Opinion

DC vs. Marvel

Comparing the commercial and popular successes and failures of Marvel and DC is not new topic of discussion. The prevailing opinion, which I happen to agree with, is that Marvel is winning in the movies, while DC is winning (barely) on TV. But today I’m not talking about the movie or television adaptations. Today I’m talking about the actual comic books.

My first comic book was Superman, in the story line that originally introduced the time traveling Linear Men. It was my first introduction to DC comics, and it wasn’t until several years later that I first began to explore Marvel comics, so I’ve always had a preference for DC. And while I enjoyed Superman, there was a different character that quickly became my favorite: Captain Atom.

captain_atomA big part of the reason for that is because of how his solo series was built, especially during the earlier years of the series.

Origin

Nathaniel Adam was a Captain in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War.  He was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and sentenced to death.  Under the purview of Colonel Wade Eiling, he was given an alternative: participate in a top secret project and receive a Presidential pardon. The experiment involved sealing him in a shell of alien metal…and then detonating a nuclear weapon underneath him. The detonation appeared to have obliterated the shell and its occupant, but in reality Nathaniel Adam had been sent hurtling though time. He reappeared in 1986, and was now connected to the alien metal which provided him with a fairly standard powerset: super strength, flight, and energy blasts.

Sounds like pretty standard comic book fare so far, doesn’t it? So why was this my favorite character?

Because it felt like his adventures as a super hero only took up about half of the space in each issue.  The rest of the space was dedicated to Nathaniel Adam, typically outside of his Captain Atom persona, struggling to put his life back together. While it was true that he received a pardon for the crime of which he had been accused, there were still those that felt he was guilty and deserved to be punished. Even more seriously, the man that oversaw the project that nearly killed him, now General Wade Eiling, had married Nathaniel’s wife and raised his children as his own. Nathaniel spent a lot of time trying to reconnect with his son and daughter, which proved incredibly difficult given that Eiling raised Nathaniel’s kids to hate him.

The most frustrating aspect of the series is that it was heavily implied that Eiling himself was the person that framed Captain Adam (get it?). Regardless of if that was specifically to have a test subject for his special project, to have a chance at his wife, or some combination of the two, Captain Atom never comes to a full realization of how much the course of his life has been altered by Eiling. The series was canceled before any kind of true resolution was made between the characters. And while Eiling did eventually become a full-blown supervillain, Captain Atom was not involved in those conflicts.

But that’s why I loved this series: the focus of the storytelling was about this character, who despite the fantastic powers now at his disposal was primarily focused on trying to put his life back together, while still trying to serve the country he had sworn to protect, even though the system in which he originally served had betrayed him. He was a flawed human being and a very interesting character, with a fantastic and gradually expanding cast of supporting characters in the series that was really fun to read about.

So what does this have to do with DC vs. Marvel?

Given the example above, it should be fairly clear the kind of comics and stories that I prefer: the ones with a strong emphasis on characters, their flaws, and how they change and grow.

So let’s look at what the two big comic book companies have been doing lately. They both have put together a (fairly standard) big summer crossover event, where multiple realities have clashed for whatever reason. The big difference is in how those events conclude.

With DC, at the end of Convergence, the Multiverse is (once again) re-established. So there are multiple universes out there, each universe potentially having a different version of a ‘standard’ character. So any version of any character can now be used in a story.

With Marvel, on the other hand, Secret Wars sees their multiple universes appearing to be collapsed down into a single universe, so that the only characters are the ones from the ‘mainline’ universe. There’s no more Iron Man and Ultimate Iron Man as two separate characters from two different universes, there’s just the one Iron Man.

I love Marvel for making that decision, and I loathe the decision that DC has made. Why? Because it’s all about character.

Marvel is committing, at least as much as any comic book company can, to tell stories about these characters. The conflicts and decisions they face will have consequences down the line.

DC is essentially saying they don’t really care about telling consistent stories about their characters. They just want the freedom to tell whatever story they want, with whatever character they want, regardless of if there’s any reason for the audience to actually care.

Spiderman

I can’t say that this is actually a surprise. DC has a long-standing habit of running a big event that resetd their official continuity in some way every couple of years. I don’t always agree with the storytelling decisions that Marvel makes (hello Spiderman & One More Day), but at least I can respect their desire to do what they think is best for the continued development of the character, even if I disagree with what actually is best for the character.

And the winner is…

According to Diamond Comic Distributors, I think it’s fairly obvious that Marvel is winning, not only in the movie adaptations, but in the original comic book medium as well. From January 2015 to May 2015, Marvel dominated the top 10 comic titles sold every month except for 1. We generally give Marvel a lot of credit for their movies, and their ability to tell very entertaining and impactful stories about relatively normal people with extraordinary abilities. Meanwhile, DC (via Warner Bros.) continues to catch a lot of flak for their inability to produce a really good superhero movie.

I used to think that was because Marvel (the comic book company) has oversight over the movie studios that makes the movies, where DC is a subsidiary of Warner Bros, and therefore has very little power to control how the movies are made. But the more I look at this situation, the more I wonder if the problem runs deeper than that.

Booster Gold

Maybe the people at Marvel are actually doing a much better job at telling interesting stories with the characters and rules they have established for themselves. As much as I love the DC pantheon of superheroes, I’m finding it harder and harder to really care about any of them, knowing that everything I like about a given character could be undone in the next upcoming reboot (or the character could disappear entirely).  In addition to everything else, I’m still mad about the awesome character development that Booster Gold was getting before the Flashpoint/New 52 monstrosity just erased it.

What do you think?  Do you prefer either DC or Marvel over the other? Are there any characters, or aspects of a character, that has been lost due to a reboot or retcon that you really miss? Let us know in the comments!

DC vs. Marvel

What We Want For The X-Files Return

To be honest, I am a late The X-Files fan. Although I remember the show being on television, I never watched it while it aired. It was not until late in college that I sat down and started watching this ground-breaking series. I will admit that my binge-watching experience with The X-Files is quite different from those fans who faithfully watched it since the ’90s. That being said, I am still quite excited for its return to television. Without further ado, here are my expectations for the show’s return. WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS FROM THE SHOW TO FOLLOW…

The mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man will return in the show's revival.

William B. Davis will reprise his role as the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man.

A Continuation of the Mythology

The X-Files has always had the overarching story of aliens and the government’s attempts to keep their presence a secret. When the show ended, the Cigarette Smoking Man confirmed to Mulder what he had feared, an invasion would occur in 2012 with the end of the Mayan calendar. After that, the series ends with the hope that Mulder and Scully would face whatever comes to pass in the future. However, 2012 has come and gone. What happened? Did they thwart an alien invasion? Or were they wrong? Series creator Chris Carter has said that these will be new stories, but this is an important thread that needs to be addressed.

Returning Characters

Monica Reyes, Dana Scully, and John Doggett.

Monica Reyes, Dana Scully, and John Doggett.

We already know that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are reprising their roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Sculley. However, what about the other characters? Robert Patrick’s John Doggett and Annabeth Gish’s Monica Reyes were surprisingly absent from The X-Files: I Want to Believe film. They should tell us what happened to these characters, who gradually took over for Mulder and Scully as the series ended its television run. Are they still with the FBI? If not, what have they been doing since then? Even more curious, what is the deal with the return of the Cigarette Smoking Man? He received a rocket to the face in The X-Files finale. That is a hard one to come back from but probably not beyond the Cigarette Smoking Man’s capabilities.

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First look at David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in their roles as Mulder and Scully in the series revival.

Monsters For A New Age

We will at least get new monsters for a new age. Although the alien mythology and the characters are equally as important, The X-Files has always been known for going into those dark places and seeing what is truly hidden in the shadows. The fact that the show is back in Vancouver B.C., as opposed to Las Angeles where they shot their later seasons, is certainly a step in the right direction. We can certainly expect new monsters and new scares as we await the series premiere on January 24, 2016.

What We Want For The X-Files Return

The Grid Ranks: Marvel Cinematic Universe

We at The Grid have ranked the Marvel Cinematic movies from favorite to least favorite.  There were arguments, folks. Hair pulling, fisticuffs, the works. We may not be friends anymore.

Nah, just kidding.  It was a fairly easy consensus for all of us. Disclaimer: None of the MCU movies have been bad. It’s not like we’re talking Daredevil here (the Ben Affleck film, not the new Netflix series, of course).  All of them were impressive feats of cinema and will most likely continue that into Phase 3!

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Now! On with the list!

Iron_Man_2_Poster11. Iron Man 2 – If any other movie had been its predecessor, this film would be much higher on the list, because, like we said before, it wasn’t bad.  The few missteps taken were just enough, though, for us to lose our hype from Iron Man.  We all just wanted it too much for it to be amazing and when it didn’t live up to Tony Stark’s first outing, we were all just a little disappointed.  The film scores points for being a prologue to Avengers and introducing us to Black Widow.

Overall ranking: one Ex Wife missile

 

10. Incredible Hulk – This movie just was not handled well. The great ideas behind it seemed to get masked by the overall theme of sadness.  We all know the Hulk is a pretty sad guy, butMV5BMTUyNzk3MjA1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE1Njg2MQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_ he’s also a brilliant scientist with a sense of humor who’s actually pretty easy to love…wait, that’s Banner. The Hulk is about the smashing! The balance between Banner and the Hulk was so off and poor Edward Norton just didn’t have it in him to be as interesting as his counterpart.  It was a very smart move to not have another origins film.  Even though everyone can agree the Ang Lee film never did any justice to the Hulk, redoing the origins of a character we already know is questioning the fan’s love and knowledge.

Overall ranking: two Hulks hulking out on the hulking streets

 

MV5BMjIzMzAzMjQyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzM2NjcyOQ@@._V1._SY317_9. Iron Man 3 – It was the ending to this film that places it so low on the list.  We had been promised Mandarin.  We had been promised Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin.  Tell me there is better casting for that role (at least that particular interpretation)?  There really isn’t. But to pull the worst bait and switch in comic cinema to date made every single movie-goer say “WTF” out loud. This act was so egregious that the only thing that saved this from being last on the list was the All Hail the King one shot available on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier home release.  That made us all feel so much better inside. It made the bad things go away.

Overall ranking: take three shots of Extremis and call me in the morning

MV5BMTQyNzAwOTUxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE0OTc5OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_8. Thor: The Dark World – Let’s get one thing straight: it’s the title of this film that is the worst part about it.  You could have named this anything else and it would have worked out much better. Seriously. Thor and Loki’s Excellent AdventureStraight Outta Asgard. Weekend at Malekith’s. All of those are better options.  They also managed to make Jane Foster annoying, which is really bothersome considering how much they improved the character with the first film.  The film also cut out a major missing plot point, which was the true motive behind Malekith’s actions. A director’s cut of the Dark World would most likely bump this up a few notches. Thank goodness we got to see much needed depth to Thor and Loki’s characters, major damage to a city that is not New York, and deserved respect for the great side characters of Asgard.

Overall ranking: four lightning strikes to Malekith

MV5BMTYzOTc2NzU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjY3MDE3NQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_7. Captain America: The First Avenger – This movie may have lacked the depth of Iron Man and the glory of Thor, but it made up for it by grasping the true nature of what a hero is.  Evans’s first go as Captain America continued Marvel’s trend of perfectly casting their characters. He also managed to uphold everything that makes Captain America interesting and special.  But the best reason to watch this film was unarguably Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull.  His interpretation of the character was everything it needed to be: imposing, misguided, and terrifying.  It’s the reason why his death is debated constantly among fans.  We’re all overtly hoping he returns again despite every shred of evidence he will not.

Overall ranking: five shields to the Red Skull’s red skull

MV5BMTYxMjA5NDMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk2Mjk3NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_6. Thor – Asgard was beautiful.  The costumes were beautiful.  The effects were beautiful. Chris Hemsworth was beautiful.  Okay, maybe not everyone is on board with that last bit, but everything else is true.  This addition to the MCU brought us the first look into a world away from Earth, something that resonated throughout the MCU since.  Director Kenneth Branagh took his Shakespearean background and elegant wit and baked it into a two hour long spectacle that was incredible to behold.  It also introduced us to a man who has become the pride and joy of the MCU: Tom Hiddleston.  His work as Loki has really been impressive. Not only has he gathered a fan base all on his own, but he has managed to take that popularity and force himself into other movies in the overall universe.  No other villain has done that!

Overall ranking: six more shirtless scenes, thank you!

MV5BMTU4MDU3NDQ5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5MDUxNTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_5. Avengers: Age of Ultron – The newest MCU addition lands right above the halfway point in our list.  While many critics (most notably fan critics) take issue with the film, we don’t.  For many reasons, the film achieved its purpose of being bigger, better, grander and it did all of that with the odds stacked against it. Since then the movie and director Joss Whedon have taken multiple beatings for complaint this and complaint that, which to us seem unnecessary.  The Avengers faced challenges previously unknown to them and came out with more respect for each other and the world around them.  While rumors of a three hour long director’s cut swirl, we were happy with what we got and what this film did to set up films to come.

Overall ranking: seven Ultrons on a floating city

Ironmanposter4.  Iron Man –  While it is often lauded as the best Marvel film to date, Iron Man remains special because of its individuality.  Never before had we seen such perfect casting.  Never before had we seen such a well-thought out superhero movie.  This movie proved to more than just the fans that comic book films could be taken as seriously as its sci-fi, drama, and action peers.  This was the film that got the rest of the world watching superheroes.  The credit for this film goes to everyone involved, but none more so that Robert Downey, Jr. Every minute that man was on screen, he loved it.  And we all could tell.  It makes the movie that much more enjoyable when an actor is just as big of a fan as the collective audience is.  Not to mention this is the film that brought us Agent Coulson, which could have been enough.

Overall ranking: eight arc reactors built in a cave

MV5BMzA2NDkwODAwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk5MTgzMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_3.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier – There’s not really anything negative one can say about this film.  This movie made Captain America more than the boy scout.  It made him a bona fide superhero.  Of course, he was heroic before, but this film made his character stand above the others.  Watching Cap in his predecessor films was pleasing, but this one made him seem as if he legitimately can go toe-to-toe with Thor and Iron Man, something which neither The First Avenger or Avengers had done before.  He was and always will be the fearless leader (it’s why everyone follows him so quickly, why we put our trust in him), but this film raised the bar for the Marvel movies to come.  We now hold Captain America to a higher standard than he has been before and Marvel plots must match that standard too.

Overall ranking: nine Hydra agents exposed

MV5BMTAwMjU5OTgxNjZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDUxNDYxODEx._V1_SX214_AL_2. Guardians of the Galaxy – The movie that was considered by so many to be Marvel’s first guaranteed flop came out of the gates kicking ass and destroyed box office numbers (it’s apparently a Chris Pratt thing).  This epic ensemble took the overall ridiculous premise and ran with it, never looking back.  From the beginning, viewers are strapped in and ready to adventure into the unknown with five of Marvel’s oddest characters to date. (Yes, we read comics. Yes, we know there’s weirder. Yes, we know the difference between weird and dumb.)  Then without any warning, Sean Gunn brings us an emotional overload that no one was expecting.  Who knew we’d ever get so attached to a tree?  We’ve all got high hopes for that sequel!

Overall ranking: ten Groot hugs

That means that the number one spot goes to…

MV5BMTk2NTI1MTU4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg0OTY0Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_1. Avengers – That’s right. It totally had to be and you know it.  This film was every nerd’s dream come true.  This film was the culmination of our hopes and dreams (as far as movie magic goes; let’s not get ridiculous here).  We got captivating characters who had come together in a logical, respectful, and interesting story.  We got cheeky comic moments and nudges to fans of every hero of every medium.  Joss Whedon, along with every actor, producer, and extra, poured his soul into making this film the glorious spectacle it needed to be, and we can’t thank him enough.  It’s because of this movie that a Phase 2 was possible and why we’re going to finally see DC films create a universe of their own.  This movie made it possible for ensemble action films to exist without lengthy exposition or dull segues.

Overall ranking: eleven more Avengers films!

Did we hit the nail on the head? Did we have things out of order? Tell us how you’d rank the Marvel films!

The Grid Ranks: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Top 5 Boss Themes

The door thunders and opens. Inside, the villain awaits you. He or she says something clever, gets angry, and then you fight. In that moment, as the villain lunges toward you, the music picks up and fuels your adrenaline as you draw your weapon and battle your enemy. For this article, here is my top 5 favorite boss music themes. I will go from my least favorite to my most favorite. Just know that I absolutely love them all. . .

5. Tomb Raider Anniversary

The Tomb Raider Anniversary boss was a difficult one for me in part because I had not fully mastered some of the special moves. There was much dying on my part and beating on pillows or whatever else was next to me. However, one thing that kept me going was the music. The music was a choir that illustrated Natla’s ultimate desire for world domination.

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4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 has you chasing the final boss, who happens to be voiced by Lance Henriksen, in a boat down a river filled with all of his cronies. The desperate theme pumps your adrenaline as you chase down this general with an “ends justify the means” attitude. No enemies or obstacles will keep you from taking this guy down!

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3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic’s music does a perfect job at illustrating your completion of this enormous game. Not only does it reflect the epic nature of the battle taking place between you and Malak, it also shows that your fate is not the only one hanging in the balance. There is a massive battle for the Republic happening right outside the space station as you fight. The fate of your battle with Malak could ultimately decide the fate of the battle beyond.

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2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ganondorf’s boss theme reflected the happenings of the environment around you. It also painted Ganondorf’s use of the power of the Triforce. It makes you feel like the battle is impossible as he throws his magic at you. Yet, there is a small glimmer of hope.

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1. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

The Sands of Time still remains as my all-time favorite boss battle music. The music reveals to you that, sorcery or not, you know you can beat this old man. You can also hear the deception of the vizier through small sections in the music. He is the one who influenced the Prince to cause all this trouble in the first place. Along with the amazing percussion and Middle Eastern flavor, this music has got to be one of the best boss battle themes of all time.

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Do you have any boss themes you think should have been added? Feel free to post them in the comments.

Top 5 Boss Themes

Civil War and Civil War: A Comparison

I don’t know about you but I’m excited for 2016.  There’s a plethora of films that I’ve been looking forward to before they were even announced, none more anticipated than Captain America: Civil War. The extraordinarily popular Marvel crossover event by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven ran from summer 2006 all the way until winter 2007, giving collectors everywhere months’ worth of highs and lows.  The series pitted the Invincible Iron Man against Captain America in an ethical battle between security and personal freedoms, with the rest of the Marvel characters being forced to choose sides.

Do you choose Iron Man’s pro-registration Avengers or Captain’s band of freedom rebels? Whose side are you on?

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By the time the film comes out, the Civil War comic series will be celebrating its 10th anniversary and its effects are still being felt throughout the Marvel Comics Universe.  Its massive storyline and numerous tie-ins was a phenomenal commercial success, despite mixed reviews from critics.  In fact, it inspired them to attempt a repeat two years later with Secret Invasion (an arguably better storyline, but nowhere near as successful). There’s no doubt in my mind that the upcoming film adaptation will achieve comparable success this time next year.

There will be large differences between both versions of this storyline.  There is no way the film can possibly play out the exact same way as the comic series did, which has its obvious pros and cons.  The biggest pro is that you do not have to read the comic before you go into the film.  In fact, it may actually help you submerse yourself in cinematic enjoyment as I will be too busy counting differences my first go around.  (This is how Marvel breaks records; people like me pay multiple times to see the same movie because we’re that intent on spotting everything!)  The biggest con is you will most likely miss some of the nuanced “Easter eggs,” sprinkled into the film to add depth and winks to the comic fans.

But you’re not completely out of luck! I’m going to quickly catch you up on the comic series and then give you my film predictions because, honestly, why not?

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What happened in Civil War?

-The New Warriors star in a reality TV show where the premise surrounds teenage superheroes tracking down villains. Nitro, in this case.  Nitro is a being capable of spontaneous explosions with minimal damage to himself.  During the New Warriors attack on Nitro, his explosion ends up causing the deaths of over 600 people in Stamford, Connecticut.  This is what the world sees as the event to spearhead superhero accountability.

-Iron Man reveals his identity as Tony Stark and heads the charge for the Superhero Registration Act.  It doesn’t take long before he begins his recruitment of heroes.  Captain America immediately opposes it.

-The superhero community is split down the middle, causing more friction than good. Here’s where the major players stand:

Pro-anti

 

-Tony recruits Spider-Man (a now 30 year old science teacher) and convinces him to reveal his identity as Peter Parker.  Parker ends up losing his job at the Daily Bugle (J. Jonah Jameson is a jerk in the comics, too, folks! Go figure.) and putting his family in danger.  Stark creates the Iron Spider armor to help keep Spider-Man on his side.

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-The pro-registration heroes slowly become more authoritarian and aggressive.  Villains, such as The Thunderbolts, take it upon themselves to be government mercenaries, hunting down members of the rebellion.  Heroes for Hire are sent after Captain America and Luke Cage.

-A major clash between the pros and antis results in the clone of Thor (a controlled weapon of Tony Stark) killing Goliath, a Young Avenger.

-Spider-Man, Spider-Woman defect and join the New Avengers.  Spider-Man dons the black suit since the first time since the symbiote story.

-The anti-registration heroes have been forced into hiding and their numbers are few.  To spare any more deaths, Captain America surrenders and is arrested.  On the way to his cell, he is gunned down by Crossbones and dies.

-Tony Stark is placed as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ms. Marvel is the new leader of the Mighty Avengers.

-After Captain America’s funerals (there were three: public, private superhero, and the actual resting of his body, which Stark and Sub-Mariner were the only ones to know about), Bucky assumes the Captain title.

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What you can expect from Captain America: Civil War

The events of Avengers: Age of Ultron will resonate throughout the world.  Tony Stark, with the help of Bruce Banner, took it upon himself to create A.I. with the sole purpose of keeping peace that inevitably went awry and tried to destroy humanity.  The plots of the Avengers films, along with the destruction from Abomination, Malekith, and Whiplash will add together to create a government need for superhero accountability.

-None of the Avengers possess a secret identity.  Everyone is known to either the public or American government, so the great hero divide will not be a registration but more of a forced government employment for all enhanced heroes. Tony, fearing his Scarlet Witch induced nightmare will come true, will most likely feel the need to atone for his crimes and take a pro stance, and Captain America will inevitably oppose.

-Who will follow suit? Here’s my predictions for where the heroes will stand:

Pro-anti 2

 

-Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel are all wild cards at this point.  Black Panther has been cast for months with the original plan being his character would take the Spider-Man role, forcing him to choose sides among colleagues. This is still the largest possibility considering Spider-Man’s casting announcement hit just a few days ago; however, they’ve already shuffled everything around for him as is, so a little more shuffling to make way wouldn’t be out of place. Captain Marvel has yet to be officially cast, so while I have no doubt they will shove her in this film once that happens, her role will be small. Combining all of that with the fact none of them have any character allegiances/bonds with anyone else on the team, there’s a chance they could all end up taking neutral stances anyway. But where’s the fun in that?

-Captain America may still die.  I don’t want it to happen, you don’t want it to happen, but rumors have been floating around for more than a year that Chris Evans is retiring and someone else (most likely Sebastian Stan’s Bucky) will fill that role instead.  Now Evans has since waivered on his retirement, but his six movie deal is just two away from expiring.  He may die, but he also may come back.

-This is going to break the family apart permanently.  Age of Ultron was the last time we saw our six cinematic Avengers be friends.  Sure, there’s a good chance they’ll all fight side by side in Infinity Wars, but that will not make them friends again.

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These, of course, are only speculations based solely on what I’ve seen from the films as of now.  I’m sure the Russo brothers have some twists and turns in store for all of us.  Either way, the film will bring in the Marvel fans, new and old, in droves.

What do you expect to see in Captain America: Civil War? Comment below!

Civil War and Civil War: A Comparison

The Strangest E3 Conference This Week

At their core, E3 conferences are meant to be press conferences. They are meant to tell video game magazines, sites, etc. about what is coming. However, the bar has been set higher in the past few years. Now, in addition to being press conferences, they also tend to be quite entertaining shows. There is a reason why Ubisoft brings in comedian and actress Aisha Tyler to host their conference. There is also a reason why Nintendo borrows Robot Chicken clips or actually uses puppets to supplement their conference. Both Nintendo, Ubisoft, and others know that they are not just broadcasting to the press anymore. They are also broadcasting to the general public. With all of this in mind, I would like to briefly discuss the strangest E3 conference this week, Square Enix.

What Was Strange?

I admit to being surprised at seeing Square Enix in the lineup. They are a large company that also encompasses the properties of Eidos. However, Square Enix does not usually have a conference. They tend to rely on EA, Microsoft, or another publisher to show off their games. With this in mind, I started to watch…

1. The very first title they showed did not have a title.

Square Enix showed off a number of upcoming games. However, the first one they showed did not even have a title. We were given a very brief clip that told us next to nothing about it. The clip gave no semblance of what sort of gameplay would be featured or even what the story was going to be about. After the clip, some of the development team popped up on stage but didn’t even bother to give us a name. A working title would have sufficed.

2. The head of development for the aforementioned game was wearing an odd maskThe guy in the mask

Ordinarily, in a conference like Ubisoft, this would not be an issue. It would just be part of the show. However, the fellow in the mask only introduced himself, said they were working on the game, and did nothing else. This lead me to believe that perhaps this guy did not want to be seen. If that is correct, though, then why did he come in the first place? Did Square Enix make him come? The mask distracted me from a presentation that was already weak with no title.

3. Everything was so formal…

hitman-io-interactiveFormality in a typical press conference is not a problem. But this is E3! Microsoft, EA, Sony, Ubisoft, and Nintendo all know that they need to do more than just talk about their products. They need to give us a show. With the exception of very brief previews (I’ll get to that in a minute) and the mask, there was no entertainment or very much to hold the audience’s attention. The developers got up before the crowds and spoke very seriously about their games. Some of them did not even seem very excited about the games that they were making.

4. What we saw was brief and not enough to garner attention.

With any sort of preview or presentation, especially with something that has not even been released, it is important to not tell too much. The Force Unleashed II had a good ten-minute making-of video that was released just before the game released. However, most of that video revealed too much of the plot, spoiling the surprise for the players. This is not the case for the Square Enix conference. They actually had the opposite problem. They showed and talked about too little.

Rise of the Tomb RaiderI have already mentioned the game with no name. However, this idea of showing very little was prevalent throughout the conference. The Rise of the Tomb Raider was also presented. Granted, other conferences had already showed the gameplay demo and the preview, but I expected perhaps a behind-the-scenes video. True to my expectations, they did show a video about how much detail was put into the creation of Lara Croft… But that was all they showed off before moving on to their next project. Although finding about all of the detail was interesting, I expected a video about why they chose the myth and setting for Lara’s new adventure or perhaps what they have changed in gameplay. This clip was too brief and did not talk about the components of the game that I wanted to hear about, albeit story and gameplay.

On A Positive Note…deusex

Although Square Enix’s presentation was strange and oftentimes very brief, they had plenty of things to be excited about. Kingdom Hearts III looked to be fairly far along in production, the new Hitman game looked very ambitious and exciting, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided seems to greatly improve on Human Revolution, and then there is that Final Fantasy game, the most renowned in Square Enix’s franchises. Their presentation was not terrible, but it was odd. One would be curious to see if they present again next year.

 

The Strangest E3 Conference This Week

Should All Video Games Have A Campaign?

Introduction:

With the advent of multiplayer over the years, the traditional single-player campaign has started to take a backseat so that developers can focus more attention on multiplayer. This started to happen with Call of Duty as the campaigns began to feel more tacked-on. However, that franchise has never shed the familiar shell of campaign. A campaign seemed to be obligatory, calling out to the early days of gaming when there was no online play or even splitscreen multiplayer. Then, creating a near precedent in video gaming, Titanfall was released with no campaign and to take this matter further, DICE has already announced that Star Wars: Battlefront will not have a campaign either. But the question remains: do all video games need a campaign? This article will attempt to look at both sides of the issue and possible exceptions.

No, All Video Games DO NOT Need A Campaign

codmw3.03.lgIt is the opinion of many gamers that campaigns are almost a relic of the past. Many gamers of famed franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield do not even bother playing a campaign. Rather, they plunge into multiplayer with their friends. There are many social gamers out there, who prefer to play video games with friends rather than go “lone wolf” with an isolating single player campaign.

Other gamers are frustrated at the prospect of a tacked-on campaign. Clearly, the game was made for multiplayer. Why throw in a poorly composed campaign? Let the game be honest to the developers’ goal of an evocative mutliplayer experience. Don’t ruin a perfectly fine video game with the impurity of a terrible campaign!

Yes, All Video Games REQUIRE A Campaign

Halo takedownThere is another side to the coin. Some gamers prefer all games to have a single player campaign, whether the game had a multiplayer focus or not. Many of these gamers like completing the story the game has to offer or do not have time to mess with multiplayer. They consider a game without a campaign to be incomplete and, oftentimes, sloppy. This is the opinion that all video games need to revolve around a story. The campaign and the multiplayer should reflect that.

The best example that most of these gamers reference would be Halo 4. Everything in that game revolves around the central story of exploring Requiem. The multiplayer even reflects this concept, with Spartan Ops (the cooperative missions) giving teams of Spartans missions on the planet’s surface. In the competitive modes (like Free For All or Team Slayer), the idea is that the individual Spartans are performing training missions aboard Infinity, a ship stationed at Requiem. This particular game perfectly balances both single-player and multiplayer.

What About A Game Like Star Wars: Battlefront?

With Battlefront, the argument of campaign and no campaign becomes a bit hazy. Those in favor of a campaign tend to argue that a campaign is necessary for establishing a story; however, Battlefront already has an established story, albeit the movies. The whole point of this particular game is to recreate the epic battles from the movies. All footage from the game have basically been recreations or reimaginings from battles of the original trilogy.

Since most, if not all, players are familiar with the story and these battles, is a campaign really necessary? In this writer’s humble opinion, no, it is not. Battlefront is a rare case where the universe is already established. Exposition and explanation is not necessary in this instance. Allow the players to hop into the battles they love without focusing unnecessary developmental attention on the creation of a campaign. Of course, this game will also feature single-player, should a gamer wish to fight his or her battles solo.

Conclusion

Titanfall-1The answer to whether a game should or should not have multiplayer has no definitive conclusion. One thing is rapidly becoming certain, however, campaigns are going away in a lot of mainstream games. Titanfall marks the beginning of the end for the campaign. In a few years, it is likely that major franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield will also focus solely on multiplayer. Without a campaign, what will video games even look like?

Do you agree? Is the end of the single-player campaign only a matter of time? Feel free to post in the comments.

Should All Video Games Have A Campaign?