Azn Badger's Blog

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Thoughts On The Thor Trailer

Let it be known, the Azn Badger is in no way an authority on Thor.

Like most kids, I dabbled in Norse mythology in my youth; however when it comes to the Marvel version of the Nordic god of thunder, I’m really kind of a newb.

Truth be told, I’ve never read a Thor comic in my life, largely because I could never find an appropriate jumping on point in the character’s expansive continuity.

That being said, while I don’t know Thor all that well, I do consider myself a fairly knowledgeable movie buff; and it’s from that perspective that I’ve decided to throw together this article regarding my impression of the new Thor movie based on it’s recent trailer.

When I first heard that Thor was going to be directed by the great channeler of Billie Shakes himself, Kenneth Branagh; I found myself struck with a crystal clear vision of what to expect:

Shakespeare-ian melodrama, obscenely lavish and over-the-top costume and set designs, and a cameo by the director himself; most likely shirtless and covered in physique enhancing oil.

"I shall now remove my shirt.... For SCIENCE."

Basically, I expected Branagh’s Frankenstein, but with Norse gods and (sadly) no Bobbie D.

Upon viewing the trailer, I can’t help but feel that most of what I expected, good and bad; has come to fruition.

I’m a little disappointed in the fact that, based on the trailer anyway; many of the principle Asgardian (heh heh, “Ass-Guard”) characters are shown without their helmets and garb, most likely due to a creative decision along the lines of:

“The audience can’t connect with the characters if their faces are covered by their helmets!”

On that note, costume designs seem appropriately lavish and extravagant, and the sets seem impressively vast as seems to be the norm for any Kenneth Branagh film, however I feel it must be mentioned that the sets that appear to represent Niffelheim (the Norse realm of ice) seem a little anemic compared to the Asgardian ones.

While I’m on the topic of Niffelheim, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that I’m excited to see how the Norse frost giants are depicted in this movie.

In glancing at the imdb for Thor, I happened to notice that Ymir is listed in the cast; which in my mind means we’ll be treated to a bit of a throwdown between him and Thor at some point in the film.

Call me crazy, but the idea of a big fuckin’ Scandinavian dude winging away with a mallet against a mountain-sized man of ice just seems like good watching in my book.

Here’s hoping Mr. Branagh doesn’t fuck it up by having the 2 of them give a soliloquy before initiating a “gentleman’s duel.”

...Or fuck it up by having Ymir look any less cool than THIS.

Sorry, I’m not much for Shakespeare…

Getting back to the movie, I don’t know if maybe the intention was that the Niffelheim sequence in the film was meant to be intentionally “stagy” or theatrical, but at this point the set just looks kind of cheap.

Like, Jerry Bruckheimer King Arthur cheap.

Pictured: A still from the climactic battle sequence of King Arthur.

Moving on, from what I can tell, the cast for the film seems fairly solid.

Casting Sir Anthony Hopkins (that’s right, I call him “sir.”  The question is: Why the fuck don’t you?) as Odin was pretty much a no-brainer.

The man has a voice, and gruff old man presence about him that makes him perfect for pretty much any elder god in all of mythology.

Curiously enough, both the actors for Loki and Thor are strangely unknown to me.

Tom Hiddleston, at least physically anyway, seems to fill Loki’s shoes rather well.

When I picture Loki, I picture a frail, weasely motherfucker that does pretty much all of his fighting with his words and his voice.

That is to say, while Hiddleston seems to look the part at this point; the effectiveness of his performance will likely be determined by the strength of the script… which will most likely suck ass.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor, seems to be a bit of a gamble; but a fairly well justified one.

Remember when Daredevil came out, and people were up in arms about Michael Clarke Duncan being cast as the Kingpin?

People were upset that a black man was cast for a white character, however they did so without taking into account the fact that the Kingpin, in the comics anyway; was supposed to be built like a brick-shit house.

Can you name any legitimately talented actors, black or white; with a physique that could meet that description as well as Michael Clarke Duncan?

BRICK. SHIT. HOUSE.

Didn’t think so.

My point is, while Chris Hemsworth is pretty much an unknown in Hollywood; I honestly don’t know of many actors that can pull off the whole “musclebound viking look.”

I said "actors." Yes, he probably would fill the role just fine though.

And don’t say “what about Brad Pitt?” because I honestly don’t think he’d be a good choice given that he’d probably put too much swagger into his Thor.

Stupid Brad Pitt, bein’ all sexy n’shit…

The last thing I’d like to say about the cast of Thor, is that I don’t know anything about the nature of her character in the comics or in the film, but the way they showed her in the trailer, Natalie Portman seems like she’s just there.

Nonetheless, that tends to count for a lot when you look like this.

Seriously, I don’t know if the marketing guys over at Marvel are to blame, but the way she’s treated in the trailer suggests that this may very well be a case of “Tree #3 as played by Natalie Portman.”

Maybe it’s just the fact that she’s the only one in the cast that doesn’t have a flashy and heavily ornamented suit of Scandinavian power armor, or the fact that her schedule was very likely crowded with, y’know; good movies she had to act in, but seriously; if it wasn’t Natalie Portman, I don’t think any of us would’ve even noticed her character in the trailer.

In closing, Thor looks to be pretty much what I expected.

I don’t expect an epic, fast-paced, or even all that entertaining an experience out of it, but it’s a Marvel movie, it has superheroes hitting each other, and yes; that is enough to make me go see it.

I want to see the Destroyer armor blow up cars.

I want to see how many creative ways a big hammer can be used to kill frost giants.

I want to see if Tadanobu Asano AKA the Brad Pitt/Johnny Depp of Japan, can make a name for himself in American films.

But most of all, I want to hurry up and skip this pile of ass so we can get to the good shit like Captain America and The Avengers.

Fanboy as I am, it’s more than likely that all of the above will end up sucking balls though.

Though Thor is the only one that can boast the possibility of a random shirtless Kenneth Branagh.

"I must do this scene, SHIRTLESS! The integrity of the film demands it!"

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Marvel’s Siege Review

I’m really fuckin’ tired tonight, so I’ll make this quick.

Oh wait, this is an event comic we’re talking about, so there’s no possible way I can say anything about it without first explaining a half dozen or so events leading up to it.

Man, I hate event comics

Anyway, Marvel’s most recent mega event comic, Siege, made it’s collected edition debut a weeks ago, and, fashionably late as I tend to be these days; I just got my hands on it a few days ago.

The basic premise of Siege, was to serve as that of a bookend to the era in the Marvel Universe known as Dark Reign, thereby kicking off the current era, The Heroic Age.

A tonal shift if I've ever seen one...

For those that are unaware, Dark Reign began after the attempted alien Skrull invasion of Earth during Secret Invasion, which ultimately resulted in the Norman Osborn AKA The Green Goblin, coming to prominence in the Marvel Universe as a legitimate public and governmental figure.

Hah, and I just happened to find a pic where George Bush was doing the Spider-Man hands!

Don’t ask.

Anyway, Dark Reign was an era that blanketed the entire Marvel Universe with, well, darkness.

Evil reigned supreme in Marvel from late 2008 to the beginning of 2010, when Siege was finally released.

The basic premise of Siege involves Norman Osborn and his Cabal (a secret collective of unified villains including the likes of Doctor Doom, The Hood, and Loki) attempting to “siege” Asgard, Thor and the other Norse God’s homeworld, which just happens to be floating 10 feet above Oklahoma.

Let it be known: Thor makes everything better.

Again, don’t ask.

While most of his Cabal scoff at Osborn’s ambition, and end up abandoning him, he nonetheless enacts his siege with the entirety of his resources, including the Dark Avengers, (evil replacements wearing the costumes and bearing the titles of established superheroes) several of The Hood’s otherworldly henchmen, all of The Initiative, and of course, the great golden retard himself, The Sentry.

Behold, the Meta Knight/Magneto/Chun-Li of the Marvel Universe... Broken-ass piece of fuck...

While Thor and the other Asgardians put up a decent fight, The Sentry proves to be too powerful to be harmed by anything they can throw at him.

Osborn’s victory seems to be in the bag until a few issues in, when Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, Bucky Barnes AKA Captain America with a Gun, Nick Fury, The Secret Warriors, The Young Avengers, and members of most of the other Avengers variants, decide to finally come out of hiding and assemble some bitches till they die from it.

Said panel of Assemblage.

Oh yeah, and then Iron Man shows up after finally waking up from his period of braindead-ery.

By "braindead-ery" of course I mean, "shrooming."

Go ahead and ask, don’t expect any answers from me.

Essentially, Siege is meant to serve as a massive culmination for all the conflicts brewing over the past year or so, as most of the battles that take place during the siege of Asgard have been long overdue.

By stories’ end, Osborn and his forces are defeated and/or repelled, however one final obstacle stands before our heroes…

A certain golden, retarded obstacles that’s just been given orders to kill…

At that point, The Sentry makes his long hinted at, and all too obvious transformation into his alternative EVIL persona, The Void, thereby resulting in a climax scenario that mirrors that of just about every major anime film since Nausicaa.

Pictured: The climax of Siege.

The world world crumbles, major characters die violent deaths… Oh whatever, I’ll just let Bill Murray handle this for me, he’s so much better at it:

CLICK HERE ‘CAUSE YOUTUBE FAILS AT EMBEDDING
*Sigh* Now that we’ve got all that goddamn explanation out of the way, let’s get down to how I felt about Siege.

I liked Siege.

It was straightforward, tautly paced, and reasonably approachable for the most part.

The whole thing is only 4 issues long, with an additional 2 included for the purpose of providing expositional padding for the collected edition.

Unlike say, DC’s Blackest Night (we’ll cover that some other time), which was 8 issues long, Siege had the advantage of being a streamlined, and simple event meant to appeal on the basest of levels.

Pictured: A similar ploy to appeal to said levels.

Probably my favorite part about Siege, was the fact that it really is just an “event.”

The whole story takes place over the course of a handful of hours, resulting in a scenario that feels focused and immediate to the point in which there isn’t really any room for plot holes to emerge.

On the downside, the relatively low page count also means that most of the individual battles you’ve been waiting all this time to see, the Venom vs. Spider-Man, the Wolverine vs. Daken, Iron Man vs. The Iron Patriot, end up being shown in the background of panels, but rarely ever explored in any sort of detail.

Sadly, this is actually kind of accurate...

That being said, Siege is an event that, like most event comics, seems to require the reader to take a look at some of the spin-offs and crossovers to get the whole picture, at least for the characters they care about.

Personally, I see myself checking out Siege: Battlefield and definitely Siege: Thunderbolts at some point, however I’ve heard Siege: Embedded is bad news.

Pictured: A woman receiving several copies of Siege: Embedded from an elephant.

While I haven’t personally read Brian Michael Bendis before, (remember, I’m not an Avengers guy) I can honestly say that after reading Siege, I’m thinking about taking a look at some of his other stuff.

While the plot progression was manic at times, due to the low page count, Bendis’ strength, in my opinion; is his ability to give a real sense of personality and voice to each individual character.

At the end of every issue of Siege, there are a few pages of text-only dialogues between some of the major players in the story regarding the events of, uh, the event.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I found these pages to be interesting throughout.

In particular, I was impressed by the first of them, wherein Osborn and his Dark Avengers sit down with Ares to plan out the actual siege of Asgard.

What? You didn't KNOW that Ares, the Greek God of war was a Marvel Comics character?

“Listening” to Venom and Bullseye bitch and moan about the inherent lunacy in taking on literal Gods on their home turf, was both funny and true to form.

Though each character’s speech is preceded by a note regarding who exactly is speaking, I bet most of us could read these scenes without such aides, as each character is written that sharply.

On the visual side of things, again, Olivier Coipel is not an artist I am familiar with, but, as with Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, I think I might have to check out his other stuff.

Coipel, who is apparently the current artist for Thor, has a style that is intrinsically geared towards the Asgardian aesthetic.

His men are burly and square-jawed, and his women are, well, burly and square-jawed.

Seriously, there’s a panel of Victoria Hand early on that is downright Xena in how butch it is.

Yikes! You could lose a hand to those cheekbones!

Anyway, outside of that one panel, Coipel’s work in Siege is gorgeous.

Aside from his very clean lines and wonderfully fluid character designs, the sense of motion and speed generated by his action panels is truly breathtaking.

Seriously, there were times in this comic that I caught myself being able to actually see the panels spring to animated life.

THIS my friends, is why I bought Siege.

Kudos definitely need to be given to the colorist of Siege as well, as the color palette is refreshingly vibrant and diverse throughout, with many of the earlier scenes being all blue skies and daisies and such, while during the later scenes, particularly the ones involving The Void, things take on an menacing and otherworldly tone.

Anyway, Siege was a good event comic for me, someone that doesn’t really care much for event comics.

It’s a shame most of the “slug-fest” aspect of the event was omitted from the core storyline, as unlike novels, comics are usually best crafted on the page rather than in one’s imagination, but oh well, I liked it anyway.

I’ll let yah’ know how the spin-offs turn out.

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