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Spider-Man Joins the MCU: Why He Won’t Be Miles Morales & Why That’s a Good Thing

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Spider-Man and His Avenging Friends

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week you’ve probably heard by now that Sony Pictures and Marvel have stuck a deal that allows Spider-Man to come into the Marvel cinematic universe. According to the press release, Spidey will make a cameo appearance in a future MCU film, will get a solo film made and distributed by Sony but with the “help” of Marvel, and then he’ll appear in other Marvel films afterwards, almost assuredly the two part Avengers: Infinity War. Under this new deal, Sony will be able to also be able to use MCU characters like Cap and Iron Man in their solo Spidey films. So basically, Sony’s Spidey universe is going to be an extension of the MCU proper. This deal has been rumored ever since the Sony e-mail leaks, and it’s been no secret that Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man films didn’t do as amazing at the box office or with fan and critic reception as everyone hoped. Sony’s movie studio has been on the ropes financially for a while now, and this new deal with Marvel is very obviously an attempt to save themselves. While the announcement maintains that Sony will have creative control, the safe assumption is it’ll be Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige that’ll be the real brains behind the new Spidey and the rest was just Sony saving face.

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Who Will Be Behind The Mask?

Now the question is: who will play Spidey since it’s been confirmed that Andrew Garfield will not return? To answer that question we have to know which Spider-Man Marvel is going to bring to the party. Ever since the announcement social media has exploded into a virtual war over who should be Spider-Man. More specifically, over whether it’ll be Peter Parker again, or if Marvel will go a fresh route and bring in Mile Morales, the half African American/half Latino Ultimate Spider-Man. Because it’s the internet it’ll come as no surprise that these debates have often been…heated. Some of these- ahem– “discussions” have been between fans that really want to see Peter Parker and his rogues gallery given the Marvel Cinematic Treatment because Sony’s previous two attempts, while they each had their pros and cons, never quite fully brought to the screen an adaptation that really captured the full essence of the comics; while others are tired of seeing Peter’s story and want to see something fresh and more diverse by doing Miles’ story instead. The Twitter wars that have erupted around this debate is, ultimately, pointless. Why? Because the initial press release already put the speculation to rest. The Spider-Man that will be swinging into the MCU, at least initially, will be Peter Parker:

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future.”
-Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

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Why Not Miles?

The business reason:
Neither Marvel nor Sony is going to pass over the opportunity to cash in on 20+ Spider-Man appearances. It’s very likely that whoever they sign to play Peter Parker will be signed to a 9-10 picture contract much like everyone else in the MCU has. History has also shown us how expensive it can be to extend that contract once it’s up. So why shoot themselves in the foot when they can do 9-10 pictures with Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, and then have a fresh Spider-Man story and a fresh 10 picture contract waiting for whoever they get to play Miles Morales, all without having to reboot?
The storytelling reason:
After fighting as long and as hard as they have to be able to use Spider-Man, Marvel isn’t going to throw away the rich well of storytelling potential that Peter Parker brings to the table that has yet to be tapped. While both iterations of Pater Parker/Spider-Man were good in their own right, neither ever fully captured the comic character that fans have known and loved for decades. More importantly, it could be argued that none of the movies have done justice to the villains. Yes, the first Green Goblin and Doc Ock were both pretty good, but they weren’t as good as they could have been, and they certainly weren’t quite like their comics counterparts. For example: Norman Osborn has the potential to be a Marvel Phase-Level threat if done right, even without ever having to actually be the Green Goblin (especially if they loosely follow the post-Civil War comics story lines).  Likewise, while Doctor Octopus was done beautifully in Spider-Man 2, that version of the character was nothing like his comics counterpart, who is an egocentric megalomaniac. Let’s not even discuss the butchering of fan favorite Venom. Marvel has the opportunity to develop a MCU version of their flagship character while at the same time enriching the MCU with a much-needed injection of great villains. This isn’t only a great opportunity for Peter Parker fans, it’s ultimately great for Miles Morales fans (like me).
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Passing the Torch

A large part of Miles’ story centers around living up to the legacy of Peter Parker. It is central to the character and his journey in accepting the mantle, and the responsibility, of being Spider-Man. While Marvel/Sony could certainly skip Peter and go straight to Miles, and even do it well, it would be ultimately short changing the character and themselves. Right now they have the opportunity to bring to life the amazing (see what I did there?) and rich tapestry of Peter’s legacy as a hero in a way that they haven’t been able to in the past. This is their chance to really make the MCU a living incarnation of the comics we have loved for decades and then to pass that torch to the next generation of characters. Miles Morales is a great character. I enjoy reading about him just as much as I did Peter, but a large part of that enjoyment has been rooted in seeing this new kid with amazing powers struggling to adapt to his new life while at the same time honoring the legacy that Peter left behind.
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Civil War?

Right now the odds are good that Spidey’s first major appearance in the MCU will be in Captain America 3: Civil War, since Spider-Man played such a key role in the comics. I think that is probably a safe bet, but I’m pretty sure things won’t be done in the way that everyone is expecting. The biggest moment that everyone pictures when they think about Civil War is this:
_1413247202Spider-Man unmasks on live T.V. and tells the world he’s Peter Parker in support of Tony Stark and the Registration Act. While that may still happen in the movie versions, I don’t think it’s likely for two key reasons. One, it wouldn’t have near the impact that it did in the comics because right now no one in the MCU knows anything about Spider-Man. He hasn’t been swinging around New York for decades like he had been in the comics by that point, so who cares if he unmasks? Two, because this version of Civil War isn’t going to be about protecting identity as much as the comics. Kevin Feige already said as much. In the current MCU secret identities are largely not a big deal. Everyone already knows who the Avengers are. With the exception of Daredevil by that point, no one has one. Registration will be about control and freedom, so having Spider-Man unmask just won’t be as big a deal as having him register and show support for government oversight. My guess will be that Black Panther and Spidey will be the two new kids on the block being courted by Tony and Cap and they each pick a side. I guess we’ll find out soon.What do you think about all of this? Are you happy that Spidey has “come home”? Do you agree that they should start with Peter and work towards Miles, or are you tired of Peter’s story? Let me know in the comments.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

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Rant Alert: Star Wars, Marvel Comics, & Reboots

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Okay, so the last six months or so have been pretty traumatic for fan-nerds. First, to pave the way for the upcoming new Star Wars movies, comics, shows, etc. it was decided by Disney’s Star Wars story group that all previous Star Wars Expanded Universe content would be labeled “legends” while everything produced by Disney from now on would be officially canon. Many understood the reasoning and were okay with it. A very vocal group of the fan community, on the other hand, started their own version of a digital rebel alliance and declared war on Disney’s Empire. Then, last week Marvel announced that their upcoming Secret Wars event would lead into Battleworld, where various incarnations of the Marvel characters would duke it out for survival resulting in a “new” main Marvel comics universe.  Speculation has since run rampant and the word “reboot” has been bandied about enthusiastically ever since. The problem is both announcements have lead to a lot of confusion and misunderstandings about what, exactly, is happening. Some of this confusion is due to the original announcements not being very clear or detailed about what is going to happen. A lot more is due to people completely losing their shit over what amounts to a reading comprehension failure. The following will attempt to clear some things up:

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Let’s start with Star Wars. Disney bought Lucasfilm and with it came the rights to Star Wars. Disney has since announced that both a new trilogy and a series of stand alone movies have gone into production. They have also released, or are currently developing, several TV shows, a new comics line from Marvel, video games, and novels. The problem is there’s a good 30 years worth of Expanded Universe content already floating out there in the form of novels and comics that have already exhaustively covered the events after Return of the Jedi all the way through a century after the battle of Yavin from A New Hope. That’s one hundred years worth of EU continuity. Some of those novels, and particularly the comics, were extremely well done, well loved by fans, and helped to keep Star Wars alive before, and even more so after the lackluster-downright hatred of, the prequels. The rest was mediocre to downright horrible. In fact, if most fans (and I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I own pretty much all of the EU content available) are honest with themselves, for every great novel there have been a good five not so great ones. This is especially true in the last decade when Star Wars moved away from one shots and trilogies and tried to do long form stories that lasted for years.

So if you’re Disney, what do you do with all of that if you want to move forward with new material?  You start fresh.

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All of the pre-existing Star Wars EU has been re-branded “Legends” and is no longer considered to be canon (even though George Lucas was always very clear that as far as he was concerned, it was never canon). It’s now just considered fun “what if” stories or, as the name implies, tales from the Star Wars universe that may have nuggets of truth to them. The term they chose, “Legends”, is significant, and we’ll discuss why in a moment. So what is officially canon now?

star wars moviesThe Original Movie Saga

epsevenThe New Movies

clonewarsThe Clone Wars TV Series

starwarsrebelsStar Wars Rebels TV Series

61nnfCs+IFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Marvel’s Star Wars Comics

starwarsnewnovelsAll Star Wars Novels Moving Forward (Starting with A New Dawn)

So why was it significant that they branded the old EU “Legends”? As John Jackson Miller, author of A New Dawn, pointed out “Legends” doesn’t mean it never happened or that elements of those tales might not be true.  Both he and Dave Filoni (Clone Wars, Rebels) have openly stated that the previous EU material is not off limits to any of the creators of future Star Wars content. They’re free to use or adapt any of it into this new continuity. The movies, themselves, have already borrowed elements from the EU. The capital world of Coruscant was first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire novel. The double bladed lightsaber Maul used in The Phantom Menace was first seen in Star Wars comics done by Dark Horse.  Both Clone Wars and Rebels have brought in elements from the EU as well: Holocrons, Darth Bane, Republic Commandos. In James Lucado’s new novel, Tarkin, he references events from his previous two Star Wars novels that were published under the old banner, Dark Lord and Darth Plagueis, thus bringing them both into canon.

So the old EU is not dead, and there’s still a possibility that elements, characters, or even story-lines that fans loved could still be brought into official canon through future content.

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Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars is supposed to bring the Marvel Universe as we know it to a close. The main Marvel universe (616) collides with the Ultimate universe, and the result of the “Secret Wars” between the two universes will be Battleworld, where incarnations of the characters from major stories throughout Marvel history (Age of Apocalypse, Planet Hulk, Civil War, Pre-OMD Spidey, Ultimate Spidey,. etc.) will exist in different parts of the planet, with everyone duking it out for survival.

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…Yeah, it’s kind of confusing.

What it isn’t is a reboot.

Everywhere I look online people keep calling it a reboot.

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It’s not. A reboot, in comic terms, implies that they’re starting over fresh with a new continuity. That’s just not what is going to happen. The past, for any of the universes that collide, will still have happened. The characters that survive and end up in whatever the new Marvel universe looks like will still remember what happened, will still be the same characters they were before. Their history happened and affected them. It all still matters. This isn’t a New 52. They aren’t wiping anything out, they’re just blowing everything up. What we’ll be left with, from everything they’ve released, is a new Marvel universe made up of versions of characters from the 616, Ultimate, Age of Apocalypse, and whatever all thrown together. For example, the Wolverine of the 616 may be dead, but when this is over we could have the Wolverine from AoA or Old Man Logan alive and kicking. Miles Morales from Ultimate comics Spider-Man may be swinging around with a still-married Peter Parker. We don’t know for sure, but we’ll see.

But it’s not a reboot so please stop saying it.

I hope this clears some things up for those of you who have been wondering just what the hell has been going on.

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Rant Alert: Man of Steel- A Spoiler Free Review

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Full disclosure: I wasn’t always a fan of Superman. As a kid, of course, I loved him. I’d watch the Reeve/Donner movies, and later the Bruce Timm animated series, and run around the house with a cape (usually a towel or blanket) around my neck. But as I got older and started getting into comics I just didn’t care for Superman as a character. I still loved the idea of him, but in execution I felt that he was bland. He was too powerful, too goodie-goodie, too perfect. He was the Gandhi, and in many cases, the Jesus, of DC comics, and when good stories revolve around conflict and you have a character who is perfection personified, that’s often a big problem. It’s one of the reasons why DC still has a hard time getting the character right in his own series.

That all changed while I was working on my first novel with my best friend, Mark Ruelius. He was a HUGE Superman fan, and when he heard my opinion on the character is was as though I had personally offended him. He made me promise to read three comic book trades: Kingdom Come by Mark Waid & Alex Ross (which I already owned and loved), Superman Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu, and Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. He was right. After that, I was a fan. This made Superman Returns all the more painful for all of us, because we were hoping to get a Superman movie as good as what Batman was getting with Nolan or the Marvel movies were getting on the other side of the fence. Instead we got… well, I’m not going to go into that. This isn’t a review of that movie. So let’s just get into Man of Steel.

For me, this was a great foundation to build a untied DC cinematic universe on. This was DC’s Iron Man, in that way. Just about every aspect of the movie is inspired by the various Superman comics, Birthright being a heavy influence in particular. But there are a few things you need to know going in to help manage expectations (and I promise, no spoilers):

  1. This isn’t a Chris Reeve/Richard Donner Superman. The tone is different. There’s no comic relief character. There’s no goofy gags. This has been the biggest criticism most “negative reviews” have and I think it’s because those people are going in expecting a Donner or Marvel tone. It does have some humor and moments that’ll make you smile. MoS isn’t “dark and gritty” either, any more so than any of the best Superman comics are. Just about everything, event-wise, in MoS has precedent in the comics and animated movies.
  2. Again, this isn’t a Marvel movie. Marvel’s movies have a certain tone, just as their comics do. They’ve always been different than DC, and this movie is no exception. If you go in expecting a superhero movie with the same tone (lighthearted is probably too strong a word) then you’ll be disappointed. MoS takes itself, and the character, seriously. Again, it’s not The Dark Knight serious. This isn’t emo Superman, but they do approach the material and character in a serious, mature way- as they should. The movie is still a ton of fun, and I immediately wanted to watch it again, just as I did with Avengers or Iron Man. It’s just a different kind of fun/tone.
  3. This goes with the tone, but yes, it feels more like a sci-fi movie than a “superhero” movie. I think that’s a good thing in this case, given the story. That said, the movie ends perfectly and we have the Superman/Clark Kent we’re wanting to see. This has the potential to set up an amazing sequel the way that Batman Begins set up The Dark Knight.

This is very much Clark’s story, and the focus is on him discovering who he is and what his place in the world is. Henry Cavill nails the part and is by far the best embodiment of the character since Chris Reeve. Amy Adams also does an amazing job as Lois Lane. I have to say I was really impressed with how they handled Lois. She was smart, strong, and important to the plot without just being the damsel in distress. They also did away with a typical trope that has long since been played out and done to death (thank God for that), which makes me even more excited to see how they evolve the relationship between Lois and Clark. Some people may take issue with how they portray Jonathan Kent, but I think it was a great way to approach the character, and it made one scene in particular have that much more of an impact on Clark and how he makes the decisions he does.

I want to address Mark Waid’s review of the movie (caution, massive movie spoilers in the link ). As you can tell from my opening above, Mark Waid has written, in my opinion, some of the best Superman stories, and Birthright in particular was an influence on MoS. Waid wasn’t very happy with the movie for two reasons, one of which is a spoiler so I won’t go into it, other than to say that the way it was handled was VERY well done (and even Waid admitted as much) and that, yes, it’s not anything that hasn’t already done before in the comics and other movies, albeit not very often.

The other, and biggest, complaint that Waid had was he said that this version of Superman felt cold and that he didn’t care enough about protecting humans, given all the “destruction porn”. I will say there were times when I felt similar while watching, and it is one aspect that they could have handled better. Superman does go out of his way to help save people in the movie, but I would agree it needed to be emphasized more, and is probably the biggest weakness the movie has, especially given all the destruction and collateral damage that takes place. Again, it’s nothing that hasn’t been shown in the comics and animated tales countless times. This very much feels like a comic book come to life (or a live action version of a Bruce Timm animated feature); but because it is so realistic and lifelike it makes thinking about the innocent people being hurt that much more, where you don’t as much in the comics or animated features (or where it’s easier for them to just magically have people survive or evacuate in time, etc.) It’s something that needs to be improved upon in sequels, but it was far from a deal-breaker for me.

For me, Man of Steel is the best DC movie to date, and this is coming from a die-hard Batman fan. I’m not saying that Man of Steel is a technically superior movie than The Dark Knight, but for me it’s certainly more fun to watch. This is the Superman movie we’ve been waiting for, and it can only get better from here. Keep an open mind and don’t let the negative reviews keep you from checking it out. Go and see the movie for yourself and judge it by it’s own merits. I think you’ll be glad that you did, as it is, by-far, the best movie so far this summer.
I give it a 9/10.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: My Star Trek Into Darkness Spoiler Counter-F.A.Q.

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Star Trek Into Darkness has been a very polarizing film, more so than probably any other movie in the franchise. While critics and general audiences tend to enjoy it, fans are split down the middle. I have a close friend that is one such fan, who had a whole list of plot holes and things that kept her from enjoying the movie. I was surprised by this, because while I thought the film certainly had issues, a lot of the things she mentioned were things that didn’t bother me in the slightest and I found to be easily explainable. Then io9 did a spoiler F.A.Q. on Monday where, in a snarky attempt to be funny, he addressed many of the same issues. Well, I thought it would be fun to do a counter-F.A.Q. and give my perspective on them. I’m not saying I’m right and they’re wrong, because honestly a lot of the “issues” being talked about are things that are never fully explained in the movie. I assume for pacing reasons. However, they are things that I found to be fairly easy to explain in a reasonable way. It won’t change the mind of the people who already hate the movie, but I’m not trying to. So, needless to say, spoilers ahead! So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, avoid thine eyes!

Okay, explain to me why we’re doing this in this format again?

Because this is how the guy at io9 did it, and I thought it’d be fun.

You spelled “schizophrenic” wrong.

Just get on with it!

Okay, so at the beginning Kirk and Bones steal a scroll to lead the aliens away from the volcano. Why? Wouldn’t the volcano wipe everyone out if it erupts anyway?

They weren’t leading them away for their safety. They were leading them away so they wouldn’t see the shuttle carrying Spock to the volcano.

That makes sense, but why were they using a shuttle again? Why not just beam the bomb down?

It’s explained in the movie that the volcano was screwing up sensors and the only way they could use a transporter is if they had direct line of sight. The shuttles don’t have transporters so they were lowering Spock into the volcano to set the bomb manually.

Why not just use the ship…and why the hell was it underwater?

Starfleet has certain rules that officers are required to follow. the most important is the Prime Directive. Basically they’re forbidden from interfering with  pre-warp civilizations. Technically, the Enterprise crew was breaking the PD by saving the aliens, but they felt that they were exploiting a loophole in the directive- as long as they weren’t seen and the aliens thought the volcano just naturally stopped erupting (or their gods did it, or whatever) then it’d be fine. If they had used the Enterprise for line of sight transporter use, they’d be seen.
The Enterprise was underwater, as opposed to in orbit, because at night its possible that the ship would be seen. Just because the aliens were a “primitive” culture by our standards doesn’t mean they didn’t study/worship the heavens. The ancient Mayans and Egyptians did, and had a very detailed idea of exactly what was in the sky. A new bright satellite suddenly appearing in the sky, then disappearing hours or days later, would definitely be noticed. That’s assuming they don’t have some form of telescope. First Contact demonstrated that the Enterprise could be pretty clearly seen in orbit with one. Plus, lets be honest, it’s a popcorn movie, and if they’d just been able to stay in orbit and beam the bomb down it’d be pretty boring.

Can the Enterprise even work under water?

I’m not one of those fans with intimate knowledge of ship design, etc. but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. As far as I’m concerned, if the ship can survive the vacuum of space and the pressures of flying at warp speed it could probably handle being under water to the depth that they were. Yes, there are physics issues with how it would work, blah, blah, but it’s a sci-fi movie, not a documentary. If you can handle Borg Queens, telepathic rape scenes, red matter, and any number of other Trek plot devices and holes, then you can handle the Enterprise being underwater just deep enough where the crew can freaking swim there.

Okay, so lets get to the big stuff- Admiral Marcus, his daughter, and Khan.

Yeehaw.

So in this version of history Khan and his crew is found by someone else, not the Enterprise crew, right? Are they still from the 90’s?

Yes, they were discovered by someone else in this version of history. The movie doesn’t ever say (smartly), but I would assume no, they aren’t from the 90’s- that is probably something different in this timeline and the Eugenics Wars happened at a different point in our future.

So what, exactly, is the Admiral’s deal, anyway? Why thaw out Khan and go all militant?

You have to remember that not more than a year or so has gone by since Nero wiped out most of the fleet, killed Vulcan, and almost killed Earth. With one ship. Tensions with the Klingons are getting dangerous and it’s believed that war is only one incident away from breaking out. Marcus  feels that Starfleet needs to have a more militaristic focus if they’re to survive; and while the movie doesn’t specifically state how many others in Starfleet are working for him, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t at least a core group in the leadership that feels as he does. Khan was known as being a tactical genius, had an unparalleled military mind, etc. So Marcus de-thawed him to get him to help design new weapons tech for Starfleet, using the lives of his 72 crew members as incentive to cooperate.

How Could Marcus pull this off without anyone noticing? 

He already has a secret development department, Section 31. He’s also the head of Starfleet, a Starfleet that’s working hard to rebuild their fleet. I don’t think it would be too hard for him to get the “hidden shipyard by Jupiter” stocked with his people and develop the Vengence.   Materials for it could be diverted there when it’s believed that it’s for, say, two ships being built elsewhere. Sensors only work if you’re actively scanning for something, assuming he doesn’t have some sort of tech in the shipyard or something to do with where the shipyard is to block or scramble sensors. Once war is started secrecy wouldn’t be needed. He’d be hailed as a hero with the forethought to save them all with the new tech, at least that’s what he believes.

So what’s Khan’s deal?

Khan wants to escape with his people so they can pick up where they left off before being made into jerkcicles. The cryotubes are kind of hard to hide, so he hid his crew in the proton torpedo prototypes with the intention of smuggling them out, but he was caught. Khan escaped but he believed his crew was killed by Marcus, so in retaliation he attempts to take out all of the remaining high ranking officers in Starfleet. Then he uses Scotties magical transporter formula from the first movie and beams himself to the Klingon homeworld where Starfleet can’t get him.

What’s the deal with Kirk, Marcus, his daughter, and the mission? Aren’t they explorers, not assassins?

That’s the core of the movie and is intended to be a metaphor for the U.S. mindset after 9/11. Kirk is a hot head and wants vengeance for the death of Pike. Marcus sees an opportunity to use Kirk to get what he wants- take out Khan and his crew to get rid of the evidence they were connected to him, and kick off the war with the Klingons so he wouldn’t have to hide his military-focused build up anymore and they could get things cranked out in earnest. Carol Marcus knows about section 31 and knows something is up with the new torpedoes, so she gets herself assigned to the Enterprise to check it out. Scotty resigns in protest to the whole thing because he didn’t sign on to be a soldier, he’s an explorer. Spock is being Spock, disagrees with the mission and killing a man without trial, but ultimately follows orders. Kirk screws up Marcus’ plan by being swayed by Scotty and Spock’s argument and decides to take Khan alive.

Why does Khan save Kirk and Co. from the Klingons?

Sulu already sent the message to Khan that he was to surrender or he’d be bombed from space. Khan suspects that said torpedoes may be the ones that have his crew in them, because that’d be something Marcus would do. His suspicions are confirmed by Kirk when he’s told that there are 72, and he surrenders.

How is Scotty able to get on the Vengeance without being seen? Wouldn’t a secret military deal have better security?

A valid point, but there are a few things to consider: Taking the Vengeance out after the Enterprise was not a planned operation. The Enterprise was supposed to bomb Kronos, have a warp drive failure and be stuck in Klingon space, and then get decimated by the Klingons. When Kirk sent a message to Marcus that he’d captured Khan, Marcus had to quickly get out there and wipe them all out before they could fix their warp core. Scotty joins the flotilla of shuttles going to prep the ship. It’s a massive ship and they’re working with a skeleton crew made up of hired security/merc types, not Starfleet personnel. It’s Scotty. It wouldn’t be hard for him to hack his way in and stay hidden while everyone ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. Does it take some suspension of disbelief? Absolutely. But so did Kirk just happening to find the same cave old-Spock was haunting in the first one.

Let’s address the mirror to Wrath of Khan ending and the magic blood.

Here, for me, is the biggest problem with the movie. Not that the blood could heal Kirk. They established from the very beginning that Khan’s blood could do that kind of stuff. It’s a huge convenient plot device, but it was needed for the movie because there’s no way they could get away with killing Kirk and leaving him dead until the next one like they did Spock in WoK. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t have done this storyline in the second movie. The biggest problem with Into Darkness wasn’t the plot, though the plot could have used tightening, obviously, it was the lack of emotional connection and impact that the story had. The ending, with Spock going all pissed off Batman on Khan, just came off as silly because they’ve been friends for what? Two years? Barely? Had they saved this kind of story for the third movie and used this movie to further establish the bond between the crew it would have been much more effective. Wrath of Khan had three seasons of a TV show and another movie to establish those relationships. This had one movie where Kirk and Spock spent 90% of the time at each other’s throats. I understand the appeal of using Khan, and Cumberbatch was freaking awesome in the role, regardless of what else you may have thought about the movie, but it just wasn’t the right time for this story.

Why are fans upset that they lied about Harrison being Khan?

Because in this modern internet world where spoilers leak immediately and movies are completely ruined months before they’re released, fans have developed a false sense of entitlement that they are owed answers about movies in development. The crew lied about Khan, even though everyone knew it was probably Khan, because they didn’t want to completely spoil the movie they’d been working two years on before it was even finished being developed. If fans are pissed about that I think they need a reality check.

So there you go. That’s my take on things with the movie. Again, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here, I’m just explaining things in the way that I saw them as I watched the movie. STID isn’t a perfect movie, it has issues. Some fans are just not going to be happy with it regardless of what they did. Others do have legit complaints and just can’t turn off their brain or suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it for what it is. The fact of the matter is this isn’t the old Star Trek and it will never be. Yes, it has less of a scientific, intellectual focus, and is more focused on action and being fun. You can either just accept it for what it is and enjoy it, or not. Either way, it doesn’t change or take away the ten other movies and 5 TV series that came before it. You can always go back and revisit them whenever you want.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Sunday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: “A New Star Wars Movie Every Year?!” Why “Fans” Need to Chill Out

Star Wars Episode 7 Movie

A lot of “fans” on entertainment websites annoy me. They annoy me so much that sometimes I wish I could pull a Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back on them. I have never seen such soul-crushing negativity as I have found on comments sections coming from people who supposedly love the franchises they’re freaking out over. The most recent victim is Star Wars, after it was confirmed that Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie each year. In the comment section for multiple fan sites commentators proceeded to wig out. From some of the posts you’d think Disney was Nazi Germany. They got so ridiculous I did what I swore I would never do and actually posted a comment that amounts to basically what I’m about to say here. It was a flower buried under a landslide of stupid, but a few people actually responded and applauded.

It gave me a little hope for humanity.

First, I believe what is actually going to take place needs to be clarified: There is not going to be a new Star Wars episode every year. The “episodes” are the main entries in the storyline, IE Episode 4 was the original Star Wars: A New Hope. The “main” episode movies will be once every 2-3 years, starting with Episode 7 in 2015, just like most major franchise movies. What Disney is planning to do is release stand alone movies in the “off” years, that will focus on different timelines, characters, and probably even storytelling styles. The Star Wars universe is a freaking huge playground. The last 25 years worth of expanded universe material in all the games, novels, and comics proves that there’s a TON of room to play without peeing in the cheerios of the main story.

Second, what Disney is planning to do with Star Wars is no different than what they’ve been doing with the Marvel Universe since 2008; which a majority of the movie going public, the aforementioned functionally retarded “fan” trolls included, generally like-love. Since the first Iron Man there has been at least one, often more than one, Marvel movie released every year. From a franchise perspective, why should Star Wars be any different? The argument could be made that they have even more room to tell different types of stories/do different types of movies with the Star Wars universe than they can with Marvel.

Third, Disney hasn’t given us any reason to think these movies won’t be quality products….yet. They’ve done a great job with Marvel and Pixar so far. If this means we get a new, quality Star Wars movie every summer, what’s the problem?

Fourth, I think we all need to start living by the wisdom of our geek prophet Wil Wheaton:

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Seriously, it’s one thing to discuss things you like/dislike about this stuff with other fans of the genres. It’s another to be a complete douchnozzle troll just because the internet is anonymous and you can. It’s hard to have fun and share about all the awesome (and sometimes not-so-awesome) stuff that’s coming down the pipe when a small, but very vocal, minority of jerkwads make those conversations horrible to even look at. For instance, the Man of Steel trailer last night was freaking beautiful. I was stoked, as was just about all my friends. I go to these fan sites and amidst the praise is the inevitable negative douchebaggery that just lets some of the air out of the geek tires. I don’t mind people having different opinions or not liking something I thought was amazing. That’s fine. Different strokes and all that. But there’s no reason to be just an offensive @$$hole about it. I get it: people love to troll because they’re pathetic individuals with nothing better to do with their time, but I can’t be the only person sick to death of this crap. Not to mention the negative effect it can and does have on the things we love. You may not think that people with the money/decision making power pays any attention to this crap, but you’d be very wrong. They do, or at the very least they pay people to pay attention to it for them. Basically, you’re part of the reason we can’t have nice things. So, for myself and the rest of my fellow geeky fans I have only this to say: STOP IT!

You never know. The next time your doorbell rings…

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J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99.

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Announcement: The Just Super Sweepstakes!

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This summer is an awesome time to be a comic book nerd: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, & The Wolverine in theaters. It’s especially exciting for long-time fans, as CBMs are finally being treated with legitimacy and respect, and as a result we’re getting much higher quality products. We’re in a comic book cinematic golden age, and it’s a beautiful thing. The subject of superheros isn’t as prevalent in fictional novels. There are a few floating around out there that are non-DC or Marvel novelizations, like the awesome Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman, but there aren’t many that get mainstream attention. I’ve been a huge comic book fan since I was a kid, and only got more hardcore as I got older and could afford to drop tons of money I should have been saving on trade paperbacks, floppies, games, and movies/TV shows based on my favorite characters. I wanted to do my own take on a superhero story, but one that might be a bit different than the typical mainstream take. Just Super is more about the people and relationships involved in being a “superhero,” and what the costs might be if someone were really to discover they had powers and wanted to put themselves out there, as opposed to being about beating up super villains in tights as they monologue.

To celebrate superheros and all the fun and entertainment that they bring we’re proud to present our very first contest here at Authentic Productions Entertainment: The Just Super Sweepstakes!

The Mission:  Take a photo of you doing your best super hero pose with either a paperback copy of Just Super, or a digital copy on your Kindle/Phone/Tablet opened to the title page of the book (so we know you aren’t cheating). Creativity counts!

The Countdown: All entries must be e-mailed to authenticwriters@gmail.com by May 3rd– the US release date for Iron Man 3.

The Rewards: Shawn and I will pick the top three entries and post them here on the site.

  • 3rd Place: Will have a choice between a signed copy of the upcoming The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 2, or a special Digital Deluxe Edition of The Chosen: Rebirthing, which will contain both parts 1 and 2 as one full novel as it was originally written, along with additional short stories and other goodies set within the Chronicles of Enoch universe. Either prize will include the winner’s name listed in the dedication.
  • 2nd Place: The same choice between the two prizes listed above, along with a personalized sketch done by artist Shawn Skvarna, who has done all the covers for the books.
  • Grand Prize: A signed, personalized copy of all of our released novels in paperback; a personalized sketch by artist Shawn Skvarna; a “cameo character” (a character based on you) in one of our upcoming novels (you’ll have a choice of which), along with the novel being dedicated to you.

So there you have it! Have fun with it! If this goes well we’ll do another later in the year.

To purchase a copy of Just Super in paperback you can click here. To get a digital copy you can click here. Remember, send your photos to authenticwriters@gmail.com by May 3rd!

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Rant Alert: The State of Star Wars

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I think I have already established my Star Wars geek cred previously, but given all the news lately and my reinvigorated hunger for the franchise thanks to various things I’ll be discussing presently, I thought it’d be a good time to examine the state of the franchise, what we have to look forward to, and address all the negativity that seems to be the default setting whenever anything Star Wars is mentioned. In fact, let’s just start with the negativity thing, because I’m kind of sick of hearing about it. I understand that the prequels were, lets be honest, pretty craptacular. I just tried to re-watch them on BluRay the other day and it really is hard to sit through. However, as I’m about to show, that doesn’t automatically make all things Star Wars horrible. Additionally I would like to point out that regardless of how disappointing the prequels were, they did accomplish two good things:

1. We got a lot more awesome Star Wars music from John Williams

2. The prequels opened up the universe a bit more for other areas of the EU to explore, areas that were previously off limits to the novels, comics, games, etc. Many of those things, set during the time of the prequels, have actually been quality entertainment, but I’ll get into that in more detail presently.

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First, lets look at the most obvious “big thing”. I won’t discuss the sale to Disney because I’ve already talked about that at length. I do want to talk about Ep. VII. While I remain cautiously optomistic, the fact that the people behind the story have massive credit, geek and otherwise, is a very positive sign. We have Michael Arndt writing the script. For those who don’t know, this is the same guy that wrote Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine– both quality stories. On board consulting is Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriter for Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first Indiana Jones), and Simon Kinberg, who wrote the RDJ version of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now, the addition of Kinberg could make some people balk, depending on how much you liked SH or M&MS (I thought they were fun), but the fact that Lawrence Kasdan is on board has me really excited. ESB is my favorite movie of all time, and what he wanted to do with ROTJ was right on the money until Lucas made changes (in his defense the Ewoks were originally Wookies).

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Okay, so J.J. Abrams is officially directing the next movie. “Lens flare! Durp de derp!” Can we please put a moratorium on the lens flare jokes? They weren’t exactly witty the first time, and now they’re just annoying as hell. Personally I’ve enjoyed all the films Abrams has directed. I loved NuTrek and thought it was an extremely smart way to reboot without throwing out everything that has come before. A lot of die hard fans didn’t like it because it wasn’t “their Star Trek” and that’s fine, but it was still a really fun, entertaining movie, (but yes, there were plot holes and too much lens flare) and I think it went a long way in proving that Abrams has what it takes to do a decent Star Wars film. Also, just to point out for all the “Lost sucked!” critics: Abrams didn’t screw up Lost. He was involved with the pilot episode, and that was pretty much it (it was also the best episode of the entire show). He’s mostly a producer and idea man, TV-wise, and once the productions are up and running he leaves the rest to the show runners. What they do after the fact is on them, not him.

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I already did a rant on Clone Wars, but after the latest episode I just wanted to reiterate just how freaking good this show is. Seriously, the “Maul Arc” was hand-down the best storyline they’ve done, and the final episode of that arc that aired on Saturday is the best episode of the show. Period. It was a prime example of just how good Star Wars can be- my jaw dropped twice in shock and I’m still geeking out about it. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show or have never seen an episode, go watch that episode. Go ahead. I’ll wait… The only bad thing about the Clone Wars, and this has been a constant since Season 1, there is always 1 story arc that is either really kid oriented, boring, or both. This season it was the droid squad arc (though seeing the commando was cool). However, it’s usually just after those “dud arcs” that things get really good, so it’s worth it to throw the kiddies a bone to get stories like the one I just mentioned. If you haven’t given the show a shot and are a Star Wars fan, do yourself a favor and check it out. The series has only gotten better as its gotten older, the stories can be quite mature, but it’s still something you can watch with your kids. Basically it’s like the original trilogy movies- fun for everyone.

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I know it’s become the bandwagon thing to hate on Bioware, but they are still my favorite game company and they still make excellent games. The Old Republic is one of them. SWTOR was a massive undertaking. It’s the first MMO Bioware tried to do, and they wanted to do it differently then everyone else. They wanted to make an MMO that was more about story, and they did. They made a Bioware game that you can play with other people if you want. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I never got into PvP in games. I don’t care about “end game content”. I care about a good story and a game that makes me feel like I’m living in that galaxy far, far away with my friends. I wanted a game I could play predominantly solo, and play with friends when I felt like it. That is exactly the game I got. It’s basically Knights of the Old Republic 3-8. It’s got fully-voiced NPCs and cut-scenes. Each class has it’s own storyline, and while some are better than others, it’s still very much a Bioware game and massively better than any other MMO I’ve played in that regard.

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Sure, there are bugs, and stuff that needs to be worked out from time to time (ALL MMOs, including the vaunted WOW, are the same way). They probably launched a few months before they should have, but right now the game is a ton of fun. I played since beta and took a couple of months off, but since I’ve been back it’s been the only game I’ve played for the last two months. SWTOR is free to play now, and you can play the entire storyline with a character, level 1-50, without ever needing to spend a dime. Sure, you won’t have all the features subscribers have and it may take you a little longer, but you won’t be gimped to the point where you have to spend money in order to play. Still, the subscription is more than worth it IMO. Either way, give it a try if you haven’t. You aren’t out anything doing so.

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When I saw the gameplay and trailer for this during E3 I was blown away. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The gameplay looks exactly like the cut-scenes, and that amazes me. Lucasarts is working with ILM and it’s the first time the two have worked hand-in-hand on a project like this:

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It takes place on Coruscant and surrounds the criminal underworld. No lightsabers or force powers, just a blaster and your skill. It sounds like a ton of fun and a nice change of pace. They’ve assured worried fans that the Disney buy-out hasn’t affected production at all. In fact, they say Disney has been incredibly supportive of the project. I can’t wait to see more.

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I own just about every Star Wars novel there is. I used to be a huge fan of the books and release day was like a holiday for me. The books have been incredibly hit or miss in the last ten years or so, unfortunately, but there are still gems that hit every now and then, like the book above. I’m really hoping with the new movies we might get an in-flux of new talent and fresh stories, because I really miss sitting down with a good Star Wars novel and jut getting lost in that universe for a while. Plus, as a writer it’s still a dream of mine to be able to write in that universe one day.

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The one aspect that does bother me about the Disney buy-out is that it means that Marvel is going to get the franchise for the comics. Dark Horse has done an amazing job with the franchise and has constantly released quality books. Marvel’s track record…well….isn’t as good. I still have hope that maybe Marvel might surprise me, but I’m not convinced they can deliver the quality that Dark Horse has.

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Overall, despite the setbacks of the prequels, Star Wars is still a viable franchise that is alive and well and is hopefully heading into a new age of revitalization and quality. As fans we have a lot to look forward to. Here’s hoping that our optimism will be rewarded.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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