Christians in Pop Culture: Comic Books

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Over the years, being a Christian has became less and less of an okay thing. This is a total truth in Pop Culture. Whether this is due to society only seeing the negative aspects of hypocritical Christians or whether the world at large would rather not involve a benevolent God into their lives; having to traverse this life, when in certain walks of life you are laughed at for your beliefs, makes it extremely cumbersome. As a Christian, I try to bite my tongue when my friends do not share my personal religious beliefs but I have had some ask me how I can watch Doctor Who which in no way supportive of organized religion or even The Big Bang Theory TV show whose lead character, Sheldon, pokes fun at his religious mother. So am I a hypocrite for watching Doctor Who on Saturday night and getting up on Sunday morning to attend church? What about my love for astrology and interest in science? What about my favorite novel; or better yet what do my comic books say about religion? Can my Christian faith exist in a comic book world? 

In the 2012 movie The Avengers, Captain America is advised to ‘sit the fight out’ because, since Black Widow considers Thor and Loki to ‘practically be Gods’. Captain America’s response of “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that,” caused a smile to creep upon my face. Now the atheist movie viewer may have heard this and blew it off as Cap’ averting the confidence in his own abilities but the Christian in me heard something completely different. Cap stood in the face of the Asgardian ‘Gods’ and realized that they were fallible and not anything like the God in which he believed. He knows what Thor himself admitted that the Asgardians aren’t gods. In a pre-Korvac storyline, the Avengers venture into a church and Thor himself feels uneasy because he admits that Christians don’t think much of Thor. It is pointed out by his conversation with Wanda (aka The Scarlet Witch) that even Odin does not consider himself to be a the ‘Supreme Divinity’. Thor again admits to his not being a supreme being in a current issue of the Thor comic, where he is confronted by a small child who calls him a liar. The little child calls him a liar because he is claiming to be a God and that he was taught that there was only one God. Thor tells the child that he is a higher being, but there is a higher being than he and his kind. Thor and the Asgardians are an extremely advanced alien race whose technology made them appear to be all powerful creatures to the humans that they visited long ago. They whether fact or fiction, did have a hand in shaping our culture. So, I think that when Marvel or the Marvel Cinematic Universe refers to these Asgardians or any other celestial creatures as ‘god’ they are simply referring to the fact that they are ‘the thing of legend’ like the beautiful Black Widow says in the 2012 Avengers movie. In contrast with the ecclesiastical Judeo-Christian God whom we refer to as “God”, these other ‘gods’ do not hold absolute power nor are they all knowing. Am I saying that Thor worships Jesus…not by any means. What I am saying is that Thor, much like Captain America acknowledges that THE God exists. 

I started to talk about Captain America but switched to a ‘god’. So am I trying to insinuate that Captain America is a Christian? Maybe he is…maybe he is Chris_Evans_-_Captain_America_2_press_conference.jpgnot. I think that we need to remember that while Cap’ was frozen in time, using bad language sadly became a norm. But I don’t know is what is inside the once frozen heart of America’s greatest Soldier. I do however know what lies within the heart of the mutant whose blue appearance, cloven feet, prehensile tail, pointed ears and an overall demonic appearance: Kurt Wagner. Kurt Wagner, commonly known as the Nightcrawler, came to us in all his blue glory in the 1975 Giant-Size X-Men #1 and hasn’t stopped transporting himself into the Marvel Universe’s story lines since. In my early years as a comic reader and cartoon watcher, I was enthralled by the X-Men. In the early 1990s, the X-Men: The Animated Series was quite simply amazing but an episode in 1995 (Episode 44 titled “Nightcrawler” to be exact) brought the little Christian in me to tears. I, being raised in the church, was not used to seeing any Christians on main stream television. (Other than one of my other favorite shows that I grew up watching: ‘Walker Texas Ranger’. Gotta love Chuck Norris.) On this specific episode of X-Men; Rogue, Wolverine and Gambit go on a vacation and as always, find something eery going on when they get there. They hear tell of a demon haunting the local church, whom we find out to be the friendly yet demonic looking Nightcrawler. Wolverine wants to rip the townspeople apart for their wanting to hurt Nightcrawler based on his appearance but Nightcrawler demonstrates his strong faith in God by forgiving the people that judged him and even helped Wolverine deal with some of his internal demons. Nightcrawler’s confession of faith in this episode as well as episode 68 where Nightcrawler is revealed to be Mystique’s abandoned son. In the event that people want to scrutinize Nightcrawler and say that after becoming a Catholic priest he had many human like struggles with his faith, we cannot deny that just this inclusion of God is impressive to a Christian and a powerful testimony to God. 

In Pop Culture and in the comic universe, there are countless instances where Christians are viewed as back-woodsy and less intelligent humans who distort the word of God for their own motives. So the few times in which a Christian or just a person having faith is shown in a positive light will always be a good thing in my eyes despite many comic characters (such as Ghost Rider, Spawn, The Redeemer, the Anti-Spawn, etc) showing Christianity and the battle between Good and Evil in other lights. Whether the characters who were given power by God, the Devil or have had interaction with God; the mention of religion in comic book universes is not foreign. The historical figure out Jesus actually appeared in comic books many times and Marvel even produced many Biblical stories.

So can a Christian be a fan of the different aspects of Pop Culture and even find a paragon within the comic book universe? The answer is unequivocally yes. While Philippians 4:13 is synonymously linked with finding strength, Superman also is quoted as saying that “(y)ou’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.” So some of the most powerful writing on the planet can be found in your Holy Bible but could be also be found within has been found within the 20+ folded pages of drawings and words. 

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Jesus of Nazareth Comic cover accredited to Marvel Comics, marvel.wikia.com/wiki/jesus_of_Nazaerth_(Earth-616)

An Old Rugged Cross by and accredited to Chris English, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56580686

Chris Evans – Captain America 2 Press Conference photo by and accredited to Elen Nivrae – http://www.flickr.com/photos/nivrae/13222040093/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31731283

 

Spiderman movie, Venom, has an Eddie Brock

Its a logical idea to cast someone who has experience in being a villain in a comic book movie. So what Batman villain alum has been cast as the infamous Venom? Sony has just confirmed that Tom Hardy will now, not only be known for his portrayal of Bane but for his portrayal of the Spiderman baddy: Venom. The Venom movie is not a spinoff but will be the first movie after Spiderman. The Venom character who was created in 1988 is a human named Eddie Brock and is empowered with an alien symbiote.

They also note that Venom is from Sony’s Marvel Universe and is not a spinoff but the first movie after Spider-Man from its Marvel Universe of characters. Hardy’s Eddie Brock is able to converse and have a relationship with the symbiote, which culminates to him becoming Venom. In the Marvel Comics universe, Venom has appeared alongside Spider-Man, Iron Man, Deadpool, Hulk, and many other Marvel Comics characters.

This comic book fan is excited.


Venom cosplay image by and accredited to Gage Skidmore – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/8421376605, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36745801

Tom Hardy red carpet image by and accredited to GabboT – The Drop 32, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35402300

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes

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Deadpool and the recent Logan movies may be the first rated ‘R’ comic book movies that are riding this wave of comic book popularity; but Deadpool isn’t the only character to have gruesome fight scenes or allow readers to witness brutal deaths. After the Golden comic codeand Silver ages of comics; the comic book industry itself has long been getting more and more comfortable with putting out more and more violent material. During the Golden/Silver ages of comics, the Comic Code Authority had to approve all images and most deaths and more violent acts had to be done in a tongue in cheek manner. With all the disturbing images/deaths in the comics over the past 30 years; and an Rated R scene in a comic book or a comic book movie should not be viewed as a temporary thing. Shock value has always been important to comics and keeping, we (even I am a loyal reader since I was 9) readers, on our toes is paramount.

Hearing all the talk about the new comic book movies and the controversy over  ‘rated R comic book movies has me thinking about the times that we’ve already witnessed R-rated events on the pages of our favorite comic books. So here are Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes:



 

Thamuz

10. The Master of Torture is ‘face’ to face with Spawn – Between the cartoon series, the comic and the ill fated movie starring Michael Jai White; Spawn was everywhere in the 90s. I, like many, was a fan of the anti-hero (despite the Christian in me having reservations about liking a story that convolutes and distorts the Judeo-Christian Bible many times) and will never forget the battles between Spawn and Hell’s Master of Tortures: Thamuz. The two had many great battles (one in which he ripped Spawn’s soul apart) but the events of Armageddon led to Thamuz unleashing havoc on Earth. Spawn (who was sporting those angelic wings and some Heavenly divine power) finally found Thamuz; and led to an epic battle which culminated in Spawn literally punching Thamuz’s face OFF.



 

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9. Wolverine and a Magnetic personality – In the early 90s I was obsessed with the X-Men. I played with the toys, watched the weekly episodic Fox cartoon series and read the comics. I was obsessed. So when the Fatal Attractions X-Men crossover series was introduced to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Marvel’s creation of the X-Men; I was embedded in the storyline. In great marketing strategy, Marvel spanned the crossover to the entire line of books: X-Factor, X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, wolverine adamantiumWolverine, and Excalibur. In the story, Magneto is thought to be dead but the X-Men quickly find out that he was hiding in Cable’s old base the space station, which is now called Avalon. Magneto and Colossus (distraught over his sister’s death joins with Magneto) along with the Acolytes (a supervillain team who followed the principles of Magneto led by Fabian Cortez), fight the X-Men. Angry after Wolverine almost guts him with his claws; Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones. It was one of the first times that I remember crying while reading a comic book (one of the other was Uncanny X-Men 319). The way that the comic had been written, it seemed like Wolverine was going to die.



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8. Blob Eats a Dead Wasp – In the aftermath of a doomsday ‘machine’ that Magneto blob headunleashes upon the world; Marvel’s Ultimate Universe ‘Ultimatum’ storyline houses some of Marvel’s most grotesque deaths. Down Magneto’s genocidal path we witness (again) Magneto ripping out Wolverine’s adamantium, a Thor who sacrifices himself to save Captain America from Valhalla, and many other atrocities. Among these atrocities, we find Hawkeye and Yellowjacket searching for Wasp but they find her lifeless corpse being eaten by the Blob. In a fit of rage, Hank Pym changes into Giant-Man and bites off the head of the Blob.



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7. Hulk ultimately rips Wolverine into – Thanks to Marvel’s many alternativeultimate wolverine vs hulk timelines; the writers can have fun with established characters and veer off from existing story lines. In one Ultimate Universe mini-series, we find Nick Fury trying to kill The Hulk. Nick Fury hires Wolverine to track down the Hulk after an atomic bomb doesn’t destroy him. During the malay of one fight, Hulk shows his dominance and power by ripping Wolverine in half.  Wolverine’s healing factor of course allows him to ‘heal’ himself but the undeniable display of power by the Hulk is spine-tingling if you think of the destructive force that could ultimately be unleashed.



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6. Burning Down the House – Anyone who has read the extremely influential graphic novel The Watchmen; then you are familiar with the masked vigilante known as Rorschach. Rorschach and the rest of the Watchmen have done some pretty disturbing stuff but nothing can take the cake to what came after Rorschach tried to find a watchmenkidnapped little girl. After putting more than a dozen people in the hospital just to find information about her kidnapper, Rorschach tracked her down to the house of Gerald Anthony Grice. Grice had killed her, chopped her up, stored her body for consumption and fed her bones to his German Shepherds. In a fit of rage, Rorschach takes the meat cleaver that Grice used to cut up the little girl and cut the dogs heads open with the meat cleaver. He then waited for Grice to come home from a night of drinking. Rorschach grabs him and handcuffs him to the furnace only to begin pouring kerosene throughout the house. He pulls out a match, lights it and drops out. He watches the house burn for an hour. Plagued by his realization of the ’emptiness of human existence’; Rorschach fought crime in open defiance of the law.



wolverine bursting out of hulks belly

5. Hulk can’t keep his food down – The 2008 mini-series by Mari Millar, Wolverine: Old Man Logan (in which the 2017 movie Logan is roughly based), is full of violence. But while we find an older Logan that is living in exile with his family. In this scenario Wolverine returns home after taking a job from Hawkeye to find his family was slaughtered. He approaches the Hulk (whose land that he lives on) and a fight ensues. The Hulk overpowers Wolverine and eats him. Yes eats him. While Hulk thinks that he has the upper hand, Wolverine’s healing power kicks in and he brings out his claws one more time. Wolverine makes Hulk regret his dining choice and he slices his way out of Hulk.



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4. The Joker kills Robin (Jason Todd) – There was much speculation over the Joker and Robin’s involvement in the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice movie thanks to the robin suitshrine to a fallen Robin in Batman’s lair which housed a spray painted suit. It appeared that the Joker had not only killed Robin but had added insult to injury by vandalizing the suit by spray painting “Ha Ha Ha, Jokes on you, Batman.” This segment was inspired by the Batman four-issue story arc (issues 426-429) where we find the Joker brutally beating Robin (aka Jason Todd) within an inch of his life with a crowbar moments before blowing him up Todd and his mother with a time bomb.



 

Wolverine kills them all

3. Old Man Logan‘s Bloodbath – In this dystopian future, the world is ruled in sections of the United States by different supervillains. One thing that you notice about Wolverine: Old Man is the lack of other ‘superheroes’. It seems that Wolverine is living in isolation on purpose and the landscape is just devoid of superheroes because he wants to be by himself but in a flashback, we find out that there is a sad reason why Logan doesn’t use his claws anymore. It’s because the villainous Mysterio, fools Wolverine into believing that he was carving up villains breaking into the X-Mansion…but in reality it was the X-Men. Logan is left with the guilt of knowing that he has the blood of innocent mutants (the children attending the school and his closest friends) were quite literally on his hands. Since my wife hasn’t seen Logan yet, I won’t say how the 2017 movie Logan explains things; but man oh man is it powerful as well.



 

deadpool kills the marvel universe

2. Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe – So we all know that Deadpool is a sick individual, despite his immense popularity. In this one-shot non-canonical story, Deadpool is placed in the Ravencroft Asylum by the X-Men to help with his ‘insanity’.deadpool shoots spiderman What they don’t know is that Psycho-Man was brainwashing the patients of the Asylum but the plan to stop the voices in Deadpool’s head backfired and the voices were replaced by one that told him to ‘kill ’em all’. He starts with Uatu the Watcher and goes on from there. He destroys the Marvel Universe in what would seem to be their established order. Starting of course with the Fantastic Four, onto the Avengers, and then onto all the Mutants.



 

joker killing joke

  1. The Killing Joke – In the 1988 one-shot graphic novel, we find The Joker is trying to literally drive Jim Gordon insane. This story is mirrored with the origin story of the Joker in an attempt to show that ‘one bad day can drive you insane’. The shooting and paralysis of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl aka Jim Gordon’s daughter led to the development of the Oracle. Though many consider this one-shot story to be one of the best Batman stories ever written; the twisted and sadistic things that the Joker does to Barbara Gordon makes this graphic novel all that more disturbing. The Joker finds Barbara’s at home, and as soon as she opens the door he shoots her in the stomach. He then proceeds to strip her naked and rape her. The whole time he is taking pictures of this event that will later be shown to the now LCD-drugged Jim Gordon; to further drive him mad.


As you can see, The Killing Joke is my pick for the most gruesome comic book scenes. Did I miss any good ones? What are your ‘favorite’ gruesome comic book scenes? Leave me your answers in the comments. And as always, make sure to follow my blog along with liking and sharing the post. 🙂


 

  • Images accredited to respected brands: Marvel, Image, and DC Comics. Fair use.

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

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600px-SDCC_2014_-_Masters_of_the_Universe_(7752978172)Sometimes the only thing it takes is just time for all of the things that you dreamed of getting as a child, to be available to you when you are older. Unless you dreamed of owning a dragon or wanted to become a super hero, then you can pretty much fulfill your childhood dreams. GI Joe fans can join the Marines. Masters of the Universe fanatics can purchase He-Man’s power sword or Star Trek’s Trekkies can learn Klyngon while wielding the infamous Bat’leth. We can cosplay as Deadpool all day long while visiting our favorite Con. If we have the money can rock a mustache and black cowboy hat while driving 100 MPH in a black 1977 Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Firebird or sit back playing an Atari in a 1986 KITT Pontiac Trans Am. Carpentry ready fans can build a TARDIS in their backyard. Or those of us with a big imagination can travel back in time after they hit 88 MPH in their own Delorean. Is it exactly the same as we dreamed? Definitely not. But things usually are different than they seemed when we were little. Reality usually sits in but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun a little!

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For those of us born in the 80s, the realization of fulfilling our dreams is a little bit closer thanks to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Well….kind of. Anyways, go to the O’Reilly Auto Part’s website and search for Part #121G. Trust me!!! You won’t be upset that you did.

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Featured Image: He-Man is a TimeLord image by Chris Favero from USA – He-Man is a TimeLord?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364586
Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am image by and accredited to Pat Loika – LBCC-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42451758
He-Man, She-Ra and Teela cosplay image by and accredited to Ryan Quick from Greenbelt, MD, USA – Masters of the Universe, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42384853
Knight Rider KITT car image by and accredited to Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19551841
Delorean image by and accredited to Spanish Coches – DMC Delorean, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38114628

Nacho Libre and the real Priestly Luchador

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In the summer of 2006, the world was introduced to a half-Mexican priest who secretly wrestled as a masked luchador to raise money for the orphans at his monastery. The sports comedy starred the always funny Jack Black in a movie written by Mike White, Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess (yeah…Napoleon Dynamite). My family and I fell in love with the simple, family friendly comedy; but recently I unexpectedly found out that the movie is loosely based on a true story.

320px-Jack_Black_(25747103295)Nacho Libre, though loosely based on the life of real-life Catholic priest in Hildago, Mexico, centers around a priest who works as the monastery’s cook but dreams of being a luchador. The priest, Ignacio, loves the orphans that he works with but the orphanage does not respect him nor do they give him money for the quality ingredients needed for good food. This causes his food to become more and more inedible (much to the literal and metaphorical distaste of the head priest). One night while collecting the free leftover chips from a restaurant in town, he was jumped by a street vagrant named Steven. He and Steven eventually joined forces once Nacho had reached his breaking point the next day when the already terrible meal was without the only redeeming factor…the chips. Even though he is losing almost every match, Ignacio is enjoying the fruits of being a semi-pro 640px-Jackblackandtomhowardluchador. To keep his identity secret (because the monastery thinks that wrestling is a sin), Ignacio adopts the name “Nacho” and Steven becomes “Esqueleto” (Skeleton in Spanish). The reason that wrestling is a sin? Because they are wrestling for vanity. When Nacho finally realizes that the Lord will bless him if he wrestles for the children…he becomes a professional luchador and even beats the greatest wrestler to ever live.

The man who inspired Nacho Libre, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, got his inspiration after watching two Mexican wrestling movies in which the protagonists of the stories are poor priests who support the children of their orphanages by becoming lucha libre wrestlers. Sergio went to Rome and Spain to train as a priest and even taught in many Roman Catholic universities when he got back to Mexico. After a time, he became a priest in the Diocese of Texcoco and founded an Orphanage; just like the movies that had influenced him to become not only a priest but a luchador wrestlers. He founded “La Casa de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta” and he became the masked luchador Fray Tormenta. He hid his face, much like Nacho Libre, because he was afraid that no one would take him serious in the wrestling ring if they knew he was a priest (and vice versa).

180_FrayTormenta-01Fray Tormenta retired from the wrestling business in 2011 after a 23 year professional wrestling career. He still works passionately with the orphans as a priest. The soft spoken Fray Tormenta has lived an epic life but humbly still preaches in a simple old church in Mexico. The larger than life character has influenced movie writers to create amazing characters; as well as comic book, cartoon and video game creators. The Mexican padre might not be exactly as Nacho Libre portrayed him to be but this loyal luchador did what he had to to provide for the orphans. Which just happened to allow him to intertwine the two things that he was truly passionate about: wrestling and his orphanage. He managed to bring his beloved religion into the sport that he loved and even managed to bring some of his sport into the church. Fray Tormenta still dons his lucha libre mask while carrying out his priestly duties. Seriously, did you think I meant that he would throw an unrelenting church member into his the figure four leglock called “the Confessional” if they weren’t listening to his sermon? I do know that I would never fall asleep in his church. 🙂

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Featured Image: Luchador masks image by and accredited to StellarD – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56891280
Nacho Libre movie poster by and accredited to Paramount Pictures, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3953967
Jack Black red carpet photo by and accredited to Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia – Jack Black, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47516745
Jack Black and Tom Howard training for Nacho Libre image by and accredited to Tom Howard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8302967
Fray Tormenta black and white image by and accredited to alchetron.com, Fair use, http://www.traditioninaction.org/revolutionphotos/Images%20(101-200)/180_FrayTormenta-01.jpg
Fray Tormenta Priest and Luchador by and accredited to Vice Sports, sports-images.vice.com/images/2015/01/08/addict-priest-luchador-the-incredible-semi-true-life-of-fray-tormenta-body-image-1420677603.jpg

 

Logan: My new favorite movie (spoiler free review)

As the last minutes of Logan flickered on the movie screen ahead of me, tears strolled

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20th Century Fox

down my face. I didn’t try to wipe them away because I knew I was not alone in my complete emotional breakdown. From the grown, middle-aged man behind me sobbing uncontrollably to the woman in the row in front of me puffing on her inhaler after her crying had induced an asthma attack to my son sitting beside me with tears welling in his eyes or my 65 year old father who sat with a somber look of disbelief; it is needless to say, the movie touched everyone in that theater. Despite hearing the F-bomb 7,010 times; Logan had everything that I would need or want. It made me laugh, cry, and I was entertained to a point where I verbally expressed my amazement. (Yes I’m that guy.)

 

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Grant Brummett, Wikipedia Commons

I won’t post spoilers because my wife didn’t go with us to see it; and since she reads my blog…I will refrain from giving any spoilers. I merely wanted to take this time to say that over the past 17 years, Hugh Jackman has theatrically represented a character that I have loved since I first started reading comics in the 80s. Wolverine even gets his own special
blog
every now and then on this blog site but now that the latest solo Wolverine movie aka
Logan
has taken its spot at the top of my ‘favorite movie list’ (A slot formerly held by the 1993 Western Tombstone); was replaced Sunday afternoon when the credits started to roll after the completion of Logan.

As I said earlier, Logan was the perfect blend of action, CGI, emotion and comedy…this movie has it all. I urge everyone to go out and see Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal as our

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20th Century Fox

favorite Canadian mutant, Wolverine. Go experience the roller coaster of emotions that is Logan and bear witness to some truly amazing acting from both Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart. The storyline may not completely follow any of our previously loved X-Men comic book story-lines or necessarily be a direct link to any of the previous movies (despite slight nods throughout); the movie is beautifully well written.  The Western-esque film tells a truly personal story about a flawed hero who is suffering from the wages of the war that was his life who is taking care of the ailing Professor Xavier in a Mexican border town hideout. His attempts to stay low-key and away from the world are thwarted when a young mutant comes into his life and how he must venture out into that world once more to save an innocent life from a new villainous team.

You can come with me to see a movie that truly honors the on screen death of Wolverine if you’d like; because I’m sure that I’ll go back and see it at least two more times before it leaves the theater. I hope to add to the already clocked in estimate of over $88 million in its first weekend sales; which has caused Logan to become the 4th best R-rated domestic opening of all time. If you’re going out…go out in style. 🙂

logan black and white

James Mangold


Featured Image – Logan Twitter banner image owned by and accredited to twitter.com/WolverineMovie, pbs.twimg.com/media/C6RwBXVUYAI-zGV.jpg

Logan solo movie poster by and accredited to 20th Century Fox, s3.foxmovies.com/foxmovies/production/films/132/images/posters/519-film-page-large.jpg

Hugh Jackman Image by and accredited to Grant Brummett, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41853505

Logan holding hands movie poster by and accredited to 20th Century Fox, s3.foxmovies.com/foxmovies/production/films/132/images/posters/509-film-page-large.jpg

Logan black and white Press release image by and accredited to James Mangold, i.imgbox.com/kdYsBKB3.jpg

Top Cat’s Top 10: Best of 2016 and Most Anticipated of 2017

As I looked glanced to the bottom of my MacBook screen the other day at work, it occurred to me that we are almost through the first month of 2017. SO much has already happened within the first 24 days of 2017 but this doesn’t take away from the memory of the most memorable events of 2016. From North Korea conducting missile/nuclear tests to the Donald quite controversially being elected our 45th President to the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series after a 108 year drought. (Glad the curse of Murphy the Goat was finally lifted.) We had a lot of ups and quite equal amount of downs, so I think its important to now look back at the Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in Pop Culture that happened in 2016. These lists are completely based on my opinion….so, here we go. 🙂

Top Cat’s Top 10 Most Memorable Moments of 2016: Pop Culture edition

10. Carpool Karaoke – It doesn’t seem like that long ago that James Corden was the reluctant flat mate of Matt Smith’s Doctor in the fifth series Doctor Who episode “The Lodger”. As we not only have a new Doctor Who, it seems that James Corden has done very well for himself since his short stint on one of my favorite TV shows of all time: Doctor Who. Corden succeeded Craig Ferguson as host of the Late Late Show. Corden’s Late Late Show’s popular segment Carpool Karaoke tipped the scales of popularity in 2016 when the sketch with pop singer Adele became the biggest YouTube viral video of 2016. The segment which aired in January of 2016 was viewed over a staggering 135 million times! I say that the reluctant companion of Doctor Who has done well for himself and doesn’t look like he shows any signs of stopping.

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By Siebbi – ipernity.com, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14740864 

9. Leonardo DiCaprio gets an Oscar – Dare I ask if there is a more versatile actor in Hollywood than Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn’t think so. Leo has been everything from a booger eating mentally challenged boy in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to the reluctant lover boy in the Titanic to a broken father in the movie that would bring him his Oscar: the Revenant. The movie which gives us a glance inside of the dark window that is our nation’s past. Besides the amazingly written script, the spectacular cast, the breathtaking scenery or even a completely terrifying showcase of what it would be like to be attacked by a bear; the movie allowed us to see just how dedicated to his craft that Leo was and is. Leo deserved his award and his Oscar win most definitely deserves a spot on the top 10 memorable events of 2016.

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By Ethan Doyle White at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50463988

8. Ghostbusters – The Cultural icon that is the Ghostbusters brand was rebooted with an almost exclusive Saturday Night Live, all-female lead cast. Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig did their respective nod to the original Ghostbusters movies while cementing their own legacy as the ‘new’ Ghostbusters. I’m still not sure how I feel about the movie it was definitely memorable.

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By Gage Skidmore – →This file has been extracted from another file: Cast of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53413122

6. Fantastic Beasts and where to find more Harry PotterHarry Potter fans around the world rejoiced with the release of the first companion (or prequel if you will) book to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them allowed Harry Potter fans to delve deeper into the wizarding world. The movie which showcased a world that took place almost a century before Harry Potter was even born, allowed us to fall in love with new characters and fill the void that has been in fan’s hearts since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

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By Lowtrucks – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50284157

5. Stranger Things and the year of the Woman – 2016, could possibly go down as the year of the woman. From Hillary Clinton to both DC and Marvel Comics putting a woman in the forefront of their own show (both Jessica Jones and Supergirl) to the almost all female ghost killing ensemble in Ghostbusters (who are helping to redefine what it means to be a leading lady) has help solidify the influence of women in the world and Pop Culture. We are seeing women discussing Hollywood wage gaps based on sex and seeing more and more parts being written for women. In the case of Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven from Netflix‘s Stranger Things, the psychokinetic preteen impressed us more and more with each episode. The 80s sci-fi series truly set itself apart from anything else out at the time. Thankfully for us, Netflix renewed the show for a second season so we can witness the strange story unfold even further.

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By Pierregagne98 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10879401  

4. Civil War – To we ‘geek types’ the term Civil war doesn’t refer to the Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria or even the American Civil War fought from 1861 to 1865..no no…to we geek types Civil War is Team Captain America or Team Iron Man. A decision that is harder to make than trying to figure out what to put on  your Subway footlong. I, of course, followed blindly to whatever side that Scarlett Johansson would meander but it did cause quite the stir to movie goers and serious fans. The controversial ‘ownership’ of certain characters caused the original Marvel Comics storyline  to be altered but despite the set backs, the movie was a box office success.

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By Incry – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=202115

3. “Where have all the cowboys gone?” – After losing the lead singer Lemmy Kilmister ,of one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, it would seem like losing the singer of Motorhead was the hardest thing for us to handle but it was not the end…it was merely just a break until the beginning of 2016. 2016 was not an easier pill to swallow in regards to losing some of our most loved celebrities. I don’t know whether we had a lot of celebrities die, or if we just have a lot people famous for a lot of different things. But most notably we lost some musical icons that have shaped the face of music for decades: Prince, George Michael and David Bowie. In their respective fields, each of these entertainers have been and will continue to be innovators. As the pantheon of celebrities gone too soon would be done due to the end of the year coming soon; we lost Carrie Fisher and her mother, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds.

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By vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England – Suicide Squad, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49480910

2. Suicide Squad – Much like 2014 was the year of the Guardians of the Galaxy for my family, 2016 was definitely the year for Harley Quinn. I mean the year of Batman’s bad guys. I mean Suicide Squad. The now Oscar nominated film (despite any and all negative reviews) dominated the box office, DVD sales, digital downloads and merchandise throughout the pop culture world. This antihero team not only unveiled a new Joker, but this blockbuster hit gave us our first glimpse at the big screen version of everyone’s lovable yet psychotic hottie: Harley Quinn. Suicide Squad was not only one of the highest grossing movies of 2016 but it has made DC comics A LOT of money in merchandise. I’m pretty sure that my family has watched it 6 times since it was released for Digital download and that was after the initial time at the theaters. As a matter of fact, just talking about it makes me want to watch it again this weekend. 🙂

1. Pokemon Go – Okay, so I won’t deny the fact that I am a grown man that has chased digital Pokemon down the street. I’ve ridden in the passenger side seat while my wife drove Daniel and myself to Pokemon gyms or to catch another Dratini. It seemed like everyone in the world became completely engrossed in Pokemon Go. It seemed like everyone you saw walking down the street had their phone in their hand. People who had had nothing to do with Pokemon in their whole entire life suddenly knew Bulbasaur and wanted the illusive Pikachu. Alas it seemed that Pokemon Go faded just as quickly as its popularity skyrocketed. People got tired of not being able to find 25 Squirtles much less a Pikachu. I still pull it up every now and then for nostalgia purposes but its short lived. I’ll see a Weedle or maybe even a Rattata on a good night. I don’t think I can ever delete the app from my phone based on how awesome the memories were and how much time was put into it but 2016 will be remembered as the year of Pokemon Go. Just thank God its 2017.

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By Flirtey – Flirtey, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54823032

Wonder what fad I’ll get into next. From a new President to Amazon delivering food via drone; we’ll have a really entertaining year.

I mean look what we have to look forward to: Lego Batman: The Movie, Logan, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Taboo (TV Show), Ghost in the Shell, Fast and Furious 8, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Game of Thrones (TV Show) – Season 7, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Legion (TV Show), Wonder Woman, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Upcoming Movies

People Watching a Movie in Movie TheatreIt’s so easy to get caught  in the whirlwind of videos that just get continuously thrown your way on youtube and this is especially true when you find the upcoming movie trailers lineup. I have always loved the movies and the movie going experience; so I watch new movie trailers to see which movies that I should get excited about. The bad part about watching movie trailers to see which ones that you will be excited about is that you have to (to crudely use a biblical reference here) separate the wheat from the chaff. The reason why….well let’s face it, some movies are bad and sometimes even the movie trailers can’t hide how bad that the movie is going to be.

Since I am definitely a trusted authority on the quality of a movie (oh that is just bleeding with sarcasm), I am going to give you my opinion and a short review on the upcoming movies that I think is the wheat or what should be tossed in the garbage:

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff:

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Sweet Wheat

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

Ever since we found out that they were doing stand alone Star Wars stories, everyone got excited; but when the trailer for Rogue One played when we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters back in 2015, excited was not the word that you could use to express how excited everyone was. So this stand alone Star Wars story (which would fall chronologically between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode Iv – A New Hope) introduces Jyn Erso, a Rebel soldier and a Han Solo-esque criminal, who is asked to steal the plans for the Death Star. Should be exciting to see old faces (ie Darth Vader, Bail Organa) and finally see the on screen debut of Saw Gerrera and K-2SO (who is played by Alan Tudyk!). And don’t worry if you think that you’ll be confused because you are confused why you don’t see Luke and Leia.

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garbage

Trash!

Office Christmas Party

Besides having a cast made up of a couple of Hollywood’s hottest actresses (Jennifer Aniston and Olivia Munn), this crap storm of a ‘holiday’ film will not be worth the price of your bucket of popcorn. The movie showcases everyone’s second favorite pothead, T.J. Miller (coming in a cold second to weed giggles himself – Seth Rogen) whose uptight sister tries to stop their epic company Christmas party. The party gets out of hand and you get to see wasted people do stupid things. Sorry but I have better things to do…..like stump my toe on a coffee table or….accidently step on a thumb tack…..or you forget to take all of the shell off of your boiled shrimp and it gets stuck in the back of your throat and you almost choke to death. I think those scenarios would work out better than watching that movie.

 

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half-trash

Half Trash

Transformers 5: The Last Knight

SO……They made another Transformers movie. Some of you are over joyed but most of you are probably like me, wondering why in the world Michael Bay is talking these production companies into sinking millions and millions of dollars into a failing movie franchise. There are so many other dynamic movie ideas (IE other 80s toy lines that could be made into Blockbuster movie franchises (Thundercats, He-Man, or M.A.S.K.). The movie’s storyline is much like the rest of the Transformers movies: Optimus Prime realizes that his home planet of Cybertron is now a dead planet and he feels like he is the one who is responsible for its destruction. Now that he feels that way, he tries to bring his planet back to life but the artifact that he needs is on Earth. And people are trying to kill him. People will work with him to help him find it. Blah blah blah. Honestly the graphics for the movie look great; and the storyline looks pretty dark nor does it look any worse than the other Transformers movies. It definitely won’t be a movie that I’ll be seeing before it comes out for free on Amazon Prime.

 

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garbage

Trash!

Why Him?

Loathe is a extreme word to use in regards to a movie but I almost LOATHE all romantic comedies. I especially loathe romantic comedies that use shock value to gain more viewers. Why Him? stars everyone’s favorite meth making high school chemistry teacher Walter White. Well this time we have a conservative Midwestern Bryan Cranston as a father of a beautiful young daughter who has fallen deeply in love with a sweet yet overwhelmingly vulgar internet billionaire named Laird (played by the almost irrelevant James Franco). The movie looks like your usual ‘dad hates guy that daughter loves…so lets try to get her to see how terrible he is but I end up falling in love with him just like the rest of my family does’ movie. Throw in the extreme vulgarity that Franco’s character spews in the previews and it looks almost unbearable. Of course, if you’re into that sort of thing….feel free to fill your mind with this mind numbing piece waste of film.

 

 

 

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Blog

Thanksgiving is a time of mixed bag of emotions for most Americans. There are those of us who are privy to the ugly truth of the original Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t that pretty for the Native Americans. Then you have the sadness of loved ones that aren’t with you this year. Ultimately Thanksgiving time should be a time of giving Thanks. A time to realize the blessings that have been bestowed upon us and spend time with those that we love.

This year, I make a choice to say some of the things that I am truly grateful for…since we know that I love to make a list of things. 🙂

I am thankful for my salvation and for God. Whether you are a Christian and believe in the Judeo-Christian God as I do, a Pastafarianism who worships the Flying Spaghetti monster, or if you are an atheist; I respect your belief in something (or nothing at all) and I hope that you respect mine. God has blessed me beyond belief and I would be remiss to not include God in this list.

I am very blessed to have a lovely family (both immediate and by marriage). I am very thankful for them and the beauty that they bring to my life. I am thankful for a beautiful and supportive wife who has blessed me with a son that no one could have ever told me would bring so much pride and happiness. I am thankful to have parents who are not only wonderful, supporting people but they are my biggest fans. They are proud of everything that we do and support the decisions that we make.

I am thankful to have a small yet amazing group of friends and acquaintances that bring a joy to my life that is inexplicable. Their presence in my life brings balance to anything else that might lack. Over the years, we may not always see one another like we want to but know that I love you all and do thank God for you.

I am thankful to be an American. I am thankful to be an American despite any embarrassment that I am might feel due to the negative political climate in this country. I feel that I am blessed to be able to enjoy these particular set of freedoms that I think that we sometimes take for granted.

I am thankful for relatively good health and sanity. I may not have the perfect body but I am so blessed and so glad to have my health and sanity. I never look down on anyone with a disability but it makes you realize just how lucky we are…..just being able to wake up and walk around. These little things are taken for granted and it is a blessing and a privilege.

Along with being thankful for sanity, I am thankful and oh so blessed to have had an education. My parents worked extra hard to send me to college and I am so thankful for that. I am thankful for the education that I received which fueled a lifetime love for reading and writing. For the education which led to a degree that allowed me to work in a job that stresses me to no end….but I do love it.

I am thankful for entertainment. As corny as that may sound; I am thankful for the things that I have in my that make me happy. Without He-Man,  Washington Redskins football, music, comic books, Doctor Who, Wrestling (aka Sports entertainment), and any other random fandom or part of pop culture that entertains me; just imagine how boring life would be. These forms of entertainment help keep me sane and gives a welcome break from the mundanity of our every day lives.

I am thankful for you. The select few that chose to read these blogs. No matter how few of you that there are….I am thankful you. I am thankful that you search for knowledge and entertainment in other places. I am thankful that you believe in me. Thank you for allowing my voice to be heard!

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Thor’s Thursday Tour: Mama Dips of Chapel Hill

carolina-thorInside one of the three corners of the Research Triangle Park in the piedmont region of North Carolina lies a quaint yet legendary southern food restaurant that has been serving Chapel Hill since 1976. Thor had heard of the legend from fan’s of his favorite college football team: The North Carolina Tar Heels. The restaurant has been an after game ritual for many Tar Heel fans and Thor had to experience this himself.

Thor sadly witnessed his beloved Tar Heels lose at the hands of the much-loathed Duke Blue Devils; so he and his fellow Tar Heel Fans were in need of some food that would bring happiness to tattered hearts. mama-dips-logoIt was a good thing that Thor was within walking distance of Mama Dips. The southern food restaurant was waiting with open arms to greet the defeated Tar Heel fans and the smell of their home made sweet potato biscuits permeated the air as they walked through the door. Thor ordered their juicy fried chicken and as many fixings as he could imagine. The delicious home cooked taste warmed his heart and refueled his Godly body. Thor devoured his meal and two baskets of those delicious smelling sweet potato biscuits which he liberally slathered with butter.

mama-dips-foodAfter his meal was disposed of, his waitress brought forth a platter of deserts to assuage the sweet tooth that he thought could never be satisfied. Upon his request the chocolate pecan pie covered with a heavy dollop of vanilla ice cream satisfied any assuaged sweet tooth. An opportunity to experience such stupefyingly delectable fare brought joy to his defeated heart and made the Tar Heels defeat taste a little better in his mouth. He flew back to Asgard to tell his brethren of the goodness that he had experienced at Mama Dips. He knew that he would return as soon as his next group of adventures relented and allowed him the free time to wander his beloved Earth realm once more.

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Thor was called to wield Mjolnir into action due to one of his compatriots trying to steal his sweet potato biscuits.