Monday, August 08, 2011

Earth's Mightiest Heroes

So I've been really getting into the Avenging spirit lately, have you?

Last week I saw Captain America: The First Avenger and it was one of my favorite superhero films of all time. Director Joe Johnston just nailed the tone and look. Everyone keeps referencing his work on The Rocketeer, which was great, but Don't forget he also made a few clunkers so I'll say I was really pleased to see he brought his A-game to this one. Minor nitpicks like the way they killed off Bucky aside the film delivered on all fronts especially the cast. The film has pitch perfect casting and really great performances all around. For anyone who hasn't seen it yet I'd obviously, highly recommend it.

So as we all should know by now, Caps story is dovetailing into next summer's big Avengers film, being directed by none other than Jon Favreau. The movie will bring together every geek's wildest comic to film dreams, with Captain America joining Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow on Marvel's premiere super team The Avengers. There's already a short teaser trailer up for the film, and if you missed it the first time, the ending and credit sequence to The First Avenger, give us a bit more teaser goodies on the upcoming film.

I'm pretty stoked about The Avengers movie, since I've been a Marvel fanboy for a very long time. While I was never a huge Avengers follower, preferring to stick mostly with Spider-Man and some of the cosmic guys like Silver Surfer, I always enjoyed seeing my favorites interact with the Avengers, and whenever there was a big company wide event storyline I was always excited. The trick as with any ensemble cast is to make sure everyone gets enough screen time, and that it all serves the story. With this creative team involved though I am heartily optimistic.

I also just recently finished watching the first season of the latest Marvel cartoon on Netflix, and it couldn't have gotten me more in the mood for some Avengers action. The cartoon, which launches into its second season this October on DisneyXD, is of course The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

The first season consists of twenty six 22 minutes episodes and will set you up really well with everything you'd want to know about the Avengers and more. All of the major players are introduced and explored, as well as most of the major villains, and even a few of the bigger storylines are tackled in this first season. As anyone who's read The Avengers comic even a little bit like me knows, the team has had a few different makeups over the years and Earth's Mightiest Heroes is no different. After the obligatory origin episodes, which I'm actually very glad they didn't rush through, the team lineup features: their team leader Iron Man, along with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man, Wasp, Hawkeye, and Black Panther. Additionally a few other 'Avengers-to-be' make regular appearances, like Black Widow, and Wonder Man. What's great about these characters and the writing, headed up by Christopher Yost, is that everyone is given time to develop organically, we get a great balance of character moments where the players actually grow throughout the season and amazing battle sequences where the viewer is treated to just minute after minute of perfectly choreographed battle scenes.

If you think you're even remotely interested and you have Netflix streaming, I'd really recommend checking it out. The season is available for instant streaming right now, and if you only want to give one or two episodes a try, jump ahead to the two parter The Breakout, which kicks the season into high gear and gives a good sample of the action to come.

While I was on a Netflix streaming kick I realized that there are a lot of other Marvel superhero shows online. The 90s cartoons of X-Men, Spider-Man, Spider-Man Unlimited, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Silver Surfer are all available in their entirety right now; although Fantastic Four, and perhaps to be expected the pretty awful Avengers: United They Stand cartoons are not there. Other great Marvel cartoons are though, including the Spider-Man 1967 series, the first of the excellent two season Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, X-Men: Evolution, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, and the first season of the currently airing Iron Man: Armored Adventures (season 2 is in full swing now on Nicktoons). Unfortunately, none of the other more recent Marvel animated series (Wolverine and the X-Men or any of the Marvel anime projects) are available yet; nor are any of the other older Marvel animated series like the classic Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. That said there is also one more cool new series that is available on instant Netflix streaming that should be checked out: Black Panther the animated series. While I understand why fans we're a bit disappointing to learn that this miniseries (its only 120-ish minutes long in its entirety) wasn't much more than a souped up motion comic, I'd still really urge you to have a look. If you like motion comics, then you're in luck, this is probably the best produced motion comic ever with voice talents that include the amazing Djimon Hounsou, Alfre Woodard, and Kerry Washington. Also it's got a pretty kick ass opening title sequence with a catchy song.

If from all my babbling you can't tell yet, I am a pretty huge fan of these Marvel superheros. I love seeing how they work solo, getting in depth on their backstory and rogues gallery; but I'm also a huge fan of when they meet, crossover, and have excellent adventures together. That's why I'm so looking forward to the Avengers movie. A great crossover crossover is in the making and I don't think anyone would have anticipated that it could be done on such a scale in a live action form. For us fanboys this is a dream come true, and for everyone else, we'll this is the best time ever to get into a hero or three. I'm sure we'll get into more Avengers goodness as the film approaches release next summer, but until then count me very excited!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What I Learned From the Pod People

With all the great, and not so great, alien invasion stories out there these days I thought now would be a good time to look at that particular sub group of sneaky aliens who do more than just send an armada to conquer our planet, but the ones who actually impersonate humans. It seems like everytime an alien is impersonating a human it spells big trouble. They're always up to some nefarious plot, and I can only be thankful that we've got an abundance of plucky young scientists, journalists, or blue collar police officers constantly on the lookout for the vile tricksters. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts from a plucky young blogger (that's me!) on what to be on the lookout for when dealing with the pod people.

  • Show me some more of this Earth thing called kissing...

Aliens are horny. Seriously; just think about it. Aliens must either have totally different concepts of sex, or just never experienced the wonders of a romp in the hay because they seem to always want to get it on with humans. Does it make sense? No, of course not. Would you want to screw the first Grey you met? My guess is not. But everything from Earth Girls are Easy to My Stepmother is an Alien has told us that all ET really wants is to get busy with a human. The tricky thing though is that most of the time its more like Splice, or even worse Species... Sure it may be the best sex ever, but aliens obviously like it rough in the sack and are usually just as willing to kill a human as screw them.

  • They may look good, but whats with the voice?

How come an advanced alien culture can create perfect doppelganger bodies of humans, imitate us in every way and blend into our society secretly but just can't get that voice right? From The classic The Invasion of the Body Snatchers to The Thing, more recently The Invasion aliens seem to have a weird thing about screaming in a decidedly un-human way. Just check this out.

  • Those Tricky Human Emotions

Of course the biggest tell for an alien among us is their utter lack of understanding of those pesky human emotions. Yes its a proven fact, aliens do not know the meaning of the word love. That is of course until they meet that one special human who can show them the depth of emotion. Even still this is the toughest thing aliens will ever have to learn about humans, our emotions are just too complex for them to easily grasp, despite their incredibly advanced technology. And that's why we will always prevail. Again, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers comes to mind here, as does The Arrival, and of course, if you want to talk about our unique and special emotional makeup you need look no further than the oh so disappointing ending to Contact.

Here's the take away from all this though, aliens are not all E.T and Alf. Aliens are tricky, and when they show up in their Edgar suit we should be careful. My advice: find the weakness and exploit it. Weather its a tasty rat that they can't help but gobble up, or a hot wire in a dish of blood, we need to step up our game and be on the lookout. In a best case scenario we'll at least have a fighting chance, like my hero Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live. I definitely need some of those sunglasses for myself :)

In case you haven't seen it yet, below is the trailer for the newest version of The Thing, it comes out this October, and it looks awesome! Also if you're a fan of Carpenter's 1982 version of the film, you've really got to check out Escape Pod from a few weeks ago with a great story tied into that film called The Things, its really worth the listen.