Reaching the Endgame: An MCU Retrospective

May 2008 didn’t seem like a particularly significant month. Marvel was putting out a new movie, Iron Man. It had Robert Downey Jr. in it, someone I had heard about but didn’t really know his body of work. But hey, Jeff Bridges was in it and I was a huge fun. Besides, a sci-fi mech suit, cool technology, and a superhero flick… should be fun.

Flash forward 11 years and now I’ve seen Captain Marvel in theaters twice. It marked the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the 2008 Iron Man started. These films have been the subject of articles and debates, both friendly and vicious for over a decade now. Even more, we as fans have watched our favorite heroes grow, change, age with us. Thinking back at how different Tony Stark and Steve Rogers were during their initial debuts versus where they are in the Avengers: Endgame trailer, and it’s difficult not to recognize the cultural and emotional impact these characters have had on the world.

11 years ago, I was in college. I was working part-time as a server and bartender while attending an undergraduate program at a local community college before transferring back to KU the coming Fall semester. I was living in my parents’ basement, playing a lot of Nintendo Wii. Now, I’ve got a mortgage, two cars, a fiancée, and the best dog in the world. It’s fair to say that a decade has changed me just as much as it has the MCU.

Just for some perspective, let’s recall 2008 culturally, specifically what the world was like when Iron Man debuted. The Dark Knight was still two months from opening and the internet was petrified Heath Ledger would screw up the Joker. We were just a year away from Spider-Man 3 and just oh-so-convinced it was going to be good. How naïve we were. Star Trek was set to return the following year and the future of Star Wars was still nebulous. It was the era of the PS3 and Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Obama and McCain were campaigning for office. The stock market was just a few months away from crashing and sending the US into the second largest recession in its history.

It feels so long ago, and the more I think about it, the more detached from that time I feel. The microcosms of our lives make it so easy to forget how different everything was a decade ago. And 2008 was indeed a landmark year for film, pop culture, comic books, and nerdom as a whole.  There was no such thing as the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet. But having Tony Stark announcing “I am Iron Man” marked the beginning of something incredibly new, the cinematic universe. It was almost as if Robert Downey, Jr. himself was being the mouthpiece for everyone behind that film, assuring us that something amazing was headed our way.

Iron Man

Nothing about Iron Man should have worked. Casting Robert Downey, Jr. in 2008 was considered a very risky choice as he had been largely absent from the film scene due to recovering from his own demons. The studio pushed for a Tom Cruise lead film. The script wasn’t even finalized until shooting had started. Accounts from director Jon Favreau and Jeff Bridges both recall that the script was changed daily, with plans for the Iron Monger suit being scrapped and reinstated with each new day. Hell, the whole plan was started because Marvel had sold off literally all of their most successful properties to other studios, leaving them to feature their “B Team” characters, something not even the comics were doing that successfully.

Iron Man ended up being a remarkable success, turning some of the most staunch superhero haters into instant fans. Everyone loved that movie. There was even outrage when it was snubbed at the Oscars a few months later. This was just what Marvel Studios needed to move forward with what would be called “Phase 1” of Nick Fury’s Avengers Initiative.

Fun fact about Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson was approached by comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis when he was writing The Ultimates so that he could use his likeness for The Ultimate timeline’s Nick Fury. Jackson said they could under one condition: he gets to play him in the film. Marvel was only happy to oblige Mr. Jackson.

Incredible Hulk came next. It was met with some criticism with most people saying, “It’s not as good as Iron Man but it’s so much better than the Ang Lee film.” It wasn’t until after the release of the movie that all the drama with Universal Studios and Edward Norton came out. That drama was just enough for Marvel to move away from the Hulk as much as they could without completely nixing the character, which is just fine, because in the end, Mark Ruffalo has now become the face of the modern Hulk.

The rest of Phase 1 gave us decent introductions of some of the most prolific characters of the MCU today. In 2010, we got the first casting change in the MCU. Don Cheadle took up the role of James Rhodes (War Machine) after an extensive contract dispute with Terrence Howard. See, Howard actually ended up making more money than Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges, despite having a smaller part and being billed below all of them. He was able to achieve this by being the first one cast and having excellent negotiation skills. Marvel didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until all the others accepted their salaries that they figured it out. So when they offered him much less for Iron Man 2 and he hedged, they dropped Howard so fast. Before completely taking over the role, Don Cheadle did receive Howard’s blessing and became the War Machine we know and love today. Howard’s not doing badly either, completely ruling Fox on his series, Empire.


We also met Black Widow, the defected spy from Russia and the first woman of the MCU. She was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in what would be a career defining role. Even now, one of the largest omissions of the MCU is not giving Black Widow her own standalone film during Phase 1 (if you don’t remember, that was one of the biggest fan complaints between 2010 and 2012.)

Black Widow

Thor, Loki, and, to a much lesser degree Hawkeye, were introduced in the MCU’s next film, Thor. While relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth was everything we always wanted in a Thor, it was Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki that brought the brooding sex appeal and charm that made all the fan girls go wild. It is unlikely that Marvel’s first choice, Josh Hartnett, would have created the same fan base that propelled Loki into four more films and an upcoming TV show. Hawkeye, on the other hand, was shoehorned into the film during the only place it made any sense right after it Joss Whedon cast him for Marvel’s The Avengers. The news of Jeremy Renner’s casting broke shortly before the movie dropped and literally no one expected his appearance.


In 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger also released, proving to us that Chris Evans had grown into an exceptional actor. Long gone were the days of whipped cream bikinis from Not Another Teen Movie. He brought life to a character that had felt out of place in the comics for decades, giving Cap the Boy Scout feel we love but the charm of the “man out of time.” Let’s not forget the utter brilliant performance of Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, solidifying a precedent for amazing villains that Phase 2 would largely fail to live up to.  

Captain America

Then Avengers dropped. This movie forever changed the landscape of movie studios. It was cinema magic to the say the least. We’ve seen multiple companies try and recreate the fantasy that Marvel did and fail over and over. They’ve tried to repeat it almost step-by-step but forgot to add in the quirk and charm Marvel did (Universal’s “Dark Universe” comes to mind) or try to force their huge team up by rushing and convoluting the story (Warner Brother’s Worlds of DC, previously the DCEU, really wanted Justice League to be a thing). The trick with Marvel was they always had a plan, but they also had backup plan after backup plan in case this didn’t work out. In Phase 1, the studio trusted the directors to pull out the best performances of not just their actors, but their stunt coordinators, special effects artists, and script writers. They laid the groundwork for, what was at the time, the most ambitious and well laid cinema plans to date, and Joss Whedon followed through. That movie had it all: humor, high stakes, impressive action, a place for every character, depth, tragedy, endings, and beginnings. Frankly, it was the well-rounded superhero movie everyone had waited for and will always stand out as a bright spot of hope in the MCU.  


Phase 2 remains a mixed bag of successes and problems. The first one out of the gate was Iron Man 3, which was the first largely divisive film of the MCU. Previous Iron Man director Jon Favreau had stepped down, mostly due to how badly his hands were tied creatively during Iron Man 2. Shane Black (that dude who died in Predator) stepped in and did what he could with The Mandarin, a story long-time fans of Iron Man had been waiting for since the beginning. I, for one, tried very hard to defend the story and the large twist but have since let it go. On the one hand, seeing Tony Stark experience PTSD as a direct result of his sacrifice from the Battle of New York is classic Marvel, humanizing our heroes right before our eyes. On the other, if you have a brilliant actor like Ben Kingsley in your role as a horrifying terrorist and you reduce him to fart jokes, I’m probably going to have a problem with your story. Sure, the Hail to the King one-shot story hinted at another Mandarin, but that’s a revelation that will never pay off. Sorry, fan boys. Not happening.

Age of Ultron

Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron were also riddled with problems on and off screen which came down to one thing: Marvel Studios was scared to upset the status quo. They lacked faith in female villains (girls don’t buy toys, duh), in their directors, in their stories. Even newcomer franchise Ant-Man played things safe in places and cemented the fact that we’ll never see an Edgar Wright MCU film, which I think is a huge loss. The only stand out examples of Marvel doing something unique was 2014’s films: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. These movies were so spectacular and original, it’s very hard to believe that they were sandwiched by such safe mediocrity. The Winter Soldier was the first time we had seen the superhero genre merge with something else, being one of the most well-crafted spy thrillers of the new 2010’s. Guardians of the Galaxy took a collection of oddball characters from the deep recesses of the Marvel vault and put them in their very own spotlight and made it work. Marvel took chances on relatively unknown directors, unexpected actors, and unusual story lines. What they created were two of the best superhero movies to date. It’s almost as if they don’t belong in the Phase 2 set, but if they hadn’t, there is a huge chance that the MCU would have been written off as a whole.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1

Phase 3 has been a melting pot of wrapping up stories and beginning new ones. A deal with Sony had been struck to incorporate the Spider-Man character into the MCU on the condition that Sony retains the rights to the rest of the “Spider” characters. A Spider-Man/MCU franchise was fast-tracked, having his first solo film bump the timeline for Black Panther and Captain Marvel, along with reshoots to Captain America: Civil War incorporating him into the film. It was one of Joss Whedon’s regrets that he wasn’t able to get the character into Age of Ultron since the deal had been finalized but not fully realized at that time.

Captain America: Civil War Cap v Iron Man

Civil War

When Captain America: Civil War had been announced, I admit I got all tingly inside. It was one of the biggest and best crossover comic events that Marvel has put out to date. The tension between our cinematic Avengers had been building for years and this was going to be a solid payoff. While it remains one of the more successful MCU films, it was far from perfect. The Russo brothers were brought back for their second film and created, essentially, an Avengers film. Both our heroes, Iron Man and Captain America, are incredibly problematic. Black Widow makes a drastic 180 character turn, which is even called out by James Rhodes, and still doesn’t work. Yet it’s hard to deny that Black Panther had a brilliant introduction in what could have been an overstuffed movie, and finally seeing Ant-Man get giant sized was something I didn’t know I needed in my geeky life.

The introduction to Doctor Strange in his own eponymous title film told us the already familiar story of a snarky genius in times of physical tragedy (Iron Man and Doctor Strange are the same character in so many ways), but delivered it in a sparkly magical package that we hadn’t seen before. The visual effects were stretched beyond what Marvel had shown us before, giving us a hero both new and old to the MCU. Spider-Man: Homecoming also delivered a “familiar new” story, presenting us with the third live-action iteration of Peter Parker seen since 2000, and to some, the best. And while some joke it’s just another Iron Man film, it shines, in the addition of Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture.  This character was originally wanted for Sam Raimi’s fourth installment in the Sony Tobey Maguire series and had eyed John Malkovich to play him. While that had the potential to be a spectacle on par with Alfred Molina’s brilliant turn as Doctor Octopus, Keaton’s turn gave us a chillingly subtle performance, with the character’s secret identity being more frightening than his villainous one. It was absolutely the right call to keep the character alive AND have Keaton reprise it in the upcoming film, Spider-Man: Far from Home.


Black Panther

While phase 3 fizzled with Ant-Man and the Wasp and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (hey, we’re not saying they’re bad, just not as good as some of the other films), the MCU really shined with the first solo films of Black Panther and Captain Marvel, and the continuation of the Thor franchise in Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi spent only a small amount of time with Chris Hemsworth before deciding he would lean into the actor’s natural humor for this third installment. He was also the first director to bring in a woman as the film’s big bad. Black Panther ended up being the highest grossing film of 2018, beating out Avengers: Infinity War. It also took home a few Oscars at the 2019 ceremony and is still discussed by fans if the social commentary of the film is more important than the quality of the film itself. Whether or not that’s true, it did give us one of the best villains in the MCU with Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger. Captain Marvel succeeded in diversifying the MCU and dividing the fan community. It was the first female lead film in the entire MCU (long overdue) and provided even the avid comic reader with an unexpected sci-fi twist. Despite how you feel about it, the movie was a financial success and ended up joining six other films in the MCU to make a billion dollars during their run time (Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and  Avengers: Infinity War).

Avengers Endgame Matt Ferguson


So here we are in 2019. Avengers: Endgame is less than a week away, the 22nd MCU film and likely the completion of Phase 3. It is easily the most anticipated movie of 2019, and possibly the decade (although strong arguments can be made for Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done their best to keep fans guessing by putting out misleading trailers and denying every rumor ever. We do know a few things, though. We know this will be the end for some of our favorite characters. We know that some of the character deaths in Infinity War will stick. We know that this will be the last time we see some of these faces. In the opposite vein, there are nuggets of hope: we will be getting some of the dusted characters back, and this will most likely be the end of Thanos, as producer Kevin Feige has said this will be the end of The Infinity Saga. Meanwhile, Phase 4 is being put in motion as we speak with confirmed sequels for Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians, with a feature film for Black Widow and new franchise The Eternals. The acquisition of the former Fox properties such as X-Men (including Deadpool) and the Fantastic Four also gives new possibilities for future films. While we prepare to be both overjoyed and destroyed by Avengers: Endgame, we can look to the MCU’s bright and full future to keep us overjoyed and destroyed for another 11 years and beyond.

Endgame concept art

Whatever it takes.

This retrospective is a collaboration between myself (Rae Stewart) and Derreck Mayer. You can find us each week on the Screen Heroes podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker, Google Play, and more!

Reaching the Endgame: An MCU Retrospective

Wii U – A Farewell

This month marks the closure of the official Wii U Facebook page. While the low-selling Nintendo home console was officially discontinued in the beginning of 2017, games are still being produced with 16 games released in 2018 and two more on the horizon by the end of 2019, at least in the North America region. In fact, over 760 Wii U games have been released to date worldwide.

So what went wrong with the Wii U? Being that it came out in 2012, there’s certainly a lot of articles that attempt to explain why the Wii U was not the hit success the Wii before it was or why the Nintendo Switch has already done better from a sales perspective. First, I do want to sum-up what people mean by the Wii U being a failure, a black sheep, or not a success. Normally, video game console success is measured by number of units sold in addition to how long the console or an iteration of it, is on the market.

We know that the Wii U sold just over 13.5 million consoles worldwide. This makes the Wii U Nintendo’s lowest selling home console, not counting the NES Classic, SNES Classic, and VirtualBOY. That’s right, the GameCube not only outsold the Wii U but actually sold over 21 million units by comparison. The Nintendo Switch has already passed the GameCube’s sales numbers (sold from 2001-2007) in less than two years on the market, with around 23 million Switch units sold.

Successful consoles like the PlayStation 2 (2000-2013) and Wii (2006-2017) have both sold over 100 million units with the PS2 selling over 150 million if you include every version released over that console’s incredible production run. The Wii U had two versions, both at launch, the white 8GB model and the Deluxe 32GB model in black. The Wii would have several versions over the years, just like the PS2. They’d release in different sizes, colors, and with different features from their original counterparts.

Image result for Wii U

Alright, so it didn’t sell well. But why didn’t people buy the Wii U after the Wii’s success? Was it the game library? Boasting over 760 games might not sound impressive when the Nintendo Switch already has over 1,200 games in 1/3 the time but the Wii U’s game library actually isn’t as small as you think. The Nintendo 64 (1996-2002), which outsold the original Xbox (2001-2009) by over 37%, had a library about half the size of the Wii U at just 388 games but sold almost 33 million units.

It must have been the launch window then. Nothing to play at launch? That’s a fair criticism. I don’t shy away from saying I’m a Nintendo fanboy, because I most certainly am. If you ever listened to my time on the Gamer Heroes podcast’s first 60 episodes, you’d get that pretty quick. But to be clear, I own a lot of Nintendo consoles leaving out the VirtualBOY and a few of the GameBoy and DS iterations. I camped out for the Wii in 2006… for 39.5 hours. But when the Wii U came along, I didn’t camp out. I didn’t pre-order. I didn’t even go to the store to pick one up. This was due to the games available at launch, for me. There wasn’t much to choose from that I cared about, personally, at least not on a Nintendo console.

Sure, New Super Mario Bros. U was there but Super Mario 3D World wouldn’t release for just over a year. There wasn’t even a Zelda game at launch. The Wind Waker HD wouldn’t come out for 11 months and it wasn’t even a new game! It was a remaster of the 2002 GameCube game. The only actually new Zelda game released on the Wii U was Breath of the Wild which was also released on the brand new Switch console. Mario Kart 8 took until May of 2014, about 18 months after release of the Wii U and 6 years since the previous Wii incarnation. Super Smash Bros. was two full years after the console came out. It never got a Metroid game. No Castlevania. And Splatoon, the game that so many people love now, didn’t release until May 2015, about 30 months AFTER the console launched.Wii U

I eventually bought a Wii U in the summer of 2013, about 9 or so months after it came out. I played New Super Mario Bros and ZombiU, along with Nintendo Land. But I mainly played my Wii which was now living as a legit, official emulator inside my Wii U thanks to their transfer process. So, I upgraded because I could use a single console and play the newer games. Of course I ended up with some great games like Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, ZombiU, and the surprisingly fun Luigi U. All-in-all, I only have 9 physical Wii U games at this point. I had a few others like Pokken Tournament, but traded them in long ago for something else. The only Nintendo console I own fewer games for is the GameCube and that’s because I didn’t actually own one until last year, aside from the built-in Wii functionality that led to a couple games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. So when it’s all said and done, the Wii U might have had a larger library than the N64 but I have countless more games for the older console that one could argue hasn’t even aged as well.

People were confused too. I still have to explain to people that the Wii and Wii U were completely different things. No, the Wii U is not a Wii with a tablet. No, the Wii U isn’t just the tablet as an add-on to the Wii. The Wii U was Nintendo’s next generation console, a mid-gen console to many in the industry due to its more Nintendo-esque limited hardware. So here’s a little explanation. The Wii U was the next step in Wii development. It had better hardware, a larger form factor, no GameCube controller or memory card support, no mini-disc support, and its primary controller was a handheld tablet with physical buttons.

Image result for Wii U

Okay, so you know what it is but was it a good thing? Well, the tablet was a neat concept. Some games leveraged it really well, like ZombiU. In that game, a zombie game, you watch the TV for what you, as a character, can see and then the tablet acted as your inventory, map, details, etc. Other games, like New Super Mario Bros., just mirrored the TV screen, which did mean you could play on the tablet while someone else used the TV for another console or something. Some games like Nintendo Land allowed one player to use the tablet to perform a task like hiding, while the other players saw everything else on the TV and tried to find the hiding player. Some took advantage of the motion controls like StarFox Zero, with the tablet being inside the cockpit and the TV being a third-person view. The final group didn’t use the tablet screen at all, like Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Wii U. It was blank, basically.

At the end of the day, the Wii U was essentially a Nintendo Switch prototype. It had the tablet; you could play away from the TV. But it still required a full console box and the range of the tablet was only a few feet and certainly not through walls… I tried. Even though the Wii U was no powerhouse, it did have some cool features. It kept the Wii alive along with the Virtual Console we all miss on the Switch. It was compatible with essentially all of the Wii controllers, accessories, and such, save a few. It kept the GameCube controller alive with its USB adapter for Smash Bros., which we will see again this December. And it ended up with a substantial library of games, some of which I wish more people had tried out.

To that end, as the Facebook pages for the Wii U close on the day I’m writing this, I’d like to just say goodbye to the Wii U. For a Nintendo fanboy, the Wii U is a prime example of Nintendo’s guts, quirkiness, and style. For a general consumer, the Wii U was an odd, confusing, and seemingly unnecessary upgrade to the Wii.

If you owned a Wii U, I’d love to hear your stories. What were your favorite games? What about features? I’d love to hear about all of it because I do love the Wii U, as strange as that might be.

Wii U
13.5 million sold

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You can also find me and my thoughts on the Screen Heroes and Redshirts & Runabouts podcasts right here on the Heroes Podcast Network.

Game on!

Wii U – A Farewell

SDCC 2018: Resident Evil 2 Demo

Hey, everyone! It’s Jon of the Gamer Heroes podcast! I just got back from an incredible weekend at San Diego Comic Con. One thing I wanted to share with you was my experience playing the brand new Resident Evil 2 remastered demo at the convention! I recorded a little clip with my initial thoughts and will probably talk more about it on next week’s episode of Gamer Heroes, so don’t miss that!

First up, I want to share my thoughts on the demo but make sure to check out below for some photos from the set they put together. They basically built a little Raccoon City at SDCC, pretty crazy.

Next up are the photos I talked about. I hope you enjoy them!

Resident Evil 2 Raccoon City

Resident Evil 2 Raccoon City Cop Car and Zombie Resident Evil 2 Raccoon City Sign Resident Evil 2 Raccoon City PD

Finally, check out my big cosplay! It’s black suit Superman!

My Black Suit Superman at the DC Universe booth!

If you like the suit, please check out BusterProps.com for more of my work!

Alright, we’ll talk more about Resident Evil 2 on Gamer Heroes next week! See you then.

SDCC 2018: Resident Evil 2 Demo

The 50 Best: Heroes of Women, #30-21

It’s not everyday that heroes comes along and changes the course of American history.  For the next five weeks, we count down the 50 best women heroes in fiction. Heroes were chosen from every platform of pop culture, including film, tv, literature, and stage.  They were also inspired by you, the fans, on the many polls that the Heroes Podcast Network can offer. Lastly, the women were chosen based on their iconic statuses, fandom following, and the admirable qualities the individual characters possess.

Looking for a bunch of dudes? Aren’t we all? Don’t worry; the 50 best men heroes in fiction is up next! But what about the great baddies of history too? Yep, that list is in the works as well! Now, enjoy the countdown. Here’s #30-21.

#50-41 can be found here. #40-31 is here.

30. Jessica Rabbit


Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
While some only focus on Jessica’s looks (and she’s hot, like, the hottest cartoon ever), she is so much more than that. She’s often mistaken for this femme fatale. She even says, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Throughout the movie, it’s revealed she cares deeply for her husband, Roger, and does everything in her power to keep him safe (despite his constant buffoonery).  Jessica is a highly intelligent, multi-talented woman. She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up as a little kid.  She may exemplify what are now cliched movie tropes, but she never comes off as just a gimmick. Instead, she’s a woman you want to know.

29. Katniss Everdeen


Hunger Games franchise
Is there anyone more inherently flawed than Katniss? Beginning the story as a girl determined only to survive, she transformed over the course of the three novels. Her skills and defiant attitude kept her alive throughout the Hunger Games, and eventually turned her into a martyr for Panem. She didn’t always embrace the role others put upon her, never being afraid to speak her mind. Her actions were often motivated by her simple wish to keep her family alive. Most of them, however, is what the country loved about her. It was through her sheer force of will, her determination just to live, that the tyrannical thumb which Panem was held was finally broken.

28. Morticia Addams


The Addams Family
Can you think of a more perfect homemaker? I know I can’t. Created in 1938 as a satirical opposite to the American Dream, Morticia was paved as the head of the household from the beginning.  She has always been level-headed and fair, favoring no one member of her family more than the other.  She kept everyone in line and never seemed bothered by anyone’s antics, often embracing them with love and respect.  She and her husband Gomez are without a doubt the best depiction of an equal and loving partnership ever created (and I will fight you on that one).  The two compliment and balance each other, their passion and romance never wavering, never compromising.

27. Leslie Knope

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Galentine's Day" Episode 617 -- Pictured: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Parks and Recreation
I don’t think there are enough words to express my love for this character. Leslie Knope is resilient. Set in a town where the majority of the population is against her good intentions, she is rarely bogged down by the negativity that surrounds her. She loves her town and she will do everything she can to serve it, even if that means going temporarily insane with love for it. Leslie is the sum of her parts, and her parts include the innumerable cast of supporting characters who back her up daily.  No person is successful on their own and Leslie’s success only gets better because of her friends in the Parks Dept. She is the fiercest friend and a woman we’d all be lucky to be one day.

26. She-Ra


She-Ra, Princess of Power
It must be an easy life when you’re born to the King and Queen of Eternia. But that all goes down the toilet when you’re kidnapped at birth by the evil demon Hordak and taken to Etheria to be a brainwashed soldier in his army. Princess Adora never had a chance. Until one day she escaped and embraced her role as She-Ra. Now, originally, she was created to tap into the girl toy market for the He-Man audience, but she became so much more than that (kinda like her journey in the show). She’s one of the ultimate feminist icons: a princess and a warrior, kind and brave, intelligent and humble. She’s a worthy role model for any young person, girl or boy.

25. Scout Finch


To Kill a Mockingbird
It may be difficult to think of a little Southern six year old as a hero, but giving To Kill a Mockingbird a second glance proves just how heroic Scout really is. Over the three year course of the novel, Scout is faced with situations that would make adults uncomfortable. She breaks up an angry mob. She is the only one to see Boo Radley. Scout is in the difficult position throughout most of the novel to see good people punished for good deeds because they go against the current social norm. She spends a lot of the book unable to understand this and angry at those who hate/taunt her father in particular. It’s an almost impossible to identify with as a reader, but watching her grow to understand how cruel the world can be as well as the symbol of the mockingbird itself, is powerful enough to stick with a reader for years. Very few are lucky enough to be a Scout, but we all desire to be that good.

24. Korra


Avatar: Legend of Korra
It was incredibly difficult to narrow down which woman from Avatar should be featured. Each and every one possess the traits to inspire, including Azula.  Ultimately, though, it’s hard to win over the main character of a series. Korra has been an innovative addition to the world of Avatar. She began the series with the perpetually defiant phrase, “I’m the Avatar; deal with it,” a line that has resonated in my head since I first heard her speak it. She’s feisty and proud, both often leading to some pretty epic failures and some incredible successes.  She doesn’t just fall once; she falls a hundred times. Each time, she picks herself up, threatens to quit, and then does it again. It was her determination that captivated us. As viewers, we all saw ourselves in Korra at one time or another. We, too, are afraid to admit our shortcomings, but determined enough to defeat them. If someone so flawed, yet kind and wonderful, can be the balance to a chaotic world, then maybe, we are the balance to our worlds.

23. Samus


You may be wondering why Samus is on this list. She’s not particularly interesting. Multiple writers over the years have kept her personality minimal so that players could more easily picture themselves as the title character. Was she the most influential character in video games? Absolutely not. This woman is on this list because she is in fact a woman. You had to beat the entire game in order to get to the beautiful finale of Samus being a woman.  At the time, it was shocking, and seemingly unimportant. For some magical reason, we were just a little less hung up on sex and gender back then, and it allowed for some special moments like this. This is more important now. A kick ass, long standing, battle star woman saving the universe is exactly the type of person that young people need to see themselves as while playing a video game.

22. Supergirl


Supergirl comics, DC
Kara Zor-El could have easily been a rip off of her more famous cousin. However, the writers turned it around so fast. They made her independent and identifiable on her own.  She remains optimistic in times of catastrophe, which come almost at every turn.  As a teenage survivor of the destruction of Argo City and Krypton, her kindness and compassion was often mixed with a hot temper and aggression.  Hers has never been an easy life, but she perseveres.  And through her many transformations, both comic and film, more and more people have been influenced by her.  New audiences can be exposed to her heroism in more mediums than most other characters on our list.  She’s iconic and necessary to the feminine culture.

21. Sailor Moon – Usagi


Sailor Moon
There are many things that make the sweet Usagi important.  She fought evil by moonlight! Seriously, though, she was a fearless and kind leader for many years over many teams. She wasn’t always perfect, but she was always fair.  Usagi treated everyone, including the her enemies, with compassion.  Her sweet demeanor was often mistaken for naivete and weakness, but she should never be underestimated. Usagi was a true friend first and foremost, proving that despite villainy in the world, she had her priorities straight.  She was a pal, a mother, a superhero, and at even one point, a goddess. Sailor Moon was a true hero for everyone.

So there you have it, our next 10 women heroes. What do you think of our list so far? Tune in for #11-20 soon!

The 50 Best: Heroes of Women, #30-21

DCC Wrap-Up and Cosplay Gallery

DCC, Denver Comic Con, is one of the bigger comic convention in the United States, hosting well over 100,000 people in 2016’s convention. Celebrity guests in 2017 included Weird Al Yankovic, Catherine Tate, Clare Kramer, some of the Stranger Things kids, and the entire voice cast of the animated Justice League TV show, among others. Of course, DCC included an array of comic book creators, authors, and animators, making the convention a pop culture scene for just about anyone. While we had a small presence at DCC, we were able to get a couple people on the ground. Check out our small cosplay gallery below and then a first-person account of DCC 2017.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”dcc-2017-cosplay”]

My experience at DCC was for the most part an enjoyable one. It is a huge con and it’s a lot to take in so be prepared. The convention center itself was huge and had a lot of room for all kinds of artists, booths,cosplayers, vendors, and more. They used every inch of that space for what that could so I was impressed. They had some great media guests who I got to meet and get pictures/autographs with. These are guests I haven’t seen at our local con so seeing them was a real treat. But the con wasn’t without its issues. Mainly how they handled the prop policy concerning fake guns (announcing that no kind of gun or anything resembling a gun would be allowed in an hour before the con doors opened on Saturday….even though I still saw some), enforcing bag checks, line control, and costume checks. A serious lack in each department for those if you ask me. Also lacking was the organization skills for huge group photos. You were kind of herded on a stage, was told where to stand and then wasn’t being told you were being photographed until you heard someone say “and now do another pose” Like wait what now? I didn’t know we were starting. If DCC fixes what they did wrong this year then I would highly consider coming back, its a semi close con with lots to do and see. Out of 10 stars, I would give it for sure a 7.5 out of 10.

Did you attend DCC 2017? What did you think of the convention? What were you most excited to see? What annoyed you the most? Comment below!

First-hand account by me, Haus of Turner Cosplay.

Cosplay photography provided by GregRon Photography out of Colorado.

DCC Wrap-Up and Cosplay Gallery

The Best 50: Heroes of Women, #40-31

It’s not everyday that heroes comes along and changes the course of American history.  For the next five weeks, we count down the 50 best women heroes in fiction. Heroes were chosen from every platform of pop culture, including film, tv, literature, and stage.  They were also inspired by you, the fans, on the many polls that the Heroes Podcast Network can offer. Lastly, the women were chosen based on their iconic statuses, fandom following, and the admirable qualities the individual characters possess.

Looking for a bunch of dudes? Aren’t we all? Don’t worry; the 50 best men heroes in fiction is up next! But what about the great baddies of history too? Yep, that list is in the works as well! Now, enjoy the countdown. Here’s #40-31.

If you missed #41-50, you can catch Part 1 of our Heroes of Women countdown here.

40. Elizabeth Bennett


Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennett means many things to many people. But existing for over 200 years will do that to you (Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 by Jane Austen).  During that time, she has symbolized the joy that can be found in life. She is a free-spirited, loving woman who refuses to settle in life when it comes to marriage. She demands on marrying for love instead of status, educating herself when the masses look down upon a learned woman, and she prefers the company of her sisters rather than stuffy balls with the elitist upper class. She was a role model before we even began classifying fictional characters as role models.

39. Twilight Sparkle


My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Did you see the old 1980’s renditions of My Little Pony? Do you remember how awful they were? They were about very vain ponies who would spend their time brushing hair and gossiping about one another. Then the wonderful Lauren Faust comes along and revamps everything, giving us more than enough well-rounded characters including the amazing Twilight Sparkle. She’s this relentless book worm who comes to Ponyville friendless (save for Spike) and has blossomed into the Princess of Friendship. Over six seasons, she has grown so much that it’s difficult not to be moved by her journey.

38. Daenerys Targaryan

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Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
There’s not many events more moving than watching Daenerys grow from actual property to the Mother of Dragons. This woman begins the story as a meek, subservient girl, just wanting to please her disgusting brother, Viserys. Once she sees him for the coward he is and realizes her own strength, Daenerys becomes more than the sum of her parts. She sets herself on fire and walks away unscathed. She rules as the Khaleesi, she sacks cities, she trains dragons, she beguiles and betrays terrible men. She is a force to be reckoned.

37. San


Princess Mononoke
San, the leading lady from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, was raised by the wolf goddess, Moro, leaving her appearing savage to the untrained eye.  She is a protector, first and foremost, of her family, of her forest.  Because of this, she is also incredibly stubborn and irritable. As the daughter of Moro, she rejects her all of her humanity until she meets Ashitaka, the Prince of Emishi Village.  The love that the two of them share has her embrace the humanity she had forsaken but maintain the loyalty she feels towards her wolf family and her forest home.

36. Jo March

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Little Women
Oh, Jo. What a marvelous woman.  Another independent, fiercely loyal literary character who has influenced little girls for almost 200 years.  Jo March wanted a career, which wasn’t unheard of at the time, but was rare. Since her sex put her at such a huge disadvantage, Jo keeps in abundance her diligence and optimistic attitude. She never gives up on the goal of being a novelist and never takes no for an answer. Her fortitude only adds to her resilience.

35. Peggy Carter


Agent Carter and Marvel Cinematic Universe
If you can’t be a superhero, be Peggy Carter instead. She is fearless and enduring and fans latched onto her with incredible force. Peggy was the pro at keeping her composure under duress. She was kind and feminine, without being a damsel. When it came down to it, Peggy Carter could handle herself. She dedicated her whole life to a greater cause, working behind the scenes to guarantee the safety of America (and she was British, so that makes sense).  While she was initially intended to just be a some love interest for Chris Evans, Peggy Carter’s true nature showed through and became more than the sum of her parts.

34. Matilda Wormwood


This little girl may be the kindest, gentlest soul ever written about in fiction. She’s also an underrated hero among both literature and film fans alike. Matilda, as kind as she is, embodies the complete opposite of the people surrounding her. Her horrible parents are scam artists and frauds. Her principal is tyrannical and cruel. It is only through her perseverance of kindness does she discover her telekinetic powers, finally enacting one of the most satisfying revenge scenes ever imagined.

33. Captain Kathryn Janeway


Star Trek: Voyager
A lot can be said for Captain Kathryn Janeway (or Vice Admiral, as she comes to be known).  She is the first female Captain in Star Trek history (which is surprising considering how progressive the show has always been).  She is the first Starfleet captain to head into the Delta zone, encountering new planets and civilizations never to be seen. She is a fan favorite, often chosen as the best captain among the entire franchise.  And it’s no mystery why. She is a kind soul, who puts her crew before hers, even merging them with lost members of the Maquis.  She was put multiple times into ethical dilemmas where she comes out a better person.

32. Daria Morgendorfer


Beavis and ButtheadDaria
A show designed to feature just your average apathetic teenager turned out to be one of the most influential characters of the 90’s. She encapsulated everything the 90’s stood for: a rebellious youth feeling lost among the crowd. It was no longer obvious what your purpose in life was and Daria felt the overwhelming crush of societal pressures on a daily basis. Instead of having nervous breakdowns or embracing a path she wasn’t interested in, she did her best of not giving any useless cares about anything she didn’t want. By rejecting the social norm, she was a role model for everyone that didn’t feel like being in a box.

31. Captain Marvel


Carol Danvers was a character Marvel just couldn’t get right for the longest time. It was almost embarrassing having one of the most powerful characters on their Avenging roster with nothing of substance to back her up. But in 2012, they did the absolute best thing possible for her: they renamed her Captain Marvel and everything else just fell into place. They put her in control of S.W.O.R.D., made her a starring member of Guardians of the Galaxy and A*Force.  What had been hiding behind skimpy costumes had been a dynamic woman who kicks some serious ass, is brainy as hell, and the perfect woman to get things done. She was even the central focus of the 2016’s Civil War II story-line, being the first woman to lead a multi-crossover event in many, many years.  Her contribution to the Marvel universe, both comic and cinematic will go down historically in pop culture.

So there you have it, our next 10 women heroes. What do you think of our list so far? Tune in for #21-30 soon!

The Best 50: Heroes of Women, #40-31

The Best 50: Heroes of Women, #50-41

It’s not everyday that a hero comes along and changes the course of American history.  For the next five weeks, we count down the 50 best women heroes in fiction. Heroes were chosen from every platform of pop culture including film, TV, literature, and stage.  They were also inspired by you, the fans, on the many polls that the Heroes Podcast Network can offer. Lastly, the women were chosen based on their iconic statuses, fandom following, and the admirable qualities the individual characters possess.

Looking for a bunch of dudes? Aren’t we all. Don’t worry; the 50 best men heroes in fiction is up next! But what about the great baddies of history too? Yep, that list is in the works as well! Now, enjoy the countdown. Here’s #50-41 of the best Heroes of Women.

50. Crysta


Ferngully: The Last Rainforest and Ferngully 2: The Magical Rescue
Crysta is a little fairy living in a pristine Australian rain forest, devoid of human interference.  She begins the movie as naive and careless only to have her world turned upside down by a bat who had been tested on scientifically by humans, and by a logger named Zak.  When Zak and the other loggers accidentally release Hexxus, a toxic spirit that feeds off of human pollution, it is Crysta who steps up to fight.  She realizes the gravity of her role in life, as a protector of the rain forest, seeing incredible growth over the course of the film.  Crysta seemingly sacrifices herself for the sake of her people and the rain forest itself, demonstrating unmatched bravery and selflessness.

49. Tina Belcher

Bob’s Burgers
Often the kinder, gentler Belcher, Tina is the voice of reason among a household of chaos.  She’s also incredibly complicated for a 13 year old.  She writes erotic “friend fiction,” being bold enough to use real people as her subjects. She has the most open obsession with people’s butts (notice I wrote people). She embraces who she is without fail, never apologizing for her quirks or flaws. It takes a tough kid to talk openly about the horror that is puberty and yet, this chick sings about it in a musical revue. She’s a modern role model for the aggressive world we have come to known.

48. Major Motoko Kusanagi

Ghost in the Shell 

As a heavily modified cyborg, Motoko stands out as one of the best detectives, proving her incomparable in her field.  While the many adaptations of the story have played around with the character, Motoko has always remained an incredible example of strength in both integrity and intelligence.  She consistently is an effective leader among her squad. Her search for existential meaning in life; her search for a soul (or ghost) is what makes her so easy to relate to. It is easy for a viewer to become enraptured in her quest to understand her purpose in life since that is a similar feeling a lot of people have.

47. Tracer

A rather recent addition into the fictional world, Lena Oxton, or better known as Tracer, has since become a phenomenal break out character of the popular Overwatch video game. She’s been a ray of sunshine amid an epic war. As such, fans of all demographics have latched onto her as a feminist and LGBTQ icon.  Her popularity now outnumbers almost all other Overwatch characters (or even video game characters in general). It’s never easy for an optimist with a tragic past to rise above but Tracer has and she seems to be here to stay.

46. Elphaba Thropp

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
No one has ever said life is easy when you’re green.  As an expansion of a beloved villain, Elphaba gave so much more to the story the world is already familiar. She faced incredible odds including political corruption and was brave enough to be the only one in Oz to stand against it.  While many have yet to separate the wicked from the witch, she remains a definitive hero among dedicated fans. She gave us all hope that while we may be a villain to someone, we’re so much more, and ultimately, we are the hero in our own story.

45. Chun-Li

Street Fighter franchise
It’s hard to believe that Chun-Li wasn’t in the original Street Fighter game. She was, however, the first female fighter in the game, and one of the first characters with real development and growth behind her inception.  At first, she fought to avenge her father’s death, but eventually she learns to accept loss (something we all are faced with, but not all of us are capable of achieving) and pursues justice instead.  Now she fights to protect those who cannot protect themselves, helping anyone and everyone who needs her. Immediately fans latched onto her spirit and have made her a staple to any aspect of the franchise, no matter what medium or platform it exists.

44. Helen Parr – Elastigirl


The Incredibles
She’s the hero we all want to be. She’s the mother and wife we all want to be. She’s an absolute fierce woman that is the true hero of The Incredibles. When Bob is off glory-hunting, Helen is maintaining a family of supers who are also completely focused on the themselves and not the family as a whole.  She’s a perfect example of a hero in general which is made even more apparent by her imperfections. Just like everyone else, she has issues with her body. But she doesn’t let it get her down long. She becomes plagued with doubt over the potential end of her marriage, but she is reminded by a good friend that you have to believe in how amazing you are as an individual and go after what you want. And Helen Parr gets what she wants.

43. Zoe Washburne

Firefly and Serenity
When this list was first proposed and a poll of the best female heroes went up, every single woman from Firefly was suggested. Ultimately, we chose the dedicated second in command on board Serenity.  Zoe Washburne may just be the strongest woman on this list, as far as integrity and loyalty are concerned. She manages to be both a dedicated crew member and a dedicated wife, which is portrayed simultaneously, instead of other female characters that can only be one thing at one time. To watch her mourn her husband’s death is to see Zoe’s true nature in a small amount of actions alone. She is both heartbreaking and admirable.

42. Turanga Leela

Often stuck being the voice of reason among a circus of complete buffoonery, Turanga Leela is by far the fiercest of the Planet Express. She demonstrates bravery when others run away (her entire crew will run away). She generally has the best judgment among the rest of the cast as well. Leela is a courageous, independent, and loving woman, who brings an adhesive-like trait to keeping the Planet Express crew together.  And she has a tale of self discovery which rivals any live action drama on air now. Believing she was the last of her kind, Leela would go to any length to learn the truth about herself, and the episode where she finally finds her family is among one of the most touching of the series.

41. Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, Marvel universe
It’s not every day where a fantastic hero is hiding among the riffraff of side characters, but such was the case with Jessica Jones. Created in the early 2000’s, it wasn’t until her 2015 television debut that the world took notice of the dynamic character she had always been. That was partially due to her mature nature, being a rated-R Netflix show and all. But it was also because of the relate-able dark themes of the show, such as PTSD and rape, that made people take notice. Jones has lived what can only be described as a messed up life, and as such, she’s kind of a messed up person. She’s never apologetic, though. She never stops trying to do the right thing by everyone, even as it pushes her to her very limits. She overcomes what so many may not even have tried.

So there you have it, our first 10 women heroes. What do you think of our list so far? Tune in for #31-40 here!

The Best 50: Heroes of Women, #50-41

Infinity War 67: Picking the Heroes

Transcribed from Screen Heroes, S1, E6 “Infinity War 67.”

When Marvel Studios announced the two-part Infinity War film, they said that there was an opportunity for 67 characters to be in the film. Since then, they have explained that it was an arbitrary number they just pulled out of thin air, but for fun, we wanted to pick out 67 Marvel characters that COULD make it into Infinity War.

The Veterans

The Newbies

The Guardians

The Defenders

The Back Up

The Agents

The Villains

The Unknown

The Asgardians


This episode was recorded before the release of Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Since then, more information regarding  Infinity War has been released as well as the movies leading up to it in the MCU.  Remember to take all of this with a grain of salt and the fun that it was supposed to provide.

To listen to the original episode, click here.

Infinity War 67: Picking the Heroes

Versus #1 – Marvel v DC

Rae pits Derreck and Ryan against each other in our first Versus battle, each having to defend their respective DC or Marvel superhero.

Transcribed from 3/16/16 episode of Screen Heroes: Episode 13 “VS. #1 Marvel v. DC”


  1. Each will represent either DC or Marvel. Derreck is defending DC. Ryan is defending Marvel.
  2. You can use any version of the character that exists in canon.
  3. One switch is allowed where Derreck can defend the Marvel character and Ryan can defend DC.
  4. Maximum of 7 minutes total for each fight.
  5. 1 point is awarded for winning the match, 1 point awarded for audience popularity.

Fight 1: Captain America versus Batman

Ryan: Captain America has super strength, shield, and gun (may not even need the gun against Batman). In the comics, he’s been able to throw a motorcycle. Both characters are tactically mindful, but Captain America is a stronger power. Yes, Batman has a lot of toys, but Captain America doesn’t need a lot of toys. In Civil War, he punched a hole in Iron Man’s chest.

Derreck: Batman has a large amount of accessories which help him with every fight.  It wouldn’t be a slug fest. He’d have different suits of armor, his utility belt, and multiple weapons. So Batman is going to come at him from multiple angles and in stealth mode. Fights don’t always come down to strength. Batman is an elite martial artist and can out fight so many people. Captain America is a military brawler; Batman is a ghost.

Rae: Captain America wins! 1 point to Ryan for winning the argument, 1 point to Ryan for convincing the audience.

Derreck: 0      Ryan: 2

Fight 2: Wonder Woman versus Captain Marvel

Derreck: Wonder Woman is a warrior princess, trained from birth to be a warrior with multiple weapons and hand-to-hand combat.  She has the ability to fly in some versions.  With the shield, and the bracelets, she can easily block any projectile from Captain Marvel. Wonder Woman can keep up with Superman and even defeated him before. She is a warrior and her whole society is built on protecting their land.

Ryan: Captain Marvel has similar powers to Wonder Woman. She has flight and super strength. Wonder Woman has an advantage with the shield and sword. She has a much cooler outfit.  Captain Marvel is almost the Superman of the Marvel universe, because of her endurance and speed. She also has energy beams that are projected. She was Binary, which was a known planet buster, she can control gravity.

Rae: Derreck concedes to the blowing up a planet argument. 1 point to Ryan for winning the argument, 1 point to Ryan for convincing audience.

Derreck: 0      Ryan: 4

Fight 3: Daredevil versus Robin

Ryan: There are some versions of Daredevil where he does have super human strength. His senses are incredibly heightened. Daredevil can dodge bullets, which Jason Todd cannot. He can take a lot of punishment, and with his armor, it’s even more.  Daredevil’s senses are heightened and he is trained by ninjas.

Derreck: Red Hood, used to be a Robin, which means he was taught by Batman, so he knows all the same martial arts that Batman does. He’s been in the Lazarus pit, and that has been known to cause a blood lust in people. He could always set traps. Most of the Batman characters tend to have prep time. Jason Todd also uses weapons, like guns, unlike Daredevil who is not impervious to bullets. All he does is beat the crap out of people for living, so he does that all day long, unlike Daredevil.

Rae: After lethal force is used, Red Hood would win. 1 point to Derreck for winning the argument, 1 point to Ryan for convincing audience.

Derreck: 1      Ryan: 5

Fight 4: Martian Manhunter versus Vision

Ryan: Vision has the ability to change his density which we’ve seen him use in Age of Ultron. He can also phase, demonstrated by how he killed Ultron in the MCU. His vibranium body can withstand quite a bit of destruction. Vision is an incarnation of JARVIS, at least in the MCU, so there could be instant calculations and predictions of what Martian Manhunter will do.

Derreck: Martian Manhunter has an incredible amount of powers. He can shape shift, which he often uses it to change into a dragon. He can telepathically connect to others. He can phase through objects. He’s much more powerful than Vision. He could easily phase through and rip out the gem in Vision’s forehead. Vision does have a body and has to conform to physics. J’onn is very powerful being that could destroy someone powered by a stone.

Rae: Ryan concedes. Moderator point and audience point goes to Derreck.

Derreck: 3      Ryan: 5

Fight 5: Thor versus Superman

Ryan: Superman’s biggest weakness is magic, and Thor’s powers are based in magic. He can wield lightning, similar to Shazam. His durability is similar to Superman’s. He’s also been a planet buster before. But Thor’s magic really tips the battle to him. He was able to end Ragnarok with one blast and defeat reality warping characters.  Rune King Thor doesn’t need his hammer and can defeat Superman that way.

Derreck: Thor’s powers come from the hammer, so if Superman is able to get that hammer out of his hand, not lift it, would just make Thor a normal strong person. To go back to the planet buster theory, Superman could go back in time before the battle even began to a time when Thor isn’t holding the hammer and defeat him by surprise. He’s been able to take on Doomsday, Darkseid, and Brainiac by himself. Thor also has never been known to able to live in space, so Superman could easily take the fight there and win.

Rae: Moderator point to Derreck, audience point to Ryan

Derreck: 4      Ryan: 6

Fight 6: Green Arrow versus Hawkeye

Ryan: The two are very evenly matched. Clint has military training, from SHIELD, as a tactician, which helps give him an edge. Clint has also acted as a mercenary. He’s a more logical thinker under duress.

Derreck: Green Arrow has the same type of training that Batman has, so he’s a skilled fighter in hand-to-hand. He’s an expert marksman in multiple weapons, arrows, knives, and guns, even if he doesn’t like to use them. Hawkeye hasn’t proven that he has any hand to hand combat training.

Rae: Since this was an audience suggestion, one point is awarded to Derreck. No moderator point at this time.

Derreck: 5     Ryan: 6

Fight 7: Zatanna versus Scarlet Witch

Ryan: Scarlet Witch is a reality warper. She could easily blink Zatanna out of existence if she wanted. She has been able to teleport people from planet to planet, so she could take care of Zatanna that way.

Derreck: Zatanna has mental powers. All she has to do is think things, and they happen. Because she is magical, her powers are not just within her, but around her.

Rae: Ryan concedes, one point to Derreck from moderator. Winner of the audience point is Ryan.

Derreck: 6     Ryan: 7

Fight 8: Doctor Fate versus Doctor Strange

Ryan: Doctor Strange isn’t centuries old, but he’s inconsistently one of the most powerful people in the Marvel universe. He’s taken blasts from characters that destroy planets. Doctor Strange has been able to absorb blasts from the Living Tribunal. The Eye of Agamotto can rip holes through eternity. Doctor Strange is still the Sorcerer Supreme, and still has powers without the Eye.  There are gods and then people above gods, and then these guys.

Derreck: Doctor Fate is similar to Zatanna in the way that he is a magic based character in Justice League Dark. His powers are in his helmet. He’s been able to travel from dimension to dimension. He can fly, bend reality, travel through time, mind wipe people, and one version of him he’s grown so powerful, he no longer needed a host body so the helmet just created a body. That version can survive everything because the helmet cannot be destroyed. If Doctor Fate removes Doctor Strange’s amulet, he’s much less powerful. Doctor Fate doesn’t have to worry about any human disadvantages, like mortality.

Rae: Ryan concedes to Doctor Fate’s indestructibility. Derreck wins the moderator point.

Derreck: 7     Ryan: 7

To listen to this episode, click here.

What do you think of the match-ups? Do you agree or disagree with the outcomes? Comment below!

Versus #1 – Marvel v DC

Top 10 Movies in Need of Reboots

Movies are all about the reboots now. Only, it seems, that the ones deserving them never get picked up. Instead, production companies opt for classics or movies NO ONE WAS ASKING FOR A SECOND TIME (I’m looking at you Point Break.)  In fact, some of the reboots have been so unsuccessful, they’ve killed any chances of the re-ignition of the franchise as a whole (The Great and Powerful Oz would have been much better with Robert Downey, Jr.). So here are 10 movies that either had great potential they never reached or have been shoved back into the vault, collecting dust. Just so you know, this is all strictly opinion and not any insider Hollywood news.


10. The Last Starfighter

This movie was a gem among 80’s sci-fi flicks, coming in under the radar and never quite living up to the E.T. or Tron hype. However, the kids that did find it, loved it.  Now, with myself, I didn’t see the film until my twenties (we all have those films that slip through our fingers) and I enjoyed it. But I wasn’t fully saturated in the movie magic it had because I didn’t have (what I call) the nostalgia glasses on to forgive the lackluster CGI and poor practical effects. Set in modern time with all the advances in both computer graphics and the gaming industry, a remake could make this movie valuable for more generations. The only trouble would be not to lose the heart of the original.


9. Mortal Kombat

Yes, I’m completely aware that this was turned into a web series starring Michael Jai White and Jeri Ryan. That series makes me want a full-length film again. It was my favorite video game growing up and the movies hold a special place in my heart. Not because they were good by any means. No, no, no. But because they were so bad they were good. You plan this one out to be a series, trilogy, whatever. You have whole chunks dedicated to certain characters. There’s very little reason to have them all meet up beforehand and become besties. You start the tournament in the first film, having the villains change from Shang Tsung to Shao Khan to Shinnok. Lastly, the movies have to be rated R. You have to show some violence. You just have to.


8. Masters of the Universe

Ever wonder why Courtney Cox was such a huge part of that movie? Yeah, me too.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek film of a tongue-in-cheek cartoon but missed the mark on being as loved as the source material. While Dolf Lundgren did his part well, he could not save the rest of the film from just looking silly. Now take our current and glorious movie scene and apply that to Masters of the Universe. All of a sudden you have big, hulking actors with the talent to show heart without cheese, special effects placing you directly in Skeletor’s palace, and no more Courtney Cox.


7. Super Mario Bros.

The original is so bad. Just awful. But it had a few things that would be worth keeping and translating over. Instead of the weirdest Toad ever and this visually awkward dystopian Mushroom Kingdom, we should get the bright colors and the insane adventures with as many nods to the games as possible. Make it live action. Make it CG animation. I don’t care. The fact that the original film was able to convey a fun believable brotherly relationship between the main characters means there’s enough of a story there to do this right. If you want to hear us fancast our Super Mario films, you can listen to our podcast here.


6. Land Before Time

I am well aware that this series has been producing a straight-to-DVD film every year (seriously, one was made this year), but the original remains a classic in our hearts. That is, until you watch it as an adult. The run time is only 61 minutes, yet the time drags on. Each character could use a little more adventure in order to grow more as individuals and friends. Updating it with a more exciting journey to the Great Valley and more detailed animation will ensure that this movie stays out of the $5 Wal-Mart bin.


5. The Last Airbender

This one is fairly important to me because of what the original series means to its fans. It’s fantastical world set in an alternate Earth where more than half of the population can wield the power of the elements. One person, the Avatar, is capable of wielding all four elements and it’s that person who must keep the world balanced. The film was released in 2011 and was absolutely abysmal. Unnecessary changes were made to things as innocuous as the characters’ names and the martial arts heavy story was forgotten. This movie needs an update badly, but instead of another attempt at the big screen, this would be better suited to a live action series very similar to Game of Thrones.

Witches of Eastwick

4. Witches of Eastwick

I love magic, but I’m an adult and I love grown up magic too.  This 80’s flick was a potential Halloween staple that just fell a little bit short. Now, it’s a forgotten favorite of mine that could use some dusting off and updates.  The premise of three struggling women falling simultaneously in love with the Devil himself doesn’t seem like it could have a lot of potential, but the four of them lived in a mutually beneficial quad-relationship that was healthy…until you know, the Devil is the Devil. This film could be a dark and sexy comedy with incredible special effects and a talented cast cherry picked from the incredible actors of today.


3. Clue

What is an unbelievably good film, Clue has received cult status over the years, praised for its comedic timing and brilliant cast. That’s not why it should be updated. The fascinating thing about the Clue board game is its ability to create new story lines each time you play. Update the timeline (maybe try the 70’s this time or even place it earlier, like the 1910’s), update the weapons, change the casts. A reboot as well as the original can coexist without one hurting the other. If the reboot were to distance itself from the beginning and have the story play out differently, then comparisons would be few and far between.


2. Spawn

Please bring back Spawn! Please! It’s an example of a movie that was so good but under appreciated. Spawn told the story of a man who was killed and sold his soul for new life. He came back scarred, but powerful, and fought his way through numerous demons just to protect his widow. Hollywood’s capabilities are almost immeasurable now. They can bring back Michael Jai White as the titular character or cast my personal favorite Idris Elba.  The best way to handle this one is to acknowledge the first one, much like Incredible Hulk did with Hulk, and continue the story. What is the demon fighter up to now? I know I’m curious.


1. The Crow  

I know this one isn’t fair and could catch me a lot of hate. But it has to be done. Brandon Lee did a great job as The Crow during the 90’s, and his on-screen (and real life) death is beyond tragic, but the story is one that is so powerful that it should continue. And I don’t mean with The Crow 5: Demon Destiny or whatever the hell they’ve been working on. No, start fresh. Adapt the James O’Barr comic once again and pay some small homage to the first one without disrespecting all the little goth kids (who are now big goth grown ups).

What do you think of my list? Do you have any reboots in mind? Do you think we’ve had too many reboots and should focus on new content?

Comment below!

Top 10 Movies in Need of Reboots

Ranking Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

That’s right! We’re back again with another installment of ranking the MCU films. It’s become an HPN tradition to bitterly fight behind closed doors about where the new films rank. We almost look forward to destroying our friendship each time Marvel releases a new film.  With that said, we are placing the newest film: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We’ve already done a super-spoiler podcast on it, so if you want to give that a listen first, feel free to check that out here.


Before we get too deep, let’s remind you what the line up was previous to the film.

14. Iron Man 2
13. Incredible Hulk
12. Iron Man 3
11. Thor: The Dark World
10. Captain America: The First Avenger
9. Doctor Strange
8. Thor
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
6. Ant-Man
5. Iron Man
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Avengers
1. Captain America: Civil War

Where does Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 fall?

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How it Succeeds

I will say that we all decided Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was overall a fun movie. It does quite a few things really well, being one of the better sequels that the MCU has produced. One thing that really impressed all of us at the HPN is the additional characters this time around, particularly Mantis and Ego.  Both were well developed and blended into the created universe seamlessly.  It’s easy to tell that director James Gunn did not want to shove new characters into the film just for the sake of having new faces around. He wanted to make them just as beloved as the returning characters.  Newcomers Kurt Russell and Pom Klementieff were easily some of the highlights of the film.

Speaking of characters, the most compelling story of all had to have been Yondu.  His role in the first film was a fun antagonistic one that lead us to think he’d be flying in and out of films to come. With this latest venture into the Guardians world, his role isn’t necessarily expanded but a heavier importance is put on him.  He proves to be more than just another alien, with back story revealed, confirmation of his Kree heritage, and a suitable ending for any hero.  We may not see Yondu again, but his effect on the MCU will be felt for multiple films to come.

The easter eggs and the name drops were great. Bringing back both Cosmo and Howard the Duck was an absolute riot to see on screen. I’m convinced James Gunn does whatever James Gunn wants. He brought in an Adam Warlock reference (hope you stayed for all the follow-up scenes) even though the MCU has come out multiple times against his character joining. He even referenced the original Guardians, tapping Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, and Ving Rhames for some star power, leading everyone to believe they’ll appear in Guardians 3.

How it lets us down

While he’s a huge bright spot, Ego is also a huge sore spot for the film too. This time, though, it’s more with the writing behind him and not the acting. Ego is presented as a formidable foe, but one that is just a little too EGOtistical to pull off his plan (see…. see what I did there?). He was so perfect up until the very last half hour. He monologued! If he hadn’t, he would have been just fine! He would have won! It seems too convenient a plot point to have the entire ending hinging on Ego revealing he killed Starlord’s mom.  Absolutely ridiculous.

Also, what’s the deal with Gamora? The comics portray her as the most deadly woman in the galaxy, being in the top 5 fighters of the entire Marvel cast of characters and we’ve seen very little proof that she’s any better than the rest of the Guardians. Not only does she not get her due when it comes to how she’s written, but she also isn’t allowed to have a personality. Zoe Saldana is a great actress, reigning as the current queen of the nerds, and yet, none of her vivaciousness and sass get to show through.  Gamora isn’t just the serious one in this goofy boy band, but she’s dry wall. She’s written as if she exists to be lusted after and nothing else. I do appreciate the attempt to have Nebula bring out some of her goodness, but it was for naught.

So, where is it already?


After very little deliberation on this one (I know, we actually agree), we have decided that the film was a solid follow up to a great movie and deserves to rank in the upper half of the 15 MCU films.

15. Iron Man 2
14. Incredible Hulk
13. Iron Man 3
12. Thor: The Dark World
11. Captain America: The First Avenger
10. Doctor Strange
9. Thor
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
7. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
6. Ant-Man
5. Iron Man
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Avengers
1. Captain America: Civil War

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Would you rearrange everything? Yeah, so would we. But this is where we are and we’ll be happy to reevaluate in July when Spider-Man: Homecoming releases.

Ranking Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

John Barrowman: Showman of Planet Comicon

Celebrities have been an undeniable draw for conventions for years, but none compare to John Barrowman. The Arrow star has a penchant for hosting his own panels (usually the convention will provide a moderator of some kind), his autograph lines overflow with eager fans, and the man actually participates in the convention (instead of sitting behind his table the entire time.) He’s a man that knows his fans hold more of his career in their hands than he does. And he loves every damn minute of it.

He didn’t just walk out onto the stage, the man entered with a fire under him. He jumped and danced and twirled and ran, careful to show that every single fan in the audience could see what he was wearing: a TARDIS skater dress and TARDIS tights. He assured us his TARDIS was bigger on the inside…then showed one lucky lady.  While most celebrities just ignore the sign language interpreter, John Barrowman celebrates him, intentionally making fart noises and repeating the phrase “hung like a donkey” just so he can watch the man sign it. That’s something the cameras should have panned to, because I wanted to see it too.

John Barrowman - Intro

His anecdotes didn’t fall under the celebrity panel norms, he had some brutal truths to lay down on the fans. He explained that in between shooting he lets his natural hair grow back in and the dye fade out, daring asshole fans to tell him he looks old.  He never tells fans his favorite anything because he has learned the hard way that his fans never let him forget it. So does he prefer his Captain Jack Harkness or his Malcolm Merlyn? We’ll never know.

While the entire panel was entertaining, the absolute best parts was hearing him discuss his acting methods.  There was an obvious difference between Captain Jack on Doctor Who and Captain Jack on Torchwood to the fans, so what was the motivation behind that choice? Barrowman knew that Captain Jack was the team leader in Torchwood, so while he was appearing on Doctor Who, he could forget about the world being on his shoulders and play up the character’s cheekiness instead.  He also expressed just how ridiculous he thought actors sound when they discuss their own acting methods, letting us know that he reacts as naturally as possible, which is why all of his characters have just a little bit of himself in them.

Fans were also surprisingly with it, asking him questions about his Scottish background, Strictly Come Dancing, and his recent work in British pantos.  He got to reveal a few juicy tidbits like his sister, Carole, and his own shared book series releasing a continuation soon of the Hollow Earth series and his confirmed death in the musical episode of The Flash meaning he’s no longer involved with The CW shows beginning next season, much to the audience’s dislike. Those questions did exist though; you know the ones I’m talking about.  The “do you think you’ll ever do this again?” kind of question.  And Barrowman laid it out there as brutally honest as he could: If fans want to see a character again, THEY HAVE TO TELL THE SHOWRUNNERS. He encouraged fans to tweet that they want Captain Jack and 12 to interact and that killing off Merlyn in an episode of The Flash when he wasn’t even playing Merlyn was a load of crap.  He loves doing the work, but he can’t also do the campaigning.

About halfway through the panel, and right in the middle of a fascinating story about a fan giving John Barrowman a dildo, the pipes and draping came tumbling down like dominoes in slow motion. What could have been a disaster for many other panels was nothing for John. He’s a seasoned actor who has come across so many disasters in his career, he knew exactly how to handle this. First he insisted that every Planet Comicon volunteer get out of the way and stay out of the way, assuring them it was above all their pay grades. The truth is, it had nothing to do with the convention itself, but the contractors that the location, Kansas City’s Bartle Hall, had used.  One man, the original sign language interpreter, was confirmed to had injured his hand (of all things he could injure) and while Barrowman seemed to have narrowly escaping injury himself, rumor among con attendees on Sunday was that he was in some pain (no confirmation whether or not it was from the accident or another cause is unknown at this time).  Without hesitation, Barrowman hopped off stage and continued the panel, and the dildo story.  This did, however, cause the postponing of Summer Glau’s panel.

John Barrowman - Stage Down

John Barrowman was an absolute joy to have at the convention and I, personally, encourage his return to Kansas City in the future. We’ll lure him here with devoted fans and barbecue.

John Barrowman: Showman of Planet Comicon