Tag Archives: Marvel comics

“We Have to Astonish Them”: Revisiting Astonishing X-Men

The gang over at Fantastic Fangirls declared September to be Revisit Month. With so much new stuff coming out every damn day, I don’t always get a chance to go back and re-read favorite books; however, as luck would have it, I happened upon the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus and couldn’t resist giving Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s epic run another read.

I remember when I first heard that Whedon would be writing X-Men. I was pretty much on board before I finished reading the sentence. Then I found out that Whedon’s team would include Kitty Pryde–neither that fact nor my reaction to that fact should surprise anyone who’s been paying attention. All I had to do was sit back and wait.

Astonishing X-Men came along at a time when I had all but given up on the X-Men. But, as a Whedon fan, I figured I couldn’t go wrong checking out the first issue–even if it meant putting up with Emma Frost (more on that later). I wasn’t disappointed. And, even when I was disappointed, I felt Astonishing X-Men was still better than a lot of other books I was reading. Now that I’ve read the entire run again, I can say that the thing holds up. In fact, it’s possible that I enjoyed it even more the second time.

Since I already sort of knew what was going to happen–mutant cure, Breakworld, Cassandra Nova, S.W.O.R.D.–I was able to focus more on the smaller things. The character moments. Case in point: I hate Emma Frost. A lot. She was the villain in the very first X-Men story I ever read and, no matter how heroic she may or may not be these days, when I look at her I see a villain. However, when Whedon pairs Frost with Kitty Pryde (who, coincidentally, shares my feelings towards Miss Frost)–

–the resulting scenes are pure gold:

(I could easily sit here and do nothing but post images from Astonishing X-Men of Kitty being awesome…but, I won’t. I swear. Moving on…)

Whedon probably could have swept in and done whatever crazy-ass shit he wanted with this book. He’s a name. The book would probably sell solely on that. However, Whedon–a geek at his core–found time to pay homage to the history of these characters, whether it’s the return of the Fastball Special:

or a nod to a classic panel from Uncanny X-Men 132:

Of course, that isn’t to say that  Astonishing X-Men didn’t bring anything new to the table. There was Danger–the physical embodiment of the X-Men’s Danger Room–a storyline which left me somewhat cold during the book’s initial run but was slightly less annoying when it was just a small part of the larger narrative. There was the whole thing about Cyclops losing his powers and essentially becoming Wesley from the later seasons of Angel:

I’m still trying to figure out exactly why this happened. Scott’s lack of control over his incredibly destructive power has always been an important part of who he is as a character, especially when it plays off of the fact that Scott is a huge control enthusiast, so not being in control of his own power must really suck for him. But, I don’t really see that happening this time. Really, the only reason I can think for this to have happened in Astonishing was to have Scott run around with a gun for a while and then to have an awesome four-page-long optic blast:

But, I think the greatest thing that Whedon and Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men brought to the table can be summed up in two words: Abigail Brand. The agent in charge of S.W.O.R.D., another of Marvel’s Amazing Acronym Agencies, Brand’s tasked with keeping Earth safe from alien threats. Also, she apparently has a thing for furry blue guys:

I’m really amazed at how much more I enjoyed Astonishing X-Men the second time. I honestly thought I had experienced maximum enjoyment the first time around…but, I was wrong. Sure, like everyone else, I loved Wolverine’s time as Percy Dovetails (MOOSE!!) and the reunion of Kitty and Colossus choked me up more than a little bit. And, yes, the ending positively killed me. But, something just didn’t click when I was reading it in single issues–a huge chuck of which came out bimonthly. No. I wasn’t truly astonished until I was able to sit down and read the story from the first page to the last in a single (well, okay, double) sitting.

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Let’s Cast…THE YOUNG AVENGERS

One of the things I like about DC Comics is the concept of the legacy hero, wherein a hero’s identity is passed on to a member of the younger generation. For the most part, this really doesn’t happen in the Marvel Universe. That’s why I really dig the Young Avengers. At a time when the Avengers were more or less disbanded, a group of teens adapted heroic identities based on heroes like Captain America and Iron Man and took it upon themselves to fill the void.

If Hollywood were to make a movie out of Young Avengers, I think the first arc–“Sidekicks”–would make a pretty good story to tell. Not only does it do a great job of establishing the characters, but it even has a few cameos from some familiar faces.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Young Avengers…

Tristan Wilds as Patriot/Eli Bradley

Eli is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, one of the first Super-Soldiers created by the U.S. military. Claiming to have received his grandfather’s abilities through a blood transfusion, Eli takes the name Patriot and continues the family tradition. I’d cast The Wire’s Wilds as Eli.

Alexandra Daddario as Hawkeye/Kate Bishop

Kate is the daughter of a wealthy publisher. However, she never felt comfortable living a life of luxury, so she dedicated a lot of her time to charity. A skilled martial artist and deadly accurate with a bow, Kate decided to become the new Hawkeye and do even more to help those in need. Daddario faced monsters and gods in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief…let’s see how she’ll do against supervillains.

Spencer Locke as Stature/Cassandra “Cassie” Lang

The daughter of Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, Cassie grew up idolizing the life of the costumed hero. As Stature, Cassie joins a long line of size-altering heroes like her father, Hank Pym, and Janet Van Dyne. Spencer Locke played K-Mart in Resident Evil: Extinction…if you can dodge a zombie, you can dodge a villain.

Anton Yelchin as Iron Lad/Nathaniel Richards…

…and Vision/Jonas

Iron Lad is responsible for assembling the Young Avengers. Eventually, his armor becomes a newer, younger Vision (don’t ask, it’s complicated). I’d cast Yelchin because…I dunno, it just feels right.

Kevin G. Schmidt as Hulkling/Theodore “Teddy” Altman

As a Kree/Skrull hybrid, Hulkling has super strength, endurance, and shapeshifting abilities. However, Teddy may be the most “human” of any of the Young Avengers.

Nicholas Braun as Wiccan/William “Billy” Kaplan

Believed to be one of Wanda Maximoff’s twin sons, Billy has abilities that are similar to the Scarlet Witch’s chaos magic. Braun was (apparently) in Sky High and that’s good enough for me.

Max Thieriot as Speed/Thomas “Tommy” Shepherd

Billy’s twin brother, Speed somehow managed to inherit his Uncle Pietro’s speed-based powers and brash attitude. To be honest, I really only picked Thieriot because he played Ned in Nancy Drew

Sasha Alexander as Jessica Jones


and Dina Meyer as Kat Farrell


Jones and Farrell play a key role in the first arc of Young Avengers, as they investigate this new group of “Teen Avengers” for The Pulse.

Ryan McPartlin as Captain America/Steve Rogers


and Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark

Let’s throw in a cameo by Captain America and Iron Man. Yes, I know that Chris Evans has been cast as Captain America and, while we have yet to see how he’ll do in the role, I really wanted McPartlin to get the gig. So, since it’s my movie, Chuck’s McPartlin will play Cap.

Clancy Brown as Kang the Conqueror

The time-traveling Kang has been plaguing the Avengers for years, so it’s only fitting that he’d also be a thorn in the side of the Young Avengers. Clancy Brown gives good villain. ‘Nuff said.

Let’s Cast…EXCALIBUR

With this X-Men: First Class prequel slowly rolling forward–not to mention another (crappy, I’m going to assume) Wolverine movie–it looks like Hollywood is doing it damnedest to squeeze every last penny out of Marvel’s Merry Mutants. What I can’t figure out is why they don’t try to mine some of the dozen or so other mutant-related comics in Marvel’s catalog–like the New Mutants. Or Excalibur.

Excalibur was a great series about a team of mutants that drew its roster from both the Marvel UK Captain Britain series and the X-Men. For a very long time, Excalibur was my very favorite series…then it was canceled and replaced with numerous sub-par relaunches. For an Excalibur movie, I’d (more or less) use the roster from the later issues.

Kevin McKidd as Captain Britain/Brian Braddock

Between Rome and Journeyman, something tells me that McKidd could handle any kind of weird that a movie like this would throw at him.

Georgia Moffett as Meggan

Moffett’s got the pixie-ish look that I’d want to see in the actress cast as Braddock’s girlfriend and teammate, Meggan–the mutant elf shapeshifting elemental. (Also, the fact that just mentioning Moffett’s name sends the David Tennant fangirls into a suicidal rage fills me with glee.)

Natalia Tena as Psylocke/Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock

Although usually a member of the X-Men, I’d want to have Brian’s sister on this team…mostly because I think Natalia Tena is made of awesome.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner

I like JGL. If he can pull off a passable German accent, I think he’s got the right body type and facial features to play Nightcrawler. Also, he kind of owes me for G.I. Joe.

Mekenna Melvin as Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde

Kitty matured a lot during her time with Excalibur. As Casey’s daughter on Chuck, Melvin gave the impression that–despite her age and inexperience–she could, very easily, become a part of Team Bartowski.

Alexander Nevsky as Colossus/Piotr Rasputin

Nevsky is a huge Russian dude, I think that’s enough. (He was also in a movie called Moscow Heat…which just really tickles me.)

Lindy Booth as Marvel Girl/Rachel (Summers) Grey

Rachel was there from Day One. Booth’s got sass. Rachel’s got sass. I like sass.

Dylan Moran as Pete Wisdom

Go watch Black Books…I’ll wait…

Karen Gillan as Wolfsbane/Rahne Sinclair

Scottish? Check. Redhead? Check.

Jesse Eisenberg as Douglock

Okay…Douglock is (essentially) some strange amalgam of Warlock and Doug Ramsey (aka Cypher). Now, while I had originally cast Chris Colfer as Cypher in my New Mutants movie, I decided to go with someone different to be the fake Doug.

Gina Bellman as Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Moira had a long history with the X-Men–as friend, associate, and lover of Charles Xavier–before Excalibur started using her mutant research center on Muir Island as a base of operations. Why Bellman? Why not?

To Me, My X-Men!

Do you know what the world needs? An all-ages, continuity-free X-Men title. A title where characters don’t die horribly (over and over again), where they don’t carry on lurid telepathic affairs, and where they don’t form blood-thirsty, baby-killing death squads.

To be honest, I’m kind of shocked Marvel doesn’t already have an X-Men title in their Marvel Adventures line. Good thing I’m around.

Time to fire up Cerebro and find us some mutants…

Cyclops (Scott Summers)

I know a lot of people don’t like Cyke because he’s all about rules and strategy and that’s just not “sexy.” But, y’know, every team needs this guy. Where would the Ninja Turtles be without Leonardo?

Marvel Girl (Jean Grey)

Can’t have Scott without Jean. Besides, I like Jean. Not a fan of the whole Phoenix identity…but I’m not sure that “Marvel Girl” is an appropriate name for Ms. Grey, either.

Beast (Hank McCoy)

No cats. Ever.

Wolverine (Logan)

I’d keep Wolverine the cranky, fly-in-the-ointment character he was meant to be. The title is X-Men…not Wolverine and Some Other Folks.

Storm (Ororo Munroe)

Despite the laughably horrible performance by Halle Berry, I do like Storm and always save a spot for her on any incarnation of the X-Men.

Rogue

I’ve always liked Rogue. It could be the accent. Personally, I like the original recipe Rogue, before she went and permanently absorbed Ms. Marvel’s powers.

Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde)

Shut up!

Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner)

I refuse to live in a world where Kurt is dead. This way,  I wouldn’t have to.

Colossus (Piotr Rasputin)

I think Pete, here, has the same kind of “he’s not a bad boy so he ain’t cool” stigma that Scott has. Too bad being (or, at least, trying to be) a good person doesn’t get the same kind of respect that being a douche gets.

Iceman (Bobby Drake) and Angel (Warren Worthington, III)

This roster is kind of out of control…and, even though I like Bobby and Warren, I’m not sure they need to be on the team.  Of course, with 3/5 of the original team here, I’d feel bad leaving them out.

Professor Charles Xavier

And, behind it all, I’d have Professor Charles “Hope You Don’t Mind if I Live Vicariously Through My Teenage Students’ Hooking Up With Each Other” Xavier. 

Browncoats Assemble!

A few days ago–April 1, to be precise–I saw a story about Joss Whedon’s name being thrown around as a possible director for Marvel’s upcoming Avengers movie. Given the date, I refused to believe it. Until this morning, when I saw this story.

I like Joss Whedon. I like Buffy. I like Firefly and Astonishing X-Men and Dr. Horrible. I know there’s a lot of Joss-hating going on these days, but I still like the guy. So, I’m going to remain excited that maybe…just maybe…Joss will get a shot at directing Avengers

Assemble This, Part Two: The Major Motion Picture

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about who I’d want on the Avengers. Since then, Marvel has announced the actual rosters for two of the fifteen* new Avengers titles that are coming our way later this year. Personally, I think I’d still rather see my lineup. But, since that doesn’t seem likely to happen, the least I can do is make a movie in my brain with these characters. (We’re going to have to ignore a very old post wherein I already cast an Avengers movie. Hey, times change, deal with it.)

Ryan McPartlin as Captain America/Steve Rogers

Yeah…I’m still pulling for Chuck‘s Captain Awesome to play Captain America.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sean Bean as Thor

Yeah…I know they’re making a Thor movie and they’ve already cast some guy–an actor? a football player? an underwear model? I dunno… The point is, Bean should play the Norse god of thunder.

Jensen Ackles as Hawkeye/Clint Barton

Admit it: Dean Winchester is pretty much just Hawkeye with a shotgun.

Anna Torv as Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse

TORV!

Tricia Helfer as Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers

Personally, I never really dug Helfer on BSG. But, as the nefarious Carla on Burn Notice? Now we’re talking. I’d like to see what she can do with Ms. Marvel.

Bridget Regan as Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew

Yeah…I dunno…just because.

Alexandra Daddario as Stature/Cassie Lang

I know, I know…she’s a brunette and Cassie is a blonde. Well, calm down, there’s this new shit called hair dye that can change the color of a person’s hair. Why her? Well, someone obviously thought she was plucky enough to play Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, so I imagine she’s plucky enough to play Stature.

Anton Yelchin as Vision/Jonas

I like this kid. I thought he was great as Chekov in Star Trek and part of me feels he could really nail this younger version of Vision.

Katharine Isabelle as Firestar/Angelica Jones

I can’t figure out if Katharine Isabelle is irrationally despised or just criminally underrated. I’m not saying she hasn’t been in some questionable productions…but, she’s also been in some pretty good shit, too.

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*: Or four. Are there four? I think there are four.

Let’s Cast…RUNAWAYS

Fact: Whenever I hear someone talking about the upcoming Joan Jett biopic, I get super-excited. Then I realize it isn’t about the real Runaways. But, rumor has it that a movie based on Marvel’s popular series may, in fact, be on the way. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I’d be to see a feature film based on Runaways: the story of six kids who learn that their parents are honest-to-god supervillains and how they band together to defeat them.

I think it’s probably a no-brainer that the movie should be based on the first arc of the series. But, who should play each of the principal characters?

Percy Daggs III as Alex Wilder

Daggs was great as Wallace on Veronica Mars. He’s proven he can play funny, sweet, and loyal…I can’t imagine he’d have a problem tapping into darker characteristics to play the Runaways de facto leader.

Amanda Seyfried as Karolina Dean

Seyfried may be too old to play a teenager, but look at her. She’s the spitting image of the Runaway’s resident alien.

David Gallagher as Chase Stein

The son of mad scientists, Chase is the team’s resident hot-headed jock. He wears Fistigons–powerful, flame-producing gauntlets–stolen from his parents and is the only one who can control the Runaway’s ship, Leapfrog. I kind of remember Gallagher from 7th Heaven, and he sufficiently impressed me with his recent role on Smallville, so let’s give the kid a shot.

Devon Aoki as Nico Minoru

Not gonna lie: one of the reasons I’d cast Aoki as the daughter of dark wizards is that Nico is a very emotional character and I’d like to see Aoki have more than three lines of dialogue in one of her movies.

Abigail Breslin as Molly Hayes

Go on…tell me I’m wrong. Do it. I dare you.

Tina Majorino as Gertrude Yorkes

Gertrude’s my favorite Runaway–well, tied with Molly at the very least–and she’s always kind of reminded me of Majorino’s character from Veronica Mars. Maybe I’d ask Stan Lee to play Gertrude’s genetically engineered dinosaur Old Lace. Or maybe not.

The Pride

Idris Elba and Michael Michele as Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder

Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz as Dale and Stacey Yorkes


Joel Gretsch and Jeri Ryan as Frank and Leslie Dean

Alan Tudyk and Stephanie Romanov as Victor and Janet Stein

Jeffrey Donovan and Carla Gugino as Gene and Alice Hayes

Daniel Dae Kim and Ming-Na as Robert and Tina Minoru

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As the series progressed, the Runaways encounter other kids in similar situations. Since this movie would kick ass, there would totally be a sequel. Runaways 2: Still Runnin’ would introduce

Rick Gonzales as Victor Mancha

Gonzales seemed capable of dealing with devils, demons, and reapers on Reaper, so I imagine he’d be able to handle playing technopathic cyborg Victor Mancha.

Dana Davis and Lee Thompson Young as Xavin

Those wacky Skrulls, always with the shapeshifting. Dana Davis (Bones, Heroes) and Lee Thompson Young (Friday Night Lights, Smallville) would have to share the role of the Skrull prince who also happens to be Karolina’s betrothed.