Glasgow MCM Comic Con

As I type this, my boyfriend and I are travelling home from MCM Glasgow and, hopefully, by the time you read this we will have arrived. The journey home has been long and filled with unexpected changes, as was the jorney to Glasgow, but MCM was worth it. We were due to leave our home island on Friday morning’s boat, but it was inexplicabley cancelled, so we flew to Aberdeen. From here we simply took several buses to Glasgow and booked into the Youth Hostel that evening. As a system of travel, flying and taking a bus works super well, however it was more expensive than what was planned initially.
Saturday morning MCM opened its doors at 9 o’clock and we headed in shortly afterwards. Having bought priority tickets, we headed to the official MCM merch table to receive our pins. After returning to the entrance to retrieve the wristbands we forgot about, we were presented with the pins and joined the swarm of people making their way around stalls. Almost immediately, the social anxiety took over and I refused to let go of my boyfriend’s hand for 2 hours, eventually that anxiety wore off. The convention had an atmosphere of acceptance. Many people had chosen to cosplay, icluding several families with small children, which is adorable. There were stalls selling LGBT flags with most stalls selling small pride badges. LGBT Youth Scotland even hosted their first panel on inclusivity in gaming, which was a joy to attend. As we wandered around the art stalls I encountered an old schoolfriend selling her merch (Datcravat on instagram), and picked up many badges. Before leaving for the night, we visited Thomas “Tomska” Ridgewell at his stall. He was clearly tired, but made time for every single fan in the queue. He’s an absolute delight to speak to and I wish him nothing but the best. That evening we caught up with a friend in Glasgow and attended a screening of IT: Chapter 2, which was good. It’s an adaptation of a Stephen King ending… so they did the best the could.
On Sunday, we looked at what panels were on that day and decided to start with the “Sneak Peeks” panel at 11am. We saw trailers for Zombieland 2: Double Tap, Jumanji: The Next Level and Charlies Angels which weren’t new but I’d almost forgotten about because I was hyped about other things. They all look pretty good. Before leaving that afternoon we took one last gander at all the stalls, picked up some of the bigger items we’d seen and bid Datcravat a fond farewell. That afternoon, we wandered the streets of Glasgow and fell asleep early. The weekend was fantastic, but we still had to get home, and that would turn out to be more difficult than planned.

After boarding a bus that would barely get to the ferry in time we decided to hop on a train. The train then failed to start, meaning we could not make it to the boat, and were stranded on mainland Scotland. Luckily, I had a friend in Aberdeen who graciously put us up for the night and after some rounds of HALO dropped us off at the boat this afternoon. The journey to and from MCM has been a lot longer and a lot more expensive than we planned. I have had several panic attacks and nearly been bankrupted, but I still consider this a good trip. I spent 2 days surrounded by some of the nerdiest and most accepting people I’ve ever met. I felt utterly content with my existance and have come away with memories that will list a lifetime. To the staff at MCM ComicCon who will never read this, thank you so much for the effort you put in. I look forward to seeing you again in the years to come.

Signed: Your very sleepy, friendly neighbourhood queer

Superhero Rights: The Fantastic Pool

When 20th Century Fox bought the rights to the X-Men franchise in the mid 1990s, they did so along with the rights to several individual superheroes. With X-Men being a success at the box office Fox decided to greenlight projects based on their other characters, starting with Daredevil and Elektra. Part of the initial deal, they ended up being bought by Regency Studios in the early 2000s and were only distributed by Fox. This meant that the first official venture outside of X-Men would end up being released in 2005, between the second and third X-Men films.

Fantastic Four featured a group of scientists who gain powers during a space storm. While Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm use their powers for good, Victor Von Doom does not. Having gone through several re-writes and directors during its lengthy development the response for Fantastic Four was mainly positive but with several criticisms. Many felt that though the character development was good there were too many plot elements making the film feel ill-paced. Nevertheless it made money and an extended cut of the film was released in 2007 to coincide with the release of its sequel.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer focuses on our heroes as the battle the Silver Surfer and his master Galactus: Destroyer of Worlds. It also features a gimmick in which our heroes can switch powers as well as the return of Doctor Doom. Although the opening weekend brought in more money than its predecessor, in the following weeks there was a drop in box office takings. Mixed reviews cited poor acting and directing as well as poor characterisation as the reason for this drop but the special effects garnered praise. All 4 main actors had signed a 3-film deal but after Rise of the Silver Surfer‘s poor performance Fox got cold feet and cancelled any further sequels.

In 2009 it was announced that the Fantastic Four would be returning and after 6 years a reboot of the franchise hit our screens. Fan4stic, as it was stylised, was a different origin story, drawing from the Ultimate run of comic books. This time the team gained their powers from an alternate universe and find themselves assets to the US Military. Reviews were bad. The film was slated for being boring and slow with no joy or character development. It had been hoped by Fox Executives that Fan4stic would eventually lead to a crossover with X-Men but this films failure meant that this project and any sequels would never come to fruition.

Before speaking about our last two films I would like to provide some context. The character of Deadpool belongs to the X-Men universe, however I do not count his solo films as part of the X-Franchise. They have no correlation to those films in character or from a perspective of the (admittedly broken) X-Men timeline. Many people choose to see his solo films as part of the X-Franchise and that’s fine, but that is my personal take.

After spending 14 years in development hell and 7 years after his critiqued cameo in Origins:Wolverine, Deadpool finally got his own film in 2016. Although it is far from the first superhero film to be rated R(15) (an honour that goes to 1991s The Punisher) it was a first for Fox who were praised by fans for the decision. Deadpool centres around how our titular anti-hero came to have his powers and his horrific scars in a search for the man responsible. Deadpool 2 would be released 2 years later and features the character saving a young mutant from the time travelling soldier known as Cable. Both films were praised by audiences who loved its accuracy to the source material as well as its humour. Deadpool 2 is notable for featuring the first openly gay superheroes in the form of Teenage Negasonic Warhead and her girlfriend Yukio. There have been many queer heroes in comic books but this would be the first time that this diversity was shown on film. Each film made around $784 million for a grand total of $1568 million between them and would be some of the final films released by 20th Century Fox before their acquisition by Walt Disney Studios in 2017. Rumour has it that Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool will be the only character to make the leap into the MCU but that remains to be seen.

The Story Continues…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Shakesqueer: The Early Years

As a teenager, I was frequently bombarding my social media with adverts for the latest films. Primarily they were “Nerdy” flicks like Star Wars or Captain America: Civil War, which should come as a surprise to nobody. Occasionally I would interject with general posts, but even more occasionally than that was a thought on film. I have compiled these into the following post so that you may share just a little bit more of this journey with me.

Nov 23rd 2012: Hugh Laurie being electrocuted alongside the guy who plays Arthur Weasley. You’ve got to love 101 Dalmatians

Dec 24th 2012: Just watched the last episode of BBCs Merlin. In a word? Crap

Mar 8th 2013: Star Trek: Into Darkness is the worst Star Trek movie ever? Really? Come on people, are you blind?

Sep 18th 2013: Magneto standing up for Xavier even after he dies. True friendship never dies…

Aug 12th 2014: Farewell to the beloved Robin Williams. Truly a gift to all mankind

Feb 27th 2015: A fond farewell and huge thank you to Leonard Nimoy who passed away today. You taught so many children to dream of the stars, to seek out new life and to live prosperously. I hope you’re as appreciated in Heaven as you are on Earth and realise how much you will be missed. Your 5 year journey is finally over. Thank you and sleep well.

Apr 26th 2015: Fast and Furious 7 is not the best in the franchise but it is a perfect send off for Paul Walker.

June 2nd 2015: Phil Tippet, Dinosaur Supervisor. 2 minutes and 45 seconds. You tried man #JurassicPark

June 12th 2015: Yesterday, the world lost another legendary actor in the form of Sir Christopher Lee. Aged 93 and still acting, hi dedication to the craft was admirable and the impact he had on the cinematic industry, as well as peoples lives, is unmatched. There are few men who can claim that. Thank you Sir Christopher an may the force be with you always.

Aug 18th 2015: The Incredible Hulk (2008) is not a bad film and I think it’s seriously underrated. Here’s why. The acting is good, the CGI is good, there are lovely nods to the source material and the plot is survivable. Also the Hulk films before it were poorly received and The Abomination, as a villain, is on point. The fact that General Ross is back for Civil War meaning that it can’t be ignored any longer? chills.

Oct 13th 2015: Gandalf actually found Thrain in Dol Goldur during Desolation of Smaug. Nice to see him get some screentime even if The Necromancer does kill him…

(Not a post) Oct 14th 2015 is the day that I publicly came out as Bisexual. I had known for 4 years but, given the “Christian Island” culture and fear of rejection, was afraid to come out at the time. As of March 28th 2019 I have been engaged to my boyfriend for a year and a half and we have been living together for 5 months. I’m more at ease with myself then I’ve ever been.

Nov 8th 2015: Spectre analysis (in my opinion). Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz all deserved more screentime. The plot took to long to actually develop. Too many long silences. As always, the women are just there to serve as trophies for Bond to stare at (shame on you Hollywood). Not enough SPECTRE despite it literally being the title. That “Day of the Dead” setting added absolutely nothing. Ben Wishaw was fantastic, as always. Blofeld subplot was good. Spends the first 15 minutes reminding you of Skyfall, which is a way better movie.

Jan 14th 2016: Another star has left us. Yipee-ki-ay Mister Rickman. My you rest in piece

April 24th 2016: I own 90 films. 10 of them have no romantic subplot. damn you Hollywood.

February 26th 207: Survivor of a Xenomorph attack, Apollo 13, a twister and a home invasion by The Hood. Sad to hear about the passing of a legend. Raise a glass to Bill Paxton.

June 5th 2017: Here’s to Peter Sallis. A British Icon.

June 10th 2017: Whenever people bring up the Batman franchise, I always remind them of Adam West. His version was highly entertaining to watch and never failed to make me smile. In my eyes he will always be my Batman because it was through him that I learned to love this franchise and this character. He played so many roles as an actor but the presence he had in Nerd Culture will live on. Thank you Mayor West and may you sleep well. You’ve earned it.

Oct 12th 2017: Aquaman is a dudebro. The Flash is quirky comic relief. Wonder Woman is the badass eye candy. Superman is the ex-machina. Why Justice League?!

Dec 15th 2017: I have never felt so pure #TheLastJedi

June 6th 2018: The Greatest Showman wouldn’t have been as good without Zefron, Jackman or the bearded lady.

Jun 18th 2018: My friend is right. Clone Wars and Rebels should get the credit for bringing back Darth Maul. But Solo brought him back to the big screen so I will praise the heck out of this film for that.

Jul 18th 2018: 10 years sine The Dark Knight and, as good as this film is, I’d like to remind you how overrated it is. Changed the industry? sure…

Jul 24th 2018: Heath Ledgers Joker was good but not THAT good so please calm down. It was edgy, dark and realistic sure but DC has been trying to live up to that ever since. Yes I’m blaming that over-hyped goldenboy for the shitshow that is the DCEU.

Jul 31st 2018: I have a lot of animosity towards films that are undeservedly, ridiculously overhyped. The Dark Knight and Frozen are the worst for this, at least to me. I will not apologise for the screaming that ensues.

Sep 17th 2018: Deadpool was very much “haha we can say the F word and Green Lantern was bad.” Deadpool 2 is very much “now that THAT’S out of the way…” Listen. I was very vocal at the time about how “meh” Deadpool was. Nobody listened then and nobody’s listening now.

Oct 31st 2018: #20moviechallenge post a film that affected you every day for the next 20 days. 1)The Iron Giant 2)Zombieland 3)The Lord of the Rings 4)Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure 5)Matilda 6)V For Vendetta 7)Toy Story 8)Mean Girls 9)Pride 10)X-Men 11)Die Hard 12)Jurassic Park 13)Ghostbusters 14)Captain America: The First Avenger 15)Green Lantern 16)Men in Black 17)Apollo 13 18)The Muppets Christmas Carol 19)Back to the Future 20)Batman ’89

Nov 24th 2018: 27 years on and still as loved as ever. Please go support this film. Love him #BohemianRhapsody

Jan 11th 2019: Well damn. I guess Aquaman is cool now. Still has its dumb moments but…damn.

Feb 3rd 2019: Megamind is the best superhero film of all time. Don’t @ me.

Feb 6th 2019: There are two kinds of people. Those who think that The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is a cinematic masterpiece and those who are wrong.

Feb 16th 2019: How to Train Your Dragon 3 isn’t as good as its predecessors and here’s why. It’s drastically predictable. You know what every character is going to say and do at any given moment. I know it’s a kids film but come on. [Spoiler]s self sacrifice would not have killed them. Then there’s the Light Fury.Her design is so overtly feminine and it doesn’t need to be. That’s not how animals work. Still a good film though.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Remakes and Retribution

The concept of remaking films isn’t new, in fact it’s been around as long as the cinema industry itself. In the beginning, it led to repeated adaptations of literature, such as with Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel A Tale of two Cities which received its first cinematic outing in 1911 only to be remade in 1917. This practice isn’t uncommon, especially with Charles Dickens’ works. A Christmas Carol has received the most remakes of all with 7 feature length films, not to mention the countless television and radio adaptations. Of course, original projects got their fair share of remakes too with 1923s The 10 Commandments having one in 1956.

A remake, if done well, can be a wonderful film in its own right and there are several reasons for their existance. Some are English-speaking remakes of foreign pictures. The Ring is considered by many to be one of the finest horror films of all time, and it is based on Japan’s 1988 film リング (Ringu). One of very few Western LGBT films The Birdcage is a remake of the French 1978 La Cage Aux Folles. It’s up to personal opinion whether these films hold up to their original couterparts, or if they should even be remade at all. I believe that if the message of the film remains intact and it raises awareness of the original with a new audience, then this brand of remake can be a great thing. One of the earliest examples is 1928’s The World is Mine which is based on the 1921 German film Hannerl Und Ihre Liebhaber.

Remaking a film is also a good way of updating it for that time period, allowing for newer methods of film-making. Frank Sinatras classic 1960 movie Ocean’s 11 is often considered as one of the all time greats, but the time period didn’t allow for much more than standing in a room and talking. When it was remade with George Clooney in 2001 it alloweed for more effects and espionage. This is also true of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz which was a remake of the silent 1925 original. It would earn Judy Garland her only academy award and has been proclaimed as one of the greatest films ever made.

Of course, the most obvious reason is that, more often than not, they take in a decent ammount of money at the box office. So far this year Disney has released 3 remakes of their previous films and made around $2.5billion. It’s a move that makes sense given that all 3 films (Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King) were hits when they were originally released (1941, 1992 and 1994 respectively). Now there are several reasons why people go to see these remakes, whether it’s nostalgia or curiosity, but the fact is that people go. It may be some of the easiest money that the Walt Disney Company has ever made.

A statement I’ve seen alot, and the one that inspired this piece, is that there are too many remakes being released. Popular opinion seems to be that these remakes are on the rise and that they are ruining the originality of the film industry. This simply is not true. I’ve carried out the research myself and the fact is that we are receiving an average amount of remakes. Since 1980 there have been roughly 10 remakes per year with a small influx in the early 200s. Whats more, over the past 100 years there have only been 5 years without a single remake, the last of which was 1927.

I’m not here to make assumptions or to jump to conclusions, but I’ve come to one anyway. Remakes are, and have always been, a core part of the cinema industry. To look down on them purely for existing or to assume that a remake will be bad “because it’s a remake” is absurd. To dismiss them without even giving them a glance is naive.

Superhero Rights: Tales of an X-Franchise (Part 2)

Though Origins:Wolverine was a flop, a sequel had already been greenlit and hit our screens in 2013. The Wolverine follows our titular hero as he travels to Japan to assist an old acquaintance, while struggling with a disappearance of his powers and The Yakuza. Not only does it act as a sequel to Origins: Wolverine but also as a sequel to X-Men 3: The Last stand, as Logan copes with Jean Grey’s death. This leads to cameos by her actress in visions that torment Logan, but these are not the only cameos. Both Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mackellan return to inform Logan of a new threat to mutant-kind thus teasing the following film. Positive reviews for The Wolverine mainly focused on Hugh Jackman’s performance and the accuracy to its source material.

The following year X-Men Days of Future Past was released. It serves as a sequel to The Wolverine and a semi-sequel to First Class, as Logan travels into the past to save the future. This film would mark the final appearances for many of the original X-Men characters in a passing-of-the-baton to their younger counterparts, making this, in effect, X-Men 4. It also tries to serve as a retcon so that both the original trilogy’s timeline and First Class timeline can exist as the same timeline. Reviews were positive with the film’s dedication to the source material garnering praise, while the complexity of the timeline as well as the amount of subplots were criticised. Rogue was to play a part in this film, but her role was cut from the theatrical release, leading to a lengthier version titled The Rogue Cut also being released on DVD. It clocks in at 2hours 48minutes, 17 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

In 2016, the young mutants would return for X-Men: Apocalypse, the official sequel to First Class, which featured the titular villain attempting to wipe out mankind and claim the world as his own. Despite being the main antagonist, Apocalypse’s lack of character and poor CG effects were heavily criticised, though the film itself was moderately well received. The character of Quicksilver was especially praised for his slow motion scenes and well written attitude. A different actor had played the role of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron the previous year due to a deal between Disney and 20th Century Fox. Quicksilver could appear as part of the Avengers but only if there was no mention of mutants or the X-Men, leading to him being referred to as an Enhanced.

The original run of X-Men films would officially come to an end with 2017’s Logan. The story follows him as he cares for an elderly Professor X and escaped mutant child X-23 while also fighting off a group known as The Reavers. The comic inspiration- Old Man Logan- was high in gore, leading to concern from fans that the film would be toned down for a 12 rating. This turned out not to be the case and Logan was rated R (15 here in the UK) which allowed for more violence, a decision that was met with praise from fans and critics. They were also pleased with the CGI and the performances, especially those of Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart, who finally retired their respective characters. The film drew heavy inspiration from western films and to honour this, a black and white version of the film titled Logan: Noir was released. It has been hailed by many as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.

In December that year, Walt Disney Company would buy 20th Century Fox and all its subsidiaries for around $52.4 million, meaning that almost all the Marvel properties were once again under one roof . At the time, there were still two films to be released- X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and The New Mutants. After months of re-writes and re-shoots, Dark Phoenix was finally released in spring of 2019 to relatively small applause. Meanwhile, The New Mutants was due to be released in 2018 but went through more issues in production than Dark Phoenix, which has led to its current release date of February 2020. Given the acquisition by Disney and the box office failure of Dark Phoenix it is unclear if New Mutants will ever be released, and if it is, how much of an audience it will actually get.

Now, here we stand, almost 2 decades and 10 films later. There have been highs and lows for Fox’s X-Men franchise, but one thing is certain- it’s over. This incarnation of the characters will not return, and someday soon we will most likely see them in a new form in the MCU.

The Story Continues…


With around 30 feature length films the Kaiju film franchise, featuring Godzilla, is one of the largest franchises of all time. It is closely followed by the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at 23, with many more films to follow. A franchise, at least for the context of this piece (barring the Kaiju franchise), is a series of films set in the same universe so perhaps a more accurate term is Shared Cinematic Universe. With the MCU making billions of dollars at the box office, many movie studios have decided to embark on similar projects, though it has proven more difficult than they realised. Perhaps the most famous of these attempts comes from Marvels main competitor – DC – who “launched” their universe with Man of Steel in 2013 and have since followed it up with 5 other films. To start with, the films in this franchise, the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU) were met with criticism, but with the recent success of both Aquaman and Shazam! it seems as though the tide may finally be turning.

Universal Studios attempted to launch their cinematic universe with The Mummy in 2017, which featured a cameo from Dr Jekyll as well as references to the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein’s Monster. Interestingly, they had previously rebooted The Mummy with Brendan Fraser in 1999, which led to a whole trilogy. It also wasn’t the first time they had attempted a “Monsterverse” as they had succeeded in doing this with 87 films from 1923 to 1960. Universal had created a cinematic universe in a time when the industry wasn’t really expecting it, but when the industry finally did expect it, they could not deliver. 2017’s The Mummy remains, thus far, the only film in the “Dark Universe” Series.

Direct sequels (and prequels) are also a lucrative way of franchising, after all, if you have a solid film already, it’s easier to build on that instead of create new stories from scratch. Currently the 11 Star Wars films have made £4000 million whilst the 8 Harry Potter films made around half that. The horror genre has seen it’s fair share of franchising too, proving that it can happen anywhere. There are 8 Nightmare on Elm Street titles while the Friday the 13th franchise is sitting at 11 and the Saw films are about to start on their 9th. It would seem that pumping out film after film is an easy process, and one that is guaranteed to make easy money. While that can be true, it is also a great way of producing films that are not particularly well received.

You simply cannot make film after film and care only about the money you make. The MCU has succeeded, in part, because they took their time crafting characters and stories that the audience would care about. It certainly helps that they have plenty of comic books to draw from, but they took those characters and made them their own, instead of relying purely on the comics’ appeal. This is where the DCEU and Dark Universe, among other factors, went wrong. They went in with the intention of creating a shared universe, cramming in moments that would “pay off later” but in doing so forgot to come up with a good plot for the films. Iron Man and Captain America aren’t set ups for the 21 films that followed, they are self contained stories that only mention the possibility of something bigger at the very end. If your film has characters we don’t grow to care about, and that isn’t remotely concerned with its own plot, then the audience will not care. Do not assume that you can set up a future without putting in some groundwork first.

Supposedly, the general public has grown tired of sequels, but deep down I don’t think that’s the case. In my opinion, the general public are actually tired of the standard of sequel they receive, as well as the lack of time between their releases. We have received a new instalment of Star Wars every Christmas since 2015, and at least 2 superhero films per year since 2008. I believe that if there was a larger gap between franchises releases, then the general public might complain a little bit less. I am as hyped as anybody for the release of Rise of Skywalker and the footage from the D23Expo has been on my mind consistently. This will be a finale for the ages, and the second one this year after Avengers Endgame, and I cannot wait to see how it plays out. However even I, an avid lover of film and these franchises specifically, could do with a little bit of time to relax.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Queer

Superhero Rights: Tales of an X-Franchise (Part 1)

In the mid 1990s, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to the X-Men and several other characters from Marvel Studios. They wasted no time in adapting this popular group to the big screen, but it would come off of the back of a prior outing for them. X-Men: The Animated Series ran from 1992 to 1997 on the Fox Kids network and changed the core lineup from the comics. This cast consisted of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, and Professor Charles Xavier. Based on the huge success of this series, Fox greenlit a motion picture in which 6 of these characters would initially make the leap.

Released in 2000, X-Men followed Rogue, a mutant with power-draining abilities, and Wolverine (AKA Logan) as they encounter and eventually join Professor X in the battle against Magneto. The cast boasted some impressive names with Thespian Legends Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mackellan both signed on. It did well at the box office and went on to spawn a barrage of sequels.

X2: X-Men United hit our screens in 2003 and saw the titular team facing off with Colonel William Stryker, who is on a path for mutant genocide. There are also hints at his past with Wolverine and the Weapon X Program, as well as hints to a more peaceful future. Again, the film did well at the box office, faring even better than its predecessor.

In 2006, the trilogy would conclude with X-Men: The Last Stand. It was an adaptation of the “Dark Phoenix” arc from the comics that also wrapped up our trilogy arc neatly. Though it was more successful at the box office than the previous films, it was met with mixed reviews. Though it was action packed and featured the best CGI of the series, fans felt it was a poor adaptation of the source material.

That source material had begun with The X-Men #1 in September of 1963. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the plight of these characters was a representation of the same plight faced by many minorities. This was not specific of one group but inclusive of all groups, whether it be race, religion or sexual orientation. When Sir Ian Mackellan was signed on, he wanted to ensure that this was not lost during the adaptation. The angle was more specifically that of the LGBT group which lead to a poignant scene in X2 where Bobby comes out as a mutant to his parents. Wherever the film franchise may have gone from here, the original X-Men trilogy still stands as a perfect allegory for those struggles.

By 2007, it was clear that the X-Men franchise was not slowing down. On the contrary, they were preparing to expand further. The “Origins” series was devised and would tell the origin stories for some of the most beloved characters with Wolverine, Magneto and Cyclops to be among the first. Being the most popular character, Wolverine was to go first, and so in 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released. The plot focuses on Logan as he becomes involved with Colonel William Stryker and the mysterious Weapon X Program. It also featured Deadpool, whose solo film had been in development hell for a decade until being officially cancelled in 2003. His portrayal here was met with harsh backlash from fans, as was the use of CGI claws on Wolverine, which resulted in this being dubbed the worst X-Men movie for years to come. The box office earnings were not enough to justify another Origins film, but was enough to keep the franchise afloat. A solo Gambit film was in the pipeline up until very recently, while the plans for Magneto’s film would find their way into the next project.

Acting as a soft reboot of the franchise X-Men: First Class graced our screens in 2011. James Macavoy and Michael Fassbender took over as Xavier and Magneto respectively, in a story that centres around the formation of the X-Men, as well as the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film also reintroduces us to Mystique and Beast, while the Hellfire Club make their debut led by a villain played by Kevin Bacon. First Class was met with positive reviews, being hailed as a return-to-form for the franchise. The grittier tone and improved special effects were especially praised, leading to 2 sequels in what has been dubbed the First Class Timeline. It does not tie directly into the original trilogy but instead acts as an alternate history. This also marks the first cameo appearance by Wolverine- something that would become somewhat of a tradition going forward.

The Story Continues…

Superhero Rights: A Tangled Web

In 1986, Marvel Film Studios made a decision that almost ruined them and continues to have a lasting impact to this day- Howard The Duck: The Movie. This live action telling of the anthropomorphic ducks story was so poorly received that Howard wouldn’t be seen again until 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Even then, his return was met with almost unanimous backlash from fans. The biggest blow-back came financially, with the film only making $38 million from its $37 million budget and on top of this, interest in Superheroes was dwindling. In order to save the company from bankruptcy, they would sell the rights of some of their most famous characters to rival studios. X-Men and the Fantastic four as well as Daredevil and Electra made their way to 20th Century Fox while The Incredible Hulk ended up at Universal . Finally, Spider-man and almost all of his character roster went to Sony, which brings us to the 2000s.

In 2002, director Sam Raimi brought Spider-man to the big screen for the first time. Featuring the origin of our titular hero, born Peter Parker, and the Green Goblin, born Norman Osborne, Spider-man was a huge success financially and with fans. Both Mary Jane Watson, his love interest, and J. Jonah Jameson, his boss, would make their appearances. Despite Tobey Maguire clearly being 26 years old playing a teenager, his performance was well received, leading to a sequel in 2004.

Spider-man 2, for the longest time, was the gold standard against which Spider-man films were measured. The film featured Doctor Otto Octavious in a heartbreaking origin story as well as James Franco continuing his story arc as Peters best friend Harry Osbourne. The film was given more praise than the first leading to the third and final installment in 2007.

Spider-man 3 was not the perfect landing that many had expected. The film featured fan favourites Venom and Sandman as well as The New Goblin, but many decreed that this was too many characters to try and focus on. Though there are those, like myself, who have a softspot for Spider-man 3 it was the last time we would see Tobey Maguire don the suit of the web slinger.

While Spider-man 3 was hitting cinemas across the globe, work was already beginning on Spider-man 4. Sadly, disagreements between Sam Raimi and Sony, as well as the pressure to deliver a perfect film, and various writers being unable to pen a script, Spider-man 4 would never see the light of day. However many of its details, through interviews with Raimi and storyboards, reveal what may have been. Supposedly it would feature The Vulture, The Lizard, Black Cat and Mysterio. As it transpires, each of thee characters had a part to play in Spidey’s future.

In 2012, under a new direction, The Amazing Spider-man hit our screens with Andrew Garfield as the new Peter Parker. Once again we would receive his backstory, but this time featuring Gwen Stacy as his love interest and The Lizard as his villain. It did well enough, garnering mostly positive reviews which praised it for the new direction that the franchise was taking.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 was released in 2014 and was not given its predecessor’s praise. It featured The Green Goblin, Electro and Rhino as well as the death of Gwen Stacey, which was deemed too much by general audiences. It was supposed to be the jumping off point for a cinematic universe, much like the MCU, and the news coverage means that the plans for this universe are not difficult to find. The Sinister Six were to play a huge part going forward but all plans were scrapped and Sony came back to, the now immensely popular, Marvel Studios for help.

By 2015, Sony and Marvel had reached an agreement. Spider-man and all the characters that came with him, would star in Marvel films with Sony having final creative control. There were 2 films still in production at the time of this merger, Venom and Into The Spiderverse, which were both released in 2018, with the latter receiving highly positive reviews.

Meanwhile in the MCU, Tom Holland was cast as Peter Parker and in 2016 made his debut in Captain America: Civil War. This would be followed by Spider-man: Homecoming in 2017 with appearances in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Rather than re-telling Spideys origin story, Homecoming takes place 5 years later and features The Vulture, with small roles for The Tinkerer and Shocker. With Spider-man: Far From Home introducing Mysterio, only Black Cat remains as an unused character of the cancelled Spider-man 4, for now.

The story continues…

How Endgame’s ending works

The more interviews the Russo Brothers give, the more apparent it becomes that they don’t know how the time travel in their own movie works. As someone who adores Bill & Ted and Back to the Future, this irritates me, especially when these very films get mebtioned in Endgame. Their take is that you cannot change the past because travelling there is part of your future, in laymans terms ‘what has happened has ALWAYS hapened.’ This means that 2012 Loki has always escaped with the tesseract and Quill has always been knocked unconciuos on Morag. I don’t feel like unpacking all of that, so let’s go over the films ending instead.

Having won the climactic battle against Thanos and his army, the Infinity Stones must be returned to the precise moment in time from which they were taken. This task is left to Captain America, now wielding Mjolnir, but ends with him returning to 2023 having lived a life with Peggy Carter. Let’s go through that journey, or at least what I think that journey must have been, given every other films’ time travel laws; this means that Cap must travel chronologically through time from 1970 to 2014, ending in, what I presume, is 1945.

The Space Stone, in the form of The Tesseract, must be returned to SHIELD Headquarters in 1970s New Jersey. This would occur just moments after Tony Stark and Cap originally left and requires him simply to make it to The Vault.

The Time Stone is returned to the Sanctum Sanctorum in 2012, moments after Professor Hulk has left. The Stone is simply handed back to The Ancient One who was in on the entire plan, putting her mind at ease. The Mind Stone, in the form of Loki’s Sceptre, is returned to SHIELD as they exit Stark Tower moments after Stark and Antman have left. This is also a simple exchange as 2012 Cap is already believed to have the sceptre on him. From here, it’s not so easy. 2012 Loki has to escape with the 2012 Tesseract, otherwise there is no reason for Cap and Stark to jump to 1970. However, the timeline cannot be properly restored until they have both returned to 2012 NY.

Luckily, the human race has a habit of tracking it’s history. I believe that, in this universe, any mention of “A Trickster” or even just “Loki” is an actual sighting. This means that Cap jumped from 2012 to a specific time and place in history to retrieve him, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have come quietly. But Cap still has Mjolnir. Loki probably isn’t going to argue much with that. From here it’s back to 2012, to deposit Loki and his Tesseract with a trustworthy SHIELD agent. This most likely occurs during the Schwarma scene.

The Reality Stone, in the form of The Aether, as well as Mjolnir, must be returned to Asgard in 2013. Presumabley this happens moments after Rocket and Thor have left. Since Thor’s mother Frigga is already aware of the plan, its a simple handover. I don’t know how they got The Aether back into Dr Jane Foster…… but they did.

The Power Stone, in its orb casing, is returned to Morag shortly after Nebula has been taken by Thanos and his ship has left. It gets placed back on its podium and from here Cap jumps to Vormir to return the Soul Stone. Since Red Skull is the official Keeper of the Stone, he presumabley holds the power to return it to its cosmic shrine. It is only at this point that the Original Timeline has been restored and Cap can jump to 1945.

I’m going with mid-September 1945, because the Captain America from that era is still in the ice and thought to be dead when the war ends. I’ve read countless theories that “Captain America wouldn’t just sit by and allow the atrocities from 1946 onward to occur” and you’re right, usually he wouldn’t. Though, the fate of the entire Space-Time continuum is on the line here which means that, though it may pain him, Cap knows he HAS to allow these atrocities to occur in order to restore the Original Timeline. Remember that era’s Cap is also still in the ice, and will still go on to be found in 2011, and fight Thanos, and win. So Steve Rogers from 2023 lives a quiet and happy life, until the passing of his wife Margaret Carter in 2016. He is still in an alternate reality.

Up until now, only time travel has been used. What needs to be done now is a jump to another dimension. Luckily the Spiderman: Far From Home trailer indicates that this is now possible. The Snap (presumabley the Reverse Decimation) has torn a hole in the fabric of reality, so we’re told, which means that Cap has to wait until 2023 to make the jump. By this time SHIELD will probably have equiptment to do that, allowing Captain America to finally return to his own timeline at the same time he left, only several metres away… and about a century older.

I’m sure that everyone has their own interpretation of these events, and I’m sure that the Russo brothers will come forward with theirs. For me, this is the logical solution for returning the Infinity Stones, and so this is what I will continue to believe. To each their own.

Until Next Time…

Growing up with the MCU

Note: “The Avengers” is referred to as “Avengers Assemble” because that’s how it was released here.

When I was a child, being seen as “nerdy” or “geeky” was practically the highest form of insult apart from “gay”. You were a weirdo for even acknowledging the existence of Doctor Who and Star Trek and heaven forbid if you want to talk about them. This is especially true on the island where I was raised where boys are supposed to like football and rugby and nothing else. Then one whole year before I was due to start at secondary school, it happened- the Marvel Cinematic Universe emerged.

Prior to this, superhero films did not have the best reputation. The early Superman and Batman films gained praise but then came Daredevil and Catwoman which received negative reviews across the board. They were slow and poorly directed with writing that would make the Star Wars prequels blush. in 2008 the well written, excellently directed, beautifully scored, story driven Iron Man changed everything. For the first time in a long time superhero films could be serious without being dark and fun without being camp. This structure, soon to be the winning MCU Formula, would be used in a further 4 films leading up to Avengers Assemble in 2012. By this time, I was well into my secondary education and had discovered a group of like-minded people who were invested in not just these characters, but superheros in general. One particular soul would go on to spend our entire friendship reminding me that 2000 AD was as good, if not better than, DC and Marvel. He is right of course and, provided you’re of age, the 2012 Judge Dredd film is worth a watch.

Avengers Assemble would go on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time, making $1.52 Billion worldwide, and so the MCU grew. Relatively unknown names like Star-Lord and Black Panther would become household names and so here we stand. After 21 films, 11 years and Billions of dollars we stand on the precipice of what could be one of the biggest moments in cinematic history. I have become invested in its stories, its mythos and its soundtracks, but more importantly in the community it has brought about. I have made lifelong friends who are as into this franchise as I am. People who are eager to see what awaits and speculate what that may be.

Tonight isn’t the end of this franchise, there will be more to come, but it is the end of an era. Perhaps, if we’re very lucky, an ending worthy of the great Stan Lee. Tonight is for him.

We miss you Stan, now and forever…