Archive for Marvel tag

The God Of Thunder’s Cinematic Debut Might Actually Be The Best Thor Movie! 🎬 😮

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Hold Up! I Don’t Remember The First Thor Being This Good!

Sometimes all it takes is a little distance, some time (like 2190 days), and watching something again, under a different lens, to make you appreciate it. I watched Thor for the first time, in what has to have been six years, and I was utterly, and pleasantly surprised!

Now, before I start singing the praise of the one and only Thor, guardian of the Nine Realms, and the one true wielder of Mjölnir (sort of), I want you to stop what you’re doing and watch the brand new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, if you have not done so already! It’s set to release on November 3rd–you can check it out by clicking on the image.

Awesome…am I right, or am I right?

Thor (Number One)

Here’s why I felt so compelled to write this. It’s because up until now, I thought that the first Thor movie was absolute garbage! Ok, garbage might be too strong of a word, but I definitely thought that it wasn’t as good as the rest of the Marvel cinematic adventures. It just didn’t have that super-cool wit, and bravado from Iron Man; the explosive, blast-from-the-past appeal from Captain America; the sheer awesomeness that was The Avengers–to be fair, no Marvel movie does–it was just…subpar.

So who was to blame for this lack of my movie enjoyment? Kenneth Branagh (the director)? Chris Hemsworth (the…Thor)? I didn’t care long enough to answer the question, but after watching Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as The Mighty Thor in The Avengers (2012), and the second Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World (2013), my faith was restored…for these two films anyway. Thor number one still left a sour taste in my mouth.

Now let’s fast forward three more years to present day. My buddy Elton, aka Eltron (as in Age of Eltron); my wife’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, which (I think) makes him my…uncle…(just kidding); wants to watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies–which is just the greatest idea that he’s ever had–so naturally, I was game!

The first MCU movie (Iron Man) came out in 2008. It’s now 2017. Guess how many movies there are now? Sixteen! Now, I’m not including the soft reboot of The Incredible Hulk (with Edward Norton), because…well, it just doesn’t count. But if you do count the releases scheduled for this year, then you’re looking at sixteen movies. May 5th was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, July 7th is Spider-Man: Homecoming (Go Spidey), and then, all the way in November is Thor: Ragnarok. We certainly have our work cut out for us!

So I started to make the playlist and 86’d the not-so-important movies because, one: that’s one “helluva” popcorn-eating, superhero binge watching session to get through, and two: some of the sequels aren’t pertinent to the over-all story of the MCU. So I needed to weed out the expendable movies, or trim the fat (as they say)–and that’s what I did.

We started with Iron Man, which is still (to this day) a wicked movie; then Captain America: The First Avenger (not as good as Iron Man, but still decent), and then Thor–I must have been intoxicated when I saw it all those years ago because it was pretty damn good! Much better than I remember. Eltron and I had our significant others with us, and they enjoyed Thor as well. I was shocked, and a little embarrassed, because I told them (beforehand) that this Thor was nothing special; but as it turns out, I was totally wrong.

The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, was always the better film in my mind. It’s like Marvel Studios took all of the lessons that they learned from the previous films (not that they had much to learn, mind you), especially Avengers, and used those lessons to create a much better Thor movie. The Dark World still sits on the great precipice of Marvel movies–not everyone would agree with this–but now I definitely have to change my stance on the matter of the first Thor.

Why The First Thor Is Just So Splendid

Here is just a few key reasons as to why I enjoyed Thor this time around. This might be spoilery, but it’s been six years so “deal with it.”

Odin, The King of Asgard, Played by Sir Anthony Hopkins

Forget HBO’s Westworld–BTW I actually don’t see why everyone talks about that show. It’s just ok–Marvel got Sir Anthony Hopkins himself to play Thor’s father, King Odin! Say what you will about Marvel, but anyone that has the power (or money) to convince such a revered and noteworthy actor to make a comic book movie deserves praise.

Tom Hiddleston’s Portrayal of Loki

As far as villains go, Loki is easily the best the MCU has to offer. Tom Hiddleston does a bang up job of playing Thor’s evil step-brother (especially in The Avengers) and I hope we get to see much more of him as this Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to a close.

The Comical Relief of Darcy, Played by Kat Dennings

It’s Kat Dennings…what more is there to say? If you know her work from 2 Broke Girls then you know what she’s capable of. She helps provide the humour as Jane Foster’s (played by Natalie Portman) assistant, and does a good job doing it. Trust me, once you hear her pronounce Thor’s hammer’s name as “Mew-Mew,” you’ll know what I mean!

The Theatrical Debut of Lady Sif, Played by Jaimie Alexander

Lady Sif is a force to be reckoned with, and (in my opinion) she should be the one true love of The Mighty Thor. (She very well may be; the story isn’t finished yet.) Nothing against Jane Foster, but Lady Sif is a feared warrior, and a much better match for the Asgardian Avenger. She even knows it, as she tried to rekindle their romance in The Dark World, but Thor did not succumb to her advances. Better luck next time Sif; until that time I look forward to your possible return in Thor: Ragnarok!

More adventures of Lady Sif can also be seen in early seasons of ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD–the best show on TV, I might add!

The Townspeople Trying To Take Thor’s Hammer

The MCU is filled with many humourous moments of different people trying to lift Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, and it never gets old. Unbeknownst to him, The Hulk tries (in The Avengers), and fails epically. All of the Avengers, in Age of Ultron, jokingly try to lift the hammer at Tony Stark’s party–and one of them came close! It’s all just shits and giggles watching this again and again, but the rules are in place. Only the one deemed worthy, by Mjölnir, can lift and wield the mighty hammer of Thor.

But chronologically it was the the townspeople of New Mexico, in the first Thor, that took turns and tried to take the mysterious hammer that came crashing down to planet Earth. I totally forgot about this hilarious scene–it was amusing watching it again!

Heimdall, Played by Idris Elba

I can’t talk about Thor and not mention my boy Idris! The English actor; slash, musician; slash, DJ; slash, all-seeing and all-hearing Asgardian, is one of the most interesting characters in the movie. He’s the guardian of the Bifrost Bridge (you’ll have to watch the movie to learn about what that is), and he can see and hear everything that happens in the Nine Realms. He stands guard and he watches…that’s all he does, and his bright and shiny gold armour is something to behold.

Agent Phil Coulson, Played by Clark Gregg

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Marvel’s Agent’s of SHIELD is the best show on TV! SHIELD plays a huge role in the MCU; they’re the whole reason the Avengers exist in the first place. At the forefront of it all was Director Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), and almost always, right behind him, was his right hand man Phil Coulson. In the beginning, Phil had little to no screen time on the big screen, but in Thor (and especially in The Avengers) he got to make much more of a splash in the universe–and he had his Captain America collector cards to show for it!

Unfortunately Phil’s big splash ended in The Avengers, but the good thing was that his untimely demise was what brought the Avengers together in the end. In life, and in death, Phil was the glue that held everything together…even in the (much later revealed) Marvel television spin-off that aired in 2013: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!

MCU fans rejoiced everywhere because, to everyone’s surprise, Agent Phil Coulson had miraculously returned (to life). There was no explanation, whatsoever, he was just back. It was, without a doubt, the one burning question that got people to tune into the show. Why was Phil back, and how?

Well, I won’t get into it, but we eventually got our answer, and it was a good answer; but I digress. Phil has a much bigger presence in Thor so do yourself a favour and check it out.

And last, but not least…

Thor, The Prince of Asgard, Played by Chris Hemsworth

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t start with Thor in the first place. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to add him to this list. The idea was to focus on the incredible supporting actors alone. I mean, Chris Hemsworth is great, which makes Thor great by default. So it truly goes without saying, but I suppose I should throw him in for good measure. After all, it is his movie.

So, I’ll close with this: No other actor, in my mind, can play The Mighty Thor as well as Chris Hemsworth. That’s it…go watch Thor if you haven’t seen it. If you have, but you didn’t think much of it (like I did), then go watch it again because you just might be surprised by how good it really is (six years later)!

My Farewell To Vancouver’s United Front Games. (Thank You For Your Service!) 😔

UFG + Sleeping Dogs Image
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From Lear Canada, To Graphic Design, To Video Games

I remember my dad always getting laid off from his job back when I was a geeky teenager. He was a union man who worked for Lear Canada as a welder for 24 years. Lear Canada was a huge, historical, manufacturer right in the heart of Kitchener, Ontario, that produced seating components for the automotive industry. I have fond memories of driving to pick him up after his shift on numerous occasions.

My sister even spent a short time working there after high school…the money Lear paid was good back then and attracted a lot of teens – many of which who didn’t finish high school because, well, let’s face it, why would they need to when Lear Canada was offering such a good wage (that was the thinking back then of course) – but much to their dismay, my dad’s and every other blue collar worker there, multiple lay offs, year after year was the reality.

Lear Canada finally shut down at the end of January, 2016. Volatile industry number one.

As for myself, I’ve only been laid off once. I first became a production artist for Watt International back in 2007. Watt is a leading consumer brands and retail agency in Toronto. I started out as a freelancer, eventually became full-time, then let go later in 2009 due to the company not having enough work, and re-hired back as a freelancer because new work had surfaced and Watt was now understaffed to deliver.

This type of “recycling” of employees was very similar to what my dad went through with his job. When work gets slow, you get let go, but when it picks back up, you’re called back into action. The only difference is that with graphic design (or production) you can be a little more prepared for it because as a freelancer you know when you’re contract is going to end…most of the time. There are some cases when you don’t. Volatile industry number two.

Watt is where I learned that the graphic design industry also has it’s own ebbs and flows. Watt is still doing business, as far as I know – I no longer freelance for them and have since moved on to work for other companies – but I know of many graphic related companies that have suffered the same fate as my dad’s.

So what’s the common denominator here? What do these delightful tales from my past, about Lear Canada and Watt International, have to do with United Front Games? Well, they’re all companies that had some sort of impact on my (working and gaming) life. Their layoffs and/or shut downs have caused some temporary setbacks, but I feel that it is my sworn duty to showcase just one of these companies, in a way that a gaming worker like myself only knows how. By doing a series of let’s plays, courtesy of United Front Games: a developer that has regrettably gone to that great, big, checkpoint in the sky, but they won’t be forgotten.

Another Good Studio Bites The Dust

It comes as no surprise that another game developer has closed it’s doors for good. In an industry so unpredictable, many developers (and publishers) struggle to maintain operations. It’s a game of hit-or-miss that these very talented group of individuals have to play, and every once in a while developers end up missing the mark.

When you’re an independent developer your game has to be a smash hit. It’s that plain and simple. Your game has to sell millions of copies or you’re business is dead. I’m no expert, but I’m starting to realize that this has to be incredibly tough to do when there are so many types of games already floating around, and new ones being announced every single year. With all of the great Triple A games already out there, not to mention the indie ones, developers have to figure out where their games fit in and what makes them stand out.

But even if you have the perfect formula for the perfect game, there are no guarantees that it’s going to sell. If you launch your game within the same window as another big game, that will almost always kill your chance to penetrate the market. If your game gets delayed and/or takes too long to develop, that could kill the momentum. If an influential YouTuber, or credible game journalist, gives your game a bad review, that could certainly impact sales as well. There are just too many variables. But even if none of these plausible scenarios affect game sales, there’s still the fact that the market is super-saturated with games that consumers are already satisfied with.

For example, if a fraction of all gamers are exclusively playing Call of Duty, and another fraction of them are playing Destiny, and another fraction of them are playing Overwatch, and so on, who’s left to play anything else? There are only so many gamers to play these games. There’s too much supply and not enough demand because there’s just not enough people. Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here. This is a brand new topic (about the state of game sales) that I should revisit…perhaps in the new year. I need to get back to the point.

United Front Games released a smash hit four years ago, so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that they didn’t follow it up with a sequel. Now I won’t pretend to know why it took them so long to start working on, and announce, Sleeping Dogs 2. As the overseeing publisher (with all the money), Square Enix must have had their reasons. Maybe the sequel was in early development and Square decided to put it on hold. Whatever the reason it’s always saddening to hear about another developer shutting down, but it’s even more sad when I hear that the developers are Canadian.

In mid October it was reported that United Front Games was shutting down. (I’m very much dialled into gaming news, so when I see a headline about another studio closing, I read as much as I can on the matter. Especially if it’s a studio that I know and love.)

I’ve dedicated a few of my filthy casual, PS3 gaming moments to Sleeping Dogs back in the day (when it was free on PlayStation Plus). Awesome game…didn’t finish it though – quelle surprise – but I knew that I wanted to get back to it one day. Looks like that day has finally arrived, but before we get to that, here’s what was also truly surprising about this latest development for UFG.

The two pieces of information that took me completely by surprise, about the now defunct developer is that, one: they’re based in Vancouver, and two: they’re the studio that actually worked on the Marvel Battlegrounds play set for Disney Infinity 3.0. How did I not know? Avalanche Software (who shut down back in May) was the lead developer – they created all of the toys and video game assets – but United Front Games was the studio that Disney Interactive (also defunct) chose to work on Battlegrounds.

I had no idea that this game that I loved so much was outsourced to UFG, nor did I realize that they were Canadian. I feel like the post I did back in August is incomplete now that I’ve stumbled upon this new information. So I’m writing this post to provide clarity and pay homage to a great Canadian studio that is no longer with us. There are a few other notable studios that closed this year, but United Front Games is the one that resonates with me the most. Ok, time for some let’s plays!

1️⃣ Marvel Battlegrounds (Disney Infinity 3.0)

This game needs no introduction. I love Marvel – you know this – and this awesome, toys-to-life, brawler is the closest game I’ll ever have to Super Mario Smash…I like to call it Marvel Smash (or MASH). I now have all of the mini figures – “Thank you Amazon!” –  so when my family and friends come over, it’s a no-holds-barred blood sport!

⬇️ Please click on the image to watch the Marvel Battlegrounds Let’s Play

SHIELD Lunar Base Concept Art | Marvel Battlegrounds | Enhanced by The Gaming Worker

2️⃣ Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

This is, undoubtably, the game, the smash hit, that United Front Games is best known for. Sleeping Dogs should have gotten a sequel – maybe then things would have worked out differently – but instead they tried to give us Triad Wars: the ambitious, online, open-world, Sleeping Dog spin-off for PC. Now I’m not going to lie, Triad Wars looked pretty dope, but clearly it just didn’t gain the traction it needed to keep it’s development going. Triad Wars was cancelled on January 20, 2016 – “Talk about reading the tea leaves!” Here’s hoping Square Enix can find a worthy developer to continue the actual Sleeping Dogs story.

⬇️ Please click on the image to watch the Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Let’s Play

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Altered Image by The Gaming Worker

3️⃣ Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (Xbox One)

Without question, Tomb Raider is one of my favourite games on PlayStation! Now it appears that UFG were the devs responsible for porting this game to Xbox One – “Blasphemers!” – but due to the nature of their tragic demise, I’ll allow it. Tomb Raider is a special game, and I love the way the controls feel when you pull back, aim and shoot, with your bow and arrow! I did my first Tomb Raider let’s play two years ago – here’s the next installment (finally)!

⬇️ Please click on the image to watch the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Let’s Play

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Altered Image by The Gaming Worker

And last, but not least…

4️⃣ ModNation Racers

Don’t let the cute and cuddly, Powerpuff-like, characters fool you – ModNation Racers is a masterclass create, share, and play, PS3 game! Even though I didn’t spend a fair amount of time racing (back in the day) – I did mess around, quite a bit, with the creation tools – this game definitely deserves an honourable mention. I created a pretty basic racetrack six years ago, and if I had stuck around a little while longer, I would have pushed myself to be more creative. Still, there was fun to be had even though it was short-lived. I now know that I’m not much for these creation-type games, but this one by United Front Games made an impression. The online community for this game is still active, believe it or not. It’s small, but it’s there. Another reason (perhaps) not to sleep on this game, but you’d better act fast before this community vanishes into thin air.

⬇️ Please click on the image to watch the ModNation Racers Let’s Play

ModNation Racers Enhanced Image by The Gaming Worker

To The Talented Developers Of United Front Games

It’s very sad to see (yet) another studio succumb to the (sometimes) harsh and unjust realities of the games industry. May each of you bounce back swiftly, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Marvel Battlegrounds Is Where The Disney Infinity Magic Really Begins 😁

⚠️ Don’t forget to watch the feature video        ✏️ For comments click on the headline and scroll to the bottom

I Love Marvel, Remember?!

Last year I wrote about my unwavering obsession with Marvel, as well as my appreciation for the Disney Infinity mini figures. I went on to say that I only wanted these, well-designed, pieces of plastic to add to my toy collection, and for showcasing. Their actual purpose: syncing them to another piece of flat plastic (the asymmetrical, hexagonal, Disney Infinity base), which connects via USB to my PS4 – so that I can play as that particular character in-game – was lost on me. As much as I love Marvel (and Disney) I had no intention of playing Disney Infinity. I had watched a few of the play set adventures on YouTube and I honestly wasn’t too impressed with what I saw.

Visually everything was great, but the gameplay just seemed lackluster. The environments were unpopulated, the stages and set pieces were bare, and the game mechanics were almost too simple. It looked like an entry level game for a novice – and if I was going to invest in this super hero game (version 2.0), then it would have to up the ante. So just having these tiny toys (for my toy shelf) was going to be good enough for me.

Michelle bought me a Marvel play set, and a bunch of figures, for my birthday last year to jump-start my collection. They remained in their packaging (up until last month) because the toy shelf that I speak of doesn’t actually exist yet.

It’s a plan that we have for our office on the top floor, but we’re still looking for the right pieces to furnish that space. So with our office space being a work in progress, it didn’t make sense rushing to EB Games to buy more Infinity. After all, these things weren’t cheap – especially if you wanted to collect them all – and I already received a small army of them for my birthday.

The Disney Infinity toys-to-life platform was very popular with gamers and toy collectors; new versions and play sets were being announced, which was proof enough that this thing was here to stay. There was no need to buy more in a hurry. I had time…well, I thought I had time.

Disney Infinity Shattered

As it turned out, back in May, Disney announced that they would be discontinuing their Infinity video game line, and shutting down their internal studio: Avalanche Software. The news took me completely by surprise. I believe my words were “What the f@#k?! How could this be? I thought that everything was fine. There must be – what the f@#k?!” But the toys-to-life genre had it’s winners: Amiibo, Skylanders and Lego Dimensions are still competing to be the number one, toy and video game platform of choice. Disney Infinity, on the other hand, is taking their bronze medal and going home…indefinitely.

It was a sad day…one that I didn’t see coming, but you know what? Someone had to lose. That’s just the reality of it, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. What’s even more saddening is knowing what Infinity had looming over the horizon: a new line of 12-inch figures, the launch of Disney Infinity 4.0, and more according to the incredible article that senior reporter, Patrick Klepek, wrote on Kotaku.

It appeared that Disney Infinity was planning to be a force to be reckoned with in the toys-to-life space, but the universe had a different design. I knew immediately what I had to do, because when a disaster like this strikes you have to act fast!

Preparing For My Very Own Civil War

My knee-jerk reaction was “Shit, now I have to buy all of the figures and play set before retailers run out of stock!” And that’s what I’ve done – well, I didn’t buy all of them. I’m only aiming to collect all of the Marvel figures so that I can play copious amounts of Marvel Smash…I mean Marvel Battlegrounds (more on that in a bit).

Now that time is of the essence, I can’t just sit idly by because I probably have one year (maybe two at the most) before I won’t be able to find any of these figures, let alone the one’s that I want. After a year (or two) my only option might be buying the nearly-extinct figures from online retailers, like Amazon, or resellers on eBay. By that time it won’t be worth it. Not with the huge mark-ups that will be added (due to rarity and demand), and the ridiculous shipping rates. So the time is now.

As if gaming isn’t expensive enough…now I have this bloody toys-to-life nonsense putting a dent in my wallet. I am a true victim of circumstance, but if there’s one thing that I’m pretty good at, it’s getting the games I want at a discount! I do this by a couple of ways: one, resisting temptation and not buying the game on launch day (like everyone else), and just waiting six to eight months; and two, redeeming my credit card points for Best Buy gift cards and using that to by my games. Simple and effective – both requires time and patience!

So I chose the latter: using my newly acquired gift cards, and ending up paying a total of $26.42 for the Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack and the Marvel Battlegrounds play set. Without the gifts cards, those two items would have cost me $101.68, so I can honestly say that I made a good decision.

Almost immediately after that, the EB Games, close to my workplace, had a bunch of Infinity figures on sale! The stars were certainly aligning so I snatched up a bunch of those bad-boys for $9.99 each; they normally cost $16.99. Again, I made a good decision.

Now We Fight!

Um, yeah…

All Rise For The Notable And Notorious S.H.I.E.L.D. (Can You Dig it?)

What does SHIELD Stand for Agent Ward?

“Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.”
“And what does that mean to you?”
“It means that someone really wanted our initials to spell out SHIELD!”
– Agents Maria Hill and Grant Ward – S01E01 – Pilot

If You Don’t Know / Now You Know / Agents of SHIELD

This is a bit of a strange comparison, but bare with me on this one. The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) was, and arguably still is, my favourite hip hop artist of all time. Life After Death, the follow up double LP to Ready To Die, was an incredible offering to the hip hop music culture in the late 90’s, and was always within reach when I wanted to get into work mode back in my college years. When I wanted to get into the zone I would pop the first disc into my Sony Discman (remember those nifty things?) and immerse myself into the musical styling of Bed-Stuy’s Biggie, bobbing my head from one track to the next. I would take disc one out, right after the last track [I Got A Story To Tell], and then insert disc two so that I could continue the experience starting with the next track [Notorious Thugs]. Biggie was boss. But guess what? In the beginning I did not really like him. The late and great B.I.G. and I were not always friends.

My affinity towards Biggie was a slow progression. Do you see where I’m going with this? When I saw his first video, Juicy, on Rap City (boy do I feel old) I wasn’t that impressed. “It was aiight.” were the under zealous words that came out of my mouth. Little did I know that Biggie was about to blow my mind with Ready To Die. I wasn’t able to love and appreciate his music until I heard the entire album in all of it’s remarkable glory. I had to get past the first song to uncover the sheer brilliance that Biggie bestowed upon us, which is a lesson that is relevant when it comes to certain prime time television shows like the show that I’m about to focus on right now. And this is where I segue.

Too Hot For TV 🔥📺

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is the best action, sci-fi, drama on television right now and some of you out there don’t even know it because you’re not able to get past the first half of season one. Well I’m here to tell all of you to get over yourselves! There, I said it. It had to be said and I had to be the one to say it. Sorry, but it’s true. Not only is Agents of SHIELD the best ActSciDrama [that’s my new word] on TV; it’s the best show on TV period! You’re thinking to yourself, Ok, now he’s lost it. What the hell is this guy talking about? Not only does he suck at playing video games, he has bad taste in TV as well! Think what you will, but I stand by my words. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is the best show on television and possibly one of the best spin-offs to air in decades.

There Is Abundant Life After Death

It was inevitable. The show was going to pick up…and voila, it did. All you had to do was wait for it. Just like those of us who desperately wanted to see how Marvel was going to bring Coulson back to life for this debut TV series, we had to wait for it. I thought that all of the questions would be answered in the series premiere, but that was asking way too much. And, to be honest, I knew better. I had to wait for those answers just like everyone else. But I knew that the answers were coming, much like I knew that the show would come back with a vengeance after it slowed down to an unfortunate crawl. Which, and let’s face it, can happen more often then not with a lot of the shows on television these days. The trick however is to not let that deter you. You have to be steadfast and have faith that the show you hold with such high regard will bounce back. And just like Jessica Rabbit’s breasts on a bright and shiny day in Toon Town, Agent’s of SHIELD bounced back. Little did I know that the events that transpired in Captain America: The Winter Soldier had to cross over first in order for the momentum to pick back up, but nevertheless it has been an epic thrill ride ever since.

🎤 Your reign on the top was short like leprechauns…

…as I crush so-called willies, thugs, and rapper-dons / Get in that ass, quick fast, like Ramadan / It’s that rap phenomenon Don Dada, fuck Poppa / You got to call me Francis M.H. White / Intake light tokes, tote iron / Was told in shootouts, stay low and keep firin’ / Keep extra clips for extra shit / Who’s next to flip on that cat with that grip on rap / The most shady, (Tell Em!) Frankie baby / Ain’t no telling where I may be / May see me in D.C. at Howard Homecoming / With my man Capone, gumming, fucking something / You should know my steelo / Went from ten G’s for blow to thirty G’s a show / To orgies with hoes I never seen before / So, Jesus, get off the Notorious / Penis before I squeeze and bust / If the beef between us, we can settle it / With the chrome and metal shit / I make it hot like a kettle get / You’re delicate, you better get – who sent ya? / You still pedal shit, I got more rides than Great Adventure / Biggie (How are you gonna do it?)
The Notorious B.I.G. – Kick In The Door 🎶

Kick In The Door Wavin’ The Four-Four

If I had to choose an album that captured all of the action, emotion and narrative of Agents of SHIELD, Biggie’s Life After Death would be it. It’s like pairing a great cabernet blend with a juicy grilled steak or in this case, pairing a .44 caliber handgun with…whatever the hell you would pair a magnum with. My point is that I think Shield took everyone by surprise. Especially after Winter Soldier. I mean – I knew it was going to be good, but not this damn good. I’ll miss church on a Sunday before I miss the opening sequence for Shield on a Tuesday. That’s how good this [show] is. It trumps religion. The last two shows that had me by the balls like this were Buffy and Angel which last aired in 2004. Two brilliant pop culture phenomenons with one thing in common to Agents of SHIELD. They are all products, and creative strokes of genius, by the amazing writing ensemble known as the Whedons: Joss, Jed and wife Maurissa.

Truth be told I always thought that Angel was the better show compared to Buffy. Not by much, but what made the Angel spin-off truly great was that it was gritty and dark. Buffy toyed with some dark episodes – well a dark season really – but over all it was Angel that depicted the darker side of the Buffy universe. There’s no denying it; it’s our attraction to the dark side that keeps us tuned in and coming back for more. When TV shows walk on that fine line of doing what’s right versus doing what’s wrong; listening to that little devil on your shoulder because you feel you have no other choice. There is so much injustice and evil in these fictional worlds and it’s very infectious to see our, once on the straight and narrow, protagonists slip and transition into much grittier versions of themselves. This is the type of storytelling that I’m a huge sucker for and Agents of SHIELD (now in it’s third season and prepping for a spin-off) has started to dive into this territory.

But there’s so much more to what makes Agents of SHIELD an incredible show. First and foremost is the great writing. It’s clever and funny – not Buffy-funny – but it’s up there and can hold it’s own. Yes, season one did start to drag, but for good reason. The writers can’t take full responsibility for this because the decision to have events from the movies cross over wasn’t theirs. So send your nasty letters to the Marvel studio executives. Next, there’s a good variety of characters (both good and evil) and a fair amount of character development. Not to mention the fact that the world is constantly expanding. Almost every episode has the team travelling to different parts of the globe (and one spooky hell dimension so far) as they try to thwart evil and eliminate the threat. Shield does follow the typical monster-of-the-week formula, but the pay off is always great at the end because the A-story is so compelling. Then you have things like special effects (which are quite phenomenal if you ask me) and fight sequences. Some of the best, if not the best, I’ve seen on prime time TV. Marvel is sparing no expense on Shield and it shows, each and every week. If you have not been tuning in then I truly believe that you owe it to yourself to take a gander at Marvel’s made-for-TV team.

Meet The Dream Team

As the old saying goes: There’s no I in team. So no matter how good the visuals and the story are, it’s the super talented actors and actresses who shine and bring life to every episode. If there is one thing that I can absolutely say for sure, it’s that the show’s creators know how to bring a perfect cast together. Joss Whedon has been doing this for years and has a handful of incredible TV shows (not to mention movies) under his belt. Buffy [The Vampire Slayer], Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse – each show has their own remarkable cast that know how to act extremely well, and jell with one another perfectly. The Whedon crew know how to create these magical dream teams so it comes as no surprise that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is so damn good. Are you ready to meet a few of the notables? Good, but be warned because things are about to get spoilery!

Note: Spoilers Ahead 😮

Director Phil Coulson Played By Clark Gregg 1️⃣

Pronounced dead after being impaled by Loki’s scepter (in the first Avengers movie), Agent Phil Coulson was mysteriously brought back to life and put back into the field. Only a select few knew about the measures taken to bring him back. Even Phil himself had no memory of what had happened, but he had an inkling that something wasn’t right. After some inexplicable side effects Phil had to take matters into his own hands and get some answers which ultimately leads to him facing some demons that no one should ever have to face. That’s all I’ll say about this. After events unfold [Captain America: Winter Soldier] Phil is appointed the new director of SHIELD by Nick Fury (who was also pronounced dead) and is inundated with the task to rebuild SHIELD. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Agent Melinda May Played By Ming-Na Wen 2️⃣

She’s always very calm and collected, but don’t let that fool you because Agent Melinda May is a lethal weapon [There’s a reason she’s referred to as the Cavalry] and is deadly as they come. May and Phil have history working in the field together – she always has his back – which has earned her the privilege of becoming his right hand. When Phil needs a second opinion she’s usually his go to because May is the voice of pragmatism. Her opinion counts and when it comes time to get the job done May is always there for Phil and the rest of the team. But there’s more to her than meets the eye. May is not without her hang-ups; she’s emotionally scarred, can hold a grudge like nobody’s business, and as intelligent as she is, she doesn’t always make the right decision.

Daisy Johnson aka Quake Played By Chloe Bennet 3️⃣

Daisy, formerly known as Skye, is your typical – the truth is out there – genius-level “hacktivist” turned super hero. She’s the first SHIELD agent (so far that we know of) to possess super powers which manifested after being exposed to the Terrigen Mist. Daisy is an Inhuman – just like her mother Jiaying who she never knew growing up, and believed to be dead all of this time – and has the ability to generate powerful waves of vibration which can produce effects resembling earthquakes (hence the name Quake). She is definitely the glue that holds the team together, and wears her heart on her sleeve; which is why the team loves and values her as much as they do, especially Phil. Before Phil became the director (and before Daisy got her powers) he was very protective of Daisy and formed a father/daughter kinship with her, which was very much frowned upon by Daisy’s estranged, “Jekyll and Hyde” monster of a father, Cal. But no matter what Daisy knows how to stay focused and grows stronger every day with her new found abilities.

Agent Jemma Simmons Played By Elizabeth Henstridge 4️⃣

One of the youngest, and arguably the smartest on the team, Jemma Simmons is the British girl next door with more than two PhDs. Her best friend and SHIELD colleague, Fitz, once claimed that she’s so smart because she loves homework more than life itself. That’s Jemma in a nut shell; a super bright bio-chemist who graduated three years early from the SHIELD academy, and well on her way to becoming a rising star in SHIELD’s research division. Her close connection with Fitz has earned them both the nickname Fitz-Simmons, and rightfully so seeing how the two lab geeks are inseparable. But no matter how many specialized weapons (like the Night-Night Gun) they craft together these two star-crossed agents just can’t seem to take their relationship to the next level. After Fitz finally mustered up the courage to ask Jemma out, she was unexpectedly swallowed up into an alien dimension where she spent the next six months with two unknowns. A NASA astronaut named Will – long story – and an evil parasitic Inhuman with incredible power – an even longer story.

Agent Leo Fitz Played By Iain De Caestecker 5️⃣

SHIELD’s genius-level engineer has much in common with his brilliant lab partner, and love interest, Jemma. They both graduated from the academy early, they both dress alike, and they both were hand-picked to be on Phil Coulson’s team. But the one thing about Fitz is that he’s always eager to help, even if it means stepping into the field and into harms way. This Scottish native is not afraid to take one for the team, and when it comes to Jemma, no force on earth (or off) will keep him away from her. Next to Jemma, the only other relationship that Fitz holds dear is his friendship with Agent Grant Ward. That is until the events of Winter Soldier came to pass and the truth about Ward was uncovered. The fall of SHIELD took everyone by surprise, but none more than Fitz who found it impossible to believe that his trusted friend, and SHIELD agent, Ward could have anything to do with HYDRA’s uprising. The final nail in that coffin was when Ward trapped both Fitz and Simmons in a pod and dropped them into the Atlantic Ocean.

Honourable Mentions: Hunter And Bobbi 👏

Agent Bobbi Morse Played By Adrianne Palicki 6️⃣

One of the most elite agents by far, Barbara “Bobbi” Morse – aka Mockingbird – is an expert biologist who can take down just about any foe with her trusted battle staves. She was first introduced as HYDRA’s Chief of Security, but little did the enemy organization know that Bobbi was an undercover agent sent by SHIELD as a security measure to protect Jemma Simmons – who was on a undercover mission of her own. Bobbi’s loyalty to SHIELD is unwavering: she’s a remarkable soldier (she can take a bullet and won’t crack under pressure – even when being tortured) and a team player. But as good as her track record is, there’s one teammate [her ex-husband Hunter] who thinks of her as a “demonic hell-beast”. Certain agency secrets kept by Bobbi put the two at odds and ultimately lead to their divorce, but fate brought the two back together – this time to help SHIELD turn the tide against HYDRA – giving Hunter and Bobbi a second chance at their relationship.

Agent Lance Hunter Played By Nick Blood 7️⃣

The very brash and British – quick-to-go-rogue – Lance Hunter is a force to be reckoned with. The former British soldier, turned mercenary, joined SHIELD based on the recommendation of his ex-wife Bobbi. Things were looking pretty good for Hunter up until the moment Bobbi walked into SHIELD’s new base of operations, revealing to Hunter that she has been a part of his new-found team this whole time. This came as a huge surprise for Hunter and his knee-jerk reaction wasn’t the warmest it could have been. As awkward as the situation was Hunter and Bobbi assured Coulson and the rest of the team that working together wouldn’t be an issue – and it wasn’t…not really. Missions were never jeopardized, but the team had to suffer through countless arguments and witness the fallout of their on again/ off again love life. But for better or for worse, Hunter and Bobbi pull through [with their relationship and everything that HYDRA throws at them] proving that they still actually love each other and that they are in it for the long haul.

In fact this dynamic duo is so compelling that the studio [ABC] has ordered a pilot for their very own spin-off series titled Marvel’s Most Wanted. Actors Nick Blood and Adrianne Palicki are no longer full-time members of the Agents of SHIELD cast, but will be reprising their roles as Hunter and Bobbi in their new, anticipated spin-off. Congratulations Nick and Ade! I hope that the network puts together an amazing cast and crew for the both of you to work with, and I hope that the show runs for a TV lifetime.

Last, But Certainly Not Least…

Grant Ward Played By Brett Dalton 8️⃣

Former agent Grant Ward is easily the most villainous antagonist that SHIELD has ever encountered. He was recruited and trained by The Clairvoyant – an enemy of SHIELD who was believed to have psychic abilities, but it was later revealed that he was just a high-level SHIELD agent named John Garrett with a huge chip on his shoulder. John was like a father figure to Ward and used this to manipulate him. Under the leadership of John, Ward took up the creed of HYDRA and later infiltrated SHIELD, going deep undercover as a highly-skilled agent for several years. He eventually got assigned to Phil Coulson’s team and quickly became an incredible asset and trusted friend. But the uprising of HYDRA eventually led to the capture of John Garrett who escaped later with the help of Ward, thus revealing where his true loyalty lies. Many innocent agents died at the hands of Ward which quickly catapulted him to the top of SHIELD’s most wanted list. Coulson, Skye and Fitz took his betrayal the hardest, especially Skye since Ward was her Supervising Officer and potential love interest. After SHIELD fell Ward still had a deep admiration and fondness for Skye, but it was too late. The damage was already done and the situation escalated very quickly, making it impossible for any kind of reconciliation. After more collateral damage, and with nothing left to lose, Ward takes it upon himself to rebuild HYDRA, but is met with hostility from HYDRA’s last remaining leaders: Gideon Malick. The two eventually form an alliance which ultimately leads to an outcome for Ward that both SHIELD and HYDRA could have never predicted.

So…

Are you still here? Go watch Agents of SHIELD already. Seriously…stop surfing the net and get going. There’s three seasons – roughly 22 episodes per – so you better get started. I haven’t given all of the juicy details away. SHIELD has lots for you to discover! 😎

Living In A Marvelous Disney Universe And Loving Every Minute Of It

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🇺🇸 America’s 😍 Favourite 😈 Superheroes

Now you might argue that Justice League America would actually be America’s favourite superhero team. I mean they have the word “America” in their name. That’s patriotism right there. And I must admit that I’m currently getting a kick out of watching Justice League America Unlimited the animated series on Netflix. I had a conversation with wifey just the other night on why Wonder Woman would be interested in dating Batman. I am only a few episodes into the first season, but so far she’s making it blatantly obvious that she wants to date him. And just like the douche that Batman is he keeps stopping her dead in her tracks. He said it best in the fifth episode, and I quote “You’re a princess from a society of immortal warriors. I’m a rich kid with issues.” LMAO. It totally amuses me. He’s basically telling Diana to go bark up Superman’s tree. And maybe she does, which makes way more sense to me, but I’ve gone off on a tangent. Justice League is a fabulous team, but I’m here to show respect to another team. My favourite superhero team lead by non other than Captain America himself. Wait, I mean Iron Man. No, wait…is it Cap? Whoever the bloody leader is I am dedicating this post to Marvel’s Avengers. Or should I say Disney’s Avengers? Ok, Disney’s and Marvel’s Avengers! So there. Great. That should keep both conglomerates happy 😁

To Disney Infinity And Beyond

Fact. I’m just a tiny (tiny) bit obsessed with The Avengers. For my birthday, which happens to be today, my lovely wife Michelle bought me eight Disney Infinity figurines. Six of The Avengers from the 2.0 Edition and two Star Wars from the 3.0 Edition. It was a wonderful surprise. So wonderful in fact I almost made her return all of them because they’re not cheap. And what’s funny is I almost bought myself the Captain America figurine a few nights before my birthday, but I decided against it and opted to buy her the Merida figure from the Infinity 1.0 Edition. She likes the movie Brave, but let’s get back to my Avenger obsession because that’s what you’re dying to hear about.

So now I have these funky new toys to add to my geek collection. This is all well and good, but you should know that my evil plan is to only display them like trophies. This Toy-To-Life video game experience, which is the primary focus for these tiny heroes, actually doesn’t appeal to me all that much. I just love the super well crafted toys. Shout out to the talented art directors and designers at Avalanche Software who did an outstanding job creating these miniature masterpieces. Disney Infinity is a work of art, just like everything that Disney touches, and I am very happy that they have Marvel (and now Star Wars) in their roster. It makes for some interesting gaming mash ups, that’s for sure. Who knew that there would be an experience this crazy where you could play as Marvel, Star Wars and traditional Disney characters, all in one game? You know what? On second thought, maybe I will play this game after all 😃

Avengers Assemble

I finally finished watching Phase 2 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Michelle and I went to the movies and finally saw Ant-Man! I wasn’t sure how it would “measure” up to the previous films from Phase 2, but I was pleasantly surprised. Earlier this summer I saw…no scratch that…I experienced Avengers: Age of Ultron! Twice! In two weeks I’ll be picking up the Blu-ray! Actually let me back things up a bit to truly make you understand. Prior to watching Avengers: Age of Ultron on opening weekend I had an Avengers party at my house! There was no cosplay, well, just an Iron Man mask, but that was it. That and all of the Avengers decorations that you could think of. Lol. I bought this decorative kit that came with Avenger swirly decals to hang from the ceiling, big and small pop-out center pieces for the table, and one inch round Avenger confetti to scatter all over! Are you still paying attention? Because it didn’t stop there! I created a tattoo station and had Avengers tattoos for all of my guests! And finally, if that wasn’t enough, I bought every flavour of Doritos that had an Avenger on the packaging! What did I tell you? Obsessed. With all of that in place the idea was to re-watch the first Avengers movie on the Saturday and continue this ultimate Avenger weekend by going to watch Age of Ultron the very next day. Talk about an amazing weekend! The cinematic adventures that is The Avengers are second to none and it’s all due to this ragtag Marvel team/amazing cast lead by the uber talented director Joss “Once More With Feeling” Whedon! Grr Argh! (For my Whedonites out there 😉)

Marvel Cinematic Universe

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I know what the people at Marvel Studios are drinking, but Jiminy Cricket, whatever is in the water over there is doing the trick. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, silver screen undertaking in Hollywood history. From now until 2019, if you’re a Marvel fan, all of your summers will consist of lining up at the box office, at one point or another, to see what Marvel has in store for Phase 3. And guess what? I’m all in! All of these movies are just damn good. Yes, there have been weaker films. I’m not a big fan of the first Thor and I had to watch Iron Man 2 a few times before it started to grow on me. But over all both Phase 1 and 2 were successes in my book. And the fact that all of these solo projects connect and bleed into one another just adds to the excitement of it all. When the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier crossed over into Marvel’s Agents of Shield TV series, I nearly lost my shit! Not only are these big budget movies connected to one another, but they’re trickling over into the small screen TV shows as well! Tell me, who do I send my MCU love letter to because they are hitting all the right notes for me. Don’t even get me started on the Daredevil Netflix series!

Now who knows how much longer these movies are going to be popular with the mainstream. But ten or twenty years from now we are going to look back at this time and say that this was the heyday of comic book movies. And rightfully so because when you look back to when these kinds of movies originated you can clearly see the progression that has been made. There’s no doubt that Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins/Dark Knight trilogy raised the bar very high, but let’s save the DC movie discussion for another post. Marvel wants the next five years of your life. Maybe ten if there is a Phase 4. Whatever their evil plan is Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has me by the gonads and I’m not even the slightest bit upset over it. If I could give them my movie ticket money for the next five years in advance I would because I know that I won’t be disappointed. Marvel’s track record so far has proven this to me. Are they capable of producing a weak film? Of course. But at most that is what it will be. Just a weaker film. Marvel will never bomb at the box office, but if it so happens that they do, I think I’ll allow it 😏

🎬 Marvel Phase 2 Recap (Spoilers)

Here’s a recap of what happened in all of the movies in Phase 2

📅 Marvel Phase 3 Calendar

Here’s the movie calendar for Phase 3, not including the Spider-Man reboot slated for 2017

MarvelPhase3

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