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Spider-Man: Far From Home Speculation

It wasn’t that long ago this network was pelvis deep in Avengers: Endgame content. The anticipation for that film, the theories, the speculation; we thrived on it. Now that Endgame has come and gone, we are looking toward the future. Marvel’s future, to be exact.

Spider-Man: Homecoming wasn’t groundbreaking or particularly world-building for the MCU. It did its job of solidifying a world with Peter Parker and the Avengers. That’s all it needed to do. Spider-Man: Far From Home, however, is a bit bigger. Since it is the first release after the infinitely larger Avengers: Endgame, fans are expecting to see aftermath and the pathway to what’s next.

As of the time of me writing this, we’ve seen two trailers from Spider-Man: Far From Home, revealing just when the movie takes place and what the world is currently like. Here’s what we at the HPN are speculating for the final film of MCU Phase 3.

8. Tony Stark is an AI Program

Yes, Tony Stark the character is dead. Yes, Robert Downey, Jr. has said that he will not appear in any more films as Iron Man. Frankly, I’m not putting a lot of stock into this one. Since RDJ has been the very glue keeping the MCU together over the last decade, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to have him come back in a JARVIS/FRIDAY kind of way. Paul Bettany, who voiced JARVIS before taking on the role of Vision, was quoted saying “I would show up, record some dialogue for a few hours, and they’d hand me a bag of money.” While I personally don’t believe his bag of money claim, I do absolutely believe that voice over work is a lot less time consuming, and should Robert Downey, Jr. ever want to return to the role, a new AI program is the best way to do this. It doesn’t require a lot of time from the actor, it fits well with the character’s canon they’ve already set up, and it has comic book precedence.

What I Don’t Want to See

From the trailers, we can tell that Peter is still grieving the loss of his mentor, and that story development absolutely needs to be there. Inserting a Tony Stark AI at the beginning of the film would cheapen not only Peter’s mourning, but just how impactful Tony’s death was in the first place. This development would be best saved for a post-credits scene or a different film entirely.

7. The Sinister Six…

Or something like it. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, we were introduced to multiple villains from the classic Spider-Man rogue gallery. While Vulture was in the forefront, fans also were able to spot Phineas Mason (the Tinkerer), Herman Schultz (the Shocker), Aaron Davis (the Prowler) and Mac Gargan (the Scorpion). By the end of the film, every single one of them is still alive! Now, according to IMDbSpider-Man: Far From Home, will also potentially set up multiple villains, including the advertised Mysterio. If you scroll down the cast list, Numan Acar is set to play a character just named Dimitri right now. This could easily be a ruse, or it could be comic book character Dmitri Smerdyakov, better known as the Chameleon. That leaves us with 7 Spider-Man villains between 2 movies and the foundation for a potential Sinister Six.

Why it May Not Happen

The current deal with Sony Pictures only allowed use of the Spider-Man character for 5 films. If you count it up, Spider-Man: Far From Home is number 5 (Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame being the other four films). I have zero doubt that a new deal will be made soon enough, but with the financial success of Sony’s Venom last October and Tom Hardy set to return in the sequel, Sony is going to want to keep a hold of some of these characters for themselves. That could be why we’re seeing only their non-villainous personas, and why the two films have avoided higher profile Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin and Rhino.

6. A Whole New World

Speculation as to what Quentin Beck/Mysterio’s world actually looks like/consists of has been rampant among the internet. The introduction of a multiverse does mean that the MCU can have a canonical excuse to retcon any character deaths (looking at you, Black Widow and Vision), introduce characters from the previously owned by 20th Century Fox collection (looking at you X-Men and Fantastic Four), or merge the Sony and the MCU versions of Spider-Man.

What it Means

Truthfully, it’s probably all 3 of those things…eventually. Spider-Man: Far From Home is still going to be a self-contained story, with absolutely no mention of the Fox characters or currently deceased characters in the MCU. If Quentin Beck’s world is going to be explored at all, it is more likely that his world contains the Tom Hardy iteration of Venom than anything else. That way, they’d only be alluding/introducing ONE new character from a different world rather than many. But don’t expect them to drop the whole multiverse thing any time soon. That will affect the MCU all throughout Phase 4 and any new sagas that lie ahead.

5. There are Two Quentin Becks

I’m not gonna lie to you all; this is pure fan service. And why do you suppose they would do this? Well, it’s because Jake Gyllenhaal is just so likable. And he truly is! We all want Mysterio to be the good character they’re showing us in the trailer, including the die hard comics fans that are so used to Mysterio being a dick. Two of them would work with the story too, though! Quentin Beck’s appearance on our world does mean that there could already be a Quentin Beck walking around. We could see a bad version of Mysterio get his ass kicked by a good one!

What could go wrong

I mean, honestly; a lot. This is such wishful thinking from fans that it could easily go horribly wrong. Yes, keeping Jake Gyllenhaal as part of the MCU family for more and more movies could be amazing. He’s a great actor and the character is unique enough to become, at the very least, a new Loki-like addition. However, this could also be a cheesy, unoriginal take on the character that it results in botching the whole multiverse set up.

4. The Elementals are More Baddies

Well, duh. But what I really mean is they are specific Spider-Man villains already established in comic book canon. The easiest to spot is the earthy one, who is CONVENIENTLY MADE OF SAND. Sound like anyone you already know? It could be Sandman, of course! And the giant lava being oozing all over London? Why that could easily be Molten Man (yep, he’s a real thing). Lastly, there’s the watery giant, which could be Hydro-Man! Is it true? Are we finally gonna get a Spider-Man movie with a dozen villains?

Is that what you want?

Of course there’s a chance. There’s always a chance. And the writers at Marvel could have all looked at each other at 3 am on Tuesday after a 20 hour work day and said, “BALLS TO THE MFING WALL.” If this is true, then it would be one of the few times I’ve ever seen a movie go full video game, resembling more of a disaster film than a superhero one. Honestly, though, I think it may all be part of Mysterio’s schtick. He could be causing all these malcontent elementals to appear. So far they are faceless and nameless beings that we only really see Mysterio face, which sets up my head canon that MYSTERIO IS A DICK.

3. More Spider Characters are Coming

This would be one way to get me to sign on to MCU Spider-Man for decades. Seeing Jessica Drew or Cindy Moon, Gwen Stacy or Miles Morales swinging on the big screen would light me up for days. I always found those characters more interesting than Peter himself. But I digress. Not only does opening the multiverse give us this option, but there’s no reason why characters like Cindy Moon and Jessica Drew don’t already exist on this Earth, in this world. Most of the other characters already in the MCU have side characters that have similar power sets or friends that join them in their adventures. Very rarely is an MCU solo film really solo.

Why we can’t have this yet

If you’ve noticed, the MCU has introduced quite a few popular Spider-Man characters, but have only used their normal names as opposed to their hero monikers. This has a lot to do with their deal with Sony. With the success of Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, it’s likely that Sony has got some big plans for Spider characters, even dropping the idea of a female-centric animated film in the works. Depending on how the new deal with Sony is negotiated, it’s possible that more Spider characters won’t be swinging any time soon, but be on the look out for those normie names!

2. More Avengers!

As the MCU story lines progress, there’s less and less of IN UNIVERSE reasons to explain why more heroes don’t just show up. Surely with an Infinity Stone and some world shattering destruction in Thor: The Dark World, someone was available to help? No? Well shucks. We all know the real reason: it’s all about contracts. There are some stars, like Samuel L. Jackson, that commit to 9 pictures, but he does say that includes cameos too. Others, like Chris Evans, was signed on for 6 originally, extended to 7, but popped up for those cameos and didn’t count it against Marvel.

But wait! There’s more

This one might actually work. The newer additions to the Avengers roster have all been contracted for A LOT more films, counting those cameos here and there. Sure, Fury and Maria Hill have explained why they don’t get Captain Marvel or Thor for the Elemental attacks in Europe, there’s still a TON more heroes to choose from that are alive and well and actually on Earth. Expect to see small scenes with other Avengers in most of the solo films going forward. Think Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok

1. Spider-Man is the new Iron Man!!!!!

What a weird speculation. I bet, in a way, he is. He has been, at most times, Marvel’s most popular character around the world. From a merchandising and marketing perspective, I’m sure he’ll sell way more toys and clothes, especially with Peter being a younger man. But to claim that it’s Spider-Man of all characters to step up and be the world’s Tony Stark, is putting a lot of fictional weight on a character’s shoulders. The Peter Parker we know isn’t ready to be a leader of the Avengers. And while he’s an intelligent person, Peter has never compared to Tony’s brains.

Spider-Man isn’t the new anyone

Spider-Man is his own character and has his own role to play already. He already serves his own purpose in the Avengers. Honestly, if they didn’t think he was useful, they wouldn’t have relied on him numerous times already. One of the best things the MCU has done is create the pseudo-father/son relationship between Tony and Peter. It’s seriously heartwarming. At this time, his character should be allowed to grieve and figure out who HE is going to be as a hero instead of filling someone else’s shoes. Spider-Man will always be an incredible asset to the team and now is his time to prove that to himself.

Alright, those are our speculations for Spider-Man: Far From Home plus some. What do you think? Do you agree with our Spidey-speculations, do you have some of your own? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.

Join me, Rae, each week on the Screen Heroes podcast where we’ll be reviewing Spider-Man: Far From Home once it hits theaters in July.

Spider-Man: Far From Home Speculation

Top 20 Quintessential Picard Episodes

Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise. While he might not be everyone’s favorite Captain, it’s hard to argue with the impact he’s had on the Star Trek franchise and fandom. After 7 years on television followed by 4 feature films, Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard set off into the sunset. The end of Star Trek: Nemesis saw our Captain walking through the halls of the Enterprise E, seemingly with a fresh sense of purpose and hope. His loyal First Office had finally become Captain himself. He and the crew saved Earth, the Federation, and even the Romulan Empire. And B4 might just get his own personality from Data’s memory dump. Things were looking up but it was that generation’s final journey. Right? I mean, that was the tagline for the film, after all.

It turns out that many of us were wrong. Picard is returning. The new series, Star Trek: Picard is slated for a 2019 premiere and that gives us just enough time to get our ducks in a row and prepare for his return. So here we go…

The Top 20 Quintessential Picard Episodes for those #Prepping4Picard (in chronological order).

Want to know why I picked these episodes? No problem. Check out Episode 72 of the Redshirts & Runabouts podcast, “Quintessential Picard” for a detailed discussion.

Select an episode below to hear our review on Redshirts & Runabouts as we Trek through our own Prepping 4 Picard series.

Please note that episode numbers were derived from Wikipedia.

Season 1, Episode 1 & 2: Encounter at Farpoint (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 73)
Season 1, Episode 25: Conspiracy (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 74)
Season 2, Episode 9: The Measure of a Man (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 78)
Season 3, Episode 15: Yesterday’s Enterprise (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 79)
Season 3, Episode 19: Captain’s Holiday (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 79)
Season 3, Episode 23: Sarek (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 79)
Season 3, Episode 26 & Season 4 Episode 1: Best of Both Worlds Parts 1 & 2 (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 80)
Season 4, Episode 2: Family (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 80)
Season 4, Episode 21: The Drumhead (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 80)
Season 5, Episode 2: Darmok (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 82)
Season 5, Episodes 7 & 8: Unification Parts 1 & 2 (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 82)
Season 5, Episode 25: The Inner Light (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 83)
Season 5, Episode 26 & Season 6, Episode 1: Time’s Arrow Parts 1 & 2 (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 83)
Season 6, Episode 10 & 11: Chain of Command Parts 1 & 2 (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 84)
Season 6, Episode 15: Tapestry (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 84)
Season 6, Episode 18: Starship Mine (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 86)
Season 6, Episode 19: Lessons (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 86)
Season 6, Episode 20: The Chase (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 86)
Season 7, Episode 4 & 5: Gambit Parts 1 & 2 (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 87)
Season 7, Episode 25 & 26: All Good Things… (Redshirts & Runabouts Ep 87)

What do you think of our list of the Top 20 Quintessential Picard episodes? Did we leave something off the list? Did we include something you think doesn’t belong? Listen to our discussions and then let us know your thoughts.

Make it so.

Top 20 Quintessential Picard Episodes

Top 10 Times Superhero Casting was Perfect (Movie Edition)

We often think casting the perfect film is a rare achievement that only the top echelon filmmakers accomplish. Yet it can happen to any director at any time. It can happen as a mere fluke, relying on absolute unknowns, or by someone involved in the process just believing beyond a doubt that this actor can do the role. And while it is a massive achievement that can appear in any genre of film, there is something magical to be said for casting the perfect superhero. They have transforming powers over us, completely redefining our image of a character we were already familiar with, to the point where the character becomes almost untouchable for any other actor. These actors don’t just step into a role and then step out of it; they often become the character to a point where the line between actor and character is blurred, even for them. Their image is often the first recalled when discussing the superhero and persists even years after their film(s) have passed, which have both hurt and helped actors along the way. This article, though, is to celebrate the brilliant work these actors have put forth and helped to create pop culture icons.

These are the top 10 times superheroes were perfectly cast, in no particular order.

10. Michael Keaton – Batman (1989).

Let’s just get this one out of the way first. Keaton was the OG controversial casting, leading to thousands of fans handwriting angry letters to Warner Bros. Studios and director Tim Burton, predicting what hell the internet would bring decades later. Keaton was relatively unknown, with his only major role being the comedic film Beetlejuice. It wasn’t until he stepped out of the shadows, grabbed some punk by his jacket, and said the words, “I’m Batman,” that fans let up on their criticism. While four other actors have stepped into the live-action role since (many more if you include animation and television, not to mention our upcoming new Dark Knight, Robert Pattinson), it was Michael Keaton’s portrayal that gave us the actual Dark Knight fans had been craving for years. His charismatic Bruce Wayne matched his brooding Batman in such a harmonious performance that has left it almost impossible to outdo. The role was so synonymous to Keaton himself that it slowed, an argument could be made for halted even, his career. He would later parody this in Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) which would act as a career comeback.

9. Zachary Levi – Shazam (2019)

With only one Shazam film appearance under his belt, it says quite a lot for Zachary Levi to appear on this list. It’s very possible that there’s just not that many incarnations of Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel) to compare him to, unlike many others on this list. That does help to make him stand out but it would be insulting to discount his performance that much. This man was made for this role. Levi has built a career on hidden gems roles such as Chuck and Flynn Ryder, but none more surprising as Shazam. He managed to capture the nuanced wonder a child would have should he actually be trapped in a man’s body. Not to mention how accurate his portrayal of how anyone would behave if they got super powers suddenly was. It was a large feat to ask of someone because Shazam isn’t a simple immature adult, which is easily how the role could been played. He is complex and naive and a jerk and a hero all at once, and Levi nailed it. He was the most enjoyable part of a most enjoyable film.

8. Patrick Stewart – X-Men (2000)

With very little reluctance from audiences, Patrick Stewart stepped from his iconic turn as Jean-Luc Picard to Professor Charles Xavier, an equally as memorable character role. He brought a gentler touch to Professor X, imbuing him with a father type attitude compared to his often shady demeanor in the comics. It’s a role he has played in film and games for close to two decades and, for most, it will be the only way they know Professor X. Now, no one is saying that James McAvoy has done a bad job. Quite contrary to that actually. He’s played Professor X in a way that’s actually more likened to the comics than Stewart’s performance. But it was Stewart that got to the role first and has forever cemented into our brains that he is Professor X. Besides, can you imagine anyone else portraying him in Logan as tragically as he did? No, you can’t. Because it’s impossible.

7. Gal Gadot – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

As the only woman to grace this list, it is easy to say that Gadot has crushed the role of Wonder Woman. Like most of the people on this list, her casting came with some intense backlash, with criticisms falling into one of two camps: her physical appearance or her level of experience. However, Zack Snyder knew when she auditioned that she was special. And she is special. Gal brought everything we needed to see in Wonder Woman to the role. She was goodhearted with a little naivete, she was bloodthirsty with restraint, she was dedicated to her convictions without being grim.  It’s no wonder that the direction of the DC films is hinging on her being a part of them.

6. Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool (2016)

Sometimes an actor is able to step into a role and completely transform it. Other times, that character gets molded into this combination of real life and fiction. And then there’s Ryan Reynolds’s take on Deadpool. This man fought for this character, and this film, for the better part of a decade. He paid his dues with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Blade: Trinity, and Green Lantern. He proved to everyone with a short scene released on YouTube, completely funded by him, that Deadpool could work on the big screen, and there was no one else to do it than him. This man put his blood and sweat into this character and gave us two of the coolest superhero films to date. It’s an exciting path to be on and watch how it continues to unfold.

5. Samuel L. Jackson – Iron Man (2008)

This is an odd choice, but hear me out: Samuel L. Jackson has been playing this character since the beginning of the MCU. He has been in more movies than any of the other actors involved (he’s been in 11 of the films. Robert Downey, Jr. has been in 9 to date.)  Despite not having a solo movie of his own (which he should have) and despite the character being portrayed completely differently in most of the comics and a previous film, Jackson has made Nick Fury synonymous with his name. How he got the part is fairly incredible as well: Brian Michael Bendis decided he wanted to base the new version of Nick Fury for The Ultimates comic on Jackson’s look and personality. Jackson agreed fairly quickly with only one caveat: he wants to play him in the movie. The MCU did not have to keep that bargain, but they did. And since then, the world has associated Nick Fury, the spy of spies, with Samuel L. Jackson.

4. Chris Evans – Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

At first, Chris Evans may have seemed like a weird casting for Captain America. He was mostly known for dorky comedic roles at the time, but so many people behind the scenes believed in him. Even more so than Chris believed in himself. Reportedly, Evans turned down the role twice, hesitant to sign such a large multi-picture deal, and it wasn’t until Downey himself talked to him that he agreed to it. It was fairly obvious from his first two outings as Captain America, that the MCU and the directors involved were not sure what to do with him. He played the role of Steve Rogers just fine, but ultimately, his power set was underutilized and he looked bland compared to some of the other characters. It wasn’t until Captain America: Winter Soldier that Evans was given a chance to really shine. Since then, we’ve been watching Evans embody the role of Captain America both on and off screen, being the person we all wish we could be.

3. Christopher Reeve – Superman (1978)

This list would be sorely mistaken if it managed to leave off the very first perfectly cast superhero: Christopher Reeve as Superman. He really did make us all believe that a man could fly. This movie was well before my time, yet still managed to resonate with me as a kid. As soon as he steps on screen, Reeve as Superman inspires awe, causing me to hold my breath the first time I saw him. He told us that he stood for truth, justice, and the American way, and it never once felt hokey. You believed him to be earnest and genuine, something that’s not always achievable by actors. His first two outings as Superman are nearly perfect films, creating a standard that we still hold both superhero movies and the actors that play those heroes. Reeve not only took on the large task of portraying the number one most recognized hero in the world, but he also managed to play his counterpart, Clark Kent, in a way that hasn’t been outdone since. He wasn’t bland or meek. Reeve’s take on Kent was subtle and sweet, but you still couldn’t look away from him. He will forever be the man on the pedestal that we compare our heroes to.

2. Hugh Jackman – X-Men (2000)

Let’s face it: we all think of Wolverine when we hear Hugh Jackman’s name. And it’s difficult to recall a time where we didn’t. For the last (almost) 20 years, Jackman has brought this character to life, giving him a little more depth to add to our previous comic knowledge and evoking more attachment to his character than most people expected. He was never anyone’s first choice to play the character considering just how physically different he is from the comic book version, and even joining the original cast a few weeks after shooting had begun. He blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, becoming a stand out feature of any X-Men film and the saving grace for the less than good ones. It is no wonder why Wolverine was the fan favorite for so long and the only X-Man to receive spin-off movies. With his character, and most likely because of his character, we’ve also seen an evolution of the superhero films. These movies no longer sit in a bottle of their own but have incorporated other genres which the Wolverine/Logan trilogy exemplifies marvelously. While we were all heartbroken to hear that Jackman would no longer play Wolverine, we were thrilled that the last time we saw him was in Logan, which is objectively one of the best modern westerns out there.

1. Robert Downey, Jr. – Iron Man (2008)

There is no reason why Iron Man should have worked as well as it did. The MCU wasn’t a thing. Marvel had no choice but to lead their new film studios with C and D list characters because they had sold off all of their successful comic book properties. They took chance after chance. Director Jon Favreau was best known for his side roles in Swingers and PCU. The script was changing every day, even while shooting was happening. But Robert Downey, Jr. was the biggest wild card of them all. The studio had been pushing for Tom Cruise to play Tony Stark since the 90’s. He was reliable and a box office money bag. RDJ was coming off a personal hiatus and was no one’s first choice to play anything at the time. He was personally recommended by Terrance Howard (then cast as James Rhodes), with him and Favreau in Downey’s corner after the audition. Since then, we’ve got 9 movies proving to us why Robert Downey, Jr. has been the lynch pin for the MCU success over the years. Sure, there’s been amazing MCU casting, some even appearing on this list. But can you honestly imagine a world where Tom Cruise or Sam Rockwell (another Tony Stark contender) was our Iron Man? Hell no. At the end of Iron Man, when Robert Downey, Jr. says so confidently, “I am Iron Man” he wasn’t just saying a line in a movie. He was proclaiming to the world that this character belongs to him now and will forever be associated with his name.

 

That’s my list! The top 10 best superhero castings as of 2019. There are many more I considered adding to the list, such as any of the three Spider-Mans (that is proper English and I’m a sucker for all three, don’t @ me) or Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. Let us know in the comments what you think. Who would be in your top 10 superhero casting list?

Top 10 Times Superhero Casting was Perfect (Movie Edition)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Pixar Films – A Ranking Part 1

With Pixar’s Finding Dory finally in theaters, it’s time for us to rank the existing 17 Pixar films. If you’re curious about our take on Finding Dory, head over to our spoiler-free review here. Pixar has been warming our hearts and challenging our emotions since the 1995 release of Toy Story. Since then, we’ve seen their computer generated animated features advance and progress to the level of receiving nominations for Best Picture at the Academy Awards for both Toy Story 3 and Up. In total, Pixar has won 13 Academy Awards across 16 films. In fact, we’ve loved Pixar movies so much that we’ve even given them a pass from time to time, like in the case of Cars 2. We get it, sometimes you just want to pay the bills and sells tons of toys. We forgive you since you brought us Inside Out.

So with all of that in mind, here is my attempt at ranking the existing Pixar films. Like we do with other franchises and movie universes (yes, some of us believe all of the Pixar films are somehow connected), we will keep this list updated as more movies come out.

In Part 1, I get through 17-9 with 8-1 in Part 2 coming soon!

17. Cars 2

Cars 2

Okay, do I need to go into detail here? It’s a sequel of Pixar’s merchandising grab film and it’s not even done as well. I’ll save everyone some time and just move on. If you think this one should be ranked higher, please comment below.

16. Cars

Cars Mia and Tia Title

While better than the sequel, this movie just doesn’t do it for me. I’m used to Pixar films that create incredible universes within our own, complex stories and characters that push the viewer emotionally and psychologically. As I noted earlier, some people, myself included, like to believe all of the Pixar films fit together and while there is a pretty outlandish theory about how Cars fits in, I don’t buy it. This film takes the easy way out by ignoring the rules of our own world, something they had to deal with in A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, and Toy Story. Those challenges made for better story telling and more complex environment.

15. Monsters University

Monsters University Banner

Pixar had incredible success with the Toy Story sequels and decided to try something different, a prequel. The movie includes the charm of both John Goodman and Billy Crystal but much like Men in Black II, it loses much of its awe and originality. Many of the new characters were cute but it seemed like a step back from the first film which included a larger universe and dealt with the consequences of actions on both the Monster and human worlds. In the end, this film falls into a common trap of prequels. Most people, like me, want to see the story continue, see the effects of the first film. Whether or not these monsters had official training didn’t really stick with me as a need to know concept.

14. A Bug’s Life

A Bug's Life Banner

Alright, so it’s Pixar’s second movie. It premiered three years after Toy Story. Special effects hadn’t really progressed much in that time but Pixar continued with a similar formula. I did love how they created this great little bug universe within our own. This forced the film makers to work within the constraints of our world while giving life to something new. The voice cast was strong with Kevin Spacey playing a solid villain. I also enjoyed Julia Louis-Dreyfus, though I am a huge Seinfeld and Veep fan. The truth is though, the thing that sticks with me most from this movie is actually the short before it, Geri’s Game in which an old man plays chess with himself. It’s brilliant, fun, entertaining, and I fell in love with the character. Part of me even sees this old man as an alternate or early version of Carl from Up. Let’s not forget that this short also won Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards that year. It’s only one of three Pixar shorts to do this, the other two being Tin Toy and For the Birds from Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. respectively.

13. Brave

Brave Title

This movie never stuck with me and I’m actually ranking it higher than I think I should because the animation was really well done. The story didn’t grab me and I found the premise to be a little silly more often than not. And yes, I know we’re talking about animated kids’ films. The whole daughter wants to do her own thing… thing was nothing new and the spin of her mom turning into a bear just didn’t interest me. I am too used to Pixar doing new things in new worlds and/or pushing my emotions to the extreme. This movie does none of this but does handle the animation well enough. The hair is cool and all but I was more impressed with the balloons in Up and the fuzzy fur stuff on the emotions in Inside Out.

12. The Good Dinosaur

Good Dinosaur Cover Image

Okay, so I think this might be the only Pixar film outside of the Cars movies, I didn’t see in theaters. It just didn’t happen and neither did its box office numbers. I guess I feel very similar to that. This movie is fine. The story is good and reminded me quite a bit of The Land Before Time. I liked the story, for the most part, but I felt like just too many annoying bad things kept happening to Arlo. This movie gets bumped up quite a bit though because of how awesome the animation is. It’s superb and deserves to be noticed. The scenery, the water, the textures, just outstanding across the board. That being said, it’s not enough to save the movie that included a VERY predictable story. I mean, was anyone surprised when Poppa died the way he did? No? The moment he takes Arlo into that field at night with the fireflies, I knew that man was a goner. And he ended up dying in almost the exact same way as Mufasa in The Lion King, except no acting antagonist did it. It’s just kind of Arlo’s fault. The universe they built was okay but I would have liked a larger picture like we got in Monsters Inc. Where are the other dinosaurs? No predators? Friends? Neighbors? Just one family in the middle of no where. I, of course, am not referring to those Arlo finds on his journey but I guess maybe everyone is just on the other side of the mountain.

11. Ratatouille

Ratatouille Banner

This movie has a decent enough cast and does a solid job of creating the mouse world within our own. The animation is solid with colorful and fun characters. The food was also done well. It’s a cute story and Linguini is a cute character. I enjoyed Remy and the relationships he had with his family. All-in-all, it’s a cute, fun film that doesn’t tax much on the emotional spectrum. It doesn’t quite crack the Top 10 and I think this is due to its lack of emotional punch and/or technical prowess. It doesn’t push any boundaries.. Keep in mind that the movies above it are all spectacular and a couple have even received Best Picture nominations at the Academy Awards. I like this movie and find it enjoyable. It’s just not one I look forward to viewing time and time again.

10. Finding Dory

Finding Dory Definition

Since this one is so new, I’ll try to avoid spoilers. In short, this movie takes some of our favorite characters from the first film and basically makes them do it all over again but this time for Dory. The plot is very similar to the first film but the characters and voice cast are spot on. I love these characters, even all of the new ones. Ed O’Neil’s Hank is great, Destiny and Bailey are fun too. I love them all. Dory’s story, which we get to see from a very young age, is touching and heartwarming. It hits the emotions hard a few times and does a great job building on the universe created in the first film. With that said, it is a bit repetitive. I mean, it’s almost the same story as the last one. Additionally, some of the antics at the end literally had me thinking “Really?!?” It was over the top at times. I will say this, the short film Piper is awesome. It’s a cute and lovely story but the animation is unbelievable. The sand, the water, the foam. It all looks real and I’m completely impressed by it. Anyway, if you liked Finding Nemo, then you’ll want to see this movie. If not, then it doesn’t really do anything different.

9. Toy Story 2

Toy Story 2 Logo

I have a hard time putting this one so low. I love this movie and I love what it does to add to the first film’s universe. We get to learn so much about Woody and our favorite characters all get to have an exciting adventure that includes Zurg! And tell me Jessie’s story is heartbreaking! Talk about the feels. Pixar does this well and it is important that they continue to do so. The story is fun, new, inventive, and brings in new characters and old that we will continue to love to this very day. I don’t have anything bad to say about this one. It’s great fun with some emotion built in. The animation sticks true to the Toy Story style which is great but doesn’t really push any boundaries.

Okay, that’s it for Part 1! What did you think of my ranking so far? Do you agree or disagree? Comment below! Also, stay tuned for Part 2 where I finish up my ranking with the top 8 spots!

Pixar Films – A Ranking Part 1

Top 10 John Williams Star Wars themes

John Williams has scored some of the most iconic movies in cinematic history. He is beyond talented and extremely brilliant. Now we all know a movie isn’t complete without an awesome sounding score to accompany it. Imagine Jaws, Harry Potter, Superman, or Indiana Jones without those beautiful and much needed pieces of music. The same can be said for any of the seven Star Wars films. John Williams has scored and created many themes for many different movies over his carrier. But none are more popular than the music from the Star Wars films. Any fan of these movies will have their own Top 10 list for themes. It was very hard to pick only ten. But without further ado:

10. “Across the Stars” (Love theme from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith)

Let’s kick things off with a little forbidden romance shall we? This is the theme we hear whenever Padme and Anakin are seen on screen and as they share their first kiss with each other. I think it’s a beautiful theme full of passion and joy. It is one of two love themes that John Williams has created for the Star Wars films and here is hoping he creates a few more with Episodes VIII and IX on the way.

9. “Anakin’s Betrayal” (Order 66 theme)

This theme is played out in Revenge of the Sith when the order is given to all the clone commanders and their troops to execute the Jedi across the galaxy. It’s a particular moving piece because it is one of the saddest moments in the prequel trilogy and unlike anything we have seen before in a Star Wars film. Seeing countless Jedi gunned down or shot out of the skies was heartbreaking to see, not to mention the slaughtering of the younglings by Anakin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmhjaFbpkIE

8. “Ben Kenobi’s Death / Tie Fighter Attack”

One of the more thrilling themes from Episode IV is right after the death of Obi-Wan when Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the crew jump in the Falcon to escape the Death Star hanger to then only be pursued by a squad of Tie Fighters. The suspense leading up to the Tie Fighters approaching, to Luke and Han taking to the laser cannons on the Falcon to blast them away is like one big adrenaline rush. A small and quick scene compared to most on this list, but it sure packs a punch.

7. “The Battle of Endor I”

I picked Part 1 from the rest of the pieces from this battle is because of this heart pounding opening. It’s goes from suspenseful and quiet to loud and dramatic when the Rebel fleet realizes the shield to the Death Star is still operational. Chaos ensues as Lando leads the attack in space, Han and Leia along with the droids and help from the Ewoks lead the ground battles, and Luke is forced to watch the Rebel fleet get pulverized in space as Vader and his Master look on. And of course as always…IT’S A TRAP!

6. “Cantina Band”

Of course we can’t have a Top 10 list like this without having the “Cantina Band” theme in here somewhere! This is just a really fun theme to hear and grove along with. It is a departure from the heavy brass and strings we normally are used to in Star Wars films and John Williams gives a nice light feeling to this space opera.

5. “Duel of Fates”

This theme still gives me chills to this day. I remember being in the theater and when the doors opened to reveal Darth Maul standing there and then the choir kicked in was haunting. This piece had been something we haven’t heard before in the previous trilogy of films. With three new films for a new generation of fans, John Williams had to revamp the scores a bit for these. Nothing was ever this fast paced with choirs and brass combined in the original trilogy. A very intense track from the prequel trilogy and the best piece of music from Episode I by far.

4. “Han and Leia’s Theme”

A love theme for the ages. This was the very first love theme we got out of the Star Wars movies and boy did John Williams deliver. This is a soft and beautiful piece used to show the affections between Princess Leia and Han Solo. First heard in The Empire Strikes Back and continued on through Return of the Jedi and finally heard again in The Force Awakens, the fans always know when this plays on the screen we will get some kind of interaction between the couple, whether it’s them fighting or saying “I love you” is a different story.

3. “Rey’s Theme”

The number three spot is taken by my favorite theme from The Force Awakens and that is of course “Rey’s Theme”. I think it is one of the best character themes in the saga. John Williams really gives you a sense of adventure, hope, strength, wonder, and curiosity all mixed into one theme and that perfectly describes Rey in the film. It has been compared to Luke’s theme or the “Force” theme from the rest of the films as well which is something I can totally see.

2. “The Force Theme” ( Also known as Luke’s theme)

Speaking of Luke and the Force, here is my number two pick. This theme can be found in every single Star Wars film and TV show to date. It is universally known to the fans as the theme that surrounds almost anything to do with the use of the Force or the good guys in general. It is a great theme and is a very emotional and powerful theme at that. It’s known that the Force binds living things together. And the Force is strong with this theme.

1. “Star Wars Main Theme”

Anyone surprised by this number one pick? Well you shouldn’t be. It is of course the opening to the Star Wars films. This is arguably one of if not the most iconic opening themes in movie history. Even if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars, once you hear this theme you know where it’s from. I always get excited to hear this theme and when you first heard it in the theater again during Episode VII the whole place cheered. This to me is Star Wars, this is one of John Williams’ finest pieces of music he has ever written and will go down in history as such.

So how did I do? Did your favorite theme from the Star Wars saga make it on the list as well? Which John Williams theme from Star Wars is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.

Top 10 John Williams Star Wars themes

MCU Ranking – Where Does Civil War Land?

It’s become a running tradition to rank the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with us. We began with Avengers: Age of Ultron, continued with Ant-Man, and now we’re adding Captain America: Civil War to that list. We’ve had some people agree and disagree with us, but have stuck by our rankings. The release of Civil War has dominated the box office and have left fans mixed (you can check out our Civil War review here) and now the time has come for it to take its place among our ranked films.

If you missed our list prior to Civil War, here it is (you can see the full article here):

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

MCU Ranking – A Grid Daily Civil War

Captain America: Civil War Cap v Iron Man

This was an incredibly difficult choice that none of us really wanted to make. Talk to a Grid Daily contributor and their ranking will be different. The consensus,though? Captain America: Civil War nudges out everything to become the number 1 MCU film to date.  Before I go on, let me tell you just how split we are on this, but majority rules.

The movie captured the essence of the Civil War storyline in the comics: these superheroes are a powder keg, or as Hulk so eloquently put it, a time bomb.  You can’t have 10 people with extreme powers and personalities and emotions running that high without creating irresponsible and destructive results. The addition of Civil War to the MCU was an inevitability. These characters, by no means, should always get along. The truth in the film is where it succeeds.

Along with the story line, the movie did its side characters very well. Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Black Panther shined. Spider-Man and Ant-Man were incredible spectacles adding to the visual empowerment of the film. Falcon and War Machine were the perfect right hand men, portraying loyal friends to the men they cared about, never wavering their allegiances.

The difficulty of the film lies in Captain America and Iron Man. It’s difficult to see our favorite heroes be so blinded by their own perspectives. To quote a friend, “Captain America did the wrong thing for the right reason and Iron Man did the right thing for the wrong reason.” It’s painful to watch your heroes fall, which is where the Grid Daily group splits.Captain America: Civil War Banner

Overall ranking: 13 awesome fight scenes you didn’t see coming

So here is our updated list:

13. Iron Man 2
12. Incredible Hulk
11. Iron Man 3
10. Thor: The Dark World
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
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. The Avengers
1. Captain America: Civil War

How do you feel about our list? Where would you rank Civil War? Special thanks to our friend John Holloway from Worst Comic Podcast Ever for the awesome quote.

MCU Ranking – Where Does Civil War Land?

The Grid Ranks: X-Men Films

Well, we’ve already ranked the films of the MCU, so now it’s time to rank the X-Men films (I’m not including all of the Fox films simply because no one wants to count the Fantastic Four debacles.) If you count all the films with an X-Man in it, you have 9 total. Ready? Here we go!

9. X-Men Origins: WolverineMV5BMTI2MTgyNjExM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU4MjkyMg@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_

It’s not difficult to place this film. It was just absolutely awful.  Between the poor casting choices (why in the world would you cast a member of the Black Eyed Peas? Ever?) and the impeccably dismal CGI on the claws (and everything else), there’s really no reason to watch this. They even sewed the Merc with the Mouth’s mouth shut. They literally removed the one thing about a character that made him famous just to disguise the fact that they couldn’t pay for Ryan Reynolds for more than one scene. It’s a masochistic superhero film that will one day be regarded as a generation’s Batman and Robin, only without the irony.

Official Ranking: 1 sad little broken bone claw

8. X-Men: The Last StandMV5BMjI1NTg2ODA2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc2MjEzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,676,1000_AL_

Again, not very difficult to place this one. It had poor lines, cinematic choices, and utilization of characters.  While finally including more screen time for Colossus and making Angel visually stunning, the damn thing killed off Cyclops, Professor X, and Jean Grey, all in horrible ways.  The Dark Phoenix saga was an absolute joke and the “cure” nonsense was done so horribly. Let’s just move on and forget this was thing.

Official Ranking: 2 unnecessarily brutal X-Men deaths and none of them mine…sigh

7. X-Men: ApocalypseMV5BMjU1ODM1MzYxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTA4NDE2ODE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,676,1000_AL_

From here on out, all the films are relatively good films, so as we move on, one will just barely edge out the other. The latest X-Men installment takes our 7th spot because of it’s dim addition to the new trilogy. You can read my full review here, but mostly it’s a film with much more spectacle than substance. It sets up for the likes of Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan to take over, which may be amazing, but we can’t give this movie a pass for what future films might do with it.

Official Ranking: 3 Horsemen short of a great X-Men movie

6. X-MenMV5BOTU3MzA3ODYyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDgwNzc3NjE@._V1_SY1000_SX672_AL_

The first film in the current franchise was phenomenal at the time. It gave all of us fans hope. Director Bryan Singer took a world that was far fetched and made it come to life. He had brilliant casting choices on his side, making it almost impossible for us to see anyone else play Wolverine (and, at the time, Professor X and Magneto). The movie’s downfall was Rogue. She was nothing like the strong, badass woman we had come to know in the comics. She was a mousy weakling that I still like to pretend wasn’t there.

Official Ranking: 4 main mutants that we’ll see for the next 6 years from a franchise with over 100

5. The WolverineMV5BNzg1MDQxMTQ2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk3MjAzOQ@@._V1_SX674_CR0,0,674,999_AL_

Not all sequels can improve upon the source material, but this one had nowhere to go but up, in my opinion. Watching Hugh Jackman take on Japan was a much needed fresh look into the franchise.  It was the first X-Men film to take place outside of North America (which is really weird considering how racially diverse the X-Men have always been). Bringing in all new characters and creating an interesting mutant world, it’s an absolute shame it’s been all but forgotten by everyone else.

Official Ranking: 5 good reasons not to watch Origins

4. X-Men: First ClassMV5BMTg5OTMxNzk4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk1MjAwNQ@@._V1_

The first film in the new trilogy sparked some life back into the franchise as a whole after The Last Stand and Origins almost killed it.  Director Matthew Vaughn created an interesting mix of familiar and new characters that brought back the enjoyment of the films. The first go around for McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence alike, each of them received high praise for their work and the inclusion of Kevin Bacon meant they were not playing around.

Official Ranking: 6 teenage kids picking their own sweet code names

3.  X-Men: Days of  Future PastMV5BNjk3MGZhMjEtOTM4NC00NzE2LTk2NzctZDc4YTUwN2E3NDhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDc2NjEyMw@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

This movie was absolutely fantastic. It merged both original trilogy cast and new trilogy cast, created a detailed and dramatic plot line, and managed to not make time travel as convoluted as it could have been.  The new mutants added to the future timeline were so well done that it’s an absolute shame we won’t see them again. Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask was a brilliant casting job and finally seeing the Sentinels was a long time coming. If the entire plot didn’t yet again revolve around Wolverine, it would have been that much better.

Official Ranking: 7 amazing mutant plot lines that didn’t screw things up

2. DeadpoolMV5BMjQyODg5Njc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzExMjE3NzE@._V1_SY1000_SX686_AL_

You have to admit it; this movie was the absolute best. You wanna know why it’s not the number 1 spot? Well it is an overall superior film. It takes the familiar tropes of lost love, revenge, wrongfully disfigured hero and makes them fresh with the humor of the comics. What Wolverine  Origins did to destroy the character Deadpool, Deadpool  recovered everything lost and then some. It’s quite remarkable how undeniably well done the movie is when translating a character that almost got too bloated for its own good over the last few years. To think this movie wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the love that the fans and Ryan Reynolds has for the character. I only placed it at number 2 because, while perfectly defining Deadpool, the film doesn’t perfect define the X-Men.

Official Ranking: 8 toasty and sexy chimichangas

1. X-Men: UnitedMV5BNDk0NjYxMzIzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTc1MjU3._V1_

The opening sequence to the film maintains what is arguably the best opening sequence of a comic book film to date.  After the first film, we were all eager with what X-Men would be included in the inevitable sequel and we were not disappointed. Alan Cumming made a daring Nightcrawler and Kelly Hu’s Lady Deathstrike still shares one of the best fight scenes with our favorite clawed Canadian since. Magneto’s escape from his plastic prison is one of the most brutal death scenes I’ve ever seen and a technologically impressive use of CGI to this day.  It was the least annoying Jean Grey and Rogue have ever been, which is a feat all by itself considering. There is just so much good wrapped up in this film that I could go on about it for quite some time.

Official Ranking: 9 BAMFs across the X-Men world (BAMF is the onomatopoeia used to describe the sound Nightcrawler makes in the comics when he teleports, but it works as the acronym too, so that’s cool).

How do you feel about The Grid’s rankings? Did we hit the nail on the head? Where would you change it? Comment below!

The Grid Ranks: X-Men Films

Top 10 Star Trek Video Games

Star Trek’s 50th anniversary is here, so let’s take a look back at the best Star Trek video games. As with other fan service games such as Star Wars and superhero games in general, Star Trek games have been hit or miss, some good, some bad, and some really bad. The best ones do three things: they immerse you in your fandom, they make a decent quality game, and are most importantly, fun. The games at the top of the list have all three characteristics while those at the bottom may only have one or two of them. And the horrible ones have none of these. For simplicity, a game series is counted as a group and only distinguished if the games in the series are dramatically different in quality. Lastly, I’d consider the game as more or less fun if even a casual Star Trek fan would have fun playing it.

 

#10) Dominion Wars – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Star_Trek_Deep_Space_Nine_Dominion_Wars_box_art

Was this a good game? Probably not. Was it fun? Certainly. Often found on the $10 bargain bin at Walmart, this was a brutally simple game. Fly your choice of ships in the Dominion War. Plot was minimal, graphics only just adequate, and game play was underwhelming. But what it does have going for it is the immersion factor. From Klingon Bird of Preys to Galaxy Class Starships, you zipped around in space battles, blasting Cardasian and Jem’Hadar ships to dust. Sure it’s a bit shallow but it got the space combat down pretty well. Considering it launched at $10, it was much better than it had to be. It made no promises to greatness but still sparked some fun. Because of this it just barely squeaks at the bottom of the list.

68373-StarTrekDeepSpaceNineDominionWars



 

#9) Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – Crossroads of Time

Star Trek Deep Space 9 Crossroads of Time

Though not the best Star Trek entry in the 16-bit era, Crossroads of Time is still fairly respectable all things considered. It has a pretty decent story that isn’t just a simple rehash of what was seen on the show. It also does a decent job of immersing you in the Star Trek universe by having you control Commander Sisko on DS9 and interacting with the crew. In one particularly interesting mission you go back in time to the battle of Wolf 359 and have Sisko escape his doomed ship while fighting the Borg deck by deck. Pretty exciting stuff. The only drawback is that it isn’t terribly fun. It could be the limitations of the hardware, or even that they only had the early seasons of Deep Space 9 to work with, but it doesn’t really hold much replay value unlike other titles from the 16-bit era. Crossroads of Time squeaks in on the list but only just barely.

Star_Trek-Deep_Space_Nine-Crossroads_of_Time_019



 

#8) Star Trek: Legacy

Star_Trek-_Legacy_Cover

On the whole, it’s a decent game, not a great game but a decent one. It does great fan service by having a story narrative all the way from Enterprise to Voyager and back again. Not to mention, they got all of the actors of the Captains to reprise their roles, even Avery Brooks who doesn’t do many of these sort of things anymore.

The game is basically a starship game where you control up to four other ships, issuing orders while taking direct command of one of them. A great variety of ships are used against a variety of opponents throughout the history of the Federation. Though it plays better on the consoles than on PC it’s still a fairly respectable entry. What may hold it back is that its space combat is dumbed-down a bit, I guess a little “video gamey” as they might say. Nowhere near as complicated as Starfleet Command and even more simple than Star Trek Online, Star Trek: Legacy is just a little too flat. I’d describe it like the difference between the game series Ace Combat and something like Microsoft Flight Simulator except maybe not as fun. The game is fun to play for the fan service but its lack of originality and game play hold it back. Star Trek: Legacy is fun to play for a couple of hours just not fun to keep playing.

star-trek-legacy-20061211015618728-000



 

#7) Star Trek Online

Star_Trek_Online_coverWhat to say about this one?  After the success of many other Multiple Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) quite a few studios tried to get the Star Trek license to make one for it. Cryptic Studios got the rights back in 2013 and the game is basically MMORPG with slight influences from Star Fleet Command. You fly your ship around for 2/3’s of the time and the remainder is on ground away missions. There are basically 3 types of vessels: tanks for Engineers (think large  lumbering Galaxy Class ships),  glass cannons (small Defiant types that hit hard and maneuver away), and the in-between classes (medium ships like the Intrepid Class) that specialize in more creative forms of space combat. Away missions have a similar model of tanks, glass cannons, and tricky science officers. But the best thing about Star Trek Online is its immersion. You can fly your ship to many places mentioned in Star Trek canon, launch your ship from Earth Spacedock, beam down to Starfleet Academy, warp to DS9, visit Quarks bar, warp to station K-7; the galaxy is yours to explore. Even visit Risa if you want. It’s just that there isn’t much to do when you get there.

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Guiding you along in this adventure is a pretty good story featuring many of the cast from the show including the late Leonard Nimoy whose voice narrates you along the way during key moments. Other actors from Voyager are there as well along with many of the ships and locations from Enterprise all the way through to the end of Star Trek: Nemesis. This is a pretty all encompassing game. There is just so much here for a fan to explore and this is what gets Star Trek Online so high on the list. That being said, the game is far from perfect. It mostly feels like a copy and paste from just about every other MMORPG out there, adding nothing of its own and often accomplishing much less game play wise.  Cooperative play is mostly nonexistent and neither is competitive for that matter. That and maxing your character out leaves next to nothing for a player to do except create a new character and do it all over again.

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The space combat is fun and exciting though not as respectable as it was in Starfleet Command. The RPG elements far over power the simulator aspects of game play. Often you’ll find yourself just mashing the space-bar instead of being thoughtful. The ground combat is downright dull and atrocious. They’ve done a lot to lessen the role of ground actions in the game but when it first launched the ratio was more like a 50/50 mix of space and ground action; now it’s more slanted towards space. But the ground is still horrible. If it wasn’t for the dull MMORPG elements and terrible ground game play this would be an incredible game. The Star Trek license is huge thing to have to make a game out of a fan base that is loyal and Trekkies are definitely the game player type.  But the flaws of Star Trek Online are too much to overcome and that’s what keeps this game out of the top spots. Then again, the game is free-to-play, so it doesn’t hurt to try it out. You just run out of things to do sooner than you may like. But you know what, at least it’s better than Star Wars Galaxies.



 

#6) Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

ST NESThis was a bit of a cross-platform game varying greatly from console to PC and mobile devices. Riding on the heels of the revival of Star Trek in 1993 with the success of The Next Generation all of the versions of the games did a superb job of fandom immersion in  The Original Series that had just turned 25 years old. On the NES you spent most of your time on away missions that were very reminiscent of classic episodes such as “Paradise Syndrome” and “A Piece of the Action.” Sure, the NES version wasn’t terribly original or innovated but it did alright as a puzzle adventure game. Spaced in between away missions there were some space battles to be had and the overall story worked well, not to mention the 8-bit take on the classic Star Trek songs is still awesome to hear. Not bad for the hardware limitations of the NES.

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The PC version though was unique in that many of the actual actors where used from The Original Series. Just as with the short lived Star Trek: Animated Series, Shatner phones in his lines and is kinda lame but Nimoy, Kelly, and the rest of the cast are as wonderful as ever. The game on PC took the form of a point and click adventure and looks great in an old school 8-bit style. The game would’ve ranked higher if wasn’t for the lack of innovation or at least being a little dull. What it lacks in other areas it makes up for by being as immersive as it could be for when it was made.

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PC version of the game



 

#5) Star Trek: The Next Generation – Future’s Past

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This one was actually pretty darn good considering when it was made. It’s a basic action adventure game with ground and space scenes, but unlike Star Trek: The Original Series for the NES, it had an original story, not some hodgepodge mixture of episodes. It was a brand new story all of its own, and that’s saying something.

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On top of that it’s actually fairly fun. For a 16-bit game, it’s pretty immersive. The helm interface is how you would expect it to be on the show, complete with LCARS style and star system layout and organization. It goes in order from;  cluster, star group, star system, planetary system. Very logical. The ship’s computer database was very thorough. I mean, in the age before the internet it was a Wikipedia in video game form. You could look up anything from crew dossiers to phaser power settings. You could learn the difference and affects of setting 1 through 16. You could even look all the planet class ratings; understanding M and Y class planets was interesting. Everything about the game was pretty darn immersive and for a Super Nintendo game it was as good as Star Trek could get for when it was made.

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The only thing that holds it back is that it’s fun but not incredibly so. Sure Star Trek fans would love it but the casual fan wouldn’t be all that much into it. The best games have even a casual Star Trek fan itching to play it. It was good fan service and ahead of its time as far as immersion but was only moderately fun to play.



 

#4) Starfleet Command II: Empires at War

Star_Trek_Starfleet_Command_II_coverBased in the Wrath of Kahn era, Starfleet Command II is basically a starship simulator game and what that meant is that there is an emphasis on realism, as absurd as that sounds for science fiction. After all, realistic science is what Star Trek is all about.  The Star Trek universe has rules. You can’t transport through shields, torpedoes damage the hull more than phasers, you don’t have limitless power, etc. With those limitations, you control your ship the best you can by clicking power to various systems to squeeze more into the phasers, for example. Should you save up for a powerful shot or use quick bursts of phasers? If your opponent can’t maneuver, divert power to forward shields from the aft and flank’em.  If your target is a fast little sports car like vessel, wait until he gets close, use your phasers to drop his shields, send a volley of torpedoes to take out his engines and then maneuver to his blind side. You are master and commander of your ship and the stars are your battlefield.

The game feels like 24th century take on 17th naval combat. Maneuvering and timing are important and using knowledge of you ships capabilities are key. This was starship combat at its finest in the world of Star Trek video games. The first Star Fleet Command is alright but it’s at its best with the second one. They also made a third that has a pretty decent story but it doesn’t really add much to the already excellent game play, but on the plus side, it’s based in the Star Trek: First Contact era modernizing the whole affair.

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Though the game is uniquely fun, innovative, and immersive, what holds it back from the top of the list is that it gets stale quick. Sure the combat is great but that’s all there is. Nothing outside of combat is relevant here. It’s all action and no deep thinking, no exploration or sense of wonder. Other Star Trek games capture it a little better.

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#3) Star Trek: Bridge Commander

Star_Trek_-_Bridge_Commander_CoverartProbably the one of the most immersive games on the list, Bridge Commander puts you in the Captain’s chair commanding first a Galaxy Class, then later a Sovereign Class Starship. Like in Starfleet Command where you pilot your ship, in Bridge Commander you do so by issuing orders to the bridge crew. Precise commands make this more of a Captain simulator than a starship one but the result is the same, immersion and some great fan service, add on to that a decent story and game play mechanics. The game also had the voice acting talents of Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner reprising their roles, awesome. The only problem may be that it won’t appeal to the more casual Star Trek fan as much as the games higher on the list would.

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#2) Star Trek: Armada

Star_Trek_-_Armada_CoverartThe second best game on the list is a good one. Representing the often visited genre of real time strategy (RTS) you command fleets of often all too disposable starships. Four factions are represented; Klingons, Federation, Borg, and Romulans. If you wanted to relive the battle of Wolf 359 and see what it was like from both sides of the battle, then this was your chance. Add on top of that some interesting game mechanics such as being able to take over any ship by transporting your crew over, the Klingons and Borg excel at this, the Federation and Romulans not so much. Every ship had an unlockable special ability that changed how battles would unfold. On the whole, the game was a solid real time strategy game in its own right.

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Sound was suburb and graphics are great for their time and was later ported over to Star Trek fan mods of other games. A.I. was pretty good too, so much so that they copied some of the code for Star Trek: Legacy. All of these come together for a game that not only die hard Star Trek fans would love but even a fan of real time strategy games can play and have some fun playing. It’s not perfect as the races aren’t terribly well balanced in player vs player maps. Romulans are way over powered oddly enough, but aside from that its an excellent game.

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The game is fun and does great service but the final criteria of a great Star Trek game, immersion, is very much a part of it. Both the user interface and game controls look and feel like something that would be in the 24th century. Perhaps the most enticing part for the fans the Star Trek alumni reprise their roles from the show; Picard, Worf, Martok, and Selia all play prominent roles in the story that isn’t half bad for it being just a game and not an actual episode. It isn’t just a simple repaste of prior episodes but continues the story where Insurrection left off in epic scale, across time and space. If it wasn’t for the imbalanced multiplayer with the Romulans being overpowered this may have ranked higher.



 

#1) Star Trek: Elite Force I and II
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Does Star Trek work as an action based game? Even as a first person shooter? You better believe it does. Elite Force I was set on Voyager and Elite Force II was more of the TNG film era but both were spectacular.  Based on the Quake game engine, Elite Force was a blast to play, boasting a great single-player story and exciting multiplayer system. How many modern shooters can make that claim? Because of its solidly enjoyable game play, fans kept playing this one years after it released and kept modding it. This is because the game makers realized one thing, add a balanced multiplayer in and you add some replay value to the game.

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Making the game a first person shooter naturally lent itself to some real immersion like no other genre could. In one multiplayer map you had a Klingon ship and a Federation ship battling it out using the ships transporters to go between. From the bridges to the corridors fans could phaser it out to see who was left standing.

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Aside from the action parts there was a lot of subtle detail. You could walk around freely on the decks of Voyager clicking on controls and interacting with the crew who where voiced by the actual actors from the show. You could even click the auto-destruct or even start attacking the crew. Sure you’d end up in the brig or worse but the amount of free will added to the immersion factor.

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The three factors of a good fandom are exemplified by the Elite Force games. They are some of the most immersive and do some great fan service but perhaps most importantly they are the most fun. To have all three of these factors in a fan game is why it is on the top of so many peoples favorite Star Trek games list. Hopefully with the new DOOM game maybe some love will be sent Star Trek’s way and a Elite Force III will be made. Hopefully we’ll all be walking aboard a deck of a starship soon.

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Did your favorite game make the list? Where would you rank these games? Comment below with your thoughts!

Top 10 Star Trek Video Games

Halo: Rankings Evolved

The Xbox division of Microsoft might not be here today if it wasn’t for their original console exclusive hit, Halo: Combat Evolved from Bungie. The first-person shooter revolutionized the genre that GoldenEye had set the standard for in the console generation before. Over the years, we’ve had several sequels and even a prequel to the Halo franchise, each one attempting to build on the lore, following the paths of Master Chief and Cortana and even expanding on the surrounding universe. It is easily one of the most successful video game franchises of this century.

With that in mind, I am providing my ranking of the games. I am not including the Halo: Wars RTS or any of the digital only games. With that in mind, we are looking at seven different games. Additionally, I am only going off of the original versions of these games and not the Anniversary or Master Chief Collection versions. For those who don’t know, that means I’m going on their original releases. That means Bungie’s work is in play here. The remakes of the games do change things, especially since Bungie was not directly involved in the remastering of their games. So, here we go.

#7. Halo: ReachHalo Reach Box Art

So, we got a prequel. It’s not a prequel about Master Chief, it’s about Cortana and where she came from. While her origins are important and they provide some interesting insight into her creation, the game just doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the universe. The team you play with are decent enough NPCs and the graphics are good but being a prequel, you know where things are headed. You are going to die. There is nothing you can do. It’s going to happen. In fact, it’s going to happen in a fairly lame way and I’m going to spoil it. You should someone needs to stay behind so your ship with Cortana can escape. So you do it. You stay behind and fight off an endless wave of Covenant troops until you eventually die. There is no score. No time keeper. No ranking list. You just die and the credits roll. Talk about a waste of time.

#6. Halo 3

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It’s a good game, not great. It recycles a lot of the first game with the addition of a super intelligent Flood enemy that, for a reason that is still unclear to me, has stolen Cortana. The game doesn’t do much to add to the franchise and the gameplay is fairly simple. I find it mostly a forgettable game in the franchise but there isn’t really anything wrong with it. It does provide some emotional support for the relationship between Cortana and Master Chief which becomes very important in the later games.

#5. Halo 2

 

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The story in this one is pretty convoluted. I think the dual storyline was handled much better in Halo 5 but they tried. As someone who is color blind, I found the Covenant storyline particularly frustrating because I never knew who was an ally and who was an enemy. I constantly attacked my own people and it got old real fast. This game does deserve some credit because it introduced the dual-wield of weapons and online multiplayer. Both concepts were huge advancements for console gaming and are still leveraged today. I blame the game a bit for pushing campaigns to the back burner because of the interest in online multiplayer

#4. Halo: Combat Evolved

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Yes, this game launched the franchise but it is not without its faults. It’s a solid game with a decent story. The graphics were good for their day but I found the Anniversary edition to be an improvement on the game. In short, this game opened the door for the genre and each game after it was able to build on the universe in a positive way. I found the higher ranked games to be enhancements and better games overall but this is certainly not one to miss.

#3. Halo 3: ODST

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You are not Master Chief. In fact, you’re not even a Spartan Solider. You have no over shield. You are not a super human. You are a Marine, just a man\woman. In fact, you’re several of them. The story takes place from several different perspectives that you get to play over the course of the game, each individual adding to the overall picture of the plot. The re-addition of med-packs made the game more challenging and felt more like the original. The story, taking place on Earth, allowed for street combat and just a more relatable experience. I loved the story. I loved the game play and I loved feeling more human during it.

#2. Halo 4

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This game brought the franchise to a new level. The graphics, enhanced by the new Xbox One, were impressive. We finally got to see the Forerunners and use their technology throughout an entire game. The addition of the new technology, weapons, and enemies made for an exciting and fresh experience for a franchise that had been primarily bogged down in fighting the Flood. The Cortana story was brought in new depth to both her and Master Chief. If you finished this game and did not feel a connection to both of them, then I don’t know what to tell you.

#1. Halo 5: Guardians

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While note quite a direct sequel to Halo 4, we find Master Chief in a hunt for his long lost friend, Cortana but things are definitely not what they seem. The game built on the new style and graphics developed for the previous game but added additional elements. It brought back the dual-pronged story Halo 2 leveraged but did it better. The voice acting, with the help of some star power like Nathan Fillion, was brought to a new level. The enemies were tougher, the story more complex and the game not only ends on an epic cliffhanger, making me want more, but launches a whole new story path for the franchise that had been far too focused on aspects from the first game. I consider this game an improvement on everything done in the franchise, keeping it alive and well.

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What do you think of my ranking? Is yours different? Comment below with you thoughts!

Halo: Rankings Evolved

Top 10 Superman Incarnations in Film and TV

This past weekend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered to record world-wide box office sales and while I have not yet seen the flick, I can assure you that I’ll be rooting for the Man of Steel. His shield logo is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world and the Metropolis Marvel has set the standard for costumed characters for almost 80 years.  First appearing in Action Comics #1 back in 1938, generations of readers have seen different incarnations of the Big Blue Boy Scout make the journey as a baby from Krypton to Smallville and as a man from Smallville to Metropolis. Last week Derreck brought you his top versions of the Dark Knight Detective while today I bring you my favorite versions of the Last Son of Krypton.

What is my criteria for the order in which I rank these? Personal preference. I claim no sophisticated system. I simply am going to go with what is in my heart. I figure that is what Superman would do.


# 10 Brandon Routh in Superman Returns

Superman Returns: Brandon RouthThe creators of this movie decided to base it in the same world as the Christopher Reeve flicks while pretending that neither Superman III or IV had ever happened (that part was a wise choice in my opinion). Routh was cast to a large degree due to the resemblance he had to Reeve as much as his resemblance to Superman. The issue for me was that having it be a sequel just made it confusing and sad. He left Earth, Lois moved on, gave birth to his son, got a husband, won a Pulitzer and got 15 years younger. Routh and his co-star Kate Bosworth (Lois) just seemed too young physically and too old spiritually for this movie to be cohesive for me. This movie just drained me and I have never watched it a second time. I have enjoyed Routh in his role as Ray Palmer on Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow far more than I did as Superman.

#09 Danny Dark in Super Friends

This was the first version of Superman that I remember seeing on television. The character was voiced by Danny Dark in basically the same show with different names from before I started kindergarten until after I started high school. My primary issue with the Superman in Super Friends is that to keep the show kid friendly he couldn’t punch anyone. At all. They decided to deal with this by putting force fields everywhere and then Superman would spend 15 minutes slamming into them. Also Kryptonite made up nearly 1/4th of the world’s crust in the Super Friends universe. Still, I was a kid and I ate it up.

#08 Henry Cavill in Man of Steel

I know that this ranking here will cause some controversy because people are so divided on this movie. I actually agree with much of the criticism on this picture but I honestly think it could have been worse without Henry Cavill. My main issue with this movie was the characterization of Jonathan Kent more than anything else. I actually felt that Cavill tried to offer some heart to the role and there are some scenes he has with Amy Adams and with Diane Lane that are really strong. There are a lot of things that I would have done differently with this film but I don’t think casting Cavill was the issue.

#07 Vin Diesel in The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant: Vin DieselOkay, I know I’m cheating here but it is my list and I don’t care. The Iron Giant features many of the same plot points as a Superman show – super-powered alien comes to Earth and ends up falling in love with and defending his adopted home and family. The Iron Giant takes some time to figure out his role and Hogarth is in a sense his Obi-Wan, teaching him the meaning of a hero…showing the giant that he is more than just his programming. I am not ashamed to admit that the end of this movie gets me every time. When the Iron Giant closes his eyes and says “Soo-per-man”, it is over for me.  Not one of the other movies on this list makes me tear up like I do every time at the end of The Iron Giant.

#06 Tom Welling in Smallville

Smallville: Tom WellingA lot of folks would put Welling higher on this list and I probably would have as well if I had stuck with this series. The show suffered for me from ‘freak of the week’ syndrome. Each week someone would get powers from Kryptonite (except Lana Lang who wore a Kryptonite pendant). After a while I left the show so I missed Supergirl, Lois and an early version of the Justice League. I guess I can still go out there and watch them but I haven’t found the time or motivation yet. Obviously the show found a great following, as superhero shows don’t generally stay on the air for 10 years. I also have a hard time accepting Welling as a nerdy high school freshman when the show premiered since he was actually 24 and a model.

#05 George Reeves from Adventures of Superman

Superman: George ReevesFor my father’s generation George Reeves was Superman. Reeves was reluctant to take on the crimson cape and a television series as he was worried about how it would affect his movie career. In that sense he was probably correct in that the show made him a household icon and ‘the’ face of Superman for a couple of decades. Reeves’ Superman is older and more sure of himself and his Clark Kent is as well. This Clark pretty much relied on the hat and glasses to do the disguise work rather than any other characterization. Physically, George isn’t a guy that you would cast as Superman today but he isn’t far off of the Superman that we saw in the comics in the forties and fifties. We also didn’t see any angsty business with Superman getting all misty about being an alien. This Superman knew that being Superman is awesome so stop moping and fight some bad guys!

#04 Dean Cain in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Lois and Clark: Dean CainCain’s version of the Metropolis Marvel borrowed a lot from the Modern Era of Superman started by writer/artist John Byrne. Clark’s parents are both alive in this show and I think the way that they are a part of his life is a very big reason that I enjoyed it so much. I always felt that the Kents are the main reason that Superman is who he is. Their acceptance and adoption of this visitor from another world is what fuels the character’s fundamental characteristics of hope and selflessness. Cain’s Clark Kent was opposite Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane and their chemistry really came through. I really liked Clark and Lois married both in the comics and on TV.  To my knowledge, this is the only version in television or in movies where they tied the knot.

#03 Bud Collyer in the Fleischer Studios Cartoons

Max Fleischer's SupermanThe Fleisher cartoons still stand the test of time in my opinion. These short features were shown in front of movies (whereas now we get advertisements) and for millions of people this was their first introduction to the character particularly overseas. One of the first episodes “The Mad Scientist” cost $50,000 to produce in 1941! The great sci-fi themes, the musical score, and the physical sense of Superman’s strength still get me going. I probably shouldn’t give Collyer too much credit here as the animation is really the star. In fact, Collyer doesn’t even speak much as Superman. By far most of his dialogue is as Clark Kent which he does as very mousy and high pitched. Lois is as intrepid as ever here although she does need Superman to bail her out frequently. You also have this series to thank for ‘faster than a speeding bullet’.

#02 Tim Daly in Superman: The Animated Series

The Adventures of Superman: The Animated SeriesProducer Bruce Timm had a great feel for what people wanted to see in his animated series. Superman here is confident and heroic with a much brighter tone than the excellent Batman animated series that preceded this one. The series showed us a Superman generally supported by the community and while he had super-strength, he had to strain to move large objects like trucks or ships. Unlike on the Super Friends, Superman didn’t push the Earth around to find his lost keys or make it become Friday sooner. The show had a rich cast of fleshed-out other characters and some great villains. This show also remembered (sometimes) that Superman had super-speed. In one episode, a guy was pointing a kryptonite ray gun at Supes and he was half way through gloating over the ‘alien’ he was going to shoot when Superman disappeared and then reappeared with the gun. Super-speed is seriously a great power. You could probably make a whole show about a guy that had super-speed as his only power. Maybe.

#01 Christopher Reeve from Superman: The Movie and Superman II

Superman: The Movie - Christopher ReeveChristopher Reeve will always be Superman for me. The way he carried himself as the Last Son of Krypton and the way that he took on a completely different appearance, posture, and tone as Clark Kent was a perfect reflection of the Bronze Age character. This Superman was noble and optimistic. He chose to see the best in people and always encouraged them to do the right thing before just throwing a punch. Reeve’s Superman was about inspiring people to do the right thing and not just inflicting justice on wrongdoers. Superman: The Movie is absolutely not a perfect movie. The Lois Lane voice over in the flying scene makes me cringe every single time. So much more was right though – the relationship between Clark and Pa Kent, catching Lois and the helicopter, using his own body as a missing train rail. Those were some of the best cinematic moments I have ever experienced. The 2nd movie had hiccups as well but I liked that Superman used his brains to defeat the Phantom Zone villains and didn’t just rely on punching them. Anticlimatic? Perhaps, but appropriate nevertheless. He also ‘runs away’ from the bad guys so that instead of duking it out in Metropolis he takes the showdown to an unpopulated area. Crazy, crazy idea. I believe that Reeve’s later paralysis hit people so hard because people really thought of him as Superman. Reeve continued to inspire us after the cameras stopped rolling as as he did during.

Notes:

  • Thanks to Derreck for inviting me to do this guest piece. I may do something like this for comic versions of Superman over on my site: worstcomicpodcastever.com so give us a look and listen if you have a chance!
  • I didn’t include the JL or JLU animated versions because I saw them as somewhat of an extension of the Timm animated show even they were voiced by a different actor.
  • Sorry to the live action Superboy of the 90’s as I never watched it.

Do you have a different favorite Man of Steel? Who made your list? Comment below!

Top 10 Superman Incarnations in Film and TV

Top 10 Batman Incarnations in Film and TV

With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hitting the big screen in two days, it’s time to look back at the previous incarnations of the classic DC Comics character, Batman. Batman has been around since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. That’s almost 80 years of the Dark Knight fighting Gotham’s worst. Rather than focus on the various comic book versions of Batman, I’m only going to focus on movies and cartoons to provide my ranking of the best Batman incarnations. I’ll also update this article after I see Batman v Superman to let you know where I think Batfleck ranks.

How am I going to be performing the ranking? Well, I am going to look at several different factors including: personality, detective skills, fighting skills, batsuit, Bruce Wayne style, and tone.


#10 George Clooney from Batman & Robin

Batman - George Clooney

Alright, we all know this story. Clooney even says he’ll give people refunds if they ever meet him on the streets but let’s give him some credit. Considering the writing and directing for this film, he did the best he could and I still think he makes a decent Bruce Wayne. But the bat-nipples, corny one-liners, and bat-credit card were just too much for most people to handle. Even the villains were bad in this one. The style does continue the trend from Batman Forever but takes things up a notch, which is not good in this case. Overall, this Batman is corny, cheesy, not intimidating, clumsy at times, and flat.

#09 Will Arnett from The Lego Movie

I know everyone loves Will Arnett’s Batman but in all seriousness, it’s incredibly over the top and falls into the parody category. Now, this still tops George Clooney. Why? Well, it’s simple. When Arnett’s Batman has a serious moment, it’s better, it’s darker, and it’s more believable as a Batman character. His batsuit is better, his tech is better, and his fighting skills are more impressive. Now, we get no real look at Bruce Wayne, so George has Arnett beat here but in all, Arnett’s Batman is better in every other conceivable way. He even has better villains to fight and he does so without lame fight scenes and credit cards.

#08 Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond

I love Batman Beyond and I think it’s a solid cartoon that lives up to the Batman name even without Bruce Wayne under the cowl. I drop Will Friedle’s Terry McGinnis several spots for the simple fact that it’s not Bruce Wayne and a different character all together plus he has to share screen time with an actual Bruce Wayne voiced by Kevin Conroy. You’ll see why that matters later on. McGinnis is a good Batman. He’s tough, skilled, daring, and intimidating against some of the craziest and most powerful villains the Dark Knight ever has to face. He has to put up with some intense super villains with powers most Batman never were aware of. He can even fly. His tech is amazing too. I mean, tell me that his Batmobile is not sexy.

#07 Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

Batman - Val Kilmer

Honestly, I wanted to put Kilmer below Friedle on this list but at the end of the day, at least Kilmer is a Bruce Wayne Batman, for what that’s worth. While the overall film Batman Forever is better than Clooney’s Batman & Robin, I don’t think Kilmer’s Dark Knight is really much better. The batsuit is better, of course. I mean, no bat-nipples certainly helps. In fact, I like the suit design in this film and I even like the batmobile overall. But at the end of the day, Kilmer doesn’t pull off an intimidating Batman, nor does he pull off a very convincing Bruce Wayne. Mostly, his performance is flat and uninteresting, overshadowed by the flamboyant villains in the form of Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face.

#06 Peter Weller in The Dark Knight Returns 

Batman - Peter Weller

Alright, so I’m a huge Robocop fan (the original of course) and I loved his role in Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Terra Prime”. He’s a solid actor with a killer voice which is perfect for an animated feature. This two-part animated film is based on the Frank Miller graphic novel and depicts a very unique and different Batman character, one that is heavily leveraged in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Peter Weller is responsible for voicing a gigantic, brooding, powerful, brutal Dark Knight who smashes his way through villains with little to no detective work. His batmobile is essentially a tank and he appears to be a one-man army with the tech ready to take on Superman. We don’t get much of a Bruce Wayne in this story and he more or less disregards the detective aspects of the character but Weller is part of a fantastic re-imagining that provides a more adult, darker version of the character. The aspects of the Dark Knight becoming a myth, something of nightmares, is a really cool concept that, in my opinion, has been overlooked in most versions of the character. While many of the iconic Batman themes are left out, the movie certainly impresses and Peter Weller provides a stellar performance that leaves behind an intimidating, intelligent, and scary Batman.

#05 Bruce Greenwood in Young Justice 

Batman - Young Justice

While a significantly more minor character than the other Dark Knight incarnations on this list, Bruce Greenwood still stands out each time his character is on screen. This Batman, though animated, is mysterious, confident, a little cocky, and definitely prepared for just about anything. I think Greenwood’s voice also lends itself well to the cowl. It’s a rich voice with dark tones and when working with animation, voice is everything. The overall design of this incarnation is solid too. The grey suit has some cuts that provide a somewhat armored look while keeping the classic yellow utility belt. I think the cowl is awesome too. The ears are tall but not too tall.

#04 Adam West in Batman 

Batman - Adam West Batmobile

Alright, so if you have never seen Adam West’s 1966 film or the TV series, just stop reading and go watch it. I’ll wait. Now, this version is no Dark Knight. It’s cheesy, corny, way over the top, and plain silly most of the time but West does something nearly all other incarnations simply leave out, detective work. Remember, Batman started in Detective Comics. He’s a detective first, a fighter second. Over the decades, he’s become meaner, tougher, and more overpowered, but Adam West portrayed Batman as a detective first with fun and imaginative ways of stopping bad guys, like bat-shark repellent. In my opinion, no live action or animated version of the character ever pulled off the same or better level of detective work and for that alone, I bump West up to #4. Aside from that, he provided a very family and child-friendly version of the character that included many of the classic characters such as Robin, Batgirl, and a slew of villains. Additionally, tell me that his batmobile isn’t just the coolest car.

#03 Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy 

Batman - Christian Bale

Christopher Nolan set out to provide a hyper-realistic version of the Dark Knight, even naming two of the films with the moniker and having the whole trilogy leverage the name. Bale does a solid job, making a decent Bruce and hero, but what sells it is everything around him. The suit, the tumbler, the bat-pod, the gadgets, they are all explained in somewhat realistic ways that provide a sense of possibility to what is going on. All-in-all this version of Batman seems to be the most likely to actually ever happen, aside from the entire plot of The Dark Knight Rises, of course. The addition of Freeman’s Fox character to provide explanations for where the cool stuff comes from really helps fill in the gaps that no other version really cared to focus on. Bale does a good job showcasing the inner battle of the character, constantly fighting himself over where the line should be, how far is too far, and his performance in The Dark Knight still stands as one of the greatest superhero films to date.

#02 Michael Keaton in Batman and Batman Returns

Batman - Michael Keaton

How can you overlook the first actor to play a serious version of Batman on the big screen? Keaton helped bring a solid comic book version of the character to life, with the help of Tim Burton. The suit looks like it hopped off the pages of a comic book and as impractical as it and Keaton’s batmobile were, they were visually spot on. Tim Burton’s style provided a solid dark and creepy tone to both films and brought the franchise to a more adult level. Keaton does a good Bruce Wayne but a better Batman. His voice is one of the best out there, perhaps only second to my #1 spot. He had to put up with some great bad guys in the Joker, Catwoman, and the Penguin. His gadgets were fun but not overused and unlike Bale’s Dark Knight, this version had an actual batcave through both films.

#01 Kevin Conroy in various animated incarnations

Batman - The Animated Series

Is anyone really surprised that Conroy sits high at the top of my list? No one has played the character more. He voiced Batman in over 20 different projects through the end of 2015 between TV and film and is slated to return with Mark Hamill this year for an animated version of the classic graphic novel, The Killing Joke. He’s had to play several different versions of the same character and each time, he brings it. He is incredibly convincing with a voice that can only be Batman’s. He’s tough, mysterious, confident, intelligent, daring, and scary at times. He pulls off the work of everyone else on this list and some. If you watch animated DC Comics films, you know that his consistency brought to the character has been a cornerstone for DC Comics’ success in the industry for over 20 years. At the end of the day, just look at Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League cartoons. He even plays old Bruce perfectly in Batman Beyond. Oh and while I’m not looking at video games for this ranking, if my explanation isn’t enough for you, remember that he voices the character in 11 different video games including the entire Arkham trilogy

Notes:

There are several one-off animated films featuring the Batman character that I have not seen. My list focuses on everything I have seen. If someone did not make the list, it is quite possible I have missed that particular animated film. For example, I have not seen Batman: Year One with Ben McKenzie voicing the character.

Please come back on Friday, March 25th to see where I think Ben Affleck’s Batman from Batman v Superman lands.

What do you think of my ranking? Comment below!

Top 10 Batman Incarnations in Film and TV