All posts by Zuviel Naazie

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: CAN THE SHIELD BE REDEEMED?

The fourth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended on a very shocking note. John Walker, the new Captain America used a symbol of hope and justice for America to brutally kill a man. An action that the whole world watched.

This moment, by itself, could probably be viewed as the darkest moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So one can’t help but wonder if the shield will forever be tied to that incredibly dark moment.

HOW THE SHIELD BECAME A SYMBOL

The iconic and easily recognizable shield is tied to the man who made it the symbol it is today.

Captain America did his press tour with a shield with the flag of the USA painted on it. That shield was mostly decorative and proved insufficient in his first confrontation with the Red Skull. As such, he needed a new one when he officially led a military unit.

At that moment, Steve could have gone with any number of weapons but he chose another shield because his first instinct is to defend against oppressive forces.

Even when the shield breaks, Steve Rogers does not waver.

The shield is iconic because the man who held it is iconic.

WHAT IT BECAME IN THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER

This iconic symbol in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier first started off as a memorial of the man who carried it and inspiration to the new generation of heroes who would follow in Captain America’s steps.

Sam Wilson gives the shield to the Smithsonian to fulfill that and find his own path. However, the US government immediately chooses to create a legacy title. They choose someone else to take up the mantle of the icon.

But this time, the choice made is the exact antithesis of Steve Rogers. John Walker isn’t chosen because he’s a good man, rather it’s because he’s a good soldier.

But John Walker needs a lot more than a shield to have the impact Steve Rogers had.

WHAT THE SHIELD IS NOW

John Walker’s journey as Captain America has been plagued with self-doubt and failure.

His first confrontation in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended in failure. That begun a sizeable list of dead ends and roadblocks for the new poster boy.

John’s struggles come to a head in the fourth episode when consecutive losses push him to taking a super soldier serum.

Unfortunately, his new powers still can’t stop him from failing as his next fight results in the death of his best friend. Lemar Hoskins (Battlestar) comes in to stop Karli Morgenthau from killing John and takes a fatal blow instead.

John snaps and uses the iconic monument for truth, justice, and the American way to brutally kill a man in full view of the world.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

There is no telling what the fallout from this disastrous action will be but it’s sure to be massive.

Public uproar against the US, the GRC (Global Repatriation Council), and John is bound to be swift and very negative. The powers that be will have a lot on their hands to clean up.

Sam might have to deal with the unfortunate fact that his giving up the shield led to this. It is by no means his fault but cleaning up this mess is likely to be his problem.

Karli and the Flag Smashers might increase their support but the death of Battlestar is a whole new problem that they created.

Can the shield ever move past this dark moment? We can only wait and see.

For another piece on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier click here and don’t forget to comment and subscribe.

AMAZON’S INVINCIBLE MIGHT NOT DO THE COMIC JUSTICE!

Based on the popular comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker, Invincible follows the story of Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun), son of the most powerful hero on the planet; Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons). As he is introduced to the greater world of heroes around him, Mark struggles with his powers and the realization that his father may not be as heroic as he seems.

In the style of the super heroics that has taken over TV lately (The Umbrella Academy, The Boys), Invincible aims to tell a mature story with the kind of visceral action that those shows before it portrayed.

There’s just one problem…it’s an animated show, animated like the kind of fare you’d expect to find on the Cartoon Network.

The first action scene of the premiere does include some blood and gore when the Guardians of the Globe and Omni-Man defend the White House but it is used sparingly and manages to convey the kind of power behind each character’s attacks.

Unfortunately, the shift to more…brutal effects is incredibly jarring, made worse by the animation style.

It’s possible that the show creators intended this effect to play out the way it does now, creating a startling realization of how real things can get when super heroic forces are at play but this feeling isn’t conveyed properly.

Samurai Jack (created by Genndy Tartakovsky) featured a similar shift in its final season as Jack had to contend with and kill human opponents. However, that series managed to include an examination of Jack’s character that prepared the audience for the next time Jack had to shed blood.

Invincible, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be in a spot to have that moment with its audience. It is effectively setting up its world, characters and plot points that will carry on for the rest of the season but the need for this extremely graphic depiction of violence in such fashion isn’t clear.

It could be argued that the bloody gore makes the show grittier and more realistic but that argument holds little water after shows like The Mandalorian proved that such elements can be introduced with the need for over-the-top brutality.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge provides an excellent example of how to mix this level of blood and gore with this kind of animation. Every brutal fight in the movie somehow manages to keep the connection with its art style.

The original comic had an art style that meshed well with its depiction of violence so it’s curious that the series didn’t try for a style that hewed closely to that of its comic counterpart.

CONCLUSION

Invincible delivers a great story with colorful characters and an amazing world. The action is kinetic fun that is held back by the combination of cartoonish art style and graphic violence but it is still worth your time.

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: HOW ZEMO SHIFTS THE DYNAMIC?

Three episodes in and the latest MCU show on Disney+ is already proving to be worth the hype.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up the story of Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) a few months after the climatic battle of Avengers: Endgame. This super heroic odd couple find themselves at odds with an organization called the Flag Smashers; a group of revolutionaries who oppose the return to normal after the Snap united the human race in their grief and loss.

The pair must also come to terms with the US government’s decision to pass the Captain America mantle on to a different soldier and handle the friction that develops between them after they meet John Walker (played by Wyatt Russell).

However, the most crucial plot point (so far) is the reintroduction of Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl), the man who masterminded the Avengers split in Captain America: Civil War.

But how exactly does Zemo work in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

HE IS AN ALLY…FOR NOW

The biggest surprise was the Zemo was going to be assisting Sam and Bucky in their mission to stop the Flag Smashers because they represent a loose end in his desire to rid the world of super powered individuals.

He is surprisingly friendly to Bucky, given that the Winter Soldier is an enhanced individual but that may be tempered by Bucky’s lack of agency as the assassin of Hydra.

His knowledge of the criminal underworld and resources as a baron prove valuable to the mission as they find a new lead that gets them closer to the Flag Smashers.

Of course, given his history in Marvel Comics and his introduction in Captain America: Civil War, his betrayal of the team seems inevitable.

HE FITS IN SEAMLESSLY WITH THE DUO

Despite their obvious reluctance to having Zemo onboard, the trio of Sam, Bucky and Zemo work very well together.

When Sam and Bucky are going off on each other, Zemo is the surprising but useful extra set of eyes on the situation, ready to dish out some realness that the pair might shrug off easily if it came from the other.

Zemo hasn’t automatically become the deciding vote on the team but he is a useful third option to have.

That said, he is still a wildcard and the trouble he sparks at the doctor’s lab is a prime example of that.

Speaking of trouble…

HE IS A LIABILITY

Despite the obvious and subtle benefits he brings to the mission, Zemo is a big problem for Sam and Bucky because of his actions during Captain America: Civil War.

The new Captain America, John Walker, and his companion, Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar (played by Cle Bennett) are on their trail after Zemo broke out of prison. They might not know the exact specifics but the general idea and power they wield are a big threat to Sam and Bucky.

Even more worrisome, Wakanda sent Ayo (played by Florence Kasumba), one of the Dora Milaje to retrieve Zemo. This is a response to his bombing of the UN meeting, an action that killed T’Chaka, father of T’Challa and then ruler of Wakanda.

Going against the most advanced nation of Earth would be even worse for Sam and Bucky and there’s no telling how much sway Bucky has with the Wakandan government to prevent them from taking Zemo away.

CONCLUSION

Zemo’s return has elevated The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to more intriguing heights. Given that only three episodes have aired, there’s no telling where the show can go from here on.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: WHAT SIGNIFICANT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL?

Based on the Dark Horse comic book line created by Gerard Way, the Umbrella Academy focuses on a dysfunctional family of heroes who must put aside their differences and save the world.

The original comics contained very different material from what would be typically seen from other comics.

The Netflix adaptation made some changes to those genre-defying norms to create a more grounded show.

But what exactly did they change?

POWERS

Out the gate, some characters have very different powers in the comics.

Diego’s knife skills remain top-notch, but in the comic he is capable of surviving underwater for long periods of time and hasn’t shown the telekinetic bent that was seen in season 2.

Klaus’s powers are also quite different in the comics. While he does still have immortality and the power to communicate with the dead in the comics, he also possesses the powers of telekinesis, flight, astral projection and telepathy (airwave communication). Another small detail in the comics is that he isn’t able to fully harness his powers while wearing shoes so he tends to walk around barefooted.

Luther’s power in the show is super strength, which is even further enhanced when his father uses a serum based on Pogo’s blood to heal him. In the comics however, his head is attached to a martian gorilla which then allows him to use the abilities of one.

Allison’s power to change the minds of people around her is based on her comic ability to warp reality. A hint of this power was seen in the premiere of season 2 but, since then, it sadly has been nowhere to be found.

HAZEL AND CHA-CHA

The version of Hazel and Cha-Cha presented by the comics do not adhere closely to their live-action counterparts.

The comic book versions of these iconic assassins are brutal and psychopathic in their relentless pursuit of the Umbrella Academy, silent and ruthless to the point of absurdity.

In the show, Hazel and Cha-Cha are portrayed as blue-collar workers, still brutal and relentless but much more human. They’re frequently at odds with The Commission as their superiors seem intent on cutting their budget at every turn as they demand more from them.

Hazel, in particular, is shown to be more merciful. It is revealed that he spared the life of a witness to one of his targets and his relationship with Agnes is the primary reason he quits The Commission.

The Swedes (another original creation of the show) take up the role of silent, psychopathic assassins in season two.

KLAUS AND VANYA

Many aspects of Klaus and Vanya were retooled for the express purposes of the show.

Their sexuality isn’t a part of their characterization but it was introduced later as their characters were developed.

Klaus’s relationship with Ben (his dead brother) isn’t even a factor in the comics and all of their shenanigans in the show are completely original. The cult he creates in season 2 is another original idea of the show.

Vanya’s relationships in the show are also original. In the comics, Diego had a thing for her which, thankfully, was changed to create a more interesting sibling dynamic. Her amnesia was pulled directly from the comics but Five shooting her in the head, her subsequent paralysis, and recovery were left in the comics.

FIVE

Our favorite time traveling assassin is also quite different in the comics.

Aiden Gallagher plays Five brilliantly in the Netflix show, combining his youth with the burdened and cynical demeanor of an elderly man who has seen too much and done too much.

In the comics, Five’s story is much darker.

His attempt to escape the apocalypse result in his kidnapping by the Temps Aeternalis (The Commission in the show) where he is tortured and implanted with the DNA of several serial killers to make him a perfect killer. He is stuck in the body of a ten-year-old when he escapes and he indulges in drugs and alcohol and other incredibly risqué behaviour

LEONARD PEABODY (THE CONDUCTOR)

Vanya’s love interest in season 1 features a rather drastic change from the comics.

Leonard Peabody (played by John Magaro) was also born on the same day as the children that become the Umbrella Academy but only by coincidence. Growing up in an abusive household, Leonard grows up obsessing about the Umbrella Academy and inserts himself into Vanya’s life as a violin student. His manipulation draws out Vanya’s powers but it also breaks her mental psyche.

In the comics, Vanya is manipulated by a being called The Conductor, head of the Orchestra Verdammten. The orchestra is basically a cult of violinists that seeks to cause the end of the world using Vanya.

In both the comics and the series, Vanya kills her oppressors.

OTHER ORIGINAL CHARACTERS

The show also introduces some other original characters to flesh out their story and improve characters.

The Handler (played by Kate Walsh) serves as the primary antagonist for the first two seasons of the Umbrella Academy.

Lila (played by Ritu Arya) is another member of the Commission, Diego’s love interest in season 2 and is revealed to be one of the 43 children born on the same day as the other members of the Umbrella Academy.

Sissy (played by Marin Ireland) and her family are introduced in season 2 and give Vanya the semblance of normalcy that her father indoctrinated into her but Sissy and Vanya discover a romantic connection.

Raymond Chestnut (played by Yusuf Gatewood) is another original character introduced in season 2. His marriage to Allison and his involvement with the civil rights movement also further Allison’s development.

CONCLUSION

On the whole, the changes made to the Umbrella Academy Netflix adaptation are positive, creating a more human element for viewers to interact with. With season 3 on track, we can’t wait to see what the next chapter has in store for this family.

THE BOYS: WHO IS SOLDIER BOY?

Amazon’s hit series and satirical take on superheroes, politics, social media, and…life basically, The Boys chronicles the story of the team of Billy Butcher, Hughie Campbell, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk, and The Female as they take on morally corrupt heroes and the world that enables them.

Thanks to some insightful edits on Garth Ennis’s genre-defying comic books, The Boys is a lot more mature with its more…graphic subject matter and handles timely social issues with adroit management.

Season 3 of The Boys will feature Soldier Boy (played by Jensen Ackles), a spin on the classic Marvel hero, Captain America, and anticipation is high.

But who exactly is Soldier Boy and what can we expect from him?

COMIC ORIGINS

Even though Vought maintains the story that Soldier Boy is the original superhero who has lived into the modern age, the mantle is a legacy title, passed on for three generations.

The first Soldier Boy led the Avenging Squad (Vought’s first attempt to induct supes into the military) and fought in the Second World War. He was, to put it mildly, very incompetent.

The Boys show how Soldier Boy’s utter lack of any training or knowledge in military strategy or protocol created a situation that allowed German soldiers to locate and massacre American soldiers and his team. Greg Mallory (founder of The Boys in the comics) was the only survivor of that incident…and killed Soldier Boy in the aftermath.

Very little is known about the second Soldier Boy but the third always manages to draw Butcher’s ire.

The modern-day Soldier Boy is a wide-eyed optimist in the vein of Captain America but he’s also hopelessly naïve, gullible, and cowardly.

His patriotism and dedication to his role are genuine but those traits are used to manipulate him into depraved acts like mass murder. Soldier Boy never questions any of these atrocities he commits and fully maintains an innocent state of mind.

Despite his superhuman abilities and expertise in combat, Soldier Boy scares very easily and sucks up to Homelander and other well-known supes in hopes of landing a spot on The Seven.

In a confrontation with Butcher, he’s badly beaten, tortured for information and killed.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE LIVE-ACTION VERSION?

In season 3 of The Boys, things are going to be a bit different for Soldier Boy.

Stan Edgar, head of Vought, laid out the history of Soldier Boy for Homelander during a confrontation in his office, telling the story of the greatest soldier to fight in World War II and the foundation of the empire built by their founder.

Season 2 established the increased lifespan of supes that Compound V grants with Stormfront, who lived from the age of Nazi Germany to the present day without aging visibly.

As such, it’s very possible that Soldier Boy could be as old as Vought in the comics pretends.

Eric Kripke, showrunner of The Boys, also revealed that Soldier Boy will basically be Homelander before Homelander and compared the character to John Wayne, famous actor, notorious womanizer, and his fear of horses is rumored to be the inspiration of John Wayne Hated Horses, a 2009 movie.

This seems to be a spin on Captain America from the Ultimate Marvel universe. That version of Steve Rogers was wildly unpopular, given his determined stance on his outdated values and his…disregard for the French.

The Boys season 3 will also feature Payback, a team led by Soldier Boy, and a spin on The Avengers.

CONCLUSION

The Boys proved immensely popular for its satirical take on superhero culture and how it managed to weave that into an examination of our modern age of celebrities, politics, and social lives.

Season 3 is full of promise for another story that will find our erstwhile heroes grappling with the supes once again.

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Hot on the heels of the mind-bending success of WandaVision comes the odd couple-styled action-adventure of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier follows Sam Wilson after he was handed the mantle of Captain America and Bucky Barnes as they team up to fight the Flag-Smashers and Helmut Zemo.

Despite the seemingly straightforward premise of the series, there’s a lot more going on under the radar that promises to elevate this story.

THE SOKOVIA ACCORDS

Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 (played by Emily VanCamp) will also be appearing in the series. She has been on the run ever since her action in Captain America: Civil War.

It would appear that the Sokovia Accords have been reinstated after the events of Avengers: Endgame (maybe in response to WandaVision) and Sharon’s violation of the Accords in Civil War are still valid.

This would throw in an extra wrinkle for our heroes since Sam Wilson stood with Steve Rogers in opposition of the Accords and Bucky Barnes’ activities as the Winter Soldier caused Zemo to attack the UN meeting to ratify the Accords.

Unfortunately, that’s just one problem

THE US AGENT

In the series, the US government will pass the mantle of Captain America to their personally chosen pick, and…it seems he might be a problem.

John F. Walker (played by Wyatt Russell) is the moniker of a Marvel Comics character who was created to specifically replace Captain America when Steve Rogers was battling the politics around the mantle.

In the series, he is set to be more militaristic than Captain America with a stronger emphasis on upholding American values…even more than Steve did.

Given how Sam Wilson received the shield from the man himself and Bucky’s history with Hydra, John Walker is, more likely than not, going to have an adversarial relationship with the pair even as they take on the headlining villains.

WAR MACHINE

James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine (played by Don Cheadle) also has a part to play in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier but his involvement is unclear.

War Machine was a military veteran before taking on the heroic armor and was one of the original signatories of the Sokovia Accords. Given that history, he might be forced into a confrontation with his fellow Avengers to uphold the rule of law.

There is also a chance that, having witnessed the destruction wrought by Thanos after the Avengers had separated and the sacrifices that were made to restore the lives lost, Rhodes may be an ally to the titular heroes.

Or he could be just appearing in a smaller role like the Falcon did in Ant-Man.

Only time will tell how his story unfolds.

CONCLUSION

Early reactions to the pilot episode have been positive so far, increasing the hype that this another win for Marvel. Given everything going in the public eye and hidden behind the scenes, we can only hope that the promise lives up to the anticipation that has built up.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiers on the 19th of March 2021.

COMING TO AMERICA – WHERE HAS THE CAST BEEN?

Before Chadwick Boseman (RIP) took us to Wakanda to see Africa in a new light, Eddie Murphy took us to Zamunda in a search for true love and happiness.

Coming to America, released in 1988, is a celebrated and beloved comedy movie that show Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall at the top of their game.

It tells the tale of Prince Akeem and Semmi, his friend and aide, as they travel to New York in search of a bride for the prince.

The movie featured a lot of a great actors, some before they truly ascended to stardom.

So, in honor of the release of the 2021 sequel, Coming 2 America, we’d like to take a look back to see how the cast was doing in between these two movies.

EDDIE MURPHY

The 1980’s were the peak of Eddie Murphy’s acting career and no other movie exemplified this than Coming to America.

He continued to act, appearing in box office hits like Boomerang and Another 48 Hrs. and less successful fare like Beverly Hills Cop III.

Many black actors gained recognition by playing parts in his movies during that period. The likes of Cuba Gooding Jr., Halle Berry, Martin Lawrence, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Samuel L. Jackson got their breaks from Eddie Murphy movies.

Eddie Murphy also voiced Mushu in beloved Disney movie Mulan (1998) and Donkey in the animated Shrek franchise. However, most of his movies in the 2000’s were critical and commercial failures, most notably Norbit and The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

The 2010’s saw a resurgence of the comedic star as he appeared in Tower Heist (2011) alongside Ben Stiller, Mathew Broderick and Casey Affleck. He would also go on to star in Dolemite Is My Name (2019) which received critical acclaim (97% on Rotten Tomatoes).

ARSENIO HALL

Arsenio Hall didn’t slow down either after Coming to America.

His acting gave way to his late-night stardom in The Arsenio Hall Show. It was a breakout success that also managed to influence pop culture significantly.

The show ran from January 1989 and ended on May 1994. A revival premiered in September 2013 but that ended after one season.

After the initial run of his late-night show ended, Hall made smaller appearances in movies and series, mostly playing himself.

He also starred in Martial Law alongside Sammo Hung from 1998 to 2000.

Arsenio Hall appeared on the fifth edition of The Celebrity Apprentice where he represented The Magic Johnson Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping minorities with economic and social challenges. That season ended with his victory, earning him a $250,000 grand prize plus any other funds he received during his time on the show.

JAMES EARL JONES

A well-established pop culture icon before Coming to America, James Earl Jones still brought it afterwards.

His movie credits following Coming to America include The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994).

The iconic voice of Darth Vader then became the iconic voice of Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King (1994).

James Earl Jones also put in work on the small screen. He received two Primetime Emmys for his work in Gabriel’s Fire and Heat Wave, both in 1991. Jones also starred in An American Moment, replacing Charles Kuralt after his death.

He also made appearances in Law & Order, Frasier, Will & Grace, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

In 2002, James Earl Jones was presented with Kennedy Center Honors alongside Paul Simon and Elizabeth Taylor. At the event, then-President George Bush joked “People say that the voice of the president is the most easily recognized voice in America. Well, I’m not going to make that claim in the presence of James Earl Jones.”

His iconic role as the voice of Darth Vader continued as well. Jones reprised his role for animated TV series Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD, in the live action film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and for a cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Jones also did some time on Broadway where he starred in productions like On Golden Pond, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy, The Best Man, etc.

In 2019, James Earl Jones was the only one of the original cast to reprise his role in the CGI remake of The Lion King.

SHARI HEADLEY

Coming to America was her first acting role in a movie and Shari Headley has pushed forward steadily since.

After some smaller roles in Gideon Oliver, Quantum Leap, and Matlock, Headley picked up a main role in All My Children as Detective Mimi Reed. The role earned her a nomination for NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series.

She went on to guest star in other shows like New York Undercover, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Cosby before landing recurring roles in Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful.

Headley then joined the cast of The Haves and Have Nots, created by Tyler Perry for the Oprah Winfrey Network, as Jennifer Sallison where she became a regular in the fourth season.

JOHN AMOS

After the poignant role he played in Roots, John Amos also kept working beyond his role in Coming to America.

His film credits following Coming to America include Lock Up (1989), Die Hard 2 (1990) Ricochet (1991).

Amos also made television appearances in Police Story, The A-Team, The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Psych, Murder She Wrote, etc.

More recently he appeared in a cameo role as himself in Uncut Gems (2019) and on Netflix series The Ranch.

In 2009, Amos released an album of original country music.

MADGE SINCLAIR

Madge Sinclair had a few roles after Coming to America.

After playing a nurse in 1990’s The End of Innocence, Sinclair reunited with her Coming to America co-star James Earl Jones as Sarabi and Mufasa, Queen and King once again, for the Disney animated film The Lion King (1994). This would be her last film role.

The pair again reunited for Gabriel’s Fire, a role that won Sinclair an Emmy in 1991 for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series.

After a critically acclaimed role in Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted, Sinclair moved to London where she starred in a stage production of The Lion. She followed that with a supporting role in Me and the Boys and a brief appearance as the first female Starfleet captain in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. On 20th December 1995, Madge Sinclair died from leukemia. She was cremated and her ashes taken to her hometown in Jamaica.

IS THE MANDALORIAN OVER?

The Mandalorian, created by Jon Favreau for Disney+, is some of the best content set in a galaxy far far away. Set in the Star Wars universe, after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi and before the rise of the First Order, the Mandalorian manages to tell great Star Wars stories without focusing on the eternal struggle between Jedi and Sith.

Season 2 of the Mandalorian ended in December of 2020 and managed to tie the story of Din Djarin and Grogu (formerly known as Baby Yoda) into the larger Star Wars narrative, both on the small and large screens.

Fan favorite characters from the Clone Wars made their live-action debuts, setting up future storylines and potential spinoffs that will keep the wheels on the Star Wars train churning for a long time and the finale…enough said.

However, some concerns have begun to crop up following the jaw dropping finale that season 2 delivered and now many fans are wondering if season 2 of the Mandalorian was the last we’ll see of Din Djarin and Baby Yoda (sorry, Grogu).

THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

The Mandalorian season 2 saw the return of the greatest bounty hunter who never did anything to earn that reputation. Temuera Morrison slipped into his Original Trilogy role like a well-made glove and proceeded to surpass that incarnation almost instantly.

Then, in a post-credit scene in the season 2 finale, Boba Fett proceeds to Jabba’s palace on Tatooine where he immediately eliminates Bibb Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s servant, and takes over.

This sets up a new series that will premiere in December of 2021.

Given how Boba Fett is an immensely popular and well-established part of the Star Wars galaxy, it might not be unreasonable that he might replace the newcomer Din Djarin.

Of course, this is unlikely as Disney (and the Star Wars fandom) would prefer to have two separate but interconnected series featuring both characters.

But another issue may force their hand.

HBO’S THE LAST OF US

Sony, in a deal with HBO, is set to produce a TV adaptation of their hit survival horror game franchise. The Last of Us is considered to be a masterpiece when it comes to storytelling in video games. Reaction to the sequel was…mixed but there was still enough positive acclaim around it to earn many video game awards.

Pedro Pascal, who played the titular Mandalorian for Disney+ has been cast as Joel, one of the leads of the series.

Scheduling is always a difficult proposition when making movies and series and the current pandemic doesn’t guarantee any kind of reduced struggle in that area.

The usual approach if it was obvious that the situation was going to be untenable would be to recast the role of Din Djarin but that would create massive backlash from the fans.

Now, actors have become almost synonymous with the roles they play. Harrison Ford is Han Solo in the way that Alden Ehrenreich could never be, despite a valiant effort and Carrie Fisher (rest her soul) will always be Leia Organa.

If the actor cannot appear to play his role or if casting another to take his place proves too unpopular, then the only alternative would be to end the Mandalorian at season 2 and focus on some of their other spinoffs.

Speaking of which…

THE DISNEY+ STAR WARS UNIVERSE

Disney’s 2020 Investor Day probably should have been scheduled for May the 4th, given how much Star Wars content was paraded.

Some of the spinoffs announced are based on the IP established by the content that predates The Mandalorian like Original, Prequel and Sequel movies and the Clone Wars. The likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, Andor, the Bad Batch, etc. are all coming from a part of the previous part of the galaxy far far away.

Others like Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, the Book of Boba Fett, etc. are all directly spinning off the Mandalorian. Season 2 took great strides to flesh out the world and give us compelling reasons to stick with the spinoffs.

With all these planned series, it might be in Disney’s best (or financial) interests to close production on season 3 of the Mandalorian to avoid spreading the resources, both human and economic, too thin.

That would lead to some subpar offerings from Star Wars and create too many negative fan reactions.

Speaking of negative reactions…

THE GINA CARANO SITUATION

Gina Carano, a former mixed martial artist, plays former rebel shock trooper turned Marshal of the New Republic Cara Dune.

Oh correction…she played that role.

She was under fire on various social media platforms for her conservative views, with the hashtag #FireGinaCarano trending online.

Surprisingly Disney didn’t immediately act in reaction to the negative social media buzz and many assumed that the cancel culture mob had failed to deprive her of the role.

Then Disney fired the actress citing a post she made that compared the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany to that of the conservatively minded in America as the reason.

The reaction was swift and mixed, some praised Disney for the move, others characterized the move as hypocritical on the part of Disney and some others pointed out how Disney’s actions basically proved Gina’s point.

This came right before Pedro Pascal was cast as Joel in The Last of Us, creating more doubt that there would be a third season of the Mandalorian.

CONCLUSION

At this point, speculation is all that there is until Disney formally makes a statement confirming that any of this is true.

However, the situation surrounding the entirety of season 3 of The Mandalorian and the fact that not everything at play here can be controlled might create that cascade of events that ends up derailing the Mandalorian’s third season.

WHY OTTO OCTAVIUS IS PERFECT IN SPIDER-MAN 2

Spider-Man 2, directed by Sam Raimi and released in 2004, is still lauded as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.

An amazing story with great emotional heft, tense action sequences and special effects that are still very impressive, Spider-Man 2 was an improvement over the previous entry in almost every way and couldn’t be surpassed by its sequel.

At the heart of all of the movie’s acclaim lies the villain, Otto Octavius.

Played brilliantly by Alfred Molina, Dr. Octavius was a complex villain who was as sympathetic as he was ruthless and as driven as he was broken.

But why exactly was Octavius so perfect in the movie?

The Promise of What Could Be

Parker… Now I remember you. You’re Dr. Connor’s student. He tells me you’re brilliant. He also tells me you’re lazy.

Some of the greatest antagonists are a mirror reflection of the protagonists they oppose, examining the hero’s flaws and weaknesses by holding those traits and magnifying them.

Otto Octavius is interesting in his introduction because he is the opposite…he is the embodiment of Peter Parker’s positive attributes and they are enhanced even further in him.

He is a smart scientist at the top of his field and on the verge of making a breakthrough that would put him in league with the likes of Newton and Einstein.

He is married to the love of his life and they are happy in every way that matters to them.

Otto Octavius is basically what Peter Parker could have been…if he hadn’t been bitten by the spider.

Intelligence is not a privilege, it’s a gift. And you use it for the good of mankind

The Uncle Ben Moment

In the movie’s inciting incident, Otto Octavius is at the peak of his achievement; his experiment is going well and his wife is there to witness his success.

And in one fell swoop, he loses it all.

When the experiment goes awry, the malfunction kills his wife and fuses the mechanical limbs he was using to control the experiment to his spine.

A moment that resembles Spider-Man’s tragic origin.

My Rosie’s dead. My dream is dead. And these… monstrous things should be at the bottom of the river… along with me.

But Peter Parker had the lessons he had learned from his wise uncle, Octavius had no such fallback to strengthen him in his lowest moment.

So, he turns back to his dream in a vain attempt to prove his theory right, no matter who he has to hurt or kill when they get in his way.

The power of the sun in the palm of my hand. Nothing will stand in our way! NOTHING!

The Redemption

In the film’s climax, Octavius builds and activates a larger version of his experiment and once again it goes awry.

But when Spider-Man is unable to stop it, he turns to the only person who can and confronts him as the only person who he will listen to.

You once spoke to me about intelligence…you said it was a gift to be used for the greater good…

The good that was in Octavius resonated in Peter Parker…that good returned to Octavius to make him see the error of his ways.

And he accepts the death of his dream, a sacrifice to make right all the wrong he had done.

It was my dream…

Sometimes…to do what’s right…we must be steady… and give up the things we desire the most…even our dreams.

In that moment, Octavius takes control of his life again and becomes a hero, fulfilling the promise what could be in the beginning.

Conclusion

Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octavius still ranks high in the pantheon of comic book movie villains. Complex in his humanity and his villainy, he elevates Spider-Man 2 from merely good to unforgettably great.

Reportedly, Alfred Molina has been tapped to reprise his role in the third Spider-Man movie for the MCU.

If this is true, then we cannot wait to see this brilliant villain rendition brought to new life.

TOP 10 KUROKO NO BASKET CHARACTERS

Kuroko no Basket is filled with colorful characters with different personalities and traits that combine to make a great sports anime.

But which characters are the best in the anime?

This is our list of the top 10 characters in Kuroko no Basket.

1. TETSUYA KUROKO

The secret weapon of the Generation of Miracles and the Seirin Basketball Team, Kuroko is an anomaly compared to other anime main characters.

Small, frail, slow, and easy to miss, Kuroko isn’t good at basketball when he starts out and doesn’t get better even though he tries his best in training.

But in his weakness, he finds his strength; the ability to trick opposing teams and enhance his team’s offense with his misdirection, passing, and steals. Kuroko continually improves on offense as well, developing a dribble and a reliable shot that make use of his misdirection talents as well.

Kuroko tends to be deadpan in his mannerisms but he extremely kind and thoughtful until he gets angered by bullying and dirty play.

2. TAIGA KAGAMI

The aggressive juggernaut of Seirin, Kagami grew up playing basketball in the USA. His initial disappointment with the low skill level of Japanese basketball fades quickly when he meets the Generation of Miracles.

Kagami is a great all-rounder but his ability to jump is unmatched. This allows him to elude blockers when shooting jumpshots, block players taller than him and throw down dunks with unbelivable force.

Playing Kuroko bolsters his incredible offense and calms him down when his temper threatens to get in the way.

Kagami’s grades in school are…not great but he is a wonderful cook and he loves to eat.

3. RYOTA KISE

The rookie of the Generation of Miracles, Kise was inspired to play basketball after seeing Aomine in action.

A quick learner and gifted talent, Kise can perfectly mimic any technique after he sees it just once. That enables him to use his superior physical ability to improve upon those techniques.

As the anime progresses, he’s even able to replicate the fluid agility of Aomine and the other signature skills of his former teammates, the Generation of Miracles.

As such, Kise is extremely creative, able to counter any situation he finds himself in, and mix various skills together both on offense and defense.

Easygoing and cheerful, Kise is good looking and models clothing in his spare time to make ends meet.

4. DAIKI AOMINE

Starting off as a kid playing street basketball, Aomine’s fluid and aggressive style easily made him the best player among the Generation of Miracles.

In junior high, he was Kuroko’s best friend and frequent partner on the court as his unpredictable style was made more powerful with Kuroko’s misdirection.

His desire to play soon turned into apathy as opposing players quickly grew tired of competing with him and he developed a jaded and sardonic personality because of it.

Only Kuroko and Kagami are capable of drawing out that former fire to play basketball and after losing to them, Aomine begins to open up more and more.

Aomine also has a softer side despite his apathetic tendencies, like how he defended Kuroko from one of his own teammates or how he stepped in to protect Kise from a former junior high teammate.

5. SHINTARO MIDORIMA

The outside specialist, Midorima gives the words ‘obsessive’ and ‘superstitious’ new meaning.

He always takes measures to keep his karma positive and is meticulously rigid with how he cares for his hands, going as far as wrapping them in tape when he isn’t playing.

His extreme and strange dedication cannot be questioned as Midorima is renowned for his ability to never miss.

He can be blocked, he can be stripped of the ball but once he completes his shot…Midorima does not miss.

He also has a very helpful side that appears to contrast with standoffish nature as he assists both friends and rivals alike when necessary.

6. SEIJURO AKASHI

Our tragic and conflicted antagonist, Akashi’s story can’t help but make you sympathize with him, even as he proceeds to become a tyrant, ruling his teammates with an iron fist.

As captain of the Generation of Miracles and the Rakuzan Basketball Team, Akashi can stun opposing teams with his ankle-breaking dribbles or improve his teammates with perfect rhythm passing.

His ability to predict the actions of opposing teams combined with his strategic intellect allows him to lockdown all of his teammates defensively or switch up an offensive play as it was developing.

Akashi is also able to jump high enough to dunk, despite the fact he’s almost as small as Kuroko.

Akashi is also the only one to recognize and bring out Kuroko’s true talent, a feat he replicates in high school with another player.

7. RIKO AIDA

The daughter of a sports trainer, Riko shows that she can give coaches with years of experience on her a run for their money.

Gifted with the ability to evaluate physical ability from seeing one’s muscle definition, Riko is able to create one of the best offenses among high school basketball teams.

She is very dedicated to her team, frequently cooking up meals with supplements to help them. Unfortunately she is a terrible cook and only improves after Kagami shows her how to make curry.

Riko’s emotional state is shown to be volatile, she can switch from nonchalant and happy to heatedly intense instantly.

8. SATSUKI MOMOI

Despite the fact that she initially comes off as a bubbly fangirl, Momoi is anything but an airhead.

She is a brilliant analyst and strategist, capable of determining the capability of opposing teams and rivaling Akashi with strategies that are nearly flawless. Momoi even managed to create a strategy that managed to halt Kuroko’s misdirection until he turned it around.

She also has an intense crush on Kuroko, to the bemusement of almost everyone, hugging him gleefully every time they meet up.

As Aomine’s childhood friend, she is one of the few people for whom he will attempt friendliness, and Momoi also cares deeply about his opinion of her.

9. TEPPEI KIYOSHI

The founder and former star of the Seirin Basketball Team, Kiyoshi is the dependable and sturdy rock the team leans on when they need to.

A naturally gifted point guard with handles and passing to match, Kiyoshi sacrifices that to play center for Seirin since that was their shortcoming.

Kiyoshi is also gifted with a strong grip on the basketball and a great sense of timing that allows him to switch up his actions to counter his opponent’s reaction at the last second and compete with taller defenders for rebounds.

Kiyoshi is well-known and respected among his peers for being one of the few players capable of going toe-to-toe with the Generation of Miracles at their peak.

Nicknamed the “Iron-Heart”, Kiyoshi is irrepressibly optimistic, offering encouragement with a big smile and his signature saying (Let’s have some fun!).

10. ATSUSHI MURASAKIBARA

The childish but unstoppable juggernaut of the Generation of Miracles, Murasakibara claims to be uniterested in basketball and only plays it because he is very good at it.

This attitude especially puts him at odds with Kuroko who loves basketball despite his inability to succeed at basketball traditionally.

Murasakibara’s disinterest usually has him playing defense until Seirin brings Kuroko and Kiyoshi (his junior high rival) and awakens his drive to crush them.

With his height, speed, strength and wingspan, Murasakibara is able to dominate on both ends of the floor, blocking shots that are almost at their peak or dunking on three defenders at once.

Despite his claims of disinterest in basketball, Murasakibara shows that he does love the sport when digs deep enough to surpass his limits against Seirin.