Goodbye Stan

Sadly, at the age of 95, we say goodbye to Stan Lee the founder of Marvel comics as he sails off to join artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in the unknown realms beyond.

I first encountered Stan Lee in the pages of FANTASTIC (UK b&w reprints of Marvel comics) when I was ten years old and he has been involved in my life in some way or another through comics and films ever since. That’s not all though. Like many millions the world over I was strongly influenced by Stan Lee’s humanistic life philosophy and that’s what I think we should recognise most. Stan Lee’s legacy of morality, accountability and good-naturedness that are needed in this modern world of terrorism and cybercrime more than ever before.  Stan Lee also realised that no matter how young someone is they have something to offer and that we shouldn’t treat anyo9ne differently because of their age, gender or anything else.  You can see this aspect of Stan Lee as early as the first X-Men comic way back in the 1960s where Bobby Drake complains of being treated like a kid compared to the others.  Later on the intelligence and skill of a young girl was well-demonstrated by Kitty Pride as she polished off a malevolent alien single-handedly.

We need Stan Lee to help us show the villains in the world that they should wake up and realise that knowledge and power do entail responsibility, that compassion is a great strength, that humanity thrives on differences and that external appearances don’t tell us what is inside. We need to see like Stan Lee did that many different skillsets are required for us to meet the challenges of our ridiculously fast-growing world population (for every 151,000 who die each day a staggering 352,000 are being born!), the pressures invoked by using up limited natural resources and the dangers of an indefinable but clearly possible threat of global human extermination as a result of our abuse of the planet.

If humanity survives the challenges ahead of us well then I think that it will be to some degree or other due to the messages that Stan Lee proclaimed all his life and we should thank him for that. I know I do.

Avengers Assemble – AWESOME!


Have you seen the Marvel Avengers Assemble film yet?  We went yesterday and it was mind-blowingly awesome.  Marvel have pulled off the biggest stunner so far with the Avengers film.  Given how good the films of Marvel’s individual super-heroes The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America were it isn’t that surprising I suppose.  Apart from still trying to come to terms with a black and too young Nick Fury the Avengers and the villains are all very well-played and at least fairly well cast.  The Black Widow getting ready to face down the alien menace with a handgun did seem a bit daft though.  Couldn’t SHIELD have kitted her out with a better weapon than that?  I don’t want to give any Avengers film spoilers but the film is worth watching just for when the Hulk gets up close and personal with Loki.  That is a real laugh.  In fact in some respects The Hulk steals the show.

The Avengers forming as a team is well done and the Avengers infighting and misunderstandings that were always a trademark of Marvel’s all-too-human superheroes are there and well done.  Each Avenger has such a clear personality and the Avengers film makers have clearly set out to provide the definitive version of each Avenger.

I wasn’t sure about Loki but he won me over in the end.  There is a real slimy nasty menace about Loki and a kind of suave and arrogant way too.  Sadly, he reminded me of too many politicians.  As in the Avengers Marvel comics, it becomes clear who is the boss of the Avengers and Captain America is really impressive.  At first glance he is the weakest of the four Avengers but, as in the Marvel comics of the Avengers, ultimately he is the strongest in what counts – skill and intelligence.

The special effects are with all the stops pulled out in Avengers Assemble.  The jaw-dropping global effects from 2012 are there and plenty of others.  If you haven’t seen the Avengers Assemble film yet then don’t miss Marvel supremo Stan Lee’s cameo at the end where he says that the idea of super-heroes in New York is ridiculous.  Of course it is Stan Lee’s 90th birthday this year, which only goes to prove that Marvel comics keep you young and you live longer.

There are a question or two of course on the Avengers film that you might want to comment on.  Whatever happened to the Avengers Giant Man / Ant Man and The Wasp who were members of the original Avengers line-up?  In a way it seems odd to have Hawkeye and the Black Widow around and leave them out.  I always thought Giant Man was a great Avenger.  That would also have paved the way for Hawkeye to have done his Goliath bit and the Avengers comics of that period had an interesting take on what happened when Hawkeye became Goliath.  We also miss out on Giant Man as Yellowjacket of course who was a real character in the Marvel Avengers comics.   If they felt the need to turn Nick Fury black to introduce a little balance into the predominantly whitey world of Marvel superheroes then why didn’t they bring in The Black Panther?  He’s a rich African tribal chief for goodness sake!  Last but not least there’s The Vision and his unlikely romance with another Avenger The Scarlet Witch (also not included in the Avengers here and nor is her brother Quicksilver).  There are still many poignant, exciting, meaningful and world-shattering moments from the history of Marvel’s Avengers comics that could be put into a film.  Let’s hope some of them make it into the next Avengers Assemble film and if I’ve missed a few ideas I’m sure you’ll put me right in the comments.

Mighty Thor indeed!

Thor in 3D – Wow!  Thor the Norse god, Thor the comic hero and now Thor the film star!

The THOR film is literally magnificent. The special effects for THOR are the best yet.  Asgard looks stunning and is still based on the artwork from when Jack Kirby drew Thor at Marvel comics some 60 years ago (The Mighty Thor). The storyline is not the original Marvel Thor comic book origin story but what they have done with it works very well. Anthony Hopkins is fabulous as Odin and the other characters are well cast.  My only gripe would be the modernisation of Thor’s Asgardian language. Thor speaks a little in the Old English style he had in the Thor comics but it kind of gets forgotten later on and Thor ends up saying things like, “Well, maybe I had it coming” and that seems rather odd. Thor and the other Asgardians do seem a bit too human for the most part but these are minor gripes for what is one of the best Marvel adaptations so far.  THOR is certainly on a par with the Spiderman and X-Men films.  The Destroyer, resurrected from the Thor comics, is totally awesome and far outstrips the Thor comic version.  Yep, thumbs up – go see THOR, especially in 3D!

What we learned about art from watching HEROES

Of course we’ve been sucked in to Tim Kring’s HEROES like everybody else – HEROES Season 1, HEROES Season 2 and HEROES Season 3 … and an excellent ride it has been too!  Here’s what we learned about art from watching HEROES:

  1. You can’t draw or paint until your eyes go white.
  2. Drugs are useful even if they are made from dung.
  3. Everything in the comics comes true.
  4. Just coz you’ve drawn it don’t mean you can stop it (Oh wots dis in your back?).
  5. It is a dangerous business! If you are a good guy artist you probably get the top of your head cut off or fully decapitated.
  6. Good artists with a big stick don’t die, they come back as spirit guides.

So; the final conclusion from HEROES :

Go work for Marvel, be a bad guy with a big stick and take loads of drugs full of dung.

We’re not totally sure Tim had that in mind though :-)