When Incredibles 2 was announced to be in the making, it was quite a realization that it would be 14 years since the first movie debuted in 14 years and how much has changed since that time. In 2004, the superhero genre in film was just starting to bloom and now that small patch of cinematic earth has become the Botanical Gardens. According to writer/director Brad Bird ( who inspired much of the film’s first villain Syndrome), that was one of the many challenges he faced in creating the sequel to Pixar’s tribute and parody of the superhero genre documenting the life of a family of super powered individuals struggling to live a normal life. How can you make a film like this stand out in a world where Avengers: Infinity War just crossed the two billion dollar mark or every casting or trailer posted on the Internet is an immediate online discussion and/or debate between fans? Simple, you tell the story the only way you can and according to Bird, he wanted to not only avoid clichéd tropes in superhero movies but also wanted to include stories that didn’t make the cut in the first film. So when we see Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash and the films break out star Jack-Jack, it literally picks up right after where the first movie left off just like a story would continue once you flip the next page. It’s that and many other great and genuine moments that have Incredibles 2 avoid the sequel slump that plagued other Pixar continuations but continue the kind of superb quality we’ve come to expect from Pixar and by some extension Disney. Like my friend Lawrence said when the movie was announced, they gave us Cars 2 and 3, it’s the least they could do.
One of the best parts of the Incredibles 2 is how genuine the realism of the Parr family is in both their family and superhero lives. After their battle with the Underminer is successful but they not only let the villain get away but cause millions of dollars damage in the process, the Parr family find their relocation program closing and their family living in a motel with no employment and on the verge of homelessness. For the iconic Mr. Incredible and Elasti-Girl, this is the lowest point of their lives until eager millionaire Wilson Deavour invites them to a meeting. This multimedia tycoon and his chill yet brilliant sister Evelyn see the status of superheroes hiding underground and denying their abilities to help others and wants to change that with the help of Frozone, Mr. Incredible, and his first choice: Elasti-Girl. So while Devaour gives Helen a new suit, tech, and a mission Bob has to change gears and now the breadwinner is the stay at home parent who has to hold his hyper and overwhelming family together. Much of the real hilarity is how Bob known for his super strength is absolutely overwhelmed with dealing with new math, Violet’s questions and emotional instability over her love life, and a baby whose superpowers fluctuate at random. While Bob struggles with life at home, Helen struggles with standing on her own feet and being both a role model for other superheroes but also as an individual. The ominous Screenslaver who uses technology to hypnotize the public with the same screens they worship is dedicated to causing destruction to highlight society’s overdependence on technology but mainly superheroes to solve their problems instead of learning how to do so themselves. As Helen and her family learn, Screenslaver’s forces will test their powers and teamwork as they must not only save each other but the future of superheroes in total.
Honestly the personal struggles depicted through the characters are what really make the Incredibles 2 stand out as a superhero film. The film is full of wonderfully choreographed action scenes, vibrant super powered characters, but it’s the emotions expressed within the characters that remind us that they are by some extension representations of us. When we see Bob slumped over on a couch heartbroken not only that he inadvertently hurt his daughter through his actions but that he feels he’s failing to keep his family together or Devour relating how personal his mission is to his family, the emotion soaks through your skin and trickles to your heart.
Much like Bird’s other legendary work The Iron Giant, Incredibles 2 knows exactly how to tap into the emotional nostalgia related to the core of superheroes. Superheroes are written to represent the best traits of humanity but also to show how those features are tested by the everyday struggles of modern day life. Through brilliant animation, we see the Incredibles deal with school, relationships, honesty, family, grief, and frustration in ways that any person regardless of their age can relate to. While it picked up right where it left off, it shows us just how much has changed in the world in these last 14 years. The world has become an increasingly cynical and dangerous place. We are more dependent on technology and its advancements than ever before and some things of the past involving communication and how we interpret the world around us is becoming lost in the process. It’s a struggle to balance both the past and present while creating a future that will lead to a good life and the Parr family show that even with great power, you will fight to keep your head above water more than once. But while these emotions are sharp when they arise, the story is peppered with hilarious lines and moments that are so honestly funny that me and friends were still smiling after the end credits. While Bob and his family are always good for a laugh, the real show stealer was Jack Jack. Whether he’s fighting a raccoon inspired by watching an old movie, disappearing and reappearing when he wants a cookie or spending time with Auntie Edna (who is always hilarious no matter the scene), the silliness of the character is so wonderfully captured by the script and animation. Whether he’s duplicating or turning into a demon baby before bursting into fire, his actions are so wonderfully random juxtaposed by the fact that he is just a baby. The movie moves at a great pace where nothing feels rushed and the laughs come genuinely instead of having to build up over time which is something a nice chunk of superhero movies experience. The film knows its audience and instead of giving them something that just goes over their head or gets one laugh and then is forgotten, it gives its viewers fictional reality that allows you to laugh at the ridiculousness overall.
While the villain plot and reveal felt a bit too similar to the first movie, you cannot deny that Incredibles 2 is a great film that adults and children could enjoy. It’s a rare kind of movie that can balance a family with the intelligence and maturity we expect from the superhero genre. While there is always the possibility of Incredibles 3, I left the theater feeling content with the story and where it ends. It was the same feeling you get when you see friends for dinner that you haven’t seen in a while. Although it’s been years, the moment you sit down and start talking it feels like it was only yesterday since you last saw them. Although for so many of us that yesterday feels like a long time ago, sometimes the best things in life are simply moments that you sit down and enjoy them as they are instead of what you want them to be. So grab some cookies, take a seat and enjoy the show.
VAMPIRES. It has been announced that Oscar award winning actor Jared Leto has signed on to play Michael Morbius in a solo film with Sony. This will be the second comic book character Leto has portrayed since infamously portraying the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The film will be directed by Daniel Espinosa, the Scandinavian filmmaker responsible for 2012’s spy action thriller Safe House and last years sci-fi horror Life, with a script penned by Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama who created the Netflix remake of Lost in Space together. The movie is intended to be part of a separate Marvel universe with Sony (the Sonyverse shall we call it?) shared with the upcoming Venom movie and the unconfirmed Silver and Black movie starring Marvel characters Black Cat and the Silver Sable.
Previously I wrote an article stating that Michael Morbius would be an excellent villain from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery to star in a possible MCU sequel and that Homecoming director Jon Watts was interested in working on a project involving the famous Marvel vampire. With this new announcement, this movie could be a great combination of comics and horror if done correctly. Created in the 1960s by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane, scientist Michael Morbius attempted to use science to cure him of a rare blood disease that was slowly killing him. His experiments involving vampire bat DNA took a horrible turn when he was transformed into a creature similar to the traditional vampire. Although the procedure granted him superhuman powers and immunity from most vulnerabilities known to vampires, he was still cursed with a weakness to sunlight and a strong blood lust.
He would frequently clash with Spider-Man upon discovering that Spider-Man’s irradiated blood could cause his vampirism to go into remission. Guilty over the constant need to feed on people, Morbius’ repeated appearance and success earned him a solo series in the 1990s where he turned his curse into a crusade as he became a vigilante who fed on criminals, predators, and the guilty alike. Although his bite rarely turned his victims into vampires themselves, Morbius would himself clashing with all manner of mystical opponents and allies including Blade, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider and was a member of the Midnight Sons who were a team of mystical creatures acting as Earth’s last defense against the occult.
He also had a reoccurring role in the Spider-Man animated series where his origins were adjusted to become an ambitious ESU student and rival with Peter for Felicia Hardy’s affection. The more memorable aspect of his character was how the series altered his vampire condition due to the censor restrictions at the time. Morbius was unable to bite or even reference blood so Fox had Marvel give Morbius a pair of blood draining suckers on his palms and replaced blood with plasma which in Morbius’ accent sounded more funny instead of terrifying.
Morbius’ pseudo-vampire status plus his vigilante status could make for an interesting movie if a proper balance of comics and horror is maintained. I also believe the vampire genre could use a little reviving (pun intended) after being over exhausted by tiresome stories and bastardized reimaging’s over the last decade or so. Will Morbius clash with Blade? Will he eventually confront Spider-Man? Could Morbius and Black Cat be a thing? I don’t know but the possibilities if they decide to move forward are quite exciting. Until then, sleep well creatures of the night!
(Spoilers: Do not read if you haven’t read Justice League: No Justice #1-4 and Justice League #1)
DC: Metal almost broke the DC Universe. Fighting against the omnipotent demon god Barbatos and his army of evil Batmen collected from a variety of nightmare dimensions pushed the Justice League to their breaking point and we almost lost the DC Universe as a result. Countless people, both innocents and heroes alike, died during the struggle and the Justice League was triumphant but at the price of shattering the Source Wall. We find out that in doing, the breach in this monumental barrier has begun to leak cosmic energy into our universe while opening it to new threats that aren’t known to even the most ancient of histories. With these new threats rapidly approaching, the Justice League is forced to consider methods of approaching the problems and in this case, not one Justice League but four teams, like how the X-Men in Marvel operates their massive cast of characters, chosen by Brainiac. Yeah, let that sink in before we continue further into this mini series which acts like a blockbuster prequel to the new Justice League series which debuted this Wednesday.
The Justice League and Earth’s heroes are bested by Brainiac and his robot army, but we discover Earth’s destruction and capture is not his intent as he kidnaps the heroes and teleports them all to his home planet Colu. There they discover Brainiac needs their help protecting his home planet, which despises and hates everything he represents, from a threat of the Justice Leagues’ making.
Millennia’s ago, there was a ancient race of omnipotent massive aliens known as the Omega Titans representing four elements: Wisdom, Entropy, Wonder, and Mystery. The Titans planted seeds relating to these specific powers on multiple planets like eager farmers in anticipation for a good harvest. When the time came, they would return to the planets, see which force was more dominant and consume that power for themselves even though the consumption would destroy the planet and its inhabitants. Brainiac gathers a group of heroes and villains alike, splits them into the four groups and is about to task them with their missions to help save Colu (by blackmailing them with their planet to be next in line) when his head explodes. Who holds the smoking gun, why that would be Suicide Squad leader Amanda Waller who hijacked every major psychic on Earth just because she didn’t like kept in the dark when most of the Earth’s heroes disappeared or end up in stasis after Brainiac’s attack. The teams are left on an alien planet with the Omega Titans approaching and giant trees connected to the four energies sprouting up over the planet like tall towering dinner bells. No time like the present to bond and work together, huh?
Snyder, Tynion, and Williamson are no stranger to big storylines or crossover events and balance this wide cast intelligently by taking time to focus on each team strategically and methodically. While I never expected to see characters like Starro the Conqueror or Harley Quinn working in the Justice League, the amalgamation of teams works well as we see characters who you’d never imagine together doing exactly that. Combined with Francis Manapaul, Riley Rossmo, and Marcus To subtle but energetic pencils, this creative team continues DC’s recent trend of taking old ideas to new places and with that push, we see new moments developing our characters. Beast Boy taking advice from Lobo on cutting loose and unleashing the big bad inside was one of my favorites while Lex Luthor calmly telling Martian Manhunter that if he finds him in his mind again, he’ll set J’onzz on fire was one of the more chilling. Meanwhile on Earth, one of the worst team ups ever in the form of Amanda Waller and Green Arrow are battling back and forth on how to deal with the cosmic seeds beckoning the Omega Titans to our world as well. Amanda Waller is prepared to protect the Earth by any cost while Green Arrow keeps his eye to the sky hoping the Justice League will come and save the day. The four-part series is sprinkled with all sorts of small moments that keep up the pace without dragging out the story any longer than it needs to be. It’s a method that I wish more comic book creators (and tv writers) would follow for it makes the story feel more concise and the character moments feel more genuine. In the end, Colu is no more, the menace of Brainiac is represented in a new and honestly more threatening form, and although the Justice League manages to outsmart the Omega Titans from doing the same to Earth, their experiences leave everybody shaken and more aware of their place in the grand scheme of this new and uncertain universe. As the surviving members refocus and form the teams teased in the upcoming Justice League, Justice League Dark and The Unexpected, we also see a hint that even the villains involved are rethinking their methods. No Justice suggests more than once that the old rulebook, for the universe and everything the Earth heroes have ever known, has been thrown out and all I have to say about that is it’s about goddamn time.
With Justice League #1, Scott Snyder continues to show his versatility as a writer as he tackles a Justice League closer in membership to the version many remember from the Justice League cartoon. As the League members battle against a group of Neanderthals trying to return Earth to their control, Snyder manages to make the entire situation entertaining by showing the League’s telepathic conversation where they try their best Batman voice. I’m not going to lie that entire situation gave me such a laugh that I’m still chuckling over that especially since Bruce was mentally present the entire time. Having J’onn as both a member and team leader has its advantages both in regard to his wisdom and what his powers enable the team to accomplish. As the battle has ended, J’onn learns of a new threat heading toward the world in a matter of minutes and discusses the matter with the Justice League in a telepathic conference. As they discuss what this could be and how to best handle it, the villain behind this prehistoric invasion, Vandal Savage, is debating his next move when he is interrupted by Lex Luthor. Lex criticizes the immortal villain for his methods as Vandal’s minions quickly attempt to switch sides but Luthor simply lets these would-be henchmen perish to embellish Snyder’s point that Lex’s opinion of the world and how to do business has changed due to his experiences in No Justice. He laughs at Vandal’s failed attempt at creating a “Injustice Gang” in the past and lets that dismissal serve as the proper introduction for the new Legion of Doom.
The small but dangerous Legion in their classic headquarters is both a throwback to the Superfriends but also proof that despite the new rulebook, some things never change. Lex’s approach to the Legion of Doom is true to his character but what stands out is how Lex punishes Vandal Savage for his inflexibility. In a scene paced out perfectly by artist Jim Cheung who makes the entire issue and pretty much anything well-paced and beautiful to admire, it is violent, simple, and completely transparent to J’onzz mind which is exactly what Luthor expected.As the mysterious entity from the Source Wall makes its way to Earth and J’onn’s last words leave the reader on a ominous cliffhanger, I find myself looking forward to pick up Issue #2. It’s got all the things I consider worthy of supporting: a good story, a great cast of characters, no fear of finding humor in the extraordinary and a desire to give an old story a fresh coat of paint and an upgrade for a brave new world.
Because I still can’t think of the words Justice League without hearing this song..
Back in 2011 when the Ultimate Marvel Universe was still a thing, writer Brian Michael Bendis made a bold decision and decided to kill that version of Peter Parker. Instead of continuing on a world without the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Bendis alongside artist Sara Pichelli introduced a new and original Spider-Man in the form of Afro-latino teenager Miles Morales. With a completely different backstory, similar but different powers, and an inherited rogues gallery, Miles struggled not only with the balance act of real life with superhero problems but he also did his best to carry on Peter’s legacy. Miles would work alongside all sorts of Marvel characters and when the Ultimate Universe ended in 2015’s Secret Wars, Miles and most of his supporting cast were among the handful of Ultimate characters to be incorporated into the mainstream Marvel Universe. Since his initial debut, Miles Morales has been one of the more successful fan favorite Marvel characters and has been a member of the New Ultimates, the Avengers, and currently the Champions. He previously was featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, later renamed as Spider-Man: Web Warriors voiced by actor Donald Glover who had been among one of the inspirations for the character. When Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was announced in 2017, its teaser trailer was enough to really excite fans of all genres with its story and colorful animation. A second and more detailed trailer debuted today and after watching it, I have to say without a doubt THAT I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT FOR THIS FILM TO DEBUT IN DECEMBER 2018.
First and foremost, the style for this movie looks absolutely amazing. Splattered with comic book style thought bubbles, periods, and sound effects that bring memories of the Sixties Batman and the Golden Age of Comics, producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wanted to balance the comic book style with the realistic artwork of Miles’ co-creator Sara Pichelli. Not only are they producing the film but Phil Lord also wrote the screenplay so the duo’s previous success with The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs only adds to the excitement for their brand of silly but grounded humor and what they can bring to the story of Miles Morales. Speaking of worlds, we get to see a Spider-Man who is not Caucasian but a bi-racial child on the big screen. With that new identity, the movie could touch on subjects of race, identity, prejudice, and other sensitive issues that Peter Parker can’t address but that the comics had no problem addressing during its publication. Miles isn’t Peter Parker and with his father a police officer and his uncle Aaron Davis, a skilled thief known also as the Prowler, you can guarantee there will be the kind of inner turmoil and struggle we know all too well from anybody wearing a web themed costume. When worlds collide, we also see a version of Spider-Man that we’ve yet to see but is hilariously realistic. Peter Parker voiced actor and comedian Jake Johnson is an older and slightly less put together Spider-Man who can impart words of wisdom but has problem paying for the check when it comes. This relationship clearly is inspired by the 2012 mini-series Spider-Men where Miles met the mainstream Peter Parker and the older Spider-Man hilarious became a sort of mentor to the young webslinger, even imparting his own web wisdom whenever he deemed necessary even when Miles didn’t get the reference. Chris Lord has shown he clearly did his homework for there are so many references to pick up on in the trailer alone whether it’s the store bought Spider-Man outfit Miles trains in, the Ultimate Universe inspired Green Goblin, or even the reference that Miles is from a world where Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is dead do exactly what Easter eggs should do: they excite you enough to go see the movie when it debuts.
But the really exciting thing is something the title suggests. Edge of the Spider-Verse was a small mini-series tied into the 2012 Spider-Verse story-line which introduced Spider-Men (and Women, anthromorphic animals, and other similarly powered individuals) who would have a role to play in the Spider’s united battle against the Inheritors, a family of powerful creatures who survive by feeding on people who carried “the Spider-Totem”. It was in this series that Spider-Gwen, a Spider-Woman from an Earth where Gwen Stacey had inherited the Spider mantle, was introduced so it’s fitting that Gwen make a cameo at the end of this trailer voiced by Pitch Perfect’s Hailee Steinfeld.
Gwen’s introduction in 2014 was so successful that she earned herself a solo series, appearances on Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man, and will be featured as “Ghost Spider” in the upcoming Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. Her presence in the movie plus Peter’s appearance in Miles’ world suggests that there could be more Spider-people in this film and the possibilities for who we might see as well could be its own separate article. Personally I’m hoping to see two of my favorite Spider-Men, Miguel O’Hara from the year 2099 and Peter Parker from the Marvel Noir universe, make a cameo but honestly any webhead shown will get the same excitement I had when Spider-Man worked alongside his multiversal compatriots in the Animated Series finale back in the Nineties. For now some people would be hesitant putting their faith in a Spider-themed film coming from Sony but with the momentum this film has been building with its cast, publicity and people involved, I think this film will not only be a greater introduction of Miles Morales to the world but also push the boundaries of what Marvel could do with animated films based on their characters. I’m sure we’ll hear all about it at the next big Comic Con.