Growing up, there were many benefits to being a comic book fan. Yes, there were some drawbacks. It wasn’t that long ago that superhero comics were the exclusive domain of nerds, geeks, and kids. The fact that superheroes now regularly make billions at the box office proves that more people liked them than anyone dared admit.
Even before they became mainstream, comics and superheroes had plenty of upsides. For one, they were relatively cheap. When I was a kid, a comic book cost just a couple of bucks at most and didn’t require an extra summer job to get into. I could get by just by mowing lawns and collecting my allowance. Compared to other hobbies that required investment, that’s a hell of a bargain.
I had some friends that loved cars, golf, and fashion. I guarantee they spent way more money on accessories than I ever did on comics. Hell, I knew girls who spent more money on boy band merchandise than I spent on comics. I doubt many of those same girls have that stuff. I still have comics that I bought while I was in high school.
These days, it’s never been easier to get into comics. Now, all you need is an Amazon account and Comixology. Plus, with services like Comixology Unlimited, you can basically read hundreds of books a month for the cost of a latte. I challenge anyone to find a better deal.
In the meantime, another New Comic Book Day is upon us and with it comes more benefits of being a comic fan. Here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
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: Homecoming” set 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.
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.
However, given that this takes place in the MCU, the concept is already on a shaky foundation. While the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” established that these two characters are romantically involved, there’s little in terms of how that relationship developed. As a result, the tragedy that played out in the Battle of Wakanda had little dramatic weight.
It’s one of the few glaring flaws in an otherwise stellar narrative. However, the lack of romantic depth between Vision and the Scarlet Witch is only the most obvious symptom of a much larger problem that has been unfolding in the MCU since the days of “Iron Man” and “Thor.”
Some parts of that problem are pure logistics. Building a cinematic universe on the scale of the MCU requires a lot of moving parts and, as a result, romance was often a secondary concern. Kevin Feige and the creative minds at Marvel Studios opted to prioritize other aspects of character development. Given the MCU’s unprecedented winning streak, it’s safe to say those priorities were well-placed.
Even the successful romances, namely Tony Stark and Pepper Pots or Ant Man and Wasp, had much of that success unfold off-screen. At most, a movie would show them getting together or enduring a major conflict, but there would rarely be any moments that fleshed out the romance in a meaningful way. Every bit of development only centered around defeating a villain, which is good catalyst for romance, but not much else.
Now, we’re getting an entire show about a couple who were on opposite sides of the conflict in “Captain America: Civil War” and inexplicably together in “Avengers: Infinity War.” In terms of meaningful romance, this is not a trivial oversight. If someone didn’t know their romantic history in the comics, then they would be understandably confused as to why they ended up together.
Not seen here is ANY hint that these two have been flirting.
How is anyone who only saw “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War” supposed to buy into the relationship between Vision and the Scarlet Witch? The movies only establish that they’re together. They don’t establish why, how, or what they went through in establishing their relationship. Everyone is just left to assume, which is rarely a good strategy for developing meaningful romance.
Even if the relationship between Vision and the Scarlet Witch were entirely platonic, it would still be quite a stretch to believe that they have a genuinely intimate connection. It’s possible that the upcoming show will help develop that connection, but there’s no getting around how underdeveloped it has been to this point.
The same could be said for other relationships throughout the MCU. Some are so underdeveloped that when intimate moments do occur, they rarely have much impact. Captain America’s relationship with Peggy Carter in his first movie probably had the best foundation, of all the MCU romances, but that only made him kissing her niece, Sharon, feel downright wrong. Haley Atwell herself has said as such.
Romance, even among fictional characters, requires some level of chemistry to go along with the narrative. While that can be difficult to fit into a single movie, it’s not impossible. Movies like “Man of Steel” and the first “Spider-Man” movie were able to establish the necessary chemistry with only a handful of scenes. Such scenes have been absent or underdeveloped in the MCU.
Ironically, the most fleshed out romance in the MCU is between Starlord and Gamora, two characters who aren’t an endearing love story in the comics. I would even argue that the scene in which Starlord sacrifices himself to save Gamora in the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie shows more romantic depth than any other MCU movie to date.
It didn’t take much to show that Starlord and Gamora have chemistry. From their first interactions to the many challenges they overcame over the course of two movies, they developed a powerful connection that just isn’t there for Vision and the Scarlet Witch. That connection is part of what made the events between them in “Avengers: Infinity War” so heart-wrenching.
That same sentiment just wasn’t there with Vision. We knew from the events of two previous movies that Starlord genuinely loved Gamora. We understood how strong it was by the time Thanos entered the picture. There’s none of that present with Vision and the Scarlet Witch. When they face a similar situation, it just doesn’t have the same impact.
It probably helps that Guardians of the Galaxy was a relatively obscure series before the first movie and has little history of iconic romances compared to the Avengers. However, it does show that the MCU is capable of meaningful romance. It just seems incapable of applying it to the more notable couples from the comics.
While such flaws haven’t stopped the MCU from succeeding on so many other levels, it still ensures that Vision and the Scarlet Witch have an uphill battle in terms of proving their romance is more than an assumed contrivance. It’s certainly not impossible, but there’s a lot to develop in terms of chemistry and depth.
Given on how “Avengers Endgame” played out, it may not matter how poorly past romances have been handled. However, the impact it has had in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies shows that there is a place for romance in the MCU. Perhaps Vision and the Scarlet Witch can be part of that with the upcoming show, but it has lot to overcome before it can be the iconic romance that the MCU needs.