Kang the Conqueror and the Realm of Kings

Kang the Conqueror and the Realm of Kings
Posted by on Jan 29, 2015

20th Century Fox has finally given us our first look at Fantastic Four. In the wake of the first trailer release, there have been many breakdowns that pull the trailer apart. While normally this is my first step, I decided to take a different route. I had this idea while watching the trailer that would bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Fox’s Universe (FU, yep that’s what I’m gonna call it) together. It dives pretty deep into comic lore so grab that red pill and lets see how far the rabbit hole goes.

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It all starts with the new Fantastic Four (FF) movie. The reboot will draw more of its inspiration from the Ultimate Universe. The cliff notes, the Ultimate Universe is a modern retelling of the Marvel Universe. Most heroes are younger and the whole superhero phenomenon started in the 2000’s. Origins largely stayed the same with a few tweaks here and there. For instance, the original FF gained their powers after being exposed to radiation in space. The Ultimate FF gained their powers after exposure to the N-Zone or Negative Zone. The N-Zone is another dimension where physics are fundamentally different. This is the route that the new FF movie will take. This is the tipping point so you better hold on.

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Ultimate Fantastic Four

 

The N-Zone is parallel to the normal universe. It is often used as a bridge for cosmic villains to try and conquer the Earth or as a base of operations. Heck, even Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, leader of the FF) and Tony Stark built a prison their to hold super powered humans during Civil War. This is where my whole idea/plan/theory/geek delusion begins. What if Fox and Marvel used the N-Zone as a bridge between their universes. This discovery would eventually lead to a massive crossover. From the FU, the FF would make the discovery of other dimensions. On the MCU side of things, we would have Dr. Strange. Kevin Feige has already gone on record that Dr. Strange will deal with alternate dimensions. A little reference to the FU universe would be all that it would take to get the ball rolling.

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Dr. Strange

 

While we need a bridge to physically connect the universes, we also need a villain. In comes Kang the Conqueror, a time traveler who seems perfectly poised to interact with both. You see, Kang is from the 30th century where he is obsessed with history. In this pursuit he discovers the time travel technology created by Dr. Doom, we’ll come back to him in a sec. Kang then travels back in time in a Sphinx shaped ship to ancient Egypt. His goal is to claim En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse. If Apocalypse sounds familiar, that’s because he will be the next villain that the X-Men face in their next movie. After he travels back in time he is confronted by the FF and eventually defeated.

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Kang the Conqueror

Now back to Dr. Doom. Doom is the arch nemesis of the FF and more intimately Reed Richards. In the comics, Doom is practically an unparalleled genius and is a larger villain for the entire Marvel Universe. He is the ruler of the fictional Eastern European country Latveria. The new movie is changing up his origin by turning him into a hacker whose handle is Doom. This has caused some major backlash from the geek community since it seemed to turn Doom into an anti-social hacker with very little bravado. This interpretation is very different from the Doom we know and love. His manner can best be compared to a combination of Khan (Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Loki. Some might disagree but Doom has literally stood up to gods and declared his sovereignty which he then actually enforces. Awesome, right?

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Dr. Doom

 

Why he is important to us is for his time travel tech and his connection to Kang. You see at one point, it was thought that Kang was a descendant of Doom. The comics have since made this unclear but it is still there nonetheless. So here we have a villain who is pretty intimately tied to both franchises owned by Fox. What about the MCU’s heroes? I’m so glad you asked!

Fairly recently, back in a 2010 there was a Marvel comics event called Realm of Kings. Essentially you had the Inhumans locked in galactic combat with another empire. They detonated a bomb that created a tear in space-time and gave entry to another universe. A universe where “Life has won, Death has lost” and is subsequently infested with creatures that have infested the universe. Labeled the Cancerverse, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who had been dealing with similar tears, along with other cosmic heroes set out to close the tear. Welcome to comics ladies and gentleman. At one the Guardians of the Galaxy are sent spiraling through time where they meet Kang. This is a future version of the character is interested in helping the Guardians. We’ll come back to this, just know that Kang has very recently been involved with some of movie heroes.

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So what would this look like in film? Well since Fox’s plans for X-men and FF are a little less known, let’s start on their side. What I would like to see is to have their universe first take on Annihilus. To put it simply, Annihilus is the big bad ruler of the N-Zone. Incredibly powerful, he would be a very good threat for the FF to take on for their first story arc. There could even be a little crossover with X-men. Some of the X-men could help the FF in battling Annihilus.  During however many films this arc would encompass, we would get little tidbits of Doom. Think of it this way, Doom would be gathering power and tech for his time travel machine. Through his conquests he naturally comes into conflict with the FF. He wouldn’t be the main villain and he would often manipulate the FF to aid in his conquests. Whether this was directly or indirectly doesn’t really matter.

The second story arc would place Doom front and center. Using his power and tech that he has been gathering to essentially wage war against the world. The FF would lead the charge and things could crossover with the X-men. For instance, Doom could team up with someone like the High Evolutionary or some other baddie of the X-Men. What would be a cool twist on a character is to have Doom team up with Forge. Forge is a mutant whose power is literally to invent. In the Ultimate universe, Forge is described as being able to create whatever he can think of. In either universe, Forge has always been a little less than a hero. Having Forge be villain wouldn’t be too far of a stretch in my opinion.

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Forge

While the FF are doing their thing, we would get a host of X-men movies while set in the same universe, aren’t explicitly connected. Instead we would get films that explore more and more X-men. In a perfect world, we would see Forge as a manipulator of the X-men. Then in the final film we would see a crossover where the FF and X-men would fight both Doom and Forge. At this point it is also revealed that they have developed a time machine. At the end of the final film we would get a little teaser of Kang in the future discovering the tech.

Now that we have tackled Fox’s side of things, lets look at the MCU. Obviously, the Kang stuff would have to start after Infinity War in 2019 or 2020. My thought is that after this war, we see these tears appear. The earth heroes would go home and they would face their own villains, possibly the Masters of Evil. Basically, the Masters of Evil are the anti-Avengers. Put together by Baron Zemo, set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, to fight the Avengers. On the cosmic side of things, we would see the Guardians of the Galaxy taking care of these tears in space-time. We would also get introduced to Adam Warlock. Regardless of all this speculation, I think we will see Adam on the big screen. To put it simply, he is space Gandalf who has historically been tied to the Infinity Gauntlet and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Most recently, Adam was helping the Guardians of the Galaxy seal these tears in the comics. This all happened during the Realm of Kings arc which I mentioned earlier. Things are about to get real confusing so hold on. In an attempt to seal the last tear, Adam becomes his evil alter ego, the Magus. Magus is an evil version of Adam who rules a religious empire known as the Universal Church of Truth. In all this madness some of the Guardians are sent sailing through various timelines, until they meet Kang. Now this is a future Kang who wishes to stop The Magus. Kang’s motivation is to stop The Magus from becoming the evil in all timelines. He helps the Guardians by giving them a weapon to help defeat Magus and stop the current future from happening.

For the movie side of things, I hope they have The Magus as the big baddie for the second story arc regardless of what I say here. He could have a hand in forming the Masters of Evil and could be the next big cosmic threat. In my plan, the final confrontation with The Magus would be after our heroes run-in with Kang. He first gives them the power to fight Magus and also gives them a warning. A warning that his younger self is coming and to prepare. To make sure that this wouldn’t be completely unexpected, we would have him be a villain for a solo film. I would make it Dr. Strange. While Kang is a time traveler, he is also a dimension hopper. He could masquerade as a sorcerer until the end of the film when Dr. Strange discovers Kang’s “magic” is simply future tech.

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Kang the Conqueror

 

All through both universes we would get little hints that there are other dimensions out there. Whether they be similar or vastly different. It wouldn’t take much across all these films. The key being subtle enough where it doesn’t overtake each movies plot. These hints and easter eggs would culminate in a final button scene. Here we see the FF finally crossover into the MCU. Or Dr. Strange appears to the FF. Either way doesn’t matter much to me. We would then get a trilogy of films called the Kang Dynasty. First film we see the Fox’s heroes take on Kang. The second would have Marvel heroes battling Kang. The third and final film would give us a massive crossover that would be on a completely different scale then we have ever seen.

Two final notes. First, superhero films will eventually hit critical mass. It’s the inherent problem with sequels and franchises. You always have to up the ante from the previous film. My plan would lead to that escalation. Plus, with all the time travel hijinks you could feasibly reset everything and start over. Not only that, but this whole thing would take awhile and studio cooperation unseen in this genre of films. I do fully expect that my dreams will not be realized but oh well. I do hope, that we will at least see some of my ideas on the big screen.

Second, there is still Sony to consider. They have Spider-Man who in comics just went through a dimension hopping extravaganza himself. Spidey’s fate is still up in the air, but what if he were to come back to Marvel? That’s a conversation for another time. Maybe next week.

 

The Next Animation Renaissance

The Next Animation Renaissance
Posted by on Jan 22, 2015

Animation is my favorite genre of film. For a multitude of reasons that I will get into, it simply has always captured my attention and imagination. I might be a little biased growing up in the Disney renaissance of the 90’s. Nonetheless, animation has changed in the past decade on both the small and large screen. It has been elevated to include more then just childish humor and is far better for it.

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First off let’s talk about the technology. As just about everything, animation has seen a huge benefit from the rapid advancement in technology. Even if you are comparing animation from only a few years ago. An excellent example is the Toy Story Trilogy. Going from the first to the last, you see a very clear advancement in detail and overall richness in the animation. Taking movies such as Big Hero 6, the progress of animation is even clearer. Why is this important? Simple, it allows animators to fit more into a single scene. Whether that’s something as ordinary as more blades of grass or as entertaining as including some hidden easter eggs.

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With more detailed animation comes the risk of the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley is essentially a point in animation where it is one step below photo realistic. It quite frankly creeps out the audience. This reaction is so negative that it actually turns people off of the content. This is where animation style is key. Animation is not hindered by realism. It’s part of the reason why it’s one of my favorite genres. Their characters can be as human as you want. Lets take Big Hero 6. It has people but they aren’t hyper realistic. They are more caricatures whose features help to accentuate the characters personalities. So, while animation continues to be more detailed, it has built in methods to circumvent the uncanny valley

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Second is the level of the story telling. I would cite Pixar as the first sign of this idea. Pixar has made story paramount. They use story as the base and build off of it. They rarely make cash grabs and they are always using their stories to push the limits of technology. In the recent book Creativity, Inc., we get a unique inside look into the development of Pixar and their feature films. Putting the story first is something that I believe to be unique to animation. I’m not saying it can’t happen in other genres of film, it’s just more important to have a good story in animation. What it comes down to is the cost of an animated film.

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For example, lets compare The Avengers to Toy Story 3The Avengers cost 220 million dollars to produce. That is not a cheap movie and had more than a few incredible scenes that were the definition of blockbuster spectacle. On the other side, you have Toy Story 3. It required no traveling to shoot at other locations, costume pieces, or just about anything else a live action film would need. It cost 200 million dollars to produce. Now, money is not the only cost in making a film. Time is also incredibly crucial. Toy Story 3 took  approximately 4 years to completeThe Avengers took about half that time. You can see how animated films can require a similar amount of money to produce and can take even longer to actually finish. This all means that animated films have a smaller margin for error. This is where a strong story comes in. No matter what the medium, a strong story is easy to sell and will always succeed. Animated films don’t have the luxury of doing reshoot’s on the fly. Animators have to go in having a nearly crystal clear picture of what they want so that they don’t waste anytime creating their film.

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The last sign of a new animation renaissance is the infused messages. For a long while, animated films were seen as children films. Things are changing. With the advancements in technology and story telling it allows these films to transcend their assigned genres. To clarify, the animated films I am talking about are those that are still targeted at children and families. We are starting to get films that aren’t afraid to tackle truly adult or grown-up subject matter. Whether you look at Up or Frozen, animated films aren’t shy about infusing complex messages. The clearest example of a studio that does this is LAIKA. Their first two films Coraline and Paranorman are truly mind blowing in the themes they chose to include. I don’t want to spoil the films for you but to put it simply, these films perfectly cover themes ranging from homosexuality, fear mongering, mob mentality, fitting in, parent child relationship, and more.

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You are even seeing this on the small screen. Most recently, the example that comes to mind is The Legend of Korra. In its series finale, we saw the first openly homosexual couple with Korra and Asami. This is huge as this is often seen as taboo in the genre. It has never really been explicitly included. Yet here we are. A more general example is Adventure Time. A show that on the surface looks like some collection of drug fueled animations, but actually has a lot of heart. It does a great job of combining ridiculous adventures with pretty complex and heart felt messages.

The fact that studios are willing to tackle such complex themes is the surest sign that we are entering a new renaissance. The first animated renaissance gave us the music that captured a generation. I myself am listening to the Disney Pandora station while writing. This time around, we are going to get an age of animated films that will truly transcend the children’s genre. Films that tackle issues and themes that resonate regardless of age. The kind of film that will emotionally impact a 22 year old just as much as a 10 year old.

With technology that is allowing for more complex worlds to be created, stories that drive the production, and themes that capture our emotional attention. This is what the next animated renaissance will look like, so buckle up. It’s going to be a fantastic ride.

What We Learned From The Latest Age Of Ultron Trailer

What We Learned From The Latest Age Of Ultron Trailer
Posted by on Jan 13, 2015

Ah yeah, that’s right everybody. Last night we got a brand new trailer for Age of Ultron. Unfortunately, we didn’t get too much new information. Mostly it seems we saw some extra scenes of moments we are already aware of. Nonetheless, prepare for speculation and the raw force of a geek on caffeine! As always, POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!

The first thing we see is a group of people running towards some kind of carrier. Being shepherded by Hawkeye, something very bad is obviously happening. It’s very possible that the girl we see fall is Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. To me, it seems that this group of people is the group of protesters we saw in the first trailer. If our heroes had just finished a battle that destroyed a city, this starts to make sense. They are fighting an enemy, possibly their first run-in with Ultron, and after seemingly defeating him he pops back up. Ultron does have a habit of not staying down.

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The next little tidbit we get is Captain America looking pretty forlorn. The scene itself doesn’t look like it’s suffering damage so he could just be on the look out for an enemy. What this could also be is him truly taking in his first view of protesters. After all, Cap has never experienced that before. In his mind, military forces have always been supported by the people. He is from a time when America was fully united against a common enemy. This whole idea would lay the groundwork for Civil War. Cap is starting to realize that the Avengers have strayed from their original path.

Next Hawkeye is being sneaky in the woods. It looks as if he was waiting for that explosion to happen and he doesn’t look to happy about it. This is obviously taking place during the snowy conflict we saw from the first trailer. The part where Bruce Banner is stumbling around in the woods. How this all ties in I’m still not sure. What makes sense to me is that this is the first conflict of the film which is with Baron Von Strucker’s forces. At the very least, this snowy conflict is tied with that monastery structure we saw from the first trailer. That seems to tie together very nicely for me.

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We are then treated to a shot of Tony Stark in some kind of abandoned, I want to say lab or something. He doesn’t look like he is in too much trouble but just more investigative in nature. Tony could very well be surveying the results of their conflict with Baron Von Strucker. We also get our first bit of dialogue that ties Ultron with Tony. Recent leaks confirm that Tony creates Ultron from an old Chitauri program. So it looks like Ultron will be using the connection to mess with Tony’s head as much as possible. Next up we see some more shots of the party scene where it seems Ultron makes his first villainous appearance.

Now this shot is interesting because the more we see of Age of Ultron the more it seems that Bruce and Natasha are in some kind of relationship. I’m starting to lean toward it being a more romantic relationship but it could still just be close friendship. After all, Natasha has seen the worst of Bruce and lived. That is going to require some processing and unpacking. It is obvious, that Natasha will be a calm point for Bruce. We once again see her sharing a moment with Hulk, possibly calming him down after their conflict in the woods or with Baron Von Strucker.

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We’re treated to some explosions and a scene of the twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, looking concerned. Maybe they finally realize that the Avengers aren’t that bad and that they have been helping a psychotic robot out to exterminate humanity. Or they are thinking of Ultron’s argument to join his side. Whatever it may be, this scene is definitely going to be a defining point in the film.

Nick Fury pops back in at this point going on about how no matter what happens, the world will always be in trouble. Kind of a hopeless perspective when you think about it. He could be leading Stark towards Civil War by following up with an idea for registration or tighter superhero regulations. Beyond that I’m not super comfortable expanding on it since I’m starting to build skyscrapers out of straw.18-copy

The first of two big scenes that truly give us some new information is shown next. It’s of an African woman in some dark cave with a pool. I say African because it is all but confirmed that Wakanda will be introduced in Age of Ultron. Wakanda is a highly advanced hidden African nation that has an abundance of vibranium, the stuff Cap’s shield is made out of. Ruled by Black Panther, it seems for sure that Ultron will seek out the nation to acquire some vibranium to build himself a new body. The woman in question has two possibilities for me, Black Panthers sister or one of his elite body guards. Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, is the heir to the throne who at one point picks up the Black Panther mantle. Panther’s body guards, the Dora Milaje, are some of the most skilled combatants in the world. Regardless who it is, what is more interesting is the setting this woman is in. This underground pool looks a lot like the one Thor was in from the first trailer. How this would tie in is anybodies guess. Mine is that after venturing to Asgard, Thor is made aware of Wakanda and goes to warn them about the threat. Speaking of which….

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We also get a scene of Thor in a place that seems to be Asgard. It seems his power is on the fritz and is shooting lighting everywhere. We know from Idris Elba that during reshoots, he shot a scene involving Heimdall, Thor, and Loki. This is probably the scene he was talking about. Maybe Thor finally learns of Loki’s deception and in a conflict, Loki messes with his power. One potential long shot, is that he goes to Wakanda looking for help for whatever Loki did to him. Wakanda is known for embracing both science and magic. It’s possible Thor goes their to seek healing, which is what the pool is for.

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In a completely different theory, this may not be Wakanda at all. What if Thor goes to seek answers about what he saw from Scarlet Witch, which sends him to another one of the Nine realms. Specifically, he travels to Vanaheim. Vanaheim is home to the Vanir, similar to Asgardians, the Vanir are also talented in the mystic arts. It’s possible that this pool is their Well of Wyrd that can help someone see the future. Thor see’s something troubling in the Well, possibly Ragnarok, goes to Asgard were he discovers Loki’s treachery. His powers are put on the fritz and well things happen. The more I think about this idea, the better it sounds and I’ll just say, my money is on this theory.

From the first trailer, we know that Thor is angry at Stark at one point. Angry enough to hoist him up by the throat. In this trailer, we see why. Thor is lecturing Stark on meddling with something he doesn’t comprehend. Not surprising considering that Stark created Ultron from a Chitauri program. It seems this scene will be right after Ultron’s villainous appearance where his true origin is revealed. This will obviously upset the team, throwing them into imbalance.

Next in a tricky bit of editing, it seems we see Scarlet Witch supposedly blasting Iron Man. However, later in the trailer we see Ultron firing a similar red laser to the one that hits Iron Man. Combine this with the similar scenery in both the scenes and we can see that these are connected. Nice little bit of misdirection but not quite good enough.

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Now, the next bit is probably the most interesting. We see what appears to be a young Black Widow being forced onto an operating table and being cut open by a mysterious woman. All this is happening while she says that she has no place in the world. What is probably the most exciting thing for me, I take this as a confirmation that we will be seeing some flashbacks from Black Widow. Now bear with me for just one second. Historically, Black Widow got her start with Russia as a secret agent. Now in Agent Carter we are introduced to Leviathan which is the Russian version of Hydra essentially. What if Black widow started out as an agent of Leviathan? It would shed some light onto her red ledger past and reveal how she first ran into SHIELD. It also shows that their is more mystery in the world then we can even imagine. Now the real question is why she is being cut open. My bet, to make her some kind of super human. Maybe in a twist, it is revealed that Black Widow is actually an Inhuman and is experimented on. Really it could be any number of things.

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I am pretty confident with this since Marvel so far has not introduced something big and just let it slip away. With a return of Leviathan, we get a new super secret organization that arguably is better than Hydra. If you want to find out more about Leviathan, you can check out my Agent Carter breakdown.

The rest of the trailer is filled with things that we already have seen in someway already. Hulk fighting Iron Man in his Hulk Buster armor, Andy Serkis potentially as Klaw, Captain America throwing down with Ultron or one of his drones, and a fleet of drones coming out of the water. While we didn’t get too much new material too work with, this trailer has expanded upon a lot of things we have already seen. Seemingly clarifying, confirming, or contradicting past thoughts.

What we still need to see is our first look at the Vision. My guess is we won’t see Vision until the last trailer before Age of Ultron. That is if we even get a new trailer. Not only that but it will probably be some scene of him on table and then having his eyes snap open. Oh well, all we have to do now is wait.

Age of Ultron May 1st, 2015

The Amazing Ant-Man

The Amazing Ant-Man
Posted by on Jan 8, 2015

Along with the Agent Carter premiere, we saw our first full trailer for Ant-Man. This film has a lot of people confused. Ant-Man while instrumental in the comics, is not the first superhero that jumps to mind. It also doesn’t help that the last time audiences saw a movie about shrinking, it was called Honey I Shrunk The Kids. So, before I get into what you can expect let me give you a little comic book history.

To date, there have three main Ant-Men.  In chronological order they are Henry (Hank) Pym, Scott Lang, and Eric O’Grady. The movie only features the first two so we’ll focus on them. Hank Pym is a brilliant scientist. He discovered the humbly called Pym Particles which he used to create a shrinking and enlarging formula. Small note, this formula also allowed him to retain his normal strength while small. When he first used it to shrink down, he underestimated it’s power and found himself the size of ant. After a nasty run in with an ant colony, he devised a helmet that would not only let him communicate with ants but control them as well. His path crosses with Janet Van Dyne, whose father was recently murdered. Her father had actually reached out to Hank to help him communicate with alien life. After refusing, this same alien somehow teleported and killed Janet’s father. Hank and Janet set out to avenge her fathers death which they succeed in. Hank gives Janet access to his Pym Particles and turns her into the superhero The Wasp.

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They set out together fighting crime until the have a run in with their future Avengers. After teaming up, Janet comes up with the name The Avengers and thus our heroes our born. This little tidbit usually credits Hank and Janet as the founding members of the Avengers. During their membership, Hank goes through multiple identity changes. First as Giant Man, then Yellow Jacket, then Goliath, at one point the Wasp, and even reverts back to Ant-Man. This change of identities is usually associated with Hank’s mental instability. In fact, his Yellow Jacket persona is usually more of a villain than a hero. His unstable mental state also has serious consequences for his personal life. While Hank is famous for being a genius, he is infamous as an abusive husband. In the original comics it was a running theme that on his darker days he would revert to beating Janet. This is mostly chalked up to his mental instability and while he doesn’t receive a pass on it, he usually isn’t held to full accountability.

At one point, he creates Ultron. An AI based on his own unstable brain patterns. Ultron gains sentience and develops a form of an Oedipus Complex. He develops irrational anger towards his “father” Hank and develops romantic feelings for Janet. Ultron continually upgrades himself to battle the Avengers and since he is at his core a sentient program, he is extremely hard to get rid of. Whenever he is defeated, he simply uploads his base program somewhere else to rebuild and fight another day. In fact, at one point he sends himself into space. There he takes over a techno-organic civilization which he uses to wage war on a sector of the galaxy. Fun fact, because he did this he inadvertently caused the current iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy to form. That’s for a later time though.

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Now Scott Lang is the second Ant-Man. An electrical expert/engineer by trade, he eventually reverts to burglary to support his family. After being caught and serving his time, where he further studied electronics, he later got a job at Stark Industries. He even had a direct hand in installing the security system in the Avengers Mansion. However, after his daughter becomes terminally ill he reverts to burglary to help support her. He breaks into Hank’s lab, steals his Ant-Man suit, and breaks into Cross Technological Enterprises. While there he learns that the only person who can help his daughter is being kept against her will. After freeing her, she goes on to heal his daughter. Scott later approaches Hank to return the suit and turn himself in. However, after seeing why Scott did what he did, Hank encourages him to keep the suit and become the new Ant-Man. Scott does and begins a long and successful career.

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In terms of the movie, it is important to also take not of Hank and Janet’s daughter. They actually had twins but the daughter is more relevant. In an alternate timeline, where a new generation of heroes has risen, Hope Pym is a villain. She sees the new Avengers as an insult to her parents memory and sets out, with her brother, to create the super villain team The Revengers to battle The Avengers. She and her brother also feel slighted since they believe they should be the ones to carry on the Ant-Man legacy.

There is your quick and dirty history of Ant-Man. Let us now journey into the wonderful world of speculation. POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD

The Ant-Man synopsis seems to keep most of the comic book lore intact. Hank is still the original Ant-Man, Scott is still a thief, and Hank still passes on the mantle to Scott. Now it begins to change when we look at Yellow Jacket and Hope Pym. The film Yellow Jacket will actually be Darren Cross, a former protégé of Hank’s who takes over his company. Hope goes by her mothers name, Van Dyne, which could allude to Hank’s terrible treatment of Janet. Here is where the trailer footage comes in.

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In terms of Hope, we see her doing quite a few things. She seems to be training Scott and doing a fair bit of sneaking around. Whether she will be a hero or villain is still up for debate. In terms of Darren Cross, we mostly see him walking around in a business suit and pounding on some glass inside a chamber. So far rumors paint him as just a regular old villain. However, from what I see, Darren’s banging on the glass looks more distressed than angry. My guess, Darren will have been spurned by Hank for whatever reason. This will set him on a destructive path that eventually turns him into the Yellow Jacket after he sees that Hank has a new protégé in Scott. Personally that makes a much more compelling villain than just some evil dude who just views Hank/Scott as rival.

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For Hope, the rumors point to her becoming an iteration of the Wasp. Possibly following in her mother’s footsteps. From the trailer though, she doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of heroic exploits. What I would like to see, is more of an anti-hero Wasp. You see, the first part of the film will be flashback to Hank’s early days as Ant-Man. Here we are also told that we will be seeing Peggy Carter and Howard Stark. There will be some crisis that SHIELD is dealing with and either Ant-Man will show up on his own accord or he will be recruited. One interesting rumor that has been floating around is that this will be the earliest introduction to the idea of the Avengers. It could be proposed by Ant-Man or someone else but this is the main idea people are thinking off.

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In this flashback, it’s also rumored that we will see Janet Van Dyne as the Wasp. One potential way this could go is this flashback could be of her death. I would bet that this would lead to Hank becoming very protective of his technology. Thus when Hope shows interest in picking up her mothers mantle, Hank says no. Hope then goes on to resent her father, even blaming him for Janet’s death. This creates animosity between her and Scott since again, Hank is sharing his legacy with him.

My other hope for this movie is that Marvel won’t flinch away from Hank’s darker side. His darker tendencies toward Janet could also be the source of animosity between him and Hope. It would also give us a unique perspective of a hero we haven’t seen yet. Someone who has made mistakes and done bad things in private but seen as a hero to the public. By including theses darker tendencies, Marvel would also be returning to what makes their characters so great, they have flaws.

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In the comics, Marvel created very human heroes. People that had very real problems. Most notably is Tony Stark and his alcoholism. In a story arc called “Demon in a Bottle” we see the story of Tony’s battle and victory over alcoholism. Most thought that Iron Man 2 would be an adaptation of this story. Regardless, by including Hank’s darker character flaws we would get a very human super hero.

Now that we have covered most of the rumors for Ant-Man, lets take a look at how it changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the premiere of Agent Carter we got our introduction to two very important Marvel organizations. The Roxxon Oil Company and Leviathan. Roxxon is essentially a massive company that seeks to make profits by any means. Leviathian is best summarized as a Soviet version of Hydra. You can read more about them on my Agent Carter post. Since we know that Peggy and Howard, who both have big parts in Agent Carter, appear in Ant-Man I think it is safe to assume that there will be crossovers between the two properties. For instance, a situation that brings Peggy, Howard, and Ant-Man into contact could involve either one of these groups. It would also be a convenient way to capitalize on Agent Carter while tying Ant-Man to an already established property.

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The other thing to note is that Ant-Man will not be the creator of Ultron on film. That honor goes to Tony Stark. However, Tony is only resurrecting an “old, dormant peacekeeping program” that he then tinkers with that creates Ultron. Recent leaks revealed that Ultron is actually a Chitauri program found by Stark after the invasion. This seemingly completely removes Hank from the creation of Ultron. However, what would be a nice nod to the comics is that we learn in either film that Tony, at one point, had asked Hank for help in deciphering the program. Wouldn’t take much but adds quite a bit for the fans.

Anways, this post is about Ant-Man not Ultron. I’ll stop there about Ultron and leave the stuff about Vision until the next trailer comes out, which is soon! What should also be noted is while Ant-Man is premiering after Age of Ultron, chronologically it could be happening differently. Some reports state that Ant-Man will either take place during or before the events of Age of Ultron. If it is happening before, you can see where some of these rumors come from.

Well that’s about it. I’ve got a little more to say but at this point we are starting to hit critical mass. I’ll pick up on a lot of these things after the new trailer for Age of Ultron hits so I have some new information for you. Until then, go read some comics.

The Three Things Agent Carter Gave Us

The Three Things Agent Carter Gave Us
Posted by on Jan 7, 2015

SPOILERS AHEAD

If you weren’t aware, Marvel’s latest show premiered last night. Agent Carter tells the story of Peggy Carter after the events of The First Avenger. Basically imagine Agents of SHIELD set in the late 1940’s. The main difference? Peggy Carter takes the place of Coulson’s entire team. Now as I watched the two hour premiere, there were a few things that stood out to me.

First is the Roxxon Oil Company. Roxxon is a real company in the Marvel Universe, known as Roxxon Energy Corporation. In Marvel, they are very much an evil, corporate version of SHIELD whose only purpose is to pursue a profit. For example, most recently they popped up in the new Thor series. Their floating island headquarters was being assaulted by an army of Frost Giants led by Malekith, from The Dark World, because Roxxon possessed the Giant’s Kings skull. You also learn that their CEO/leader is also a minotaur. Now what you might not know is that this isn’t our first run-in with Roxxon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They actually pop up briefly in the Marvel One-Shot A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer.

Did you see it? Anyways, why is Roxxon relevant? They haven’t had any major part so far in the MCU. They could just be a company to compete with Stark Industries. Funny you bring up Stark. It turns out Roxxon is the one responsible for killing Tony Stark’s parents. While we probably won’t see that in this season, we could see it mentioned in the films. My bet is that we’ll see Roxxon in Ant-Man. In a less than likely scenario, Cross Technological Enterprises owned by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) will actually be a subsidy of Roxxon. That’s mostly wishful thinking though. However, there’s another group introduced in Agent Carter that could end up playing a larger role in the MCU.

The second big thing from Agent Carter is our introduction to Leviathan (Scroll down to the section on Dark Reign and Secret Warriors). On a side not, if you want some insight into where Nick Fury’s path might lead just read the entirety of Secret Warriors. In this serious, we see a Nick Fury who has been burned by SHIELD and labeled a fugitive. He goes underground to fight HYDRA, forming his own secret team of new heroes to fight them. Here he learned that SHIELD had been infiltrated by Hydra. If this is sounding familiar, I have essentially just described the results of The Winter Soldier. In the ultimate spy twist, it turns out Hydra had been infiltrated by another organization which in turn infiltrated Hydra. This other organization is Leviathan which can best be described as the Soviet version of Hydra.

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Hopefully you can start to see why this is extremely exciting. When Agents of SHIELD first started I had hoped that it would follow in the footsteps of Secret Warriors. It seems like I’m finally getting my wish. Now in the comics, we end up seeing a war break out between Hydra and Leviathan. For the MCU, I can imagine Marvel turning Leviathan into Hydra. Agent Carter is investigating Leviathan when she discovers it’s a sub-group of Hydra, maybe even a splinter group. My hope is that Lleviathanappears in Agents of SHIELD somehow as a nice little crossover between the shows. My bigger hope is that we see Hydra and Leviathan fight it out with our favorite agents in the middle.

I also wouldn’t be too surprised if we some more concrete connection between Leviathan and Roxxon. Possibly that Roxxon is the financial backbone of this secret organization or some other partnership.

The last, but most important, thing we were given is the Marvel female superhero we needed. It is already established that Peggy Carter is a badass. Now we see the continuation of her badassery along with her vulnerability. Struggling with the force of marginalization as the GI’s return, we see all sides of Peggy. She isn’t superhuman, she’s more than that. She is a person who rises above all obstacles through sheer will and skill. Not afraid to be herself and not afraid to use the same aspects of her femininity that are used to marginalize her as a tool to overcome her doubters.

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Of all the heroes that Marvel has shown us, Peggy Carter is the most heroic. Not willing to bend to anybodies expectations but her own. She has her moments of strength and weakness just like us. Our heroes are often put on a pedestal that is unreachable. Peggy is the stranger that inspires, the one that appears in your life to give you a glimpse of what is possible. Sorry to get all intense and not sure if I’m even succeeding. I just feel that Agent Carter shows us something that hasn’t been seen so clearly in awhile.

Bonus: We also got the first trailer for Ant-Man, but more on that later.

Star Wars VII Rumor Roundup

Star Wars VII Rumor Roundup
Posted by on Jan 2, 2015

If you haven’t seen it yet, then stop whatever you are doing invite those around you to gather around to watch the first Star War VII: The Force Awakens trailer. Now, watch it again just because. Done? Watch it a third time just to catch up. Okay so I don’t know about you but I startled pretty much everyone around me when I started to giggle like a hyperactive child because that is what this trailer reduced me to. It looked fantastic and too be honest that Millenium Falcon shot was all I really needed in life.

This trailer is our first full official glimpse into J.J. Abrams vision for the next chapter in a galaxy far, far away. The secrecy surrounding the production of Star Wars VII has been so iron clad that anything short of aerial photos taken by an accidental flyover is the most we got. Otherwise we have simply been getting vague photos and tidbits of information from J.J. Abrams. Even though we got a decent look from this trailer, we are left with even more questions.

Now before I get into my own hopes, dreams, and theories lets delve into the most popular theory so far. I have a more complete breakdown of a supposedly confirmed script rumor over at The Disney Blog. However, I will give you the highlights here. One more note, Oscar Isaac has come out and said that apparently he hasn’t heard any rumors that are close to the actual story. While possible, I would be surprised if these were completely off base:

 

POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

  • Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are going to be the two main protagonists of the film
  • Daisy is a scavenger on the sands of Tatooine who rescues John’s storm trooper character after he crash lands
  • One or both of them will discover that they are Jedi
  • They discover something (potentially a severed hand holding a lightsaber) that they take to Daisy’s mentor/boss, Max Von Sidow
  • Max is a cyborg that has been around since the clone wars and could possibly have fought on the side of empire
    • Max may also have some connection to the Sith, possibly being an Inquisitor or Jedi Hunter
  • Max sends Daisy and John to someone who may know more
  • This somehow lead them to Han and Chewie
    • Whether or not hey were the original destination is unclear
  • Han reveals that Luke has been in exile nearly since the Death Star was destroyed the second time
  • They go on a journey to find him
  • It is revealed that Luke has unleashed some kind of force power that could alter the course of the galaxy
    • He is worried he will give in to the dark side
    • He has gone crazy and wild due to his self-imposed exile
  • The final battle will see our new heroes face off against new villains, very likely the Inquisitors and a new Sith Lord
  • Luke will join in the battle and by the end we will know whether he is good or evil

That right there is the largely rumored plot. A series of events that seems to quite naturally tie in old and new characters. Now the trailer for the most part doesn’t confirm any of this. It does seem to confirm how Daisy and John will meet up and that Han and Chewie are on Tatooine. Beyond that, nothing else really has enough information to confirm much.

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Now the big thing that caused a lot of fans to question J.J. Abrams vision is the new Sith lightsaber. The internet instantly latched onto this detail and a slew of parodies began. It really divided the fans down the middle about whether or not having a lightsaber cross-guard is functionally effective. Most worry that the Sith might cut of his hand or that it’s usefulness is infinitesimally small. Bantha Fodder to that I say! I thought this was a really cool design and is actually much more telling than you might think.

First, we are talking about a fictional weapon that can cut through nearly anything with little resistance. It’s a miracle that most padawan’s don’t dismember themselves on their first use since the tiniest nick would over no pressure and no resistance. So from this we know that any lightsaber requires training to use. This lightsaber would be no different and if Jedi and Sith can learn to wield two of these death blades at once, they can avoid the cross-guards. Not to mention that having a smaller lightsaber attached is not unheard of in the extended universe. Many Jedi and Sith throughout this universe have used a similar attachment to aid in battle.

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Some naysayers might say that Disney has gone on record to say that they do not count the expanded universe material as canon. Well lets look at the facts presented by the films then. The Sith are gone. The closest we get at this point are the Inquisitors (think of them as force empowered servants of Sith), who are in hiding at this point. So here we have a new force user who has no one to turn to for training. Maybe he comes across an older lightsaber (more on that later) or he puts his own together. Not having any proper training he creates what he imagines a sword to be. Complete with cross-guard and everything. Even looking at the blade, it seems to not be as clean as a regular lightsaber. In the extended universe it is known that Sith generally prefer a different type of crystal for their lightsabers. A synthetic one that offers more power but less focus. Maybe this Sith-to-be finds a crystal, puts the saber together, and uses the cross-guard to divert excess energy.

Earlier I said he might come across an older lightsaber. Well, since the title is The Force Awakens what if he stumbles upon an old Sith tomb of sorts? The Jedi and Sith have been around for awhile so it wouldn’t be too unusual to have ancient tombs. Not to mention that in the expanded universe, there is one Sith is asleep in a tomb only to be awoken. Arden Lyn is that Sith. I think the whole idea of a “mummy” Sith is a little far fetched. Having an old Sith tomb is a little more believable. This would also give our new villain a starting point for his new belief, worldview, religion, or whatever it’s supposed to be called.

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The last thing I want to talk about is Luke’s new found power. Supposedly, he unleashes a new force power that forces him to exile himself. In the expanded universe there is this power called “Oneness“. Basically, the force user becomes a physical representation of the force. Think Super Saiyan for Jedi. This could very easily be adapted some how into the film. Luke unlocks a new power that allows him reach whole new levels of powers, ones that could affect the whole galaxy.

Again, none of the expanded universe is going to be considered canon. I think this is a smart move by Disney since it narrows a very, very large pool of content. However if they were smart they would still pool from it. By denying the expanded universe it allows them to draw inspiration from it instead of adapting stories. All in all I have no idea what to expect. Everything I know is based on rumors and leaks. It could all change or it could be similar to my ideas. Whatever happens, I’m excited to see the return of a galaxy far, far, away.