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Tag Archive: Nick Fury


In less than four weeks pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City returns, this time to celebrate its 20th year.  Even more than before the event is hosting a pantheon of nationally recognized comic book writers and artists for its seventh year in the downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the giant Bartle Hall facility at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31.  Bring your stacks of comics for autographs from your favorite creators–we’ve included here only a few important and familiar books by creators scheduled to be at the event.  Attendees will see some of the biggest names and most popular character creators spanning fives decades of comics, including:

Chris Claremont, writer and creator of dozens of characters including Rogue, Mystique, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Legion, Gambit, and Captain Britain.  His classic books include a long run on Uncanny X-Men, including the popular story arcs The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, adapted into X-Men: Days of Future Past, multiple X-Men movies, and this summer’s coming film Dark Phoenix.

Jim Starlin, writer/artist and creator of Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, the Master of Kung Fu, and the first graphic novel published by Marvel Comics, The Death of Captain Marvel.  His classic books include Batman: The Cult, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Cosmic Odyssey.

Jim Steranko, writer/artist known for his unique 1960s style, his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., plus memorable runs on Captain America and X-Men.  He was also a creator of concept art designs for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Fabian Nicieza, writer known for creating Deadpool in the pages of The New Mutants, and working on dozens of key superhero titles.  His classic books include New Warriors and Psi-Force.

Keith Giffen, artist and creator of Rocket the Raccoon and Lobo.  His classic books include several issues of Legion of Super-Heroes.

Kevin Eastman, writer and creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Steve McNiven, artist and creator of Marvel Comics’ Civil WarMcNiven is known for his cover art on dozens of Marvel titles.

Bob McLeod, artist and creator of The New Mutants.  (A concept that is the subject of 20th Century Fox’s last slated Marvel project, the coming late summer big-screen release The New Mutants).

And that’s not all…

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The Equalizer poster A

This weekend’s release of the first trailer for The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a role originally cast in the 1980s by British actor Edward Woodward in a successful four-season television series, brings up yet again the age-old question of when you can change a character’s race or sex in a retelling and when you can’t, or shouldn’t.

Can Kojak, originally played by Telly Savalas, an American actor of Greek heritage, be played by a black actor, so long as he’s also bald (as played by Ving Rhames in the 2005 remake)?

When adapting comic books to film, can you change Perry White (as in The Amazing Spider-man series) and Nick Fury ( as in The Avengers movie series) from white to black?  Can you change Johnny Storm from white to Latin (as in the next Fantastic Four)?  Does it matter that his sister is played by someone white?  What if the sister is Latin and the brother is white (as in the first Fantastic Four movies)?  Should Wonder Woman be played by anyone who isn’t Greek (see American Lynda Carter in the 1970s TV series or Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the forthcoming Superman vs Batman)?  Can Harvey Dent be black (as played by Billy Dee Williams in the 1989 Batman)?  A black orphan Annie (another new film)?

Equalizer teaser poster

How much of any of these characters–the essential elements of these characters–is about what their race is?  Is any?

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Captain America Winter Soldier banner

Although reviewers at early screenings are already calling Thor: The Dark World the best of the Avengers movie sequels so far (that’s compared to Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3?), 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger is still nearly tied with the original Iron Man as the critical favorite.  So we’re excited about the next film to put Chris Evans’ 1940s super soldier up against his next foe, and see the return of Cap, Nick Fury and Black Widow in their first movie appearance since last year’s blockbuster The Avengers. 

Last night Entertainment Tonight previewed a full trailer that will be uploaded to the Web today, and we plan to have it posted here at borg.com as soon as it’s available.  In addition to returning favorites Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, one great addition to the cast is the one and only Robert Redford making a rare genre appearance as a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. director and Nick Fury’s superior.

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Review by Art Schmidt

Overall this is probably one of the best Marvel Studios has produced thus far.  Despite the multitude of heroes and personalities on the screen, which could have easily lent itself to a convoluted, overly-busy and confusing plot, the movie sails right along with only a few minor bumps in dialogue or story.  The tight script by director Joss Whedon manages to bring out the individual personality of each character, as well as showcasing each ones strengths and, in most cases, their weaknesses, without anything feeling like it was shoe-horned in the middle of a scene or duct-taped onto the end of a conversation.  It all flows exceedingly well, to both Whedon and Zek Penn‘s credit.

Early on, many questioned Whedon’s ability to transform from a televised series format where he’s had his greatest critical and commercial successes with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, to the big screen, despite having written stories and/or screenplays for several films including Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection, and Serenity.  Well, The Avengers have assembled for what is currently Earth’s Mightiest Movie, and Whedon has answered all of those critics with a guttural roar heard all across America yesterday:

“Joss SMASH!”

Smash, indeed.  It appears some records are about to be smashed, judging by the movie’s world-wide tallies and first-day numbers in the United States.

In fact, it may very well be Whedon’s experience with television’s shorter episodic format that enabled the director to write such crisp, fast-paced exchanges between the characters, expressing multiple points of view in relatively short conversations without feeling pithy or trite.  Of particular note is a scene mid-way through the movie, as the Team wrestles with each other’s hidden objectives and priorities, trying to make sense of how they can possibly agree on even one thing, much less begin to work together.  S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury’s agenda is questioned, as is Thor’s long-term plans for his captive brother Loki, played again with devilish delight by Tom Hiddleston.  Steve Rogers (a.k.a Captain America) questions Tony Stark’s patriotism, and Bruce Banner tries to remain out of the fray altogether, because in reality he doesn’t trust any of them.  And it is Banner who aptly frames the team’s troubles with the quip showcased in the previews: “We’re not a team…  we’re a time bomb.”

Of particular note is newcomer Mark Ruffalo, taking up the role of Bruce Banner formerly portrayed by not one but three other actors, the fairly straight-forward scientist on the run character (“David” Banner) that Bill Bixby gave us in the seventies TV series, the brooding scientist with the weight of the world on his shoulders as portrayed by Eric Bana in Ang Lee’s The Hulk, and the mousy, sensitive fugitive we were shown by Edward Norton.

Ruffalo gives us a character more true to the Banner of the comics, nerdy and analyzing, shy around people and reluctant to get involved, with much hand wringing and avoiding eye contact, even when the camera isn’t squarely on him.

The Hulk himself, finally, comes into his own in an odd way, with hints that Banner now has at least a tiny bit of control over the beast.  The CGI Hulk is a rare cinematic treat, fun to watch, exhilarating with his combat acrobatics and both vicious and funny to behold in all his rage.  He definitely grabs both some of the movies best action sequences and its funniest sight gags.  Whereas many studios anymore give away the best parts of their movies in the previews in an attempt to trick an audience into the seats, The Avengers saves the best stuff for the theater, and I won’t be so callous as to spoil one single juicy bit of it here.  I will say that when Banner tells his “big secret” to Black Widow and the rest of the team during the finale, it drew some the biggest cheers of the night.

Although now in an apparently steady relationship with Pepper Potts, played in a few brief scenes by Gwyneth Paltrow with the warmth and grace she brings to every role, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is at his most self-centered and narcissistic throughout the entire film.  Which of course is to say at his most fun, especially for the audience.  His cooler-than-thou attitude grates against almost every other member of the “team,” and much of the early in-fighting amongst the team is either attributed to, or enflamed by, Stark’s ingratiating self-importance.  Again, to the audience’s delight.

Despite the excess of charisma, Iron Man does not end up leading the team, of course.  That honor goes to Captain America, although next to the high-flying and alien-smashing abilities of the other “big three,” the star-spangled man in blue tights seems, as times, a bit under-powered.  But the Captain’s confidence and, ultimately, loyalty to his teammates is what brings out his leadership skills, and the others end up swallowing their pride and prejudices and looking to him as their quarterback, their general, their Captain.

Chris Evans does a skillful job of maintaining Cap’s Boy Scout innocence amidst the highly experienced and jaded folks around him, even when faced with deadly threats and other-worldly beings.  Steve just pitches in and helps, whether it’s assisting Iron Man in getting a rotor repaired, sneaking around S.H.I.E.L.D.’s vaults to uncover their secrets, or directing New York’s finest to execute their duty to protect and serve.

“Why should I take orders from you?” one veteran police sergeant asks dubiously.  The response is pure popcorn delight.

Chris Helmsworth recites Thor’s Olde English dialogue with clarity and ease, and though at times you can almost see the words in your head in the fancy font used in the comics, it rolls off of his tongue naturally.  The God of Thunder actually feels more real in this movie than in his own, partially because the other heroes bring him down to Earth a bit (no pun intended), but also because of the balancing effect of the Hulk.

As Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has enough to do and gets plenty of screen time, even discounting the shots of her character walking away from the camera, but compared to those who have super-natural (or super high-tech) abilities, her martial arts and weapons skills seem flashy but inadequate.  As one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top operatives, however, she in right in the mix and given some tough assignments, like dealing with Banner / Hulk and figuring out how to ultimately stop the bad guys at the end.

Hawkeye suffers from a similar fate (played by Jeremy Renner), although his trick arrows do bring some surprises and satisfying butt-kicking moments.  His arsenal isn’t as tricked-out as in the comics, but his skill comes across (especially when he’s eyeing his targets a full forty or fifty degrees from where he’s aiming his bow) and his automated quiver is a fairly neat addition to the Avenger’s arsenal.

Samuel L. Jackson has been playing Nick Fury with his own unique brand of quiet cool through almost all of the Marvel movies leading up the this, and I was looking forward to seeing him in some action sequences in The Avengers.  Though Fury does unleash some on a few bad guys, his role is mostly as the S.H.I.E.L.D. administrator and liaison to those in power calling the real shots.  Too bad, maybe next time.

All in all, the movie aims to please and hits the mark dead-on, with tons of thrills, laughs, great action sequences, characters who sound intelligent and a story that makes sense.  Usually with superhero movies, you’re lucky to get any three of those things and call your money fairly spent.  Well, Joss Whedon and company have assembled the entire team and anyone who enjoys action / adventure movies should walk away with a huge grin on their face.

Be sure to wait until after the credits for a great nugget!  I won’t give it away, but it is unlike any of the others Marvel has planted at the end of the movies leading up to this one.  And joyously so!

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

Everyone I know who beat me to Captain America: The First Avenger, recommended this movie.  Of all the summer releases, the trailer seemed a bit ho-hum, so I wasn’t in a hurry to see it.  As for the character, I read back issues of Marvel Comics’ Captain America as a kid and liked it.  His nemesis, Red Skull, was always a great villain.  But since the 1960s for some reason Hollywood has trouble making good World War II movies.  Captain America is not only a good comic book movie, it’s a good World War II movie.  Its basic, good story, solidly bridges the real-world comic book hero character from the 1940s with a modern Marvel mythology and the result is a character we’d all be proud to know, successfully played by Chris Evans.

Just like the lack of a good modern Western movie, we haven’t had a lot of modern World War II movies that give us a real sense of time and place.  One interesting recent film that comes to mind is Quentin Tarentino’s over-the-top Inglourious Basterds, a quirky, dark, humorous, revisionist bit about an elite unit trying to take out Hitler.  Next to that, Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie, based on a true story, made for good movie watching, but both of these didn’t re-create the feel you get from tried and true contemporary war films like Captain America does, such as Back to Bataan, Sands of Iwo Jima, The Great Escape, or Stalag 17.  Even giant, modern epic war films like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List–mainly because they cover the darkest periods of the war but also because they seem to have tried too hard—fail to reflect the unswerving patriotism of the “greatest generation.”  As of today, you really have to go back to the often overlooked but brilliant Memphis Belle from 1990 to see a movie that reflects the American spirit that won the war.  Captain America isn’t better than any of those films.  But it is worthy of comparison, and for a film about a comic book superhero to deserve such comparison is a great achievement.

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, a skinny everyman, with health issues that result in his “4F” status, meaning he is ineligible for military service.  Subtle state of the art special effects, which would go unnoticed by viewers unfamiliar with Evans more “built” status, show Evans as a puny fellow at first.  (He looks like the star of Superbad and Scott Pilgrim).   He tries five times to make it past the military entrance tests and only on the fifth try does he meet up with an expatriated German scientist played superbly by Stanley Tucci, looking for a few good men as candidates for a “superman” project that only Stan Lee could create.  Here the director lays out a fictional character that borrows from the real lives of soldier heroes Audie Murphy (To Hell and Back) and Gary Cooper in Sergeant York–good, peaceful guys that don’t want to kill anyone, but just want to defend their families from bullies, and end up tougher than the rest.  Captain America, more than anything else, has heart.  For its adapted story to harken back to Frank Capra films but with a more subtle delivery as to his propaganda themes, the writers deserve serious accolades.

   

Several movies come to mind that Captain America borrows from, in ways you want a movie to borrow from great movies of the past.  A siege on a train by Steve Rogers and friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) has the feel of Von Ryan’s Express, a motley but tough multicultural band of tough fighters is reminiscent of The Dirty Dozen.  And the overall mission to take out evil German organization HYDRA, led by a psychotic Nazi turned into the Red Skull, played perfectly by Hugo Weaving, feels like Guns of Navarone.

   

As superhero movies go its treatment is up there with Watchmen.  As to comic characters coming to life, Captain America is right up there with Chris Evans’ other superhero performance for Marvel as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four.  This Captain America will easily hold his own in next year’s The Avengers among Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, or anyone’s rendition of the Hulk.  Evans showed again, as he did as the star of Cellular, that he is up to the task for leading roles.

Other supporting actors of note include Tommy Lee Jones as a crotchety general cut from the same cloth as Patton.  Neal McDonough (Walking Tall, Minority Report, Star Trek: First Contact, Timeline) comes right off the comic page, maybe more than anyone, as the Scottish, larger than life, handle bar moustached Dum-Dum Dugan.  J.J. Feild plays a British member of the team straight out of Bridge on the River Kwai.  Kenneth Choi and Derek Luke are refreshing additions, showing a Japanese- and African-American taking the fight to the Nazis.  The film does its best to avoid a standard romantic subplot, but for those that need it, Hayley Atwell fills the part well (but why again we have another superhero story needing a European-accented leading woman makes no sense to me; she’s an American officer after all).

With all the new composers on the scene this summer, it is also welcome to have a tried and true master like Alan Silvestri (Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Predator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Abyss, Forrest Gump, Eraser, The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) with a lively musical score.  Along with the music, the costume design was dead on, and the art and set design was great–including creating futuristic machines of the day that seemed to be derived from World War II airplane engines and parts.

As for the villains, Weaving’s Red Skull and Peter Lorre-inspired Doctor Zola, played by Toby Jones, are the perfect villains we love to hate, straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  For taking a tough sell and turning it into a good story–a 1940s era comic book character with a loud supersuit and trash can-shaped shield, putting him in a modern comic book universe, staying true to the mythos, appealing to a modern audience’s scrutiny, for filling a theater a month after its release, and making us care about the character’s plight–Captain America:  The First Avenger gets 4.5 of 5 stars.

Captain America: The First Avenger is in theaters.