Top 13 Supernatural Heroes

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The horror or supernatural genre is noted for its deadly monsters and evil creatures of the night. But genre also has its fair share of heroes, who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us from the forces of darkness. Whether imbued with supernatural powers themselves or just plain ordinary folks, these are the greatest heroes of the supernatural.

ghost rider13. Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider): Noted for his flaming skull, a kickass fiery motorcycle, and a passion for vengeance, Ghost Rider is no doubt the flashiest antihero on this list. After selling his soul to Satan, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze became the terrifying Spirit of Vengeance as he meted out justice against evil with his hellfire and penance stare.

12. The Crow (The Crow): James O’Barr created this haunting anti-hero for a series of moody comic books. In them, Eric Draven came back from the grave to avenge the killing of his girlfriend by vicious thugs. Adapted into a cult hit film starring the late Brandon Lee, the Crow has grown in popularity among fans.

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11. Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula): The original vampire slayer and archenemy of Dracula has been a staple of many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Played by a host of reputable thespians like Peter Cushing, Anthony Hopkins, Sir Laurence Olivier and even Hugh Jackman (as Gabriel Van Helsing), Van Helsing is the one human match against the King of the Vampires.

10. Blade (Blade): Feared among vampires, the blade“daywalker” is actually a half human, half vampire hybrid with all of a vampire’s strengths, and without any vampiric weaknesses. Originally an obscure Marvel Comics character, Blade became super popular after Wesley Snipes played him in a trio of high-octane films.

9. Hellboy (Hellboy): A demon who was summoned as an infant by Nazis during World War II, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) was recovered by Allied Forces instead. Once grown into a red, hulking super agent with sawed-off horns, Hellboy has fought on the side of humanity ever since against supernatural forces with a sense of humor, a big gun and the heart of a hero.

ash8. Ash Williams (The Evil Dead): After mistakenly unleashing demonic forces into the world, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) valiantly fought against the malicious spirits with desperate and manic gusto in Sam Raimi’s acclaimed trilogy. While The Evil Dead films are noted for their off-the-wall scares and gore, Ash is the slightly goofy heart of the films and gives us someone to root for.

7. Castiel (Supernatural): First introduced in Supernatural’s fourth season, the angel Castiel quickly became a fan favorite. Brilliantly played by Misha Collins, Castiel is a genuine deus ex machina for the Winchester Brothers, while being the source of many amusing scenes thanks to his literal, stoic attitude and naive demeanor when dealing with humanity.

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6. Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange, Strange Tales): Marvel Comics’ premier sorcerer is truly the Master of the Mystic Arts. Once a cocky and selfish neurosurgeon Stephen Strange suffered a debilitating accident and in trying to find treatment wound up on a mystical and redemptive path. After becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange is our dimension’s greatest defender against dark forces thanks to his powerful, magical powers.

5. Carl Kolchak (Kolchak: The Night Stalker): Adorned with a cheap suit, a bulky recorder and a fragile camera, kolchakCarl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) worked a lonely beat as a hustling, streetwise reporter who investigated supernatural incidents. Kolchak was forced in each episode (and two TV films) to put aside his fears and confront deadly supernatural dangers, usually without any help since he couldn’t convince anyone about the true nature of the threats.

buffy angel4. Buffy Summers and Angel (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel): While Buffy first made her debut in the film Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon made the character soar in the TV version, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular character. Quirky and full of spunk, Buffy bravely took on vampires and other supernatural forces that threatened humanity. The TV show also introduced viewers to the tortured vampire Angel (David Boreanaz), who fought alongside Buffy, as he tried to reclaim his humanity.

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3. John Constantine (Hellblazer, Constantine): This working-class, British sorcerer and occult detective is one formidable foe against the supernatural. First appearing in the pages of Swamp Thing comic books in the ’80s, Constantine won over many fans with his world-weary attitude, questionable morality and snarky cynicism. Even though his soul is damned to hell. he continues the good fight against evil while going through many cigarettes.

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2. Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, and Michonne (The Walking Dead): Among the many heroic figures featured in the comic book and TV versions of The Walking Dead, these three are the deadliest walker killers, as well as the most intriguing. Michonne (Danai Gurira) with her katana and Daryl (Norman Reedus) with his crossbow fall into the silent, deadly types, who change for the better as the stories progress. Meanwhile, with each experience, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) fights an inner struggle to maintain his humanity, while grappling with a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies and deadly people.

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1. Sam and Dean Winchester (Supernatural): There are many supernatural-based heroes out there, many of whom don’t have any powers and must rely on their wits to persevere against supernatural threats. But these two brothers (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are the most down to earth and carunassuming of the bunch. Raised to be hunters (of the supernatural) by their father, these two roam the country’s back roads with a cache of conventional and mystical weapons and tackle all sorts of opponents, whether they be ghosts, demons, vampires or malevolent angels. What makes them stand out is not just their modest nature (and Dean’s hedonistic ways), but their bravery, witty banter and brotherly love; which are all their best weapons.

Lewis T. Grove

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron Teaser Trailer!

Never mind watching next week’s episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Marvel has decided to release this teaser for next year’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron today. Whoa…this just looks super awesome!

Seriously, what’s not to like? We have the Hulk battling Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor, lots of explosions and mayhem, and best of all Ultron! It seems like Joss Whedon made yet another brilliant casting decision by choosing James Spader to play the iconic Avengers villain. Ultron looks incredibly badass and intimidating in the same vein as the Terminator. Hopefully he’ll be on screen just as memorable as Loki or Magneto and become of the great Marvel movie villains. Obviously, there isn’t any way to say that this film will be better than its predecessor The Avengers, but it looks like another winner for Marvel Studios.

Our hats off to Marvel, after making the rest of us who didn’t attend this summer’s Comic Con sweat and agonize over the concealed footage shown at that convention, they’ve given all of us a nice treat. So enjoy this official Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer!

 

Update: …And here’s the extended trailer featuring more footage, it’s still creepy with that Pinocchio music.

The Terminator: The 30-Year-Old Sci-Fi Masterpiece

poster 2Thirty years ago, howling winds among the blackened ruins of Los Angeles in the year 2029 AD and a flying machine of death and destruction began James Cameron’s 1984 classic science fiction action thriller The Terminator. This film was a landmark for the director as well as its star Arnold Schwarzenegger and began one of cinema’s best known sci-fi franchises. It has many great qualities that many films have since tried to emulate. Such as its pulse pounding pacing and action, as well as the many interesting themes it explores (i.e.: the conflict between man and machine and the idea of fate and whether it can be altered).

The story involving a ruthless killer cyborg laser scopeplayed by Schwarzenegger coming from the future to kill a waitress called Sarah Connor (played very well by Linda Hamilton), the mother of the future human resistance leader John Connor, examines the idea of humanity losing control of the technology it created. All of this is done through the lens of classic ’80s high-powered action and gun battles.  One of the memorable things about The Terminator is how uncompromising it is. The brutal nature of the terminator is on full display as he coldly executes his targets and relentlessly pursues Sarah. This is also explained quite well by her protector Kyle Reese (another excellent performance by Michael Bien), a soldier sent back from the future to protect her. He tells her quite bluntly that the machine will not ever stop until she is dead.

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Any discussion of The Terminator would not be complete without mentioning the fantastic future war sequences that start the film and are seen in flashbacks throughout. It showed a scary post-apocalyptic landscape of a city destroyed by nuclear fire, and massive hunter-killer machines trying to wipe out any humans that appear as if they were rats. This is all seen through the eyes of Kyle Reese, and when he is shown getting back to a human hideout, the hunter killersense of misery and despair among the surviving humans only heightens the tension. It makes his mission to protect Sarah and ensure that humankind has a fighting chance all the more important and desperate. It also demonstrates the terrifying nature of terminators as one infiltrates the hideout and mercilessly slaughters anyone nearby. This is paralleled by the present-day terminator walking into a police station and killing everyone he sees in an effort to get at Sarah. Speaking of Sarah, the film well presented the theme of a once-timid character who finds her inner resolve and becomes a completely changed person. By the end of the film, Sarah Connor is just as determined and full of fight as the machine that is stalking her.

cameron and arnoldAll of these qualities are why the movie is still admired and seen 30 years after its release. The Terminator stands out among many of its decade’s other action films. It propelled James Cameron and the cast to stardom and led to him directing other favorites like Aliens, The Abyss, Titanic and Avatar. It cemented Schwarzenegger as an international star and created a fascinating universe that was further developed in three sequels, books, comic books and a TV show that expanded on the world of the super computer Skynet bent on humanity’s destruction. This world will be revisited in next year’s Terminator: Genisys.  Hopefully, it will be as action packed and exciting as the classic 1984 original that is still the best of the series and will endure for years to come as a sci-fi masterpiece.

C.S. Link

 

Reasons Why The Marvel Superheroes Are Still Successful

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The 20th century needed a new group of heroes that reflected then-modern sensibilities. During the Golden Age of comic books, superheroes belonging to DC Comics (then named National Periodical Publications) such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman fulfilled this need with their wild superhuman exploits that captured the imagination. By the post-war era in America, DC’s superheroes were pretty much the standard: the Establishment.

By attempting to have the most likeable characters, DC’s superheroes had no character or emotional flaws, and the stories gravitated towards plot-driven, farcical adventures rather than character-driven stories.

In the wake of DC’s success, other comic book companies were founded and tried to emulate DC. Out of the many companies, only Timely Comics had staying power and here we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of that company that will later become Marvel Comics.

The Flawed, Science Heroes: Comics changed forever with the start of the so-called Marvel Age. The birth of the Marvel Universe took place in the early 1960s. This was a period that people were in awe with all of the wonders of science and space exploration. The Space Race and the Cold War were on the minds of the people. The Zeitgeist was the fear of the imminent Red Invasion and the Promise of Science- where will it take us?

perez marvelThe core of the first generation of Marvel superheroes were essentially Science Heroes. With the exception of Dr. Strange, the rest of the Marvel Universe was largely a world of weird science and science fiction. Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Captain America, Giant-Man, the Wasp and the Hulk were Radioactive Heroes. Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. The astronauts from Reed Richard’s group were exposed to cosmic rays during their maiden voyage into outer space. In an unfortunate accident, Dr. Bruce Banner was hit with the full blast of Gamma Rays. Tony Stark built an electronic-laden armor with tons gadgets and abilities. Captain America was a patriotic hero that survived World War II by being frozen due to his exposure of Vita-Rays; part of the catalyst that transformed Steve Rogers from a skinny kid to an athletically proportioned hero. Giant Man and the Wasp benefitted from Hank Pym’s size magnification and reduction experiments, along with side studies in insect communication and gene splicing.

Great concepts- ahead of its time- but what made the Marvel Universe different, however, was not only the science aspect, but rather the fact that these Marvel heroes were emotionally flawed, imperfect, and fallible. Tragedy strikes as often as victories. Moral dilemmas were as large as the threat.

Spider-Man wins the battle with the big bad villain, but he can’t get enough money for his rent and he blew a date with either Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson. Captain America is back in the modern world, but he feels lost like a fish out of water. marvel heroesThe X-Men have astounding abilities, but they are persecuted and feared by society, who view mutants as aberrations, and treat them as outcasts. The Fantastic Four’s Thing has great power, but he also has this great fear that his blind girlfriend Alicia won’t accept him if she ever regained her sight and found him ugly. But the Thing- AKA Ben Grimm, is very human despite his rough exterior, with a heart that endeared him to readers. Dr. Strange was a callous, money-loving jerk; a celebrity physician until a terrible traffic accident ended his career. This gave him pause to reflect and improve on his past behavior as he was now invested to learn the mystic arts to save the world from an ancient evil. And the list goes on and on with the great flaws that these characters have, but that is what made these characters appealing. That in particular was something that comic book readers became very attuned to, and why they identified with them. Continue reading

The Vampires Of The Strain

eichorst ready to eatVampires have been defanged lately. At least on TV and film. Both medium have been filled with overly romantic or brooding, misunderstood loners that filled the roles of the infamous night creatures. In reality, the vampires in Twilight and True Blood among other presentations were really just metaphors for social and emotional themes like teenage alienation, bigotry and even the gay rights movement. As good (or bad) as these presentations were, it was clear that the vampire mystique was diluted and strayed far from the creatures’ legendary horror roots.

Fortunately, The Strain corrects that problem by presenting the vampires in the TV show as the horrific and repulsive monsters they’re supposed to be.

Based on the book of the same name by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (both of whom executive produce the show as well), The Strain is starts off as a medical mystery but by the end of its first season is a straight up horror tale as a deadly infestationplague ravages modern-day New York City. In just a matter of days, many of the city’s inhabitants are turned into vampires by means of a quick-acting virus spread by aggressive parasitic worms. These tiny creatures are found in vampires and burrow into humans whenever a vampire bites them or simply by coming into physical contact with a vampires’ body fluids.

When infected by these disgusting worms that quickly multiply in the body, a person feels like he or she is suffering from a bad cold. In reality a horrid metamorphosis occurs where sexual organs atrophy and fall off, skin turns deathly pale and gray,  and a craving for blood ensues. By this time, the infected’s personality is largely gone, and are driven by a desire to ingest blood and pass on the virus. Infecting and draining someone else is done through a hideous, long tendril that shoots out of their mouths with grabbers and teeth at the end. Seeing this happen in each episode never loses its shock value and it’s very disturbing.

tongue attack

It’s a unique twist on the way vampires attack their victims and makes logical, pseudo-scientific sense. This method is somewhat reminiscent of the xenomorph creature in the Alien films with its elongated tongue that sports its own tiny, fanged mouth only the vampire’s tongue is much longer and faster. The way the vampires attack their victims takes away any notion of twisted romantic eroticism. The vampires in The Strain don’t try to seduce humans. They have no sexual interest in them and reproduce asexually by transmitting the worms. The end result is that the supernatural aspect of these bloodsuckers are downplayed and instead scientific explanations are given as to how they exist and operate.

Most vampires shown are nearly mindless the mastercreatures driven by instinct. At best, the common vampires display a sort of hive intelligence and carry out psychic commands from the Master, the vampire leader. Meanwhile, a select few retain the personalities of their former lives and possess intelligence and the ability to talk. These special vampires are able to pass themselves off as human through elaborate makeup. That is because a fully fledged vampire has deathly grey skin, no hair, or nose and are bald with pointed ears. They’re also incredibly strong, quick and fast healing.

But Del Toro and Hogan didn’t just toss out all the old traditions with their takes on vampires. They do share a trait with the traditional vampires in that they lull many victims to let down their guards. This happens when a recently transformed vampire is drawn to a former loved one. The intended victim will see that the shuffling creature is acting odd and barely speaking. The vampire will swiftly attack and noisily drain the suckervictim’s blood using its tongue as a fleshy straw and leave the now-infected person in a death-like state. Shortly thereafter, the victim’s DNA is rewritten and the person is now a vampire. Also, the vampires on The Strain  have many of the traditional vampire weaknesses such as being vulnerable to silver and direct sunlight. The show’s heroes use the same tried and true methods of fighting vampires like sunlight exposure, blades for beheadings or silver. But innovative twists are used like UV lamps in the absence of sunlight and nail guns that fire silver nails.

The vampires in The Strain are innovative while being a throwback to their original portrayal across centuries. They’re hideous, disgusting and there isn’t anything romantic about them. They have more in common with the shuffling, mindless and disfigured zombies seen in TV shows and films these days. The end result is that the vampires have become something to be feared again.

José Soto