Thor Ragnarok Trailer Released

We finally have a trailer for the upcoming Thor Ragnarok, giving us a bit more information on the storyline and showing us the major characters in action. Set, appropriately, to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, the trailer sees Thor encountering Hela, who seems to be launching an attack on Asgard. Robbed of his hammer, Thor is ultimately captured and brought to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to fight in his games.

 

So, some quick thoughts:

  • I love that they used Led Zeppelin for the trailer.
  • Helmets! Hela has her crazy, but iconic headgear. In previous images of Cate Blanchett, we always saw her face, but the trailer shows her in her full, majestic Goddess of Death finery. In addition to that, both Thor and Loki have variations on their comic helms.
  • Tessa Thompson’s character (supposedly a valkyrie, but I’m not sure if it’s Brunhilde) is in the employ of the Grandmaster. I can’t recall if the previous films made mention of the valkyrie, so I am not sure if they exist in the MCU, or if she left their number to join Grandmaster for some reason
  • No sign of Odin, although we see Loki. Is he continuing to impersonate the All-Father?
  • I really hope that they follow Norse mythology (and the comics) and keep Hela as Loki’s daughter.
  • Given that we see Hela, and given the title of the film, I wonder if we will see Loki’s other children, Jormundgand and the Fenris Wolf.
  • I still don’t understand the decision to use a title card that looks like it’s from an 80’s arcade game

I know that some people aren’t fans of Thor and consider his previous films to be amoung the weaker entries in the MCU, but I love the character. He is the closest thing the films have at the moment to a Superman-level character, so he’s suitable for the big, epic stories and battles. I also love Norse mythology and while the films (and comics) deviate wildly from the source, there is still enough of the grandeur of Asgard for me to enjoy.

Hulk looks great. His scenes should be suitably impressive, though I hope that this is the last time we will see him fighting against one of his fellow heroes. It was all but required in the first Avengers and it was logical enough in Age of Ultron, but it’s time for him to focus on smashing the bad guys instead of his allies.

I really hope that this will not be the final film for Thor. There is so much potential for great films based on Norse myths that it would be a shame not to explore it. I would love to see Surtur, for example.

I’m not sure why the film is named Ragnarok, as it doesn’t seem to actually deal with the Twilight of the Gods as it is usually portrayed, thought the film may be using the name simply to refer to a large scale battle against Asgard.

Thor Ragnarok is one of the superhero movies coming this year that I am most interested in, thought it is not due until November 3rd. Fortunately, we have a number of ofther comic films to keep us occupied between now and then.

What are your thoughts on the new trailer? I’d love to hear some comments.

Craig

 

Remembering TV Shows of the 80’s: Robin of Sherwood

“He’s Coming… the Hooded Man… is Coming…”

As Ailric of Loxley lies dying on the ground, his body pierced with a dozen crossbow bolts, he utters this line to Robert de Rainault, the Sheriff of Nottingham, warning him that the chosen son of Herne the Hunter will soon rise to protect the common man. So begins Robin of Sherwood.

I simply cannot tell you how much I loved this series, produced by the BBC and made available to me on PBS in the mid-80’s. The show doesn’t seem to be as well-known as I think it deserves to be, but in most instances, those people I know who are familiar with it have loved it (almost) as much as me.

I have written a number of times on this site about my love for superheroes, but aside from the spandex crew, I also have a deep and abiding love for heroes like Robin Hood, Zorro and the Lone Ranger. These are characters that I grew up with and in the case of Robin Hood, I was even more drawn to him due to the thought that he had, perhaps, been a real person.

Was Robin real? Was he an actual person? Is the Robin Hood that we know today just an amalgam of different, real people, or is he entirely fictitious? It’s hard to say with certainty, but I will say that he was real enough to be awesome to me and fill my head with dreams, so I happily consumed every bit of entertainment featuring him, whether comic books, novels, movies, or even the cartoon Rocket Robin Hood!

Of all the various incarnations of Robin, however, the one that stands out most for me, and even still manages to stir deep emotional responses, is Robin of Sherwood, and while I suspect that the average North American is not very familiar with this series, they are undoubtedly familiar with the effect it had on future stories featuring him.

“I am Not a Serf. I am a Free Man.”

This Robin, played wonderfully by Michael Praed, is a common man, born in the village of Loxley, which was burned to the ground by de Rainault years earlier in an attempt to put down a Saxon rebellion and uncover the Silver Arrow of Herne the Hunter, a symbol of pre-Christian England.

Following the death of his father, Robin is raised by his uncle, the local miller. His cousin, Much, looks to Robin like an older brother and it is Much’s decision to kill one of the king’s deer that leads to Robin’s first encounter with the villainous Sir Guy of Gisborne, right hand man of the Sheriff.

Upon being thrown in prison, Robin and Much encounter Will Scathlock, who has renamed himself Scarlet after killing the mercenaries who raped and murdered his wife, and two other outlaws,Tom and Dickon.

Escaping from the dungeon, Robin is separated from the others. Fleeing from Gisborne and his men, Robin runs straight into the chambers of a young maid named Marion…

“You’re Like a May Morning…”

The cast of this series was kept small. Some characters from the legends, such as Alan-a-Dale are absent. The show couldn’t afford to have a large army supporting the Sheriff, so Robin and his men had to be limited in number in order to keep them suitably outmatched, though Alan did appear later in the series. The main cast consisted of Robin, Marion, Much, Will, Little John, Friar Tuck, and a Saracen named Nasir, who had formerly been an assassin.


Nasir in particular, was an interesting character. Not part of the original tales, he was intended to be in a single story before being killed off, but was made a regular part of the show. His presence was strong enough that years later when Kevin Costner starred in Prince of Thieves, a Saracen character (played by Morgan Freeman) was included by the producers who mistakenly believed that he was part of the actual Robin Hood tales.

Robin’s enemies, as usual, included the previously-mentioned Sheriff of Nottingham, his brother the Abbott Hugo, and Sir Guy of Gisborne. While many people look back fondly on Alan Rickman’s portrayal of the Sheriff in Prince of Thieves (and I liked him as well. I mean, come on. How can you not like Alan Rickman?), the performance of Nickolas Grace in this series is what I will always remember when I think of the character. In fact, all of the actors in this series remain the definitive versions in my mind, whether Clive Mantle as Little John, or the gorgeous Judi Trott as Marion.

And seriously, no one will ever be a better Will Scarlett that Ray Winstone.

“We Can All of Us Be Gods. All of us!”

Robin of Sherwood, while having a gritty, realistic look and feel to it, also included a number of mystical elements. Robin himself was more than simply an outlaw fighting against the Sheriff; he was the prophesied Hooded Man, the spiritual son of Herne the Hunter. Robin carried with him “the powers of light and darkness,” as well as Albion, one of the seven swords of the mythical master smith, Wayland.

Robin’s father Ailric had been the guardian of the Silver Arrow of Herne, a mystical artifact that was critical to Robin’s survival when he faced the demon-worshiping Baron de Belleme.

This show had a major influence on me, and was responsible for my taking up archery and sword fighting, probably the most physical activities I engaged in at the time. It also reignited my love of mythology, which also ultimately saw me adopting new beliefs and philosophies as I developed a more Wiccan/ pagan outlook on life.

“Nothing is Forgotten. Nothing is Ever Forgotten.”

While the show sadly lasted for only three series/ seasons– the third of which I was less enamoured due to the addition of a new cast member– I have never forgotten it. I had managed to record most of the episodes on VHS during the last broadcast on PBS, but the quality was extremely poor, almost to the point of being unwatchable. When I could no longer watch it, I was rather upset, until years later I found it online, again on VHS, being sold by someone who no longer wanted his copies. I was able to buy it, although I had to have it transferred to another tape due to region restrictions, so again, it wasn’t a great quality, but I was very happy.

Fortunately it is now available on DVD (which I purchased a few years ago) and Blu-Ray (which I plan on buying…) Like M*A*S*H, the Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek, I am sharing this series with my son, letting him get to know the heroes that impacted my life growing up. Whether you have never seen Robin of Sherwood, or you have seen it but not in several years, I strongly suggest that you pick it up. Robin and his men are waiting for you.

Please share your thoughts on Robin of Sherwood  (or any other show you loved) with me.

May Herne protect you.

Craig

 

 

 

This Week’s Reads: April 5th

This week was better than last, though there still wasn’t that much to pick up for me. I only grabbed 5 titles this week, but that is fine as it gives me time to read some books and focus on other things. It was a pretty good week though, with no individual title being especially weak.

Justice League #18SuperHeroStuff - Shop Comics Now!

Timeless part 4. The Justice League continue their battle with the Timeles in an effort to save the earth from being moved to the end of time, but are the Timeless the greatest threat? By Hitch and Parasin

Aquaman #20

H 2.0 part 2  Aquaman and the Aquamarines are trapped in a military research lab, being stalked by the bloodthirsty Dead Water. By Abnett and Briones

Batman #20

I Am Bane, finale. Batman and Bane square off  in a brutal battle that will not only detmine the fate of Gotham Girl, but Gotham city itself. By King and Finch

Nightwing #18

Nightwing Must Die part 3.  Nightwing and Robin team up to rescue Shawn Tsang  from the demented Professor Pyg, but who is really pulling the strings? By Seeley, Fernandez + Jung

Superman #20

Black Dawn part 1  Having combined with their New 52 counterparts, Lois and Clark are whole once again, but questions still remain. What has changed in the world around them to accomodate their new status, and who is working to keep Jon from reaching his true potential? By Tomasi and Gleason

 

Spoilers follow

This was a pretty good week overall. I would say that the weakest title that I picked up has to be Batman. There are times that I feel as though King is writing his own version of Batman, as a separate individual from the Batman in DC’s other books. This Batman, as I have commented before,  strikes me as being somewhat unbalanced mentally. The argument could be made that this is always the case, which is fair enough, but King’s version seems less well than others. I often find myself thinking of Miller’s Dark Knight when reading Batman, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on your tastes, but which doesn’t seem to mesh fully with his Detective and Justice League counterparts. I won’t go so far as to say this is bad, but this is my least favourite interpretation of Batman at the moment.

Justice League continues to be fairly good but with art that ranges from very good on some pages to weak on others. The story if focused primarily on Batman and Superman with the other members playing a supporting role. There are some interesting ideas here, as the story addresses the fact that the DC universe has repeatedly been altered due to the actions of the various heroes on Earth. The Timeless are taking action to protect the universe from these constant reboots, which cause reality to continually remake itself. It’s hard to totally disagree with their motivation. Hopefully DC will settle down and enjoy a good, long run with this emerging universe.

Nightwing was a fun issue, surprising me yet again with an issue that doesn’t see me actively wanting something horrible to happen to Damian Wayne. I won’t go so far as to say that I like him, but I am at least at the point where I am not wishing him ill… save perhaps for debilitating laryngitis. Shawn Tsang is still not my first choice for Dick’s girlfriend ( that would be Babs, followed by Kori), but I understand why she was introduced. Neither Barbara nor Kori could be in a relationship with Dick while appearing in their own books as it would require constant planning between two different creative teams and would likely limit their creativity. It’s a shame, though. Dick belongs with Barbara.

Aquaman continues to offer up something of an Alien vibe, as the titular hero, Mera and the Aquamarines try to survive the attacks of Dead Water while trapped in an underwater military base. I am enjoying this story so far and can appreciate the almost horror movie-like atmosphere that it is striving for, though I find that Dead Water itself (himself?) doesn’t have the greatest character design. If you ahd told me a couple of years ago that I’d be reading Aquaman on a regular basis, I wouldn’t have believed it, but he’s a character with a lot of untapped potential.

Superman rounds out this week’s reads and it was probably my favourite as well, although it had some flaws. This issue finds Lois and Clark, fresh from their reality-warping merger with their New 52 counterparts. The issue shows the changes in some subtle and not-too-subtle ways, ranging from people on the street having a “look! Up in the sky!” moment as a smiling Superman flies by, to letting us know that the former aliases of the Kents are now long-gone. Everyone is now aware that this is Clark and Lois Kent from Metropolis, though why anyone thinks they are living on a farm several hours away from Metropolis is anyone’s guess at this point.

I am extremely happy to see a fully-restored Superman. He’s not “that strange older Superman who took over when the ‘real’ Superman died,” and he is not looked upon with suspicion. He is recognised as a hero once more, and not just hero, but the hero. His latest costume update looks good, too. Gone are the overly-busy design elements, replaced by the simple, traditional tights. No high collar, no sleeves extending past the wrist, and despite the appearance to the contrary in early images, the boots do not appear to be metal. The belt has been improved and a touch of traditional yellow has been added. This is the best he has looked in a very long time. I would have loved to see the briefs return, but I know that I am in the minority on that one.

If I have any complaint with this issue, though, it’s the revelation from Batman that Jon is not developing the way he should be. It’s Batman’s belief that Jon should be much further along in developing his powers, but I really don’t understand this (or like it).

Somehow, despite the fact that Superman gains his incredible powers from his Kryptonian heritage, Batman feels that Jon’s half-human DNA should mean that he “should be more powerful than you are on your best day, Clark.”

Huh?

So, if we could combine the DNA of a shark and a goldfish, it would produce a creature more powerful than the shark. If you fill a glass half half way with whisky and the rest of the way with water, it will be more powerful than a full glass of pure whisky.

I really don’t see the logic in that, other than the typical comic book mentality that the offspring of superheroes must always be more powerful than their parents. I don’t buy that and frankly, I find it irritating that we always have to build up characters by saying they are more powerful than Superman. They did the same thing with Supergirl. Now it’s Jon. Next will be Krypto.

Anyhow, aside from that, I liked this issue and I can always focus on the fact that Batman started his sentence with “I believe…” Obviously, in this instance, Batman was wrong.

So, we are now on the verge of receiving some answers to what exactly is going on with the overall Rebirth storyline. Batman and Flash will be investigating the Comedian’s smiley face button which had been found in the Batcave last year. I am excited to see what comes of this, but also concerned. I kow that no matter what the authors do, there will be a negative reaction, simply because people don’t want to see the main DC universe interact in any way with the Watchmen. For myself, I won’t judge until I read it.

Are you looking forward to seeing how the Watchmen will interact with the DCU, or do you think it’s all a horrible mistake? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Craig

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How DCU Movies Kick Marvel’s Butt

DCU Movies Kick Butt?

Now, before you jump all over me, let me say that I think the DCU movies have their flaws. Some fairly major ones actually. In general, so far, I prefer the Marvel movies. This statement will naturally still bring people down on me, just a different group of them.

I grew up with both DC and Marvel, so I love them both, but where my brother preferred DC, I was a Marvel fan. It all came down to the characters. My brother loved Superman and Batman, while I loved Spider-Man most of all. I was a DC fan as well, though. Superman is right at the top of my list with Spidey, and if you have read anything else on this site, you likely know that I am reading mostly DC comics now.

But while I am enjoying DC over Marvel in the comics, I prefer Marvel to DC in the theaters. Some say that DC is making more mature movies while Marvel is making films for kids. I happen to like the film of both companies, but I prefer Marvel’s brighter and more fun tone to DC’s dark and gritty style (strangely, though, I enjoy the darker Netflix fare that Marvel has put out quite a bit.

So why do I say that the DCU movie kick Marvel’s butt?

It’s All About the Ladies

For some time now we have been aware of the growing popularity of superheroes (and geek culture in general) amoung girls and women. Many fans have been hoping to see a female lead in a Marvel movie, but nothing has come to pass as of yet. I personally don’t think that a character like the Scarlet Witch could carry a film by herself, but I don’t have too much difficulty believing that Black Widow could do so. I could easily see her in an action/ espionage film. It would be less of a gamble for them than some other films because it could be made with a smaller budget.  I don’t understand Marvel’s disinterest in giving her a film.

Over at DC however, one of their highest-profile and most-anticipated films is the upcoming Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot. The buzz on the film has been good and despite some early resistance to the casting of Gadot in the role, she seems to have won over quite a few fans after her appearance in Batman v Superman.

And lest we think that Wonder Woman is the only female character capable of headlining a superhero film, it has now been announced that Joss Whedon– creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and writer/ director of the first two Avengers films– will be writing and directing a new Batgirl movie.

I’m not sure if Marvel is simply not confident enough in Black Widow’s drawing power, or if it’s something as simple as Scarlett Johansson  having a limited number of appearances left to her contract and Marvel wanting to save those appearances for Avengers-related films.

Marvel took a chance– and did very well– with Jessica Jones on Netflix, but it’s past time for a female superhero to appear as the lead in a theatrical release. There is a large untapped fan base just waiting for a hero to call their own. Until Marvel realises this, DCU movies have a real chance to kick their butt.

Do you want to see more female leads in superhero films? Let me know!

Craig

From virtually no tech skills to my own site! Find out how you can do it too!

 

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