Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Money in the Bank Preview

OK, Sunday is Money in the Bank time.  The card is pretty short this time but the two Money in the Bank matches are going to run pretty long so it won't matter as much.  My guess is that they will add some unannounced matches the night of the show to take it out to five or six total.  I'll make snap predictions on those on my twitter feed as I watch the event, but for now I'll stick to what we already know.  We have three championship matches and a traditional match for a contract for a title match.  The main event is for the WWE World Championship, vacated when Daniel Bryan was stripped of the title, and involves a event-high eight people. We also have a Tag Team Title match and a Diva's Title match.

WWE World Title Ladder Match: John Cena vs. Kane vs. Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Sheamus

This match has the potential to be an overbooked mess.  There are potential run-ins on behalf of or in opposition to five of the eight participants, and I can guarantee you we will get some.  Given who's in it, we're not likely to see a lot of high flying ladder spots but there should be a lot of ground level brutality.  As far as who wins. there are four different categories: the no chancers (Kane, Del Rio), the probably nots (Orton, Sheamus, Cesaro), the maybe (Reigns, Wyatt), and the favorite (Cena).  I think this is a medium term decision, one that will go past Summerslam but not all the way to next year's WrestleMania, which means I'm going with.....Cena.  It's too early to put the belt on Cesaro or Reigns, Orton has held it too recently, and Wyatt would be an excellent choice but not for a few months.  Given that they need somebody to hold the belt right now who doesn't need a buildup or an angle, Cena is the choice here.  He can either drop it in a lter PPV match or get cashed in on by the winer of the other ladder match.  Either way, the best way to go right now is with Old Faithful.  So that's my pick.

Money in the Bank Contract Match:  Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger

Here's where we'll get the high flying ladder spots.  Van Dam, Rollins, Kingston, and Ziggler are all going to bring out the theatrics in this one.  Swagger is in there laregely to be the recipient of some of the big moves that those four are going to unleash.  Once again, we have guys with no chance of winning (Van Dam, Ziggler, Kingston, Swagger), a maybe (Barrett), and two favorites (Ambrose and Rollins).  Who takes it?  I'm going with Rollins.  Somebody from the Authority needs to get a win of some kind to keep the momentum going and Rollins is the obvious choice.  Him winning in some underhanded fashion also sets up the inevitable showdown between him and Ambrose.  This will probably be the most fun match of the night.

Tag Team Title Match: The Usos vs. Rowan and Harper

These guys have been putting on good matches on TV both in singles and tag team competition, and this one should be good here.  My money is on the Wyatts.  After last month's loss by family leader Bray to John Cena it's time for the Wyatt family to get some shine back, particularly the kind of shine that comes from championship belts.

Diva's Title Match: Paige vs. Naomi

This one is obvious. Paige isn't losing to Naomi of all people.

So there it is. Enjoy the show and we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review - Crisis on Two Earths

Crisis on Two Earths is a DC Animated film from a few years back.  I watched it last year, and with the recent completion of the Forever Evil series that employed a lot of the same characters, I figured it would be a good time to revisit it so I watched it again.  The title is a play on the many DC Comics event miniseries (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, etc) and was actually the title of a smaller scale series in the early 1980s.  The plot centers around an alternate earth where the heroes and villains are reversed; Lex Luthor and the Joker are good guys while the members of the Justice League are villainous versions of the ones we know.  Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring are the leading members of the Crime Syndicate and are the opposite numbers of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern.  There are also evil doppelgangers in subordinate roles like Archer (a red-suited version of Green Arrow) along with unnamed evil versions of Black Canary, Black Lightning, and Martian Manhunter.

The movie starts off in the alternate world with Luthor and Joker raiding a Crime Syndicate facility to steal a special device that would turn the tide.  They're chased down by that world's version of Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter.  Joker sacrifices himself so Luthor can get away, and he does.....using a universe hopping device to travel to our Earth.  After turning himself in to the police (with the correct assertion that they will immediately call in the League to pick him up), Luthor fills in Superman and company on how his world  is and why he needs their help (and hides the device he stole from the Crime Syndicate).  Everyone but Batman is in agreement that he deserves their help and come back with him.  Batman stays back because he asserts that it's none of their business and they have their own problems here.  Everybody watching knows that's not going to last long, and that one way or another Batman is going to be over there fighting with his teammates.

The Justice League arrives on the alternate earth and immediately goes to battle with their evil counterparts.  Some of the bad guys make their way to our world and get hold of the stolen device that Luthor hides there, bringing Batman along with them when they return.  Batman being Batman, he escapes their clutches and reunites with his Justice League mates.  It turns out the device that Luthor tried to hide was the main cog to a machine that can destroy an entire planet, which the syndicate was supposedly going to use to blackmail the world's governments into a final submission to their authority.  What everyone doesn't know is that Owlman, disillusioned with humanity and it's bad decisions is going to use the device to destroy Earth Prime, the centerpiece of the multiverse.  If Earth Prime is destroyed all the other earths will fall with it.  We soon get the League vs. Syndicate throwdown that we were waiting for, with each member facing his or her counterpart.  During this fight, Owlman gets away to Prime Earth to execute his plan to destroy everything. 

With no other way to get to Prime Earth, the members of both factions decide on plan of action.  One of the speedsters has vibrate at a high enough freqency to create a portal to Prime Earth and follow Owlman.  The Flash volunteers but Batman tells him no on the grounds that Johnny Quick is faster than him and has to be the one to do it.  When the portal is opened, Batman takes it upon himself to go through and confront his evil double.  The final fight takes place between Batman and Owlman on Prime Earth as the machine begins to count down.  It's here that we get not just a good one on one fight but some epic dialogue from Owlman, where he breaks down just how he and Batman are alike in more than just their DNA.  The cynicism, and ultimately the arrogance (With four teammates who could have dispatched Owlman much easier, Batman still chose himself to handle the final task.) that drives them both is identical.  I don't need to tell you that the good guys prevail here; you should know that by now.

So how was it?  Very good, but with a few misses.  I could have used a few more reverse heroes in the alternate world.  All we really got was Luthor and Joker.  And like so many Justice League series and movies, it turned into a Bat-fest.  Which I'm ok with because I'm an admitted Batman fanboy, but if you're not then it could be problem.    There's also a meaningless subplot involving Martian Manhunter and the daughter of the President of the United States (Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke from our world) in the alternate world where the two fall for each other, but don't get together.  And lastly, as much as I liked the final showdown, the ultimate corralling of the Syndicate members is a bit rushed and unconvincing.  Beyond that, nothing glaring.  It's a fun watch, and it's cool too see the bizarro versions of the Justice League members.  It's good for repeat viewing as well.  I'd give a B overall.  You don't need to run out and buy it right now, but if you're looking for something that's good to pop in when you need something to watch this does the job.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Casting Choices: Stop Complaining Already!

Casting choices are one of the biggest instant outrage triggers out there now.  It seems that fanboys and fangirls all have what they believe would be the perfect choices for all their favorite roles lined up, and when they don't happen there is weeping and gnashing of teeth all over."Why did they choose (insert name here), they're terrible!  What were they thinking?"  Never mind the fact that you're not writing or filming the movie, and have zero insight on what direction the director and writers are going in at the time they're casting the film.  There are three choices for the upcoming Dawn of Justice film that have people up in arms, and in my opinion the outrage is just plain dumb.  The choices for Wonder Woman, Batman, and Lex Luthor have driven some people mad, and I think that itself is just dumb.

On the Wonder Woman casting choice, what exactly are the alternatives?  The names I've heard are either unavailable, or plain awful.  Jamie Alexander, who plays Sif in the Thor movies, is a name that a lot of people have thrown out.  I think she would have been an excellent and obvious choice, but there's a huge problem.  She's under contract to Marvel Studios, which means she'll be locked in to Marvel films for the forseeable future.  From there it goes south real fast.  Gina Carano?  Can.  Not. Act.  She was in Fast and Furious 6 with Gadot, and her lack of any meaningful dialogue should be pretty telling.  Yes, she's good looking and she can fight but she cannot act.  Now we don't really know how well Gadot can act, either, but even if she can't the comparison is still a push.  Megan Fox?  Oh my god, I would boycott it if they picked her.  Fox can't act and can't do the fight scenes.  And then there's the nostalgia pick Lucy Lawless.  Yes she would have been perfect for the role, but we're about 15 years late for that.  So get over it.  You need somebody who is attractive, can do at least some of the action/fight scenes, and who can act.  We honestly have no idea who they auditioned, how they did, etc.  There could always be some unknown actress out there that they could have chosen, but you guys would have hated on that, too.  We'll see what happens, but I think it's more than a little bit crazy to dump all over the choice without even seeing it onscreen.

Of course we can't discuss casting choices without going to the choice to play the Caped Crusader, Ben Affleck.  If you think people were upset over the Wonder Woman casting, that was nothing compared to this.  'Batfleck' was panned immediately after the announcement.  Affleck is one of a group of people in Hollywood who has a vocal, dedicated band of haters and they sprung into action on cue.  Then there were the people who don't necessarily hate Affleck but have come to know him as someone in who's been in a lot of bad movies; they heard Affleck's name and were like 'really?'  Affleck tried the superhero role before in Daredevil; opinions on that range from OK to terrible, and while the blame is spread around amongst everyone involved, Affleck was the face of the movie so there's some real reluctance on seeing him don a superhero costume on film by a lot of people.  I'll admit to being one of the people in that group.  When I was thinking 'who should they cast for Batman now that Christian Bale isn't doing it?' the name Ben Affleck is not one that popped up.  But even with that, I'm not all doom and gloom about it.  This is another instance where I'm going to trust the casting director.  Those who remember the first modern Batman film, released 25 years ago, will also remember the high level of skepticism when Michael Keaton, a comedic actor, was cast as the Dark Knight.  Nobody figured that Mr. Mom would do well as Batman, but he pulled it off pretty damn well.  We got similar surprises when Heath Ledger killed it as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Anne Hathaway did a good job as Catwoman.  So let's not get crazy here, folks.  Ben is not going to play Batman Good Will Hunting style with some pronounced Boston accent ("We got to get the Jo-Kah!").  He won't be Bruce Wayne from Southie, OK?  He's a good actor and as long as the script is good he'll be fine.

And last but not least we move on to Lex Luthor.  There were all kinds of crazy rumors about who might get the role, non based on reality.  The first name was Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, and fans of that show were estatic.  Of course Cranston's main qualification is that for a portion of the show's run, he was bald.  OK....... Next we heard the name Denzel Washington; that was an inspired choice, one that would lead to another episode of race bending a long established character.  There didn't seem to be any beef over it, probably because Washington is such a great actor that he would absolutely kill it in that role and everybody knows it.  But that wasn't based in any reality, either.  So when the announcement was made that Jesse Eisenberg was chosen, people went nuts again.  A meme showed up with the caption 'We wanted Heisenberg (an alias for Cranston's Break Bad character) and we got Eisenberg'.  The outrage wasn't even about who got the role, it was over who supposedly didn't get it.  Now if they cast Jesse Eisenberg it's obvious they were going for a younger Lex Luthor, which means middle aged Cranston and Washington couldn't have been in the running.  But people just wouldn't let go.  Eisenberg is a good actor, and they know what they're going for with the Luthor character.  The Heath Ledger example is the way to go here.  Ledger had shown promise as an actor but had never done anything in his career that indicated he would play the Joker in a Batman film and do such a great job with it.  You just don't know until you see it, so you should reserve judgement, people.

I leave with this: we're not casting directors.  We're not in the room when these folks read for the parts or do screen tests.  We're not the ones crafting a vision for the films.  None of us would have cast Ledger, or Hathaway, or Keaton in the roles they played and the movies would have suffered for it.  So let the experts do their job.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rumor Sites are Awful

I got a real beef that I have to get out of my system.  It's about rumor sites, for both movies and comics.  These sites ruin everything for everybody all for the sake of website clicks, facebook/twiiter shares, etc.  They do not trade in reliable information and a lot of the things they insinuate are just plain dumb.  Here are some recent 'hot rumors', according to these sites:

  • Marvel 'might' be cancelling the Fantastic Four comic series, and is downplaying the X-Men and Spider-Man lines because they don't own the movie rights to any of the characters.
  •  Sony is going to let the movie rights to Spider Man go back to Marvel after Amazing Spider Man 2 'tanked' at the box office
  • DC is going to going to have an event series in 2015 where characters from the New 52 continuity interact with those from the pre-New 52 continuity, as a backdoor way to ditch the New 52.
  • Lex Luthor will have hair in the Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice film.
  • The upcoming Fantastic Four film has been shut down, and will be re-cast with a new director.
All of these rumors have been splashed all over various websites that specialize in dishing all of the hot dirt on upcoming projects.  All of them are based on accounts from anonymous sources and little to no anchoring in reality.  And because they're not based in anything solid, if and when they don't come to fruition the people who post can just sit back and claim that either their sources lied to them or that the executives changed their minds once they got word of the outrage that they stirred up.

Marvel comics cancelling and/or downplaying comic book titles because they don't have the movie rights is just dumb.  The X-Men related titles are always popular, and the Fantastic Four is a longtime mainstay of Marvel comics.  The movies will only help the comics sell more, which is a win for Marvel.  So what's the endgame to Marvel acting so rash?  Well, according to the people pushing this the hope is for the movies to tank without the print material support, which would lead Sony and Fox to let the movie rights to revert back to Marvel.  This same logic is fueling the Fantasitc Four and Spider Man movie rumors.  What makes these stories so attractive to fans is that many fans want the movie rights for all of these titles to go back to Marvel.  Marvel is currently perceived as the one comic book movie studio that knows what it's doing (I disagree), so people want them to get all of their characters back and are willing to follow any story, know matter how ridiculous it may be.

The DC movie rumors are just as stupid.  The Lex Luthor hair story was based on a picture of Jesse Eisenberg on a set, which was assumed to be the Dawn of Justice set, with hair.  It turns out that may have been a different set altogether.  Eisenberg is working on a different movie right now, and the picture is likely from there.  But that didn't stop sites from running with it and forums from running long threads over it.  The story is feeding off all the pre-hate that's being thrown at DC over their movie strategy.  Man of Steel was a polarizing film that lots of people love but lots of people hate for some really dumb reasons, and a lot of people flat out don't like the casting choices for Batman, Wonder Woman, and Luthor.  So anything that stirs up the outrage machine is going to be hot.  Lex Luthor having hair is a perfect pot stirrer in this regard, seeing as how so many people don't like the Eisenberg casting as Luthor to begin with. 

The DC comics rumors may very well take the cake.  In various forms, there have rumors going around that DC is going to find a backdoor way to ditch the New 52 and go back to the old continuity.  The most recent ones are that there is some kind of event series scheduled for 2015 where the New 52 characters will interact with the old ones, and the timelines will somehow get reconfigured back to the old universe.  This is some more wishful thinking by people who still haven't accepted the New 52 universe, many of whom haven't even read any of the New 52 comics.  They go on message boards and Facebook forums, pining for the days of a bearded Oliver Queen and the Justice Society of America (even though they didn't support a lot of the titles much at the time of the timeline change).  And any story, no matter how flimsy, that plays off of that gets a lot of run.  The New 52 is just short of three years old; they wouldn't take the time to build a whole new world just to ditch it this quickly.  There are even animated movies in production set in the New 52 world and the Man of Steel version of Superman was largely along New 52 lines.  It's just not gonna happen, folks.

Unfortunately, I think this is going to get worse before it gets better.  We have two years until Dawn of Justice, and the Fantastic Four film is a little ways off.  Marvel has detailed plans, but the public doesn't know anything for sure beyond the Guardians of the Galaxy film coming in August and Avengers 2 next year.  There is just too much space for people to fill by taking every thing some guy tells you and posting it.  And too many people are too quick to believe it all.  Please stop, folks; these sites ruin the fun of experiencing these films; at best they give away too many major plot details and at worse they set expectations that will only result in disappointment should they not be met.  Look at the Luthor casting; we had rumors of Bryan Cranston being cast (because he was bald on a TV show and played a compelling character recently), and then Denzel Washington (big name guy who can play someone like Luthor, full of bravado and purpose).  These rumors were based on nothing, but they got people charged up.  And then when Eisenberg got the role everyone was let down.  That's what we're up against here, people and the only way to stop it is to ignore it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's next for Daniel Bryan (and WWE)?

The WWE Championship situation is in major flux right now.  Daniel Bryan is no longer WWE World Champion after having been stripped of the title on last week's Monday Night RAW.  The title is vacant and the main event of Money in the Bank will be for the WWE Championship.  We have all the entrants in the main event: Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and the just added Roman Reigns.  Who's going to win it?  I'll get to that in a minute.  Bryan, meanwhile, will be out for the forseeable future as his recovery is not going as quickly as hoped. Bryan's injury has thrown a major monkey wrench into the WWE's plans for the year.  I have no idea what the booking plans for the year were; I don't do the spoiler/rumor sites because I actually like being surprised by what comes on TV when it happens.  Nitpicking and pre-hating on storylines and matches for six months ahead of time and putting a negative slant on how I see something before it even takes place just isn't my style.  I strongly suggest you do that, too.  It'll make life a lot more enjoyable.  But anyway, we got six people in the big match: who's going to win?  There are reasons to believe and not believe in all of them.  If the winner is going to be a short term champion and drop the belt at Summerslam or shortly thereafter, then you could put it on any one of the six.  If the winner is going to keep the belt for a little while, then that narrows the field.  So what do I think?  Here goes?

Alberto Del Rio - He's been rumored for some time to be heading back to Mexico when his contract this year.  That alone disqualifies him if they plan on keeping the belt on the winner for a while.  On the other hand, if the plan is to put it on a placeholder until Bryan gets back (or to transfer it to whoever else they have in mind), then it makes sense for him to get the win here.  Del Rio looks like a plausible winner because he's won before and cashed in successfully.  He also looks like cannon fodder because of his contract status and his relative invisibility as of late.

Randy Orton -  Orton is part of Evolution and was the last title holder before Bryan; that makes him a plausible winner.  He's also won Money in the Bank before and has successfully cashed in before.  But having held the title so recently, and having won it last year work against him.  Orton walking away as champ would look like a total rehash of last year, and if Bryan comes back to chase him for the title again....we just saw that movie.  An Orton victory would be a sign that they're done with Bryan in the main event and it's someone else's turn to pursue the title.

Cesaro - Uhh......I got nothing.  He's over with the fans, but I don't think the bookers know what they're going to do with him yet.  Hotshotting a quick title reign would make zero sense; putting it on him for a longer reign would run smack into the specter of his stablemate Brock Lesnar hunkering for a shot at the champion.  Of course, a win could set the stage for a Cesaro split from Paul Heyman and a confrontation with Lesnar.  But I really don't see Cesaro main eventing Summerslam right now.

Sheamus - He's a plausible champion.  He a good run as World Champ back in 2012.  But he's US Chanp now, so that title would have to be vacated.  And having Sheamus go over as champ right now might lead to a boo-fest to close the show.  The fans, beyond internet snarkers like Sheamus well enough but they like some other guys more, including three guys in this match.

Roman Reigns - Everybody knows Reigns is going to be champ some time in the near future, the only question is when.  He hasn't been set up with a pathway to a title win just yet, so it would be premature to just do it here.  But if the booking committee is in panic mode, they could just go with it now.

Bray Wyatt - I think he's the favorite here.  A heel champ at this time of year can work, especially to set up for Bryan's return or someone else's elevation.  He's been in the ring with the franchise John Cena and showed out well, and there's nowhere left for him to go but the main event.  Bray in the main event at Summerslam is totally feasible, and a clean sweep with his brothers winning the tag belts would be a huge, memorable event for a pay per view show.  The only problem I see is that if you're going to put the belt on a monster heel like Bray you want to do it closer to Wrestlemania.  Unless you're going to have him trade the belt with someone back and forth, keeping as champ from now until March 2015 is a pretty tall feat.  Then again, CM Punk did hold the belt for over a year just recently.

John Cena - The old standby.  He's a safe placeholder until you get things figured out.  At the same time, putting the belt on him will rile up all the Cena-haters again.  Of course, that's the same logic behind any decision with John.  I wouldn't let that figure into my thinking if I were the booking committee.  Why?  Because the Cena-haters are gonna hate regardless.  The WWE gets zero credit when they don't put him the main event or put the belt on him, but they get all the grief when they do.  Cena went a year and a half without the title from 2011 to 2013, but the haters still whined when he got it back.  He jobbed clean to Daniel Bryan and got zero love for it.  So to hell with the haters.  If having Cena go over in the main event is the best way to set up the next series of events, then go with it.

 A lot of possibilities here, and if nothing else the Bryan injury has put some suspense into the upcoming show.  It went from a 50/50 buy to a definite buy for me.  We'll see what happens next.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Road towards Money in the Bank

OK, so we got some major developments this week on RAW to start setting up Money in the Bank.  A shocking heel turn, the first entry into the main event of the upcoming show, and a possible special stipulation for that main event.  We also got a foreshadowing of a possible title match for the show and the continuation of an angle that took a turn at the Payback show this past Sunday.  Where's it all going?  Let's see:

  • The WWE World Title Situation - For the moment, Daniel Bryan has been scheduled to face Kane in a stretcher match for the title.  That is, if Bryan recovers from his neck surgery in time to compete.  This is an example of life and art coming together.  Bryan's recovery is reportedly going slower than everyone would like, and if he can't go at Money in the Bank then company really will have to put the title on someone else.  That would be a shame, both in real life and for storyline purposes, but the fact is you can't go on for months and months with no World title matches on pay per view events.  Which leads us to...
  • The Special Stipulation - The Money in the Bank match is usually the main event for the show, with a title match whenever you want it as the prize.  If Bryan can't go, then the match will be for the title itself.  I hope this doesn't happen because a major source of drama, the moment over the next year the Money in the Bank winner 'cashes in' and gets his title match, will be eliminated.  The Money in the Bank cash-in is always a fun part of the WWE year and it would really suck to not have it this year.
  • The Money in the Bank Match itself - We got out first entrant into the match from a RAW match between Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler, both former Money in the Bank winners themselves.  Del Rio got the win and he's in the match.  Nobody expects Del Rio to win either the Money in the Bank match at the big show whether it's for the usual cash-in opportunity or the title itself.  Who gets in the match will be a tell as to what's going on with Bryant.  If we get six guys who are all former or potential champions, then it's a good bet that Bryan won't be ready to come back yet.  On the other hand if we get a few more obvious losers and one or two guys that would be instant champion material, then it's a good sign that Bryan will be able to go.
  • Who else is going in? - Good question.  In addition to Del Rio I figure Cena will be in there, Cesaro, maybe Bray Wyatt, Kane (if Bryan can't go), and somebody representing the Authority.  Which leads us to.....
  • The big turn - In a shocker, Seth Rollins turned on his Shield-mates and joined the Authority.  This was a genuine surprise in that no one saw it coming.  I figured the whole Shield-Authority thing had run its course with the way things went at Payback, but I was wrong.  Not sure where this ends up.  Rollins was at one time considered the lesser member of the Shield because he couldn't talk as well as Dean Ambrose and he's not the imposing figure that Roman Reigns is.  But in recent months he's carved out a really good space for himself with his high flying ring work and underrated speaking skills, so it's not like he needed the boost that will come with being part of the Authority all that desperately.  But it was a good swerve because everyone had the arrogant Ambrose pegged for the heel turn that was coming for some part of the trio.  Rollins also provides a more than capable fill in for Batista, who's out promoting his movie for the next several weeks. I suspect Rollins will find his way into the Money in the Bank match
  • Other developments - Rowan and Harper look to be starting something with the Usos, based on their helping out John Cena at Payback, and the match they had at RAW.  I bet there will be a tag team title match at Money in the Bank between the two.  I have no idea where this Goldust-Cody Rhodes thing is going.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Race in Superhero Films - Part 3

The ongoing discussion of race in superhero comics and the movies based on them was continued, but not furthered, by this piece of rank stupidity.  The basic argument the author is making here is that even though it's great that the X-Men are such a racially diverse crew, and that it was cool seeing some of that onscreen in X-Men: Days of Future Past, it sucks that none of them were in the more important roles.  Here's how it opens:

Here were the X-Men, Marvel’s ambassadors of tolerance and diversity, finally looking the part: There’s Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (Blink) creating time-traveling portals; French-African actor Omar Sy (Bishop) shooting energy blasts from his fingers; Mexican actor Adam Canto (Sunspot) bursting into robot-fighting flames; and Native American Booboo Stewart (Warpath) fighting with superhuman agility. It’s a virtual United Nations of mutant-kind, under the command of out-and-proud Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde).

Then the actual plot kicks in.

OK, for those who haven't seen or read about the movie, the plot revolves around Wolverine going back in time to bring former friends and X-Men founders Charles Xavier and Magneto back together to stop shape-shifting mutant Mystique from committing an assassination that leads to the creation of the Sentinels, killer robots that will go on to capture and/or kill all mutants and mutant sympathizers.  In case you were wondering, Xavier, Magneto, and Wolverine are all white.  Mystique, but mainly disguises herself as a white woman.  The two other mutants who help the good guys are Quicksilver, a white guy, and Beast who is a white guy when he's not in his mutant form and covered in blue fur.  So according to this writer, everything was all good for 10 minutes before the movie became the charge of the light brigade.  Umm....riiiigggghhhhhtttt.  The author goes on compare the X-Men film to this year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.  Apparently, Anthony Mackie's supporting role as the Falcon in Winter Soldier and Zoe Saldana donning green body paint and playing an alien in Guardians count as big wins in the diversity game.  Umm.....really?  A black actress putting on head to toe green bodypaint, so that you can't see that she's black, is a win?  Did the same rule apply to Avatar, where Ms. Saldana wore head to toe blue bodypaint and played an alien?  If you're going to praise Winter Soldier, why no mention of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury?  

This is a sad case of extrapolating something that just isn't there from a movie.  Despite the overall diversity of the full roster, the primary characters in the X-Men comics are  mostly white.  Prof. Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine, and the Summers family (Cyclops, Jean Gray, Rachel Summers, Cable, Havok).  Some of the other major players (Kitty Pride, Emma Frost, Beast, Colossus, Iceman, Angel, Rogue, Gambit) are white.  The original lineup was all white. Outside of the people mentioned in the first paragraph, the X-Men are mostly white. I'm not calling that a good or bad thing, it's just reality.  The all-time most popular X-Man, Wolverine, is white.  The relationship that has carried the films when there were few other positives, the difficult friendship between Xavier and Magneto, is a friendship of two white guys.  You cannot make an X-Men film that matters and makes good money without including and featuring those characters.  Nobody is going to enjoy seeing any of those characters benched in exchange for 30 more minutes of Halle Berry's widely disliked portrayal of Storm, or for a significant role for characters like Bishop who are not well known to anyone who didn't read the comics or watch the cartoon.  

When it comes to character diversity, we have the same issue that we've always had: the date of creation for most of the characters.  Most major comic book characters were created before 1980, and most of those coming before 1970, which means that most of them are going to be white.  So when you make movies based on these characters, the main roles are likely to for characters who are.......wait for it.......white.  It is what it is.  Most black fans grew up on these characters and we've made peace with it or never had much of a beef with it to begin with.  And given the choice between a movie centered around Storm or Bishop and one centered around say....Spider Man or Captain America, give me the latter.  Get over it, people.  In Winter Soldier the Falcon, Cap's black associate (he's more than a sidekick but not quite and equal), got as much time as he was warranted based on his role in the print version.  If Cap had been incapacitated and we ended up with a Falcon-centered film people wouldn't have liked it as much as they did.  Get over it.

Now if they eventually get around to doing a Black Panther movie, I'll be there.  But not just for the sake of there being a movie with a black main character.  How did Steel work out for us?

WWE Payback Recap

OK, Payback is in the books.  We have no new champions,

US Title Match: Sheamus vs. Cesaro - Very match in my book.  Both men hit all their signature stuff, and some other good work that they were saving up the show.  Paul Heyman worked the crowd great as always, and his opening riff where he acknowledged the chants for CM Punk was well done as usual.  The finish surprised me some.  I figured Sheamus would retain, but I didn't have him winning the match clean.  I'm not sure what it all means.  Cesaro is way over with the crowd, so an abandonment by the bookers isn't in order.  I can see not taking the title off of Sheamus since he just got it, though.  We could be getting another match at Money in the Bank and I'd be fine with that.

Tag Team Match: The Rhodes Brothers vs. Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel) - This was an unannounced throw in, obviously to fill time.  It was ok, but I admittedly watched it using the 30 second skip button on my remote.  Rybaxel won, and set up another episode in the 'Cody loses confidence' story when Cody told his brother after the match that he needed a better partner.  We'll see where it goes.

Rusev v. Big E - It was short and to the point, and was better than most matches you'll see with two big men.  Big E hit a pretty wicked dive through the ropes onto Rusev that popped the crowd pretty good.  Rusev won of course, continuing his push.

Intercontinental Title Match: RVD vs. Bad News Barrett - Pretty good match here.  Both guys did what they do.  Barrett won clean, which I picked to happen.

Last Man Standing: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt - Excellent match here.  Both guys were good in the ring, and brought out the tables, chairs, and ring steps.  Last month's cage match was an overbooked mess, but this was better.  There was extracurricular activity involving Rowan and Harper on behalf of Bray and the Uso on behalf of Cena.  All four guys ultimately took each other out, leaving Cena and Wyatt to finish things mano y mano.  Things spilled into the crowd, and both guys beat the hell out of each other real good.  Cena won, so if you're a Cena hater the result spoiled what was a great match for you.  But that's not reason to hate on the match itself.  This match made what was turning into a really great episode of RAW into a purchase worthy event.

Divas Title Match: Paige vs. Alicia Fox - Paige won, match was ok. The Alicia Fox is crazy thing is going to continue, apparently.  I would beef, but at least they're giving one of the divas some personality.

Elimination Match: The Shield vs. Evolution - To be honest I wasn't that enthused for this match.  The match at Extreme Rules checked all the boxes, as far as I'm concerned, and after the Last Man Standing Match earlier anything was a letdown.  The guys involved all worked hard, but they should have put this match on before the Cena-Wyatt match.  I guess they're trying to not have Cena in the main event every time, and might have been wary of the Chicago crowd because of how they're notorious for not following the script in terms they're supposed to cheer for, but Cena and Wyatt had the best match on the show and should have closed it.  Things got pretty brutal, in a good way, once they picked up the pace.  The finish was surprising.  Not only did the Shield win, they didn't lose a man in the process.  They won as decisively as you can in this kind of circumstance. The eliminations went pretty quickly once they started, too. If not for the execution, I would call that a pretty big black mark on the match.

All in all, this was an OK show.  If you missed it, or opted not to watch, I wouldn't say you missed out.  The Cena-Wyatt match was excellent, and the elimination match was good enough.  The rest wasn't bad but could just as easily have been shown on a special edition of RAW.  This is definitely the kind of show that will make you prefer to shell out the $10 a month for the WWE Network instead of regular pay per view prices.  The other big deal of the night was Daniel Bryan refusing to surrender the WWE World Title, while his wife Brie Bella opted to quit instead of being fired by Stephanie McMahon.  That segment was pretty entertaining to me, but could have been shown on RAW instead of Pay Per View.  My overall grade is.....OK. I've seen worse and I've seen better.