Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films

Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films

Do modern action movies have violence without a conscience? Are the latest Marvel flicks more violent and gruesome than a three-hour film depicting the horrors of The Second World War? Mel Gibson certainly thinks so.

The long-time actor and director of such grim movies as Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and, most recently, Hacksaw Ridge was quoted as saying he believes comic book movies are more violent than any of his films. Now, at first glance, Gibson’s remarks might seem ridiculous. After all, how can a film about Captain America and Iron Man punching each other in the face be more dire than watching Jesus being crucified? Marvel films, and arguably every other superhero movie, are meant to be enjoyable for the whole family. They’re the types of films you take your friends to see on opening weekend, expecting to thoroughly enjoy yourself watching Rocket Racoon crack jokes and beat up some baddies. But, on closer inspection, Gibson does have a point.

Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films 2Throughout the promotion of Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson and the film’s cast were constantly questioned about some of the movie’s most violent scenes. A few critics even believe that, in its explicit violence, Hacksaw Ridge goes against the pacifism its main character stands for. The film follows the true story of a pacifist and medic named Desmond T. Doss, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, who refused to fire a single weapon during the Battle of Okinawa. Doss was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for saving 75 lives.

Now, considering Doss’ achievements and his brave decision to renounce violence during one of the bloodiest battles in The Second World War, it does seem a little odd that Hacksaw Ridge goes out of its way to display some truly ghastly action sequences. The movie contains everything from decapitated limbs to men being set on fire. In defence of the movie’s embrace of gore, though, Gibson claims that the violence present in Hacksaw Ridge is meaningful. There is no action and violence just for the sake of it; instead, every scene is supposed to mean something. Gibson wants to display the true horrors of war without holding back, while also focusing on an individual who decided to live his life differently and peacefully, even amid such horrors.

In most comic book movies, in contrast, the bombastic action sequences and overall spectacle lack meaning. They’re mostly there to create a visually stunning and entertaining film, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The New York City attack in Avengers is a fun romp replete with incredible scenes of Hulk smashing aliens and the entire Avengers team working together. But, save for Iron Man’s mental breakdown in future films (which was poorly portrayed), this violence is there solely to titillate the audience.

Mel Gibson And Violence In Comic Book Films 4

Think about how many enemies superheroes, from Spider-Man, to Superman, to Captain America, have destroyed. Now, ask yourself when any of these comic book flicks take time to reflect on the actions of either the heroes and villains? The generic thugs the heroes face never evolve from being nameless baddies that are there for someone like Superman to kill in the most visually stunning ways. And the head villains are usually implacably evil, rather than complex individuals with legitimate grievances that could be addressed non-violently.

Criticizing Mel Gibson for the violence of his work while mostly ignoring the lack of conscience in most superhero movies is interesting to say the least. What is wrong with Hacksaw Ridge containing scenes of both American and Japanese soldiers hacking each other limb from limb? Was The Second World War and the Battle of Okinawa vicious and unforgiving? Did it really happen this way? If yes, why should Gibson hold back? By contrasting the violence of men and war, and Doss’ refusal to be another cog in the war machine, the film expertly showcases just how brave and remarkable Doss’ actions were.

New Iron Man Is An African-American Teenage Girl

New Iron Man Is An African-American Teenage Girl

The ending of Civil War II promises to leave the Marvel Universe changed in more ways than one. After major character deaths opening the series, writer Brian Michael Bendis confirms that the perennially popular Iron Man will be getting a new identity. Only this time, she won’t be a man.

Read moreNew Iron Man Is An African-American Teenage Girl

All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 (Trade) Review

All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 (Trade) Review

When the Marvel Universe rebooted after the events of Secret Wars, I was worried about the quality of a majority of Marvel’s comics. Not only were the creative teams switched and moved to new titles, but fundamentally the characters we grew to love and cherish went through a number of considerable changes. I’m happy to report that the All-New, All-Different Avengers doesn’t suffer from these dramatic changes and actually creates a team I’m eager to follow as their stories continue.

The Magnificent Seven begins right after Tony Stark lost possession of Stark Industries, a majority of his fortune and even Avengers Tower. For once, the world is without a team of Avengers to help protect it, but that doesn’t last long. Kang the Conqueror returns as Mr. Gryphon, the new, proud owner of Avengers Tower and still evil mastermind. After a powerful Chitauri named Warbringer teleports inside the tower, Kang becomes his ally and sets the warrior on a quest to find three ancient relics belonging to the Chitauran race. Thankfully, a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man named Miles Morales, eavesdropped this master plot.

All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 (Trade) Review 2All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 (Trade) ReviewWhile the set up isn’t incredibly strong for an Avengers tale, this story is more than enough of a threat to warrant the creation of a new team. Comprised of legacy heroes, Iron Man, Sam Wilson’s Captain America, the thunder Goddess Thor and the emotionally absent Vision, the team acquires new recruits in Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel and Nova. The joy of any Avengers comic is the interactions between its members and the cast collected here has a great amount of charisma and character to play with. The stand out members are definitely the teams latest recruits, which start as bickering teens, but grow into a powerful force that relies on each other.

A lot of The Magnificent Seven is about developing the Avengers’ chemistry. The team may be comprised of familiarly named characters, but many of them are interacting for the first time and many of their secrets, particularly Thor’s, remain deeply personal. Unfortunately, by the end of the volume, the team feels very separated between rookies and veterans. I would’ve loved to see Ms. Marvel get taken under Thor’s wing or for Miles and Cap to have a heart-to-heart conversation, but these moments never occur. It’s clear that these relationships are developing, they just aren’t highlighted in the panels or within the story.

All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 (Trade) Review 1Kang has never been close to being one of my favourite villains and after reading this, that feeling still remains. Kang is just too weird for my liking and he never resonated with me like other villains. I find that the creative teams always push him as something massive and threatening, but his plots never feel like they have any weight to them and his motivations are still one-note. This being said, I’m happy Kang was used as an early villain so the Avenger’s can keep the majority of the spotlight and hopefully in later volumes, we can see stronger, more compelling villains.

All-New, All-Different Avengers Volume 1 was never intended to be the greatest Avenger’s story ever-told, but it’s definitely an entertaining read with interesting places to explore in the future. Even though all of our favourite chracters have been rebooted, the people who have replaced them feel fresh and exciting. Everyone gets their own moment to shine as a hero as they try to win your heart for attention. Miles continues to prove his worth as Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel is still as addictive as ever, and I’m compelled to follow Thor as she continues her ever-ending battle. Avengers has done its job and made me feel invested in a team that I never thought I’d care about.

Ranking the Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

Ranking the Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

This week, the folks at the Marvel movie factory are hoping that 13 is their lucky number with Captain America: Civil War. The massive blockbuster represents the culmination of 8 years and 13 movies worth of episodic storytelling that transformed summer movie season into a grand comic book movie experiment.

Read moreRanking the Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (PS4) Review

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (PS4) Review

I guess it’s time for a new LEGO game. Ever since Traveller’s Tales struck gold with their LEGO Star Wars formula, they’ve been cranking out new editions adapting new pop culture properties ever since. The reason why is simple: these games aren’t just tremendously successful, they’re also ridiculously fun. Combining basic platforming and puzzle-solving with good old fashioned smash em up brawling brings out the best in simple gaming. They feel like games from another era, yet also boast the horsepower of new-gen hardware with some of the most beloved pop culture icons shoved into the cutesy confines of the world’s most beloved toy building blocks. The LEGO games are just plain fun. The only problem is repetition. We get at least two of these suckers a year, causing Traveller’s Tales to crank out new titles faster than they can innovate. So, when you pop a game like LEGO Marvel Avengers into your system of choice, it’s hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu. The LEGO games might be fun, but they really are all the same, and that will be enough to annoy some folks.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers insert 2It was only a few short years ago that Traveller’s Tales delivered LEGO Marvel Superheroes, possibly the all-time high of the series. Yet here we are with yet another LEGO Marvel game. The twist this time is that the game is based on the MCU movies, which helps conceal the Traveller’s Tales wheel-spinning at least for a while. The story recreates sequences from the movies rather well. It kicks off with the opening fight from Avengers: Age Of Ultron, introducing players to the game by letting them use each of the superstar Avengers (obviously starting with Black Widow and Hawkeye before moving on to…you know…the heroes with powers). The basic smash-bad-guys-and-solve-puzzles-with-LEGO formula remains; however, this time the cutscenes are all amusing recreations of action scenes from the Marvel blockbusters, complete with sound bites from the actors. It’s pretty cute; I can’t pretend I didn’t have fun.

Combat is slightly enhanced as well. Rather than merely smashing the attack button until all the baddies are dead, there’s an option to use an animated, hero-specific super attack (or if two heroes are close enough together for a team attack). It’s a pretty amusing addition that works well with the superhero routine. Sound bites from Robert Downey Jr. and co. add a little flair as well, though all the dialogue is taken from the movies, so the one-liners are repetitive and audio quality varies. The graphics might be the best Traveller’s Tales has delivered so far, with the glossy blockbuster settings from the MCU recreated with surprising depth and detail through LEGO and filled with gorgeous lighting and atmospheric effects. The game looks and feels like the movies, although the way it traverses through narrating them is wonky. The plots of Avengers 1 and 2 offer an overarching structure, but within that there are also flashbacks with playable levels in Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Thor: The Dark World. It can be a little confusing to wrap your head around, but given that the game is designed for obsessive fans of the movies, I’m sure they’ll be fine.

In addition to the main story, which is pretty hefty given that it crams in 6 movies, there are also several hub cities to explore (including a hefty Manhattan). These include a variety of hidden side missions relating to other movies and more obscure nooks in Marvel lore. Characters from the Spider-man and the X-Men universes don’t appear to appease the Disney bosses, but the Netflix Marvel characters and a variety of comic book characters (yes, Squirrel Girl returns) fill out a massive roster of playable heroes. There’s definitely hours upon hours of exploring to be done after the main story with plenty of missions and characters to unlock. It’ll keep players going for ages and given that The Guardians Of The Galaxy characters are mysteriously absent despite their massive popularity, it’s probably safe to say that DLC is on the way to add even more playtime.

So, it’s another massive Marvel LEGO Game filled with fan service, even more content than the last LEGO Marvel outing, and some of the best visuals Traveller’s Tales has produced to date. Why the low score? More than anything else, the repetition. While I had oodles of fun ploughing through this game, I can’t pretend it didn’t all feel overly familiar. I still get a kick out of the LEGO formula and imagine much of the target audience for this title will be kids who haven’t sampled it before, so there will be plenty of people who enjoy LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. However, if you’ve gotten over the LEGO game style, there’s nothing for you here. It’s more of the same, just a little prettier than before and featuring Scarlett Johansson sound bites. There are also some irritating design glitches that suggest a rushed production and a few of the main action scenes really don’t suit couch co-op properly given that one player basically has to wait around for the main hero to complete an action sequence from the movie.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers insert 5So, it’s not quite as polished as LEGO games of the past either, which makes sense given just how many of these things Traveller’s Tales keeps cranking out on a constant basis. There’s no denying that new LEGO game releases aren’t quite as exciting as they once were and Traveller’s Tales really needs to introduce some innovations beyond new pop culture facelifts if they want to retain gamers’ interests. However, for those who are merely excited by the concept of a LEGO game set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s no denying that this title scratches that itch in style and provides dozens of hours of playtime for trophy completionists. It’s a good game, just not quite the masterpiece it would have felt like even a few short years ago. Formula repetition will do that. It’s happened to LEGO games and let’s face it, it’ll happen to the Marvel movies themselves soon enough. So, perhaps this title is an appropriate benchmark of sorts for both franchises. Evolve or die, Marvel and Traveller’s Tales (says the impoverished freelance writer to a pair of massively successful entertainment companies making record profits)

Will Iron Man be a Jerk in Captain America: Civil War?

Will Iron Man be a Jerk in Captain America: Civil War?

I’ve been a fan of Iron Man since I started reading comics as a wee lad. He was always my dad’s favourite super-hero, and for the same reason many people enjoy Batman so much. Iron Man is human. He wasn’t born with the X-gene; he didn’t get caught in a nuclear blast or get bitten by a radioactive spider. Everything he’s accomplished was done because of his brains and hard work. He’s a regular, boring human being, just like the rest of us.

Well, growing up rich and inheriting a multinational company from his dad probably helped, but still, he manages to go toe-to-toe with gods, aliens, mutants, and anything else you can think about, purely because of his aptitude for designing weapons.

So, as an Iron Man fan, I’m a little curious to see how his character is handled in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. My interest stems from the fact that, like many other characters, Tony Stark was written rather poorly in the comic story the movie will be based on. In the comic version of Civil War, Tony was, for all intents and purposes, a villain. He lied to, manipulated, and even imprisoned several of his former super pals during the course of the event. So much so that it permanently damaged the reputation of the character and gave more credence to those annoying fans of the Marvel’s most boring and increasingly dated golden boy, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Hell, by the end of it, even I was cheering for Cap’s side. Marvel kept touting the phrase “Whose side are you on?” like it was even a choice. The way it was written, no reader could possibly justify picking Tony.

But things have changed.

civilwarinsert3The explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be directly traced to the success of the first Iron Man movie and, more specifically, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark. RDJ’s portrayal of the character immediately became a fan favourite and there’s an argument to be made that without that movie, we never would have had an Avengers, and almost certainly no Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, or any number of upcoming movies based on rather obscure and lesser-known characters like Dr. Strange or Black Panther.

Herein lies the issue. Comic Tony during Civil War was a dick, and a bad guy; so much so that it made long-time readers dislike the character. Movie Tony is Marvel’s cash cow and one of the biggest draws for viewers. Obviously, a story changes a lot when translated to the big screen, but Tony is still on the pro-registration side and will be battling Cap and company’s rebel forces. How much can they possibly change while sticking to the basic plotline of the original story? Will Tony still force Spidey to expose his secret identity? Will there still be a gulag for un-registered heroes?

Another worrying aspect is Fox retaining the rights (probably not for much longer, considering the flop that was the recent movie) to the Fantastic Four; the only character that was a bigger jerk in the whole event was Reed Richards. Without him to highlight what heroic qualities Tony was still barely exhibiting, he’s going to come off as an even worse person. (At least there won’t be a Thor clone running around.)

At least Marvel has built up his character in the movies in a way that his stance on registration will come off as more natural and believable, as we saw in Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I can’t really see how they’re going to pull off keeping RDJ’s Tony as a fan favourite while keeping any semblance to the plot of the comics. Then again, if you ignore some of the questionable ethics of Tony’s decisions and look at the story from a more modern and realistic perspective, as the movies have been attempting to do, registration makes a lot of sense. There’s no way a group of costumed individuals could go around fighting aliens and mad robots in crowded cities without facing some form of accountability. The whole idea of a “secret identity” doesn’t really work as well in this age of ubiquitous cameras, outrage culture, and social media.

I’m sure they’ll all be pals again by the end of the movie; after all, they’re going to have to bury the hatchet eventually when the Mad Titan comes a knocking, but that takes away from any tension or conflict the story has. It’s known that RDJ has said he’s more or less done with the character; perhaps the old adage of “die a hero or live long enough to become a villain” is applicable here. Wouldn’t that be a fun twist!

Highly doubtful though, as there’s no way Infinity War won’t feature the big three battling it out side-by-side. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

And yeah, as much as it pains me to admit this, Cap was right.

Playmation: Cosplay for Kids

Playmation: Cosplay for Kids

Remember when you wanted to be Iron Man or The Hulk when you were a kid? Now it’s a little closer to reality thanks to Playmation.

Developed by Disney and Hasbro, Playmation combines active play, digital technology, and animation to keep children entertained without sitting in front of a screen. Players are told to run, jump, duck, dodge, and other physical activities through their missions, and includes toys and wearable tech that use smart technology like Bluetooth and motion sensors.

Friday, May 15, 2015 in Encino, Calif. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Disney/AP Images)
Friday, May 15, 2015 in Encino, Calif. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Disney/AP Images)

Right now the only wearable available are an arm device similar to Iron Man’s gauntlet, made by Avenger Labs, and Hulk hand gauntlets that come with JARVIS, Iron Man’s AI, working as a guide. The first set of toys will be from Marvel’s Avengers, available this fall. Star Wars characters won’t be released until 2016, and Frozen toys are still being developed, but will be released in 2017.

The first batch will consist of the Iron Man gauntlet, two figures, and two power activators for $120.

Each toy is equipped with new stories and missions. Along with this, heroes have abilities to teach kids and villains have maps. If the player can become strong enough to defeat the villains, they will also teach the kids new abilities. The heroes can fight with kids and the villains against them.

Smart toys don’t appeal to all parents.  At a toy fair in February, in New York City, Mattel revealed Hello Barbie, a doll equipped with a microphone that uses Wi-Fi. Many issues arose when Mattel’s Barbie was equipped with voice recognition to “hear” kids and respond. This was made possible by sending the recordings online to a server that sent back appropriate responses.
playmationinsert1There’s also Google’s patented smart teddybears. Besides the issues with recording conversations and log activity, especially with kids, the teddy bears could be used to control media devices like TVs, CD players, and even thermostats.

Playmation doesn’t require internet access to play, but can use it for other aspects of gameplay like using the app to track progress and playing more adventures.

While marketed towards kids six and up, Mashable has confirmed the toys fit adult hands.

Pre Ordering starts July 7, and shipping in October.