Kang the Conqueror is Coming for the MCU

Last Monday it was reported that Jonathan Majors will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man 3. Majors broke out in 2019’s The Last Black Man In San Francisco and currently stars in HBO’s Lovecraft Country. He will now bring his talents to a villain whose big-screen debut has long been awaited by fans. In fact, Kang’s entrance to the MCU could have major (no pun intended) implications for the next phase of films. 

Jonathan Majors | Profile & Filmography | Fried Plantains
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Who is Kang?

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Kang the Conqueror has no superpowers but is a scientific genius from the 31st century. A historian obsessed with mankind’s past, Kang discovers time-traveling technology and uses it to leave his influence throughout human history. He does so by utilizing his access to advanced, futuristic technology to conquer ancient civilizations. In his first comic book appearance in Fantastic Four #19, he became Pharoah Rama-Tut of Egypt before being defeated by Marvel’s First Family as they were lost in time. He then became a consistent rogue for the Avengers, including founding member Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. 

Fantastic Four (1961) #19
from Marvel.com

It had been speculated that if Kang came to the MCU it would be against Pym and the Avengers. He will instead face off against the Scott Lang Ant-Man and hopefully (pun intended this time) the Wasp, played by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily, respectively. Kang fits in well with the direction the tiny superhero duo were heading after Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Endgame, where time travel was found to be achievable via the Quantum Realm. Perhaps Scott and Hope will embark on another “time-heist” and run into different iterations of Kang throughout history. Regardless of how it plays out, Kang definitely presents them with their most formidable foe yet. 

To the Future…

Kang’s presence in the MCU could be linked to even more unrevealed elements coming to future films. For example, Kang’s real name is Nathaniel Richards, and he is believed to be a descendant of Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. The time-traveling technology he discovers was also created by Dr. Doom, archvillain of the Fantastic Four and an immense threat to the entire Marvel universe. Therefore, Kang being in the MCU suggests that the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom exist in some capacity as well. Furthermore, when Kang becomes Pharoah of Egypt he plans on mentoring En Sabah Nur, the world’s first mutant who goes on to become Apocalypse. Kevin Feige has already stated the FF and X-Men are “coming home” to the MCU, so Kang’s announcement for Ant-Man 3 could be the first of many signs for their arrival. 

Doctor Doom (2019) #6
from Marvel.com

The revelation that Kang the Conqueror is coming to the MCU is bright news for comic book fans in 2020. I personally have anticipated Kang appearing in a Marvel feature film since the original Fantastic Four movies. Aside from a classic character finally earning his big moment, Kang most likely signifies greater things to come for the MCU. There is also a chance that Kang himself proves to have enough depth to warrant multiple movie appearances. Many believe he will have a role similar to Loki during the Infinity Saga: not the Big Bad that Thanos was (that’s presumably reserved for Galactus or Dr. Doom), but still a persistent antagonizer for Earth’s mightiest heroes.

Kirby 100: Kang, the Conqueror | Marvel
from Marvel.com

Jonathan Majors is yet another strong addition to the star-studded ensemble of the MCU. He will look to continue the streak of intense, villainous performances seen in recent films. Ant-Man 3 currently has no release date but is expected to begin production in early 2021.

Coronavirus Stalls Production On Movies

With the coronavirus affecting the world, it has dampened almost every business. The pandemic has hit Hollywood so severely as multiple film projects had to be put on hold for the safety of its staff and crew. Some films were awaiting release but had to ultimately be pushed back to a later date once the outbreak had come down. With everything put to a halt, it’ll be hard to imagine how the industry will pick back up once everything is back to normalcy. Some of these films started filming even before the coronavirus hit, but most of them remain incomplete afterward.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Wikipedia

Many studios had to hit pause on many of their films that were supposed to start production this year. Disney had a number of projects in the works, including the sequels to Avatar, Marvel’s upcoming film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and a live-action adaptation of Peter Pan & Wendy. Even Sony had to stop pre-production on their video game adaptation of Uncharted for a couple of weeks, causing the studio to move the release date to March 5, 2021. Universal’s upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion was in the middle of production in Hawaii, but they had to stop after the pandemic hit. Warner Bros. may have been hit the hardest since they had multiple big-budgeted films in production like The Batman, Matrix 4, and the next installment to Fantastic Beasts. On top of that, an untitled film about Elvis Presley was in production from the studio, where Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were among the first celebrities to be exposed to the virus. 

Jurassic World 3 title revealed

Production on a couple of indie films were also affected by the coronavirus, forcing most of them to stop filming. Blumhouse was working on a thriller with actor B.J. Novak titled Vengeance, which was being filmed in New Mexico. Other small-budget films were supposed to be shot overseas during the time the pandemic hit. Films The Forgiven and Official Competition were both scheduled to be shooting in Spain until the coronavirus hit, causing production to be delayed. Films like Mission Impossible 7 were also set to film in Italy, where the pandemic hit the hardest. It would be difficult for travel as flying to Europe has been impossible with the pandemic affecting countries worldwide. 

While we don’t know the scope of how long the pandemic will last, it’ll certainly leave a huge impact on the movie industry as studios scramble to determine when is the best time to start production again.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Is The Best And I’ll Prove It

I watched a lot of movies as a kid. My parents were big movie people, so I was in the theater as early as they could bring me. Oh, don’t worry. From their accounts, I was a very quiet baby. I watched a lot of movies, but one of the first movies I ever really remember watching was 20th Century Fox’s live-action Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi. I was immediately in love with the film and, through the years, this love has only grown. 

Oddly, though, the older I’ve gotten, the more that I’ve found that most people my age just don’t like these movies. It confounded me and ended up starting a few friendship-ending arguments in high school. Why couldn’t everyone see how great these movies are? It’s still a question that haunts me to this day. 

So, since we’re all stuck in our homes and Spider-Man is currently available for streaming on different Hulu, I will lay out my argument here. For everyone who hasn’t yet watched Spider-Man or for some reason never liked it, here’s a defense of Sam Raimi’s pre-MCU masterpiece.

Spider-Man was released in 2002 and, while not officially a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it did kick off the obsession with superhero films that would lead us to the epic End Game. It was a massive undertaking, costing the studio $139 million—only about $20 million less than the character’s latest Disney-produced movie. While that may not seem impressive in the massive, blockbuster world of Marvel today, this was unheard of at the time. Spending $139 million on a movie about a comic book character was a risk, banking solely on the security of Marvel’s massively successful X-Men two years prior. 

And it paid off. Spider-Man broke the box office, almost making its budget back in the opening weekend alone and ending its theater run with a whopping $185 million. There were a lot of reasons why this movie was successful and, oddly enough, none of them could be attributed to a lack of quality. 

The effects in the first Spider-Man movie might look cheesy to the CGI-obsessed masses of today, but traditionally horror-focused Sam Raimi was determined to use as many practical effects as he could. Personally, I’m a huge geek for practical effects, so it adds so much to my viewing experience of this film. 

There’s a gif from Spider-Man that circulated online for a while of a scene, in which the character is swinging from his web with Mary Jane in arms. Along with the gif was the explanation that oh my god, they used a Spider-Man statue! We all felt a bit stupid, having not realized it ourselves. But I also remember people criticizing the movie for this. It looks so weird, people said, only having just realized that anything was off at all. But that’s the beauty of the effects in Spider-Man. 

They have to be re-analyzed to be criticized because, for the time, they were pretty incredible. One might say amazing, but I would be prone not to. 

To accurately criticize this trilogy, it’s only fair that we talk about the other iterations of this character and his story. To be perfectly clear, I have pretty strong opinions about all of these iterations. Well, the ones that have been made since 2002. I do really enjoy what Disney has done with the character and I honestly think that there’s a lot of good criticism to be found of Raimi’s films when comparing these. Similarly, I think that there’s a lot of good praise for Raimi when compared to the weird, uncomfortable The Amazing Spider-Man series that we’ve all collectively tried to forget. 

Unfortunately, it’s easier to compare the latter because Disney opted to not make an origin story film (a good decision on their part). This is, I think, the meat of my argument in favor of the original Spider-Man. It is far and away the best origin story that we’ve seen and maybe ever will see for Peter Parker as Spider-Man. 

In Spider-Man, Peter Parker is who he always was: an awkward geek from Queens with a massive crush on his neighbor Mary Jane. An uncle Ben and aunt May. But the story plays out so perfectly from that base. Peter’s interest in Mary Jane makes sense beyond just “she’s hot”. We see him overhear MJ and her father in a fight. We see his interactions with her as his neighbor. He cares about her as a person first, not just as a love interest as The Amazing Spider-Man’s Peter would do later. 

He also has a good but sometimes shaky relationship with his primary caretaker, uncle Ben. The writers completely convince us of their love for each other and of Peter’s craving for independence and power. It’s a dynamic that any young man or, in fact, any young person could relate to. And when Ben dies, we feel just as devastated as Peter does. 

While the internet likes to make fun of Toby Maguire’s crying face, they overlook the true emotion of the moment in context of the film. Every time I watch this movie, no matter my age, I have cried my eyes out at this moment. The loss of a parent, or the equivalent of a parent, is so insanely painful. To see it happen, to have even somewhat had responsibility in it as Peter believes he did, is enough to send you spiraling. Peter in this film deals with a lot of complex emotions and you feel them too. 

The same just can’t really be said for Andrew Garfield’s Peter in The Amazing Spider-Man. This Peter pushed down all of his emotions. He’s cold and doesn’t really learn any lessons through the films. In Amazing, Peter chases criminals and beats them up seemingly for his own peace of mind. Even when he makes a massive mistake, he brushes it off. There is no character development, no growth, and most importantly no empathy. I don’t care about Peter because it’s obvious that he doesn’t really care about anyone else. The same cannot be said for Maguire’s. 

My favorite moment in any Spider-Man film (and possibly any film period) is when Peter’s powers start appearing in Spider-Man. He’s been bitten by a spider, but doesn’t think much about it. But the next morning his glasses blur his sight. He realizes that his sight has improved dramatically. 

He destroys things around the house with his uncontrollable strength. He’s awkward and clumsy and you feel his discomfort as much as his excitement. A few days ago he was being pushed into lockers and today he’s pulling doors off of their handles.

The best scene in the film, hands down, is when he decides to start learning how to scale buildings. As he places each hand on the brick wall, pulling himself up, the score builds with a bouncing bass. It sends chills down my spine just thinking about it. 

Through this whole process, Peter is endearing. That’s what really sells all of it for me. He looks around wide-eyed, just as amazed at what he does as we are. He screams excitedly when he first swings from his web or jumps across buildings. He shouts “GO WEB GO” like some tight-wearing wonder because what else would he try? Superheroes in comic books say silly things. 

Even excluding Peter, almost every character has their own arc. If I were to be critical at all about character development, it would be for that of Mary Jane. But I’m prone to letting that slide because of her arcs in the following two films. 

And since we’re talking about criticism, let’s go into some really valid criticism of Spider-Man. I think the biggest critique that I’ve heard be thrown at this film is the age of the actors and I have to agree. In the 90s and 2000s, it was pretty common for actors in their late-twenties to be cast as teenagers. It was a weird choice that came from the idea that young adults were objectively worse actors, which is obviously not the case when looking at the newer Spider-Man films. 

There’s a lot more criticism to be found in the trilogy, though I don’t think most of it should be aimed at Spider-Man. Honestly, I think that everyone’s memories of this film have been tainted by the beautiful, perfectly memeable garbage fire that was Spider-Man 3. But Spider-Man isn’t a bad movie by any means. It isn’t the worst movie about the character, it isn’t the worst Marvel movie, and it definitely isn’t the worst Toby Maguire movie (looking at you 2013’s The Great Gatsby). 

This film is, by all accounts, great. It’s a fun family adventure that has a lot more depth than you might remember. On rewatch, or even first watch, you might find yourself connecting with the character more than you thought you would. You might even find yourself falling in love with this movie, it’s grand scoring, and even Toby’s performance, as I have. But, hey, it’s okay you don’t like it. We’re all wrong sometimes. 

Doctor Sleep Review | All Ages of Geek

Directed by Mike Flanagan, and starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Kyleigh Curran, Doctor Sleep is the newest Stephen King film adaptation and the third theatrically released Stephen King film of 2019. This is the sequel to The Shining, but it uses elements from both the original source material and the iconic 1980 film directed by Stanley Kubrick which is considered by many to be a masterpiece in the horror genre.

The story follows an adult Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) several years after the trauma, he experienced In the Overlook Hotel. Trying to live a somewhat normal life until he is contacted by another person with the shine, a young girl named Abra (Kyleigh Curran) who has reached out to Danny to stop a supernatural cult of lead by a woman named Rosie (Rebecca Ferguson) from harnessing their powers and very life essence to become immortal.

For a two and a half-hour movie I was invested from start to finish the pacing was perfect not one moment did I feel bored watching this, the slow first act establishes how Danny’s mental state is affected in his adult years and this slower-paced feel gives him more character development and the audience is given a chance to know Danny all over again in a new light, Ewan McGregor portrays Danny’s personality perfectly from the first movie of being very anxious and quiet making for a very intriguing character study for the opening act, Kyleigh Curran gives the best child performance this year and has proven that despite her age she has a commanding screen presence and has a bright career ahead of her, but it is Rebecca Ferguson as Rosie that steals the show with her sadistic and menacing performance making her a formidable and powerful antagonist. All three of these well written and developed characters get equal focus and screen time allowing the audience their motivations and personalities.

The film has some incredible set pieces especially when it comes to recreating the Overlook Hotel which looks like a near-perfect replica of Kubrick’s vision, Mike Flanagan also uses very similar camera work techniques of Kubrick’s to masterfully recreate iconic moments from the shining in a new and interesting way and at the same time he uses his own style with a much darker color palette for the hotel walls giving it a more creepier mysterious vibe compared to the bright colors of the original film.

There are also very clever uses of flashbacks of the original film during the third act which are used perfectly and are not just used as fan service, if you are a fan of The Shining these moments will definitely satisfy you as they did me.

The cinematography by Michael Fimognari is excellent using lighting and camera work in a well-placed manner to give the film an unnerving sense of dread and fear with its disturbing imagery and intense moments. The score composed by The Newton Brothers is very atmospheric making every single moment feel tense and unnerving, there is also a clever use of the Shining theme being incorporated into the opening moments of the film.

As for negatives there were a couple of moments that I found to be unneeded mainly in the first act when the film keeps jumping from location to location showing us all these characters that we don’t get to really know or care about which affects parts of the pacing in the first act but that is more of a minor gripe I have with the film, and the third act has a situation that feels a bit rushed and gets resolved too quick for my liking.

Doctor Sleep is a great continuation of what Kubrick created but it is also a great sequel to King’s original novel and even could be considered a good stand-alone film of its own whether you have read the book or watched the movie of The Shining I highly recommended this film to any fan of Stephen King’s work.

My Score 9/10