My Adventures as a first time Geek Dad
Well it has been a bit of a stretch since I’ve written one of these hasn’t it? To all of you my loyal fans (mostly my mom and wife) I apologize for being away for so long. Lord knows where on the internet you’ve been able to go in my absence to read about nerdy complaints involving comic books and movies. I’m sure the void in your lives was vast and everlasting but you see there comes a time in most husbands’ lives where their wife tells them that they are ready to have a baby. Apparently, from what I was told on the subject I became ready to spawn a child early in 2014 and in the here and now I am the father of a bouncing nine month baby girl named Evelyn. She is beautiful, she is my everything, and I have no idea what to do with her.
My first nine months of parenting have been very much a blur, the small human that we brought home from the hospital that could do nothing but sleep, scream, and relieve herself has become a crawling, babbling, unsleeping, roommate that has already learned how to throw a mean left hook. I can now function with as little as 3 hours of sleep a night. I can now function with as little as 3 hours of sleep a night. I’ve learned how to change a diaper without wearing a set of Walter White’s Meth making chemical coverall’s, I can make a bottle, and put my daughter down for a nap without the use of any pharmaceuticals but the big questions have to be addressed. Episodes 4-6 first or 1-3? Which Captain Kirk does she meet first? Pre or post New 52? Which Ninja Turtle cartoon? Which doctor will be her doctor and how do I tell her she’s wrong because only David Tennant is the doctor. Is Marvel going to be okay with me telling her who the Fantastic Four are?
In order to teach her the ways of all things pointless that I’ve come to dedicate my life too, I first had to get myself reacquainted with the world I left in what feels like a lifetime ago. Like Brooks from the film the Shawshank Redemption I can only say that the world of geekdom has gone and gotten itself in a big damn hurry. Everything old is new again. Jurassic Park, Star Wars, The X-Files, Heroes, we’re going to meet our third Spider-Man, our sixth Batman, and now there is an alternate world with only lady Ghostbusters? The comic book landscape has become completely foreign to me now as well, at DC your comic seems to only be able to get attention if you set in a universe that feels a lot more like Scott Pilgram’s then the DCU. At Marvel everything is the same except the gender, race, religion, names, ages, and originating universes of all their characters. Oh and the rest we’re not allowed to talk about until Marvel studios can make their own movie of it.
Change though,no matter how scary or in Hollywood’s case redundant, is usually a good thing. So even with all these changes that my life and hobbies are forcing me into, I find myself feeling pretty exhilarated by all the things that I’ve grown to love again because I can’t wait to share them with her. Growing up every little kid loves to talk superheroes and spaceships but as I the other kids grew up around me I never lost that need to talk about people in capes and how a light sabers work. Now I have my own little sidekick to show the ropes. God help me if she likes Barbie or Ballet…or that new Ghostbusters movie.
All that’s old will be new again! Marvel is pulling a Doctor Who (or DC Comics really) move and regenerating themselves into a younger supposedly more accessible world for new and old readers alike. The idea of a reboot or something like it has been popping up a lot in the last few years especially once writer Jonathan Hickman introduced the idea of universes pitted against each other in his run on titles Avengers and New Avengers. It was seen in particular as a way to finally take the Ultimate Universe out behind the barn and put it out of it’s misery.
How will they do it you ask? Why with the seldom ever heard of event series of course! Hickman’s run on Avengers will culminate with Marvel’s greatest heroes failing to prevent the incursion of the Ultimate Universe upon the traditional 616 one. Instead of everyone dying and the end of the house of ideas though, we will see the formation of something called Battle-World, a planet comprised of different versions of the Marvel U from throughout the multi-verse. The new “continents” from around the multi-verse are presenting themselves in the form of almost every event book for the last 10 to 15 years. This includes Civil War, Armor Wars, Planet Hulk, Age of Ultron, and plenty of others. When it’s all said and done we’ll be left with some new amalgam of our usual heroes on a new Earth. Which means anyone, from any book is a possible new Marvel mainstay. So look for all sorts of new combinations of characters and status quo changes. Anything can be changed, added, or removed at this point. Also expect a slew of new number ones and probably the cancellation of lots of the books you’re reading. (Good riddance Superior Iron Man) My first guess is to expect Ultimate Spider-Man’s Miles Moralez to become a permanent resident and since we won’t need two single Spidey’s, expect this Peter to become the norm.
Next I would imagine that it’s time to prepare for a universe that is far more in line with the cinematic one. The Marvel cinematic universe is pretty much become a blob like creature that
can’t be stopped and has now absorbed the comics part of the company. So look for Inhumans out the wah-zoo, Nick Fury to lose the Jr and just be Nick Fury, and an Avengers crew that looks pretty familiar. The real question is what happens to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four? The X-Men have more then a few continents on Battle-World including Age of Apocalypse, Days of Future Past, and Old Man Logan so I’m sure our merry mutants will be around in some shape or form. Fantastic Four is more ambiguous and if this is another step in Marvel’s screw you Fox and Sony campaign (they can deny it all they wan’t, I’m not buying it) then who knows how Reed and the gang will appear.
My immediate reaction to all this is one of both fear and excitement. Similar to when DC announced the New 52, I feel like Marvel has made everything I’m reading right now moot. Like I should just cancel everything until I see what they’re offering post Secret Wars. For instance is Falcon Cap going to be erased so quickly that I will have wasted reading his 8 part series? I also find it incredibly ironic that Marvel would pull a stunt like this and call it original after having given so much crap to DC in the last few years. I know both companies leach off each other but this seems particularly obvious. I’m also concerned about over-saturating a good thing. Do we need a Marvel U with Peter Parker, Miles Moralez, Spider-Gwen, Silk, and Spider-Woman? Wasn’t it just fine having some of these guys on their own Earths? As always I’m down for the ride of course because in the end I want to read these characters but know this Marvel, I have my limits!
Let it never be said that I can’t admit when my childish complaining was unwarranted. When I first heard that DC Comics was retiring the identity of Nightwing so that Dick Grayson could become the James Bond or Jason Bourne if you prefer of the DCU I kind of had a meltdown. I’m a superhero guy; I love all the clichés that come along with that, the costumes, the secret identities, the hidden lairs, all of it. I think this is why I’ve always gravitated more towards DC over Marvel because a lot of these notions are dying off at the house of ideas. So the notion that Dick Grayson, the original Boy Wonder, was going to become a gun toting action hero felt like a perversion of the highest order. Yet here I am to say, it’s totally working.
Nightwing is a character that most fans love but is always in a state of flux. DC was constantly trying to come up with some way to keep him relevant. He’s been on and off the Justice League and Titans rosters, he’s lived in numerous cities (Bludhaven, Gotham, Chicago,) and started numerous new careers (police officer, museum curator, circus manager). He briefly became a star again after the death of Bruce Wayne when he took up the mantle of Batman and partnered with Damian as Robin. Giving him a sidekick and finally graduating Grayson to the A list of heroes really help remind everyone why they loved the character. Unfortunately we all knew it couldn’t last and Bruce couldn’t stay gone forever. It’s because of this lack of direction that I think DC has come close to killing Dick off… twice. His status within the DCU and with fans is high enough that his death would really garner a lot of attention and DC would finally figure out what to do with him.
Now though, instead of moving him deeper into the pantheon of DC heroes they’ve removed him from the board altogether. Dick is now a member of the secret organization known as Spyral and with the exception of Batman the world thinks Nightwing died at the hands of the crime syndicate in the event series Forever Evil. Now he’s a double agent reporting to Batman on the shady dealings that come with being a Spyral agent an organization that may or may not have the world’s best intentions in mind. The supporting cast around him is comprised entirely of people that Dick and the audience don’t know if they can trust. His partner is the New 52 version of Helena Bertinelli who is as deadly as ever and loyal to Spyral to a fault. They report to the mysterious Mr. Minos a man with no face whose only agenda we know so far is to collect the identities of every superhero and meta- human on Earth.
The drama of the series comes from Dick’s journey from the altruistic world of being a superhero to the morally grey one of espionage. He struggles with maintaining Batman’s code of never taking a life and the fact that sometimes he has to let the bad guys win if it serves a greater purpose. Of course since this is Dick Grayson there is a growing sexual tension between him and Helena but whether he can truly trust her is always still up in the air. Also everyone knows that the issue will come where someone from Dick’s old life is going to find out he’s still alive. The question of course is if Dick continues down this path, will he still remember why he’s there to begin with? Will he want to come back to the land of the living or will he want to keep working from the shadows that even Batman won’t go.
So give creative team Tom King and Tim Seeley a break, they haven’t ruined Dick Grayson, they’ve actually saved him. They’ve taken him and finally found a way to make him a star again. I’ll always be a Nightwing fan but at the end of the day the book really asks if you’re a Dick Grayson fan. Seven issues in, Grayson has the world saying yes.
Marvel’s Civil War is probably the most successful event comic of the last 15 years which is saying something considering the amount of events that have followed it. Its combination of hero vs. hero battles and the topical question of government control in a post 9/11 world set it apart from any other superhero book on the shelf. It’s also set the tone since for what it means to be a hero in the Marvel universe, they may be needed but can they be trusted? So it’s kind of a no brainer that the Marvel cinematic universe would try to adapt it in some kind of fashion.
It was recently announced that Robert Downey Jr. would be reprising his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man for the third sequel in the Captain America franchise in order to introduce the idea of a brewing Civil War between the costumed heroes of Marvel. For those of you who don’t know, the story of Civil War in short goes as such, following a tragedy with a lot of collateral damage caused by a group of young superheroes, the government decides all superheroes must unmask and register their identities. Tony Stark and various heroes agree while Cap and various others don’t. This leads to a war between the two groups with humanity trapped in the middle. Rumors have begun to swirl quickly with this one as Tony Stark isn’t the only hero that might appear in the film as Jeremy Renner has noted the possibility of a visit from Hawkeye as well.
No one knows the details yet about how the story will be structured. Will Cap 3 feature the actual war that will break everyone apart in time for a reconciliatory battle with Thanos in Avengers 3 or will Avengers 3 serve as the actual war? Either way my question is whether the Marvel movie universe is ready for an event of this proportion? It’s a game changer to be sure but have they laid enough groundwork? Here are some topics I think Marvel and the audiences both need to prepare themselves for Civil War.
The main topic of civil war is secret identities and if they can be allowed or not. The problem with this is that there aren’t really any secret identities in the current Marvel films. Iron Man outted himself in his first film and Steve Rodgers has an exhibit in the Smithsonian. Black Widow and Hawkeye are agents of SHIELD which is more or less the US Government and Bruce Banner isn’t exactly a well kept secret. So we need some masked men in these movies ASAP to really cement this argument. If unmasking for registration isn’t a big deal you have no movie. Upcoming films and television shows will introduce us to Daredevil, Ant-Man, and Iron Fist who all could choose to keep their identities a secret. The main hero that they really need though is Spider-Man as he plays a massive roll in the comic. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are talks of Marvel and Sony sharing the popular character at the same time the idea of civil war on film have surfaced. Both franchises would benefit from the sharing of the web head as Marvel would get to play with there most popular icon and Sony gets to save their ailing franchise. You want to make Spider-Man relevant to audiences again? Have him team up with the Avengers and threaten to reveal his identity to the world.
Prepare for Casualties
You can’t make war part of your title without having some casualties. Civil War is famous for leading to one fatality in particular which would really shake things up for the Marvel movies. With actor contracts quickly coming to an end, it might be time for a changing of the guard. There have been talks of Avengers 3 having a radically different roster then the previous films. We’ll be meeting characters like Dr. Strange, Luke Cage, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and more then likely Black Panther and Ms Marvel sooner then later. With each new character you get a new contract. Anyone of these characters could become a breakout hit that warrants them taking on a larger role in other films. Bucky actor Sebastian Stan supposedly has a nine picture deal so it’s pretty likely we’ll see him outside of just the Cap sequels. This also helps Marvel with the idea of switching actors for the big three, it’s been said in the past that head honcho Kevin Feige wants to treat the parts like James Bond and recast when necessary. Let other characters grow and the sting of losing RD Jr. will fade eventually.
Part of the hype around the Civil War event was the idea of making fans choose a side of the battle to root for. The problem with this for me was that by the middle of the series no matter how right Tony sounded at times, he still acted as the villain of the series. His actions made him pretty unlikable for the next few years and I think it’s safe to assume none of us want RD Jr.’s last appearances in the role to be as an unlikable dick. So we need the fight to be as conflicting for the audience as possible. We should be excited to see the heroes throw down but at the same time it shouldn’t ever feel right.
Civil War is really the biggest boldest thing Marvel could do after pulling off the Avengers. It’s a gamble to be sure but one I think they can pull off. They just need to have as much planned out as possible. It feels as if Feige has had this idea in his back pocket for a while so hopefully they really have been building to it for years. Otherwise the only casualties of this war will be the audiences watching it.
Over the last several months, the comic book site Bleeding Cool has been reporting that Marvel comics would be canceling Fantastic Four as a response to the breakdown of negotiations between Marvel and film studio 20th Century Fox. Marvel has denied this time and again but now it seems to be all but confirmed, as a solicitation has been discovered offering a triple-sized last issue for the FF from current writer James Robinson and artist Leonard Kirk. It will be technically the 645th issue for Marvel’s first family, and their last. And it makes me sick.
The Fantastic Four are not Marvel’s best selling property. I realize this. Specifically the book has been a mess since Jonathan Hickman left last year but are we really willing to throw away, even temporarily, a book that is a cornerstone of the Marvel U? One of the only books at Marvel that offered something truly different: a book built of concepts like family, adventure, and dare I say it, optimism? It’s a book that, when it’s at its best, is equal parts Dr Who, Fantastic Voyage, and The Incredibles. I’m angry with Marvel for metaphorically taking their ball and going home, thus ruining the game for the fans. I’m angry with Fox for feeling the need to change and manipulate a property so much that its creators want nothing to do with it. I’m also fearful, though, of what this means for the future.
It’s been clear for a while now that Marvel is well into the process of evolving from being just a comic book publisher into a multi-media conglomerate. They’re a movie studio, they’re television producers, and they’re in the business of capitalizing (through merchandise) on everything, including but not limited to toys, clothes, bed linens, toothpaste, energy drinks, dining ware, school supplies, makeup, and collectibles. In short, they are a powerfully successful brand name, and the comics could suffer for it. Properties like Spider-Man and X-Men are not going to return to Marvel anytime soon and it’s possible that they never will. They’re too large a moneymaker for their controlling studios to give up. A bad Spider-Man movie still makes them more money than most of their other smaller releases. So does this mean we need to abuse the comic iterations of these characters every time a new non-Marvel-made movie is released? How far is Marvel willing to go with this idea? Like I said, Fantastic Four isn’t a moneymaking machine like the Avengers or X-Men so their risk here is minimal, but will they grow bolder as they expand? Do we kill Peter Parker in time for The Amazing Spider-Man 3? Do we have the X-Men lose their mutations in time for X-Men Apocalypse?
I wasn’t particularly excited for this new Fantastic Four film to begin with, and this news has soured me even more on it. Let’s say the film is a great success . It still won’t have fixed anything with the pissing match between Marvel and Fox. It will become a question of, will Marvel cave to meet the public’s new-found interest in the property? With how much Marvel loves relaunches and new 1st issues, the answer will most likely be “yes.” We all know no matter what that Mr. Fantastic and the gang will be back in print eventually but is this the first real sign of the movie side of the business being too powerful for its own good? Look at the state of Marvel’s latest relaunch in terms of what characters are moving to the forefront. Falcon is our new Captain America and Bucky gets a new ongoing in the wake of their successful movie debuts. Deathlok just appeared in ABC’s Agents of Shield, and Ant-Man, Dr Strange, and Scarlet Witch are getting some attention in print to prime audiences for their upcoming films. Marvel has also been trying to push the Inhumans harder than normal because they are in the early stages of getting a film, which would solve the cinematic universe’s lack of mutants problem. Battle lines are being drawn and the fate of our favorite characters in comics may come down to how many movie stubs you have in your pocket.
They aren’t first or even third world problems. They’re the most trivial of nerd issues…they’re Dan’s World Problems
I am avid movie nerd so naturally I have a rather large collection of films in my media library. I started with VHS (Google them) and made the switch to DVD and then the leap to Blu-Ray but it hasn’t been an easy process. I promised myself that I wouldn’t go back and repurchase every movie I own just to catch up with whatever medium is in vogue. This of course only lasted until they released the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series on Blu-Ray, then the flood gates opened and every movie I deemed a “classic” had to make the leap to HD which lead to conversations with my wife that went thusly. “I want Aliens on Blu-Ray”. “When was the last time you watched it?” “Last weeken…” “Not on TV.” “Uhhhh.”
I’ve grown to realize I am in fact the world’s biggest sucker when it comes to making decisions about purchases involving movies. At movie studios and the Blu-Ray factory they must have a photo of me with the mission statement “Make This Chump Want It”. Since for lack of a better word I collect movies, I always want the best version of each movie I buy. Which in some cases can mean literally the difference of having a slip cover on the box or not. The slip cover, you know the 25 cent piece of cardboard that goes around the box that you threw away or your kid destroyed years ago, that’s a deal breaker for me. I want twelve hours of bonus features I’ll never watch. I want it to come with both a DVD copy I’ll never use and a digital copy I will let expire and god help you if it’s not in a case that is as thick as a book. Plus if you can fit in a replica head or car that would be nice. I want to sit and stare at my collection and imagine that if a random person saw it they would momentarily think “man… guy likes his movies”;
The system has begun to break down though, owning movies is beginning to die out as streaming services expand and the people at Blu-Ray know this. This is why you’re seeing more and more films coming out in 3D, they can charge you more at the theater and then sucker you into buying a copy in 3D because you can’t stream it…yet. So where in the past the set they wanted everyone to buy would be the edition that included the Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital copies, now they want you to get the edition that comes with the 3D, Blu-Ray, and maybe a digital copy. So instead of buying an extra disk you can play your buying one you can’t without upgrading your TV.
On top of this they have also come up with a diabolical way to get you to pay twice for a movie. The Hobbit films have all had standard Blu-Ray releases that are now being followed a year later by special editions that are longer cuts of the film. Lord of the Rings did the same thing except it was all released to the consumer at once; we could choose what we wanted. Now like a drug dealer they only give us a taste but expect us to come back and pay for more. X-Men Days of Future Past comes out on October 14th but next year a lengthier cut of the movie is coming out with all the Anna Paquin/ Rogue material that was left out. So what is a movie junkie to do? I could buy both cuts but which version will be better and will the new set contain both? I could stream it now on demand or through cough cough less legal manners in order to get me my fix till that new set is released but then what if someone looks at the movie shelf and sees I’m missing the latest X-Men! The horror! I’d be the laughing stock of the living room.
So what’s the answer? Well there isn’t one, either I’ll waste a little money or a lot of money on a movie that I really only have so many hours left in my life watching. All I can do is hope the random strangers starring at my movies will be kind and I should probably start getting more concerned about the strangers I think are going to show up anyway.