Category Archives: superhero comics

Captain America: Civil War And Its Overlooked (And Understated) Flaws

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while now. It breaks down “Captain America: Civil War,” a movie that’s held in high regard in the pantheon of superhero movies. I saw it too. I enjoyed it. However, I feel there were some significant flaws that got glossed over and overlooked.

This video is my way of highlighting those flaws, as well as a deeper exploration into what made the Civil War event in the comics so impactful. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube

My Review Of The First Two Episodes Of “WandaVision”

Before I talk about “WandaVision” or anything related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I need to disclose one thing.

I’ve been in major withdraw of MCU content after 2020.

I say that because it’s likely to color my perceptions and bias, so I won’t bother hiding it. I imagine others share it, too. That being the case, let’s just put it out there. A lot of things got derailed in 2020 because of the pandemic, including several movies that were supposed to kick-start the next phase of the MCU.

These delays were understandable, given the state of the world. That didn’t make them any less painful. It marked the first year in nearly a decade that we had to go an entire year without any MCU content. As a lifelong fan of comics and superhero movies, words cannot describe how agonizing that was.

Now, the wait is over. The MCU is back. While it’s not in the form of a billion-dollar blockbuster, Kevin Feige and our Disney Overlords are adapting this wondrous franchise for the world of streaming. The first step in that process finally arrived last week in the form of “WandaVision,” the first ever MCU content built exclusively for streaming.

It marks a bold new era for the MCU, as well as another incentive for people to invest in a Disney+ subscription. Like it or not, “The Mandalorian” cannot do it alone, but it still set a high bar. Does “WandaVision” match that bar in the first two episodes?

The short answer is yes, for the most part.

The long answer is yes, it’s on the right track, but only time will tell.

Two episodes is simply not enough to assess the full quality of any show, but it does help create a foundation. In that sense, “WandaVision” definitely starts strong. It takes the winning formula of the MCU and adapts it into a quirky sitcom full of humor, mystery, and a glut of Easter Eggs.

I’ll get to the Easter Eggs later, but I want to focus more on the unique format of the show. Make no mistake. It is unique, if not downright weird. Then again, both Wanda and Vision are weird characters with a strange, but endearing connection. That has always been the case with their relationship in the comics. This show does plenty to channel that weirdness and to that end, a sitcom format works beautifully.

There’s no build or setup for that format. When the first episode begins, it runs like an old episode of “I Love Lucy” or “Dick Van Dyke.” It’s black and white. The setting is an idyllic suburb. Wanda and Vision are newlyweds, but they’re still very aware of their powers, abilities, and status as a couple in which one of them is an android.

Naturally, the MCU brand of humor emerges naturally from that setup. There’s all sorts of comments and quips that poke fun at their status, which is milked for plenty of entertainment value. In addition to plenty of classic sitcom tropes from that era, it’s a potent formula. You don’t expect it to work as well as it does, but it still works.

The first episode involves Vision and Wanda trying to host a dinner for Vision’s boss. There’s plenty of misunderstandings and mishaps, but it ultimately pans out.

The second episode builds on that, having Wanda and Vision try to integrate with their suburban community and participate in a talent show. Things go horribly and hilariously wrong when Vision finds out he can’t handle chewing gum.

Within these quirky sitcom antics, there are ominous hints and teases as to what’s really going on. This is taking place in the MCU, following the events of “Avengers Endgame.” Something or someone has warped reality around Wanda, who was not in a good place after the death of Vision. That instability comes into play on multiple occasions throughout the first two episodes, but nothing major is revealed.

This is where “WandaVision” shines and stalls at the same time. The sitcom format works beautifully and provides plenty of entertainment value. However, when it comes to explaining how they got there and who’s involved, the hints are exceedingly vague.

I ended up having to watch both episodes multiple times to really understand those hints. If you’ve been following the movies and are familiar with the comics, you’ll definitely appreciate them. If not, you will likely be quite lost.

This is not the kind of show you can come in blind and appreciate fully. It’s still fun, but you can’t get the most out of it without having a moderate knowledge of Marvel Comics and the MCU.

That brings me to the Easter Eggs in both episodes. There are a lot of them, too many for me to mention. Other sites have already highlighted them, but the sheer volume Marvel Studios threw in is both impressive and revealing. Some offer hints of past events in the MCU. Others hint at things only comic fans will recognize.

These Easter Eggs definitely enhance the experience. Again, if you don’t have that working knowledge, they’re easy to miss and they do limit that experience. Even without that knowledge, though, some of those hints are quite overt. It’s very clear that something is very off in this world and others are trying to get into it.

It’s still not clear if Wanda is trapped or if this whole world is just her own doing. There are plenty of hints that someone with less-than-noble intentions is playing a part. There are also some familiar faces, namely Monica Rambeau, who make their presence felt. What role she and others will play is still unclear, but the stage is definitely set for something big, literally and figuratively.

In just two episodes, “WandaVision” effectively establishes its own unique style. It has that familiar MCU polish, but it’s also very different from the big budget blockbusters we’re used to. That’s not a bad thing. Like I said, this show marks Disney and Marvel Studios’ efforts to adapt to the world of streaming.

It’s still too early to say for sure whether it’s a full-fledged success. After the first two episodes, I’d say it’s well on its way. I’m not going to give a score for “WandaVision” just yet. It’s too early to fully assess the show. I’ll just say that I’m so glad and so relieved to see the MCU back in action. I still miss going to the movies, but this show promises to tide me and my fellow Marvel fans over in the meantime.

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Filed under Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero comics, superhero movies, television

“Deadpool 3” Is Official! What Now?

It’s official.

Marvel Studios, the alpha and omega of superhero movies, is going to produce “Deadpool 3” and it will be R-Rated, just like its predecessors. I think I speak for all fans who saw the first two Deadpool movies multiple times when I say we’re both excited and relieved.

That said, this wasn’t exactly a long shot. Marvel Studios making “Deadpool 3” was very likely to begin with. The first two movies made a combined $1.5 billion on a total budget of $268 million. That’s a damn good return on investment and after 2020, Disney needs that badly. That may mean doing some R-Rated things that Disney isn’t used to, but when they’re badly in need of cash, they won’t dare change the winning formula.

Even if it was inevitable, it’s still always comforting to get confirmation. We can finally stop speculating. Marvel Studios’ big boss, Kevin Feige, confirmed it with his own words.

IGN: Deadpool 3 Will Be an R-Rated MCU Movie, Says Kevin Feige

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that the next Deadpool movie will be R-rated, and be part of the MCU – with Ryan Reynolds working on a script right now.Speaking to Collider during a WandaVision press event, Feige went into a little more detail about the project:

“It will be rated R and we are working on a script right now, and Ryan [Reynolds is] overseeing a script right now… It will not be [filming] this year. Ryan is a very busy, very successful actor. We’ve got a number of things we’ve already announced that we now have to make, but it’s exciting for it to have begun. Again, a very different type of character in the MCU, and Ryan is a force of nature, which is just awesome to see him bring that character to life.”

This is all great news for me. I love every word of this. I’m already very excited to see the X-Men join the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point. The prospect of seeing Deadpool in the same world that Kevin Feige so masterfully created over the course of a decade is just too awesome for words.

Rest assured, I’ll be first in line to see “Deadpool 3” in its R-Rated glory. I sincerely hope it includes plenty of quirky references about the MCU, other Marvel characters, and the kind of crude humor that makes Deadpool and actor Ryan Reynolds so inherently lovable.

As excited as I am, I do have some burning questions that I’d like to put out there. I imagine my fellow Deadpool fans are asking these questions as well. Most of them boil down to this.

What does an R-Rated Deadpool movie produced by Disney even look like?

It’s not an unreasonable question. Let’s not forget that the first two Deadpool movies contained content that never would’ve been authorized by Disney.

There were multiple F-Bombs and plenty of poop jokes.

There was gratuitous, blood-soaked violence that involved guns, katanas, and even a Zamboni.

There were multiple scenes that involved raucous sex, including one that involved Ryan Reynolds getting fucked with a strap-on.

This is all par for the course with Deadpool. What we saw in the movies is not that different from what regularly happens in the comics. This is stuff that does not at all jive with Disney’s family friendly, princess loving image. The Marvel movies in the MCU are great, but they have strict PG-13 lines that they’ve never dared cross.

So, how are they going to make that work? That’s not a rhetorical question. Seriously, how are they going to pull it off?

This is what Ryan Reynolds had to say.

Oh Mr. Reynolds, don’t ever change.

It’s adorable, but it still leaves the question unanswered. We probably won’t know for sure until more details come out, which could take years. In the meantime, I’ll continue to wait and agonize over this issue. If nothing else, I take comfort in the knowledge that Disney badly needs another billion-dollar blockbuster and if that means dropping some F-Bombs, I think they’re willing to pay that price.

Deadpool is worth it.

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Filed under Deadpool, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Uncategorized, X-men

Jack’s World: How “Wonder Woman” Celebrates Love And Humanity

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video essay/celebration of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, a film that will always be near and dear to my heart. I know I recently did a review of “Wonder Woman 1984” and I was tempted to do a video about that, but I wanted to first pay tribute to the movie that started Diana’s wondrous journey into film. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube

My “Wonder Woman 1984” Review: An (Imperfect) Emotionally Charged Wonder

We’re at a point with superhero movies where the bar has been raised to such a degree that we can’t just call them a passing fad anymore. Love them or hate them, superhero movies have evolved. They’ve developed a complexity and nuance that few genres ever gain, regardless of medium.

Plus, they make billions at the box office. Let’s not forget that. It’s why the Bill Mahers of the world won’t stop whining about superhero movies anytime soon.

Forgetting the whiners and petty nit-pickers of the genre, superhero movies have a higher threshold to achieve to be considered successful. It’s not enough anymore than to just put a famous actor or actress in an iconic costume and replay famous scenes from comics. The story, characters, and themes have to be refined and compelling.

That’s a challenge for any movie, but one that felt far more daunting for “Wonder Woman 1984.” After the success of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which did a masterful job of establishing Diana’s origin and building her superhero persona, this sequel is tasked with building on that foundation.

As someone who loved the first movie and made it a point to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with my mom on Christmas day, I had high hopes for this movie. I wasn’t expecting “The Dark Knight” level of quality, but I was hoping for a worthy follow-up.

Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll say without hesitation that it succeeded. This movie was a beautiful, emotionally driven cinematic experience and a worthy successor to the first “Wonder Woman.”

I say that knowing that some reviews were quite scathing in their assessment of the film. As is my general rule, I never read reviews before I see a movie. As I saw withNew Mutants,” that can wrongly color your perspective. As was also the case with that movie, I was genuinely surprised by the criticisms levied against “Wonder Woman 1984.”

However, I’m not going to waste my time responding to those criticisms. I’m just going to offer my take on why I thought this movie was a worthy follow-up to the first. Like any sequel, its primary goal was building on what the first movie established. In that sense, this movie did succeed.

The setup for the movie is a dazzling spectacle. Like the first, we get a brief glimpse of Diana’s youth on Themysicra. We see her living and growing amongst her Amazon sisters, showing the kind of power and potential that lies within her. It’s a true sight to behold and one director Patty Jenkins fleshes out meticulously.

Within that setup, though, is an important theme. It highlights the importance of truth and doing things the right way for the right reasons. You cannot and should not take shortcuts to achieve your goal. Doing so will always come at a price and incur consequences. It’s a simple, but necessary lesson that kids and adults alike often learn the hard way.

That leads us directly to the main antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord. Played by Pedro Pascal, he comes off as the very antithesis of this lesson. He’s a con-man and a huckster, always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants. That includes tampering with the forces of the gods, which puts him in direct conflict with Diana.

At the same time, this conflict ties closely to another unfolding with Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva. Played by Kristen Wiig, she comes off at first as the very antithesis of Diana. She’s a nobody. She has none of Diana’s power, grace, or skill. She’s basically invisible, only ever getting attention from people she doesn’t like.

This is very much in line with the characterization of Barbara Minerva in the comics. She’s Wonder Woman’s chief rival, but she started out as a friend. She’s even sympathetic to some extent. She’s not looking to become a villain, like Maxwell Lord. She just wants a taste of the power and prestige that she sees in Wonder Woman.

She ultimately gets her chance, as does Maxwell Lord. When Barbara stumbles upon the Dreamstone, a relic imbued with the power from Dolos, the god of lies, that can grant wishes to those who wield it. However, like a typical monkey’s paw narrative, every wish comes at a price.

It closely mirrors the lesson young Diana learned in her youth, as depicted in the movie’s opening scenes. Taking any shortcut to get what you desire will come at a price. You can try to avoid the consequences all you want, but it eventually compounds. The more you try, the worse it’ll get.

Maxwell Lord thinks he has a way to avoid this. He thinks he can get everything he wants by simply making the right kind of wish. That ultimately causes a great deal of destruction. I’d go into detail, but I’d rather not reveal too much. All you need to know is that it’s not the kind of destruction Wonder Woman can stop with her fists and her sword.

What happens with Barbara Minerva is even more impactful. Like Maxwell Lord, she’s unwilling to give up any power she gains. Unlike Lord, however, she’s willing to pay any price to keep it. That’s what sends her down a dark path. It’s also what turns her from one of Diana’s friends into a truly tenacious foe.

These conflicts become very personal to Diana because she too is unable to resist the temptation. She may give so much of herself to others, but she also has desires and wishes of her own. That’s where Steve Trevor, played again by Chris Pine, enters the picture.

His death and heroic sacrifice in the first “Wonder Woman” movie was so powerful. That whole movie really sold the love that blossomed between him and Diana. Even as the years go by, his death still burdens Diana. She cannot let go of that love. She wants nothing more than to have it back.

It’s sad, but understandable. If ever someone deserved a consequence-free wish from all her heroic acts, it’s Diana. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. She still tries. She gets her chance to be with the love of her life again. As with everything else, though, it comes at a price.

That’s the biggest theme of this movie. Getting what you want by breaking the rules or cheating will always come at a price. Even if you’re willing to pay that price, it does cause damage to yourself and others. It’s a painful lesson and one that gives “Wonder Woman 1984” so many emotional overtones.

It’s because of those overtones that this movie works so well. Wonder Woman, by her nature, is a very emotionally driven character. Her love, compassion, and heart are among her greatest traits. They’re as strong as her fighting spirit. The first movie revealed this and “Wonder Woman 1984” builds on that.

Her greatest struggles always have an emotional weight to them. It’s not just a matter of her beating up the bad guy to save the day. One of those foes was once her friend. Another is someone she can’t defeat simply by beating him up. She has to use that uncanny compassion and heart to win the day. That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.

I would argue that’s the most important aspect of her character and this movie captured it perfectly. I really did feel for Diana as she went through these emotional upheavals throughout the story. It brought out her greatest strengths, as well as her greatest weaknesses.

Now, speaking of weaknesses, this is where I also have to levy some criticisms of my own against “Wonder Woman 1984.” I promise they’re not nearly as petty or overblown as some of the other reviews to this movie. Some have complained about the length and tone of the movie. I honestly think that sort of criticism is misguided.

I’ll still say outright that this movie was not as good as the first “Wonder Woman.” This movie was not as concise and polished, in terms of story. There were a number of “and then this happened” moments that made the story seem a bit jumbled at times. In some cases, it relied too heavily on contrivances and suspension of disbelief to move things along.

I get the sense this was done to keep things moving forward from a plot standpoint. I also think there were some difficulties in revealing the ins and outs of godly magic, which is considerably harder to do in a movie when compared to a comic.

None of these shortcomings kept the movie from working overall. Gal Gadot once again carried her role as Wonder Woman with grace and grit. She, Steve Trevor, and Cheetah all had well-developed characters that played their roles well throughout the story. In terms of the most important elements to a good Wonder Woman movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” got them right.

If I had to score this movie, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. It has some noticeable flaws, more so than its predecessor. However, Gal Gadot is still an amazing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is still a great director, and this world they explored together was full of dazzling wonder.

For a year that has been so bleak and dire, it’s just what we needed. For that, I thank “Wonder Woman 1984” and all those who helped make it happen.

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Filed under DC Comics, Movie Reviews, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman

Disney Investors Day Announcements: The Five Shows/Movies I’m Most Excited For

It’s almost over, people. We’re almost out of 2020 and the end of this global pandemic that has hurt so many is finally in sight. For that reason, it’s okay to start looking forward to 2021. As long as this year doesn’t bring us a new pandemic or an alien invasion, it should be better by default.

We should all be excited at the prospect of the world getting back to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. It’ll never be the same, but it’ll be nice to sit in a movie theater or go to a restaurant without having to wear a mask. The world will recover and many are looking to ride onto that wave of recovery.

Chief among them is our Disney overlords. It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit Disney harder than most. Once the envy of the entertainment world, this pandemic hit it with a gut punch that would down the Hulk.

However, those predicting the fall of Disney are exceedingly premature. This is a company that has navigated dark times before. They have too many resources and incentives to just give in, even in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

They’re already making the effort. A while back, Disney had their big Investors Day presentation in which they pitched their future plans to investors and the public. Among those plans were a host of movies and TV shows from.

It was ambitious, even by Disney’s lofty standards. I even dared to let myself get excited again. There was so much to take in, but for the best possible reasons. It made surviving 2020 that much more paramount.

Of the many announcements made during the call, a few stuck out to me. Here are just a few of the shows and movies that have invigorated my spirit once more. For that, I thank our Disney overlords.


Ms. Marvel

Don’t act surprised.

Seriously, have I not made my love of all things Ms. Marvel clear enough?

If this had been the only thing Disney announced, I would’ve been excited. Kamala Khan is exactly what Marvel Studios, their Disney overlords, and the world needs right now. We already got confirmation of the casting of Iman Vellani for the titular role. This time, we also got a teaser trailer for what we can expect from her and from this show.

I’m not going to lie. I watched this trailer at least 10 times and I couldn’t stop smiling.

This is a character who endeared herself in the comics with just one issue. This is also someone who channels the same spirit of the fans who love all things Marvel. She’s young and idealistic. She sees superheroes through the same lens as us, the fans. Now, we get to see her navigate the MCU in a world where the Avengers assembled, saved the day, and Tony Stark made the ultimate sacrifice.

There’s so much to explore and so much to embrace. I think this show will do for Marvel Studios what “The Mandalorian” did for Star Wars. After a year like 2020, we need that.


Star Wars: Ahsoka

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, either. I’ve made my love for Ahsoka Tano known before. She’s also a fan favorite among legions of Star Wars fans and for good reason. Her story is so vast and dramatic. She started as the brash, immature Padawan of a pre-Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker. She then became a key player in the secret war against the Empire.

Even though she has never appeared in any Star Wars movies, she has still found a way to endear herself to so many, myself included. That’s an accomplishment worthy of her own show and the timing couldn’t be better.

Most recently, she made her live-action debut in Season 2 of “The Mandalorian.” Played by Rosario Dawson, she’s made her presence known in the emerging Star Wars canon that’s unfolding on Disney Plus. This show will give her a chance to shine like never before.

She’s no longer someone’s Padawan.

She’s no longer some shadowy agent for the Rebellion.

She’s just Ahsoka being Ahsoka. Sign me up!


Fantastic Four (By Marvel Studios)

When it comes to movies from Marvel Studios, I’m in the same boat as most lifelong Marvel fans. No matter what they put out, I’ll likely be first in line to see it, whether it opens out in theaters or debuts on streaming. While we don’t know what the movie theater scene will be like in 2021, we can be certain that studios will keep making movies and those movies will find an audience.

While Marvel Studios has revealed its movie plans before, this event was special because it confirmed what many of us hoped the day we found out Disney was buying Fox. Marvel Studios is officially making a Fantastic Four movie.

Now, I’m tempted to recount all the ways the Fantastic Four have been butchered by previous movies. Believe me, I could spend hours talking about how 2015’s “Fant4stic” was botched at every turn. However, I prefer to look to the future rather than the past.

Finally, Marvel’s first family will be in the hands of Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige. They’ve shown time and again that they know what they’re doing. They love these characters every bit as much as the fans. They will do them justice.

With John Watts from “Spider-Man: Homecomingset to direct, the stage is set for the Fantastic Four to arrive in the MCU. It took a long time and a huge media acquisition, but the wait is almost over. Fantastic things are worth waiting for and I hope this is one of them.


She-Hulk

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Disney is going all-in on streaming. Given the current state of the movie business and the large catalog of content they have, that’s the best route they can take at this point. While I have high hopes for “WandaVision” as Marvel Studios’ first foray into streaming shows, I’m still more excited about She-Hulk.

I’ve mentioned this series before and I stand by my excitement. I believe this show is more critical to the continued success of Marvel Studios than “WandaVision” or even some of its movies.

Since the somewhat forgettable “Incredible Hulk” movie with Edward Norton, the jolly green rage giant has been relegated to a supporting character in pretty much every subsequent story. When he’s not teaming up with Thor or providing muscle for the Avengers, he’s basically just there.

In the comics, Hulk has his own world of sorts and She-Hulk has always been a big part of that. I believe this show can start building that world and with Tatiana Maslany in the starring role, I think this show could be special.

Plus, it’s a show with a beautiful woman smashing things. How can I not be excited about that?


Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

This announcement was an unexpected treat. Among many other Star Wars announcement, this one stood out to me almost as much as the Ahsoka show. Those who didn’t own a Nintendo 64 in the late 90s and early 2000s may not understand, but trust me. Those who did were very intrigued.

There was a time when Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was the pinnacle of Star Wars gaming. This video game essentially ditched the light sabre duels in favor of X-Wings, Y-Wings, and plenty of other exotic spaceships. It involved plenty of space battles, secret missions, and blowing stuff up on alien planets.

Good times, indeed.

Now, we find out Disney is making it into a movie. On top of that, they tapped Patty Jenkins, the woman who brought “Wonder Woman” to the big screen, to do it. I love everything about this. The same woman who tapped Wonder Woman’s wonder is now in charge of a fleet of X-wings. What’s not to love?


Besides, we’ve already had plenty of Star Wars content involving light sabers. Why not focus on elaborate space battles? I know my excitement for all this still assumes that 2021 will be less chaotic and more functional than 2020. At this point, assumptions like that are risky. However, I’m choosing to embrace hope and optimism once more. This past year has left my spirit broken, but I’m ready to start putting the pieces back together. These movies and shows can only help in that process.

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Filed under Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, superhero comics, superhero movies, television

Jack’s World: Homelander: The Perfect Villain For A Cynical Era

The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s just a brief video essay on why Homelander from “The Boys” is the perfect villain for this particularly messed up era. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, political correctness, politics, psychology, superhero comics, superhero movies, television, YouTube

“Wonder Woman: 1984” To Be Released In Theaters AND HBO Max On Christmas: Why This Is A BIG Deal

More often than not, we don’t realize when a fateful decision is a big deal that has ramifications for years to come. Those kinds of moments are rare, but powerful. I doubt the first person to use a cell phone knew just how big a deal that breakthrough was when they made that first call.

Other decisions are more obvious. You know from the get-go that this is one of those choices that might not be surprising, but you get the sense it’ll be one of those moments that you can cite as a major turning point years from now.

This Christmas, we may just experience one of those moments because that’s the day “Wonder Woman 1984” is set to come out, both in theaters and on streaming. I don’t think it’s a stretch to claim this decision could change movies, entertainment, and media for years to come.

It finally became official. After being originally set for release in June 2020, Warner Brothers decided that, rather than simply wait for this once-in-a-century pandemic to end, they’re going to release “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. This is what The Hollywood Reporter had to say.

THR: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Heading to HBO Max, Theaters Dec. 25

With a second wave of COVID-19 impacting many parts of the globe, Wonder Woman 1984 is changing course yet again.

The tentpole is all but giving up on a traditional theatrical release and will instead bow in whatever cinemas remain open Dec. 25 as well as stream on HBO Max in the U.S. for one month beginning on Christmas Day. In international markets where HBO Max is not available, the film starts rolling out Dec. 16.

“At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” director Patty Jenkins said in a statement Wednesday. “We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.”

Jenkins urged audiences to watch the $200 million tentpole in theaters where it was safe to do so, and on HBO Max where it is not. In a note echoing Jenkins, star Gal Gadot added, “It wasn’t an easy decision and we never thought we’d have to hold on to the release for such a long time but COVID rocked all of our worlds.”

Growing the number of HBO Max customers is of huge import to TimeWarner, even if it means giving up on potential box office ticket sales that Wonder Woman 1984 would have earned had it been pushed to sometime in 2021. The hope is that a high-profile Christmas Day title such as the superhero sequel will lure new subscribers (HBO Max is pricier than most other streamers, at $15.99 a month).

That’s just the basics. “Wonder Woman 1984” is still coming out in theaters, as it was always meant to. However, with theaters on the brink of collapse in wake of the pandemic, Warner Brothers is opting to gamble on the future of streaming media. They’re dropping this big name blockbuster that cost $200 million to make on their signature streaming service, HBO Max.

Logistically speaking, it’s understandable. The news surrounding the pandemic has been bleak, even by 2020 standards. Even though a vaccine seems imminent, it might be too late to save the movie industry as we know it. The damage has been done. That industry must change. This may very well be the biggest change we’ve seen since in decades.

This is not some forgettable movie like “Trolls World Tourskipping theaters for streaming. That could’ve been written off as a calculated risk for a movie that was never going to make much at the box office to begin with. This is a tentpole blockbuster from a studio’s biggest franchise skipping over what many see as the most critical part of a movie’s life.

The first “Wonder Woman” movie made north of $800 million on a budget of $150 million during its theatrical run. That’s a lot of profit, but may be a profit that even a blockbuster movie just can’t make anymore in a post-pandemic world. Even after the pandemic ends, who’s to say that the theater industry will just go back to the way it used to be?

Now, it seems Warner Brothers are prepared to leveraging their future on their HBO Max streaming service. “Wonder Woman 1984” is, by far, their biggest chip and most valuable asset. It, more than any other movie they had in the can, was most likely to get their studios’ profits going again once the pandemic waned.

Instead, this movie that has so many excited and eager, myself include, is going to be Warner Brothers’ boldest gamble at turning HBO Max into a viable Netflix competitor. They’re not just looking to do for HBO Max what “The Mandaloriandid for Disney Plus. They want to go a step further and make streaming the new avenue for big title blockbusters.

It’s impossible to overstate how big a shift this is for the movie industry. Whereas “Trolls World Tour” on streaming was a sign, releasing “Wonder Woman 1984” on the same day it comes out in theaters is a monumental shift.

It’s essentially sacrificing potential profits at the box office for a new host of subscribers to HBO Max. Will that ultimately make more money in the long run? It’s possible.

After all, those who buy a movie ticket to see “Wonder Woman 1984” are only going to pay for that ticket. From that purchase, Warner Brothers will only see a fraction. If a bunch of people subscribe to HBO Max, they may ultimately pay much more to the studio through its monthly $16 fee.

Even if most just buy an HBO MAX subscription for a single month and cancel, it’s very likely that plenty will stay subscribed, keep paying, and keep coming back for more wonderful blockbusters. In the long run, “Wonder Woman 1984might make more money for its studio overlord than it ever would have in the theaters.

That’s still a big if. So much of a movies profits is still tied to its box office. Nobody quite knows how this new model of releasing a movie will work. Streaming a movie on the same day it comes out in theaters may help widen the audience, but without those profits, the idea of footing the bill for a $200 million movie might be less tenable.

Would that mean that big budget blockbusters like “Wonder Woman 1984” became less rare?

Would that mean that theaters as a whole would diminish both in numbers and in importance for the industry?

Would that mean that blockbusters will ultimately have to cater to a streaming audience instead of a casual movie-goer?

It’s hard to say. Nobody knows. I certainly don’t know. I doubt anyone knows, but most can already sense that this could be the start of a much larger trend. Releasing “Wonder Woman 1984” on streaming and in theaters could ultimately be the point of no return for the movie industry.

This could be the future of entertainment and movies. Theaters are no longer the center of all things film and there’s no going back. Whether other blockbusters follow suit remains to be seen. I have a feeling Disney will be watching how “Wonder Woman 1984” performs closely, given how it opted to delay “Black Widow” until May 2021.

If it proves profitable in the long run, I suspect that Disney will follow suit and so will every other studio. At that point, the movie industry will have permanently changed and we’ll be able to cite this announcement as the moment it began.

There’s only one certainty at this point. On Christmas this year, I’ll be curled up on my couch to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” through my current HBO MAX subscription. Whatever monumental changes this movie inspires in the industry, it’s still Wonder Woman. I still intend to partake in her wonder, no matter what form it takes.

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Filed under Current Events, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman

A Wholesome Comic Strip To Brighten Your Day (Featuring Mr. Rogers)

Every now and then, we need something simple, uplifting, and wholesome to boost our spirits. Whether you’re a child, an adult, or a teenager struggling through the rigors of puberty, we just need something positive to cling to, if only briefly.

I certainly need that from time to time. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t. The world can be a chaotic, ugly place. It’s easier than ever to focus on the bad and overlook the good. However, that good is still out there and, in the spirit of sharing that good, I’d like to present a small comic strip that always brings a smile to my face.

I’ll give everyone a minute to wipe the tears from their face or manage their “allergies.”

Yes, that was a comic strip featuring Thor and Fred Rogers.

Yes, that’s the same Fred Rogers from “Mr. Rogers. Neighborhood.”

There are already many unbelievably wholesome stories about Fred Rogers and the impact he had on countless children. The legend of this man’s uncanny kindness, empathy, and compassion is certainly a story worth telling and it has in a number of recent movies.

Like many, I grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ show. In recent years, I’ve rediscovered his remarkable story and his amazing acts of humility. When you need something uplifting to boost your spirits, those stories just find a way to touch my heart on a profound level.

This comic strip doesn’t just reaffirm that. It makes a perfect case that, regardless of how you define worthiness, Mr. Rogers shows just how far true humility will take you. It’s a message I think we can all appreciate right now.

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Filed under Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, noble masculinity, superhero comics, superhero movies, Uplifting Stories

Deep Fake Technology Can Now Make Tom Cruise Iron Man: Signs And Implications

Certain technology advances slowly and steadily. It’s why we’re still waiting for a cure for the common cold. Other technological breakthroughs advance at such a fast rate it’s hard to keep up with. Anyone who doesn’t regularly upgrade their cell phone understands that.

That brings me to the technology of deep fakes. I’ve talked about them before and the implications this technology has for the entertainment industry. Well, I’m here to report that this technology might be advancing faster than I thought.

Recently, a new deep fake video hit the web. It’s nothing overly nefarious. It’s actually a play on a real story from the mid-2000s. Before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the first “Iron Man” movie, Tom Cruise was in the running for that role.

He has since claimed he was never close to getting that role, but it’s still an interesting idea. For most Marvel fans, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than RDJ donning that now-iconic armor. However, there’s no denying that Tom Cruise being Iron Man would’ve changed a franchise, as well as cinematic history.

Well, thanks to deep fake technology, we don’t have to imagine anymore. We can now see for ourselves what it would look like if Tom Cruise had been cast as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. See for yourself.

Watching this, I have to say it was more than a little jarring. It’s not just that seeing someone other than RDJ as Iron Man is strange. I was genuinely impressed by how real it looked.

Yes, it did become a bit obvious at times that there was some digital trickery at work. I’ve seen enough Tom Cruise movies to know what he looks like. I could tell that the body just did not match the iconic face at times.

However, I’m still impressed at just how seamless it appeared, especially when he was in the Iron Man costume. It really did look like Cruise had embraced the role as much as RDJ had. Even though the voice had to come courtesy of a skilled voice actor, the graphics technology is definitely on pace to cross the uncanny valley sooner rather than later.

The implications here are profound. If the technology is already at this point, then it’s a given that Hollywood and propaganda pushers will start embracing it sooner. For Hollywood, who is reeling in wake of a historic pandemic, they may have more incentives to embrace it than most.

Beyond actors and actresses who get “cancelled” for their behavior, it may start as a cost cutting measure. If it costs too much to put Hugh Jackman or Tom Cruise on a movie set, why not just put a cheaper actor in their place and just deep fake the more iconic figure over it? If the technology is that good and nobody can tell the difference, it almost makes too much sense.

It may get to a point where nobody outside the studio knows whether the figure we see on screen was actually “there” to give that moment life. They may just be a digital scan mixed with digitally audio, which is also advancing.

This has even larger implications with propaganda. If the technology gets to a point where we can make any public figure say or do anything we want, no matter how deplorable, then how can we trust any media image? Would “cancel culture” even be feasible at that point? If people can just claim an embarrassing moment was a deep fake, how would we know?

It’s a distressing thought, but it’s something we’ll have to account for. We may end up having to contemplate it sooner than we thought. This technology can already show us a world in which Tom Cruise was cast as Iron Man. What other worlds will it reveal?

We’ll find out soon enough.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, futurism, media issues, superhero comics, superhero movies, technology, YouTube