Metal Gear/X-men similarities Part one: I’m Nuclear

X-men: A team of mutants-people born with superpowers (although sometimes they don’t emerge until adolescence) who are possibly the next step in evolution for humanity. The team has gone through many incarnations throughout the years; from the original five students, to the more international “All-New, All-Different” team, to expanding in the 80’s and 90’s with various spin-off teams etc.

 

Like pretty much every other 60’s Marvel character, with a few exceptions (Iron Man, for one) the X-men’s initial explanation for their origin was radiation; a fear prevalent during the cold war; that the nuclear tests had altered human DNA, and that was passed off to offspring, giving them these powers.

Likewise, the origins of Metal Gear-as indicated in Metal Gear Solid III-are also rooted in the cold war, although MGSIII came out much, much later than X-men.

After the end of World War II, the world was split into two — East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.

 

And it’s also rooted in nukes. It’s revealed that Snake is sterile, the result of him being involved in the nuclear tests at Bikini Atol (Although in a roundabout way, he’s still able to have children-sort of-the Les Infant Terribles project). Volgin also fires a small nuclear missile-the Davy Crockett-fairly near Snake as well-and Metal Gear of course is a nuclear weapon itself.

 

 

Interestingly, both Metal Gear Solid 3 and the X-men movie, First Class provide alternate explanations for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

In Metal Gear Solid 3, it’s established that instead of the US dismantling their Turkey-based ICBMs, it was in fact the return of a defected rocket scientist, Sokolov, to the USSR. Sokolov would of course develop the Shagohod for Volgin, and this would lead to much of MGS3’s conflict.

In X-men: First class, it’s revealed that the crisis is in fact due to the machinations of the mutant Hellfire Club, who want to ignite the Cuban missile crisis to lead to nuclear war which would make fertile ground for new mutants, as well as leave them in charge.

 

The work of a secret group behind the scenes of world events in a way, does kind of have some similarities with Metal Gear’s concepts of the Patriots/Cipher, who are initially composed of the vets of Operation Snake Eater.

 

 

It should be noted that both MGS3 and First Class are also heavily rooted in the ‘style’ of the 60’s Bond films-X-men’s first class ending credits, for example, is pretty much heavily inspired by Dr.No’s opening.

 

Metal Gear Solid 3 is also heavily inspired by Bond, although in this case it’s more in the style of the later Connery films.

 

Next-They’re both the best they are at what they do….plus they smoke a lot.

 

Star Wars-The Comics history part One

Star Wars is of course a phenomenon that has captivated audiences for nearly forty years, with not only the seven core ‘episode’ films (and the upcoming spin-off series right around the corner with this December’s Rogue One) but also an almost never-ending series of novels, TV animation,comics, video games and toys, to mention but a small fraction of Lucasfilm’s multimedia “Empire”.

This series of posts will focus on one aspect of that-the comics.

I’ve always felt that the comics, more so than the novels, have somewhat captured the feeling of Star Wars better than almost any other non-film medium. Star Wars of course has pulp roots, in addition to it’s many other influences. Also, the films are very visual l as well, and comics are of course, dependent heavily on visuals to tell their story.

Marvel was the first (and now once again current) company to publish the comics, which initially began as a 6-issue adaptation of the first film. Despite the somewhat off-model Darth Vader on the cover, the comics were a huge success, and after the adaptation was finished, they started telling original stories. However, in order to avoid conflict with the eventual sequel, they largely stayed away from the battles between the Rebels and the Empire, until the “Wheel” storyline, which oddly predicted the title of the second film.

The comic of course had several new characters introduced. Among them, the House of Tagge, relatives of the Death Star council member who operated a large commerce company-particuarly their leader Orman, who wore a cape and was blind, in addition to being a rival of Darth Vader and occasionally using a lightsaber.

As well as Valance, a bounty hunter who was also a cyborg, and had a serious hate for droids. He’s eventually killed off by Vader, who of course was a cyborg himself.

Perhaps most infamously, there was Jaxxon, an alien green rabbit who made his debut in a story modeled after the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven (apt, given Lucas’s love for Kurosawa films).It’s stated that George Lucas personally requested that he never be used again. Of course, Lucas would introduce a character some would describe as a “cartoon rabbit” years later-Jar Jar Binks.

The initial series of comics were written by Archie Goodwin, who would also later work on a Star Wars newspaper strip alongside artist Al Williamson. Williamson would also illustrate the Empire Strikes Back adaptation, which would also be part of the monthly series.

Incredible Hulk-Transformations part 2

This article will go into some of the lesser known versions of Bruce’s alter egos.

 

During a trip back from outer space, the Hulk suddenly gained Bruce Banner’s mind, and the ability to transform at will without getting angry. Although this had happened a few times in the past, this change lasted longer. This allowed the Hulk to become more accepted, and use his powers for superheroics rather than property damage. It also allowed him more time to hone his scientific endeavors, which had unfortunately been cut short in the past by his frequent Hulk-outs.

 

However, a series of failures, the stress of the “Secret Wars” crossover, and his mind being manipulated by the creature Nightmare had the Hulk truely fall from grace-and become a fully mute, totally raging beast, unable to turn back into Bruce Banner at all.

It took pretty much all of Marvel’s heroes to take him down. He was eventually exiled to other dimensions by Doctor Strange,  and eventually settled back into his savage state.

However, a similar version emerged when Bruce and the Hulk were seperated physically, and this one took on the Avengers.

Several times in the Hulk comics-from the 60s to now, the Hulk has appeared to be physically the green, savage Hulk, but his vocabulary and attitude is closer to the Grey Hulk (but without the temperament to be a Vegas bouncer). Some fans have dubbed this incarnation the “Grayvage” Hulk.

 

 

When the Hulk was exiled to another planet, and became a gladiator and later king, he had a similar persona to this. This incarnation, with more of a use for armor than weapons than fists, is largely known as the “Green scar”.

In the “Original sin” crossover, the Hulk’s mind was altered, making him once more intelligent, although intelligent in a separate persona from Bruce Banner. This new incarnation-which kept Banner suppressed for the most part-was bent on mainly using his strength and intelligence to de-power other beings affected by gamma radiation, although he soon realized the error of his ways. This Hulk largely vanished after the recent “Secret Wars”, as the Hulk was depowered once again and more recently shot dead while as Banner in the “Civil War II” comics events.

 

 

The Incredible Hulk-Transformations Part I

The Incredible Hulk, or mainly just the Hulk, is considered one of Marvel’s most popular and enduring characters-spawning a well-known 70s-80’s TV series, as well as two films and having a major supporting role in Marvel’s cinematic universe Avengers films.  Basically, in all his media, he’s a brilliant scientist working with gamma radiation, who gets caught in his experiments and, during times of stress, changes into a large, green brute with super strength.However, he’s generally known mainly for his “savage” incarnation-big, green, with a mop of wild hair, and childlike intellect. Most adaptations have reflected this, although they’ve never been as talkative as the comic counterpart.

However, the Hulk didn’t start out green and dumb, but gradually became that way as his creators-Stan Lee and Jack Kirby-worked on developing the character.

The Hulk however, started out grey in his first issue, and had a generally smaller, more grotesque, almost “Frankenstein” style look to him. He also seemed somewhat intelligent, but with a brutish mean streak. Instead of the transformations being related to stress or anger, they were nocturnal, like a werewolf. Even though starting with issue #2 his color turned green, the basic physical and mental look of this Hulk would last into the mid 60s before transition to the more savage look.

 

 

However, this Hulk would be revived in the late 80s, when a series of experiments intended to cure Bruce Banner go awry, reverting him to this initial state. This gray Hulk-after being presumed dead-briefly took a job as a Las Vegas casino bouncer and enforcer, Mr. Fixit (here with one of Wolverine’s semi alter-ego “Patch”) when the Banner persona was briefly supressed. He was also physically weaker than the savage incarnation.

 

 

It was later established that this Hulk inhabits a seperate place in Banner’s mind, and at one point, he could transform into both incarnations, which unfortunately led to a battle for dominance.

 

 

Eventually, Banner’s psychiatrist was able to merge the three personas into one-The “Merged” Hulk, aka the professor, who possessed the green hue, fighting prowess and strength of the savage hulk, the attitude of the grey hulk, but the general morality and intelligence of Bruce Banner. He largely stayed in this Hulk incarnation most of the time,  which definetly saved his clothes from constantly being ripped out of shape…

Although given his heroics, that happened anyway…

 

This Hulk was the main incarnation for much of the early-to-mid 90s.

The next blog post in this category will explore some of the lesser-known incarnations (although still popular in their own way)-The Green scar, the “Grayvage” Hulk, the mindless Hulk, and the recent “Doc Green”.

 

Review: The Avengers (Directed by Joss Whedon, starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth)

The Avengers

The Avengers teams up the various superheroes from Marvel Studio’s movie projects into one incredibly fun film (The films themselves built to this crossover in their subplots). Recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and featuring Captain America (Chris Evans) Thor (Chris Helmsworth) Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) as well as the Incredible Hulk (Third time’s casting the charm for him, played by Mark Ruffalo in his Bruce Banner form) Black Widow (Scarlet Johannsen) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). The various heroes must tame their egos and band together to stop Thor’s mad brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from conquering earth. Supporting characters Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) also appear. The movie’s fun, action-packed and colorful, with an excellent script and direction by Joss Whedon. Be sure to watch the credits and after the credits as well.

Marvel and DC’s new films

I thought I’d take some time to list Marvel and DC’s upcoming film projects, as well as my thoughts on them.

Here’s a run-through of what’s coming:

May 2011

THOR (Marvel) Based on the comic about a Norse god who is banished to Earth but who must reclaim his powers. Chris Helmsworth (Kirk’s father in STAR TREK) and Natalie Portman star, along with Anthony Hopkins. I’ve never really been a Thor fan in the past but this movie does look pretty good from the teasers (Including the one at the end of Iron Man 2) and it’s got Kenneth Branagh directing as well. I predict it will do pretty well until Pirates of the Carribean IV comes out two weeks later.
July 2011
GREEN LANTERN (DC) Based on DC’s space-cop series about a test pilot who gets an alien ring that can create objects out of green energy but has one weakness-Yellow. Ryan Reynolds stars in this, a film directed by Martin Campbell (Known mainly for Bond reboots Goldeneye and Casino Royale). DC needs a hit-although the Nolan Batmans have been sucessful, they’ve failed to really get any other of their big heroes going on the big screen. This might be the one, but we’ll see.

 

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (Marvel) The latest in the X-men series seems to be unclear at this junction whether it’s a reboot of the existing continuity or in the same ‘universe’ as the previous films. James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon star, and the plot probably involves the formation of the X-men and features Magneto and the elite mutants known as the Hellfire club.

CAPTAIN AMERICA (Marvel) Features Chris Evans as the patriotic superhero (Evans had previously played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies) and Hugo Weaving as nemesis the Red Skull. Rumored to more of a period piece as Captain America takes on a group of bad guys-Hydra-during World War II. Directed by Joe Johnston, who did a similar project in the 90s with THE ROCKETEER.

 

COWBOYS AND ALIENS (?) Features Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. That’s really all I know 🙂

 

2012

Unknown

Wolverine II-Directed by Darren Akrosky, this continues the origin of the Wolverine character, this time taking place in Japan.

March
Ghost Rider II-Nicholas Cage as the demonic superhero, but rumored to not be too strong on the budget this time.

 

May

The Avengers. Teaming up Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, the Hulk and Nick Fury as well as some newcomers. Directed by Joss Whedon, this should be real good.

 

July
Spider-Man-the reboot of Marvel’s flagship hero features Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker, Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Director is David Webb.  A little strange since Spider-Man 3 although a critical flop was a commercial sucess, but oh well.

 

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. This, along with AVENGERS is probably the comics project with the most hype….here Nolan returns to helm his third Batman movie, and presumabely this will deal with Batman’s redemption after taking the fall for Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the Dark Knight. The villain hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it won’t be the Riddler or Joker, probably. Tom Hardy (Star Trek:Nemesis and Inception) has been cast alongside regulars Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman.

 

DECEMBER
Superman:The Man of Steel-still in development, this film will be directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and a Superman is yet to be chosen, although rumor has it that it will probably be an older actor. This will be a reboot apparentally and more action heavy than SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too many Hulks?

I thought I’d write up first about the Hulk, my favorite of the Marvel superheroes. However, as you might have heard, there’s been some interesting shake ups not only to the status quo of both the comic book but also the film incarnations of the Hulk.

A little backstory-the Hulk was created in 1962 by Stan Lee (Who pretty much co-created all of the Marvel icons, with the exception of Wolverine-who, oddly enough-started out as a Hulk supporting character in an issue now worth a lot these days). Sort of a mix between Frankenstein (The general ‘look’ of the Hulk), Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde (One man a rational scientist, the other a destructive monster) and Godzilla (Indestructible creature spawned by radiation). Victim of a test gone horribly wrong, Basically when he gets angry or stressed, scientist Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, an often destructive monster. the Hulk has been through several incarnations, although the most familiar to people is no doubt the Savage Hulk, who dominated the comic through most of the Seventies and is the Hulk most commonly potrayed in media spin-offs. Of course, the Hulk also spawned a memorable TV show (Which had little to actually do with the comics apart from the Hulk himself) and a few ‘toons and movies of varying quality.

It’s the movies I’ll discuss first. Both Hulk movies sort of suffered by trying to appeal to both fans of the comics and those who liked the TV show-just count the references to Bill Bixby, “David” Banner and of course the legendary “Don’t make me angry” line. This has also affected the comics at points, which often had Banner on the run going from town to town. But perhaps they’ve also suffered from the constant changes of the lead actor himself. While the Hulk is of course a computer generated creation, Bruce Banner is not, and now we’ve had three different Banners in as many films (The third, The Avengers, comes out in 2012 and will link all the Marvel studios films together-no X-men, Spider-Man, or Fantastic Four though because the rights are a bit messed up)-Eric Bana was the first, Edward Norton the second, and now Ruffalo the third. While I’m generally in support of recasting when needed-heck, Doctor Who does it all the time-this is a bit ridicolous at times :). Same thing has happened with the punisher, there’s been three films and three Punishers, and now I hear there’s going to be a fourth film with-you guessed it-a fourth punisher actor.

But enough about the actors playing Banner, what about the comics? Hulk has lately become a product of overdoing things in comics. We’ve seen it somewhat with DC’s Green Lantern as well, which now has Red, Blue, yellow, black and white lanterns. Bruce used to be the only Hulk-sure, there were other gamma spawned creatures but they were different (The Leader, for instance, had brains instead of Brawn, and the Abomination was ugly and deformed compared to Hulk). Starting in the 80s we had the female Hulk, She-Hulk (Bruce’s cousin who got Hulk powers from a blood transfusion, but she actually has all her intellect intact) but honestly that’s not that different from many other Superheroes who have female counterparts (Even the most ‘manly’ hero, Wolverine, has  two female versions-Lady Deathstryke who you might remember from X-men II and X-23, a recent addition to the Marvel comics).

But now, as has been revealed in the recent Hulk crossovers, Fall of the Hulks, and World War Hulks, there are now a ton of Hulks. And to add to that, they’re pretty much all related in some fashion to Bruce. I kid you not. (warning: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t been reading the last few months of Hulk comics) There’s the Red Hulks-Hulk’s father-in-law(Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross) and wife (Betty Ross Banner) son from another marriage (Skaar) daughter from an alternate future (Lyra)….even his best buddy, Rick Jones (Who was in part responsible for the Hulk’s creation) is now a super-powered, ‘good’ version of the Abomination (Rick was also once a Hulk for a brief time in the 80s).

Plus the comic will now be renamed “Incredible Hulks”.

So should the franchise dial it back a bit, perhaps returning the character back to basics for the upcoming 50th anniversary in 2012?