2016 may be the year the super-hero movie lost steam. While Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War were high-points, Batman v. Superman, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Suicide Squad feel less like leaping tall buildings and more like jumping the shark. When times are tough, you gotta dig deep, so here are 5 Comic Book Heroes Ready for Their Closeup.
Created by Mike Baron (Nexus) in 1983, Badger has was published by multiple comic companies including Capital, First, Dark Horse and Image. Perhaps that’s apropos for the story of a Vietnam vet whose multiple personality disorder manifests in a 9 year old girl, a dog, and the titular Badger, a costumed vigilante and karate master whose more than a little nutty. Can you imagine the right actor sinking their teeth into this?
With a posse that includes Ham, the Weather Wizard, and Badass, the Demon Hunter, the series is chock full of characters large enough for the big screen and small enough for basic cable.
Man-Thing made his debut in Marvel Comics back in 1971 within months of DC’S Swamp Thing. While movies have already been made for both, it’s high time for another take on Man-Thing.
The Florida Everglades ain’t exactly Hell’s Kitchen (neither is Hell’s Kitchen anymore) but a change of scenery might do the genre good. Just imagine a Jim Henson Company puppet version, or a full-blown CGI creation of this muscle-bound vegetable-based antihero whose powers are best conveyed by the catch-phrase “Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing.”
Sasquatch was introduced during bronze age X-Men (1979), and then properly as part of John Byrne’s Alpha Flight (1983). Kind of like a Canadian Hulk that retains his genius and ability to communicate after controlled transformations into a 10 foot orange beast.
2. Machine Man
Created by comic book legend Jack Kirby, Machine Man is an android from the Marvel Universe not unlike The Vision but with more obvious moving parts. The character was introduced in the comic series based on 2001: A Space Odyssey, so it’s something of a spin off. A movie based on the 1984/85 limited series could see a lot of interesting characters, including a cast of cyberpunks that put this reservist Avenger back together from component parts.
He’s got go-go-gadget arms and legs, and all the philosophical ponderings of a sensitive robot raised by humans. Amazon and Netflix should be fighting over this property and they probably don’t even know it exists.
1. Moon Knight
Every year there are more rumors that Netflix is making a Moon Knight show. I’ll believe it when I see it. Moon Knight is another hero with multiple aliases and a touch of schizophrenia whose superhuman strength is dictated by the phases of the moon – or by his own twisted belief in that possibility. While he can certainly carry a series, you can also shoehorn him into other shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Daredevil.
Moon Knight has had several different costumes, including a mechanical suit that comes together like Iron Man‘s does. With the right design, Marvel could finally get this character to break-through after 36 years.
If you had told us during the seventies that someone would make a successful Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we’d have thought you were crazy. Kudos to whomever realized such an obscure team would make for intriguing viewing. Let’s use some of the same out-the-box thinking for the heroes above.
The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right
Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.
Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.
Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.
Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.
At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.
The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.
Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again
Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.
Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.
You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.
Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.
Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.
No villain in comic book history has been more praised, dissected, and interpreted than the Joker. His enigmatic past has given several authors opportunity to give their take on his origins, yet never stapling him down to any legitimate background. This film is another folklore to add to the potential rise of a mad man.
If you’re expecting a superhero movie, you have definitely come to the wrong place. This film is a character study of a man suffering from trauma, abuse, and mental illness. It relates less to the Batman comics and more to a blend of Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver & King of Comedy which ironically both star Robert De Niro. It dives deep into the descent of a delusional man pushed to his absolute limits as he begins to find his ultimate self in the bowels of a maddening society.
Joaquin Phoenix was spectacular in the role, embodying the look and characteristics of the villain we are all familiar with, yet adding a twisted perspective that humanizes his actions and roots it in many forms of anguish. His body twisting in macabre movements added to a tone which conflicted its viewer between rooting for him or slowly separating ourselves from his bizarre antics.
The environment of the movie is perfect for this character: New York City in the early 80’s, which is how we’ve been conditioned to stereotype Gotham. It’s dirty, dreadful, ugly, and cultivated all the elements needed to allow sickness to thrive.
The supporting cast added value to the movie without standing out more than Joaquin, who is impossible to outshine.
Only two big flaws I found with the movie:
1. It was very slow-paced. Just surpassing two hours it felt like it dragged during certain scenes and some tighter editing could’ve cured some of that.
2. I would’ve love to have seen more of the clown make-up. Even though Arthur Fleck was interesting on his own, there was a certain level of superhuman strength he dawned with the clown paint. He was evil, he was scary, and inhuman, and that would’ve been just as intriguing to observe.
Other than that. It was a pretty solid movie.
Overall Grade: B+
Joker was more fascinating than I anticipated, and strikes a good balance between comedy and tragedy. I recommend it to anyone that is happy cringing through some really foul human behavior.