Star Wars: Return of the Marvel Part II: Vader in the dog house

Marvel’s “Darth Vader” series ran cocurrently with their Star Wars comics, featuring at first, the tale of Vader’s humiliation after Yavin and his attempt to discover the identity of the mysterious boy who destroyed the Death Star and-as related in the Star Wars monthly-possessed his old lightsaber and was trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

 

Kieron Gillien, who was noted for his runs on X-men and Iron Man, became the writer (and now he’s currently writing the latest arc of the Star Wars monthly) while Salvador Larocca-also an X-men vet-was the artist.

 

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Following Vader screwing up both the Death Star *and* Cymoon-1, Palpatine is of course not pleased, and technically demotes Vader, placing him under the authority of General Tagge, the officer in Star Wars who warned Admiral Motti that the rebellion was no laughing matter. Turns out he left the station before it was destroyed (Which makes sense, as he doesn’t appear in that many later scenes along with other members of the DS council-Motti, Bast, and of course, Tarkin).

 

I can’t help but wonder setting up Tagge as a rival for Vader here was a nod to the old Marvel comics, where the Tagge family became a major thorn in Vader’s side. (Although in that continuity, now “Legends” Tagge died along with Tarkin and Motti on the Death Star).

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Vader-somewhat unnerved by this and the Emperor talking with another agent-a man called Cylo with an alien eye and other enhancements-he heads to Tatooine, appearing before Jabba the Hutt much like his son would years later-in part, to request a deal for his resources as had been the intention on Cymoon-1, but also to gain two bounty hunters-Boba Fett and the Wookie Black Krrsantan-to aid him. Fett would try to find the identity of the boy (Luke) while Krrsantan would try to uncover what was up with the Emperor’s agent.

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Vader also takes the time to indulge in his favorite Tatooine past-time. No, not Podracing…

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Vader-not too pleased with servitude under Tagge and seeking to earn his way back into the Emperor’s favor, starts to work to undermine the “Grand general”‘s authority, using a pirate attack to frame Tagge’s agent….

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…As well as meeting some old Clone Wars enemies (although modified)

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Vader, impressed with the souped-up Droidekas, decides to find the woman who had modified and programmed them- Doctor Aphra, a former archaeologist and droid programmer (and now a lady with her own comic, but I’ll get into that a bit later).

 

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….but soon he’ll have to content with his rival for the Emperor’s favor-Cylo IV-and of course, certain personal revelations coming to him via Boba Fett very soon…

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Star Wars Comics history-Return of the Marvel Part One)

*Jumping ahead a bit here from the other Star Wars comics history, but don’t worry, I’ll get back to the many Dark Horse Star Wars comics eventually!*

In 2009, Disney studios bought Marvel.

In 2012, in a surprising move, Lucas sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney, launching new films (Of which we now have III). For over twenty years, Dark Horse comics held the licence to the comics, mixing post-ROTJ fiction with spin-off stories such as Crimson Empire and Rogue Squadron, as well as a great deal of prequel tales, with some of their continuity bleeding over to the films themselves (The blue Twi’lek Jedi, Aayla Secura).

However, by 2014 the licence shifted back to Marvel, along with much of Dark Horse’s canon relegated to non-canon status (or “Legends”) . Marvel’s initial line-up for the series was an ongoing monthly series, a 25 issue Darth Vader series that pretty much tied in with that series (A second Vader monthly was launched recently, but is set at an earlier time after ROTS, although “Doctor Aphra” continues the adventures of characters introduced in DV, although with fewer appearances by the Man in Black) and a rotating series of limited series focusing on a character, starting with Princess Leia.

 

For this article we’ll focus on the first few arcs of the ongoing monthly.

 

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The series was written first by Jason Aaron, well-known at Marvel for his X-men and Thor work. It was drawn by John Cassidy, who had a memorable run on Astonishing X-men with Joss Whedon.

The series begins with the rebels, fresh off the Yavin victory, heading towards Cymoon-1, an Imperial factory world, in order to destroy it. Han-not quite on the Empire’s most wanted list yet-tries to pose as an emissary of Jabba the Hutt, while Luke and Leia try to destroy the facility and also free Imperial prisoners at the same time. Unfortunately, the mission quickly goes south when Vader arrives, and Luke finds himself meeting his father in person for the first time. Except he doesn’t know it yet. Vader however, is kind of puzzled that the boy has his old lightsaber, although he does get a partial answer-that he was trained, in part, by his old friend turned enemy Obi-Wan.

 

 

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Before Vader can interrogate Luke any further, however Han literally crashes the party by commandeering an AT-AT. He also attempts to smoosh Vader with it, but Vader’s got an advantage…..

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Although he doesn’t get stepped on, Han uses the AT-AT’s blasters on him which knock his helmet off-and once Vader recovers, isn’t too happy about that and would rather not his face be shown. Scratch one Stormtrooper witness.

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Eventually, the factory is destroyed and the group escape, although this encounter leaves Luke and Vader with more questions about each other’s identity. Luke takes a leave of absence for the alliance, while Han and Leia go on a scouting mission of their own, but end up getting shot down by TIE fighters. Their unlikely savior? Solo’s “wife” Sana, although this in fact part of a con he had pulled years before.

 

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Meanwhile, looking for more answers, Luke goes back to Tatooine to see if he can glean anything from Obi-Wan’s hut (He does find a journal). However, Vader has also hired Boba Fett to capture him. Although he’s unable to capture the young jedi, he’s able to glean something else from one of Luke’s fellow Tatooine youths. A name: Luke Skywalker.

 

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These events sort of match up with the “Darth Vader” monthly, in which Boba tells Vader the name of the youth (I’ll cover the DV issues a bit later). Vader-shocked by this revelation and that the Emperor sort of lied to him, uses his force powers to crack a Star Destroyer window, and vows to not only make Luke his, but the Empire as well….

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Marvel after “Infinity War” I-Fantastic Fourth Times the charm?

It’s been stated that the upcoming Avengers films-the third and fourth-will be a sort of ‘back to back’ production dealing with the team and their allies (including the Guardians of the Galaxy)-battling the “Mad Titan” Thanos, a character that’s been sprinked through the Marvel films. Thanos’s guest is mainly to assemble the six Infinity gems-each controlling an aspect of the universe with almost limitless power. Once he gets all six, he’s pretty much omnipotent. The movie’s storyline-of course with some changes-is based on the “Infinity Gauntlet” series and it’s sequels, which came out largely in the 90’s (although they still have the occasional sequels today).

 

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It’s been stated by Kevin Fiege that the films are sort of a “finale” but that Marvel has at least twenty films planned after that. Here in these articles, I wonder what’s left for them to cover….starting with Marvel’s “First family”.

 

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Fantastic” Fourth time’s the charm?

Reportedly, Disney is doing another round of negotiations with at least the film division of twentieth century Fox, which has been holding on to the film rights of the Fantastic Four and the X-men for quite some time. Such a deal would-presumably-bring the FF back under the umbrella of Disney and Marvel studios. Fox’s attempts to adapt the team to film have had somewhat of a mixed reaction; the 2005-2007 releases were OK, but the 2015 Josh Trank film was a legendary flop. IMHO, having them integrated into the MCU sounds a lot better than the rumored “Franklin and Valeria” or “Doom” spinoffs FOX is planning to do on it’s own.

Bringing the film back into Marvel could have some more reference for the source material, and it also works because the FF are more ingrained in the going-ons of the Marvel Universe in the comics (Not now of course, as the title has been canceled for a while, but in the past), while the X-men have largely been doing their own thing. Pretty much every FF member for instance, has been an Avenger at one time or another, and even some Avengers have crossed over to the FF.

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Plus why not finally see on screen one of the greatest comic book rivalries of all time?

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Also, many characters and aliens introduced in FF have been integrated into the MCU already. Ronan the Accusser and the Kree race for starters…

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and the Inhumans…

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Plus, y’know, it’d be great to have a decent Doctor Doom for once….

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And especially Galactus.

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Yeah, the general look of Galactus might need some tweaking, but I think Thor Ragnarok in particular managed to capture the “Kirby” look without making it look too silly. And anything’s better than that cloud.

 

 

Speaking of Avengers joining the FF…

 

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She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin, a lawyer who was shot, and then who got a blood transfusion from him, turning her into the She-Hulk. However, unlike her cousin, she mostly retains her personality (although a bit more uninhibited), and the transformation, while making her more muscular, taller, and with often longer hair, doesn’t look as somewhat neanderthalish as the Hulk does on ocassion.

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Her various series have also tended to be more based on comic relief, and her appearances in the other titles have her be more of an active, responsible hero than her unpredictable and often dangerous cousin. (Although this has lately changed in the comics, much to the chagrin of some fans like myself). During a large chunk of the 80’s, she became a member of the Fantastic Four when the Thing decided to self-exile himself on Battleworld…..

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Since then she’s ocassionally stuck around as a reservist, in particuarly when the main FF were off on an outer space adventure for a bit.

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The problem with a solo She-Hulk film may be in She-Hulk’s look herself. While the CG used for Hulk is pretty good, It’s partially because the Hulk isn’t a very realistic character. Lou came close of course….

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but I think it’s generally agreed that the Rufallo Hulk looks more like the actual comic character.

 

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However, the more human appearence of She-Hulk might be a bit more of a CG hurdle. Granted, the films have done well with CG,  managing to shrink Chris Evans for a good deal of the FF movie. Perhaps have the ‘full’ She-Hulk be mainly a tall woman in green makeup.  After all, they have some experience with that already…

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There actually was one previous attempt at a She-Hulk film, with Brigette Nielsen in the role. However, the film was never made, apart from these makeup tests here.

 

Star Wars comics history-Experience it for the first time in 3D!

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Star Wars has had an interesting history with 3D. While the current Disney films are of course 3D (It’s hard to think of big budget blockbusters these days which *don’t* have a 3D option, save maybe the Bond films which have stayed away from the trend), Star Wars has dabbed in it long before Disney.

TOPPS has of course made many card lines using “lenticular” technology-something that’s often used on Blu-Ray/DVD covers (especially the 3D ones, naturally).

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And of course, there’s this-The 2012 re-release of The Phantom Menace, which also featured a lot of heavy marketing-and of course, a heavily mixed reaction. Lucas also intended to 3D the remaining episodes as well, but only II-III seemed to have finished conversions, which were never released wide and screened only at conventions (I think).

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I can’t help but wonder if the lukewarm reaction to the film was one of the reasons George decided to sell the franchise to Disney later that same year.

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But anyway, back to the comics. Blackthorne Publishing, a short-lived comics company known mainly for reprints of classic comic strips and 3D comics for various franchises at the time, did a short Star Wars 3D comic, using the traditional 3D “tech” of the time, with red/blue pages.  This came out during Star Wars’s 10th anniversary, and between the end of the original Marvel series in 1986, and Dark Horse acquiring the license in 1991 (and keeping it for the next 23 years).

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The comics are set between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”, and tell of the Rebels fleeing to Hoth, although the first issue has Luke revisit Tatooine and give the Lars farm to an alien.

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The series ends with Luke confronting Vader on Dantoine (Site of an abandoned rebel base, as mentioned in the original film.) Further issues were planned that would’ve dealt with the Bothan spies (Those guys from ROTJ that either resemble elves, camels, dogs, or horses depending on the artist), but ultimately the series was cancelled.

These comics are pretty much mindless fun, and nothing too special. It’s worth noting however that the writer was none other than the late Len Wein, the same guy who co-created these guys…

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In addition to that, he incorporated Wolverine into the relaunch of the X-men….which also featured the debut of Storm, Collosus, and Nightcrawler, as well as the ill-fated Thunderbird (Two other members, Banshee and Sunfire, had appeared earlier in the series). Although the first writer on the series, Chris Claremont pretty much took control of the series after this, although he heavily credits Len for giving him a starting point.

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Although these are far from Len’s only contributions to comics, as he wrote for years on various titles for DC, Marvel, and other companies, as well as for various animated TV shows (Including the animated X-men).

 

 

 

 

Metal Gear similarities: X-men Part II: The Best they are at what they do

*Spoilers* for Logan and the Metal Gear games follow.

X-man. Avenger. Ronin. Hero. But also, the result of a government testing program to weaponize mutants-“Weapon X”, which left him with years of traumatic and confused memories. James “Logan” Howlett, The Wolverine. “The Best he is at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice”.

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Solid Snake. Fox-Hounder. Hero. Loner. Soldier. “The Man who makes the impossible possible”.

 

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So what’s the similarities between the two? Well, there’s of course the gruff nature, the permanent scruffiness, the adeptness at hand-to-hand combat (although Wolverine has a slight advantage there with the claws and all) and the fondness for tobacco products. Although like Big Boss (Heck, it’s pretty much the last thing he ever does!), Wolverine smokes cigars, while Solid Snake’s more of a cigarette guy. Although Metal Gear of course comes with it’s own warnings on the risks 🙂

 

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(and yes, Wolverine did have a short-lived era where he wore an eyepatch as a cover)

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But apart from the many surface similarities there’s a few other things which make the characters kind of similar.

Both have somewhat plain introductions into pop culture. Wolverine debuted in “Incredible Hulk” as a guest character, with the intent that the claws were in fact just part of his gloves. He also had a much smaller face mask (which eventually was traded for the larger ‘ears’ when he made his X-men debut, although-apart from the “brown” costume in the 80’s, he’s largely stuck with the “yellow spandex” ever since)

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We don’t even see the character’s face (and of course the unusual hair) until a few issues into him joining the X-men.

Solid Snake, likewise, is a bit of a cipher (heh) in the first Metal Gear-he’s given fairly little dialogue, and not a lot of his nature is revealed.

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Although the cigarettes are pretty much there from day one. Their in-game purpose being to slow time down (or accelerate it, as seen in Metal Gear solid V), calm snake’s nerves, or the smoke being used to detect infrared sensors (They also drain health, an extra deterrent in addition to the Surgeon General warning).

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Their actual-and unusual origins were both revealed after their debut. Part of Wolverine’s story was told in the “Marvel comics Presents” arc “Weapon X”, while going further back, his full origin-and his real name, James Howlett-were revealed in 2003’s “Origin” miniseries.

 

Both are “born” in a lab, the result of experiments. With Wolverine, adamantium is bonded to his skeleton, making his bones and claws unbreakable-a process only made possible by his other major power, his healing factor.

 

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Solid Snake was created as a clone of Big Boss by Major Zero, an attempt to extend Big Boss’s legacy should he ever leave the Patriot’s organization (Which, ironically, he did upon hearing of this). Two others-Eli (Liquid Snake) and George (Solidus Snake) were also created.

Although the project was pretty much abandoned and the Snakes given to handlers, eventually they all became soldiers in their own right, and face their “father” Big Boss.

It’s worth also noting that the fates of the movie version of Logan and Solid Snake have a few similarities as well. In “Logan” Wolverine’s healing factor is starting to fail, with the adamantium in his bones starting to poison him.

 

 

Likewise, Solid Snake’s nature as a clone in Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots has caused him to rapidly age (and the Foxdie viruses in his bloodstream don’t help either).

 

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Both are old and worn out, but go on one last mission. Ironically, they kind of end in a very similar fashion.

Logan dies next to his clone daughter at the end of LOGAN.

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….Big Boss, likewise, dies next to his clone “Son” in Metal Gear Solid IV.

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There’s one final connection that’s worth noting. The man who wrote the first X-MEN movie? David Hayter.

The same David Hayter who provided the renowned English voice of Solid Snake and Big Boss (Up until Metal Gear Solid V, where he was replaced by Kiefer Sutherland) and made a cameo as himself in Metal Gear Solid IV’s strange talk show segment.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe-Iron Man: Who should take up the armor?

It’s been speculated that perhaps the coming Avengers films might feature the end of Robert Downey’s run as Iron Man. Iron Man-alongside it’s Summer 2008 companion of course, started the whole shared universe known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which featured a series of films featuring heroes with shared continuity and characters, and boosted the company’s profile considerably, bringing it eventually into Disney’s orbit two years later. It also revitalized Downey’s career.

 

It also spawned of course, two sequels (although they weren’t quite as acclaimed as the first) and of course Iron Man would also appear in The Incredible Hulk, The first two Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War, and of course the recent Spider-Man Homecoming film.

However, at one point, perhaps he’ll leave the role-Downey of course has brought this up a few times during the recent PR for Spider-Man, and the guy mainly in charge of the MCU, Kevin Feige, was quoted as:

“I do think Iron Man, like Spider-Man, like Batman, like Superman, like James Bond has existed long before most of us were around and will exist long after most of us are gone,So it’s inevitable.”

While this is not confirmation of anything, there does seem to be the possibility that eventually Iron man-or at least Tony Stark-will step down from the MCU, although the movies will still go on with their current continuity. It’s possible Iron Man might even be killed off in the Infinity War films. An Iron Man 4 doesn’t seem to be quite on Marvel’s schedule for the near future, either, as they’re quite busy right now with not only IW, but also Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, Ant-Man II, and Captain Marvel. Not to mention their rapidly growing TV stuff (SHIELD, their Netflix stuff etc.), which shares the same universe. Plus sequels to Homecoming are in development as well.

However, if Downey Jr. leaves the role in some capacity, could we see a new Iron Man? Here’s some possibilities….

First, the most obvious. James Rhodes, Iron Man’s friend. When Tony’s personal problems with alcohol and his company going down had him unable to perform the role of Iron Man, Rhodes took on the role for a year or two, including fighting in the original Secret Wars, before Tony recovered and took back his company. Rhodes still worked alongside his friend, sometimes in armor, sometimes not.

When Tony was briefly presumed dead, Rhodes once again took up the armor, this time a heavily-armed variant. When Tony returned once again, Rhodes continued as the “War machine”. A similar development of course happened in the movies, although WM has never quite been Iron Man proper-although he’s been both WM and the Iron Patriot (Comics rhodey was also briefly the Iron Patriot, redeeming the title from original holder Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn) as well as briefly being Iron Man again.

 

 

So I suppose it’s possible that should Tony step down for good, Rhodes-played by Don Cheadle in the films (apart from I, where he was played by Terrence Howard)-could lead. Only a few problems-Cheadle is as old as Downey Jr, and it’s conceivable he might be stepping down too. Also, I seriously doubt we’d see Terrence Howard return to the role either. Plus there’s also the character getting very badly injured in Civil War.

 

So maybe not.

Here’s another possibility-Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts. The character briefly donned the armor in Iron Man III (As well as getting some Extremis powers for a brief time).

Even a Vogue photoshoot also toyed with the idea a bit….

…And it’s happened in the comics. Pepper became “Rescue” although she hasn’t used the suit quite as much in recent years.

So that’s a possibility, especially with female superheroes now being more in vogue (With Wonder Woman, the upcoming Captain Marvel, Silver & Black etc.)

One recent development in the comics has been the revelation that Tony Stark is not, in fact, the biological son of Howard and Maria Stark, but another man is-“Arno Stark”. Tony was actually adopted all along; and their real son who had health problems, got genetic enhancements, and eventually met his adopted brother. However, I can’t quite see Marvel Studios going down this route, except maybe as a villain, as Arno, in at least one possible future, becomes the villainous Iron Man 2020.

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The current Iron Man (Since Tony is currently in a coma) in the comics is also known as “Ironheart”, a teen genius called Riri Williams. Interestingly, she’s based on Disney Channel actress Skai Johnson, whose already done some Marvel voice work in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

 

Hey, it could happen. For the “Ultimate universe” series, Nick Fury was re-imagined as  looking exactly like Samuel L. Jackson.

Come 2008, well….

Here’s a couple other alternatives….in the comics, when Iron Man became a villain in “The Crossing”, uh, crossover, the Avengers briefly brought in a younger, teen Tony from an alternate universe to fight his older self (In a similar fashion, many of the current “original 5” X-men also have teen counterparts due to some time travel shenanigans, although the older Cyclops and Jean Grey are still dead).

The “Teen tony” concept was also used in the animated series Iron Man: Armored Adventures

And even in Civil War we got a partially CGed Downey in a digital ‘flashback’ hologram.

 

However, the use of CG doubles-no matter how like-life-for actors and actresses (especially deceased ones) is still a controversial practice.

Another current Iron Man in the comics is yep, this guy.

 

After the “Secret Wars” crossover, Victor Von Doom was healed of his scars, and became a supporting character in the “Iron Man” comics, where his sorcery skills came in handy.

Lately though, with Tony Stark in a coma following the events of Civil War II, Doom became the other Iron hero, dubbed by Marvel as the “Infamous” Iron Man. He’s trying to become a hero, but it’s kind of hard giving that he was pretty much villain no.1 at Marvel for a long time. He’s got no Fantastic Four as a foil though (Although current members the Thing and Human Torch are still on Earth although on different teams, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman are on a cosmic journey following Secret Wars).

 

However, having Doom as a new Iron Man in movies is a big obstacle. First off, Marvel Studios does not currently have the right to the Fantastic Four (including Doom). Even then, the character’s backstory/motivation might take a few movies to get over….and if one thing’s certain, Doctor Doom is really hard to adapt to the big screen.

 

   

While the first two Dooms are reasonably accuarate comic-wise in the costumes, neither really has the proper personality of the comics Doom. And the third…well…..let’s not talk about that.

Anyway, all this is speculation, as we don’t have any definitive answers to how Iron Man will go out.

 

 

 

 

 

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.