May 29, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #20

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 #20
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

J. Jonah Jameson’s hatred of Spider-Man goes too far, and the Scorpion is born!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: First appearance of the Scorpion. Ned Leeds leaves on an assignment to Europe. He is murdered in Germany many years later.

DUY: Ned Leeds would be revealed to be the Hobgoblin many years later, only for it to be retconned and revealed that the real Hobgoblin framed him even more years after that. However, by narrative rules, the fact that he showed up soon after the Green Goblin did would make him a suspect at the current point we are reading.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: Sometimes these credits are really funny.



BEN: The panels of the Scorpion getting his powers are reminiscent of Steve Rogers in those original Captain America comics.

DUY: This is kind of ahead of its time. I can't think of DC doing tight shots like this.


BEN: Traces of Steve actually being a horror and suspense comic artist who transitioned to superheroes.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: Stillwell abandons all morals and scientific responsibility pretty quickly for a big payday.

DUY: Sadly, I don't know that I'd agree with you on that aging badly...

NITPICKS

DUY: Spider-Man really has the dexterity and artistic ability to make a 3D bat out of his webbing? And also, this panel would now be seen as out of character. Spider-Man would follow Jameson.


BEN: Is Ned the most oblivious guy ever in this panel?

DUY: The fact that it's easy to pull one over on Ned is canon from the beginning.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine is this:

DUY: Why do people hate thought bubbles? This is hilarious!


BEN: Not gloomy enough. Rorschach would never think “hooray” to himself.

DUY: This is another thing that's kinda lost to some readers today too. I remember a poster on CBR always saying that he went by what was on the page; the fact that a character could be lying isn't going to cross his mind unless it's explicitly said. Here Peter is clearly lying to Betty's face, but even if we removed the thought bubble, would we really think he was sincere?

BEN: I wouldn’t, but I see how someone could.

DUY: I would argue that we should always consider that a character might be lying.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Depending on how you look at it, it's either Spider-Man by default or Jameson for adding another layer to his character. I tend to think it's a misstep, but it's not as big a misstep as what would happen a few issues later.

BEN: So Jameson goes too far in this issue, why is it that readers don’t hold it against him going forward? He’s too much fun?

DUY: That's basically what it is. We like him too much, so you can't send him to jail or actually turn him tnto a full-on villain. Jameson would take another 20 years in real time to come clean about creating the Scorpion, too, in Roger Stern's Spider-Man run, I think. Remember, this is a storytelling genre where it doesn't matter what Magneto did in the past; people want him to be good. So if he's turning over a new leaf, people will forgive him. Jameson's thing isn't a big deal, relatively.

HEY, WHAT HAPPENED TO SPIDEY'S INVENTIONS?

DUY: So the resolution of this issue is actually in stark contrast to a lot of the earlier issues. Spider-Man used to use his scientific knowledge to think his way out of stuff. In this case, Stillwell had provided the antidote for the Scorpion's condition. Stillwell dies, the serum goes wasted, and Spider-Man physically just beats the hell out of Scorpion.

BEN: At this point it seems like the spider tracers are his last invention, but he begins to use them more and more.

DUY: I might give it to this one just for kicking off the silly bonuses, like "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" Enjoy!

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 week!

May 27, 2019

Season-Ticket Characters

There are generally three elements that will entice a potential reader into buying a comic: the concept, the creative team, or the character. For me, if two out of the three are satisfied, than I’m definitely going to check it out. Three out of three is when it seems like it was made specifically for you as a reader. However, for every fan there are those creators, characters, or concepts that are appealing enough on their own to make you buy a comic. Today, I’m going to list my top “season ticket” characters.

Back Issue Ben's Top 10 Season Ticket Characters
Ben Smith

Sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with the idea of a “season ticket actor” to describe an actor that was an automatic purchase for you any time they were in a new movie. (For the non-sports fans, season tickets are when a fan purchases an entire seasons worth of tickets in-advance, so they’re sure to have at least the option of attending every home game of their favorite team.) For example, if you’re such a big Denzel Washington fan that you will automatically see any movie he’s in, he’s a “season ticket” actor for you.

If we apply this to comic books, there are probably certain characters you like so much, you’ll buy any new comic with them in it regardless of creative team or concept. You may not keep buying it, depending on the quality, but you’ll give it that one automatic chance or even stick with it longer than you would in any other situation.

To me there is a distinct difference between a favorite character, and a season ticket character, though there will obviously be some overlap. I’ll attempt to point out the differences as I go through my list.

HONORABLE MENTION: TRANSFORMERS

I’m very specifically a fan of the ‘80s versions of the Transformers, and I’d like to think I’ll always give any new comic featuring that general rendition of the characters a chance, but I’ve found the IDW Transformers comics so consistently underwhelming that I don’t know if they can make my list anymore.

10. IRON FIST


Iron Fist is one of my favorite characters, and I will always try any new solo comic of his that comes out, but I always expect it to suck. Only the David Aja series has been great, the rest consistently disappoint, so it ranks here.

9. MOON KNIGHT


This is the inverse of Iron Fist in that, I wouldn’t consider Moon Knight one of my favorites, but I’ve enjoyed his comics more often than I have not. I like his costume design (especially when it’s soaked in blood) and his multiple personality disorder. He’s basically a crazy and more violent version of Batman.

8. HOBGOBLIN


This is for the Roderick Kinsley version of the character. I’ve always said fans have created a false equivalency between Roger Stern’s original Hobgoblin and Roderick Kingsley. We never knew who the Hobgoblin was when Stern was writing the comic; he was a good character because of Stern. It just so happens that when Stern left the series, the character progressively got worse and it was revealed that the subsequent Hobgoblins were imposters. So when Stern returned to reveal Kingsley was the original Hobby, it made it seem like those two aspects were connected, when it was really just Roger Stern being great. Regardless, I’ve liked what they’ve done with Kingsley as the Hobgoblin in recent years enough that he still makes my list.

7. DOCTOR DOOM



Doctor Doom is my favorite villain, and I love when he appears in any comic other than Fantastic Four, oddly enough. He’s the biggest threat the world has ever seen in any other series, but somehow has the hardest time beating Reed Richards. I don’t like Reed, so I’m going to skip reading that most of the time.

6. MORGAN LE FAY



The next three characters are pretty much interchangeable. I will get any comic they guest star in, and I would love it if they ever got their own solo series. I’ve said it before, I love fictional witches. Morgan adds time travel and Arthurian legend to the mix, and a tumultuous romance with Doctor Doom. She’s much more unrelentingly angry than the next character on my list.

5. KARNILLA THE NORN QUEEN




My love for Karnilla is exhaustively documented. I will still always be excited when she pops back up.

4. THE DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON


I love Colleen Wing, so this mostly applies to her, but I do enjoy her partnership with Misty Knight also. They are very similar to the comic they spun out of Power Man and Iron Fist, combining kung-fu craziness with street-level crime. I prefer when it gets extremely crazy or extremely gritty, and there’s not many comics that can succeed on that spectrum.

3. SPIDER-MAN


Spider-Man is my favorite character, so you may be asking yourself, why isn’t he ranked first here? The answer is there is just way too many Spider-Man comics that come out every month for me to possibly want to try them all. But I will almost always give the flagship title, Amazing Spider-Man, a chance. The creative team really has to be completely boring me for me to not get Amazing. Anytime that’s the case, I’m looking for an ancillary title to pick up the slack.

2. THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES


This counts for any Legion team book, or any solo Legionnaire series, or even when a Legion member guest-stars in another DC comic. I love the Legion of Superheroes so much I will always give any new title or appearance a chance.

1. X-23



I don’t think I’ve ever read a X-23 solo series I didn’t like. There are a few storylines here or there, but as a whole, every volume has entertained me. Tom Taylor’s run on All New Wolverine is my current favorite, but Marjorie Liu had a great run, as well as Mariko Tamaki currently. There’s something about her story, having been created to be an assassin, but rebelling against her programming, that I find endlessly appealing. In many ways, I think she fills the role Wolverine used to occupy in his early appearances, as the killer trying to be a better person and atone for past sins. Writers have consistently made Logan much more bloodthirsty over the years, so Laura has stepped in and taken that redemption story. Plus, I always get a kick out of characters that are confused by emotions.

Who are your season ticket characters? Let us know in the comments.

May 22, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #19

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 #19
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

With Aunt May fully recovered, Spider-Man finally strikes back. The issue ends with a mystery figure that one might infer to be the Green Goblin, but is billed as a "new and different menace."


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 4
  • Green Goblin: 2
  • The Enforcers: 3
BEN:  This is the seventh Human Torch appearance, the first full appearance of Ned Leeds.

DUY: It's possibly the end of Peter and Betty's relationship, too.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: I hate to say it, but Jameson going back and forth on Spider-Man being a fraud and over, and then publishing pictures of Spider-Man feels a lot like some news outlets, even the legit ones.

BEN: There was always an element of marketing that was going to be involved.

DUY: The Peter/Flash rivalry is really starting to get nuanced, I think. Peter for the second straight issue has tried talking to Flash like a regular person, but Flash is too angry to listen. They're going to be good friends eventually, and Flash is even going to be best man at the wedding for some inexplicable reason, so it's interesting to see the journey.

BEN: It was really smart of them to sprinkle in some humanity from Flash from time to time.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: The Enforcers.

DUY: It really is easy as hell to take out Johnny Storm, isn't it?

BEN: Sand is his natural enemy.

DUY: And speaking of which, anything with the word "asbestos."


NITPICKS

BEN:  Sandman is too tired to run from the cops? He doesn’t even have muscles anymore.

DUY: When exactly did Peter and Betty officially break up? Or is that just not how dating worked back then?

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: This pose, which is on the cover as well, was used in the ‘60s Spider-Man cartoon approximately 400 times:


DUY: That's mine too.


WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: The Spider-Man and Human Torch team-up. They were working very well together before ruining it by getting in each other’s way. Torch appears so much in this comic he might as well be part of the supporting cast.

DUY: I'll go a bit higher than you and say the entire Marvel Universe at large. I think the argument can be made that the entire shared universe is founded in this friendship. You have two characters who are polar opposites, and you have two characters who were created by different people, unlike, say, the Avengers, who were all Kirbys. And not only do they have chemistry, they also interact regularly.

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

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

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

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

May 20, 2019

The 5 Best Toylines of the 1980s

Toys and comics have always seemed to go hand-in-hand, and neither of them have been as good as they were in the 1980s. The removal of broadcasting restrictions resulted in an explosion of new action-based animated series, with matching comic books and toylines, enrapturing an entire generation of kids. Today, we will determine the best of the best.

The 5 Best Toylines of the 1980s
Ben Smith

Like I said above, restrictions on violence in animation were removed in the early ‘80s, leading to beloved cartoon series based on toys like G.I. Joe and Transformers. This level of imagination and adventure is something no generation of kids had experienced before, and in my opinion is what created the geek culture we see today. The Flintstones or Jetsons never would have inspired the level of dedication and imagination that cartoons of the 80s did, and each major cartoon had an entire army of toys to accompany it, reinforcing that dedication. That’s not the kind of devotion that tends to go away over time.

One thing we never would have known at the time was all the comic book writers helping to give life to these franchises, by writing the comics or the cartoons, or even helping to mold and shape the characters themselves. Bob Budiansky and Jim Shooter were largely instrumental in creating the story of the Transformers, and naming the characters. Larry Hama wrote detailed file cards on every G.I. Joe character, along with almost every comic of the initial 155 issue run.

There’s never been a better decade for toy franchises, which is evident because most of them still exist today. (The ‘90s might be the only realistic argument against.)  Never has there been so many popular franchises based on movies or cartoons, combined with corresponding massive toylines.

Taken from here


To mitigate my own personal bias, I asked the extended Comics Cube family to vote on their favorite ‘80s toys.  They’ll be providing some individual testimonials as well.  Here’s what we came up with.

Other toylines receiving votes: Thundercats, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Lite Brite, Jem, Dino-Riders, COPS, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, LJN WWF, Lego, Super Powers, MUSCLES, Sky Commanders, Micro Machines, Go Bots, Matchbox Cars, Hot Wheels, Captain Power, Voltron, and Visionaries.

Honorable Mentions:

LIZZY: Outside of Cabbage Patch Kids, there’s no other toy that defined the 80’s for me than Care Bears. The two Care Bear movies playing on VHS was a constant background in many 80’s households. Best of all there were Care Bears for every personality. Grumpy Bear captured my heart as the outsider with a heart of gold. These little suckers graced everything from cards to erasers to fruit snacks to stuffed animals. Personally, my prized Care Bear possessions were my stuffed Grumpy Bear and my Care Bear shoelaces!

MATT: Imagine if you would the epitome of marketing. Let’s create a toyline and then back fill it with a Saturday morning style cartoon. Forget about actually getting syndication first. Then get Optimus Prime to voice the hero and Megatron to voice the villain. The toys are dinosaurs so accurate that the Smithsonian sells them for a decade, sans the armor that sells the fake cartoon. That’s basically Dino-Riders. If I hadn’t watched the tape a million times as a kid and still have one of the figures, I would think the toyline was the fever dream of a dinosaur obsessed child, ie me. The toys combined the coolest animals ever, dinosaurs, with a galactic fight between good and evil. What more does any 5-year-old want?

LaMAR: DC Super Powers figures really captured my imagination as a child, and honestly still do. They were small enough to fit in my pockets even then, and the build quality was good enough to take what I put them through. Newer figures have those hard plastic capes, but the DCSPs cloth capes were perfect for simulating flight in front of an industrial-grade fan.

Sure, the molds were used over and over again for some figures, but even that frugality gave them the same charm as the comics they came from considering it was no different than comic artists that used similar models for their panels.  I didn't care that The Riddler was a Green Lantern figure with a different paint job, especially when you can imagine them as being twins who could pose as some another with nobody suspecting otherwise (see that kind of ingenuity comes from not having the toys do all the work...and having a lot of time on my hands growing up in a version of Mayberry where you can actually see the black people).

Newer figures have more articulation, but honestly too many joints = figures looking like figures and it took the fun out of it for me unless it was a robot.

And listen, if you never threw a Superman figure in a church lady's hat during benediction, you haven't done much living and you should rectify this. IMEEJEETLY.

5. STAR WARS

Star Wars changed the toy industry forever. Produced by Kenner starting in 1978 (after famously selling an Early Bird Certificate Package for Christmas in ‘77) it was the first movie to successfully market a toyline, lasting in its initial run until 1985.

One of the greatest parts of the Star Wars toyline was how comprehensive it was. Nearly every character and vehicle that appeared on-screen in one of the movies, if even only for a second, got its own toy. It established a smaller figure size than was common at the time, just over three inches tall, enabling for a more cost-effective selection of vehicles and playsets. The amount of playsets and vehicles that were created back then would never exist today, with the rising costs of production.

Early favorites included, of course, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Kenner found a clever way to recreate the light saber action, with a telescoping blade that expanded from the arms of the figure. However, the clear highlight of the toys was the Millennium Falcon, arguably the must-have vehicle of any 1980s toy franchise.

Star Wars dominated the toy landscape for 8 years, creating the multimedia template for every franchise that followed. Its initial strength eventually became its weakness, as the lack of new movies decreased interest in the toys and sales subsequently dropped. Obviously, Star Wars toys would return in various incarnations until the present day, and will probably exist for as long as humans do.

4. M.A.S.K.

M.A.S.K. was produced by Kenner starting in 1985. The hook of the toys was a mask-wearing action figure paired with a transforming vehicle. I’ve always considered it Kenner’s direct response to the success of G.I. Joe and the Transformers.

M.A.S.K. was easily the least successful franchise on our list, mostly due to its extremely subpar cartoon and the much smaller size of the figures compared to other toys at the time.

Early toy standouts included Matt Trakker’s flying Chevrolet Camaro, the Thunderhawk, and Miles Mayhem’s Switchblade, a helicopter that transformed into a jet.

JEFF: M.A.S.K. was like an awesome cross between Transformers and G.I. Joe. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand vs V.E.N.O.M., the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem. Normal-looking vehicles with hidden weapons ready to spring out for attack mode. The characters’ masks each had unique abilities or weapons and the vehicles had spring loaded weapons that worked. The only drawback for me with them was Kenner used figures smaller than the 3 3/4 inch figures like the Joes or Star Wars, so you couldn't have fun mixing them with other lines.

3. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

Developed by Mattel for release in 1982, the Masters of the Universe line was one of the highest-selling toy franchises of the decade. Mattel was looking to exploit a different aspect of the market untouched by Star Wars, and landed upon barbarian characters with a science fiction twist.

Much like Star Wars, the line released hundreds of figures, vehicles, and playsets. Unlike Star Wars, the figures were 5.5” in height, and each came packaged with a mini-comic book. The action figures notoriously used the same body mold for each character, except with a different head, paint job, armor, and weapons.

Early highlights included He-Man and Skeletor, the respective leaders of the good and evil factions of Eternia. Each came with their own half of the power sword, which when combined gave that character access to the best playset in the entire line, Castle Grayskull, arguably the most beloved playset of the entire 1980s. Battlecat was another must-have “vehicle” of the line (and was a repainted tiger Mattel had in abundance from a previous jungle-themed toyline).

The franchise expanded in 1985 with She-Ra, a spin-off marketed toward young girls. Subsequent releases saw increasingly gimmick-driven figures like "Laser Power He-Man" in an effort to maintain relevance.

2. G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

G.I. Joe was a toy created by Hasbro in 1964, even creating the term “action figure” so that boys wouldn’t have to believe they were playing with a doll. The original Joes were 12” in height, and had no specific characterization or identity — customization was key. This version of the toy existed in various forms until 1977.

Following the success of Star Wars, Hasbro relaunched the franchise in 1982, shrinking the figures down to 3 3/4” to match the Star Wars toys. With an assist from Marvel Comics (shoutout to Larry Hama) the Joes became a whole army of heroic characters with individual code names. Additionally, this time the Joes had an enemy in the form of a terrorist organization named Cobra.

Over the next 12 years, Hasbro released over 500 action figures and over 250 vehicles and playsets. Early highlights included the ninja commando Snake Eyes and his Cobra counterpart Storm Shadow. (It’s funny that the only reason Snake Eyes is in all-black gear, was to keep production costs down on that first wave of action figures. Happy accidents.) Cobra Commander and Destro were other early standouts. In my peer group as a kid, it was an absolute must to own Snake Eyes, even if G.I. Joe wasn’t your favorite cartoon.

Much like Star Wars, the Joe franchise had an impressive array of vehicles and playsets, like the Cobra Hiss tank and Joe Skystriker jet. However, the most impressive vehicle that has ever existed in any toyline has always been the USS Flagg, a massive in-scale aircraft carrier that measured 7 feet in length. We never have and never will see another toy like it again.

JD: I think the best qualities of the 80’s line of G.I. Joe was its variety and its pose-ability. There were hundreds of different characters and vehicles to choose from. From ninjas to pro-wrestlers, trouble-bubbles to air-craft carriers. There was something there for every kind of kid. The pose-ability of the line outdid everything else of the time. My best friend and I would cover the room in massive battlefields together, each one completely different. And as a bonus, if you pushed your Joe to the breaking point, you could take out the small screw in the Joe’s back and make repairs or replace parts or create some horrible hybrid like you were Sid from Toy Story.

1. TRANSFORMERS

MICHAEL: When it came to action figures in the '80s, your clumsy little sausage fingers were positively spoiled for choice. But at the end of the day, there was only one true 3-course turducken of toys. You want some hot wheels, like your Matchbox cars? We got that. You want hundreds of badass warriors with wild designs evocative of their unique, eclectic personalities? We got that too. You want the same galaxy brain, piercing the veil of reality sense of accomplishment you get from solving a Rubik's Cube? Well, uh, we can't do that exactly, but we might stump you for a couple of seconds for the first few times or so.

Oh, did I mention you can watch adventures of all of this ouroboros-esque revelry every Saturday morning?

I'm talking about a puzzle in a robot in a car in a cartoon. I'm talking about Transformers. And that was the selling point for children everywhere, right there. Not just a car, not just a figurine, so much more than a toy. They were both a kid's and a marketer's wet dream, and no one had to get arrested.

BEN: Hasbro partnered with a Japanese toy company named Takara to bring two of their toylines to the United States. Diaclone and Microman featured robots that changed into vehicles, weapons, or other household items. With an assist from Marvel Comics, these toys were rebranded into Autobots and Decepticons, an alien race of robots locked in a civil war. The initial run of the Transformers lasted from 1984 until 1993, and is referred to as Generation One.

Early highlights included Optimus Prime, the Autobot leader that transformed into a semi-truck, and Soundwave, a cassette tape player that came with an assortment of tapes that transformed into birds or smaller robots.

Later releases got even more experimental with the creation of combiner teams like the Aerialbots, a set of jets that each transformed into a robot, but could also combine into one larger robot named Superion.

The massively successful franchise took a bad turn in 1986 with the release of the Transformers animated movie, which literally killed off the beloved first wave of characters, including Optimus Prime. Those fictional deaths probably led to the actual death of the toyline. The early waves of the toys were based on actual real cars and weapons, while post movie toys were based on futuristic vehicles that didn’t exist in the real world.

Subsequent attempts to revive interest, like the Headmasters or Targetmasters (humans that transformed into the head or weapon of their robot partner) weren’t enough to restore the franchise to its former glory.

However, much like all the other toys on this list, the Transformers would return in other forms and designs until the present day. Proving conclusively the power of design and imagination many of these ‘80s toys had created. Modern toys may be more complex or aesthetically impressive, but those original ‘80s toys still have appeal in their simplicity.

In closing, the must-have vehicle of the ‘80s was the Millenium Falcon, the must-have playset was Castle Grayskull, and the action figure every kid needed was Snake Eyes. Or was it Optimus Prime? Why not both? It wasn't the ‘80s without both.

May 15, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #18

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 #18
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

The entire city believes Spider-Man is a coward, and he can’t prove them wrong without risking leaving Aunt May all alone.


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: I know all the villains made cameos in this issue, but I'm not counting those in our villain appearance count, which is now:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 3
  • Green Goblin: 2
DUY: The writing is on the wall for Dr. Octopus' time at the top of the food chain. In an early panel, he says, reacting to the news of the Goblin beating Spider-Man, "The victory should have belonged to Dr. Octopus!" Yeah, it should have, but it didn't. It belonged to the Green Goblin. And that's a microcosm of their spots on the Spider-Man rogues gallery, or what will be their spots.

BEN:  This is the sixth Human Torch appearance, and the first full appearance of Anna Watson, though she's referred to as Watkins.

DUY: Sticking with "Watson" over "Watkins" is a smart move.

BEN: First time Peter quits being Spider-Man.

DUY: First time Aunt May isn't useless, convincing him not to give up and that Parkers are made of grit.

BEN: First unnamed appearance of Ned Leeds.

DUY: Second time Flash Thompson has impersonated Spider-Man. First time in a Spider-Man comic that the Statue of Liberty is explicitly named as Johnny and Peter's meeting place. That's just going to be a tradition. And it's the second appearance of anyone resembling this kind of hairstyle, Sandman being the first. Norman and Harry Osborn will have it too.





WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: Stan and Ditko were getting more confident in continuing a storyline from one issue into the next. A far cry from the early issues having two separate stories.

DUY: I really like the quick shots of characters reacting to news items. Really highlights the feeling of that shared universe.



WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: This entire comic was a bit of a chore to read.

DUY: Were newspapers ever really to the point that their publisher's face would be used to advertise on outdoor ads?

BEN: Even if they weren’t, Jameson is the type that would.


NITPICKS

DUY: So Kraven and the Vulture are just out of prison now, in costume, not really doing anything, right? Also, wasps and spiders may be natural enemies, Janet Van Dyne, but it's not like Warren Worthington and Matt Murdock hate each other.

BEN: Janet was trying to impress Hank with a science tidbit.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: He calls the one on the right "upside-down Flashdance":



DUY: The way Steve drew Jameson smiling is forever going to amuse me.


BEN: Jameson probably freaked people out more when he smiled then when he was screaming at them.

DUY: Apparently Ditko drew him this way because they were getting fan complaints that Jameson (and Aunt May) were too exaggerated. Stan wanted him to rein it in, and then he.... did this instead. He's quoted in the Blake Bell book (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko), that there were a lot of reader comments that Stan wanted to implement, but he ended up doing the exact opposite thing, because if fans thought Aunt May was too frail and that Jonah was too harsh on Spidey, it meant that what he was doing was working. There's something to be said in there about not giving the fans what they think they want. And why do we want those things as fans, anyway? Do we want less conflict?

BEN: There’s that story of Stan telling them to reverse the Gwen Stacy death (spoilers) because of fan backlash, so I can see that being true.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: Oddly enough, I’m going to say Spider-Man. There’s no way any other superhero could pull off a story like this. Reading these comics again has reignited my love for Spider-Man, to the point that even a subpar comic is still worth reading because of him. That says to me that the story almost doesn’t matter, as long as the writer and artist get the Spider-Man formula right. Spider-Man may be the perfect superhero character.

DUY: Honestly, for me, Jameson. This is a quintessential Spider-Man arc, and it showed what he meant to the people around him. But no one owns it the way Jameson owns it. I'll put it this way — if this were a film, everyone would be talking about how the Jameson actor stole all the scenes. And since we're talking about reigniting love for a character, I want to take this moment to plug the Spider-Man PS4 game, which I will now call the greatest superhero game of all time.

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

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

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

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

May 13, 2019

The Wrong Earth: An Interview with Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle

The Wrong Earth is a series by Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle that is published by Ahoy Comics. Dragonflyman, from bright, sunny Earth-Alpha, somehow switches Earths with Dragonfly, from grim and gritty Earth-Omega. This traps them in each other's separate worlds, which are just all wrong for both of them, even right down to how the police treat them! Inspired by the evolution of superhero comics, the comparison of the Silver Age to the Modern Age, and almost specifically Batman, The Wrong Earth is a fun ride and a promising start to an epic saga.

With the first TPB collection coming this week, we spoke to the creators to see how The Wrong Earth came about, the ideas behind it, and where it's going.



DUY: How did the idea for The Wrong Earth come about? Whose idea was it? Who pitched it to whom?

TOM PEYER: I had an idea forming, but it wasn't quite there until Jamal came aboard. He brought a tremendous amount of energy to this, as you can see from the art.

JAMAL IGLE: I actually bumped into Stuart Moore outside of a pie place in my neighborhood that we both frequent. He said that Tom had a project he wanted to talk to me about. So, Tom gave me a call and he told me the basic pitch and I was immediately onboard because it sounded like fun.

It's pretty clear that Dragonflyman/Dragonfly are modern analogues of different versions of Batman. But while Dragonflyman seems to be a direct riff on a very specific version of Batman (Adam West), is there a specific version of Batman that Dragonfly is based off of, or is he a composite of modern versions of Batman from the mid-80s and onwards?

JAMAL: For me he’s an amalgam of a few different takes. I think more than any other version is the Zack Snyder take from Batman v. Superman, in terms of tone. Dragonfly, to me is a guy who’s just tired. He’s been fighting for so long that the line between good and evil is very blurry.

TOM: Part Affleck-Batman, part Punisher and Wolverine and many other characters that have been in comics since the '80s. There have been a lot of heroes since the '80s who would just as soon kill you as look at you. They're all in there. Same with Dragonflyman. From the '30s through the '70s, most super-heroes were Boy Scouts. This is in many ways a Batman satire, and in other ways a look at the ways all super-heroes changed through the ages.

JAMAL: My approach is much more rooted in the mid 2000’s aesthetic of comics like Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and The Authority, but also Jim Lee’s work on Batman: Hush and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween. The more absurd and outlandish elements of those things are what I use as a point of reference.

How do you guys work together? Full script? Marvel method? Does Tom just project a bunch of ideas into Jamal's brain, entrusting Jamal to magically project it onto the paper?

TOM: I write full script. Sometimes we talk things out a bit first.

JAMAL: It’s a full script, but the way Tom writes still gives me a lot of leeway to inject my ideas into the pages. We did talk over the broad strokes of the story but our thinking is very similar in many regards.

Does The Wrong Earth have a definitive end in sight? If so, how many issues or series of miniseries are we eyeing?

TOM: I know how it's going to end, but I like to leave room for improvisation, too. I don't want to say how many issues there might be, because I reserve the right to change my mind.

Around 30 years ago, we saw Crisis on Infinite Earths launched under the premise that multiverses confuse audiences. With the success of movies such as Into the Spider-Verse and TV events such as CW DC's Elseworlds, do you think this maxim is no longer true and that audiences today are more ready for multiple variations of a character than ever before?

JAMAL: I think most people of a certain age remember the "Mirror Mirror" episode of Star Trek or the TV series Sliders. Even if they didn’t have a name for it, the idea of doppelgangers and evil twins has always been a fertile playground in terms of storytelling. I think  it’s more that the whole multiverse thing has been concept has been explored in pop culture since the the 1950’s and it’s just that it’s now been given a name.

TOM: I have to say I never warmed up to the post-Crisis monoverse. I don't like to see comics walking away from imaginative ideas. Frankly, I never bought the "readers are confused" rationalization. It felt to me like they were trying to make DC into another Marvel, which made me sad. We already had a Marvel. Of course, that was a long time ago, and everything gets reused eventually, including the multiverse.

In The Wrong Earth, the two protagonists seem headed into different directions — emphasizing the naivete of Dragonflyman and the more jaded, Macchiavellian tendencies of Dragonfly — you seem to be making a statement about the overall quality of comics in comparison to yesterday. How do you guys view the overall state of comics today compared to yesterday? What could be improved and what has today done better?

TOM: The comics of any decade are usually better drawn and better written than the ones from the decade before, and that is of course great. But there have always been diamonds in there, and ways of approaching material I wouldn't like the world to forget. We're still benefiting from the Phantom Zones and Danger Rooms and Super-Gorillas of the Silver Age, and I think we will for a long time to come.

JAMAL: I think the overall quality of what’s being produced has never been higher. The struggle seems to be shelf space and a print industry in transition. All of publishing is struggling to find a place in a vastly changing media marketplace. We have more companies now than we’ve had in a very long time, since the collapse of the speculation boom, so the dollars to be made are being stretched thin. Couple that with a struggling economy and it can be challenging to gain a foothold in the industry. I think there’s room for growth, but it’s going to have to be outside of the direct market, and unfortunately we’re still trying to keep comic shops from closing while trying to change the business model.

Deuce seems to be a Harley Quinn analogue, except she's on Earth-Alpha, the analogue  of the more naive, Silver Age Earth, and Harley Quinn did not show up until the Modern Age. Additionally, she shows a cruel streak that seems more in place for Earth-Omega. So the question is, without spoiling anything, is it possible that any of the characters we've already met are not actually denizens of the particular Earth they're introduced in?

JAMAL: Well, I see Deuce as more Catwoman/Bonnie Parker than Harley, even though she shows up playing the dumb blonde in issue one. There is a secret to Deuce that will get played out in the second half of the story but I don’t want to spoil things too much. Her insights speak to it more than her being from any particular Earth.

TOM: I suppose anything's possible. With Deuce I was thinking more of the Batman '66 molls, and Diana Rigg on The Avengers, and I think Jamal added some Laugh-In-era Goldie Hawn.

The Wrong Earth, in individual issues, has a lot of backup content, including short comics, short stories, and interviews, some of which have to do with The Wrong Earth universe and some of which don't. Can we expect these to be republished in the TPB?

TOM: The TPB has the backup comics stories by Paul Constant, Frank Cammuso, Gary Erskine, and Tom Feister. Jamal contributed some process pages; a glimpse of my early proposal is in there, as are all of the covers; and Tom Scocca wrote a terrific introduction.

And for fun, what particular episodes of Batman 1966 are your favorites?

TOM: Just about any first-season episode is one of the best, because that was when they were spending money to make it look like a comic book. The first Catwoman episode is a standout, as is the first Riddler. Any Penguin episode. And it's second season, but I love the Liberace one. He really gave Aunt Harriet goosebumps.

JAMAL: I’m more partial to some of the season one episodes like "Hi Diddle Riddle," "Joker Trumps an Ace", and "True or False-Face".

You can get The Wrong Earth here:

May 8, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #17

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 #17
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

The Green Goblin and the Human Torch crash the inaugural meeting of the Spider-Man Fan Club. Spider-Man runs from the fight after he learns that Aunt May has suffered a heart attack.


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 2
  • Green Goblin: 2
BEN:  This is the fifth Human Torch appearance, and the second Aunt May heart attack.

DUY: Johnny Storm has shown up more times than any villain!

BEN: I think this proves Johnny is his true love.

DUY: That's actually a ship. It's called Spideytorch.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: Reading these again, I hadn’t realized how prevalent Johnny Storm was in these early issues. It reminds me that it is one of my favorite friendships in comics.

DUY: The Betty/Liz rivalry is aging really well for me at least in terms of entertainment value. Peter not really being interested in Liz, except for the fact that Liz actually likes him, trying to actively avoid her when he's with Betty...

BEN: You know he has to like Liz having a crush on him. Here’s a girl he’s probably known most of his life and has ignored him the whole time, and she’s the most popular girl in school.

DUY: Another thing that just aged well, superheroes just running into each other. The Daredevil one so far is the only one that's really seemed forced.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: Why in the hell does Green Goblin have a frog for a weapon?

NITPICKS

DUY: The random burglars that want to break in is... random. Not only that, but why wouldn't they just find another house to burgle? Like maybe the one that doesn't have the mass of people inside it.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  I never noticed this, but it was pointed out in a fan letter in issue #21 that Peter never puts his shoes back on while he tries to quell Liz’s suspicions over Peter never being in the same place as Spider-Man.

DUY: That's a great touch. The issue's last panel is so emblematic of Spider-Man. Nice shadow work by Ditko too. It's gotta be this, for me.



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: The Goblin officially won, so he officially wins this issue.

BEN: Goblin appears 3 times in the span of 10 issues. I haven’t seen that many printed fan letters even speculating on who he is, so I wonder if Ditko just liked him.

DUY: He hasn't really lost either. I think at this point he's probably got a good case for being the top villain. It's still Ock at this point, but he's working his way.

THE GREEN GOBLIN

DUY: So I've mentioned before that the Electro one was the first Ditko I ever read. This is actually the fourth — it went Electro, then I found the Classics version of Amazing Fantasy, and then I saw another reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #1. I read these things cover to cover, even though I as a kid hated Ditko's art and thought the writing was primitive. But that's a part of the appeal too, just the sheer energy and power of it.

BEN: Truthfully, the art is much more crude than I remembered, but it works toward the overall quirkiness of it. I remember when he did Speedball for Marvel many years later I thought the art was awful (not realizing who Ditko was yet) so I don’t really know why it works here and not later. I don’t think it can be underestimated how fun the stories still are. Even if the writing and art are dated, they’re not boring, which is why they keep getting remade and redone.

DUY: I want to point out that if this had happened today, we'd get tons and tons of message board complaints about how Spider-Man doesn't give up. I think that's kind of the nature of serial fiction. People act "out of character" all the time in real life, and it's those moments that contrast and define the moments when they do act in character.

BEN: Peter would never risk anything and everything for his Aunt! #sarcasm

DUY: In the "Was Goblin supposed to be someone we know" category, why would Ditko go through all the trouble of hiding his identity while showing him to us if he meant him to not be anyone we knew?

BEN: It would be a huge letdown to tease it out this much and have it be a stranger.

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 week!

May 6, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #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!

This week, we're pulling double duty because we skipped Spider-Rama last week due to Avengers: Endgame taking over everything.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Spider-Man loses his powers, but must find a way to defeat six of his deadliest enemies, with Aunt May's and Betty Brant’s lives hanging in the balance.


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 2
BEN:  This is the fourth Human Torch appearance, and it’s established that Doctor Octopus has telepathic control of his arms even when they’re removed from him.  "Proportional strength of a spider" is used several times in the back-up material. It’s revealed his webbing dissolves after one hour. And finally he remembers Uncle Ben and recaps his origin!

DUY: It takes them 16 issues and an annual for them to remember that he's responsible for Ben's death!

BEN: That’s over a year of publishing time, probably two years considering Amazing didn’t start out monthly. It’s funny how integral and influential his origin is remembered, and the creators didn’t even play off it directly at the beginning.

DUY: He even uses the phrase "partially responsible" here. It's just going to get heavier and heavier over the decades. And people get mad at me when I say that this is guilt, but a definition of guilt is "a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct," and another is "feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy." That's Peter Parker to a T. He channels that into a sense of responsibility, but the core of it is a feeling of guilt.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: The cameos by the rest of the Marvel superheroes added a little bit of extra specialness to the story. Made it seem like a real event.

DUY: The entire idea of just crossing paths really quickly with the other heroes is great. It's really a contributor to the shared universe thing and I wish the movies would just do it. Thus far it's only really happened with Ant-Man and the Falcon, and Dr. Strange in Thor: Ragnarok.


BEN: The full page splashes have the desired effect, especially considering they weren’t common back then.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?



BEN: The spark of sexual attraction between May and Otto taking place before our very eyes.

DUY: Every single goddamn thing about Aunt May. Good God, she's a terrible stereotype of the worrying parent.

BEN: You can’t even imagine putting Marisa Tomei in this scenario. Though that would make Ock’s boner more believable.

NITPICKS

BEN:  I used to think the villains fighting him one at a time was a stupid idea, but I can see how they each might want to be the one to defeat him alone. Still, it’s not as intimidating as all six at once.

DUY: Fighting him one by one is so dumb, because Kraven at the very start flat-out says they should all team up and he'd have no chance. Also, Kraven is part of the team, but the Chameleon isn't. That only makes sense in the sense that it doesn't.

BEN: Also, he used his spider-sense to read the damaged notecard?



FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine is this:

DUY: I love how JJJ is becoming more and more of a comedy act. But this one is mine:


WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Spider-Man for this one. This is clearly his highlight.

BEN: They did a great job of making it feel like a Spider-Man celebration. But what about Dr. Octopus? Ock was clearly the premiere villain at this point, getting the coveted final matchup, but I wonder if the rest of the bad guys were lined up in order of preference to Stan and/or Ditko.

DUY: He's also clearly the boss, but to be fair, who else would it be? Look at that lineup. No one screams "leader" to me.

BEST ANNUAL EVER?

BEN: Is this the best annual ever? It’s definitely the best Spider-Man annual. The only other one that comes to mind is Giant Size X-Men, and that’s technically not an annual. The Superman annual with Mongul and the Black Mercy?

DUY:  As good as that Superman annual was, it doesn't really feel like a "big" Superman story (or maybe it did at the time). This has the feeling of a big season finale.

BEN: That’s an apt analogy. All the villains of the first “season” teaming up. Each fight had a montage kind of feel.

DUY: I might give it to this one just for kicking off the silly bonuses, like "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" Enjoy!





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 week!

May 3, 2019

MCU Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame Part 2

Our first Avengers: Endgame Roundtable wasn't enough! Here's Part 2!

Avengers: Endgame, Part 2


SECOND SCREENINGS



JEFF: Anyone find Thanos much more villainous in this movie? More malicious than in Infinity War.

MICHAEL: I found him more straightforward, more no-nonsense. I think it's just because he's seen how the Avengers take advantage of what he sees as benevolence. That's why he changes his plan to eradicate all life instead of just half it.

KATHERINE: He does say that his systematic extermination was never personal before, but now he’s gonna enjoy it. He basically swatted them away like gnats before, but now they’ve actually pissed him off.

DUY: I've seen the criticism that making him more evil here makes him less interesting, but it was always inevitable (no pun intended). For anyone who was on the fence, you had to stack the deck one way to show he was wrong.

BEN: So on the second viewing, I noticed Tony’s hesitation on grabbing the stones away from Thanos much more. I know he looked at Strange for confirmation, but I didn’t consider how much he probably knew he was going to die if he did so. He looks at Strange almost for confirmation that yes, the only way we can win is by you sacrificing yourself. This is the one in fourteen million. Maybe that was obvious to everyone the first time, but I only considered the winning part of Strange’s finger, not the dying part.

DUY: Yeah, it took me a bit of time to realize that the finger was the number 1, as in the 1 in 14 million. I thought Strange was just being himself.

LaMAR: That's what he meant by "If I tell you, it won't happen."

BEN: Yeah, if he tells him, he might not do it.

JD: I think Tony knew he going to die if he used the stones. The stones almost killed the hulk and Thanos when they used them. Strange was just telling him this is the one chance we have.

MICHAEL: I know the question was raised early about how exactly Tony got the stones from Thanos, and I think it was Katherine who was correct in saying Tony used his bleeding edge/nanotech to basically siphon them away from Thanos' hand. After Strange's "1" signal, you can see Tony purposely goes for Thanos' gauntlet hand, not to pry it off or anything else but to hold it (don't forget this Infinity Gauntlet is also made of Stark tech), and you can actually hear the sound effect of his transforming armor going to work, even though you can't see what's happening.

KATHERINE: Such a great idea, because I was so nervous thinking there's no way Tony can get the glove off by himself, I totally forgot that with his nanotech, he doesn't have to. And I swear when Thanos completed his snap I felt like I was getting shades of PTSD from Infinity War — Noooo YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO US AGAIN!!

JD: I forgot to “bring extra napkins” and now I need to wash my hoodie. The sleeve is disgusting. Seeing it for a second time I really paid attention to the acting. I was a mess.

KATHERINE: Didn’t we say it’s more emotional the second time?? It’s okay, we’re here for you.

JD: You were so right.

DUY: I slightly teared up a bit when Tony returned the shield to Steve and the First Avenger theme slightly played.

KATHERINE: Yessss the robot teared up, most excellent.

JD: I’m seriously thinking about getting a “On your left” tattoo. And I’m very anti “other people’s IP as tattoo’s”. The only one I have I designed. Not saying i hate other peoples tattoos. Just that its not something i would want personally.

BEN: Not having an end credits was definitely making a statement by not making a statement.

DUY: The cinema crew took the megaphone to tell us there were no end credits, but we stayed anyway in case they were lying.

JD: Most of the audience let out a sad “dawwwwwww” when the credits stopped.

BEN: I was getting all indignant about people leaving and it turns out they were the smart ones.

KATHERINE: The "curtain call" style credits for the six main Avengers also got me choked up! I've never seen a movie do something like that, it was so touching. People were cheering throughout like it was a live theater performance. I was like "are we about to give a standing ovation right now, because I am down." I hope people still stay for the actor credits because those were pretty emotional.

DUY: The signature credits were great. The slight pause before RDJ was gutwrenching. Also, to JD's point in the previous roundtable, Ruffalo gets higher billing than Hemsworth here. But Hemsworth had second billing in Infinity War, I believe.

JD: Loved the signatures. Really helps to make it more real. These actors have been together for so long.

BEN: I know some of you predicted the quantum realm would play a role, but I kept thinking there’s no way they hinge the biggest movie ever on their (no pun intended) smallest franchise, but they did! Along with all the emphasis on phase one characters, this movie also had some big flexes by using Nebula, Thor: The Dark World, and the quantum realm so crucially.

DUY: It's one of the brilliant things. Everyone gets a chance to play. If something doesn't work, it gets remixed and they find a way. Unless it's the Incredible Hulk movie

BEN: Technically that was their first remix.

MICHAEL: Something I think I noticed on my second viewing - and I'm curious if anyone else picked up on it or whether I'm just imagining things - but I'm certain merged/Professor Hulk speaks differently from the straight up Banner persona we're familiar with. This merged Hulk sounds like he has a more casual, truncated way of enunciating, eg " I wasn't askin'" - like he's a bit more New Yorkish/Jerseyish or something. It particularly sticks out a little for me when the Banner persona is astral-planed out of the merged Hulk body by The Ancient One. He speaks in a pattern more familiar to the character, but as soon as he's back in the merged Hulk body, he uses words like "musta", as in must've. Just a fun little wrinkle to Ruffalo's performance.

BRIAN: I remember talking a little smack with the group about how they'd probably never "off" both Tony and Steve. Now, I wish I had been right. If anything, I figured we end up with Cap sacrificing himself and "Old Man Tony," but I guess this way makes more sense. I still wonder, if the MCU has a several-year string of "bombs" do Downey Jr. and Evans get a small island full of money tossed their way, and another sequel with time-travel emerge?

DUY: I'm seeing some people complaining about "plot holes" like Captain Marvel coincidentally running into Stark, or her last-minute rescue. When was a last-minute rescue a plot hole?

KATHERINE: Isn't there a bit of dialogue where they reveal that Rocket gave Carol some information to help her find the Milano, or am I imagining that? Either way, I got the impression that her end credits scene takes place before we see any of them (since Cap still has his beard). She went to Earth first following the page from Fury, they told her about the other team that was still missing and they sent her to find them. So not really a coincidence as much as it was a coordinated rescue mission.

DUY: Ohhhhh that explains the plot hole between Captain Marvel's post-credits and the beginning of the movie to me. I had assumed that they just scrapped the post-credits altogether. But yeah, that's definitely Carol going back  into space to find the Milano (probably at the request of Rocket, since the Avengers wouldn't know where Tony is), not just her coming to Earth and then running into him. Additionally, the all-women scene is being met by certain viewers as "contrived", but it's been contrived since the Original Six all survived the Snap. Coincidences are really not what "plot holes" are.


BEN: Would it be contrived if Thor had grabbed the gauntlet and a bunch of dudes helped him get it to the van?

DUY: Any time a "random" event groups together a specific assemblage of people, you can scream "contrived". Thanos snaps away half the population, but the Phase 1 heroes all stay intact. Contrived. Thanos' ship attacks, and the ones who are near the roof to face him at the start of the battle are the Big 3, contrived.

DUY: Also, statistically speaking, the odds of nine women getting together at that exact moment are the same exact odds as any random combination of nine people.

BEN: Duy, I don’t know if you know this, but this is all scripted.

DUY: Wait, what?

KATHERINE: There was a great interview with the writers where they talked about how hard they tried not to make one of the destinations the first Avengers movie because they thought it’d be accused of being contrived fan service, but ultimately it was so much fun and made people happy, so it won out. Same thing with the all female heroes scene. I’m so glad they both won out, be unapologetic about making the people happy!

BEN: Its okay to make fans happy. It’s not a sin. Most of these same haters probably flip out whenever the comics do something too challenging.

DUY: Two lines with additional power the second time around: Tony saying "hopefully we don't die trying" and Natasha telling everyone "see you in a bit"

JD: "See you in a bit" hurt me.

DUY: I think there are a lot of moments that I picked apart in the first viewing, what I perceived to be plot holes, but after a second viewing and some thought, I think they're not holes anymore, for me. I was talking to a friend at work and he even mentioned that the time travel mechanics feel more authentic in this movie than the standard time travel movies.

KATHERINE: What changed for you this time? I loved it the same the second time, I just cried more.

DUY: I think in general I had a hard time not thinking of time travel in Back to the Future terms. Once I started thinking of it more as diverging/parallel timelines (so everyone is a different but distinct version of themselves), things fell into place

KATHERINE: There's an interview with the writers where they talked about bringing in actual physicists to consult on time travel who all said that if you're talking about how time travel would work "in reality," Back to the Future is bullshit. Haha.

DUY: The thing about me being confused by how it works here is funny, because it's actually exactly how the comics work. You can't change the future; you just create divergent timelines. Also, the second time around, I got the distinct impression that the Ancient One was talking about how removing an Infinity Stone would create a divergent timeline and leave that timeline unprotected. But she never actually said anything about removing/changing anything else. So yes, theoretically, you could change literally anything else, and it would create a divergent timeline.

KATHERINE: As much as I love Back to the Future, I will accept their scientific assessments and continue to love it as the action-comedy-adventure FANTASY it always was. (In addition, The Avengers is obviously also fantasy) See, nerds?? No need to get all bent out of shape about this stuff, it's all good! :)

JD: I gladly follow the time travel rules the story gives me. I prefer the alternate reality version anyway.

DUY: Looks like Marvel is starting an early Oscar push. If it wins, it could be like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

KATHERINE: Honestly really hope so. The biggest push I want is for Robert Downey Jr as best actor. For a culmination of 11 years in the role, he deserves it.

IRON MAN



DUY: Does anyone else find it funny that Tony had upgraded his armor so much that he could basically make it go away in its entirety if he wanted to at any given moment, but War Machine was stuck on an old model? He was wearing his regular helmet with the time heist suit

MICHAEL: Where did War Machine get his altered suit when Ant Man goes large in the final act? You see him crawl out of his nornal suit to save Rocket from being crushed under the rubble and then when you see him next during the Assembling, he's armored up again but slightly different (the colour scheme is slightly different and there's some sort of breathing filter now as part of his helmet?)

DUY: It kind of reminded me of his Iron Patriot suit, which, if it is, he probably just had lying around after Iron Man 3.

MICHAEL: Yeah the colour scheme was reminiscent of the Iron Patriot. Convenient but not a deal breaker.

DUY: Ultimately it's the presence of Morgan Stark that convinces me their plan was the right one.

BEN: I was dreading that little girl being erased.

DUY: I would have been a massive hypocrite if I said they should go back to 2018 and undo everything, considering I've made fun of the Flash show for the last five years.

BEN: You’re used to it.

KATHERINE: Whoa, I just saw this as another callback... I feel like this must be a coincidence because I would be utterly amazed if they actually planned it this way. We see Harley at Tony’s funeral. In Iron Man 3, Harley talks about how his father left him six years ago and he probably won’t see Tony for another six years too. Iron Man 3’s release date: 2013.  I think they’ve kept in touch and seen each other since then, plus it’s actually been 11 years in their timeline, but as a little extra heartbreaking detail for the audience that’s pretty wild. Oooh! But if he got dusted then it really has been six years... and he’d be there thanking Tony for bringing him back.

DUY: It's a little too convenient, but I'll take it.

KATHERINE: Did anyone hear the Easter egg sound in the credits? I admit I didn’t hear it, I looked it up after.

JD: It was Tony’s hammering from Iron Man 1.

DUY: I did not, and after the second time I wasn't going to stay all the way to hear the sound.

BEN: I didn’t hear it either, but I was told about it after.

MICHAEL: An aside: Tony Stark's last line in the film originally wasn't in the script.

DUY: Oh wow, that seems like a no-brainer. Also, they go back to that particular period in 1970 because it's near Tony's birthday, right?

JD: Tony seemed shocked to hear his mother was pregnant and did a little calculation in his head and had an "of course, duh" kind of moment. I think he was aiming for right before his conception and fudged the math. I’m also guessing he knew the Tesseract and Pym was there because he had hacked SHIELD before in Avengers 1.

DUY: I think maybe he was just in shock to be talking to his dad. Which we barely talked about, but it's a real powerful scene.

JD: It was great. I love that actor. He was one of my favorites in Mad Men.

KATHERINE: Well, now I’m watching Civil War and I don’t know if I’m happy or sad that Tony spent $600 million+ on virtual therapy to simulate saying goodbye to his dad... knowing that he actually got the chance to have one more conversation with him...

CAPTAIN AMERICA

KATHERINE: ... and I’m also scanning Peggy’s funeral for any signs of a very handsome old man.



JD: Bucky was completely aware of what Steve was planning. It might be my favorite thing in the movie now. LETS HEAR IT FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA!!!

KATHERINE: It felt like they shared a longer hug this time around too, right? Or was I projecting?

JD: I’ll have to go back for thirds and find out.

KATHERINE: I saw it the first time normally, the second time in 3D (I felt like I was right there in the middle of all the suffering!!) and the third time will be on Friday in Imax. I should be able to properly assess the hug from there. 

JAY: So how does Sam become the new CA? Old men distributing vibranium shields is no basis for superherodom.

MATT: How’d they do it in the comics?

DUY: Same way. Steve ages up and appoints Sam the new Cap.

KATHERINE: Technically Steve was also chosen by an old man who simply believed he was a good man worthy of the opportunity! I just hope Sam doesn’t get hurt without the serum... Bucky will have to protect him

JD: Morbid thought: Cap returned the Soul Stone, so did he see Natasha’s body? Did he bury her?

KATHERINE: You would think that if he returns the soul stone and the trade is a soul for a soul, doesn’t he get a soul back?!

JD: OMG DID HE SEE THE RED SKULL?

DUY: Oh, I loved Cap calling Spidey "Queens."

JD: Samantha, I’ve seen all of Cap’s trilogy so many times and your take in the first roundtable completely reframed one of the most heart wrenching and (because I’m also sick like that) favorite Steve Rogers moments: "I'm choosing to believe now that Peggy's moment with Steve when she started crying 'You came back' wasn't a lucid moment, but instead a regression of the time Steve came back to her." That broke my heart all over again.

KATHERINE: The take that he was always meant to come back to her the whole time is my favorite. The Hollywood Reporter article I linked to previously goes into detail about how that could have worked with the rest of the continuity and I have now accepted it as full canon.

JD: It's canon. Anything that disputes it is lies.

KATHERINE: In that moment she also says "it's been so long. So long." The song they dance to is called "It's Been A Long Long Time." She's talking about their song!! 😭

JD: Jesus I'm gonna go all weepy again...

SAMANTHA: I didn't make the connection to the song, oh God. Circle back to them, now married, as Peggy lies in bed. This time, he sings it back to her. And now I'm crying in my office. I hate that he lost her more than once.

DUY: According to the Russos, Steve created a new timeline, Bucky knew, all might be in What If. But it looks like they intentionally left it wide open for future story potential.

MICHAEL: Where would you reinsert Agent 13 into the MCU, if anywhere?

DUY: Sharon Carter is notably missing in the movie, but if they bring Widow back — and I think they would because I doubt they're giving her just a prequel with no future plans, that's the place.

BEN: I don’t think the women in our group are respecting the all too real and all too common pain of losing the guy you love when he travels back in time to marry your aunt.

MICHAEL: At least it's going against type, when most men would leave the aunt for her niece.

BEN: Marvel: "We prefer the aunt"

MICHAEL: So progressive.

DUY: I'm sure the original plan was to have him move on to Sharon. That's the source material after all. But it just never translated. Thoughts on why?

MICHAEL: There's only so many storylines you can hit with one the actor before their contract is up, or they relinquish the role, get too old, and the like. I'm sure if Evans were to stick around for another 10 years, we'd get there, but at the end of the day there's limited real estate, unless they start recasting roles ala James Bond.

BEN: Probably a combination of Evans being done and "we’re already using time travel."

DUY: Could it also be a factor that to be honest, the Sharon thing was always weird? A holdover from an old era.

MICHAEL: Was it really that weird at the time? I never really saw the fire, compared to other pairings in fiction where you have 100 year old vampires macking on 16 year old girls. Now that he's actually married Peggy in an alternate universe though, sure.

BEN: It was even weirder when the time difference was only 13 years. If Twilight is the bar, then I guess Marvel clears it.

MICHAEL: I was also thinking of your boy Spike.

BEN: Buffy was legal for Spike. Talk to Angel.

DUY: I think the whole "let me move on to your niece" thing was weird, but even in the comics, he was attracted to Sharon initially specifically because she reminded him of Peggy. And that's weird.

MICHAEL: If they built the relationship up away from that, like they worked together and then established a connection away from "yo your hot aunt tho", then I think it'd be fine.
Under strict circumstance that he never knocked boots with Peggy.

BEN: That’s what the movies did at least, didn’t reveal the family relationship until Civil War.

DUY: And obviously Agent 13 didn't really get enough time. But there was also something to Peggy and Steve-- the fact that she'd already fallen for him even pre-serum was probably a key factor.

MICHAEL: There was a definite Peggy and Steve connection, like a great love, but ultimately a missed chance. 90 years later, I don't feel that has much bearing.

DUY: I do have to ask if Agent 13 is such a great loss. I have to say she never really made much of an impression on me.

MICHAEL: I don't think she's had much of a chance. Emily Van Camp is a good actress but she was a supporting character in both films she's been in with the slimmest of screentime.

BEN: I don’t sincerely care about Sharon, but I will say I always wanted Peggy to get pulled forward, not Steve to go backwards. It’s not a big enough thing for me to even call it a nitpick, because it is a good story ending, but it doesn’t seem right to me for Steve to live his whole life in the past.

THOR



JD: I retract everything I said about Thor killing Thanos. I don't know. It all falls in to place so well. Frigga just spells it all out for Thor. And me, too.

KATHERINE: What do you think changed your mind on some of those things this time around? Subtle performance things you didn’t notice before?

JD: The acting and the writing bringing it to a complete arc in the end. But, also two things in particular about that scene that I didn’t let sink in in my first viewing: Thor says the line ("I went for the head") and it is so hollow. It’s completely meaningless and you see it on his face and hear it in his voice as he says it.

DUY: His voice audibly cracks when he says he went for the head.

JD: And then when he walks away the camera follows him and goes out of focus. And that’s exactly what happens to Thor in that moment. It was all there in the cinematography but I was too shocked the first time to read it that way. I think that was more on me than the directing.

KATHERINE: Ooh, that’s a great observation about how the scene ends. I remember there was something heavy and disconcerting about it, but that was it — the camera going out of focus with him.

JD: It’s just so well done. I'm seriously having trouble finding credible faults in this movie. And wow, all you need to cosplay Thor is a gut, a beard, sunglasses, and a beer stein. Feige is a level 9 intelligence.

DUY: What might actually be a plot hole: Thanos is easy enough for Thor to beat with Stormbreaker, so why does Thor have such a hard time with two hammers? I know the real answer: to give everyone else the same type of spotlight he got in Infinity War. But can we no-prize this one by saying he's simply not at 100%?

KATHERINE: When he was fighting in Infinity War, it was immediately after he had fought Hela in Ragnarok at max lightning power and max rage. Five years and lots of trauma and shaken confidence later, it seems only natural he wouldn’t be in quite the same form.

JEFF: Perhaps Thanos was the one in a weakened state when Thor beat him, a side effect from using the stones again. Would also expain why he waited weeks to destroy the stones after the snap.

DUY: But even in Wakanda, Thor almost killed Thanos.

BEN: He’s literally not in the best shape.

DUY: That's getting some controversy, the idea that his whole weight gain is played for laughs.

KATHERINE: Aw man, I feel bad that some people felt hurt by his depiction, but at the same time this feels like a misreading of his arc.

BEN: Only two characters actually make fun of Thor, and one is a talking raccoon. The rest show genuine concern for him.

DUY: Thor is still my favorite character even after a second viewing. I felt everything he was going through.

MICHAEL: I said it before, while an out-of-shape Thor is on a quick surface level a visual gag, I felt the actual in-depth look they had across the film at the character who was depressed and felt he had not lived up to expectations negated any possibility that it was played for cheap laughs, but, then again, I'm not someone who deals with major weight issues and therefore I don't feel I personally have much ground to tell people they have nothing to be upset about. I think they could have played it a little bit smarter, maybe.

KATHERINE: I saw someone say that they ruined Thor by making him fat and summoning the hammer should've returned him to "normal", and isn't that sentiment way more offensive than what they did in the movie? They showed a big guy with PTSD grow, face it head-on and emerge more badass than ever without a magical "fix" that instantly made him super hot again. I never felt that they showed he's now unworthy or sidelined because he got fat, he's clearly still worthy, he just had a crisis of confidence cuz that can happen when you truly fail for the first time in your life. It felt like a real situation and I think a lot of the humor comes from it feeling real — even Gods can get depressed like us, and they can make it through with some love and self-care, just like us!

DUY: Yeah, Paul mentioned it in the first roundtable. If he'd magically turned back into muscular Thor when the big fight started, then it'd say being fat is weak. But he didn't.

MICHAEL: It's something that I'm still trying to wrap my head around, in that I have friends who identify as "fat positive" and due to health issues or whatever can't do much about it so are accepting of it as their normal. And they talk about things that are problematic, something as simple as someone saying "I feel fat", when at the most you're feeling bloated or something. What seems innocuous and what doesn't to other people can be hard to reconcile, but I've found it costs nothing to at least listen and take them at face value first. I think it'd have been insulting if he magically shaved all those pounds off before the end. He was kicking as much ass as he ever was at the end.

DUY: If anyone legitimately thinks Thor was just played for laughs in the entire movie, then... watch the movie again. Also, honestly, I thought Thor was as cool as ever. He basically turned into, like, Rob Zombie. But it's also brought up that the Avengers don't want him near the Gauntlet, that it was coded as "weak."

MICHAEL: I never interpreted it like that at all. I think they didn't want him near it because a) he had major issues with depression, and b) was also drunk af.

KATHERINE: I totally agree, they didn't stop him from using the gauntlet because he was fat, they stopped him because he wasn't in the right mental state. I also thought they were protecting him since he was on a bit of a self-destructive tear.

DUY: Yeah, it's not that they wanted him away from the gauntlet, it's that he was mentally unfit to do that work.

MICHAEL: The thing is when you have a personal issue, you can be super receptive to things people may not see. I definitely do think that in particular is a misread though.

KATHERINE: I'm sure that saying "eat a salad" can be hurtful (and would be that inverse of "eat a sandwich") but I think there is some projection involved in saying that Frigga said this "nastily." I thought it was a cute moment precisely because she delivered that line so sweetly and with so much typical motherly love and concern.

JD: I abhor body shaming. I have terrible psoriasis on huge proportions of me. So even though Thor was fat he could still rock that shirtless dadbod, and still look, to me, awesome. I understand the point of view of the people who find it offensive. But I didn't feel like this movie had any kind of "fat equals bad" message. Thor’s arc was "be the person you are." Not "be a god." I remember when Gal Gadot was cast i said she needed to eat a sandwich or 3. But that was because she looks like a supermodel and not the buff fitness trainer i imagine Wonder Woman to be.

KATHERINE: I thought Thor looked awesome at the end, he rocked his look and I don't recall him ever being ashamed of his body. When we meet him he's just hanging out shirtless the way he has in literally every other movie. We had some characters that seemed surprised at how different he looks (and Rocket being an asshole because that's just who he is to everyone no matter what), and the audience laughs because it's surprising. I think some people are misremembering how much the team made fun of him, because it wasn't much. They made way more fun of Cap for saying "language." Within the actual story, for the majority of the characters, it was a total nonissue, they didn't even react, which I would think is how you'd want to treat a fat character. Cap only seemed concerned while he was rambling about the Aether, which to me was more concern about his mental state. Tony doesn't even comment on his weight, he just calls him "Lebowski." I really liked this article about Thor's arc: Why Thor’s Arc in AVENGERS: ENDGAME Is So Meaningful.

DUY: In other news, Natalie Portman's nap is probably the most expensive nap in film history

BEN: I was expecting them to do the "Buffy in Angel Season 5" trick.

BLACK WIDOW


DUY: Was Black Widow not fridged? I think you could go either way on that one. I do think that Widow is the one character that the universe has systemically underserved, though.

MICHAEL: Black Widow wasn't "fridged." She deserved more in general but she wasn't killed off to provide fuel via angst for a hero,or being a victim and having no agency, which is what fridging classically is defined as. In contrast here, she made a noble self sacrifice in an effort to balance out the red in her ledger that she's talked about since her introduction by saving half the universe.

KATHERINE: Slightly different thread in this convo, but re: Black Widow being fridged. In an interview with the writers, they said they went back and forth and originally wrote that Hawkeye dies in that scene, but one of their female producers said "don't you dare take this away from her." Getting fridged usually refers to women being murdered to motivate others, but when it's her choice to make a heroic sacrifice, it feels like a different thing. I felt like Peggy in The First Avenger when she tells Steve to stop blaming himself and to respect that Bucky was capable of making his own decisions.

BEN: Fridging has more to do with killing female characters to motivate male characters, like you said, and is often girlfriends and wives. Black Widow is a hero and while it’s always problematic to kill any non-white non-male character, at some point they have to be on the same field a the rest of the heroes.

THE FUTURE

DUY: So how do we move on from this? Who leads the charge? What stories will they tell? Will we ever see the likes of this again? Currently, Spider-Man: Far From Home is scheduled to come out in July, we're looking at a Black Widow prequel, Dr. Strange and Black Panther sequels, Shang-Chi and the Eternals debuting. And there are five shows planned for Disney+, the upcoming Disney streaming service:

  • Loki - I assume this will play off of 2012 Loki wreaking havoc
  • Falcon and Winter Soldier - following the adventures of the new Captain America in hopefully what is a buddy comedy
  • Scarlet Witch - I think Wanda Maximoff is one of the more underrated homegrown stars of this franchise, just kind of organically winning a following. I think it's also really easy to bring back the Vision.
  • Hawkeye - the rumor is that he'll be teaching someone else to be Hawkeye. Whether that's his daughter from Endgame, or if it's a screen version of Kate Bishop, we'll see
  • What If...? - based on the long-running Marvel series that explores alternate realities. This movie just provided plenty moments to springboard from. And it'll be animated.

BEN: We’ve sort of been operating under the assumption that they’ve been holding off on movie announcements because of Endgame, but they sort of already made their announcements and it’s for Disney+. They already announced before we knew what it totally meant that the Falcon story is continuing there. Spider-Man, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain Marvel will continue in movies, but I think the rest are streaming shows. I think the use of time travel proves how confident the studio is in the material now. I think they’ve always tried to keep the world around these fantastic characters as real as possible, so the casual audience wouldn’t dismiss it as total silliness. Slowly over the years they’ve added aliens and magic and Pym particles and infinity stones. I think now they’re going to do whatever they want and trust that everyone is on board.



DUY: So now the question becomes, do the Disney+ shows still dovetail into whatever larger story they want to tell in the movies? The movies generally have ignored all the shows that supposedly take place in the MCU, and we know a part of the reason is corporate. But TV shows and movies also work under different schedules, making it harder to coordinate, and I think the bigger movies have operated under the assumption that the audience has seen most of the previous movies essential for understanding the new movie. I don't think they can operate under the assumption that people will be watching, for example, the Scarlet Witch series, the next time we see Wanda Maximoff on screen.

MICHAEL: With Feige involved with the shows, I think it's safe to say they'll be keeping in very close step with the films, and vice versa.

DUY: I agree, it just seems like enough of a logistical nightmare that I wonder if they'll at some point just give up.

KATHERINE: Well, considering that they’re basically mini-series of something like six episodes, I feel like they would spend about as much time filming them as a movie or two, so logistically maybe not as tricky as it sounds. We’re not talking about four seasons of 20 episodes each that are continually airing, so if they consider each one like a movie release it wouldn’t be too hard to keep it in line with the other movies. Plus, even if this is an experiment that won’t last sustainably over years and years, I’m so glad they’re starting with these particular shows.

MICHAEL: Yeah, just think of them as TV movies, really.

KATHERINE: But six-hour TV movies! I really wanted that four hour Endgame!!  I love the idea of a show if it means we get all this time to breathe and hang out with these characters that have tons of potential! Six hours of content for a limited series is essentially already a whole new trilogy of movies (especially if they basically have full feature budgets as it’s been rumored). The features often have to be really focused on plot, but I like that tv can slow it down and focus on relationships and personalities. My hope is that this series will be an extended origin story for a Sam Wilson Captain America movie! For these two in particular, they’re both beloved and pivotal roles in the movies but we haven’t actually gotten to spend a lot of time with them.



BEN: I was going to say that they supposedly are putting money into the shows, so they’ll be movie level I hope.



JD: I'm all in on SamCap. Are the comics good? Y’know. I don't care if they are. I'm putting them on the list.

DUY: I think they're okay. Brubaker Cap is a tough bar.

SAMANTHA: I am 1000% excited to see Sam take Cap's shield. I was also sobbing at Sam wondering how he was gonna live in a world without Captain America in it.

DUY: With Falcon and Bucky getting a series on Disney+, I think this might be the end of them in the films, or at least the end in the films in roles as prominent as the ones they've had.

KATHERINE: I don’t know about that. I think the films will always need a Captain America in some form. Maybe this series will be about him really getting ready to take that mantle and be his version of an origin story movie, since we haven’t actually spent that much time with him in the movies.

DUY: I'm way too disillusioned about the lack of connection between the movies and the Netflix shows, but hopefully everything being under the Disney banner will change that.

KATHERINE: These are Kevin Feige’s shows though, which he’s said specifically are designed to be part of the MCU, so entirely a horse of a different color.

MATT: I think they’ll try as hard as Netflix did. So hit and miss.

BEN: I expect much better quality than Netflix. I hope that when Thanos decimated Xandar for the power stone, a certain helmet makes its way towards Earth.

MICHAEL: I think we can expect HBO levels of money and filmmaking if not better adapted to the small screen. I think we'll see connections to the the MCU films more faithful and intricate than we've gotten between Marvel TV and the Marvel Studios thus far. There's also new series still coming outside of Disney+ also (appearing on Hulu maybe/I think?), like that Howard the Duck/MODOK/whoever else animated, and New Warriors.

DUY: I think there are three clear torch-passing moments in Endgame. Thor telling Carol he likes her. Carol getting the big Thor type save later. Panther coming out first and him and Steve exchanging a look, like yeah, I got this now. And pretty much everything with Strange and Tony. I thought maybe they'd make Carol Steve (military) and Panther Tony (advanced technology) and Strange Thor (otherworldly), but it works out better this way.



JD: Steve literally passed his torch to Sam also.

DUY: True, and so did Thor for Valkyrie, and I guess Iron Man did so for Spider-Man, so really they gave the rub to two people each. That's pretty cool.

DUY: Black Panther is a movie that has aged so well for me in the last year, to the point where to me he's a movie franchise now instead of a comic book character. And when he came out first, in Endgame, it hit me, cemented for me that Panther should be the new centerpiece of this new generation. There was something about him coming out first that just felt so right.

MATT: So Strange, Panther, Spidey, and Carol are set up to be the core of a new Avengers group. It’s smart to put them together like that in the photo. I wonder if they’ll weave in some of the TV stuff, since Hawkeye (in any form) is basically a non factor when compared to Carol. Since they have all the Fox stuff, they are a Sub Mariner away from the Illuminati...

BEN: I think most of us noted that Spider-Man was the character audiences were most excited to see return, and it’s interesting to remember that he was the new character that got the biggest Robert Downey Jr assist. Holland is going to be the one most capable of battling the charm deficit the most, and he sort of took the baton directly from RDJ.

MIGUEL: I think we'll have a New Avengers sort of lineup for the next Avengers film. We'll have Spidey as a core member then possibly Wolverine.

BEN: I’m sure the movies will find a way to do it, but as a comic fan, an Avengers team of Cap Falcon, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Dr Strange, and Spider-Man is such a random hodgepodge of a team. If I can concern troll the most successful studio ever for a minute, I am wondering how they’re going to move along without their two central actors. RDJ and Evans were the best two actors and they played off each other so naturally and so well. Holland is going to be fine, I’m looking forward to what Mackie can do with a bigger role. But Cumberbatch, Larsen, and Boseman are more reserved and deadpan by necessity.

DUY: That's what it is! Evans as Cap is deadpan by necessity, but when he's bouncing off of RDJ and others (noting that Cap's films pull in the most Avengers guest stars) it works perfectly. There's no one among the new Big Three that has the RDJ personality that you can bounce deadpan off of.

BEN: Holland, but he won’t be in a Stark position. Maybe Mackie can step up.

SAMANTHA: Say what you will about her, but Carol Danvers is fierce. I'm looking forward to seeing her in future movies, and I'm looking forward to Ms. Marvel's entry into the MCU.

KATHERINE: Okay I know you guys talked about all the moments where it feels like they’re passing the torch, but I was just thinking about when the gauntlet is literally getting passed around and how symbolic the order of it felt. From Clint to Black Panther to Spider-Man to Captain Marvel, culminating in all the women coming to the aid of Peter and Carol.

DUY: Oh! What do you guys think about speculation that the all-girl scene is like a tease for an A-Force movie?

BEN: Do it.

MICHAEL: Why not? Print money.


BEN: I am counting down the days until the Asgardians of the Galaxy movie comes out.

JEFF: Thor with the Guardians of the Galaxy is perfect match.

KATHERINE: I wonder if that was always part of the plan or if that was an improvisation once they saw how hilarious Hemsworth is, how his character evolved in Ragnarok and how perfectly he fit in with the other Guardians in Infinity War.

DUY: I want Thor 4 and GotG 3 to be the same movie, except told from different points of view, and then when you watch them at the same time, things will line up, like that episode of Buffy with Spike's origin and that episode of Angel with Darla's origin.

MICHAEL: I think all the messing around with time travel in Endgame will draw out Kang The Conqueror as a major big bad in the future. It just feels like too much of a coincidence, seeing that messing around with the timestream is 100% his M.O. And now that Marvel have the rights to all of Fox's share of Marvel properties, they won't have to fudge around with his backstory either. Will likely see him in 2032, Phase 12. 

JEFF: I think now might be the perfect time to introduce the Young Avengers, might be better for Disney+ but it would be a great way to bring in Kang.

MICHAEL:  It does feel like the wheels are in motion for the Young Avengers. Cassie Lang has been aged up, Kate Bishop will be introduced in the Hawkeye series on Disney+. it's possible WandaVision may lay the groundwork for Wiccan and Speed.

BEN: I’d assume Steve and Peggy had a kid, so they could be the MCU Patriot. I wonder if another  of the time travel consequences will be a Fantastic Four that always existed.

MATT: Then you can get Evans back!

PAUL: I've fantasised in the past about a 60s set FF film but honestly I feel they should be brand new. They have to be forward facing and relevant and I really hope Marvel succeed in finding a way of doing that. I feel Johnny in particular has potentially a lot to say as a character. He's a privileged white man who's been mothered by his older sister his whole life and is terrified of growing up. In a lot of ways he mirrors some of the worst aspects of Western culture. It would be interesting to contrast that kind of Johnny with a less privileged character like Ben.

BEN: I don’t want them to be in the ‘60s, I just have a hard time reconciling them being a new team in universe.

PAUL: Yeah, it would be weird but I think it would be worth trying to find a way to make it work. It also just occurred to me, if we have three of the Defenders — Strange, Valkyrie, and Hulk — on an Avengers team together, maybe we'll see more Defenders being introduced. I can see Nighthawk working in the MCU as a wannabe Stark, a bit like Justin Hammer but less of a git. I can also see a lot of potential in Nighthawk as a Batman parody. Audiences would really respond to that. I can't believe I'm saying "What if Nighthawk appeared in a big budget Hollywood film" and we're at the point where it's not completely beyond the realms of possibility.

DUY: I hope we'll see Dr. Strange and Hulk teaming up for those reasons. Unfortunately Namor is still off-limits it seems.

PAUL: It's also a shame that some of the other classic Defenders are tied up with Netflix. Still, I guess there's always the Surfer and...er...Son of Satan.

DUY: It looks like the Netflix embargo expires in a couple of years, so they could use them again. I also wouldn't mind if at that point they folded over the Netflix guys, especially a certain Man Without Fear, into the movies.

MATT: New York is lousy with masks. Plenty of stories to tell.

PAUL: I'd love that! Hope they don't recast. We might finally sew D'Onofrio's Fisk go up against Holland's Spider-Man.

MICHAEL: Regarding Namor, Okaye and Black Widow do talk about underwater tremors in 2023. I don't think it's a coincidence that the earthquakes are happening off the African plate in the North Atlantic ocean - one of the theorised locations of Plato's Atlantis.

MICHAEL: Getting a little ahead of myself here, but Doctor Doom: Fantastic Four villain solely, or should he also become an Avengers level villain ala Loki?

BEN: For me personally, the only way to top Thanos is Doom.

MATT: Doom or Kang would make sense. Perhaps the Beyonder, but that may be even too far for MCU.

MICHAEL: Kang, then Doom, then Onslaught, then Galactus, then drunk Celestials holding a tailgate party in the Milky Way.

DUY: I think Kang could be in the next set of movies, but I don't see them making him the next Thanos. I could sooner see, for example, Doom stealing his power and making Doom the next Thanos.

BEN: They should make Doom the villain in Dr. Strange 2.

MICHAEL: Funnily, Doom and Kang team up in the comic series of Infinity War.

DUY: Yeah, that's why I thought of Doom stealing his power.

BEN: They should save him for the Adam Warlock movie then.

MICHAEL: They should call their pairing "Dang."

PAUL:  I just realised that the Avengers time machine was literally a Time Platform like what Dr. Doom has!!!!

JEFF: Given Marvel is planning a movie for the Eternals i think they are looking to make new franchises despite the X-Men coming home to them. I think beyond the characters they've already established I d like to see She-Hulk, Heroes for Hire, and maybe Moon Knight. Daredevil works better as a series, but I think Cage and Fist would make fun movies.

BEN: Feige seemed to indicate he wasn’t all that interested in the X-Men, but maybe big Disney will tell him to get over it.

JEFF: Maybe Disney will keep the mutants separate from the MCU, its not like Marvel doesn't do that in the comics for long periods of time.

DUY: I know we've said before, and I'm sure it's expected, that the X-Men will show up and take center stage, but I think the recasting of Wolverine will be quite a huge roadblock. People are too attached to Hugh Jackman.

BEN: People held on to Tobey as Spider-Man for way too long but Holland erased that. They will have to nail the casting though.

DUY: I say skip Logan, just do X-23 already. Dafne will be old enough by then, right?  I'm not even kidding about that, just have Dafne Keen play a completely new version of X-23.



LaMAR: I'd like to see them tackle superheroics for the sake of superheroics, so to speak. They've done a lot of the espionage, high level universal threat and magical stuff so well, day to day tights and flights would be a nice break in between all that stuff. It's also something you can do across power levels, so it's not like you have to rearrange people's personalities to make it work. Also I say that knowing it can be tough to not get bogged down in it. A shared universe needs room to breathe between stories.

BEN: I’d like to see them focus on each franchise separately too. Let Spider-Man be in Spider-Man movies. Like I said, I can’t really picture this collection of characters as a team.

DUY: It won't happen, especially not for a general direction, but I'd like to see them lean really hard into Dr. Strange, bring in all the psychedelic trippy stuff. The big culmination is they have to save Eternity. The stakes would be high, it would be completely different, and it'll never happen because it's too out there. I would really also like to see something much more grounded, like a Latveria/Genosha war with Wakanda caught in the middle or something, but Strange and Marvel wreck the curve for that.

ZHA: T'challa and Dr. Strange should be the new Iron Man and Captain America. Can't see anyone else leading them now. I don't know how Captain Marvel can play a bigger role in the next movies just because it feels like she's bigger than any new villain they'd have and she's just too powerful.

MIGUEL: I wanna see an Avengers vs X-men in the future.

MATT: I suspect they’ll build to this too. Maybe in 15?

MIGUEL: This'll take a lot of time to build up if they are resetting the X-Men.

KATHERINE: Sebastian Stan was on Fallon yesterday and he talked just a little bit about Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But he also had a hilarious story about how he's been part of this universe for almost 10 years but within the last year suddenly feels like he's secretly joined a Fight Club, because people keep passing him notes in public that just say "Wakanda Forever" then they do the arm signal without saying another word. First of all, amazing. And second, I totally forgot that Bucky's story can also go on in Wakanda! Now that we know he's not the next Cap, how do you guys think the White Wolf will play into the future?

DUY: I legitimately don't think he's staying in Wakanda. But at least it makes for an easy crossover.

KATHERINE: I don't think he'd stay in Wakanda either since he'll clearly be off with Sam somewhere, but it's nice to think that he has a home there as well and it opens up more potential storylines.

BEN: If they don’t address past Loki stealing the Tesseract at some point I will revolt.

KATHERINE: That was the only infinity stone they lost... that must’ve happened intentionally to create an exciting new branch timeline with 2012 Loki. I can’t waaaait!

BEN: Feige and his semantics. “Loki is dead.” Yeah, that Loki.

KATHERINE: It wasn’t a goof, it was a setup!

SAMANTHA: Yes, Katherine! The Loki series begins with him schwooping out of custody with the Tesseract!

KATHERINE: I will say I’m a little sad that Loki didn’t actually get to see Fat Thor in 2013, simply because I would have loved to see his reaction. Hopefully when they’re dimension hopping in Asgardians of the Galaxy they bump into 2012 Loki with the Tesseract.

MICHAEL: I think they should use Loki's messing around with the Tesseract to overwrite whatever reality the Inhumans live in and just reintroduce them fresh in a future film. Far far away from Hawaii.Oh and recast them all for good measure. It never happened.

DUY: I still don't know how you could make the Inhumans work for a mass audience. The whole "We're royalty and we own slaves" thing is, uh... tricky.

MICHAEL: We'll definitely do away with the slaves thing.

DUY: That's a huge part of their mythos though. Everyone is built to be specifically what they are.

MICHAEL: They're bred to be weapons by the Kree right? That's sort of different. It's very much in step with Captain Marvel also, where she was gaslit into being one of their weapons. I mean, I scoffed at Guardians working, on paper. Star Lord was practically a cipher to me as a comic book character, but James Gunn pulled off a master stroke by making him relatable through his ties to Earth, especially via soundtrack. That's one idea in a million. Inhumans are just as much a tough sell but there's gotta be a way that can make them just as easy to root for as Asgardian royalty, or a tree alien.

DUY: I'd love to see them try it. And that is their job, since I'm not a creative person. I just can't think of an angle.

MICHAEL: I can't either. They've been trying on the comic side though, to varied results. I don't think they were really given much of a chance though because they were always pitted against the X-Men either by fandom or the publisher themselves. It's a shame because they're classic characters. Kirby originals, even.

DUY: What if the What If series is Chris Evans dimension hopping in the past?

MICHAEL: An episode of Steve doing stuff like dropping the soul stone off to ghost Red Skull? Yes please.

DUY: He visits every single alternate reality where he was never unfrozen.

MICHAEL: Steve is the new watcher.

DUY: Since What If is animated, it would actually fit right into Evans' schedule since he would just need to voice.


DUY: Are there any particular stories we'd like to see them draw from in the movies moving forward? I really want to see them go full Ditko on the Strangeverse. Make it really trippy, and not just falling Inception buildings and such, and also yeah, bring in Doom, let's do a Triumph and Torment thing.

BEN: Annihilation.

DUY: The FF's first villain: Doom or Annihilus?

MICHAEL: Annihilus.

BEN: Bring in Nova after the destruction of Xandar. Introduce the Fantastic Four. You already have the Guardians and Captain Marvel. Have Annihilus and his annihilation wave pointed toward Earth.

MICHAEL: Going with Doom right away is like starting at 11. Plus he's been first villain for the last 2 frachises.

BEN: The FF make Annihilus awareof our dimension in the first movie, and now he’s coming.

DUY: We haven't named the most popular theory going around right now: Galactus. But I think Galactus would be a case of trying to replicate the same thing, and it won't be the same.

MICHAEL: If Doom is 11 Galactus is like, 27, though kind of inevitable if you bring in Surfer.

BEN: You can even do the big swerve on expectations and have Annihilus using Galactus as a battery like in the comic.Do the Silver Surfer movie everyone wants.

MICHAEL: General storyline wise, I wanna see all the time fuckery result in incursions and draw from Hickman's "time runs out" storyline that ran through Avengers and New Avengers/Illuminati.

BEN: The only problem with Annihilus is he’s not as compelling a character to center an event on like Thanos was.

MICHAEL: I feel Annihilus is a one and done.

BEN: Something where the world is warped, like Morgan le Fay or Hickman’s Secret Wars would be something we haven’t seen before

DUY: We've barely mentioned the Eternals. If the Eternals show up, it opens the way for the Celestials, which would cover the whole "threat level" category.

MICHAEL: I wanna see Black "gonna leave Namor's ass in a dying universe" Panther.

BEN: I’d bet they’re going to do the “Eternals on Earth that don’t remember they’re Eternals” angle.

MICHAEL: I think the Eternals film will be the deep space opera flick Feige wanted to do with Inhumans, before Iger scalped that away from their movie ticket.

DUY: Do a Squadron Supreme movie. Straight-up, no shenanigans. Just set on their world. Their own adventure.

BEN: It would be the ultimate troll job to do a better Justice League movie than WB. Though the entrenched DCEU fans would never like it anyway. “Too funny!”

DUY: Something we didn't talk about: this movie has the first-ever explicitly LGBT character, played by director Joe Russo himself, during Cap's counseling session. Most people clamoring for LGBT representation in the MCU have been frustrated with the lack of such representation, though certain characters are canonically LGBT in the source material (Loki, Valkyrie) or coded LGBT/resonate with the LGBT audience. With the news coming out that Eternals will have an openly gay lead, and we know the next phase already has a more ethnic- and gender-diverse group than the past decade, we're looking at more accurate representation of the world in these movies. And that's even more bittersweet that Tony and Steve won't be around for it.