Friday, November 28, 2014

What I'm thankful for

Being that this weekend is Thanksgiving I figured I'd name a few things that I'm thankful for from the subjects I cover here.



Good Superhero Shows - When I was little I watched reruns of the old Adam West Batman show, the Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, and even some of the George Reeves Superman Show.  The only show that was running current episodes was the Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk show.  All of those were enjoyable programming for a young boy not yet 10 years old. Trying to watch them now fluctuates between amusing and painful.  West's Batman was not a serious show so you can live with that but the others were supposed to be and that just makes them worse now than they were then.  After those days other than a very short lived Flash series there wasn't much being offered.  There was Lois and Clark, which I didn't watch so I got no real opinion on, and then not much else until we got Smallville. Smallville ran for 10 seasons so it had a following and I won't bash them.  But after a season or two, I just couldn't stick with it.  And while that was going on there was a short lived Birds of Prey series that I really wanted to like hindsight it wasn't very good.  Now that may sound like a lot, but mind mind you that this all happened over a span of 30 years.  Given the sheer number of series that come and go on broadcast television, that's a drop in the bucket.  So for there to be four quality superhero shows on now (Arrow, Flash, Agents of Shield, and Constantine) on now with more on the way (Supergirl, Marvel's Agent Carter miniseries, and a possible Teen Titans series on TNT) is huge and something we can't take for granted.


We went four for four on superhero movies this year - Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy.  There was also a lot of stuff that I didn't get around to seeing but was very successful - Godzilla, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The Hobbit series wraps up this December as well.  Next year we get Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four (I'm not particularly optimistic about it but I'll still give it a chance), and we close out the year with a little movie called Star Wars - The Force Awakens.  With the Star Wars teaser trailer dropping today, the Internet may actually break. This is high tide to be a fan of these movies.  For the next five or six years we're going to get a plethora of goodness between the Marvel Studios films and the DC film Universe getting kicked into gear and Star Wars getting jumpstarted.  Don't listen to the naysayers and enjoy it all.


It's been a tough year for the WWE with major losses financially (largely due to the costs of the WWE Network they started up this year), injuries to key players like Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, and departures from stars like CM Punk and major contributors like Alberto Del Rio.  But despite all that, the company has given us some great things.  When the fans turned on the originally planned Batista vs. Randy Orton WrestleMania main event, they listened and gave them what they wanted by inserting Bryan into the match and putting the belt on him.  When Bryan went down they smartly put the belt on John Cena as a placekeeper to set up a decisive win by Brock Lesnar at Summerslam.  And when all looked lost heading into Survivor Series they gave us Sting in a WWE ring to turn what would have been a forgettable night into one a lot of us will remember.  Hopefully, the injured players will be able to go again in 2015 and more people will sign up for the network.  The Network is awesome - there is no reason to skip out on it if you are a fan.  You get every current Pay Per View Event, along with access to the entire back catalog of WWE and WCW Pay Per View shows, and old shows from damn near every company that was relevant in the 80s and forward (with the obvious exception of TNA).  I highly recommend it for any fan out there, and hopefully it will turn profitable because it was a great addition in 2014.


There was lots of good stuff in the print world.  DC's Forever Evil event series wrapped up with a bang, Lex Luthor joined the Justice League, Future's End and Batman Eternal have entertained on a weekly basis and we got another great Superman event with Doomed.  On the Marvel side there was Death of Wolverine, Orignal Sin, and the Axis series.  Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider Man was excellent all year as were some other series that I don't read personally that scored high with those who do - Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Hawkeye, and Superior Spider Man.  As we end the year with new chapters of Captain America and Thor with Sam Wilson and an yet to be revealed lady taking on the titular roles in both books. Both major companies put out some really great work this year and I'm especially thankful for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, Gail Simone's Batgirl, Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow run and anything done by Geoff Johns.  On the Marvel side I'm thankful for the Guardians of the Galaxy series, Black Widow, and Storm.  All three have been great reads.

So yeah, a lot to be thankful for in 2014, with a lot more to come in 2015!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WWE Survivor Series - Sting to the Rescue

Sting made a shocking debut at the conclusion of the 2014 WWE Survivor Series.                   
Well, the Survivor Series is definitely going in the books as a night to remember.  Going in, things were really looking bleak for the show as injuries and departures depleted the roster to the point where there just wasn't much they could do make for an interesting six or seven match card.  Even the five officially announced matches looked like slim pickings.  But boy did they make the most of a limited hand.  That image at the top gave a million wrestling fans goosebumps.  I figured that once Sting signed a WWE deal that he would do at least one match, and once it was announced that he would be appearing at the show it was obvious he'd involve himself in the big match some kind of way, but that didn't diminish the moment one bit.  Seeing two icons of the business stare each other down the way he and Triple H did was an all time mark out moment for anyone who watched NWA/WCW wrestling back in the day.  Sting is the one guy who never crossed over to the WWE; all the other big names had at least a short run there but even after WCW was bought out and shut down he didn't join the company.  A lot of that was because Vince McMahon didn't want to spen the money to buy out the biggest contracts of course.  So when went over to TNA to spend the rest of his full time working days, it was just kind of assumed that we would never see him in a WWE ring. But now, he's here.

If you didn't start watching wrestling until after the Monday Night Wars were over then you have no idea just how much of a big deal Sting really was.  Imagine if, instead of going back home to Cleveland Lebron James went to the San Antonio Spurs.  Or if Derek Jeter's last few years as a baseball player were spent in a Red Sox uniform.  Or going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron next year to witness Wolverine, movie rights be damned, show up in the final scenes to help Iron Man and Captain America defeat the bad guys.  When the NWO was the hottest thing going in the business back in 1996-97 it's no coincidence that the man chosen to be their ultimate antagonist was none other than Sting.  Before then, when both he and Lex Luger were seen as many fans as being on equal footing Ric Flair (allegedly) used backstage politics to keep from dropping the championship to Luger but didn't oppose losing it to Sting.  From 1992 through the end of the decade Sting was as important a figure in the business as anyone out there.  And like I said earlier he was the only one on that level who never set foot in a WWE ring.  Luger, Flair, and Goldberg all gave it a shot at one point or another.  But Sting stayed away, through a combination of failed negotiations and reportedly not liking what plans they would have had for him had he come over.  But all that's gone now and here he is.

Now the first thing the naysayers will bring up is that Sting is 55 years old and cannot be counted on to do anything significant at this point.  I agree with that wholeheartedly and don't expect him to.  I expect a few run ins and an eventual showdown with Triple H at WrestleMania 31.  Triple H can still work a good 10 to 15 minute match, Sting is still decent enough to keep up, and you can make it no holds barred so he can bring out the sledgehammer and Sting can use his trademark black baseball bat.  No one with any sense is asking for a 30 minute technical showcase here.  And once that's done maybe he can do the whole Raw GM thing for a few months and retire to doing the whole legends circuit thing like Hulk Hogan does now.  Win-win for everyone involved.  But for right now, we can just continue to revel in him saving the day one more time like he used to on WCW Monday Nitro every week. Thanks for turning what was looking it was going to be a show that the company itself was just trying to survive into something memorable.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The depleted roster

We're almost to Survivor Series, and it really looks like the depleted roster has finally caught up to the WWE.  Since January, the following people have been lost to injury, transition into a less active in ring role, or straight up quitting or termination:

  • CM Punk
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Christian
  • Alberto Del Rio
  • Rey Mysterio, Jr
  • Roman Reigns
You add in the planned absences of Chris Jericho to meet his music schedule and Randy Orton for a movie shoot, and Batista seemingly ending his comeback after it went south earlier and you've got anywhere from six to nine guys who the company was counting on having around for this event.  (Christian, Del Rio, and Mysterio were rumored to be on the fence after their contracts ended earlier this year.  It's unlikely that they were slotted for major roles in the year's booking decisions but they still might have been around.)  Now there are rumors that the Great Khali may have been released.  This is some major pain here.  Right now we're less than two weeks from Survivor Series and we have the following matches on tap:

  • 10-man tag team match with Team Cena vs Team Authority
  • AJ vs Nikki Bella for the Diva's Title
  • Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt 
There will probably be a Tag Team Title match and two other matches thrown in for good measure if they can find people to put in them.  But this shows just how depleted the roster is.  If the six people at the top were available, or even just Punk, Bryan, and Reigns, things would look a lot different now.  As it stands they have to get through Survivor Series and then TLC before we get to the Royal Rumble when Bryan and Reigns should be back.  I haven't been particularly sympathetic towards Punk's attitude and departure, but even I'll admit that they sure could use him now.  I will say, however, that up until this point they were really overachieving given the roster limitations.  Hell in the Cell was a very good show after a so-so Night of Champions card in September.  But now it looks like the numbers game has finally caught up with them.  If I were them I'd go with Lesnar vs Cena in a TLC match for December; that would be a good way to close that program out.  You can add Orton vs Seth Rollins, Mark Henry vs Big Show, and a bunch of title matches for what would be a good show to close out the year. 

And once we head into 2015 calling up some of the NXT talent would be warranted, especially if there are going to be more releases.  It's been a rough second half of 2014, but 2015 can definitely be better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spider Man Isn't Walking through that door

It's just not going to happen, people.  Marvel is not going to get the rights back for Spider-Man, or the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four.  You've got to stop holding on to hope that it's going to happen.  No amount of complaining, or hating on movies that are actually good, or hoping that movies flop at the box office so that Sony or Fox will surrender the rights back to Marvel is going to make that happen.  It's getting really ridiculous people, and it just has to stop already.  Please stop clicking on those stupid pieces from rumor sites and stop sharing them with your friends.  If a Marvel exec says "never say never" when asked about getting the rights back for any of those properties that doesn't mean that it's about to happen, or that Marvel is talking to Sony or Fox about it.  The only thing it means is that if by some chance Sony or Fox was looking to sell, then of course Marvel would listen.  It doesn't mean that anyone's actually talking about it.  If Andrew Garfield is asked about showing up in a future Marvel film as Spider-Man and says "yeah, I'd be good with it....we'll see what happens.." that doesn't mean he's hiding something.  It just means that hell yeah he'd like to do it.  I'm sure if you asked Henry Cavill about showing up in a Marvel movie as Superman he wouldn't say "well, seeing as how Superman isn't a Marvel character I just don't see how that would be feasible or a realistic thing to expect."  He'd probably just chuckle and say "sure, why not?"  Which of course would launch a thousand rumor site posts about Marvel buying DC.  That's the level of stupid we're dealing with here.  So far this is the kind of tomfoolery we've seen on these fronts:

  • People calling Amazing Spider Man 2 a flop when it made the same amount of money as Captain America: the Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  And when you bring that up, they hit you with 'well, it cost $400 million to make it, so the profit isn't that high' or 'they expected it to gross $1 billion so it's a failure'.  Sigh.......  If it really did cost $400 million total to make and market the movie, then it still made a $300 million profit.  I guarantee you there is not one other Sony product that netted the company that much money.  And some guy in the executive suite getting a little loose with it when talking about how much money they could gross doesn't mean the studio was counting on a $1 billion gross.
  • People dumping all over Amazing Spider Man 2 when it was truer to the source material than any of their beloved Sam Raimi films.  The only real problem with ASM 2 is that it wasn't made by Marvel Studios.  I guarantee you that if you took the exact same movie, scratched out 'Sony' and replaced it with 'Marvel Studios' before it was released 90% of the bashing would have never happened.  I'm not going to go through a point by point refutation of the idea that the Raimi films were better.  I've already done that here and it's been done in other places.  Just stop already.
  • Jumping to conclusions that Marvel was going to get him back - When Marvel first announced the Robert Downey, Jr was going to be in Cap 3, and that it was going to be title Civil War, some people couldn't help but think that since Spider Man was a key piece of the Civil War print story they would have to include in the film version.  Yeah....not really.  The film version isn't likely to resemble the print version any more than Winter Soldier or Age of Ultron do or will.  So there is zero reason to make a run at getting rights to Spider-Man so you can give him a 30 minute subplot to a two hour movie.  Sorry folks.
OK so why aren't they getting Spider-Man back?  Two reasons, really:
  • Sony isn't giving it up - ASM 2 made at least $300 million in profit.  Like I said earlier no Sony product netted them that much.  Not to mention that Spider Man is one of the few movies properties that can survive a truly bad outing.  Spider Man 3 was really bad, and yet they were able to wait a few years and start everything back up successfully with a new director and new cast.  Just like how WB has done with Batman and Superman.  There is no scenario in which owning the movie rights to Spider Man is a bad thing for Sony.  So they're gonna keep him.
  • Marvel doesn't need him - Marvel has a fully planned out movie universe through May of 2019.  Adding Spider to the current mix would throw everything off.  And no, they can't drop him in currently planned films as a second banana.  If they got him back, all of you would want full blown Spider Man movies, not cameos or supporting roles.  And honestly if you're going to reacquire the movie rights you'd be stupid to limit him to the same role that, say, Falcon played in Cap 2.If by some miracle it did happen you wouldn't see a Spidey film until after the Avengers business was all wrapped up, which means fall of 2019.  You really want to wait that long just so you watch a Spider Man film with a Marvel Studios label on it?
So please people, just stop hoping and praying for Spider Man to come back to Marvel films.  It's just not going to happen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Marvel movie slate

So......Marvel announced it's whole slate of movies for the next three years.  By now you've seen it a million times already so you don't need me to splash it up here for you.  But just in case you didn't, here's a rundown:

  • 2015 - Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man
  • 2016 - Captain America" Civil War and Doctor Strange
  • 2017 - Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther
  • 2018 - Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans
  • 2019 - Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2
You combine that with DC's movie lineup, Fox's X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, and Sony's future Spider Man projects and you have a treasure trove of good stuff coming over the next five to six years.  Marvel is the clear leader in the clubhouse here. They've already put out ten successful films to date, four of which are almost universally praised for being awesome (Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy).  The jury is very mixed on their other offerings (a lot of people I talk to don't like the Iron Man sequels at all and are just meh on the first Cap movie and the Thor films) but Marvel as a whole is such a trusted brand that everyone assumes going in that they're going to give us something good.  So it's to be expected that we all went bonkers in anticipation when the announcement came down.  It also put to rest a lot of the baseless complaints that were being lobbed about that Marvel wasn't doing much in the way of giving us a world of diverse characters.  Marvel bigwig Kevin Feige's words in a recent interview (that he was for having movies centered around female characters and characters of color but the timing had to be right) were twisted to sound as if he really wasn't interested, when in reality they were planning it all along and just had to line things up before they announced it all.  So what do I think this all means?

  • I was kinda wrong about Civil War - In a previous post I told everyone to chill out with the "yeah, they're doing Civil War!" talk.  Well, it turns that Cap 3 will indeed be titled Civil War.  Where I will at least claim to be partially right is that the story in the film will not be the one from the comics just like Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron borrowed the titles from comic stories but little else.  So obviously there will be some kind of falling out between Cap and Iron Man over their place in the world, and that Black Panther will be involved in the movie some kind of way.  Other than that, you got me.  Obviously with the movie coming in 2016 there won't be any Spider-Man to play out his arc from the print version.I don't see Tony becoming a full on government man based on his previous skepticism of all things SHIELD in earlier films but we do have a year to square that.  So we'll see what happens there.  
  • No Black Widow film - Those wondering when we'd get a female led film, especially in light on DC's Wonder Woman announcement, have been answered with the Captain Marvel announcement.  But some people were wondering why we're getting a film for Marvel and not Black Widow, who's already been introduced on film and played a big supporting role in both the Avengers and Winter Soldier movies.  I think the answer is pretty obvious: she's not that big of a deal, really.  Before the movies Black Widow was a C-list Marvel character at best, and he prominent place in the film universe is largely due to Marvel studios having to dig deeper in their well of characters because of all the film rights issues.  Even without the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights there are still several female characters who rank higher than her, Marvel being one of them.
  • The other guys - With things laid out through 2019, you can forget about Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I know that so many people have been hoping and praying for Marvel to get the movie rights to all of these characters back but I just don't see it happening.  First of all, Fox and Sony have to relinquish or sell back that rights, and that's just not going to happen.  I'm convinced that a lot of crapping on the Amazing Spider Man films comes from people hoping the movies tank so that Sony won't want to do them anymore and sell the rights back to Marvel.  Amazing Spider Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past both made over $700 million worldwide.  Those aren't flops no matter how you try to spin it. Even if the movies started to lose money, the properties are still too valuable to hand over.  And look at it this way: having those characters on board would squeeze all of the oxygen out of the room.  I'll explain that later.
So we know what Marvel has in store for us along with DC.  Good times ahead everyone, enjoy!