Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has all the tense action and one liners you would expect based off the history of the franchise. But I hope you don’t expect anything more than a template of a story to support it.

The first hour of this movie plays like it was written with some basic storytelling application. I can just see the “writer” selecting: Insert > Character > Friendly but ultimately untrustworthy, or Layout > Impending Disaster > Volcano, from the menu system and then accepting all the defaults. It’s that genetic… I mean generic. ūüôā

At least Chris Pratt delivers his usual entertaining performance. Mainly because he’s the only interesting character in the movie.

The good news is that my 5 year old niece was enthralled with the movie, particularly with¬†Blue. I’m pretty sure she thinks¬†Blue is the main character in the story.

I could go on and on with the many ways that JW:FK fails, but instead I made that a separate post, full of spoilers, so read the link below if you care. (Suggestion: if you finish the movie and enjoyed it then don’t read my evisceration of a review below. I don’t want to ruin it for you. But if you, like myself, were disappointed, it might be worth your time.)

Grade: C-

Jurassic World: Missed Opportunities

Jurassic Movies Review and Rewatch Page on RunPee.com (link to be added soon)

Sand: A Star Wars Story (Darth Vader Hates This Song)

Too bad there’s so much sand in the Star Wars universe.

When I first heard this song about Star Wars and Sand, I played it a few times and realized it was way too catchy — impossible to tune out. But it’s so darn cute I don’t mind having the Force bouncing around in my skull for a spell.

The funny thing, in the wake of my post-bliss big-screen experience with Solo: A Star Wars Story, I decided to do an entire chronological re-watch of the entire Star Wars saga (excluding the animated movie and series for now). So two nights ago I saw Phantom Menace again (I’m more forgiving of it every time), then listened to the song. Huh. Really does fit in there.

Last night I watched Attack of the Clones, and then listened to the song a few more times, which really cracked me up. It’s so cringe-inducing listening to Anakin try to flirt with Padme by telling her his problem with sand getting everywhere. Not a romantic image. [pullquote]If your mind mentally replaces the original commonly used words in the prequels with SAND, it’s a bit of awesome.[/pullquote]

Tonite I’ll finish the prequels with Revenge of the Sith, and I expect the song to reach the highest heights of meme humor. Inserting the dread word SAND with almost any line by Anakin improves the experience immeasurably. We finally see why Anakin Force-choked his pregnant wife, fought Obi-Won, and turned the keeping of his soul over to the foul Emperor Palpatine (it was all because of Sand). Remember, in the words of young Ani, “Sand is very, very dangerous.”

And how does his son Luke beat him in Return of the Jedi? He had more Sand.

BTW, if you’re one of the Sandpeople on Tatooine, watch your back: Anakin will bust up your Sandy ways. Why? Because Sand is¬†course, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. (Clearly, there’s no better reason to become a genocidal psychopath.) I think he only loved Padme for being soft and smooth. (Until she fell in love with the Sand.)

These lines are no more strange than the awkward ones Lucas gave us, so go with it. Where’s a sandworm when you need one?

Is Deadpool in the Avengers’ Universe?

[pullquote]It’s established that Deadpool swims in his own little eddy in the great Marvel River.[/pullquote] Marvel is a pretty big entertainment property,¬† spanning The X-Men (including¬† Deadpool as their R-rated step-child), the MCU, the comics, and a whole host of related TV shows falling under the franchise’s umbrella.

It’s not a free-for-all, though it seems like one. The MCU stands alone, keeping the heroes in its galaxy firmly to themselves. [pullquote position=”right”]And Deadpool is definitely set within¬† the X-Men lineup (little as they seem to want anything to do with him — they find Deadpool even less of a team player than Woverine and far more annoying).[/pullquote]

Here are the little hints that Deadpool might be straddling both ends of the Marvel worlds.

WARNING: Spoilery spoilers below…¬†

Wade Wilson/Deadpool cracks a lot of jokes about things a fictional character shouldn’t know. He’s aware of himself as a comic book anti-hero and of his own movie actor, Ryan Reynolds (whom he shoots in DP2, mid-credits, to Canada’s “everlasting gratitude”).

He knows about the multiple X-Men timelines, the continuity breaks, and how different actors are currently playing the same roles (“McAvoy or Stewart? I can never keep these timelines straight”).

He knows pop culture and the difference between the Marvel and DC worlds.[pullquote position=”right”] And while the powers that be try to contain him within that R-rated eddy of the X-Men river, we see hints that the Avengers are also in his universe,¬† peripherally.[/pullquote]

As I watched the Deadpool double feature last week, I made¬† some notes hinting that Wade Wilson might live a little in the same cinematic universe at the MCU. I’m sure there are other clues that I missed, and we’re not even going to mention the asides about¬†mothers named Martha and how dark the DCU is:¬†

That Big Old S.H.E.I.L.D. Helicarrier:

At the end of the first movie, the climactic set piece is aboard one of the Avenger’s flying aircraft carriers. It’s a derelict, presumably on the scrap docks after the Battle of New York, but still clearly marked as one of Nick Fury’s own. Keep an eye out for the sign behind Francis and Wade as they tussle. You can catch bits of the words here and there, warning people to “beware of jet blast, propellers and rotors”¬†(see minute 0.05).¬† Then, the wide shots show most clearly what this hunk of junk really is. It’s very recognizable to MCU fans.

Nick Fury:

In the stinger after DP1’s credits, Deadpool chides us all to go home, before releasing the bomb that Cable will be in the next movie (played perhaps by Keira Knightly)…and that there could be a Samuel Jackson cameo, with an eyepatch, if they are lucky. Fury, as we know, assembled the Avengers in the first place.

Hawkeye In Deadpool 2:

When Deadpool gets his control collar on, he loses his powers. Ever ready to poke fun at the Avengers, he says something like, “Now I’m only as strong as Haweye!” Dis! But also, yeah: Hawkeye shoots a mean bow, but so did Katniss. So Hawkeye’s a now a male Katniss. Why he’s even on the Avengers core team is a story for another day.

Clips from DP2 are not released yet, but here is a little comic book scene establishing their psuedo-frenemy-partnership:

Stan Lee appears in both DP films, in one way or another. We can’t actually count this as just an MCU thing — Stan Lee appears in everything he’s laid a finger on. Stan Lee is like a demi-god in the Marvel worlds (and we recently discovered his overarching “Watcher Informant” role to the Marvel’s intergalactic mightiest). Here Stan Lee makes another delightful cameo in this early teaser for the Deadpool 2 film:

And then we have this delightful letter, with Deadpool trying to join the Avengers. Tony Stark is brutally clear: “No. Absolutely not. Go bother Professor X. No.”

I know I missed more references. And you bet I will hunt them down and pin them to this page like a live bug.

———–

Here’s someone else’s hard work about how DP is secretly an MCU member:

Or tell me what I missed in the comments and I’ll give the credit to you.¬† Enjoy, maybe over a nice chimichanga.

Amd remember, Deadpool can say chimichanga in seven languages. Can you?

 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Party in San Diego

Last night Solo: A Star Wars Story splashed across screens in the US, to much excitement and fanfare. Everyone loves Harrison Ford’s Han, so people were excited and curious to see a different actor’s take on the iconic character.

[pullquote]Geek that I am, I looked around for a party full of fellow fans to share the anticipation with before the movie premiered. [/pullquote]The best option in San Diego was a downtown shindig hosted by the Fleet Planetarium, with a 21+ pre-movie party full of activities, and a special screening of Solo at the Horton Plaza Regal Cinema. We met at a venue called The Sandbox. Here are the party details.

The party started at 6:30, and while it was a little more low-key than I’d hoped, it was a good time. I got to hang out with Darth Vader (I could not stop calling him My Master, which is just weird, but it felt necessary). There were Storm Troopers, Emperor’s Guards,¬† Kylo Ren, R2D2 (roaming via remote control), and Princess Leia, in full side-buns. Vader even had a voice breathing box — it was uncanny and great fun.

You could interact with the characters and take photos with them, have a few Star Wars themed adult beverages, watch some Star Wars featurettes in a little cinema corner, and do science experiments, courtesy of the Fleet Planetarium.

Some of the experiments were really stretching it to ‘fit’ into the Star War universe: the “Invisibility Cloak”, for example. Last I checked, that was a thing from Harry Potter. Or at least Star Trek, with their cloaking shields. So maybe it didn’t fit, but the experiment was somewhat cool. To wit: if you place a clear glass teardrop into a cup of baby oil, you can’t see it. Really.

Some other activities made more sense — we got to use prisms and 3-D glasses to see light being excited by sodium, potassium, argon and such…relating, of course, to the color of one’s lightsaber.

The worst exhibit showcased gravity acting on a set of plastic beads. Apparently, if you move a string of beads out of a cup a little at a time, eventually gravity takes over and pulls the rest of the beads out. Ohh…kay? I was so flobbered by this demonstration of gravity that all I could say to the nice gent showing off his trick was, “Yes, that would be how gravity works, thank you.”

The shrinky dinks station was the most  fun. There were a variety of blacked-out line drawings to trace onto plastic, which were baked in toaster ovens, resulting in little keychain charms. I made three.

 

There was a nice photo booth with a professional giving out photos for free, so I got to goof around with Princess Leia a bit. Who knew the Princess could lighten up and have a spot of fun?

 

 

Star Wars at Disneyland

From May the 4th through the opening weekend for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has a makeover hailing from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In other words, The Force has taken over.

With Star Wars now a Disney property, Disney is the upcoming go-to place for immersive SW experiences — and next year, with an entire Star Wars “Land” opening, it should be as exciting as Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While Star Tours (A Star Wars motion-car ride) has been at Disneyland since 1987, that was essentially it for interesting intergalactic mayhem, for a long stretch of time.

Nowadays, fans¬†can buy tickets for exclusive¬† “May the 4th” night-time parties (this year’s $99 event sold out in mere hours, prompting Disney to open a second evening’s events), a $130 intergalactic shindig on May 27th (celebrating the opening weekend of the young Han Solo movie), and a temporary re-do of several older areas of the now scruffy-looking Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland desperately needs an upgrade. It may have seemed very futuristic when it opened in 1955, but now just looks like a joke. It’s dated almost beyond repair. For a while that ‘land’ limped along as a sort of nostalgic look back on what the future would bring, but that stopped being relevant when the baby boomers started aging out of attendance. Star Tours went through several different story iterations, and became the only attraction worth seeing in that entire section of the park. Call this area a sci-fi money pit.

[pullquote]Here’s a somewhat exhaustive list of the new attractions and shows to be seen during Tomorrowland’s temporary Star Wars makeover [/pullquote] —

  • Hyperspace Mountain

For one thing, Space Mountain was getting tired. This ride-in-the-dark roller coaster was amazing for decades, but slowly became a second-tier attraction, like Thunder Mountain Railway and Matterhorn Bobsleds. This month, it’s been glitzed up with a snazzy Star Wars theme, and the signage has been overlaid as Hyperspace

Mountain. The outdoors section of the line is still awful (only grey concrete to look at for however many hours you wait to get inside). Once the line gets inside the building, lots of Star Wars stuff appears. The best part is a video mini-movie featuring Admiral “It’s a Trap” Ackbar, describing your new mission, and a hope that the Force will be with you.

The ride itself seemed more fun than I recall. I think it’s darker inside, which makes the roller coaster part more fun. You don’t know which way the coaster will go next — up, down, sideways, zig zag, etc — and it’s a lot more exciting. And now the coaster starts off with a Star Wars send-off, and a brief passage through the shooting lights of hyperspace.

If they keep the Star Wars elements intact after this month, the ride is again worth doing.

  • Star Tours

The line for this attraction is amazing. It’s almost better than the ride itself – no small feat. Once you get inside the “Spaceport Terminal,” every detail is seen to in a wacky, unbridled creative sense of joy. C3PO and Artoo are in there, as well as Number Five, from 1986 movie Short Circuit, apparently in charge of baggage.¬†¬†This is how you manage crowds! And the motion-car attraction is a nice experience.

It’s upgraded to cover the sequel trilogy with Kylo Ren, and your shuttlecraft is still piloted by those old counterpart ‘droids. They’ve added 3D glasses to the experience. I’m pretty sure this attraction used to be occupied by Captain Eo (Michael Jackson himself) way, way back in the day. Anyone remember that?

As you leave Star Tours, you transit a huge store full of SW merchandise. If you like Star Wars, drop your cash here for some mighty cool swag.

You can also enter the store without entering Star Tours.

  • March of the First Order¬†

This little show occurs several times over the course of the day, featuring Captain Phasma and her crack First Order troops marching to fanfare throughout Tomorrowland. Phasma barks out commands, and the troops scan the audience at phaser-point, looking for Resistance spies. [pullquote position=”right”]I recommend standing in front of, and facing, the Star Wars Launch Bay for the best viewing. If you’re lucky, you’ll get singled out as a spy.[/pullquote] It’s a short show, but fun.

  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

This show is mostly for the kiddies, who get to put on Padawan robes and learn lightsaber techniques onstage. It’s got showings all day long, and has a bit of story to it. Fun viewing for every age.

  • Star Wars Launch Bay

This area used to be a cafeteria, if I recall correctly. How…inspiring? I’m glad they turned it into a Star Wars Museum. And it’s the kind of museum that’s immersive – props are treated as actual relics and archival pieces, with fantastic signage, costumes, movie featurettes, and lots of room for more Star Wars additions as new movies roll out. Best thing – there’s no line, and barely anyone was even in there when I visited. It’s a cool and dark refuge for hot days. I really liked this space, and took only a bazillion photos (so I could read the “museum signs” at my leisure).

There’s a section in the Launch Bay that sells some extremely exclusive merch. Like a full-sized Storm Trooper, retailing for $6,000. Or you can get a copy of Rey’s Last Jedi shirt for only around $100.

  • Character Meetings: Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and Rey

These characters are available all day for photo opps, located in their own private chambers within the Star Wars Launch Bay. Wait times were only 5-15 minutes while I was there. The costumed cast members act in character for you, making it a super cool experience. Plus, you get to hug Chewbacca. He gives great hugs. Seriously, ALWAYS take the time to hug Chewie.

  • Galaxy’s Edge

Scheduled to open in 2019, Disney will open Galaxy’s Edge, an ENTIRE LAND devoted to Star Wars. I assume they will move the Tomorrowland’s SW attractions there…leaving…exactly what in Tomorrowland? There won’t be anything left that’s worth doing. I say they should raze Tomorrowland to the ground and come up with a new and more cutting edge property. (What Disney franchise hasn’t been tapped yet? Pixar is covered already. Personally, I’d love to seeAliens, Star Trek, or Titanic themed areas, but those aren’t Disney owned.

Avatar would be great! Disney World already uses Avatar at their Animal Kingdom Party…so maybe they will import some of that here and revamp an erstwhile Tomorrowland into Pandora. James Cameron’s new Avatar movies are coming along soon, we hear.

The Marvel stuff is all in Disney’s California Adventure Park already – and the are demolishing A Bug’s Land to do their Marvel area right (Story for another time…

Read our easy, no waiting, no-lines tips to viewing the tall and otherworldly spires of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.¬†(From now til the land opens in the summer of 2019)

(Images above owned by RunPee.com)

 

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

At this time, there are exactly 19 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant Man & The Wasp is coming soon (to make an even 20) but that tale will probably be a self-contained story: a palette cleanser after the lingering after-effects of mighty number 19, the Avengers Infinity War.

[pullquote]You probably already know Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of cinematic storytelling, with a cast of literally dozens of named characters. To catch up to this point, one would have to sit through several days of non-stop movie-going…[/pullquote] starting with Iron Man 1, the film that kickstarted it all. A lot of fans converged in New York City for¬†31 hours of Marvel goodness, and I hope they brought their Peetimes. (Note: the NYC screening only played 12 films for their marathon, so you’ll have to do the math yourself for a grand pre-Infinity War hours-long total of all 18.)

But, what if you don’t have time for a full re-watch before IW leaves the theaters? Or — Ragnarok forbid! — maybe you’re kind of an MCU newb. (Clue: if you don’t know what MCU stands for, you might be a rookie.)

[pullquote position=”right”]RunPee is here to help. If you had to, you could get by with a five-film preview and be more or less up to speed. Here are those five, plus a few extra honorary mentions if you have some extra time/inclination.[/pullquote] This slim five movie line-up means you’ll miss a few important origin stories, but for the ones I skip, things can be summed up in one or two lines. You’ll see.

Five Must-See Films, with No Spoilers: 

  1. Iron Man 1¬†– Iron Man started it all and changed how we saw superhero films. It’s easy to forget how amazing this was when it first hit the screens. Understanding the complex character of Tony Stark is so important to understanding the series, and it’s hard to adequately explain why. Cap is simple — he’s a super soldier and a natural leader. Thor is simple — he’s the Norse God of Thunder. Hulk…is Hulk (I assume you know about the Hulk). But you have to walk a while with Stark to see his importance to the entire universe, and why so much of IW centers on him. If you have to skip any of these five films though, this is the one to overlook.
  2. Avengers 1¬†– You don’t really need the origin stories of Cap, Hulk, or Thor to understand Infinity War. Avengers 1 preps things so nicely for the original set of superheroes, and lays the groundwork for EVERYTHING ELSE to come. Do not miss.
  3. Captain America: Civil War¬†– [pullquote]If you skip this one, you may as well not bother with Infinity War. [/pullquote]This ensemble piece covers several new origin stories, brings together a huge cast in preparation for an upcoming even¬† larger cast, and paves the way towards understanding what happened to “break-up” the original team. MUST SEE.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1¬†– Another film that you cannot skip. A lot of IW is devoted to the Guardians. If you don’t know who these beings are, IW won’t hit the emotional beats it sustains for everyone else. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
  5. Thor 3: Ragnarok¬†– This film most immediately leads into Infinity War. As in, it ends literally moments before IW begins.¬† Thor 3 brings a lot of disparate story points together, explains why Thor is so broken when we see him next, continues the storylines of both Loki and The Hulk, and sets the stage for everything to come. If you miss this one, a major part of the IW resolution just won’t make sense. And also, like GotG, this one is super fun.

———————–

Six Honorary Mentions (If you have the time), and what you need to know if you skip them (with spoilers to get you caught up — be warned):¬†

  1. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron¬†– The second Avengers ensemble piece explains who The Vision and Scarlet Witch are. What you need to know: The Vision is an artificial intelligence being with an infinity stone implanted in his forehead, created by Ultron (and Stark, and Banner – it’s complicated, but not important). Scarlet Witch is infused with the same powers of the stone. All this is referenced in both Captain America: Civil War, and in Infinity War itself, so missing the Ultron bit won’t hurt you.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier¬†– Bucky was Cap’s best friend in the World War II days, he’s been injected with super soldier serum (just like Cap), has a Vibranium arm (instead of a shield), and was brainwashed into being a bad guy (unlike Cap). This information is more or less re-tread in Civil War, so you’ll be okay without this one. Skippable for our purposes.
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2¬†– This is a direct continuation of the first GotG film, with a few character additions — Baby Groot replaces Original Groot (which we see at the end of Volume 1), Mantis is a new Guardian (and has the power to make you sleep or wake up)…and Star Lord kills his father (for very good reasons). Oh, and Nebula comes to terms with her sister Gamora. It’s all about ‘family’. Now you’re good to go. [pullquote position=”right”]Of the six movies listed here, this one has the most plot points you’d appreciate knowing for IW.¬†[/pullquote]
  4. Dr. Strange¬†– All you REALLY need to know is that Strange is a Wizard and wears the Time Stone. Infinity War does a great job rehashing those two points in the first few scenes. Bonus: there’s also a brief but fun Strange introduction in Thor: Ragnarok. So, yeah, unless you are a huge Cumberbatch fan, you can safely skip this to prep for IW.
  5. Spiderman: Homecoming РI hated leaving this affable and fun entry off the main list, but since we get a very nice introduction to Spidey in Civil War, you can safely pass on his stand-alone film.
  6. Black Panther¬†– Like Spiderman above,¬† leaving out the story of Wakanda kind of hurts. The thing is: Civil War does a fantastic job introducing T’Challa’s Black Panther and the idea of the Vibranium-tech-based nation itself, and why the Winter Soldier can be found there. Cool as this movie is, you’ll be fine without it. You’ll understand why a large portion of IW occurs in Wakanda, because a main character tells you outright.

Keep in mind, I’m not listing which movies are the best in the MCU, nor saying that the rest are unimportant or uninteresting in their own right. This is just to get you to a place you can potentially watch Infinity War and not be totally,¬† hopelessly lost. Have fun, and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Movie-watching is subjective. Which five would¬†you¬†say are crucial?

To help you get ready:

Club 33 – Disney’s Exclusive Hidden Door

On a recent journey to Disney to celebrate “Star Wars Month” (from “May the 4th” through the May 25th weekend release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story“),[pullquote] I looked for the mysterious, mostly unheard of, never advertised, and extremely expensive Club 33.[/pullquote]¬† After much searching, I found the door.

What’s Club 33? I didn’t know it existed until this month. While visiting San Diego’s Intergalactic Brewery for their own May the 4th Star Wars celebration, I mentioned my upcoming Disney trip. The local bar-going geeks promptly told me to look for the “hidden door” to Club 33.

“What’s that?” I asked.¬† “An exclusive restaurant,” someone chimed in. “You can drink alcohol there,” the bartender helpfully added.¬†I wanted to know more. Disneyland is so thoroughly family-friendly that beer and wine is banned in the park. So I did a little internet searching.

 

 

Online sources report Club 33 memberships charge $50k for an initiation fee, plus annual dues of around $30k. And then there’s the food and drink prices;¬† a hamburger reportedly costs $42 on the inexpensive, a la carte end.¬†

My guess is this is a celebrity haven. 

[pullquote position=”right”]There’s actually a ten-year waiting list for this privileged experience. Because yes, there’s no other way to get alcohol in Disneyland.[/pullquote] (Caveat. You CAN buy wine in adjacent Disney’s California Adventure Park.)

I had dinner that night at The Blue Bayou, a themed restaurant located inside the infamous Pirates of the Caribbean ride (another rare dining experience, although more affordable to mortal man) and it’s true, there’s no booze on the menu. Gumbo, yes — Chardonnay, no.

Which leads me back to Club 33. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square, which was my only clue to locating the unsigned, mysterious¬† door. Finding that was on my Must-Do list for this trip, the only must-see besides checking out the Star Wars events. New Orleans Square isn’t very big, but it’s packed with the most restaurants and some of the very best rides. It took some time to locate. [pullquote]I’m not even going to tell you how to find it, because, quite frankly, I’ve given you enough clues. [/pullquote]Most of the fun is in the seeking. Suffice to say that Club 33 does exist. I even got a quick peek inside when someone used their key card to enter: it looks like an art nouveau-style speakeasy.

I took a few pictures of the entrance to assist you in your quest. And if you manage to get in, let me know if it’s worth the price!

Hint. Look for this: 

 

(Images owned by RunPee.com)

Yep. That’s $500 for a lanyard of Club 33. I don’t understand this either:

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

With a metric ton of heroes, superheros, powered beings, and skilled fighters to keep track of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,¬† it’s easy to forget not everyone is an innately god-like, supersensory fighting machine. At least in the X-Men Universe things are simple: you’re either a normal human, or a mutant with super skills. (Or Deadpool, but we won’t go there.) ūüôā

[pullquote]In the MCU, you don’t even have to have “powers” at all to be a superhero. You can be rich, or smart, technologically equipped, well-trained, or a genetically-blessed normal being[/pullquote] – and still be an Avenger, Revenger, Guardian, SHIELD Agent, or any other general “defender” group.¬†

Here’s a breakdown of the MCU superheroes we’ve seen ’til now and how their skills could be categorized. (Note 1: Spoilers ahead through Avengers 3: Infinity War.) (Note 2: Ignore the end of Infinity War and where some of these characters might be/not be.) (Note 3: I’m not listing anyone according to talent or power-ranking. That would be too complicated to get into and should be a piece unto itself.) (Note 4: This list only covers MCU movies. There’s no way to mention Marvel comics and have a reasonably manageable article). (Last Note: I have a few anti-heroes here, with some anti-villains rounding things out…but this article is mostly reserved for the good guys).

Got all that? Begin!

God-like Superheroes: Born This Way

Thor – The top of this list must start with Thor. He’s a god. Whatever Jane Foster said about powers vs tech, it’s clear¬†that he was born a god, with the innate power to controll lightning. He’s got super strength, star-harnessed¬† weapons to help him fly and fight (wielding Stormbreaker, he can open the Bifrost to teleport), and the ability to survive in the vacuum of space without a suit or oxygen. He’s 1500 years old but still young. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s not the the brightest Avenger, but he’s definitely the mightiest.[/pullquote] (At least through Infinity War). His weapons are super-powered and can apparently only be wielded by other gods. He doesn’t use technology to augment his skills. Thor with a gun? Sorry; can’t see it.

Loki – Although a frost giant by birth, Loki was raised a god among gods in Asgard. I can’t explain this at all, but he has innate, god-level powers for deception, misdirection, teleportation, and trickery. He can hide things in other dimensions and retrieve them. He wielded a super-scepter-weapon harnessing the power of the Tesseract (housing the Space Stone) and is probably as old as Thor – they were raised as children together. I’d say he can keep his self-described god status.

Heimdall РAnother Asgardian, he has the ability to call forth the Bifrost for teleportation (even without the Rainbow Bridge), has foresight, and the ability to see the Nine Realms and everyone in them, simultaneously. More of a protector than a fighter, his talents land him in the category of god-like. Call him a demi-god.

Sif – I don’t know enough about about this fine warrior to place her, but she’s Asgardian, a childhood playmate of Thor, and highly regarded. Also, probably sill alive. She could be called into play if Thor summons the Bifrost. Are all Asgardians god-like? I really don’t know.

Valkyrie¬†– This isn’t actually her name, but a job description for minor gods in Norse mythology. We see her in flashback-action defending Asgard, and presumably brought slain warriors to Valhalla before Hela decimated her platoon. At this point she’s a busted up drunken gladiator hunter, but retains her fighting skills, cunning, and weapons expertise. She’s also a space pilot, and know how to ride winged horses (cue The Immigrant Song). [pullquote]Even soused on booze, Valkyrie captured Thor and took him to the Grandmaster. No small feat.¬†[/pullquote]

***

Superpowered Superheroes: Characters with supernormal, non-tech-dependent skills

Scarlet Witch – an Infinity Stone gave Wanda Maximoff powers strong enough to propel her to the superhero elite. She’s not a trained fighter and she doesn’t depend on technology, but damn if her powers aren’t at the top of any ranking. Anything the Mind Stone could do is at her command. Additionally, she seems to draw strength from emotional connections – perhaps another element drawn from the Mind Stone.

Spiderman –¬† Though he has a brand-new tech-powered robotic suit courtesy of Stark Industries, his main skills are a part of him. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker became so immensely skilled, useful, and strong, that as he grows to adulthood he may well become one of the most powerful superheroes. In this iteration of Spiderman, his powers include slinging webs, incredible calisthenic skill, the ability to stick to and crawl on any surface, tingling “spidey” senses, and the proportional strength of an arachnid. He’s naturally clever and smart. [pullquote position=”right”] Parker’s also pleasant, polite, personable, and a pleasure to be around. Don’t underestimate the power of sheer likability.¬†[/pullquote]

Hulk – Like Spidey, a chance encounter transformed his DNA enough to give him internal powers. Unfortunately Dr. Bruce Banner can’t access these powers, and his rage-monster alter ego is barely controllable. But Banner alone is still a super-genius with 7 PhDs. He now wears the Hulk-Buster suit, which would put him in the tech-only category….but we all know Hulk is still in there. After his encounter with Thanos, the big green weenie is just afraid to come out.¬†

Black Panther – The hero mantle can be assumed by different people in various lineages in Wakanda, but there’s more than technology at work. Actual spiritual and physical powers are conferred by the heart-shaped flower, derived from the Vibranium meteorite.¬† Although the immense technological superiority of Wakanda helps, there’s something more at work.¬† I’d call Black Panther an enhanced human with amazing tech, and the might of an entire Vibranium-based fighting army at his disposal.

Captain America – His skills stem from a super soldier serum. The various Vibranium shields are just a bonus. While his strength and skills don’t approach the other heroes in this category, he has innate bravery¬† and the tactical/leadership skills to supplement his power level. Call Cap an enhanced human.¬† He MIGHT have something else going on; he was able to move Thor’s hammer a tiny bit. It’s a funny moment, but perhaps that moment could indicate something more.

Winter Soldier/The White Wolf РSame as Captain America, only with a Vibranium arm to supplement his super-soldier serum, highly-developed fight training, and a lot of skill handling automatic riflery. 

Mantis – She’s an alien with unique skills, but I think we can assume all her people are like that. We don’t know and apparently she doesn’t either – all Mantis says is that Ego raised her from an egg.

Dr. Strange – [pullquote]Like his name, this is a strange case: you can study your way to super-dom! Being a super-genius helps, but the outlandish reality-bending and teleportation skills are the doctor’s own – no weapon or Infinity Gem required.[/pullquote] The sentient cloak is a merely a bonus, more like a wizard’s ‘familiar’ than a super suit. Think about this: Strange barely bothered with the Time Stone when he had it! The man is way overpowered.

Wong – Basically a less powerful version of Strange. There should other disciples around, but we haven’t seen them lately.

***

Tech-Only Powered Superheroes РSuperheros only because they have Supersuits

Iron Man¬†– Tony Stark. Take off the suit, and what do you have? “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist…” Stark is unusual. He lacks bad-ass fighting skills (compare him to Black Widow), and depends on computer targeting to fire his arsenal (unlike Hawkeye). So, why is Iron Man so important to the Avengers, a top superhero among even god-like beings like Thor? Even THANOS knows of Stark, and respects him. There’s a whole slew of lesser characters in super-suits listed below. [pullquote position=”right”]I’m going to take a leap and say it: personality. As with Steve Rogers, Stark has an essential trait that can’t be duplicated. If Captain America is an unique super soldier through sheer determination, Tony Stark has an alpha-male charisma that won’t be rivaled.[/pullquote]

War Machine¬†– Like a larger, clunkier Iron Man, Rhodey can fly and shoot canon weaponry. He’s also got a government job granting him some powers of authority. I appreciate that his disability is both acknowledged and a non-issue. Like Professor X, it won’t keep him out of the action.

Falcon¬†– Basically a sleeker version of War Machine, with smaller guns but more flight maneuverability, and a cool “pet” drone. I always thought he would take over the Captain America torch, but for now, that option seems to be off the table.

Ant-Man, The Wasp¬†– A duo of suit-only superheroes…more or less.¬† [pullquote]Ant-Man can also control ants – who knows why –¬† and navigate quantum states. The Pym Particle might not even be scientifically quantifiable, so there may be more than tech at work.[/pullquote] I hope the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film sheds more light.

Nebula¬†– A cybernetically-enhanced individual with superior fighting skills, Nebula might have a bit of an edge over normal humans, but she’s still not as good in a fight as her¬† unpowered “sister” Gamora. We’ve seen her journey from Chaotic Evil, to Chaotic Neutral, and into Chaotic Good. Hero territory. If she’s a Guardian now, she and Rocket will have to learn to work together.

Yondu – I know I’m pushing things including the grumpy blue Ravager leader, but that arrow of his was extremely cool. Groot welcomed¬† Yondu as a Guardian at the end. Now Kraglin‘s got the arrow; I hope we see him master it and join the team officially.

***

Well-Trained But Unpowered Superheroes –¬†Heroes with no innate abilities¬†or high-tech powers: their abilities can include superior genetics, skilled fighter training, or good use of weaponry.¬†

Black Widow – Despite her status as a top flight Avenger, Natasha¬†Romanoff is “merely” a very skilled, well-trained human. She doesn’t even use large weapons, preferring small pistols, quarterstaffs, and whatever is within reach (like, say, a wooden chair) to bash foes. Nat’s intelligence seems to be normal, but her cunning and adaptability is off the charts.

Hawkeye –¬† Clint Barton might be the weakest hero in the MCU. He’s amazing with a bow, but not a skilled a melee fighter.¬† No suit, Vibranium tech, supernormal powers, or genius intellect. Just that high-powered bow. I’ve heard he might emerge with a new super persona, but at this point, we don’t know.¬†

Shuri – I include her because she’s said to be the smartest person in the entire MCU, and this includes a galaxy with Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange in it. She’s got tech skills like no one else. She works with Vibranium. [pullquote]As Black Panther’s sister, Shuri has the lineage to take up the Black Panther mantle, with the accompanying super-human physical and spiritual skills to boot. That would add her to the superhuman AND super-suit category, but for now, her formidable mind and Vibranium skill-set makes her a well-trained but unpowered lesser hero.[/pullquote]

Star Lord – Let’s not mention him screwing the pooch in Infinity War, but discuss his heroic qualities instead. Peter Quill is a fine pilot, cunning, good with plasma guns, and an accomplished thief. He held his own in one-to-one melee combat with Gamora. He’s also undeniably brave, and makes clever use of some interesting tech (including a space helmet and dual ankle flight jets). All this, but he’s STILL essentially a human with space guns, an MCU Han Solo. With his father’s DNA, he briefly held the Power Stone without blowing himself up or destroying Xandar. He IS half god, after all. Since his godding skills were brief and limited to forming little balls of light, I won’t be including him in the god-like category.

Gamora – Thanos calls her the fiercest woman in the galaxy, but her skills aren’t superpowered: she’s just very well trained. Much as I love Gamora, I really don’t know if she or Black Widow would prevail in a fight.

Drax – The big guy likes knives, and isn’t afraid of taking on a far more powerful opponent. While that sounds like bravery, it’s mostly because he’s a little dim. He also can’t follow orders, and is sometimes a liability to the Guardians.

Korg – He’s a large rock gladiator, and one would guess that endows him with a certain durability and strength.¬† We’ve never seen him fight yet.

***

WTF Category

The Vision –¬†[pullquote position=”right”]I don’t know where to put The Vision at all. He’s not even alive. That said, he’s powered by the Mind Stone, has the combined technological might of Stark and Banner, boasts a Vibranium body, and uses the computational data speeds of JARVIS and Ultron. He even lifted Thor’s hammer. Yeah: Vision is a top-level super contender. [/pullquote] Honestly, this character needs his own category.¬† I don’t know how else to place him. I’d love some better ideas.

Rocket and Groot¬†also defy categorization. Groot has the powers of a tree – but he IS a tree. Rocket has cybernetic enhancements, but those don’t seem to impart him with more than the ability to have human-intelligence, human-dexterity, and the ability to talk. He’s not a melee fighter, but is brilliant¬†with guns. He’s a good pilot and highly agile physically. The sarcastic raccoons’s strategic abilities are top notch, and he can make a bomb out of spare parts and gum. Rocket may be a small non-super-sensory being, but he also comes with a very dangerous counterpart: Rocket and Groot are essentially a unit. I still don’t know where to place them.

The Collector – If we ignore the comics, we have almost no background on Taneleer Tivon. We know he’s an Elder. What does this mean? Does Immortality imply godhood? Just how old is he? We don’t even know his alignment. (Chaotic Neutral?)

The Grandmaster – Well, he’s no hero, but he doesn’t seem to be a villain per se. He could be another Elder, like The Collector. I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the MCU bargain bin, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

Who did I miss? I know I’ve left characters out. Like Quicksilver, Okoye, or any one of thousands of people living in Wakanda, for that matter.¬† Who else? Who did I get wrong? Tell me below and I’ll give you credit for any changes I make.

Read More on RunPee.com:

Avengers Infinity War ‚Äď Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

Best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Every MCU Movie, Ranked)

Movie Review of Avengers 3: Infinity War

Every Marvel-Tagged Article on RunPee (So Far)

 

 

How to Dress Like You’re From Wakanda in Black Panther

fashion from wakanda and black panther
Walk like a Wakandan.

Black Panther style is making waves on and off the runway, according to sources around the world. Literally. In fact, if you Google “black panther fashion clothes” it turns up 4,780,000 results. There’s a whole lot of fashion photos, style ideas, fashion tips and general garment excitment, all based on the fictional Wakanda, a high-tech and super-powered country hidden the mountains and fields of Africa.

[pullquote]When I saw Marvel’s Black Panther on opening night – to a sold out audience – I noticed how many theater-goers were dressed in fantastical and traditional¬† African garb.[/pullquote] I even noted it in my Black Panther review. These looks are clearly being celebrated in a new, more high-profile way than ever before. Marketplace’s article even mentions how clothing stores had to jump to respond to people wanting to get their outfits ready to see Black Panther; people were independently planning around a sort of celebration of the first major Marvel superhero based in Africa.

It seems like futuristic African styles are on the rise. In a big way. I know I’d wear a lot of them; these are clothes drenched in color, texture, drape, and detail. These are just beautiful garments — some reaching the level of art. Even sources like Vanity Fair and the runways of New York Fashion Week are taking note.

Here are some top articles about Wakandan fashion gracing the internet’s stage right now:¬†

Black Panther Style Inspires Fashion

32 Black Panther Fashion Looks on the Runway

The Secrets Behind Black Panther’s Spellbinding Fashion

How to get your Black Panther Look

Fans Flock to Theaters in Traditional African Attire

And take a look at some of these luscious fashion videos:

 


Read More on RunPee:

 Black Panther Review

Other Marvel-Related Articles

Jurassic World Movie References

jurrasic-worldNow that everyone has seen Jurassic World… You did see it, right? (It broke box office records so I’ll assume you did.) Let’s talk about the incredible number of movie references ‚Ästsome intentional, some perhaps not ‚Ästin this movie.

Note: minor spoilers to follow.

Obviously the references to the original Jurassic Park were plentiful. Most are too obvious to point out, but a few worth mentioning:

  • A brief glimpse of a message ‚Äď I can’t remember precisely what it said ‚Äď on the¬†rear-mounted video feed on the ball-pod that the brothers rode in was a reference to the view of the T-Rex in the side mirror with the message, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
  • Claire using the flair to attract the T-Rex. Yes it’s obvious but worth mentioning.
  • A signpost pointing the way to the research center as a nod to the sign post that gets knocked down by Nedry when he’s trying to get away with the stolen eggs.

It would have been pure awesomeness if there were a scene with a half buried can of shaving cream in the ground. Who knows, maybe there was and someone will find it when the movie comes out of DVD.

As many references as there were to the original Jurassic Park there may have been more to random movies.

  • During the safety video by Jimmy Fallon he says, “For added protection each vehicle is surrounded by aluminum oxynitride glass, so tough it can stop a 50-caliber bullet.” Aluminum oxynitride is a real substance but such a specific mention in the movie must be a reference to Star Trek IV: The one with the Whales.
  • Remember the lab scene in Aliens where we see the face-huggers in those glass cylinders? The scene near the end of JW where Claire, Owen, and the brothers enter the research lab at the end of the movie is¬†very similar with those vertebral columns in the glass cylinders and then they look at the reptiles under in the terrariums.
  • The scene where Claire’s assistant gets munched on by the birds, and then eaten by the¬†Mosasauraus, is reminiscent of¬†Jaws ‚ÄstI would wager this is just coincidental, but who knows since Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Jaws.
  • The scene of the raptors chasing the vehicle driven by Claire near the end of the movie is quite similar to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark¬†when the nazis on motorcycles are chasing after the truck driven by Indy. Claire even sideswipes one of the raptors sending it crashing off the side of the road, just like Indy did to a motorcycle.

Did you notice any movie references that I missed?