Small

It’s not surprising that Ant-Man had the lowest opening of Marvel’s rapidly expanding movie gallery since the 2008 The Incredible Hulk entry. Not that it is a badly made film, although I would say that it is my least favourite release from Marvel, but it does have a distinctly different feel than its kin. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor have explored different genres but there had always been a unified sense of style and pacing. Ant-Man seems somewhat divorced from Whedon model, owing more to the original Iron-Man than recent Marvel outings. Again, that’s not bad, it’s just different.

Ant-Man follows Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a old fashioned cat burglar with a Masters degree in engineering and an aversion to killing. Lang has just been released from prison and seeks to reconnect with his daughter, Cassie, but his ex-wife won’t allow him visitation until he has an apartment and employment. Desperate, Lang uses his contacts to find a theft that will result in the payday he needs. The job isn’t as easy as he thinks, having been purposefully set up by Hank Pym. Pym plants the Ant-Man suit for Lang to find, hoping to groom him into an ally who will take down Darren Cross. Cross, played by House of Cards’ Corey Stoll, has usurped Pym’s company and is on the cusp of developing his own shrinking technology which he plans to sell to Hydra.

One of the major themes of the movie is the father-daughter relationship. Lang is largely motivated by his love and desire to do right by his daughter. This leads him to risk further jail time by trying to steal from Pym. Pym, himself, is motivated too by his love of his daughter. Hank, seeking to protect his daughter, refuses to allow her to wear the Ant-Man suit, necessitating the involvement of Lang. Hope van Dyne, played by Lost actress Evangeline Lily, has the skills and willingness to don the suit, but Hank is too deeply grieved by the death of his wife Janet to risk his daughter’s life. Janet died while going sub-atomical to stop a Soviet missile during the Cold War, although Hank keeps this information secret from his daughter until during the events of the film.

Paul Rudd stars as petty crook, Scott Lang, who dons the Ant-Man suit in order to become a superhero in the Marvel film, Ant-Man.

Many viewers felt as underwhelmed by this movie as Lang was by his boon.

Ant-Man depicts two versions of this relationship. Cassie, who is still young, adores her father, is saddened to hear other adults call him a bad man, and tells her mother’s boyfriend, a police officer, that she hoped her father got away with his crime. Hope on the other hand, is deeply resentful of her father and angry at what she perceives as him pushing her away. With the revelation of her mother’s fate and realisation of her father’s intentions, the divide between the father and daughter begins to heal. Those are very deep, powerful issues in a superhero film. Yet, this is arguably one of the most comical films to come out of Marvel Studios.

Think of a Paul Rudd film. Literally any Paul Rudd movie will do, and you’ll be thinking of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. A well-meaning smuck with a penchant for being snarky, who can come off as being mean, has been Rudd’s bread and butter for many years. And he’s made a great career out of it. But I’m not convinced that Rudd adds anything special to the role. Sure, he’s funny but his personality and brand of humour are so recognised by now that Ant-Man begins to feel like another Paul Rudd comedy. He’s very serious and sincere when the script calls for it, but the comedy far outweighs the seriousness here. In essence, I feel sympathetic towards the character and the character’s motivations but the actor pulls me out of the film.

Evangeline Lily also isn’t terribly convincing. Hope is a strong, female character who isn’t perfect. She harbours deep seeded resentment and bitterness towards her father. Lily can certainly pull off angry but she also comes across as cocky and precious, like a child throwing a tantrum when they don’t get a sweet. Maybe that was intentional but a better actor could have given a more nuanced performance. Or I might just be biased. I’ll admit that my dislike of Kate Austen, her character in Lost, may be feeding into my opinion of her work as Hope van Dyne.

Evangeline Lily takes on the role of Hope Van Dyke, daughter of the original Ant-Man Hank Pym, in the Marvel's latest superhero film,  Ant-Man.

Lily’s primary emotions are sad and angry. Sometimes both.

Written by Edgar Wright, produced by Kevin Feige and directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man opts for a simple plot. In its most basic outline, the structure of the film is that a good guy has powerful technology which is replicated by a bad guy and the good guy has to use said technology to defeat the bad guy and stop further destruction or chaos. That’s an outline that could fit the first and second Iron Man movies, Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, if we replace technology with magic device. By now though, audiences expect more complex stories and genres, such as how Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political thriller or Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera. Ant-Man teases being an old fashioned heist movie. I wish they’d taken those elements further.

That said, the return to basics is refreshing following Avengers: Age of Ultron. Half of the Avengers are now either retired or missing following the destruction caused by Tony Stark’s rogue A.I. After such an intense film, Ant-Man acts as a breather, relaxing viewers while also preparing them for what is to come. One of my favourite scenes from this film is Ant-Man’s accidental encounter with Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. Seeing two differently powered superheroes go toe to toe and try to overcome the other’s abilities was more interesting than watching two men out shrink each other. Furthermore, it showed that Ant-Man could fill a spot on the team without being seen as the lame duck. Finally, it whet the audience’s appetite for Captain America: Civil War, where differently powered superheroes will duke it out on a much bigger scale with much bigger stakes.

To say that Ant-Man is a poor film would do the movie a disservice. It may not stand up against some of it’s more accomplished counterparts, but Ant-Man is a fine film and you could do far worse than to spend your time and money to see it. Just remember to stay until the very end of the credits. If it weren’t for my soon-to-be wife, I’d have missed that final stinger. And, trust me, it’s worth waiting for.

Bad

DC can’t catch a break with their trailers. For the second time, a trailer for an upcoming Warner Bros and DC comics film was leaked, forcing the companies to release the full HD trailer to the public in order to gain some control over the situation. First, the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer leaked and now the Suicide Squad trailer, which was only shown to a closed audience at Comic-Con has been posted to the internet. The next day the trailer was released worldwide.

Some would say that it’s good move by DC and WB to release the trailer for themselves, driving up hits for their own videos. But it doesn’t actually change the content, so whether the trailer is viewed in grainy, bad quality or full, wrinkle magnifying high definition comments and criticisms are going to be the same. What control have they actually gained? The companies have only succeeded in being forced to do something which they did not originally intend to do. I get that they wanted to do something cool for the Comic-Con crowd but there was no way it was ever going to stay exclusive. Even panel details end up on the internet by the end of the day. The reason to go to Comic-Con is to be part of the experience and enjoy it first hand. Those who can’t go should not be punished by being kept in the dark for months. Next time release the trailer world wide at the same time as it is screened to comic-con audiences.

So what about the actual content of the trailer? I’ll say this: I think Margot Robbie is an absolute gem as Harley Quinn. Her performance is perfectly pitched between sweet and menacing, highlighting both the childlike qualities of the psychiatrist and her brutal, violent tendencies. I also feel that she wasn’t overly sexualised, which was a concern after Robbie’s role in The Wolf of Wall Street, aside from one screen where she licks her prison bars, But it’s hard to know whether that was meant to be sexual or just creepy. Maybe both.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Warner Bros upcoming film adaptation of the DC Comics super villain team, Suicide Squad.

Harley could abandon the group to go looking for her “puddin'”.

Will Smith, as Deadshot, looks the part but I’m less sold on his personality. Not that Deadshot has much of a personality; he is dutiful in regards to his work, has a disregard for human life, even his own, and his only real passion appears to be shooting people. That is the character we got in the trailer, but I don’t believe Smith is the right man for the role. Smith doesn’t do so well with the stoic, dry witted characters. As an actor, he’s at his best when he’s allowed to emote and be a little silly. Even in The Pursuit of Happyness, where Smith takes on a serious role, there is physical humour and Smith’s feelings are often at the forefront of the scene. I’m not saying his portrayal needs to be more wooden but there are a lot of actors who have made a name for themselves by playing hardened, misanthropic men and are suited to the role. Smith is not.

Enchantress, played by model turned actor Cara Delevingne, also pops up in a few scenes. Most notably she takes a bath in some black liquid which could be something magical or might just be really dirty water. She has no lines in the trailer. In fact, the only other Suicide Squad member to get a speaking line is Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang. All of the members were present and accounted for but by far it was Margot Robbie and Will Smith who got the majority of the focus. That seems a little out of sync, since people are going to come to see Harley Quinn and Deadshot regardless. It’s characters such as Rick Flag and Slipknot that they’ll have to sell people on. But there’s plenty of time between now and summer next year for DC to promote those characters.

In regards to the music, I liked the creepy soundtrack and the sombre, melancholy singing. It felt in keeping with the very dark premise of the film, in which the government uses criminals to do jobs too high risk for people they actually care about. It’s good that the trailer explained that to viewers who perhaps aren’t familiar with this group, although Amanda Waller’s claim of being able to control them because that’s her job felt a bit like tempting fate. Whether the group does turn on her or continues to do her bidding by the end of the film likely depends a lot on whether or not a certain psychopath in clown make-up appears.

Jared Leto takes on the role of the iconic character, The Joker in Warner Bros upcoming film adaptation of the DC Comics super villian team, Suicide Squad.

He doesn’t look crazy, he just looks sick.

The best comment I can make about Jared Leto’s Joker is that at least he doesn’t appear to actually be apart of the Suicide Squad itself. That’s what I have been lobbying for since Jared Leto’s casting announcement last year. If Marvel can pull off a film about a racoon and a tree in space from a comic that no one who doesn’t read comics will never have heard of, DC can surely pull off an ensemble film of notable bad guys like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc. I’ll be happy if The Joker’s only appearances are in flashbacks. But then again, I feel that way more than ever because I detest Leto’s portrayal as The Joker in the trailer. He looks like his character from Requiem For A Dream took fashion tips from his character from Fight Club, then joined a gang with his character from Panic Room. And aside from looking like a horrible Annie Lennox/Marilyn Manson cosplay, he completely overacts the last scene. I hoping The Joker only appears in flashbacks because otherwise I’ll be cringing throughout the entire film.

The Joker aside, my only other complaint of the trailer would be the attempts to tie this film into the larger DC universe, specifically the criminals in Batman masks and Weller calling  Superman ‘a beacon’ for super enabled folk. For one, I dislike the idea of Batman and Superman as misunderstood vigilantes. Batman might work by his own moral code, but he did work with the police and the law to clean up a city that was rife with crime and corruption. And I get the concept that super heroes beget super villains because the criminals have to become smarter and more dangerous to deal with the new obstacle but that’s not what’s being suggested here. The use of the word beacon puts the government’s perception of Superman in the same category as Harley Quinn and Deadshot, not as a cause and effect. Not to mention it just feels like a cheap way of reminding us that the two films are connected. Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t name drop a single Avenger but we still knew the films took place in the same universe.

On the whole, I did enjoy this trailer. Mostly for Margot Robbie but it’s also got me wondering about the final feature, which is good. Marvel have already proven to be experts at the ensemble film. This will be DC and Warner Bros first big test and how they do here will largely inform what we can expect from a Justice League film. Roll on August 2016.

Honesty

Period dramas have been around for a while now. Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie, both set in the 1800s but airing in the 1950s and 70s show that as long as television has been a part of our lives, producers and directors have used the past to educate and entertain. Audiences connect with that notion of looking into the past. The popularity of period dramas hasn’t waned, as Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Manhattan and Salem can attest to. But out of all of these period dramas, only Masters of Sex really connects with an issue that we are still struggling with today.

“An honest discussion” are the words used by Virginia Johnson, played by Lizzie Chapman, in the Masters of Sex third season premiere. The first two seasons were foreplay to this third season which takes place amidst the sexual revolution. And now, for the first time, it seems possible for Virginia and Bill Masters to be open and forthright about their study of sexual response without being deemed perverts. Yet, here Virginia and Masters are being depicted opening up dialogue about sex in the 1960s when it could be argued the being open and honest about sex is still a rarity now in the 21st century.

Early in the episode Michael Sheen’s Masters is tasked with educating Virginia’s teenaged daughter Tessa about the dangers of unprotected sex. Masters balks at the idea, retreating to another room to work but later does accept the role and advises Tessa to listen to those more experienced who care for her. This is juxtaposed with Sheen and Johnson answering questions from a press conference about their book on sexual response. It’s interesting to see how much more confident Masters is when informing a room of journalists about sexual science than conversing with a teenaged girl. And it’s not like Masters is reclusive researcher; he’s a gynecologist who deals with patients on a regular basis. But this teenaged girl isn’t just any teenage girl. Tessa is like family to Masters, and that makes all the difference.

Lizzie Chapman and Michael Sheen return as Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters in the third season of Showtime's Masters of Sex

The work speaks for itself, except when we speak for it.

Masters of Sex acknowledges the awkwardness of discussing this subject with our children but it is also acutely aware of the necessity. Much of this first episode of Masters Of Sex’s third season is centred about the sexual exploits of their children. Virginia walks in on her son and his female friend in a passionate moment, whilst Masters’ own son Johnny catches a drunken Tessa stealing a kiss from his father. When their parents attempt to get involve, the children call out their absence or devotion the sexual study over family. Johnny, in particular, lashes out at his father for kissing Tessa when he “won’t kiss mommy”. There is a real understanding in the show that what children see and experience in their parent’s love lives end up affecting their life choices and sexual decisions.

It is the parent’s responsibility then not just to inform their children of good sexual conduct, e.g. practicing safe sex and being respectful towards one’s partner, but also to live it. It’s no good for a mother or father of a child to say one thing and do another. An example must be set wherein parents are respectful and loving to encourage good sexual understanding in their kids. That’s as true today as it was in the 1960’s. For all the progress that science has made in the past fifty plus years, we still treat sex as a dirty conversation topic when it needn’t be. We need open and honest conversations to enable our young people to make good sexual choices. Something has gone wrong when young men take ‘no’ as a challenge.

Masters of Sex promotes sexual clarity and audiences connect with that. I’m sure that some viewers watch for the nudity but they’re missing the point. Even Game of Thrones, which utilises fan service to cover exposition, offers viewers more than just nudity. If these shows had nothing but bared flesh going from them they’d never have gotten more than one season. But Masters of Sex is about so much more than nudity. It’s about sexual exploration and sexual attraction and how that can both enrich the lives of people when wielded with understanding and destroy marriages and childhoods if practiced irresponsibly.

Michael Sheen's Bill Masters tries to educate Isabelle Fuhrman's Tessa Johnson about sex in Showtime's Masters of Sex,

No, Tessa, I will not show you my coil.

Libby Masters, Bill’s wife, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald is one of the saddest characters in the show. Over the course of three seasons, she has been systematically broken by Bill’s callousness and disregard. When first introduced to the couple, they sleep in separate beds and Bill barely touches her. Yet, by the end of the second season, Bill’s affair with Virginia is in full swing and is clearly about more than just the study. Libby even acknowledges the affair but does nothing about it. In a heart to heart with Virginia in tonight’s ‘Parliament of Owls’, she seems to practically allow the affair so long as it does break up the family. Bill, for all his understanding and expertise in sex and the repercussions of, doesn’t see what his own exploits have reduced his own wife to.

The use of the time skip is a doubled edged sword though. I understand they utilised the literary device in order to create impact for the final reveal but it also implies that many of the character issues have remained stagnant for four months. The episode, and possibly the coming season might be stronger were they to remove the time skips and slowly build towards the reveal in the finale. I certainly hope they don’t intend to bounce between the times in every episode. Lost utilised time skips in that fashion and even it was forced to come up with creative twists on the format by the end of the first season.

Over reliance of analepsis (or prolepsis, depending on your perspective) aside, ‘Parliament of Owls’ is a strong opening episode for the third season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex. Is it a return to form of the critically acclaimed first season? Perhaps not, but it is much more coherent and thoughtful than the season season. Will it continue to improve? Only time will tell but, for now, Masters of Sex is a show that should be on everyone’s watch-list.

Silence

So the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has been out for a while and bar some twitter comments, I haven’t seriously said anything about it. Not that I expect the world is waiting on bated breath for my opinion on the subject, but this is a blog, my blog about my interests and my interests do include films about superheroes, so it might be seen as strange for such a topic not to grace the pages of Preposterousprose. But the reason is really quite simple. There’s very little to say.

The means of releasing the trailer was quite humorous. Not content to simply post the video up and promote it via twitter, DC and Warner Bros put out a teaser for the trailer first. Batman V. Superman isn’t the first film to get the trailer teaser treatment but I really hope it doesn’t become a consistent means of promotion. Trailers already divulge so little informations that there really doesn’t need to be another form with even less footage. This was further aggravated by the fact that the actual trailer was leaked and in an attempt to lessen the blow, the trailer was released a day early. After all that trouble, wouldn’t it really just have been easier to just release the trailer in the first place?

Bad marketing and advertising decisions aside though, the trailer was rather innocuous. Lots of night time shots, rain and voice overs of reporters analysing Superman’s affect on humanity. Nothing very challenging. Films featuring Batman do tend to spend an inordinate amount of time in the dark and rain, a reflection of his gloomy soul. It was nice that Nolan’s Batman did get to do some sleuthing in the daylight, and maybe he’ll get some sun in actual film but for the Dawn of Justice trailer, the weather was as one might expect for a film with the Dark Knight.

Photo of Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck as  Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne in DC Comics' Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice as they appear in Entertainment Weekly.

Because what this film needs is romance.

Speaking of the caped crusader, the trailer did give us our first look of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Not that there was much to see. The shot was Affleck looking at the Bat suit, possibly in anger or just indecision. Perhaps the implication is that Wayne hung up his boots for a while and he’s questioning whether to come out of retirement to fight Superman. Or he may be considering whether, because Gotham is his base of operations, an alien in Metropolis is his problem. Or the two shots might be entirely unrelated. Trailers have a habit of sticking two unconnected clips together to make it look like something is happening, when actually Bruce Wayne might be getting angry at a news reporting showing Superman killing thousands of civilians in a fight with General Zod.

If the trailer can be believed, it’s looking like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice will deal with the repercussions of that battle at the end of Man of Steel. Zack Synder appears to be drawing on actual fan criticism of the previous film, with many reporters questioning the destruction Superman has wrought. It’s true that Superman destroyed as much of Metropolis as he saved, but most reporters are big picture kind of people and can see the benefits of having a super powered protector. Besides, hasn’t Superman been helping rebuild the city and stopping other violent crimes in the meantime? The only reason I can see for the backlash against Superman is that it comes much later in the film than it appears, likely after Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther has turned Metropolis against him.

All we know for certain is that a rather stubbly Bruce Wayne puts on a Bat suit with unusually small ears (at least its not nipples, right?) and meets Superman in the rain. Although actually, the bat suit he fights Superman in is more mechanical, looking like one of the Iron Man prototypes, and it distorts his voice so that it sounds half human/half computer. It’s still clearer than the mess Bane’s voice was, but there’s no word on whether that’s just how Batman hides his voice or if it’s because of the mechanical bat suit. Logic would dictate its the latter but the DC films don’t always go with what makes the most sense.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther in Batman Vs. Superman as shown in Entertainment Weekly.

That hair has got to go.

As cool as it might be to see Batman and Superman duke it out, I feel like Marvel beat them to the finish line again with the Iron Man/Hulk fight in Avengers:Age of Ultron. Iron Man and Hulk have often been seen as Marvel’s counterparts of DC’s mainstays. Both Batman and Iron Man are billionaire playboys who moonlight as super heroes whose only superpowers are their ingenuity and initiative. Superman and Hulk are both nigh-invincible beings that tackle their problems by punching. The only difference I can think of that matters is that Hulk can’t fly and can be subdued. Unless Batman has some kryptonite lying around, he’s not going to be able to weaken Superman. And why would he? In this universe, Superman only recently appeared and the location or effect of the green rocks aren’t widely known.

I do want to clarify that I didn’t hate the trailer. I haven’t been positive about the upcoming film, mostly because DC and Warner Bros have squandered some potential here in order to quickly build a Justice League team and compete with Marvel. But the trailer didn’t add to any of that. More than anything, the trailer didn’t excite or annoy me and that’s the main problem. The trailer should evoke a response. The sad fact is that the publication of trailer was more interesting than the trailer itself.

For a trailer, it didn’t turn any of my preconceived notions on their head and there’s still a lot to speculate about. There really isn’t much to say about the trailer because much of the conversation leads into hypotheticals about the film. There just aren’t enough facts to paint enough of the picture yet. It’s like playing Catchphrase with only one tile revealed. Entertainment Weekly recently added a few more tiles, revealing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther. The picture is coming together but there’s still a lot to be revealed between now and March 2016.

Spider-Boy

And we have our Spider-man. Earlier this week Sony revealed that they had signed Tom Holland to play the webbed superhero, set to appear in next year’s Captain America: Civil War and a future movie reboot. Furthermore, contrary to previous reports, Drew Goddard will not be directing the 2017 film, with Jon Watts picking up the credit. Now our speculation can turn to who will be playing the supporting roles and what the costume will look like for the new series.

Both Holland and Watts are unknowns. I had expected the actor to be unestablished given that they were looking for young actors so that their Peter Parker could feasibly look like he went to high school. In that regard, they’ve certainly succeeded. Holland looks young despite being 19 and will only be a month shy of his 20th birthday when Civil War hits cinemas. Holland is best known for Spanish disaster film, Lo Imposible, also featuring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, but he also has a few films coming out this year which will certainly benefit from his new found name recognition.

Watts is also known well by only one film, Cop Car, an indie thriller about two joyriders being chased by a rogue sheriff, played by Kevin Bacon, looking particularly ridiculous with a mustache. Horror fans might know Watts for Clown, which saw limited release and is probably only well known for the story that Eli Roth joined the production after writers Watts and Christopher D. Ford were gutsy enough to release a fake trailer announcing that Roth was already producing. It’s nice to know that Watts won’t be scared to do something different with the new Spider-Man, provided Sony give him enough space to work. Interesting, one of Holland’s upcoming films, Backcountry, is a Canadian horror movie, so he and Watts should get on like a house on fire.

Cop Car director Jon Watts has been selected by Marvel and Sony to direct the 2017 Spider-Man reboot.

I told you it looked ridiculous.

The idea of Watts bringing some of that horror and thriller experience is really intriguing. A Kafkaesque approach to Spider-Man would be totally refreshing and stand out from the Sam Rami and Mark Webb movies. At time Raimi’s films were some of the best superhero movies we’d ever seen but then The Dark Knight came out and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe took over. Looking back, I’m disappointed Raimi, with his expertise and background, didn’t do more with the Spider-Man films. The films drew too much from his love of slapstick than the cult horror to the point where even when the films needed to go dark it felt corny and false.

Regardless of the direction that Watts and Sony decided to pursue, almost every fan on the planet will be glad to know that there will be no origin story. The film will start out after the fact, with Parker already web slinging and stringing up criminals. This is good news because audiences really don’t need to see another thirty minutes of set up that is essentially the same as the previous two films. Even Amazing Spider-Man’s injection of family history didn’t really change the basic story from ‘man gets bit by spider, develops powers’. This is clearly Marvel’s influence on Sony, as they followed the same trend with Warmachine and The Hulk. In both cases Terrence Howard and Edward Norton were replaced with Don Cheadle and Mark Ruffalo and everyone acted like it had always been that way.

Origin story or not though, this film is still likely to splinter the already divided fan base. Now, on top of the Raimi Vs. Webb arguments and Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield disagreements, there will be a new sect that will support Holland and Watts and will criticise the other adaptations. It’s not even down to the fact that this is a reboot, it’s because of how soon the change has coming after the previous series. People will still pay to see the movie but they run the risk of viewers finding it trite and uninspired simply because they’ve seen other versions of this exact character in this world so recently. That’s why Watts needs to be bold with his direction and story.

Tom Holland, who is set to play Spider-Man in upcoming Marvel and Sony films, as he appears in the 2013 British film, How I Live Now.

Tom Holland at 17. He hasn’t aged much in 2 years.

That’s not to say that people will story arguing if the film is good. To this day, despite there being a thirteen age gap and The Dark Knight being heralded as one the best films of the superhero genre, fans still disagree over whether Tim Burton’s films were the best or if Nolan’s films live up to their hype. But you don’t see fans arguing that they should have kept Michael Keaton around because it’s just not practical for Keaton to be running around in the cape and cowl these days, even if Birdman shows that he’s still a damn fine actor.But at least if Watts does something like make a dark, creepy battle of wits between Spider-Man and Mysterio people can’t complain it was too similar to previous outings of the character.

What I’m not looking forward to is the continued high school setting. The choice of  younger actor was partly tied to the setting but I feel like we’ve seen enough of Peter Parker in high school. Even if it didn’t come up much in the previous films, Maguire and Garfield’s characters both went to high school, fought with bully Flash Thompson and were attracted to the popular girl. I don’t know what more there is to explore in those settings so while I’m fine so far with a Spider-Man who is still in high school, I don’t particularly want to see more of the character in that environment.

There’s lots of potential for new creative direction with the casting of Tom Holland and Jon Watts. I can’t honestly say that they were my first choice but I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table. Admittedly, if this were just Sony’s decision I might be a bit wary but given that Marvel were involved and Marvel’s track record of signing relatively unknown actors who wind up being brilliant, I’m content with these choices. Now, who should play Aunt May?

E3

One of the biggest annual events in gaming, if not thee most significant, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, happened this week. Now that E3 is over, we can look back at all of the announcements that were the most interesting or most exciting. And with this already being touted as the best E3 in recent memory, there’s plenty of gaming news to whet our appetite for the coming year; least of all, the Final Fantasy VII remake, Xbox One backwards compatibility and The Last Guardian gameplay footage. Unfortunately, Kanye West’s attendance didn’t make the cut.

Fallout 4

I’ve already discussed Fallout 4 extensively on this very blog. If nothing else, Bethesda’s showcase at E3 got me more amped for the game’s eventual release later this year. But there was some new information, notably that it will be possible to play as a female. It was nice of them to nip that nasty rumour in the bud, but really, it was only logical. Limiting options in a role playing game, regardless of setting or style, is always a bad idea. Other confirmations include the inclusion of Dogmeat, that the East coast Brotherhood of Steel will return to feud with The Commonwealth, and a pre-war tutorial.

Hitman

Also returning later this year is the new Hitman game, cleverly titled Hitman. Most of the talk was regarding exclusives for Playstation 4 gamers, but the concept of timed missions is far more intriguing. Unique missions such as those, with new added locations, will keep players engaged over long periods of time. It was disappointing not to see any gameplay though, especially for a game that is coming out so soon. But Agent 47, and the open ended style of gameplay hasn’t changed much since its conception, so perhaps they just didn’t think they needed to show any gameplay in the trailer.

Square Enix give fans the first glimpse of Kingdom Hearts 3 at E3 2015.

Tangled wasn’t even out when this game started development.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Finally. The game was officially announced to be in development back in 2013, but fans have been waiting for a direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2 ever since 2005. That’s ten years. Square Enix were good enough to give player some gameplay footage though, showing off the Tangled landscape, Disney theme park ride summons and keyblade transformations. There are a lot of new features and concepts in the new game, and even the underlying mechanics boasts a more dynamic AI. When we’ll get to experience this first hand is anyones guess though, as no release date was given. We hope for 2016, but hey, if they hold out another six years they can beat Duke Nukem Forever’s development record.

Xbox One compatibility

Microsoft shocked almost everyone at E3 by announcing their intentions to make Xbox One’s backwards compatible with previous consoles. In fact, Xbox preview members are already capable of playing both physical and digital versions of their Xbox 360 games. It’s great that Microsoft are allowing players to experience their favourite games on the next generation console, but why now? The representative at E3 said that Microsoft “won’t charge you to play the games you already own.” That’s nice but it’s somewhat fishy considering this is the same company that once planned on restricting and limiting pre-owned sales and sharing. Perhaps it’s still damage control or maybe Xbox One sales aren’t what Microsoft predicted. And, just incase you were hopeful, don’t expect Sony to follow suit.

Star Wars Battlefront

The Star Wars Battlefront trailer demonstrated multiplayer gameplay footage, putting gamers into classic assault on Hoth. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan but the game does look incredibly fun. There’s a real authenticity to the look and feel of the game and I expect that to be tenfold when actually playing it. Furthermore, the online multiplayer will support up to 40 players in one match. The only disappointment is the lack of space exploration, but it’s a small sacrifice to make.

Screenshot of The Last Guardian preview shown by Team Ico at E3 2015.

Your survival depends on an untrained, overgrown puppy.

The Last Guardian

Another game that has been in development for a very long time. Again, like Kingdom Hearts 3, the developers, Team Ico this time, were nice enough to give anxious players some gameplay footage. The style of game is interesting, drawing from buddy puzzle games that require two characters to overcome obstacles. A recent example would be Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, although The Last Guardian differs in that it features a humanoid male child and a large griffin like creature. It looks like an interesting game, although the artwork disparity between the boy and the creature was a little grating. Still, it’s the concept of a willful companion that developments dependant on your method of play that interests me more than graphics. Especially considering that the reason a live demo wasn’t used is because the animal’s behaviour is intentionally unpredictable. No exact release date was given, but it joins the others in 2016.

Final Fantasy VII

This is probably the biggest announcement of E3 specifically because no one anticipated it. While it’s not my favourite Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy VII has been one of the most popular titles in the series for a long time and lots of fans were pushing to see it remade. We don’t know much at this point but Tetsuya Nomura did note that it won’t be a simple graphic overhaul. There will be new story content. Exciting, although don’t expect to see it on shelves anytime soon. No release date was offered as the same is still in development, but some players are suggesting 2017, to mark the original game’s 20th anniversary.

Those are the main announcements to come out of E3 2015. Unfortunately, this is not a comprehensive list. If I were to go through every single game and the accompanying press reveals, I’d be here until E3 2016. However, if there is a major announcement that you think I’ve missed, feel free to hit me up in the comments below or on twitter.

Flux

Season 5 of Game of Thrones has been tumultuous, to say the least. Much of the early and mid-season were rife with criticism and controversy while the most recent episodes, ‘Hardhome’ and ‘The Dance of Dragons’ have been argued to be the best episodes of the season, if not the series. I wouldn’t agree with the latter but there has been a noticeable rise in quality towards the end of the season. Much of the earlier season’s storylines were in flux, changing under the new interest and direction of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

The previous presumption that season 5 wouldn’t see much change storyline wise because there was still plenty of material to be adapted from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons proved to be unfounded. Instead of waiting until they were completely out of material, Benioff and Weiss appear to have decided to cut their losses and already started making significant changes to storylines. Many fans were pleased because it means that readers of the novels could no longer lord their superior knowledge over the fans of the show. Whilst I agree that literary elitism is silly, because not all writing translates well visually and different people identify with different mediums, there is something to be said for storytelling and character development. Changes to the novels which add to story are good but many of the changes made by Benioff and Weiss have been nothing but gratuitous and superficial.

One of the biggest victims is Barristan Selmy. In the novels, Daenarys Targaryen disappears on the back of Drogon as seen in ‘The Dance of Dragons’ and Mereen is left in chaos. Selmy, still being alive at this point, names himself Hand of the Queen and sets about maintaining order both in and and around the city. For this, he becomes a POV character. Thus Barristan Selmy’s role is expanded and his personality explored. In season 5 of the show, as we see in ‘Sons of the Harpy’, Selmy is killed in a skirmish between the Unsullied and and the Sons of the Harpy. It appears that the role of tending for the city will fall to Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont, because obviously they’re characters in most need of more screen time and character development.

Drogon returns to save Daenarys Targaryen from an attack by the Sons of the Harpy in penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season 5.

Mother is glad to see you’ve been brushing your teeth, Drogon.

It’s not even that I’m sad that Barristan Selmy is dead. I am, but he shouldn’t be. And not because the books say so but because in a straight up fight between the Sons of the Harpy and the Unsullied, the Sons of the Harpy should get slaughtered. Killing Unsullied soldiers through underhanded and shadowy means makes sense but the Unsullied were trained from childhood to fight and kill. The Sons of the Harpy are noble Ghiscari officers who previously commanded the Unsullied. That means they probably did very little fighting themselves and yet now we are to believe that they can kill an entire squadron of Unsullied Soldiers and a famous Knight? I’m all for change but it has to be logical within the confines of the world they’re writing in.

Similar unreasonable changes are made to Cersei Lannister. In the novels, Cersei reintroduces the faith militant in order to settle the crown’s debt with the Faith. In the show however, Cersei arms the Faith merely as a means to dealing with Margaery Tyrell. The watering down of Cersei’s reasoning means that her character appears very shortsighted. The character has never given much thought to consequence but she is known for her cunning and scheming. In the novel she’s killing two birds with one stone but here, she’s placing a lot of power in unreliable hands for little gain. It’s not like the crown’s debt isn’t mentioned in the show. It is but only in regards to the Iron Bank of Braavos. All would have taken is one line in order to give Cersei a more concrete reason for re-activiating the Faith Militant.

Part of the problem seems to stem, not from new stories, but rather cutting characters. Entire stories relating to the Iron Islands, the kingsmoot, Euron’s raids of the North, Asha’s capture by Stannis and reunion with Theon and Victarion’s voyage to Mereen are completely removed, replaced with depictions of Stannis immolating his daughter (who, for the record, never left Castle Black). Aegon Targaryen, a possible nephew of Daenarys, is also gone. Prince Doran’s other children, Quentyn and Arianne, are no where to be seen which means that Doran’s secret allegiance to the Targaryen’s is completely unsustainable. Arianne in particular is the one who replaced Oberyn on the Small Council in the books. It’s absurd that the show expects the teenaged Trystane to take that place instead.

Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly discuss the state of the Night's Watch after Snow lets the Wildings through the gates in the season 5 finale of Game of Thrones.

Jon Snow’s story is the only one not to have been changed horrifically.

Of course, we can’t talk about cut characters without talking about Jeyne Poole. A fairly minor character who is friends with Sansa Stark but is later named Arya and married to Ramsey Bolton. In the show, this actually is Sansa Stark, who is raped and humiliated. The rape itself is just degrading Sansa’s character after much character development in the first four seasons, and the choice to focus on Theon’s grief is a failure to recognise whose pain is greater. Ignoring how badly the rape scene is treated, it’s ridiculous for Sansa to even be there. Revealing Sansa’s real identity and marrying her to the Bolton’s puts her right in the middle of the war for the Seven Kingdoms. Petyr Baelish, who is obviously keeping Sansa close for something, would never have done that and never allowed Sansa to do it. He would keep to the sidelines, bidding his time and letting everyone else place their bets first. The rape is shock value but the reasons behind it are just as baffling.

This is really not a ‘the books are brilliant, they changed it and it sucks now’ rant. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m all for change. It just has to be meaningful change and the alterations we’ve seen in season 5 are anything but meaningful. Some of the episodes have been great and I’m really enjoying how Benioff and Weiss are handling the White Walker situation. But so much of the rest of the show is just frustrating when characters make such random decisions. My hope is that this season is Benioff and Weiss finding their footing in this new dynamic of not relying on the source material so much. Either way, whatever lies ahead is a mystery, to readers and viewers alike.

Fallout

Fallout is one of my most favourite video game series’ of all time. It’s up there with Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. Sure, the games can sometimes be buggy and full of glitches but the open world, sci-fi, post apocalyptic experience of the games is immersive. The series and its games are ones that I keep coming back to year after year. In fact, I recently replayed Fallout: New Vegas. That’s a game that came out five years ago which still hold vast entertainment in replaying and re-experiencing the world within.

Part of the appeal of Fallout is the ability to create your own character. You mold the character’s facial features, pick skin tone and hair style. Then you place points in categories relating to seven different attributes; strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck, known in game as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. On top of that there are skills relating to objects and interactions such as the melee skill which affects the character’s proficiency with handheld weapons or the lockpick skill which allows the player to open locked doors with bobby pins. And then there’s perks, which can do anything from boosting a particular skill to making kills more explosive. Character creation and development in Fallout is extremely layered and dense.

It is understandable then that fans may be peeved, to say the least, at the notion that such a main feature of the series may be restricted or truncated. This debate comes hot off the heels of the first Fallout 4 trailer released earlier this week wherein the main character, for the first time in Fallout history, speaks. Audible characters is not new to gaming, and in fact, Fallout has a long history of famous voice actors, including Ron Perlman, Laim Neeson and Matthew Perry. The main character, however, has always been silent.

A number of famous Fallout objects and attire, such as power armour, bobbleheads and skill magazines, in the Fallout 4 trailer.

I’ll be in my bunk, nerdgasming.

Fallout 4 is finally joining the ranks of games with voiced main characters. Wonderful. What does this have to do with character creation within the game? It stems back to a Reddit user and former Bethesda employee, Sandra Reed, who revealed intimate game details online after having been fired. In the expose, she mentioned the Boston setting, the prevalence of the Brotherhood of Steel and that the main character would speak. Fast-forward to June 2015, and we have our first Fallout 4 trailer. In it the Bunker Hill Monument is shown, the Brotherhood of Steel feature heavily and the main characters utters the words “let’s go,pal” to a four legged companion. At the time, the post was criticised but now it seems that Ms. Reed may not be so crazy.

The problem? The tidbit about a voiced character came with a caveat. Fallout 4 will be more story based and to fit that story the main character that you play as can only be male. If you want to play as a female character you have to finish the main story and then change gender. For a role playing game that’s a heavy blow. It’s saying that you can play whatever kind of character that you want so long as the character is a man. That’s going to put a lot of fans off playing this game, especially women; women, who spend their entire daily lives having the live up to male standards, do not want to come home and relax by pretending to be a man.

I’m rather dubious of the rumour anyway. Firstly, to say that Fallout 4 will be more story based suggests that previous games have not been grounded in story. Fallout games have always been story based. Fallout 3 follows the vault dweller as he searches the wasteland for his father and becomes involved in Project Purity. Fallout: New Vegas sees the courier survive a bullet to the head and cross the Mojave seeking revenge, eventually having a pivotal role in the battle between the New California Republic and Caesar’s Legion. Fallout has always been about story, but there’s always been the option to become invested in various side quests. And I don’t believe for one second that a more story based Fallout 4 means less side quests.

Well known adversaries such as protectrons, ghouls and deathclaws will return in Fallout 4.

Deathclaws are back to make even the manliest of men run and scream.

Secondly, this is a franchise that has always valued player creativity and character freedom. Players were upset with the black and white approach of Fallout 3, so Bethesda attempted to rectify the issue through downloadable content. Fallout: New Vegas was largely seen by players as an improvement as choices were less clearly good and evil and factions were affected by decisions as much karma was, sometimes more so. It’s hard to believe that Bethesda, knowing it’s players appreciate options, would then take a major option out of character creation. Even if it can altered later, that’s still eliminating a female perspective from a large chunk of the game.

Furthermore, even pretending for a moment that this game will be more story based, I’m not sure why that means that the character has to be male. There are relatively few, if any, stories that exclude a female perspective. Maybe a story about erectile dysfunction? Can’t imagine an entire Fallout storyline revolving around that though. If they have a problem with the main character being a woman and having a wife, it seems lazy that they can’t script in a male body if the main player character is set to female. That the game is story based doesn’t really seem like a good enough excuse for eliminating the gender option in the opening character creation.

That’s not to say that Sandra Reed was lying and those reveals were lucky guesses. But just because she was right about parts of the game doesn’t mean that she will be right about everything. A lot can change between her post and the finished game. Concepts that are present in the early development stages don’t always make it into the final release. While I completely believe that at one stage there may have been the idea to go with a single gendered story, I expect that Bethesda will want to give its players the most well-rounded, open experience that they can offer. Of course, if Sandra’s time table is correct, we’ll have our answer in October.

Tired

Between watching Empire on E4, catching up on Bates Motel on Netflix and laughing at Eurovision, I haven’t been keeping up with Britain’s Got Talent. Though, is it just me or has this series of BGT been rather lacklustre? Every series has the same kind of acts, impressive dancers, talented singers and usually some cool niche performer, along with all the terribly untrained dog acts, squawking duets and those whose only skill is disrobing, but this series may have just reached breaking point. The acts aren’t new, the judges aren’t new, and the same old skits and shticks of both are back. Maybe everyone one else got bored a long time ago, but I’m really just struggling to care this year.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the finalists:

Côr Glanaethwy

A lot of talented, operatic singers with good arrangement and harmony. Are they better than other choirs that we’ve seen? They’re definitely strong but the only trait that really distinguishes them is the fact that they’re a Welsh choir. That probably won’t be enough to win the competition. And while their song was good and they pulled it off perfectly, they’ll have to take it to another level in the final to have any hope of winning.

Entity Allstars

So this young dance troupe make it into the final despite 1- failing to represent Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw in their Hogwarts inspired routine and 2- Fake Potter botching a flip and allowing Draco Malfoy to win. Imagine if that had happened in the books, eh? Whilst taking advantage of the widespread appeal of Harry Potter is a good idea, the skirts restricted a lot of the dancing to wild arm movements, with only Harry and Draco really getting to do the somersaults and side flips. On top of that, the routine still looked choreographed. A few more practices might have helped the whole performance flow a bit more naturally. Unfortunately, even with more rehearsing, I don’t see them winning tonight.

Youth dance troupe, Entity Allstars, perform on the first semi final of Britain's Got Talent and win a spot in the final, thanks to the judges vote.

The real magic is that those glasses stayed on his face.

Jules O’Dwyer & Matisse

I imagine that it takes a lot of patience and dedication to teach a dog to stand on its front legs, hop around on its back legs and close itself in a box. There’s no doubting that it’s a talent, and clearly so if she can replicate the same tricks with a second dog. That means what we’re seeing is a skill of the owner, not just a clever dog (though the dogs themselves are intelligent). This kind of act does lack wow factor though. But one could have said the same for Pudsey and it worked for them, so maybe Jules and Matisse have a chance.

Old Men Grooving

This is just a fun act. It’s not a joke act, because the guys are obviously talented dancers but they’d never be called amazing, as some dancers in the competition are. But you can forgive their lack of synchronization and timing because they’re enjoying themselves. And seeing that passion and joy engages with the audience, like how they say a smile is infectious. This is a talent competition though, so while I think it’s great they’re having fun out there, they don’t have the dedication and skill to win.

Jamie Raven

Of all the finalists, Jamie Raven is my favourite. There have been many magicians on Britain’s Got Talent over the years but Raven’s act is simple, yet impressive. By this point we’ve seen all the common tricks , and no matter how well they’re done, we know the outcome. Raven’s tricks are new but rather than go bigger (although spectacle is a large part of the performance), Raven has gone more intimate. Getting closer to the ‘victims’ adds to the illusion so that it appears all the more impressive. The question is, can he top a helicopter?

Jamie Raven's up close and personal magic show at the third semi-final earns him a spot in the Britain's Got Talent final.

A song of ice, fire…and helicopters.

UDI

I like UDI. They remind me of a more high tech version of Attraction from series 7. Their semi-final performance was very similar to their audition though, and I’m still not sure what the story is meant to mean or represent. With Attraction the message was pretty clear and moving, but UDI’s story is a lot less straightforward. On a more practical level as well, there were a number of occasions where feet were visible. A tighter performance and better storytelling is needed if UDI want to win that coveted first place spot.

Issac Waddington

There aren’t actually many singers in the final this year. There’s a choir and a singing group, but Issac Waddington is a standalone singer. What separates him from the herd, and probably cemented his place in the final, is that he can also play the piano. He’s a talented singer and pianist but I wasn’t struck by his performance. Maybe he just needs a stronger song. He’s just one of those acts who is good but not good enough to win.

The Neales

It’s disappointing that The Neales made it to the final over Boyband. One could make an argument against the abundance of dance troupes in the series already, but Boyband stood out and were pretty self-aware. On the flip side, The Neales are old fashioned and haven’t done anything we haven’t see before. They sing well but it takes more than that to win the competition and the only selling point of The Neales is that they’re a family. I don’t think that’s going to cut it.

Five piece dance group, Boyband performed on the fourth semi-final of Britain's Got Talent and are a wild card for the final.

A standing ovation but overlooked for the final.

Callum Scott

The second of the solo singers in the final. Of the two, I prefer Callum. He sung an old fashioned song but with a modern style. Unlike Issac, the other solo singer, this was a much more striking and memorable performance. As it so often is with singers though, his chances in the finale will come down to song choice. A great song with a clever arrangement would raise him into the top spot but a misstep could cut his chances off completely.

Danny Posthill

Impressionists tend to be rather hit or miss on Britain’s Got Talent. Even when they get through auditions and semi-finals, sooner or later they tend to overreach and try a voice that just doesn’t work. Posthill is extremely competent at impersonating celebrities and has a good vocal range so he’s not just limited to one group. But the performance wasn’t hilarious. There were some funny moments and a strange piece where he mentioned Amanda Holden wasn’t wearing a bra. It was enough to get him to the final but that’s likely as far as he goes.

Regarding the wild card slots, my picks would be Boyband and Jesse-Jane McParland. Boyband because, as mentioned above, I feel that they deserve spot in the final. Jesse because her talent is rather unique for this competition and she’s quite good at it. Not that I see either one winning. The only act I’m really pulling for is Jamie Raven. I can only describe my feelings towards the other acts as ‘mild interest’. Which further shows how unengaging this show has become. Maybe I’m just bitter because my favourite never wins. I tipped Lucy Kay to win last year and thought Collabro had no chance and look how that turned out. Following that trend, The Neales are most likely to take home the gold. Oh, joy.

Quicksilver

By now, anyone who cares has seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. If, for some reason, you haven’t and don’t want major plot points ruined, you can read this spoiler free review. You’d also be best served by staying off the Internet completely at this point. But now it’s out and people have had the opportunity to see it, I’d like to take some time to analyse some of the bigger plot points that I couldn’t include in the overall review.

Let’s talk about Pietro Maximoff. The character was always going to be difficult to pull off given that Evan Peter’s depiction of the character in Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is widely touted as the best scene in the entire movie. I wasn’t as impressed as some people. The scene itself is neat but the circumstances surrounding it feel contrived to give us the scene. And the character quirk of the character thinking and speaking at superspeed became a little annoying. But Marvel had the challenge of distinguishing their Pietro Maximoff from Fox’s Quicksilver. I just didn’t think they’d meet the challenge by killing him.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a very good job in the role of Pietro Maximoff. Johnson is probably best known for his portrayal as costumed super-hero, Kick-Ass, in the film of the same name. Because of Johnson’s strength in the role, Pietro Maximoff never feels like Kick-Ass. It’s easy to believe that they are separate entities despite being played by the same actor so I really have to give kudos to Johnson for his work. That’s part of why I would have liked him to stick around. But I would also have liked to see more of the character. Imagine how his relationship with Wanda might have developed now that they were no longer waging an underground war against Tony Stark.

Aaron Taylor Johnson plays Pietro Maximoff, AKA Quicksilver, in Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Not faster than a speeding bullet.

What bothers me more is that, of all the people who could have saved Hawkeye, Pietro’s death is the least sensible. One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Clint Barton takes the team back home to meet his wife and kids. Barton has a conversation with his wife about whether the team has his back as much as he has theirs. It seems like it is setting up a heroic sacrifice or that someone from the team will save him. But no one does. The guy that saves him is Pietro Maximoff, the new guy who never visited Barton’s wife and children. Sure, Pietro and Barton have something of a rivalry throughout the film but it would have been so much more meaningful if Captain America or Thor had taken the bullet. Instead all we got was a humorous one-line call back.

Of course, no one could have saved Barton and died except for the Maximoff twins or Black Widow. Wanda was otherwise preoccupied though and I can imagine the feminist uproar if Marvel killed Black Widow and replaced her with Wanda Maximoff. Such an action would seem to imply that there only needs to be one token female in the group to maintain diversity. So it had to be Pietro who died. Iron Man has his suit and Captain America, Thor and Hulk can all survive bullets. But even if Thor had taken the gunfire and just been out of commission for a while, the effect would have been the same. Barton would have realised how close he’d come to dying and seen that the team truly cared for him.

Speaking of diversity though, the largely male, all white Avengers team is no more. With the inclusion of Falcon, WarMachine and Wanda, the team has become much well rounded in terms of sex and race. Wanda is Russian too, so there’s some cultural diversity in there too, although some might complain about the actress not being a Russian national, but hey, baby steps. And the team is set to get a lot more diverse with the upcoming inclusions of Black Panther and Captain Marvel. You could also say that as an A.I. in a synthetic body, Vision rounds out the diversification by not even being human at all.

Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Anthony Mackie and Don Cheadle make up the new Avengers team of Vision, Scarlett Witch, Falcon and War Machine.

Looking a little sparse…for now.

The new squad will create fresh stories and keep the drama interesting without relying on the same characters with the same powers. It seems like Pietro’s death was a necessity to create that new squad. Even with Stark and Barton retiring, Thor off doing research and the Hulk gone AWOL, the team is looking crowded. Captain America and new recruits, Ant-man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel are all getting their own releases. Had Pietro survived he’d likely have gotten lost in the shuffle, like Falcon or WarMachine might.

I like Falcon and WarMachine but they aren’t Tony Stark or the Hulk. Both are just normal men made super through technology. Unlike Stark though, both have a military background. They’re both known for their witty one-liners as well. I’d almost have preferred to have Pietro survive in the place of one of them because they’re so similar and the Avengers team doesn’t really need both of them. It’s entirely possible that they won’t stay that way for long with Captain America: Civil War just around the corner. Could we see Falcon take up the shield in future Avengers films?

Avengers:Age of Ultron was a good, enjoyable film. But I am disheartened that I won’t get to see more of Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Quicksilver and that the new Avengers have lost much of their scientific and otherworldly minds. Again though, and this really can’t be overstated, the new team will allow for fresh interactions and plots. Fans were worried about getting tired of the Avengers but if they keep refreshing and cycling through team members, Marvel have a means of bringing back audiences time and time again. Despite my disappointment, I can’t stay mad at Marvel.