Sunday, February 28, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow, Season 1, Episode 6: Star City 2046

After spending five episodes messing around in the past, this week the Legends finally go to the future, and see what becomes of Oliver Queen and his co-stars.

This is good news if you're a regular viewer of Arrow. If not, you're gonna have a rough time. I saw the first season of Arrow, but stopped watching after that. I'm aware a few of the major players and their relationships to one another, but many of this episode's revelations about Ollie and his supporting cast were lost on me.

There was way too much plot crammed into this episode, and as a result none of the storylines got their due. This really should have been another two parter. Of the three major plots, the lamest and least important one— the ridiculous high school romance storyline— inexplicably got the most attention.

The best of the plots this week was the Cold/Heat Wave confrontation. Captain Cold is the most interesting member of the team, and the writers have done an excellent job so far of taking what could have been a standard, cardboard villain and fleshing him out into an actual three dimensional character. Despite Cold's icy demeanor, it's obvious that his time on the team has affected him for the better, and he's actually starting to like being a hero. Compare this to his old pal Heat Wave, who wants nothing more out of life than to pillage and plunder. A falling out between the two was inevitable.

The whole "Identity Of Connor Hawke" thing was completely unnecessary, and probably left viewers unfamiliar with Arrow scratching their heads. Regular viewers probably didn't fare much better. According to this episode, the Green Arrow of 2046 is really the son of John Diggle, but because he "failed the city," he doesn't feel worthy of that name and calls himself Connor Hawke. What the...? 

There is a Connor Hawke in the comics, and there he actually is the son of Oliver Queen and Sandra Hawke. So why the hell would the writers introduce a completely new character and saddle him an existing name from the source material? Would it have changed anything if he'd called himself John Diggle Jr. throughout the episode? Not that I can see. Obviously they did it as a nod to comic fans, but they did so in the most confusing and lamest way possible.

On the plus side, this was a rare Savage-free episode, which is always a good thing in my book.


The Plot:
After being attacked by Chronos last week, the Waverider crashes in Star City in 2046 (hence the episode's title). The Legends venture out to find the city is a ruined hellscape. Suddenly they're confronted by Green Arrow, except it's not Oliver Queen. He fires a few arrows at them, and the Legends hightail it back to the ship like the knights in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Back on the ship, Rip Hunter tells everyone that the future is in flux until it's set. He says they need to repair the ship and leave as fast as possible to make sure this timeline doesn't become "real."

Hunter says the ship's navigation is fried, and needs a new technobabble widget. Atom says Palmer Tech developed a similar item, and it may be in what is now Smoak Tech. Hunter takes Captain Cold, Heat Wave and White Canary out to steal the tech. Atom and Hawkgirl stay behind and work on the ship's engine. Jackson sees this and is jealous, as the episode pulls a retcon and tries to convince us that he's had eyes for Hawkgirl all season.

Out in the streets, Canary is visibly affected by what Star City has become. She says her father and friends would never allow this to happen, unless they were all dead. Suddenly they're caught in the middle of a gang war. Green Arrow appears and begins shooting at one of the gangs, or maybe both, it's honestly hard to tell. He's hit and falls behind a burned out vehicle. Canary rushes to help him. 

In the confusion, Cold and Heat Wave decide to go rob a bank (would a bank in such a place still have money left in it?). On the way they're surrounded by gang members. The Leader threatens them, and Heat Wave kills him with his flame gun. Inexplicably the rest of the gang then begins following Heat Wave.

Canary finds the injured Green Arrow. He tells her that Oliver died during The Uprising that destroyed Star City fifteen years ago. Canary asks who started The Uprising, and right on cue, Deathstroke appears and takes full credit. Canary sees him and hisses, "Slade." He pulls off his mask and reveals he's actually Grant Wilson, Slade's son. Green Arrow uses a particularly strong life line arrow to pull him, Canary and Hunter to safety.

Meanwhile back on the ship, Atom and Hawkgirl flirt with each other, much to Jackson's chagrin. Professor Stein senses Jackson's anger through their psychic connection. Jackson says he doesn't have a chance with Hawkgirl as long as the billionaire Atom is around. Stein gives him a lecture about having confidence, and encourages him to talk to her. Stein then tries to "subtly" talk Atom out of hooking up with Hawkgirl, because all this high school romance hooey is much more important that fixing the ship when they're stranded in an Escape From New York timeline.

Heat Wave is enjoying 2046, as he presides over his new found empire, literally wearing a fur coat and holding a chalice. Cold is visibly annoyed at all this, and suggests they go find Hunter and Canary.

Green Arrow tells Canary that Oliver tried to stop Deathstroke, but failed, and no one's seen him in fifteen years. Hunter says they need to go to Smoak Tech and find the technobabble. Arrow says the building was cleared out years ago, but some of the tech was moved to the Arrow Cave. They head there and search around. Suddenly an old, one-armed, bearded Oliver Queen appears out of the shadows. 

Oliver calls Green Arrow by his real name of John Diggle Jr. Arrow says he doesn't call himself that anymore, because he tried to save the city single handedly and failed, so he doesn't deserve that name. He now calls himself Connor Hawke, for reasons. Oliver tells them that the cast of Arrow is all dead or gone, and blames the city's downfall partly on the fact that Canary and Atom disappeared in 2016. He tells them the tech they're looking for is in a secure warehouse and gives them the address.

On the ship, Stein tells Jackson that everything's OK, as Atom isn't interested in Hawkgirl. Jackson is elated. Atom then appears and says he never thought about Hawkgirl romantically before, but now that Stein pointed it out, he realizes there is a spark between them. Cue sad trombone.

Deathstroke enters Heat Wave's lair and says he wants Green Arrow, Hunter and Canary dead. Cold says they need to go and rescue them, but Heat Wave wants to stay in the future and live it up. Cold says if he helps save the others, then they'll talk about him staying. 

At the warehouse, Canary asks Hunter if he knew about Star City's destruction. He tells her this is only one possible future, and the sooner they stop Savage, the sooner they can go back to 2016 and prevent this timeline from happening. Hunter finds the technobabble part. Just then several gang members break in and kidnap Connor. Canary wants to rescue Connor, but Hunter says this timeline isn't real. She insists they help. Cold and Heat Wave argue about staying in this hellish future. Cold knocks out Heat Wave and takes him back to the ship.

Back on the ship, Canary gears up and says she's going to rescue Connor. Hunter says she has one hour before the Waverider's repaired, and he's leaving with or without her. Heat Wave wakes up, and says if Cold ever lays an hand on him again, he'll... wait for it... burrrrrn. Canary goes back to the Arrow Cave and convinces Oliver to help save Connor. He says OK. Well, that was easy.

Deathstroke invites the city's thugs and lowlifes to a public execution of Connor. Just as he's about to decapitate him, a gang member brings in the captured Canary. He orders her to be brought up on stage, and she reveals she's just a distraction, as Oliver appears. He's now sporting some kind of high-tech bow, and a spiffy bionic arm. So... he could have been doing this all along then, instead of sulking in his Cave for the past fifteen years.

Oliver picks off the gang members, while Connor and Deathstroke punch one another. Ollie and Connor then team up against Deathstroke and take him down. Suddenly the rest of the Legends, lead by Hunter, appear and wipe out the remaining gang members. Oliver tells them that now that Deathstroke's gone, he and Connor will do their best to rebuild the city.

Meanwhile, back at the really important storyline, Jackson overhears Atom ask Hawkgirl out (where they'd go on a date, I have no idea). She turns him down, saying she's busy being a Legend and a Hawk goddess and a time traveler. Canary thanks Hunter for sending in the team to help save future Star City. He says she taught him that every future is worth saving, which makes no damned sense. He says they're now going to hit Savage where he least expects it, and they blast off.

• When Canary sees the state of Star City in 2046, she immediately wants to do something to help. Hunter warns her "that changing the future is arguably more dangerous than changing the past."

Wha...? Isn't that the entire premise of this series? Isn't that the reason the Legends exist in the first place, so Hunter can change the future and save his family?

• As I mentioned earlier, this episode lavishes the most attention on the lame The CW love triangle sublot between Jefferson, Hawkgirl and Atom. Before now there's never been even an inkling that any of these characters had the slightest attraction for one another, so the fact that Jefferson and Atom are hot for Hawkgirl comes completely out of the left field. Would it have killed the writers to have given us even a molecule of buildup to this?

It also seems odd that Atom, who's from Star City, seems completely unconcerned that his home town looks worse than a million Detroits in 2046, as he's far too busy mooning over Hawkgirl to notice. Is this really the best time to try and start up a relationship with a teammate?
Star Wars Reference Alert! When Canary first sees Deathstroke, she calls him "Slade." He removes his helmet, revealing he's actually Grant Wilson, and says, "Slade? That's a name I haven't heard in a lonnnng time."

• Math is hard! According to Connor, fifteen years ago there was an uprising in Star City that left it in ruins. He says Grant Wilson lead this uprising. 

Hmm. Grant looks like he's twenty five at the most. Did he really lead a revolt in Star City when he was ten? Do people age slower in the future?

Probably not. This episode takes place thirty years from now, and Oliver Queen looks to be in his sixties, so... no slow aging. I guess Grant Wilson was just an incredibly capable and charismatic ten year old.

• Cold and Heat Wave are surrounded by a cartoonish street gang, and their Leader threatens to kill them. Heat Wave nonchalantly kills the Leader with a blast from his heat gun. The gang members immediately accept Heat Wave as their new boss. 

Does that seem right? No outrage or cries of revenge for their fallen Leader? I guess the guy must not have been very popular.

• When Professor Stein finds out that Jefferson is attracted to Hawkgirl, he tells him to be confident and go for it. He then sidles up to Atom and attempts to dissuade him from pursuing Hawkgirl, which of course gives him the idea to immediately do just that.

Martin Stein. Worst. Wingman. Ever.

• Connor tells Canary that no one's seen Oliver Queen for years, and everyone assumes he's dead. The Legends then go to the ruins of the Arrow Cave to look for a piece of technobabble, and they spot Ollie, making a dramatic appearance from the shadows.

So no one ever thought to look for him in the Arrow Cave until now? Wouldn't that be the first place you'd look?

• The Oliver of 2046 is grizzled, sixy-something and only has one arm (it was taken years ago by Grant Slade). His old age makeup isn't bad, but he's sporting one of the worst fake beards in history. Seriously, I've seen mall Santas with more realistic beards. It's even worse than the wig he wears on the island flashbacks over on Arrow.

I don't get it. Why do TV wigs look so terrible these days? I've been watching TV and movies for decades, and I don't remember wigs looking so blatantly fake in the past. What the hell happened to the art of wig making? Did wig makers forget how to make realistic wigs? Did they used to make wigs out of panda fur or some other endangered animal, and PETA put a stop to it?

Maybe it has something to do with hi-def TV. Maybe wigs have always looked this bad, but we never noticed it back when we were all squinting at fifteen inch screens with two hundred lines of resolution. Now that we're all watching gigantic screens in glorious 1080p resolution, we're seeing how awful wigs look for the first time.

• Oliver tells the Legends that Felicity's old tech is stored in a warehouse at Adams and O'Neill. That's another DC Comics reference. Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams were the writer and artist (respectively) of a long running Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover storyline in the 1970s, in which the two heroes traveled across the country searching for "America" or something. 

Their most famous story from this run occurred in issues 85 and 86, when Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy became addicted to heroin (!).

Extreme Nitpicking Alert! Canary tries to talk Oliver into helping save Star City. He declines as he indicates his missing arm and says, "Look at me, Sara. I'm literally half the man I used to be."

Um... unless there's something going on with him that we can't see, I'd say he's more like a quarter of the man he used to be.

By the way, the one-armed, bearded Ollie we see here is obviously based on the one from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns comic from the 1980s.

• I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. Ever since Oliver lost his arm in The Uprising, he's apparently been brooding in the shadows of the Arrow Cave, watching Star City burn around him.

I could understand this in ordinary circumstances, since a one-armed archer isn't going to be of much help. But when Canary and the others first enter the Arrow Cave, we see a sleek, high-tech bionic arm lying on a pile of boxes. Apparently Oliver's had a fully functioning mechanical arm all this time that he could have been using.

Then after Connor is captured, Canary goes to Ollie to persuade him to help. How does she accomplish this? Does she give him an impassioned, twenty minute speech? Does she tearfully appeal to what's left of his humanity? Does she threaten to kill his dog if he doesn't help?

Nope, none of those. She simply says, "Ollie, I need your help," and he says, "K." Next thing we know he's back in action, kicking ass with his bionic arm.

That all seemed incredibly easy. And it only underscored the fact that Ollie could have been doing this all along, for the past fifteen years, but for some inexplicable reason chose not to. Instead of making him look like an epically tragic figure, he comes off as more of a selfish jerk.

This is another reason why this episode should have been a two parter. Then they'd have had more time to come up with a more rational reason for Ollie refusing to help until now.

• One last thing about Old Man Ollie. Given the time frame, he's got to be in his sixties here. He's incredibly built and awfully spry for a senior citizen! Has he really been down there in the Arrow Cave doing one-armed salmon ladders all these years? And if so, why? Was he waiting for just the right time to make his dramatic reappearance?

• Series about time travel can be confusing. They often lay down ground rules for how time travel works, and then ignore them when it's convenient to the plot. That's definitely true with Legends Of Tomorrow.

Oliver tells Canary that all his friends and associates are dead or gone, which is why the city's currently in the crapper. He heavily implies that this downfall is partly the fault of Canary and Atom, who disappeared in 2016 and never returned.

Obviously this "disappearance" is when they joined Rip Hunter and formed the Legends. It's like this episode is telling us the two of them are completely removed from history as long as they're on Hunter's team. That doesn't sound right. As soon as they kill Vandal Savage, which they eventually will, Hunter will take them back to 2016 and it'll be like they never left.

In essence the episode is saying this— you exist when you get up in the morning, but as soon as you get in your car and drive to work, you disappear. From that point on, your boss will wonder what happened to you, as you never show up for work again. Then once you arrive at your job and get out of your car, you're part of the timeline again.

Sounds like someone on the writing staff doesn't understand how the imaginary rules of time travel work!

• This episode glosses over some more time travel shenanigans, because it's too busy dealing with all the high school romance. 

Canary wants to save Connor after he's capture by Deathstroke II. Hunter tells her that the future is always in flux until it's "set," and that this is only a possible timeline. It may never come to pass. So far so good, as that sounds reasonable to me.
But Canary won't listen and insists on risking her life— and the lives of her teammates—  to save Connor and Star City.

Is it really worth possibly dying to save a timeline that may end up being erased? It's an interesting question. My vote would be no. Wouldn't it be a better idea to go further into the past and pinch off this timeline so it never happens in the first place?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Agent Carter Season Two, Episodes 8 & 9: The Edge Of Mystery And A Little Song And Dance

Once again, this week we get back to back episodes of Agent Carter, as ABC seemingly tries to burn off the series as quickly as possible.

We're in the home stretch now, as the show's setting up all the various pieces for next week's big season (or will it be series?) finale.

But just because there was a story to get through, that doesn't mean the characters were too busy to take time out for a rousing Hollywood musical number! Yep, you read right, the entire cast of Agent Carter (well, maybe not Kurtwood Smith) sang and danced their hearts out in a dream sequence in Peggy's head. 

It was a bold move to say the least, especially for a comic book spy show. I can only imagine what viewers who tuned in late must have thought when they saw the cast kicking up their heels in a chorus line. I can just imagine them saying, "What the hell is this?" just before they changed the channel!

The dream sequence also provided an excuse for the return of Angie Martinelli, Peggy's gal pal who first appeared last season. A lot of fans were disappointed that Angie wasn't a regular this year. Eh, it didn't bother me. Angie's a waitress in New York, so it would have been quite a stretch if they'd have had her follow Peggy out to sunny L.A. Much like Lenny and Squiggy just happening to follow Laverne when she moved from Milwaukee to California on Laverne & Shirley.

Believe it or not, there's a large number of fans out there who would love to see Peggy dump Chief Sousa and hook up with Angie. Hear that noise? It's the sound of thousands of fans pounding out tons of Peggy/Angie slash fiction. The world of fandom can be scary sometimes...

Ever since Whitney Frost was introduced at the beginning of the season, I hoped we'd eventually get to see her as Madame Masque from the comics (especially after she developed that big ol' crack in the side of her face). At this point it looks like that's probably not going to happen. Or if it does, it'll happen in the final seconds of the season finale. Pity.


The Plot:
Once again this "two hour event" is just two episodes aired one after the other.

The Edge Of Mystery
Picking up where we left off last week, Mrs. Jarvis is still in a coma after being shot by Whitney Frost. Jarvis sits by her bedside, promising anything if she'll come back to him. 

Meanwhile Peggy meets with Sousa, who tells her Whitney Frost is holding Dr. Wilkes hostage in exchange for the uranium rods they stole from Roxxon a few episodes back. Peggy says they'll give Frost the rods and anything else she wants to get Wilkes back. In order to find Frost, they visit her new beau, mob boss Joseph Manfredi. Peggy beats up his goons, and for some unfathomable reason he then sits down to a nice Italian dinner with her to discuss Frost and her plans. Peggy gives him a message to pass on to Frost.

Frost is examining Wilkes, asking him if he hears "it." Apparently she hears some sort of mysterious Zero Matter voice in her head, calling to her. Wilkes says he hears it too, but wants nothing to do with it. Frost wants to embrace the voice, thinking it'll increase her power. Manfredi enters and says Peggy wants to exchange the rods for Wilkes.

At the hospital, Ana finally wakes up, but the news isn't all good. The doctor tells Jarvis that due to her injuries, Mrs. Jarvis will never be able to have children. You can practically hear the sad violins. He returns to Stark Mansion, where Peggy and Sousa watch Samberly create fake uranium rods to fool Frost. Jarvis insists on coming with them, to get revenge on Frost for shooting his wife. Howard Stark sends Samberly plans for a gamma cannon that can eliminate Zero Matter. Peggy orders Samberly to build the machine. Chief Thompson arrives and tells Peggy he's uncovered dirt on her, and tries to blackmail her into returning to New York with her. Peggy simply ignores him. If only things like that were as easy in real life.

Peggy and crew arrive at Frost's place and they exchange Wilkes for the uranium. Unfortunately the case breaks open (D'oh) and since no one blows up, Frost realizes she's been duped. Peggy and her crew hop in their van and drive off. Wilkes then grabs Sousa's gun, which surprises everyone, considering he's supposed to be intangible. He holds Peggy at gunpoint, demanding to know where the real rods are hidden. Sousa tells him they're at the SSR, and Wilkes, who can apparently now control his density, leaps through the side of the van, which is actually pretty cool. He's then picked up by Frost's men.

Frost tells Vernon Masters that the rods are hidden in a wall safe at the SSR. As he opens the safe, he's confronted by Thompson. When Peggy and Sousa arrive at the SSR, they find a disoriented Thompson, who's been zapped by the mind control gizmo Samberly invented a few episodes back in The Atomic Job. Luckily he wrote down a series of coordinates before he was zapped, which makes this entire scene a moot time-killer. Peggy realizes the coordinates are where Frost will try to reopen the Zero Matter rift.

Jarvis visits Rose and asks her to look after Ana, giving her a box full of her favorite items (which also includes his will). Uh-oh.

Frost, Wilkes and Manfredi's goons drive to the coordinates, which are in the middle of the desert. She uses the uranium rods to recreate the atomic blast that opened the Zero Matter rift. Amazingly it works, and an ominous black crack opens in the sky above the desert. Suddenly Wilkes is lifted up into the sky, while Frost remains behind, shrieking that life's not fair. Wilkes is sucked into the rift.

Meanwhile Peggy and her team arrive on a nearby ridge and witness what's happening. Dr. Samberly sets up the hastily constructed gamma cannon, which he apparently built in about ten minutes. Jarvis sees Frost and jumps in the car, eager for revenge. Peggy jumps in after him as he speeds off. He drives down to the bomb site, and before Peggy can stop him, Jarvis guns down Frost in cold blood!. Day-um, Jarvis, you cold! Peggy orders Samberly to fire the cannon, which closes the rift. Jason falls out of it, which is a first, as the Zero Matter's never returned anyone before. As he lands on the desert floor, his skin crawls alarmingly for a few seconds. Frost's Zero Matter powers heal her gunshot wounds, and she captures Peggy and Jarvis.

A Little Song And Dance
While Peggy's out cold, she dreams she's in a 1940s Hollywood musical number, which, though it was fun, serves no narrative purpose whatsoever and fans are either going to love it or loathe it.

Peggy wakes up and sees she's in the back of a van with Jarvis. She tells him it's all his fault that they're in a pickle, because he doesn't treat these "adventures" seriously enough. She frees them with some SSR tech, and they start trudging through the desert.

Meanwhile Sousa, Thompson and Samberly are standing in the desert, wondering what to do next. An SSR car approaches, and Sousa recognizes the men inside as the ones Vernon used to beat him up a few episodes back. Thompson says they're coming to kill Sousa and Samberly, and pretends to capture them in order to save their lives and get everyone back to the SSR.

Wilkes, who was unconscious when ejected from the rift, wakes up in the back of Frost's car. She wants to know what he saw inside the rift and why he came back. He says all he saw was darkness, and it's not safe to be around him. Frost discovers Peggy and Jarvis have escaped. Manfredi takes Frost to her new lab, aka his waste management facility. She begins experimenting on Wilkes, trying to extract the Zero Matter from him. Boy, this sure would be a good time for him to willingly become intangible again, wouldn't it? Apparently he's lost that ability?

Back at the SSR, there's all sorts of confusing double crosses. Thompson tells Masters that the gamma cannon can destroy Frost, so he agrees to help them, since he wants her dead. Peggy and Jarvis return to the SSR, and she when she sees Masters she punches him. She doesn't believe he's really working with them, but he tells that all of themMasters, Thompson and Peggy— have dirt on one another, so no one will think of betraying the others.

Thompson then visits Frost and tells her the SSR plans to use the cannon on her. He says he'll personally deliver both Masters and the cannon to her, in exchange for a seat on the Council Of Nine. Is Thompson serious, or is this all part of some scheme?

Masters and Thompson leave with the cannon, and as Peggy and Sousa try to follow, they find their car's been sabotaged. Samberly says it's part of Thompson's plan, as he's going to turn the gamma cannon into a bomb and kill Frost, Wilkes and Masters all in one go. Fortunately the bomb has a remote trigger, so Samberly builds a jammer to stop it from being used. They take another car and follow Masters.

Peggy sees Masters take the gamma cannon into Frost's lair. At the last second she decides to go in and save Wilkes. She finds him, but he doesn't want to be saved, since he tried to kill her. Masters points the cannon at Frost, "to show her how it works." Thompson points a gun at Masters, and he realizes he's been double crossed. Peggy convinces Wilkes to come with her, but as she leaves the room he locks himself inside, as the Zero Matter begins engulfing his body. Samberly manages to jam the cannon's signal just as Thompson was about to set it off. Frost is furious with Masters, and fills him with Zero Matter. Just then, Wilkes stumbles into the room and explodes.

• Joseph Manfredi seems awfully friendly and accommodating to Peggy & Jarvis this week. Peggy enters his restaurant, beats up all his goons, and then saunters into his kitchen. Apparently he's so impressed by this that he invites her and Sousa to sit down to dinner with him in the kitchen of his restaurant! 

This is especially puzzling, considering last week in Monsters he tried to kill her! I honestly didn't understand anything about this scene.

• Dr. Samberly, the designated comedy relief, spends most of both episodes whining about how his genius is unappreciated by the SSR brass. He's particularly miffed that Chief Sousa doesn't know his middle name (!). Who would? Well, Peggy would, of course. She knows his full name is Aloysius Herbert Samberly.

Toward the end of the second episode Sousa gets so fed up with Samberly's constant whinging that he threatens to either fire him or kill him. I can sympathize with Sousa here. Samberly's complaining has gone from humorous to downright annoying.

• Howard Stark sends Samberly plans for a gamma cannon. That can't be good, as we all know what gamma rays do in the Marvel Universe.

• At the hospital, a doctor tells Jarvis that due to her injuries, Ana will never be able to have kids. Oh no! What a tragedy, considering how the Jarvises were constantly going on about having kids some day. Wait, that's not right. They've never, ever mentioned it, not even once.

Yawn. Obviously this is supposed to be a huge blow that tugs at our heartstrings, but it left me rolling my eyes. Of course it is a tragedy for some, and I don't mean to make light of it. But in popular fiction it's one of the biggest cliches there is. Hollywood believes the worst thing that can possibly happen to a woman is to become barren, because of course having a child is the only way a woman can be fulfilled, right? That's why they exist!

Given some of the other insights we've seen during the season, I thought the Agent Carter writers were better than this, but apparently not.

• At the SSR, Vernon Masters opens a wall safe hidden behind a poster of the periodic table. The second I saw this table, I knew it was going to spell trouble for the show. By my count this table contains 118 elements. Yep, I knew it! That's not right!

118 is the number of elements we have now. There were way fewer known elements in 1947. Scientists have discovered twenty one more elements since 1950, so the SSR's table is woefully anachronistic!

• Jarvis asks Rose to watch over Ana while he's away and gives her his will while he's at it. A close up of the will shows it's dated July 9, 1947. It's never actually stated, but it's implied that he made out the will after Ana was shot, when he decided to kill Whitney Frost.

Hmm. A few weeks ago in Better Angels, Peggy reads a current newspaper dated July 19, 1947. So that means Jarvis made out his will ten days before Ana was shot, and not after. July 9 was likely before all the events of this season even started, so why would he make out his will before he went on any "adventures?" Methinks the prop man goofed up here.

• Thompson somehow flies over to England in what appears to be the space of an hour (in 1947 yet). While there he he contacts an old war chum to dig up any dirt he can find on Peggy.

His pal finds him a redacted file that's mostly blacked out. Thompson uses a cool piece of SSR tech (invented by Howard Stark?) that sees through the black-out bits, and reads it.

Thompson reads two lines stating, "No civilians were spared from the massacre," and "Agent M. Carter, S.O.E."

"M. Carter" is obviously Peggy's brother Michael, who we met in Smoke And Mirrors

So why would a scandal involving Michael affect Peggy? Because they're related? Because he recommended her for the S.O.E. (the precursor of the SSR)? I don't get it.

WHOOPS! I just remembered, for some insane reason, "Peggy" is a nickname for "Margaret." So this is probably Peggy's file after all!

• So... a musical number, eh? That was certainly an interesting choice for a show like this. I'm not sure it was an appropriate one though. Yeah, it was kind of fun to see the cast displaying their other talents, but it just felt... off and very out of place to me. 

Take Sousa, for instance. Supposedly he lost a leg in the war. Seeing him twirling around and dancing without his trademark crutch only underscored the fact that he's an actor playing a part, and pretty much destroyed any reality the show may have had. For me, at least.

On the other hand, who knew Enver Gjokaj, aka Sousa, could sing and dance? Jarvis even got in on the action too, but he must have two left feet, because his big number consisted of him swaying back and forth slightly, and not much else.

• Frost detonates an atomic bomb in the desert to open another Zero Matter rift. Seconds after the detonation, most of the cast wanders to within ten or twenty feet of the rift and stares up at it. 

Um... did the rift absorb all the radiation from the atom bomb? I sure hope so, or else Peggy and the rest of the cast are gonna be dead in a month.

• After Wilkes returns from the Zero Matter rift, his skin seems to crawl for a few seconds, as if there's something moving underneath. The effect looked A LOT like the one we saw when Ward was taken over by the alien entity on Maveth over on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. a few months back. Coincidence? Probably not, since this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe and everything's connected.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Marvel Vs Marvel

This week everyone's buzzing about the new Deadpool movie, which has already made a skajillion dollars and is on track to become the most successful R-rated movie ever.

A lot of people are congratulating Marvel Studios for pumping out yet another huge box office hit. Trouble is, this isn't a Marvel movie. Marvel Studios had absolutely nothing to do with Deadpool! It was made by 20th Century Fox.

See, Fox owns the movie rights to all the various X-Men characters, as well as the Fantastic 4Deadpool is considered an X-Men character, so Fox got custody of him. Sony owns the movie rights to Spider-Man (although they've recently made a complicated deal allowing him to appear in Marvel Studios films). 

Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, everyone in The Avengers, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man all belong to Marvel Studios.

I can see how it could be tough for the average movie goer to figure out what movie was made by which studio, but it's actually pretty simple. There are two different Marvel logos, one for movies made by Marvel Studios, and one for those that aren't.

Non-Marvel Studios movies like The X-MenFant4stic, Spider-Man and Deadpool sport a simple logo on a red field.

Films actually made by Marvel Studios, like Iron Man and The Avengers, also feature a Marvel logo on a red background, but with the addition of the word "Studios" below.

See? Pretty simple. When the movie starts up, look for the word "Studios" in the logo. If it ain't there, then it's not a Marvel Studios picture.


There's another way to tell if Marvel Studios actually made a movie or not, that involves the opening credits.

Non-Marvel Studios movies, such as Deadpool, begin with a series of comic book images falling into place, much like a flip book.

A two dimentional Marvel logo then slowly moves into view over the "flip book."

As the logo moves farther back, it becomes more distinct.

Eventually the comic pages fade away...

Leaving just the Marvel logo on a red field. 

Additionally, there's no special musical fanfare for the Non-Marvel opening. You simply hear the movie's theme song played over the sequence.


The Marvel Studios intro is much more elaborate.

For one thing, Marvel Studios films all start with the Marvel fanfare. It begins with an urgent, staccato string intro, followed by a soaring, important-sounding brass theme.

Once again, we get the "flip book" effect...

However this time the images are mapped to a three dimensional Marvel logo.

The logo starts out vertically, and then slowly rotates until it's horizontal.

It continues to pull back as the entire word comes into view.

It pulls back some more...

Eventually the comic images fade from the three dimensional letters.

And the flip book fades as well, leaving the logo on a red field.

Then a bright, Abrams-esque lens flare appears below the logo.

It travels across the screen...

The flare fades away, revealing the word "Studios" under the logo. Note that at this point the logo is still three dimensional, and is casting a shadow on the red background.

The logo then flattens and becomes two dimensional. That's how you know you're about to watch a true Marvel Studios film!


It might be better if the Non-Marvel Studios Marvel movies had a different colored logo to help avoid confusion, like this.

Personally I don't think Marvel Studios should label movies they didn't make with their logo at all! Marvel Studios had to know that 2015's Fant4stic was going to be a box office stinker. Plus I know from personal experience that a good portion of the movie-going public assumed it was a Marvel Studios film. What possible purpose did it serve Marvel Studios to let people think they dropped that particular cinematic deuce? If anything it harmed their brand rather than helped it.

If they were smart they'd completely remove their name from films made by other studios. Or at the very least come up with an alternate logo that explains it.
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