An Open Letter From Sekovia to Joss Whedon

Much has been made of Joss Whedon’s portrayal of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but little has been said about the country where most of the film takes place. It’s almost as if people are pretending it doesn’t really exist.

– Jack Cameron

Here is an open letter from the Office of Public Affairs in Sekovia:
Sekovia

TRANSCRIPT:

From: Office of Public Affairs
Republic of Sekovia

To: Joss Whedon
Marvel
Disney

Dear Mr. Whedon,

The following is an open letter protesting the portrayal of our country and our countrymen in your American movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. As you know, when we agreed to allow you to film in our beautiful country, we asked that you accurately show our culture, our heritage, and our people. Now that we’ve seen your film, we feel that we were duped.

Despite the long and hard fought history of Sekovia, you treat our nation as if it were some amalgamation of any given Eastern European country. Borat gave more character to Kazakhstan. The only time someone actually talks about our country in your film, she says, “It’s nowhere special but on the way to everywhere special.” Nowhere special? How can you say that about a country that boasts the eight tallest arch in Eastern Europe? Did we not repel invasions from nearby Latveria, not once, not twice, but three times? Does Sekovia not rival Madripoor in underground fighting syndicates? Nowhere special? Sekovia is very special indeed, Mr. Whedon.

It is clear that you made this film specifically to shame the Sekovian people. People will walk away from your film not knowing one true thing about Sekovia but thinking we harbor terrorists and possibly have a gigantic crater where one of our largest towns used to be.

We do not know why you have chosen to attack us in such a fashion, but rest assured that your slights against our country and our people will not be ignored.

I have spoken with our esteemed leader and he has instructed that no movie house in all of Sekovia will screen your movie. Furthermore any future film permits will not be granted.

Sincerely,

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In Comics When You’re Dead, You’re Dead….For A While

Death-of-Wolverine-McNiven-coverThis past week in Marvel Comics, the X-Man and Avenger Wolverine died. This happened in a four-issue miniseries called The Death of Wolverine. So it wasn’t exactly a surprise. The miniseries was much better than I expected it to be and his death was well handled.

From what I can tell the series has met with mixed reviews with virtually no one thinking that Wolverine’s death will be ‘permanent’. Cries of ‘He’s not really dead!’ can be found in any comments section on any website talking about it. Of course he’s not ‘really’ dead. He’s not real. He’s a fictional character often drawn and written by some of the best people in the comic book business and occasionally played on screen by Hugh Jackman. So no, he’s not really dead.

That’s not their point though. When it comes to comic book, death is a bit of a revolving door. Since 2007 Marvel has killed off prominent characters such as Captain America and Human Torch with mainstream publicity about each ‘death’. And both are back, alive and well. (Although recently Cap has become an old man resulting in his old buddy, Falcon taking his place and Human Torch has lost his powers, but no one expects those things to last long either.)   Heck, one of the Death of Wolverine epilogue books is about the response his old friend Nightcrawler has to his death. Nightcrawler himself was dead up until a few months ago.

Why is death so temporary in comics so often? Because it’s profitable. People buy issue where the character dies. People buy the issue where the character comes back. And some characters are just too dang popular to keep them dead.

Even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe both Agent Coulson and Bucky Barnes have been brought back from ‘death’.

For some fans the temporary aspect of death in comics cheapens the story and makes the comics less enjoyable. I understand their point. If you have a hero sacrificing her life knowing they’re going to come back, it’s not all that big of a sacrifice, is it?

As a long time comic book reader, I’ve found a way to reconcile this. Much in the same way that when I read a Marvel Comic I let myself believe a man can have a skeleton laced with the fictional metal of Adamantium, I allow myself to believe that when these characters die, they’re dead. It’s worth noting that when these characters die, none of them seem to be aware that they might come back. This is despite the fact that they’ve seen many of their friends and loved ones die and return to life. I just go along with their own belief that when they die, they die.

One time I tried to think of X-Men who have never thought dead in the 75 year history of Marvel Comics. I came up with Iceman, but I could be wrong about that.

So Wolverine is dead (and not actually for the first time). But this one may stick longer than most. Word on the Internet is that Marvel Comics is downplaying any characters they don’t have movie rights to such as Wolverine, but we’ll see.

– Jack Cameron

Captain America The Winter Soldier Movie Review

winter-soldier-70s-poster-paolo-riveraI started collecting comic books when I was 12-years-old. The thing that intrigued me most about Marvel Comics was the concept of a shared universe. The TV shows and movies I watched and the books I read all took place in their own little self-contained universes. No matter what happened on the A-Team, they were never going to end up in Hazzard County. So when I realized that the stuff happening in an issue of Uncanny X-Men had a direct impact on what was happening in X-Factor, I got a bit giddy. The idea of telling separate stories that interconnected and built on each other was just a fantastic concept to me. I would read my Marvel Comics and think to myself, “If only they made movies like this….”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the comic book movie I’ve wanted to see since I was twelve years old. If you’ve never seen a Marvel movie and you see this, you’ll want to see the others. If you’ve watched every single piece of Marvel cinema so far, you’ll geek out at the level of detail they’ve thrown into this movie.

While previous Marvel movies have had some loose connective tissue between them, this is the first to fully embrace the continuity and use it to build a better story. The way that The Winter Soldier blends characters from Iron Man 2 and Avengers in with characters from the first Captain America and all new characters is so seamless that you almost have to watch it twice to notice.

It helps that they’ve developed a cast that so fully inhabits their characters that you never doubt for a moment who they are. Chris Evans is Captain America. He plays him with equal parts strength and aw-shucks-boyscout. In one of the opening scenes he takes out about a dozen armed guys all on his own with the just the use of his shield and it just works. And yet for all of his heroics, he maintains that man-out-of-time persona that makes him so an intriguing character.

While Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury has been popping up since the first Iron Man movie, it’s not until The Winter Soldier that we really get to see how much of a bad ass Nick Fury is. There’s a car chase sequence early on where Fury gets to be every bit the hero all of the much more colorful superheroes have been in previous movies.

Similarly, Scarlet Johansen probably gets more screen time in The Winter Soldier than she did in The Avengers and she certainly gets to flesh out her character a bit more. The chemistry between her and Chris Evans’ Cap works perfectly. They’ve got nothing in common except their goals, but their mutual respect helps them build the sort of trust that only soldiers really understand.

Speaking of soldiers, the introduction of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson as the Middle East War vet turned superhero known as Falcon is pitch perfect. The friendship that grows between him and Cap feels authentic from the beginning.

I can’t say too much about the guy who play the title character of the Winter Soldier without getting into spoiler territory, but he’s one of the more inspired villains we’ve seen so far in Marvel’s cinematic universe.

As if this weren’t enough, somehow they managed to get Robert Redford to play Alexander Pierce. In this Pierce plays the control-freak Secretary of State which is a far cry from the fiercely loyal bureaucrat from the comic books, but that’s fine. I’m not someone who feels the movies have to always echo the comic books. Personally, I’m enjoying the differences.

I wasn’t sure about the idea of having Joe & Anthony Russo direct The Winter Soldier. They’re primarily known as sit-com directors and have never done anything like this before, but they pulled it off spectacularly. There’s even a small moment that fans of Community will love. Rumor has it these guys are signing on for Cap 3 and I can only hope that’s true.

Captain America The Winter Soldier is the most confident Marvel Studios movie made yet and definitely the most entertaining. This movie is proof you can do a great Marvel movie without Robert Downey Jr. The most exciting thing for me is how the events in this movie have no choice but to directly tie into the small screen as Agents of SHIELD can’t possibly be the same after the events of The Winter Soldier. The fact that Marvel is so willing to put all of this continuity together just shows exactly how good they’ve become at doing this. Next up for Marvel Studios is their most ambitious film yet; Guardians of the Galaxy. It will be the first movie they’ve done with no big name actors, and no recognizable heroes or villains. But given their track record, I have every intention of seeing it opening weekend.

–          Jack Cameron