t get misty eyed at the (apparent) death of Coulson, you are a heartless Duy-level robot.

Iron Man 3 – Pepper Potts: Superhero

“Who’s the hot mess now?”


An Extremis-powered Pepper Potts emerges from the fire and puts Killian down for good. There's a couple of great lines in this scene, including Tony's "I got nothing," and Pepper's "That was so violent." I had trouble picking one. So I cheated and found a way to include them all.

Thor: The Dark World – The Mighty Frigga

“You might want to take the stairs to the left.”


Loki unwittingly directs Kurse straight to Frigga, where she dies protecting Jane and the Aether from Malekith. I love a good sacrificial death scene, and the added layer of Loki’s involvement in the death of the mother he outwardly claimed not to care about, but very much does, pushes this over the top. The relationships that Odin, Thor, and Loki have with each other are the crux of the films, and Frigga was probably the only member of that family they could all love without reservation.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Speech

“The price of freedom is a high price, and it's a price I'm willing to pay. Don't let control take the place of freedom.”


Having discovered that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD from the very beginning, Captain America dons his original suit, and then addresses any remaining loyal agents over the Triskelion intercom, pleading with them to help him stop HYDRA from taking over the world. I’m always a sucker for a rousing movie speech, and this one hits every note perfectly.

Guardians of the Galaxy – The Dance-Off

“You said it yourself, bitch! We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy!”


Star-Lord distracts Ronan with his dance moves, so that Rocket can knock loose the Infinity Stone, and the team collectively channels the energy of the stone to defeat Ronan and save the day. Guardians of the Galaxy subverts the conventions of a superhero movie almost to the point of parody, yet remaining genuine enough to still be taken as serious. The scene is as funny as it is captivating, which is about the best description for the movie as a whole as I could ever come up with. It may not be the best Marvel movie (Avengers) or the most well-executed (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but it’s my favorite.

Best of this bunch: Guardians of the Galaxy. (That leaves Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy tied at two best moments apiece. Who will win? Does anyone care?)

Next week, the final moments.


Apr 16, 2015

Why Daredevil Is Better than Batman

Netflix's Daredevil has been a huge success, and part of the discussion about the show has centered around his similarities and differences to Batman. One of the things I found interesting was that in lieu of debate about whether or not the show was good, there was instead a debate on whether or not it was ripping off Christopher Nolan's Batman or getting right what Christopher Nolan got wrong. So, with all that in mind, I thought I'd give you an incredibly objective and absolutely 100% correct view of....

Why Daredevil Is Better Than Batman
by Duy


1) Daredevil has had none of the advantages Batman has had in his life. He's not rich, he was trained by one old blind guy, he has one weapon and it's essentially a double stick, and to top it all off, he's blind. Batman, on the other hand, had a lifetime of the best kind of training money can buy, has a bunch of gadgets, a butler, and the support of the police commissioner. And yet, their success rates in their respective zones of protection are about the same.





2) Daredevil's secret identity, lawyer Matt Murdock, is complementary and paradoxical to his costumed identity, in the sense that Daredevil does what Matt can't. It's possibly Shakespearean. Bruce Wayne's money makes the fact that he's Batman look like he's one giant arrested-development child. Not at all Shakespearean.




3 Batman dresses up like a bat. Daredevil actually has radar (which doesn't count as an advantage, because it makes up for his blindness, and I say it doesn't count).



4) TV Daredevil has a bunch of awesome action sequences. He could kick movie Batman's ass.

This guy begs to differ.


5) There is no "Dare-Cox" voice the way there is a "Bat-Bale" voice. Although now that I mention it, I kinda wish Charlie Cox yelled out things like "SWEEEEEARTOOOOMEEEEEE!!"

Source.

6) Daredevil led to the creation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Batman led to the creation of Batman Jones.



7) Batman's always letting Catwoman and Talia get away with big crimes just because they're hot. Daredevil doesn't let Elektra get away just because he has the hots for her.

They just get away on their own. So not the same thing.

8) Daredevil don't need no sidekicks.

Mainly because he probably knows this would happen.


9) Daredevil wears a red costume, and he has the word "red" in his name. Does Batman have "black" or "gray" or "blue" in his name? No. No, he doesn't. He can't even be clever about it.


Also, also, also, you can split his name up and it'd say
"Da Red Evil." "Batman" splits up to become "Ba Tman."
What's that even mean?


10) Ben Affleck, one of the most iconic actors of his generation, starring in such classics as Good Will Hunting, Chasing Amy, Dazed and Confused, Armageddon, and Phantoms, has played Daredevil. Ben Affleck has never played Batman.



And so, dear Cube readers, there's the 100% correct and objective view as to why Daredevil is better than Batman. We hope you enjoyed this article and come back for more.

Apr 14, 2015

Daredevil and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Origin

Daredevil and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Origin
Ben Smith


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are unquestionably the most successful creator-owned comic book in history. Inspired by a funny drawing one of them made of a turtle wearing ninja gear, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird launched an empire from their garage studio. All this you probably already know, but what you might not know, is that Marvel’s Daredevil was also a big influence on the creation of the book as well.

At the time they were writing and drawing the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic, Frank Miller was in the middle of a highly popular run as writer and artist on the Daredevil series, which would redefine the character permanently. Miller immersed Daredevil in a noir-ish world of crime and corruption, with a healthy dose of ninjas in the form of The Hand, a criminal organization of assassins. If you’re a fan of the Ninja Turtles, that might sound pretty similar to The Foot Clan. Additionally, in flashbacks, Miller created a ninja master for young Daredevil by the name of Stick. If you’ve ever broken a stick in half, you’ll notice how it splinters. The Turtles’ wise old ninja master is named Splinter. I know, I’m clever.

The homage doesn’t end with those subtle nods to Miller’s Daredevil. In Stan Lee and Bill Everett’s Daredevil #1, young Matt Murdock rushes to push a blind man out of the path of a speeding truck. A radioactive canister falls from the truck and splashes Matt in the eyes, blinding him, but heightening all his remaining senses.


In Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, the canister didn’t stop there. It continued to bounce toward the crowd, smashing a nearby boy’s bowl full of turtles, and dropping them into the sewer below.



From there, the turtles, and their rat master Splinter, mutated into humanoid form. They were raised in the art of ninjitsu, and became the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


There’s no way Eastman and Laird could possibly have imagined their tongue-in-cheek nod to Daredevil would spawn a multi-media phenomenon that would continue for over 30 years. Not bad for a couple of guys with a funny drawing of a turtle and a stack of Frank Miller comics.

Apr 13, 2015

Netflix's Daredevil: Easter Eggs!

Netflix's Daredevil
Ben Smith

(This week contains spoilers for the Daredevil TV show on Netflix. I don’t think there are any significant spoilers for the plot of the show, only minor spoilers that most likely only comic book fans will notice, but if you’re the type that likes to watch something without any knowledge going in, you’ve been warned to wait until after finishing to continue reading. Also, send us money.)

The Netflix Daredevil show is unquestionably the best superhero TV show ever created. Comic books, as a serial medium based on cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, is actually better suited to the television medium, more than it is motion pictures. The problem is that few television shows can afford to pay for the type of special effects and production values that it takes to make a really great superhero show. Plus, the format of network TV requires a certain number of episodes per season, and those episodes are written and filmed on a revolving deadline throughout the season. That usually leads to a lot of “filler” episodes and drastic changes in direction as the writing and production teams figure it out as they go. HBO and AMC have received lots of well-deserved praise for shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, respectively, by forgoing that type of production schedule, and writing and producing seasons in their entirety before they ever even air. It’s not hard to see this is the better way to produce entertainment. The results are apparent.

This won’t be an extended review of Daredevil. Just know that it is very, very good. It’s not good because it’s dark, and violent, and uses curse words, like some will no doubt determine is the reason it’s great. It’s great because it’s got superb writing and excellent acting (the guy playing Foggy was outstanding).

What follows is one of the more fun things to do with any live-action superhero production: find Easter Eggs. Easter Eggs are specific references to the comic books that only the most seasoned long-time fans will probably be able to spot. Let’s get hunting.


BULLSEYE




Bullseye is frequently an assassin working on behalf of Wilson Fisk, otherwise known as the Kingpin in the comics. Bullseye is the deadliest of Daredevil’s enemies, having killed at least two of Matt Murdock’s girlfriends throughout the history of the comic series. Internet speculation is that one of the masked sniper’s on Fisk’s payroll is Bullseye. Normally I would write this off as a “Coulson is the Vision” level stretch, but there is one shot where you can see a playing card in the sniper’s tactical bag.


Bullseye is awfully fond of using playing cards as a weapon.



THE HAND

The red ninja that Daredevil fights is pretty clearly a member of the Hand, a criminal organization of ninja assassins. Daredevil has crossed paths with the Hand on multiple occasions, even becoming the head of their clan at one point. The Hand are famous for resurrecting the dead, so keep that in mind anytime someone dies in future shows. Matt’s mentor and teacher, Stick, heads a group of warriors named the Chaste that are determined to keep the Hand from getting too powerful. The large man at the end of episode seven is most likely Stone, a member of the Chaste. Stick and Stone, comics have not really been the most subtle of mediums.

ELEKTRA



In a college flashback, Foggy mentions that Matt took a Spanish class to get close to a girl. That “Greek girl” is definitely Elektra Natchios, one of the most significant romantic interests in the history of the Daredevil series, and is a breakout character in her own right. She also has a long history with the Hand.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

In the show, Matt spends some time as a boy at Saint Agnes Orphanage, the same orphanage Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. resided. Jack Murdock’s final boxing match was against Carl “Crusher” Creel, who would eventually gain super powers and fight S.H.I.E.L.D. as the Absorbing Man. (Both of these references are automatically the only cool things about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show.)

JOSIE’S BAR

Josie’s dive bar is a longtime fixture of the Daredevil comic series.



ATLAS INVESTMENTS

Before Marvel Comics changed their company name in the early 60’s, they were known as Atlas Comics. (It was as Atlas that they published Captain America and Sub-Mariner comics in the ‘40s, two characters that still play prominent roles in Marvel comics to this day.) The Atlas Investments logo on the office door across the hall from Nelson and Murdock’s law office, is nearly identical to the old Atlas Comics logo.


This could also be a subtle reference to fan favorite superhero team the Agents of Atlas. Time will tell.

NEWSPAPER HEADLINES

Obviously there are multiple references to the Battle of New York in The Avengers movie. The framed front page newspaper stories in Ben Urich’s office refer to that battle, as well as the Hulk’s fight against the Abomination in Incredible Hulk. Hell’s Kitchen may have been an awful place to be when the Daredevil comic first started in the ‘60s, but from what I understand, it’s now an upscale neighborhood. Having it being bombed out and crime-ridden following the Avengers’ alien battle is a nice touch.

TURK BARRETT

Turk is a low-level criminal and long-time whipping boy, and source of information for, Daredevil. He usually tries to resist for a half-second before readily offering up everything he knows to Daredevil. He makes me smile every single time he appears in the show.


K’UN L’UN

Madame Gao mentions that she is from somewhere considerably farther than China, which just might be the mystical city of K’un L’un, home of the character Iron Fist. Iron Fist is due to get his own series on Netflix, so this would be an easy way to tie the two shows together.


Gao briefly displays an affinity for the martial arts, which would also fit (even though in the comics women aren’t allowed to learn martial arts in K’un L’un, but that could be ignored for the show). Also, the symbol that Gao uses on her packets of heroin belongs to Davos, The Steel Serpent, a longtime adversary of Iron Fist. I probably should have led with that.

NIGHT NURSE

Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson in the show, was a minor character that used to date Luke Cage in the comic books. There was a short-lived series in the ‘70s called Night Nurse about a nurse named Linda Carter. Night Nurse was eventually revealed in the Daredevil series to be the source of medical care for superheroes. Claire may not specifically be Night Nurse, but she serves basically the same function in the show. There is also the tie to Luke Cage, who is also getting his own upcoming series on Netflix. Travis tells me that Claire is the ex-wife to Bill Foster, a friend and ally of Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. Bill used Pym’s size-changing “Pym particles” to become Black Goliath. This could provide a clear tie to the upcoming Ant-Man movie (if the Ant-Man movie wasn’t, by all appearances, going to be an abomination).

ROXXON

Roxxon is an all-purpose evil corporation responsible for various misdeeds throughout Marvel history (they are currently causing a lot of problems in the current Thor series). They’ve already been referenced in the Iron Man films. It’s fitting that representing Roxxon is the final straw for Nelson and Murdock opening their own law office.

MIKE MURDOCK

One of the stranger moments in Daredevil comic history is when Matt pretended to have a twin brother named Mike, to avoid speculation that he was Daredevil. Claire deciding to call Daredevil by the name Mike could be a subtle nod to that.

MELVIN POTTER


In the comics, Melvin Potter is also a frequent Daredevil opponent named The Gladiator. There is a “Revenge of the Gladiators” movie poster on the wall in his shop. One of the patterns on his work table is very clearly a pattern for the costume Alex Maleev designed for the Gladiator in the comics.




There are also blueprints for the hand-saw weapons he wears in the comics, and in one scene you can clearly see Stilt Man’s legs!




Stilt Man!


“Betsy” is social worker Betsy Beatty, who helps Melvin with his criminal tendencies, and who he loves like a puppy dog.

LELAND OWSLEY

Leland Owsley is the real name of a longtime also-ran crime boss named The Owl. He, obviously, wears an owl-themed outfit. While I don’t think this Leland Owsley will get dressed up in an Owl costume, he does mention that he has a son.

BLACK SKY

I have no idea what this is.

STAN LEE

If you thought he didn’t make one of his trademarked cameos, pay very close attention to a photo on the wall behind the front desk of the police precinct.


That’s all I have for now. Feel free to let us know anything you saw or found yourself. When I was a kid, the best I ever got in live-action was the extremely cheesy Daredevil and Kingpin that appeared in the made-for-televison movie Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Now there’s a 13-episode R-rated television series based on one of Marvel’s preeminent crime/superhero comics. We live in magical times, my friends.

(Bring on Luke Cage and Iron Fist! -Duy)


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