Coffee Talk #135: Do Villains Make the Hero?

My friend and I were having a nerd lunch yesterday, talking about Iron Man’s crappy rogues gallery. It was extra funny because we were eating at a restaurant made famous by Swingers and there were a few minor celebrities around. As Hollywood did its thing, we wondered if Iron Man’s popularity wasn’t as high as it could have been due to his extraordinarily bad villains. Crimson Dynamo?!? The Mandarin?!? Fin Fang Foom?!?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, being jealous of RPadholic smartguy’s HTC Incredible, the chances of Mark Cuban holding an NBA championship tropy, or why you think Shane Mosley will beat Floyd Mayweather, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

My friend and I were having a nerd lunch yesterday, talking about Iron Man’s crappy rogues gallery. It was extra funny because we were eating at a restaurant made famous by Swingers and there were a few minor celebrities around. As Hollywood did its thing, we wondered if Iron Man’s popularity wasn’t as high as it could have been due to his extraordinarily bad villains. Crimson Dynamo?!? The Mandarin?!? Fin Fang Foom?!?

Every hero needs a good villain to fight. Batman probably has the best assortment of baddies, which is one reason he’s globally popular. The X-Men have to deal with Magneto’s brand of mutant justice and a large portion of the world hating/fearing them. Heroes like The Flash and Daredevil have been elevated in popularity thanks to their villains. Heck, Flash’s adversaries call themselves “The Rogues”, while DD has edgy opponents like Bullseye, Elektra, and Kingpin.

Do you think villains make the hero? Does a comic-book protagonist need top-shelf baddies? Or can the hero win the hearts and minds of the public regardless of who he/she is fighting?

TMNT Reboot Proof?

The following image might be part of a costume from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie due on 2011. Latino Review received the image and did some (intelligent) speculating. The movie is supposed to be a dark and gritty reboot that’s much close to the original Eastman and Laird comics.

I love the look of the costume (if that’s what it really is), but I’m hoping that this reboot really is dark. I loved the Eastman and Laird comics; they were edgy, fun, and ridiculous. I was appalled by the kiddie cartoons and mildly offended by the movies. While it would be tough to go with an R-rated TMNT, it would be much closer to the original vision. I’m (cautiously) hoping that’s what will come in 2011.

Are any of you excited for a TMNT reboot? Have any of you read the original comics? Or are the Turtles synonymous with the term “cowabunga!” to you?


Meet Archie’s Openly Gay Character: Kevin Keller

Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead have a new friend in Riverdale — openly gay character Kevin Keller. New to Archie Comics, Keller is an aspiring journalist that loves his comic books. Here’s the scoop from Comics Alliance:

In a story titled “Isn’t it Bromantic?” Keller makes waves as the new kid in town by besting Jughead in an eating contest. From there he gains the attention of boy-crazy Veronica, who is crushing so hard that she’s ready to leave Archie to Betty. When Jughead points out her interest, Kevin’s up front about the fact that he’s gay and spends the rest of the issue introducing himself to the rest of the gang while trying to let a clueless Veronica down easy, much to Jughead’s amusement.

Man, Jughead is kind of a dick in this storyline. He totally wants to mess with Veronica over her affections for Kevin. I always thought Reggie was supposed to be the dick in the Archie books.

Anyway, I think it’s fantastic that there’s a gay character in Archie. It’s real and current and tells children that there isn’t anything wrong with homosexuality. That said, I’m not a parent and I know that a few of you are. How do you feel about the Kevin Keller character?


Poll: Avengers vs. JLA — Fight!!!

A few of you guys started this debate in today’s Coffee Talk. Now here’s the poll! In my mind, this is a blowout. I’m with the Justice League all the way. Who’s the most powerful Avenger? Thor? The JLA has Superman, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter to mop the floor with him.

Anyway, kindly make your vote and state your case.

[poll id=”36″]

Random Thoughts (Not a Review!) on Blackest Night #8

I just finished reading Blackest Night #8 and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I super enjoyed it, but I didn’t get the sense of closure I was looking for. What really got me excited was the storyline possibilities for the entire DC Universe — not just the Green Lantern books. While the finale did an okay job at ending Blackest Night, it excelled at teasing future storylines across multiple books. Random thoughts and spoilers ahead!

– I was disappointed in Sinestro’s “ending”. I really thought he was going to die in issue #8. In my head I pictured a fallen hero finding redemption and closure on the death of his best friend (Abin Sur, Hal Jordan’s predecessor) by dying to save the universe. Perhaps that was too obvious. Instead, he kind of just goes with the flow. The good news is that he has plenty to do in the Green Lantern books and he’s such a great character.

– The Indigo Tribe was never really explained. I still don’t get them. I’m probably not supposed to. However, it would have been nice to understand their motivations. I’m sure they’ll be popping up again and they will be developed, but there should have been more details given in Blackest Night. For now, they’re just these tribal people with power rings and no shoes.

– Larfleeze cracks me up.

– The white lantern battery is exciting. I’m sure Geoff Johns will do something interesting with it.

– The resurrections were mostly awesome. Let’s go through some of them.

  • J’onn J’onzz – He’s the Justice League’s glue. The DC Universe feels better and safer when he’s around. Plus, the dude’s addicted to Oreos. He’s not the flashiest character around, but everything feels more stable when he’s a big player. I’m thrilled that mean green machine is back.
  • Jade – Jennie-Lynn Hayden’s return will make things really interesting for Kyle Rayner. Upon returning to life, she greeted Kyle with a big kiss. This did not go over well with Kyle’s current lady, green lantern Soranik Natu. The love triangle will be fun. Sinestro kicking Kyle’s ass for snubbing his daughter would be awesome. I’m a Guy and Hal guy, not a Kyle guy (though he’s growing on me), so any time Kyle gets his ass kicked is okay by me.
  • Maxwell Lord – He really screwed up the DCU in Infinite Crisis. He almost wiped out all of Earth’s metahumans and succeeded in tarnishing Wonder Woman’s reputation forever. He’s cunning, devious, and dangerous. I’m sure he’ll pop up in big way soon. That said, a small part of me wishes DC would retcon his story and make him used-car salesman that ran the Justice League and Super Buddies (*snicker*) again.
  • Hawkman and Hawkgirl – I’m glad they’re back and I’m super glad that Hawkgirl isn’t Kendra Saunders anymore. Carter Hall was getting too ornery and Kendra was getting too flighty in the JSA books. I’m glad the Hawks are back to normal.
  • Deadman – Fans of DCU’s magical characters will get a kick out of Deadman being…uh…not dead. This was a fun curveball and I think the writers can do something cool with Boston Brand being alive. I suppose he should change his name though. It no longer applies.
  • Eobard Thawne – Well, Barry Allen is back so you might as well bring back his greatest villain, right? Professor Zoom is cool and all, but he just seems like a guy with funky powers and a lot of brain damage. The Reverse Flash is just a vicious son of a bitch. He adds an ever-present sense of danger to Barry Allen’s life as The Flash.
  • Digger Harkness – Not only did Captain Boomerang come back from the dead, he lost weight and gained hair color too! While he won’t have the impact of Thawne, but it’s good to bring him back to the Flash’s rogues gallery. Between Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen, there are a lot of super speedsters in DC. They need more rogues. Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing how he interacts with his son. I’m also looking forward to seeing any fallout for his role in Identity Crisis.
  • Aquaman – He’s okay. I just wish they brought him back looking like Vincent Chase. That would have been cool.

So yeah! Blackest Night has been wrapped up and Brightest Day has been set up; those elements of issue #8 were fine, but not great. The resurrections and implications really got me excited. Of course I’m going to read the whole series 12 times over and probably have a different opinion on Sunday. These are just my initial thoughts. If you happen to read Blackest Night #8, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Chris Evans (Human Torch) to Play Captain America

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Evans has signed to play Captain America in the upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies. Moviegoers will remember Evans as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies. Evans is will have to ditch the “Flame on!” catchphrase for the “Avengers assemble!” battle cry.

I’m not sold on Evans’ casting just yet. He’s 27, which is slightly too young to play the patriarch of the Marvel Universe. Yes, he has the Super Soldier Serum maintaining his youth, but Cap is a man out of time from World War II. Evans was great as the Human Torch, bringing out the character’s cockiness and recklessness. Can he play someone that’s supposed to be a little grizzled, naive to the modern world, a father figure to other Marvel heroes, and totally kick-ass? I’m not so sure.

Let me know what you think of Chris Evans as Captain America (please)!


Batman: The Brave & the Bold Coming to DS and Wii

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has launched the official web site for the upcoming Batman: The Brave & the Bold videogame for Nintendo DS and Wii. I’m a huge fan of the cartoon since it utilizes DC’s second- and third-tier heroes like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Doctor Fate, and so many more. The cover of the game features Blue Beetle and Plastic Man!

On the development side, WayForward has been tasked with creating this upcoming Batman adventure. The company’s history is mixed, with strong games like Shantae on its roster accompanied by a vast assortment of licensed games that most of you don’t care about. Hopefully this game gets a Shantae-like effort instead of a Justice League Heroes: The Flash effort.

Batman: The Brave & the Bold is slated for a September 2010 release. As a huge super-hero nerd, I’m excited for this game. How about you?

Superman Reboot Being Supervised by Christopher Nolan?

The Superman movie franchise is headed for another reboot and rumor has it that Chris Nolan will be supervising Big Blue’s return to the silver screen. Deadline Hollywood has reported:

The studio has turned to Chris Nolan to mentor development of the movie. Our insiders say that the brains behind rebooted Batman has been asked to play a “godfather” role and ensure The Man Of Steel gets off the ground after a 3 1/2-year hiatus. Nolan’s leadership of the project can set it in the right direction with the critics and the fans, not to mention at the box office. Besides, Nolan is considered something of a god at Warner Bros and has a strong relationship with the studio after the success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

I’ve enjoyed loads of Superman comics over the years and I loved the first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve. The problem with Superman is that it’s hard to make him interesting and vulnerable in a two-hour film. His weaknesses include kryptonite, magic, and bossy newspaper reporters. Kryptonite is too easy and has been done to death. Magic seems silly to most mainstream moviegoers (though Superman vs. Voldemort would be funny). Superman II worked because he faced off against three people with the same powers and General Zod was frickin’ awesome. How do you top that?

I’d love to see a Kingdom Come movie, but that would be too confusing for casual fans and it would be too expensive to make. What do you think the ingredients are to a good Superman movie?


Zatanna Zatara Screens and Concept Art

Sony Online Entertainment has released a batch of renders and concept art for Zatanna Zatara in DC Universe Online for PC and PS3. One of the reasons I prefer DC over Marvel is its excellent secondary characters. Zatanna totally fits the bill. She’s a sexy lady in a ridiculous costumer (fishnets?!?) and her formidable powers come from saying words backwards. It’s so wacky that I love it (and her)! Hopefully her stupid alternate costumer with the dumb headpiece will be available as well.

(Not a) Review of the Planet Hulk Movie

The following article contains spoilers on the Planet Hulk movie. You’ve been warned, so no crying. Now let’s get to it! Last night I caught a screening of Planet Hulk at the Paley Center for Media. For those of you not familiar with Planet Hulk, let me try to sum it up. The Marvel Illuminati hatch a plot to get Hulk off of Earth. Iron Man — in all of his Civil War dickishness — is worried about Hulk losing control and killing millions. After plotting with Nick Fury to subdue the Hulk, the “heroes” place him in a spaceship and send him to an uninhabited planet. Unfortunately, a wormhole takes him to the world of Sakaar, where a perilous adventure, peace, and tragedy await.

I’m a huge fan of the Planet Hulk comics (written by the excellent Greg Pak), but I was more than a little worried about how the epic tale would translate into an 80-minute move. As expected, a lot of the details and subplots that made the comics so great were lost in translation. What’s left is a violent romp that’s certainly entertaining, but pales in comparison to the source material. Here are some thoughts and observations (not a review) on the movie.

The Silver Surfer is Replaced with…Beta Ray Bill?!?
In the comics, Hulk faces off against an enslaved Silver Surfer in the Red King’s gladiator arena. The fight comes off as a gargantuan affair between two beings with enough power to destroy planets. Furthermore, they’re both — to various extents — iconic characters. It’s a clash of the titans! Sadly, this could not happen in the movie. From what I understand, legal issues prevented the Silver Surfer from being used. It’s part of the game and I accept that…but Marvel couldn’t think of anyone better to use than Beta Ray Bill?

There are several problems with Bill being used. Few fans will believe that he can go toe-to-toe with the Hulk. Furthermore, a lot of people don’t know who the hell he is. I can see a lot of viewers thinking that Thor got drunk, slept with a horse, and gave birth to a boy named Bill.

Miek Gets Squashed
When the Warbound make their pact, only Hiroim and Korg tell their back stories. Miek never gets to reveal his background. In fact, Miek never gets to do much of anything in the movie. This is a shame because he’s an interesting character that goes through several changes in the comics. The subplots with his queen and his transformation were great. They gave him depth and purpose. In the movie he’s just a bug thingie that talks like Gollum and gives Hulk a medal.

Savior Aspect Not Played Up
In the books, the people of Sakaar eventually think that Hulk’s there to save the world. He’s shown uniting people with his actions. His blood transforms barren deserts into lush fields. He saves the planet by jumping into its core and pulling together its tectonic plates. Eventually, he becomes a messianic figure. This isn’t really conveyed in the movies. Hulk is a guy the beats up a lot of other guys and his blood only results in sprouts.

Sledgehammer Romance
The relationship between Hulk and Caiera was a slow burn in the comics. Early on they exchange looks and one-liners. They fight. They grow to respect each other as warriors. They fight some more. After getting to understand one another, they respect each other as people. They become allies. In the end, they become lovers. The movie didn’t have any of the subtlety of the books. The two pretty much fight, become allies, and *bam* Caiera is feeling Hulk up. It was almost jarring.

The Movie Ended the Right Way
Fans that read the comics or graphic novel know that Planet Hulk starts and ends on down notes. The movie doesn’t. It ends with Hulk seemingly appointed ruler of Sakaar (through violence…what a lovely lesson to teach kids), adored by the people and with Caiera ready to get it on. It’s a happy ending for the Green Goliath and I totally agree with what the writers did here. It’s like the main event of WrestleMania — the good guy has to win. You have to send the audience home happy. I know that some purists will scoff at the happy ending, but I believe this was the right thing to do for casual fans. You don’t want people to watch the movie, get depressed, read The Bell Jar, and go kill themselves.

I also have a bunch of shorter, bite-sized observations and opinions on Planet Hulk (that still don’t constitute a review). Here they are:

Awesome Action — You get to see the Hulk break a lot of stuff, smash a lot of stuff, and punch a lot of stuff. You even get to see him squish a bug-like alien to death. There’s a lot of action and violence in this movie…and it’s so much fun. Hulk smash!!!

Unimpressive Art — There was nothing distinct or special about the animation. The art was drab, especially in comparison to the excellent comics. Newcomers might not notice it, but fans of the books will be displeased.

Thor Unleashed — The writers added a few minutes of Thor fighting Korg’s people in a flashback sequence. This was only a couple of panels in the books. The animated action was pretty cool. Beta Ray Bill was slapped into this sequence to give his inclusion a sense of continuity.

Johnny Sakaarson — In my head, the term Sakaarson is pronounced Sakaar-sun. In the movie it’s rushed together so that it sounds like one quick word, as in The Tonight Show with Johnny Sakaarson. It’s a stupid peeve, but it definitely bothered me.

No Bruce Banner Scenes — Reverting to Banner plays an important part in Hulk’s romance with Caiera, but it’s also a vital part of the character. Never mind that there are like 17 Hulks in current continuity. The Hulk is all about duality. Not having Banner as the Hulk’s “other side” seemed wrong.

No No-Name — Warbound member No-Name of the Brood is nowhere to be found in the movie. This is a shame because she comes from an awesome race and gets jiggy with Miek. Not only did the writers strip away all of Miek’s depth, they also took away his sexy time. Poor Miek.

Warbound Incomplete — I mentioned pieces of this already, but you don’t get the complete Warbound experience in the movie. Aside from No-name’s absence, Elloe and Miek do not reveal their background. There was a point in the screening where I thought I passed out for a few minutes. Hiroim and Korg told there stories, Elloe was about to tell hers, and *blam* the next scene happens. I seriously thought that I blacked out and missed a few minutes of the movie. On the plus side, the two origins that were used were well done.

No Racism — One of the most interesting dynamics on Sakaar is between the pink humanoids and the bug guys. The bugs are used by slaves or servants by some of the pinks. The racial tension is palpable, which makes Hulk uniting the planet even more remarkable. This isn’t conveyed in the movie.

Lame Cylon Joke — The movie has an android fighting alongside the Warbound. It’s there for like two minutes before it dies. It mutters, “Oh frak!” before kicking the bucket. I would have preferred No-name or nothing at all over this quickie joke.

Invulnerable Hair — There’s a scene where the Red King is repelling Hulk with a blowtorch-like weapon. Miraculously, Hulk’s hair doesn’t burn off. I suppose gamma-irradiated hair is super strong, but if the flame was powerful enough to keep Hulk at bay for a few seconds then shouldn’t it have burned his hair off?

Caiera the Sexy — In the comics, Caiera the Oldstrong is a large and powerful woman. She’s thick and muscular in a beautiful way. The artists made her cute and dainty in the movie. This doesn’t work at all. Hulk would destroy the movie version of Caiera in bed.

Even though I have a lot of issues with the changes and omissions in the movie, I think a lot of people will enjoy it. The action is great, the skeleton plot works well enough, and the pace is peppy. If you’ve read the books then you’re sure to have issues with the movie. In fact, the more you enjoyed the source material, the bigger your issues will be…unless you realize that there’s only so much you can do in 80 minutes. In that context, the writers did a good job of highlighting key moments of the comics in a severely limited format. There are so many things that I wish were included, but I understand why they weren’t.

At the end of the day my suggestion is to buy the graphic novel and rent the movie.