Amazing Spider-Man took in $140 million in its opening week, making it number one at the box office. I like to think that personally seeing it twice helped contribute to that. Sure, it wasn't as epic as THE AVENGERS, but it's not meant to be. It's still a great movie. I could point to it playing closer to the original book, the spectacular parkour inspired action, or the very smart interweaving of several early Spidey arcs as the main factor to its success. But at its heart, ASM is a story about a boy who gains great power and how he learns to use it responsibly. And crucially more important than awesome action sequences or special effects is the guy that plays him. And not to hate on Tobey Maguire too much, but there are many reasons why Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is far superior to his:
Andrew Garfield's Spidey is funny
One of the main reasons that Spider-Man spoke to so many fanboys when he first debuted is that he wasn't like other superheroes. He wasn't gallant and dashing, he was a geek like us. He didn't have all the right things to say against his villains. So he made with the funny. Quippy wisecracks are Spidey's trademark in the comics, so much that his villains and teammates both remark on it. A lot. That's what makes Dan Slott's current run on the ASM books so brilliant. And it was (unfortunately) largely missing from Sam Raimi's version of Spidey.
Andrew Garfield's Spidey is smart
One of the easiest things to forget about Spidey is that Peter Parker is sort of a teen genius. Many times in ASM, it's Peter's sheer brain power that moves him forward in his journey towards superhero. One major plot-point that helps this is that his webbing isn't biological (as they are in the Raimi version.) Like the original book, Peter sees the need to websling and figures out the scientific way to achieve this. It's not the powers that make the hero, it's the man. And Peter's book smarts mixed with his street smarts makes him a great hero.
Andrew Garfield's Spidey is a geek...
...as is Andrew Garfield. He has stated in many interviews how much of a Spider-Man fan he is and it shows. He plays it with the reverence it deserves. He's standing in for us other fanboys and he does it with joy and respect. In ASM, Midtown High is imagined as a science magnet school and even in a school full of science minded peers, Peter is still a bit of an outcast. The brilliance is that the shy, awkwardness from the original books becomes modern teen angst with a skater edge. I mean sure, Tobey Maguire had this awesomely geeky moment, but Andrew Garfield's brand of geek is inline with what we know as geek now. Andrew Garfield truly makes geek chic.
Andrew Garfield's Spidey is sexy
I'm not detracting from the original upside down Spidey kiss at all. It is still one of the coolest, most romantic moments I've ever seen. However, Andrew's Peter Parker chasing after Gwen Stacy is so filled with hormonal charge and angsty charm, is electrifying. I don't want to give too much away on this front, but maybe their rumored off-camera canoodling has much to do with this. And I don't want to be this guy, but Andrew Garfield fills out the suit better...
Andrew Garfield is Andrew Garfield
In our current world where one's personal brand is as important as a character one plays, Spidey fans watched Andrew Garfield like hawks. He is truly one of us. He perfectly embodies that sarcastic, witty, loveable, goofy man-child in all of us, both on-and-off screen.
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. Starting next week, he will add fiction writer to his list of accomplishments, exclusively on GoPride. He will be at Comic-Con for five awesome days, so be ready to read all about it. Or you can follow all of his adventures in real-time here.
for my (more formal) coverage of the event on GoPride, click here...
Northstar made a huge impact on the geek world when he came out of the closet in the pages of Alpha Flight in 1992. While he's had very few love interests over the years (too busy kicking ass?) he's finally found an awesome guy to make an honest man out of him. We first met Kyle in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #509 in 2009. Merely marking this as a (albeit monumental) gay comic book wedding would be akin to simplifying Brokeback Mountain as a gay cowboy movie. While that description captures the immediate essence of the event, there is much more to their relationship that makes the event even more awesome:
It's a mixed marriage...
...on many levels. With North Carolina's recent ban on gay marriage being compared to the same difficulties getting interracial marriages in that state legalized forty years ago, it's rather fitting that Northstar is white and Kyle is black. And while it seems to pale in comparison to the inter-species relationships of Wiccan/Hulkling and Karolina/Xavin (Hulkling and Xavin are aliens), there is one more thing that sets them apart. It's the first gay relationship in Marvel comics where only of the of couple is superpowered. All the current gay couples in the Marvel Universe were brought together by being on the same team. Northstar and Kyle found each other and stayed together because of their love.
They're a "real" couple
Readers of my blog know how much I heart Billy and Teddy (sigh.) But they're relationship is pretty idealized. Karolina and Xavin complicate matters even more with Xavin changing genders at will. Rictor and Shatterstar seem to be fighting off Shatterstar's polyamorous pinings and "baby mama drama" to settle into a full-fledged relationship. But Northstar and Kyle deal with stuff that happens in the real world all the time. Northstar has to relocate from Canada for work (with the X-Men) and they negotiate a long distance relationship. They sacrifice both their careers to move together and buy their first place together. They bicker. They love. It's awesome.
Their wedding is happening in our world...
...not in the fictional Riverdale (where Kevin Keller famously married boyfriend Clay this year) or in space (where Midnighter and Apollo of The Authority wed.) Nope, Kyle and Northstar are tying the knot in good ol' NYC. It's happening in our world. It's real. For the first time in history, a U.S. president has public endorsed same-sex marriage. For the first time, marriage equality seems to be a hot enough topic to actually be able to make it a reality. And with this wedding, Marvel Comics does what it does best: show you what's happening in the real world and make it just that more awesome.
Want to see the proposal? Astonishing X-Men #50, where Northstar gets down on one knee is on sale today. Get it at your local shop before it sells out!
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. If Northstar and Kyle were getting married in Chicago, he'd pretty sure they'd register here. Also, in a few weeks, this is happening. Want to see some spoiler images of the proposal? Keep scrolling. Otherwise: deuces!
So I don't know if you've heard, but a little flick called Marvel's Avengers opened up a couple of weeks ago. Earth's Mightiest Heroes assembled to take out the Boy Who Lived in opening weekend box office sales, earning over $200 million in the US and reaching $1 billion in worldwide box office in its second weekend. But this is just one of many comic book movie adaptations over the last few years. Why has this one been so huge? The proof is in the film itself, and the man responsible, writer/director Joss Whedon.
The film really is that good. There are enough reviews and blogs out there, so I'll spare you my play-by-play. What I will say is that the midnight showing I attended was 100% made up of geeks, the toughest and most critical crowd this movie would ever face. You knew right away that everyone was in the same target demographic (gender not withstanding) when as one huge collective voice we cheered the trailers for Amazing Spider-Man and Dark Knight Rises and booed the trailer for Battleship. And then the movie started and for all its awe-inspiring 3D awesomeness, it blew our minds. Things that we as geeks constantly nit-pick, like the canonical origin stories of Hawkeye and Black Widow or inconsistent characterizations of the characters were non issues. Whedon preemptively handled those issues, along with making this film the connective tissue between the distinctly different solo films of that make up the team with wit and grace. And that's because Joss is one of us. He knows what we want in a film and he gives it to us.
What more can you expect from the guy who gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible? Within all of his film and TV work, there is an inherent geekiness with the main characters. And amongst all the pop culture references his usually young characters dwell in, hidden not-so-discreetly in the witty banter, emerges the references to Superman's bizarro or Hogwarts. Hell, Xander in the series finale of Buffy makes several Nick Fury references while sporting an eyepatch. Joss has admitted to basing a lot of Buffy on X-Men's Kitty Pryde, so his transition into launching a new X-Men series (Astonishing X-Men) came as no surprise. He even served as a script doctor for the first X-Men movie. Between developing TV shows, feature films, and comic books, Joss leads the life that every fanboy wishes they did, with the signature witty snark we've become addicted to. And he's not a dick about it, because as any good King, he knows he came from the people and Geekdom isn't a democracy. If you lose us, then you lose us forever. Well, except if you're Frank Miller.
So back to Avengers. Unlike the very disappointing and shallow Green Lantern film, all of last year's solo Avenger movies had pretty deep characterizations of their title character. And in a film that focuses on six heroes, that could've easily gotten lost. But not on a Joss film. He is able to go deeper with each character, giving each character a specific arc but balancing the whole film so that it always feel like a team movie. And he doesn't condescend to us. Things blow up but with reason and consequence. The "villains" have a completely relatable motivation or everything they're doing. Our heroes are flawed and not always noble. And then comes the smashing. Every team-up or match up a geek could possibly hope for (Cap vs Stark, Thor vs Hulk, Black Widow vs Hawkeye and on and on and on!) was jam-packed in this film. The film acknowledges the mold that it came from and breaks it. All of this is signature Whedon. And thanks to the King, the mainstream is gaining a greater appreciation for what is geek (I mean, $1 billion in two weekends?! those numbers don't lie.) All hail to the King: with him, we all rise!
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. He apologizes for the month lapse between blog posts: he's been off-planet fighting Skrulls, then he had to make a stop in the Negative Zone to save Johnny Storm (again) and taught a master class at the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning. Alright, maybe he just got REALLY busy with theatre stuff. But he managed to see AVENGERS three times and probably will see it a million more until it leaves the theatre. Also, if you want to see more Joss awesomeness (and Chris Hemsworth) check out CABIN IN THE WOODS in theaters while you still can. He hopes you keep reading his blog and think of this lapse as DC's One Year Later arc (Gumprect and Rader, you're welcome.) Also, check this out. What?! Wanna chat more geek? Holla at ya boy.
Rader here. Speaking for my people (I'm talking about those of us who read DC Comics, classic characters in classy comic books whose back story gets altered, corrupted, and/or rebooted more often then I change underwear... Yes, I know it doesn't make sense. I don't wear underwear...), we're trying to deny that ONE YEAR LATER ever happened. You'll soon understand what I'm talking about as soon as AVENGERS VS X-MEN finishes and you find yourself in a corner, rocking yourself to sleep in the fetal position. Just keep repeating to yourself those famous words that the characters on DALLAS used when they brought Bobby Ewing back from the dead: "It was all a dream. A horrible, horrible dream." :-)
One of the biggest events in Marvel history started two weeks ago and it’s not too late to get in on the action. Have you always had a passing interest in comics but didn’t have a proper time to jump in? The day has come. Two of the most powerful teams are facing off and this time it’s for keeps. Ladies and gents, I give you Avengers vs. X-Men. Quite literally every aspect of the Marvel Universe is touched by this event and the world will never be the same again.
Don’t be intimidated by all the back story. Yeah, there’s a lot of it, but if you read this brief walk-through, you’ll be caught up in plenty of time to pick up Avengers vs. X-Men #0 & #1 (which will be released in second print) and AvX #2 at your local shop today.
So, I bet the first thing you’re wondering is why are they even fighting. Two women and one cosmic force are at the heart of the matter:
The first is the Scarlet Witch. Daughter of reformed mutant terrorist Magneto, Wanda. She married her android Avenger teammate the Vision. And while anatomically correct, good ol’ Visz can’t give her babies, so she conjures some up twin boys with her chaos magic. Mephisto (the devil incarnate) reclaims the two lost souls that made up the twins and Wanda starts going nuts. In order for her to heal, the Avengers “magically” erase her memory of her kids, but we all know that’s not going to end well. As her memory begins to return, her mind starts to unravel and in the process she loses control of her powers. She subconsciously begins to take revenge on the Avengers with her magic (killing three of them.) The X-Men and Avengers hunt her down, but are unsure what to do with her. Her twin brother Quicksilver convinces her to use her powers to give everyone a world they want, where mutants and supers reign supreme, but of course that backfires. As the world she created implodes on itself, she utters three words: “no more mutants.” The world is restored, but with millions of mutants depowered. Only 198 survive the Decimation.
That’s where the second woman comes into play. After the Decimation, no mutants manifest. The X-Men exhaust every scientific resource to get mutants off the endangered species list and fight off forces that would try to kill them off. Mutant extinction seems imminent. But a baby girl born in Cooperstown, Alaska changes everything. Mutants manifest their powers during puberty, but this special little girl’s mutant power is so strong, they manifest at birth. There have been prophesies about her: mutants believing she is their messiah and anit-mutant militias believe she will bring on the destruction of humanity. After a battle with many different opposing forces, the X-Men gain custody of the girl. X-Man Cable names her Hope and takes her into the future to outrun forces that continue to threaten her life. After being raised as a solider on the run, Hope returns to the present with her surrogate father Cable as a 17 year old girl. In a penultimate battle to save her from the remaining foes who would see her dead, the full force of her power manifests and Cerebra shows five new mutants around the globe. Only Emma Frost sees a secret in Hope’s manifestation: a phoenix in the flames.
Ah yes, and finally we get to the Phoenix Force. Dear reader, forget anything you may have seen about the Phoenix Force in the (god awful) third X-Men movie. The Phoenix is a cosmic force that brings death and rebirth made up of the primal force and passion of the universe. The Phoenix Force formed a bond with omega level mutant Jean Grey in her youth. In Jean’s form, the Phoenix served as an X-Man, went Dark after being manipulated by the Hellfire Club, and destroyed a star system, devouring it to satiate its hunger, costing billions of lives. After many conflicts with the Shi’Ar empire and multiple hosts, it is Jean Grey who ultimately is able to host and contain the Phoenix successfully. Upon her death, she ascends to the White Hot Room, where new Phoenixes are born. And while fragments of the Force still live within several hosts throughout the universe, the full Force has yet to return. Until now.
So there you are, the basic groundwork for Avengers vs. X-Men. The Phoenix Force is returning to Earth and will be looking for a new host. And with it brings the possibility of the destruction of the world the Avengers have vowed to protect. Could the new host be the mutant messiah Hope, whom the X-Men have sworn to protect? What part will the dangerously powerful, reality altering mutant Scarlet Witch (back in the world after the events of Avengers: Children’s Crusade) play in this epic battle? And how will the world change with Earth’s strongest hero teams fighting against each other? Go to your local shop and pick up the first three issues of Avengers vs. X-Men today.
If you like what you read and want to go deeper into the events leading up to AvX, pick these up at your local shop
Danny Bernardo is GoPride’s official geekologist. He (like is shop) is team X-Men. Cuz he (like the mutants) was just born this way. For some insider scoop, check out what he learned at the AvX panel at C2E2 this year. Follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #AvX. Oh yeah and while you’re there, holla at ya boy.