Am I Going to Have to Declare ‘Make Mine Marvel’?

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Dear DC Comics/Time Warner Executives,

We know that you are scrambling in light of Marvel’s recent releases from their new Cinematic Universe, starring the Avengers and those associated properties.

In light of the blockbuster releases of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers, and most recently Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we can understand why you might be in your boardrooms cussing and drinking like sailors in a burning whorehouse trying to figure out which direction to escape.

Marvel’s recent movies have been both lucrative in terms of establishing those properties as money makers but more importantly, they have converted a large yearning in terms of comic aficionados who have always wanted to see comic heroes in the proverbial flesh and found a pent-up demand of other viewers who are hungry for well-crafted stories with larger than life heroes.

Marvel has hit both of those, in spades.

Marvel

Now I know what you’re thinking: It was Superman that established those yearnings and was the first comic hero whose demand led to further stories and greater financial earnings. Superman was the first movie hero to prove people could believe a man could fly.

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples...

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples…

And he did it several times. Then you went to the second leg of your Trinity of heroes and put Batman back on the map. Gone was the campy Batman of the Sixties with his teen-aged sidekick, Robin. The return of Batman still had a bit of camp but was darker, richer, and more satisfying than the Dark Knight had been in decades. Alas, someone reactivated the Camp-o-meter and by the time Mr. Freeze and the Bat-nipple suit arrive, interest in Batman was flagging faster than a transplant victim in a health spa.

Batman_Superman_Wonder_Woman_TrinityBut you didn’t give up. You decided, as the master of reboots (See: Crisis on Infinite Earths) you would reboot your first two legs of your Trinity. Superman got younger, a new suit, a kid, and a revised Lex Luthor. He lifted more things, flew really fast and blocked bullets with his eyeballs. Nice look but still nothing happening there. People were cool to this new reboot.

You pulled out all the stops and went to your backup, Batman. Nolan’s vision of the Dark Detective were regressive, he rewrote a bit of history, working Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows into the pastiche of Batman’s already convoluted history. No one complained because it made a kind of sense. Batman was reborn under Nolan’s hand and despite (or perhaps because of) Heath Leger’s Joker, a depiction that was a tour de force, almost overshadowing the Bat, this Batman was not just a hit, he became a force that altered Bat history on and off the page.

You were saved. The Dark half of your Duo had saved the financial day.

And yet, there was no sign of the third part of your Trinity. What Trinity you ask? The DC Universe has always looked more like a pantheon of Gods than a group of superheroes. Their arch-typical nature present for anyone familiar with Greek or Roman mythology to see. Superman is Zeus, all-powerful, literally the father of the genre and the most powerful member of the pantheon. Batman is Pluto, dark lord of the Underworld. Wonder Woman was Hera, queen of the Gods, feared and loved in equal measure.

So gentlemen, I ask you where is Wonder Woman? Why has she been neglected for so long? Why do I keep hearing tales that it is too hard to write a movie where Wonder Woman would be the star? She has, as one of the only female heroes to ever manage, to keep a running title for almost forty years. In the comic industry, she is the most popular female hero and the most well known. She is also one of the only female superheroes to have ever had a presence in live action on the little screen. A well-loved, well-received, fandom who will still turn out to meet and greet Linda Carter anywhere at any time.

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Guardians of the Galaxy features a mobile tree (Groot) and a gun-toting, spaceship stealing Raccoon (Rocket). Wonder Woman is hard? How?

So I ask you in all seriousness: What is your major malfunction you can’t manage to find your way to the bags of money that are sitting on your doorsteps if you were to create a reasonably well written treatment of Wonder Woman? Her animated movie did well. So did her animated appearances in the most awesome of your animated properties, The Justice League and Justice League unlimited. What are you afraid of? Marvel has a movie coming out with a walking TREE and a RACCOON in it. Only one of those will be a speaking part.

If now isn’t the time for Wonder Woman, when exactly would be the time? When a horrible spaceborne virus kills 99% of all the men on the planet? (For the record, that wouldn’t work either, women would demand a movie of the only remaining men left…)

In Wonder Woman’s defense you don’t even have to reinvent anything. We all know who she is and we are all aware of what she can do. As a matter of fact, you just have to decide how powerful you want to make her. Somewhere between Batman and Superman would, in fact, be perfect. Give her half the strength of Superman and the fighting skills to beat Batman in a fair fight and you have a winner.

She has a rogues gallery, granted its not as extensive as Batman’s, but a woman who can make enemies of Gods and monsters, and survive, should surely not lack for opposition both from the real world and the magical one; she could fight terrorists one day, Minotaurs the next.

Fans have managed to create incredible depictions showing her fighting street level crime to fighting gods and monsters in equal measure. So I have to ask you again: What are you waiting for? A sign from on high?

Yes, I heard you are putting some bony actress up there and calling her Wonder Woman. But I have to say to you: That is a mistake. You are mistaking name recognition with the ability to draw an audience. This isn’t about the Actress, this is about Wonder Woman. You want to remember, anyone you put there will one day have to contend with being in the same room as Batman and Superman and any other superheroes you later create. The last thing you want is a Wonder Woman who looks as if she could use a good meal or twelve.

Wonder Woman from Rainfall Films

When fans are doing better than you are, you suck.

This is particularly a case of working backward toward the depiction. Find someone who would make me believe she could BE Wonder Woman just standing there and my mind will fill in the blanks for just about everything else.

Bullshit you say? What if I told you Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the worst actors ever? Yet, NO ONE imagines a Terminator without seeing him in the role in their minds. This was a case of the Right Look doing the heavy lifting even if he spoke with Marble-mouth most of the time. You guys are in desperate need for a win because I hate to say this to you, Marvel/Disney is kicking your asses up and down the street. And nobody has called the cops yet. You can expect to be beaten for quite a bit longer.

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Yes, he has entered witness protection for killing in Superman’s name. We have to disguise his face for his protection.

What about Man of Steel, you say? Let’s not and say we did. It made money, googobs in fact; otherwise I would call your movie future dead on arrival. Man of Steel gave you a chance to revitalize and reboot the Big Blue Boy Scout one more time, now with a bit of murder under his belt. (Bad move on your part but I am over it.) About the only saving grace you have going for you at the moment is television. I am going to skip over the cancellations of Young Justice and Green Lantern, the Animated Series, the wounds are still too fresh.

In the live-action category you have Arrow and its been doing well on television. Arrow has managed to build a continuity that has been both respected and admired for its continuity and designs, if not its depth of acting talent. Arrow has now spun off the Flash series and this is a good sign. Now you have two venues to show off both evil agencies and supervillains of the DC Universe. I expect we will see Aquaman and a few other potential Leaguers before too long. This is a good thing.

But you have been found guilty of shortsightedness, hubris and arrogance in your decision to think Wonder Woman was unnecessary in the scheme of things. She was considered to be part of the Trinity of DC Pantheon for a reason. Strong, wise, brave, and capable of holding her own against either of the other two members,she has been a lynchpin in the DC Universe for decades.

How such an inspirational character has sat fallow on your tables is a testament to the lack of vision to be found in your headquarters. Perhaps you need to rent out the Legion of Doom headquarters down in Louisiana. It might inspire you to consider you business in a more world-conquering perspective.

Scott Disick throws money on crowd, swings fake axe at friend at Halloween bash in Las Vegas!

Marvel executives making it rain with their franchise runoff…

Movies are about magic. The magic to make me believe that what I am seeing could be true somewhere. Your current candidate for Wonder Woman is a mistake and I will stand by it. You will replace her in time for the Justice League movie you are hoping for. Yes, you are hoping to make a Justice League movie for the simple fact that the creation of the Silver Age Justice League inspired the writers over at Marvel to create the Avengers in the comics industry back in the day. And the money if you pull it off successful could challenge even YOUR dreams of financial avarice. (See: Avengers executives making it rain…)

But it looks like, unless DC/Warner gets its game in gear, and creates an integrated framework to build your movies around, something good, cohesive, strong and yet flexible, Marvel will be inspiring the next generation of heroes, not you. That would be a shame since you have THREE of the most recognizable icons ON THE PLANET; talk about squandering a natural resources.

Sincerely,

The World’s Most Rabid DC Comic fans secretly dusting off their “Make Mine Marvel” No Prizes in their basement.

PS: Brainiac and Solomon Grundy wanted pants and got them.

P.P.S: Can Wonder Woman get some pants, they can be yoga pants if that is all you can afford, but is there any reason she has to walk around half dressed in a room full of men who are wearing tights and body armor? Really, in the age of internet porn, a naked legged superheroine should be considered almost puritanical by comparison. Put her in a costume that dignifies a character whose longevity, in an industry of flash-in-the-pans, warrants an outfit worthy of her age and experience.

P.P.P.S. Otherwise this Wonder Woman here on the right from Injustice might make her way to your boardrooms. You wouldn’t want that…WONDER_WOMAN

Congratulations To Comcast, Your 2014 Worst Company In America!

Ebonstorm:

And because you demanded it. A contest to discover which company in America is considered most likely to shit on its customers. The deathmatch was between Comcast and Monsanto. COMCAST WON!

Originally posted on Consumerist:

Four years since winning its first Worst Company tournament, Comcast’s doubted that the Kabletown Krusher could ever regain that 2010 form. But after a few years of letting others hold the title, Comcast was fiercely intent on bringing a second Golden Poo to its Philadelphia lair. And in one of the narrowest Final Death Matches in the centuries’ long history of WCIA battle, Comcast managed to hold the genetically modified body blows of Monsanto.

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When you use anti-microbial soaps, your body manufactures mega-germs in your nose

Originally posted on Quartz:

Antimicrobial hand soaps could actually make you more susceptible to deadly staph infections, according to new research published today. Triclosan, the active ingredient in many bacteria-fighting soaps and gingivitis-fighting toothpastes, appears to help the bacteria Staphylococcusaureus, known for its antibiotic-resistant strain called MRSA, colonize human nasal passages. Having those bacteria in your nose isn’t dangerous, or even unusual, if you’re healthy—but their presence can result in serious infections when people undergo medical stresses such as surgery.

The new research, which was led by University of Michigan assistant professor Blaise Boles, found that those with higher levels of triclosan in their nasal fluid were more likely to have colonies of the bacteria. Postdoctoral fellow Sudeshna Ghosh, who worked on the study, told Quartz that this isn’t a case of traditional antibiotic resistance—it’s not just that the triclosan kills weaker bacteria and lets the deadly ones flourish, though other researchers are exploring…

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Media Consolidation Means Less Consumer Choices

MEDIA | INFOGRAPHICS | COMMENTARY | 

Comcast said Thursday it had agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in a deal that would combine the two biggest cable companies in the United States.

Yes, this was the news that shocked the nation and threatened to make Comcast one of the largest service providers in the United States, arguably the world. Somehow the media managed to convince people it was no big deal and nothing would change for people who used their services. But there was more to it than that. This consolidation would not only cause people to lose their jobs, it would also cause organizations to have to worry that they would not be able to provide their services over the internet services that Comcast would now have even MORE control over. This is not just a struggle over customers, it is a struggle over content and who provides it. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t a problem. It is even bigger than it appears.

A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing the consolidation of media companies (Are You Still Looking for the Illuminati?) and how more and more of our media content is being generated and controlled by fewer and fewer organizations. I promised you an update to the graphic in the document so you could see how each of these mega-corporations  held dominion over what you saw and heard. Even this chart isn’t quite perfect but it is closer than the last one.

Media-Consolidation-Final

ULTRA CONCENTRATED MEDIA

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Open in new window for larger image.

 

REFERENCES

Who Owns The Media?

Federal Communications Commission

The Real Reason They Still Play Mrs. Robinson on the Radio

The FCC’s Big Move to Curb Media Consolidation

One big reason we lack Internet competition: Starting an ISP is really hard

Captain America, Winter Soldier (spoiler-free review)

Captain America - Winter Soldier

by Brandon Easton

Saw CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER last night and really have nothing bad to say at all. There were a few issues with story logic but outside of minor nitpicks, I’d have to say this is AS good as THE AVENGERS and definitely the best “solo” MCU movie to date. (MINOR SPOILERS)

The best way to describe this movie is “balanced.” It achieved an almost perfect balance between comic book-style action, humor, character development and story sophistication. Taking a page from the Robert Ludlum/Tom Clancy school of 1970s-era Cold War espionage pop culture storytelling, The Winter Soldier (at the VERY least) establishes a formula for Marvel Studios that if used repeatedly, should guarantee the cinematic dominance of Marvel IPs for the next generation.

Expertly adapted from the critically-acclaimed, award-winning “Captain America” comics series run from writer Ed Brubaker – the movie takes the source material very seriously (and as a side note, if you haven’t read the story this is based on, I would strongly suggest you do so immediately) – and spins the direction of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to a place no fan could have imagined.

What carries this film are the performances from the core cast – Chris Evans has grown on me as an actor and it is somewhat disappointing to learn that he wants to retire from the role when his contract expires – but Scarlett Johanssen, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford and Sam Jackson turn in strong, somber moments that propel this beyond the pulp trappings of Thor and the last two Iron Man films. The actors seem much more relaxed than in Avengers and it feels like they’ve been given more freedom to explore the characters and not worry so much about corporate blowback from Marvel Studios or their parent company Disney. Evans has great chemistry with Mackie, Jackson, Redford and Johansson and all their scenes feel natural with the right amount of dread when necessary and levity when you least expect it.

The identity of the “Winter Solider” is not a shock to anyone who’s read the comic books or paid attention to all the press releases from Marvel Entertainment, yet, we all sat there waiting for the big reveal of Bucky as the Soldier, experimented on by Arnim Zola to be the Nazi/Hydra version of Captain America.

The fallout of the super conspiracy within the Marvel Universe and what this means for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and Captain America 3 is just plain awesome. This movie pushes Captain America from being a B-level punchline in the pantheon of costumed heroes to a legitimate superhero in the eyes of the (non-comic-book-reading) audience. The story unfurls at just the right pace – when the character development reaches its apex, then a massive-action-set-piece drops into the script. To continue on this point – Marvel Studios has basically trashed the convenient existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and this makes me wonder what this means for the TV series AoS?) – and created a new, more dangerous, less predictable and an altogether shadowy status quo – sort of like a combination of the gritty-post-Mike Zeck PUNISHER 1980s Marvel Universe and Ed Brubaker’s vision of the spy-comic 2000s Marvel Universe.

As a longtime viewer of comic book movies, it was nice to see well-choreographed fight sequences using real-world martial arts. That, I think, represents the mindset of the filmmakers: inject just enough “reality” into the movie to grab the attention of even the most ardent anti-comic book moviegoer and then dazzle them with incredible stunts and the trademark big Marvel-finale.

The diversification of the Marvel heroes on screen is important for the continued growth of the brand and to capture younger viewers of all backgrounds. With the exception of Blade, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon was the first Black superhero featured in a Marvel Comics movie (Sam Jackson as Nick Fury doesn’t count, and neither does Idris Elba in Thor). The exploration of Black Widow’s background and character motivation is just enough to whet our appetites for the eventual Black Widow movie (and after her performance here, I’m certain Scarlett Johansson can carry an action movie on her own – as we shall see this summer in the Luc Besson-produced LUCY). One other thing – I never understood why everyone thought she was “hot” but after this movie – wow, she really is a beautiful woman.

For all the excellent things I have to say about the actors and the setting, the core element that holds this movie together is the amazing screenplay. It would have been easy to tell another Avengers-style caper but the level of restraint and constant references to Marvel Comics, 1970s-spy thrillers, PULP FICTION (the best meta-reference in movie history), COMMUNITY (yes, Abed shows up) and past Marvel movies makes this something special.

I enjoyed every second of Captain America 2: The Winter Solider. From the introduction of Batroc, to the old school version of Zola, to the well-designed construction of double-crosses (and some were obvious), to the after-credit tie-ins to AGE OF ULTRON, I can’t give a higher recommendation. See this in the theater. The Falcon flight scenes are worth the price of admission.

© Brandon Easton 2014, All Rights Reserved

Brandon Easton

We’re Back!

Originally posted on Hub City Blues:

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The first quarter of this year was not spent idle.

I have written twenty new tales of speculative fiction you haven’t even seen yet. Starting this month, you will see those new tales appearing as time allows.

You will also see changes in the future of Hub City Blues as we work to complete running serials and start new ones. We will have another 30 Stories in 30 Days in May and will be creating new connections with other writers and artists whose talents should not be missed.

I admit to being a less than stellar marketer of my talents and my offerings, but I am trying to change all that. Look down the sidebar and see new ideas, products, connections and people whose ideas are worth reading, viewing and listening to. These are not advertisers, these are friends whose work I respect. (When I get known well enough to advertise, I…

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Can Robots Be Managers, Too?

Harvard Business Review:

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As if you didn’t have enough to think about, we must now consider the idea that robots will not only be taking menial labor from humans, they may also one day be telling the few of us who are left HOW THEY WANT US TO WORK WITH THEM…

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Robots are starting to enter homes as automatic cleaners, work in urban search and rescue as pseudo teammates that perform reconnaissance and dangerous jobs, and even to serve as pet-like companions. People have a tendency to treat such robots that they work closely with as if they were living, social beings, and attribute to them emotions, intentions, and personalities . Robot designers have been leveraging this, developing social robots that interact with people naturally, using advanced human communication skills such as speech, gestures, and even eye gaze. Unlike the mechanical, factory robots of the past, these social robots become a unique member of our social groups.

One of the primary drivers behind robot development is that robots are simply better than people at some tasks. Traditionally, we think of mundane, repetitive, and precise jobs as clear candidates – robots have already taken over as the primary worker in many factories…

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