The Lineup For The MCU’s West Coast Avengers

Recently while promoting his Disney+ TV show, Hawkeye, actor Jeremy Renner mentioned that he would like to continue playing the title role in a live-action version of the West Coast Avengers. For anyone who is unaware, The West Coast Avengers was a Marvel Comics spinoff title from the main comic book, The Avengers. Originally a mini-series created by Roger Stern and Bob Hall, the title was popular enough to warrant a regular series that lasted for 102 issues in its original run.

Hawkeye was the team leader of an expanded Avengers team situated in the west coast of the United State. The original lineup included his wife Mockingbird, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Tigra, and later on, Hank Pym. Other notable superheroes that joined the team included Moon Knight, the Thing, Spider-Woman, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, and U.S. Agent.

If Marvel Studios were ever to do an adaptation of the West Coast Avengers, what would be its lineup? Will it closely mirror its original comic book counterpart or will it be radically different to showcase currently popular heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Here is a viable roster for the MCU version of the team, which largely includes heroes based in California as shown in their MCU films:

Hawkeye

Played by Jeremy Renner, Hawkeye would be the team leader as in the comics. In the TV show, Hawkeye, Renner has shown he has the role down pat to portray the archer as a seasoned leader with the field experience needed to lead a team. His role as the leader of the West Coast Avengers would allow Hawkeye to stand out and have a stronger presence unlike the original Avengers films.

Ant-Man

Scott Lang as played by Paul Rudd is a natural fit in this team since he is considered, along with Hawkeye, to be an underdog. It does not hurt that Rudd is incredibly popular these days and adds star power to a potential West Coast Avengers film. Ant-Man could fill in the role of comedic relief while demonstrating with his abilities and character that he is not to be taken lightly.

The Wasp

Having Ant-Man’s natural companion as part of the West Coast Avengers’ roster is a must. Unlike the more comedic Lang, Hope Van Dyne as portrayed by Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp, would be deadly serious combatant who fully utilizes her shrinking and growing powers. At the same time, the Wasp would be a good foil and romantic partner for Ant-Man.

Shang-Chi

Of course, he has to come with the mystical ten rings that will give him that extra oomph in the power department. Ten rings aside, Simu Liu has a natural charisma that will let him shine in an MCU West Coast Avengers film along with his character’s crowd-pleasing fighting skills and mystical background.

Captain Marvel

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Captain Marvel’s west coast connection comes from her adventures in Los Angeles in her debut film, which could serve as the hero’s new home base on Earth. Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel may be too overpowered, but she could serve as the emergency back up in case of a dire need.

War Machine

Even though Iron Man was a founding member of the West Coast Avengers mini-series, he was not Tony Stark. During this time, James Rhodes took over the Iron Man duties because of Stark’s ordeal with alcoholism. With Stark deceased in the MCU, Don Cheadles’ War Machine would easily fill in that super-tech hero role.

Wonder Man

The last two members shoule be new characters to the MCU and the Hollywood-based actor Simon Williams naturally must be included in the roster. Wonder Man would provide the needed Hulk-level super strength for the team. Also, Nathan Fillion should play him since he was seen as the actor in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 when he turned up in a couple of movie posters as part of the film’s many Easter eggs.

Tigra

The other founding member of the West Coast Avengers should be Tigra aka Greer Grant, the former Cat. She has a unique look and skill set with her tiger motif although how she should be presented in live-action is a mystery and may involve radically altering her. As to who should portray her, there are many solid actors, such as Megalyn Echikunwoke, who could project the physicality of Tigra and a ferocious, yet kind nature. Too bad Zoe Saldana already has a role in the MCU, because she would be perfect.

Should anyone else be in the MCU version of the West Coast Avengers? Be sure to leave a comment!

A Look Back At Spider-Man 3

The first two Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films are still considered classic superhero films that helped put Marvel Entertainment on the Hollywood map of superhero films.

Then there is Spider-Man 3.

Honestly, the film is not all bad, though it does a lot to earn its infamous reputation, but it is hardly the trainwreck many critics make it out to be. It certainly is not the worse Spider-Man film…that dubious dishonor goes to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. What is frustrating for fans is that Spider-Man 3 has so many elements that would have made a great Spider-Man film, but it is so cluttered thanks to studio interference. Let’s take a look at it’s messy plotline to see for ourselves. Spoilers are ahead.

Spider-Man 3 begins with Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) reveling in his dual role as the masked superhero Spider-Man. He is on top of his game as New York City, his home base, showers him with praise and cheers. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), once a rising star of an actress and model, is suffering a career slump. She gets fired from a starring role in a Broadway musical and is eventually forced to work as a singing waitress in a jazz club. Peter thinks little of Mary Jane’s plight and tells her everything will be fine. On one such occasion, the couple are out stargazing in a park and a meteor crashes nearby without either noticing it. From the meteorite, an extra-terrestrial shapeless mass emerges and hitches a ride onto Peter’s moped when Peter and Mary Jane leave the park. Later, the alien life form stays hidden in Peter’s apartment waiting for the right moment.

After Peter decides to propose to Mary Jane, he is attacked by his former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco). In the previous films, their friendship drifted apart because Harry blamed Spider-Man for the death of his father, the original Green Goblin. After discovering his father’s weapons at the end of Spider-Man 2, Harry modified the weapons and assumed a new identity as the New Goblin. During the fight, Peter, who never changed into his Spider-Man suit, defeats Harry and then takes him to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. During his recovery, Harry has short-term memory loss, but soon regains them and with his hatred of Peter renewed, Harry begins plotting revenge against his former friend.

While this went on, a common thief called Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) escaped from jail and tried to evade the police by hiding at a sandy testing site for a particle accelerator. The device is activated with Marko inside it and the criminal’s body is altered as it is fused with the surrounding sand. Marko is only motivated to use his powers as the Sandman to steal money to help pay for his young daughter’s medical bills. This activity soon puts him at odds with Spider-Man.

The superhero by now is suffering several setbacks in his life. He faces new competition in his profession as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle newspaper from photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) and his superior photos of Spider-Man. Peter also learns that Marko was actually responsible for the death of his Uncle Ben in the first Spider-Man film and becomes obsessed with finding him. At the same time, tensions grow between him and Mary Jane who feels Peter is not supportive enough. She eventually leaves him after concluding Peter is flirting with a fellow college student, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). But what Peter does not know is that Harry Osborn forced Mary Jane to break up with him as part of his schemes of vengeance.

Making matters worse is that the alien mass bonds to Peter while he is sleeping in his apartment and forms a black version of his Spider-Man suit, It’s revealed that the alien organism is actually a symbiote that enhances Spider-Man’s strength and…his aggression. Peter quickly adopts a new cocky and hostile attitude that alienates him from everyone as his enemies close in on him.

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The Influence of Matt Fraction & David Aja On Hawkeye

As we’re getting ready to watch the upcoming Hawkeye on Disney+ in a few days, many Marvel Comics fans have noticed how much influence the acclaimed comic book Hawkeye had on the show.

Written by Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja, Hawkeye debuted in 2012 and instantly stood out among the crowded comic book marketplace thanks to the minimalist art from Aja and Fraction’s take on the archer superhero.

Instead of having Clint Barton aka Hawkeye run around and shoot endless supplies of trick arrows, the series grounded the superhero and leaned into his everyman pesonna who had to deal with more mundane problems, more believable villains, and much more relatable to the average reader. This Hawkeye did not wear his silly purple outfit as he dealt with world-ending events, although he kept his purple color scheme with his civilian clothing. He had to grapple with local thugs and more importantly, he could be hurt. Just look at the aftermath of many of his battles in the series where he came away all bandaged up and beaten. Yet, unlike Daredevil, the archer was never dour. though he seemed to suffer from depression.

What made Hawkeye more identifiable and someone to look up to was that in the series he always looked out for the vulnerable little guy. For instance. in the first issue he finds out that the tenants in the building he lived in were terrorized by their landlords, the RussianTrack Suit Mafia. So, Hawkeye helped them out by buying the building and became a kind landlord who was right at home joining the tenants in a barbecue. Later in the issue, he came to rescue of one of the series’ most beloved characters, Lucky the pizza dog, who was cruelly treated by his owner, a member of the Track Suit Mafia. Hawkeye wound up taking the dog from the mobster and adopting him.

On a sidenote about Lucky, check out issue #11, which had the story “Pizza is My Life” and was told entirely from the point of view of Lucky. The way this was done was ingenious and inventive as Fraction and Aja used pictorgrams to illustrate the dog’s thought process as human dialogue faded in and out. The issue won an Eisner Award and it was well deserved. Thankfully, Lucky will appear in the TV series.

Another factor that made the series so memorable was Aja’s art which was very expressive, used bold lines and was similar to David Mazzucchelli’s art in Daredevil during Frank Miller’s “Born Again” story arc. The series used flat colors that conveyed mood and the emotional beat of the characters, which supported the series’ gritty tone.

Of course, what made the 22-issue run exceptional was the teacher/student relationship between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. The scenes between the two were full of lively banter and quiet reflective moments that explored Hawkeye’s more vulnerable side. Bishop was a great foil to Barton with her spunky attitude and vigor. She was never afraid to call her mentor out when she thought he was in the wrong. Meanwhile, Hawkeye respected the young superhero and readily took her under his wing like he was a protective big brother or uncle. Together they made a great archery team and the way they coordinated their fighting styles was terrific thanks to Aja’s art which made expert use of small panels to convey intense action.

One of the more memorable fight scenes in the series was in issue #3, called “Beating the Odds”, and involved the two in a frantic car chase as they fled the Track Suit Mafia. Anyone who saw the recent preview clip of Hawkeye during the Disney+ Day event could tell that the car chase shown in the clip was inspired by the issue.

Be sure to check out the classic series run in the Hawkeye trade paperbacks which have the 22 issues of the Fraction/Aja run: My Life as a Weapon, Vol. 1, Little Hits, Vol. 2, L.A. Woman, Vol. 3, and Rio Bravo, Vol. 4. Or just pick up the collected works in a single volume. They’re worth every penny and are a nice way to see how classic run influenced the TV show.

Lucasfilm In Disarray?

Something is not right with Lucasfilm. It can be seen by the behind-the-scenes drama going on with the film studio once owned by George Lucas before he sold it to The Walt Disney Company nearly a decade ago. Another sign is the lack of solid information about their upcoming films and TV shows.

Lucasfilm has been mired in controversy for several years despite its early Disney-era success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. What is often overlooked with the latter film is that it had significant re-shoots which ultimately made the film a success. After that dilemma followed the film studio.

There was the heated reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi which sharply split Star Wars fans. Then the saga of revolving directors plagued Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With those two films the original directors were removed from the projects. Solo suffered greatly as the directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired when filming was nearly complete and forced the film to be essentially redone from scratch.

Now that the final Sequel Saga Star Wars films have concluded nearly two years ago, there is little sign of new Star Wars films coming up. Of course, there are many Star Wars TV shows slated to stream on Disney+ and they are eagerly awaited. In fact, many rightly argue that the TV shows are what is keeping the franchise alive thanks to The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Bad Batch and hopefully The Book of Boba Fett, which debuts next month.

The upcoming TV projects such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the new season of The Mandalorian, Andor, and Ahsoka are eagerly anticipated, but we have little news about those shows. The recent Disney+ Day event which revealed many exciting Disney, Pixar and Marvel projects failed to deliver anything significant that was Star Wars related. Only a documentary about Boba Fett, cast interviews of the upcoming Willow TV show, and a sizzle reel for Obi-Wan Kenobi streamed on Disney+ while other studios rewareded subscribers with first looks at upcoming projects. What is confounding are rumors that there were Star Wars trailers and footage planned to be unveiled, but for some reason this did not happen. In the end, while the sneak peaks at other Disney properties were impressive, Star Wars looked threadbare on the streaming platform.

As for the films, there are more signs of trouble. The next Indiana Jones film was filmed and expected to come out next year, but has been bumped to 2023 with rumors of extensive re-shoots and revisions of the plot pending. This is alarming given the age of the film’s star Harrison Ford and declining interest in the film.

But the most disconcerting news came recently that director Patti Jenkins’ pet film project Rogue Squadron has been put on indefinite hold. Originally, the film was supposed to come out in 2023, but supposedly creative differences between the director and Lucasfilm derailed the project. Now, it is doubtful Rogue Squadron will ever be made. This is embarrassing for the film studio after all the hoopla they created last year when they released a video promoting Rogue Squadron that featured Patti Jenkins passionately talking about the film as she was shown next to a full-scale mock up of an X-Wing fighter. Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

That is not all, ballyhooed announcements of Star Wars films from director Rian Johnson and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have led nowhere. What is next? Will the announced Kevin Feige-produced Star Wars film be shelved as well?

Many have pointed fingers and blame on Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. She has proven to be a somewhat controversial film executive who has enraged some fans and members of the alt-right. Despite the overreaction from some, she should accept the blame for the issues with the directors and the delays these events are causing because it is damaging the brand of Lucasfilm and its properties.

Given the image of Lucasfilm being in disarray, several fans have called for Kathleen Kennedy to be replaced by someone else, such as Jon Favreau, the showrunner of The Mandalorian. However, news has come out that Disney extended Kennedy’s contract for another three years. Surely, this demonstrates that the Disney executives have faith in Kathleen Kennedy, but can she turn things around? What convinced Disney that she deserved to continue running Lucasfilm? We have to hope that Disney’s continued faith in Kennedy is warranted because Star Wars as a film property sorely needs a win and there isn’t anything on the horizon. More importantly, Lucasfilm and Kennedy have to prove to fans that they can still deliver quality films and TV shows and time is running short.

Tom Hanks Delivers The Emotional Core In The Post-Apocalyptic Film Finch

Finch, originally titled BIOS, is a post-apocalytpic film that was supposed to be released last year and is finally able on Apple TV+. The film is about a dying man (the title character Finch played byTom Hanks) in a barren world, who builds a robot to care for his dog after he dies.

Several years earlier in Finch, the Earth was devastated by a solar flare that shredded the ozone layer and blanketed the world with deadly ultraviolet radiation that killed most life. Finch Weinberg is a lonely robotics engineer in an abandoned and dust-covered St. Louis. He ventures out into the world with his UV suit just to scrounch for food and supplies for himself and his dog Goodyear (played by Seamus the dog). His only other companion is a small robot called Duey that has limited capabilities. Finch has a terminal illness (it’s not made clear in the film but it could be radiation poisoning or cancer) and wants Goodyear protected, so he builds an anthropomorphic robot that he names Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones).

Finch is not able to fully program Jeff because a devastating storm is approaching St. Louis that will last for weeks. The scientist already planned to move to the west coast of North America and so decides to head out early in his recreational vehicle with Goodyear and his two robots, even though Finch is not fully programmed. This means that as they set out on their road trip, Finch has to teach Jeff how to care for his dog and survive after he is gone. During their trip, the two grow a friendly bond as Jeff learns about humanity and experiencing life, while Finch has to trust that the robot will carry out his task. This is difficult for Finch because during his ordeal as a survivor he lost faith in others.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik and written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, Finch is heartwarming film, though it does not have a deep plot. It has many aspects of post-apocalyptic and survival films like WALL-E and even Hanks’ own Cast Away. Still, the film knows just how to tug at the viewer’s heart and there are many moments in the film that require a box of tissues. One instance is the moment when Finch recalls how he came to adopt Goodyear, which led him to find a measure of atonement, culminating in the creation of Jeff.. The film has many beautiful and reflective moments of experiencing the simple joys in life that are buttressed by gorgeous cinematography by Jo Willems.

The dog Goodyear is not some kind of super smart animal with quirky personality traits that is seen in many dog-centric films and it’s clear to see how much Finch is attached to the animal. Be that as it may, being that the driving force is that Jeff must learn to care for Goodyear, the dog is not the main character. Those are Finch and Jeff. The robot is not fully developed emotionally and has an inquisitive nature that is humorous but never annoying, At the same time, this defect is a liability that could endanger his biological companions. However, Jeff has noble intentions and takes initiatives throughout the film that earns his creator’s trust and allows him to grow into the caretaker he was meant to be. The role was well performed and captured as the robot seems realistic thanks to his clumsy nature and a clunky look, which is how a cobbled-together robot would appear.

Of course, the main draw of the film is Tom Hanks, who proves once again why he is such a beloved acting icon. His heartfelt performance is the emotional core of the film. It is so easy to relate to Finch as Hanks injects a noble and gentle everyman demeanor. One cannot help but feel for him and his dog whenever he starts coughing blood or just see them playing a simple game of catch. Throughout the film Hanks delivers a quiet and thoughtful performance that helps keep the film grounded and endearing.

Some will argue that Finch may be emotionally manipulative and simplistic and that is a valid point. Given the film’s premise it can be easy to predict how the film will end up. However, in the end it works as it is easy to get emotionally invested in the characters and wonder what will come next for them. Just as important, despite its pathos, Finch never feels sentimental or cloy.

It is a bit of a shame Finch can only be seen on Apple TV+ since not many people have that streaming app. The film deserves to be seen in wider venues such as full theatrical releases and the powers that be should have waited a bit longer to do so. Hopefully, Finch may find an audience later on in additional venues because it is one of the better genre films for the year.

José Soto