Guesswork In The Complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Worldwide Inc. (under its parent company Marvel Entertainment, owned by Walt Disney) is the American company that publishes the Marvel comics. These comics flesh out the Marvel Universe, a fictional one in which the adventures of those superhero characters created and/or owned by Marvel take place. Heroes such as The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Avengers, Iron Man etc.

It is worth noting that as the various comics were published it became clear that the Marvel Universe accepts the concept of a “multiverse”, meaning that the possibility for possible parallel plots in thousands of other universes exists for all stories. As such, the “original” universe, if you will, meaning that in which the main continuity takes place, has been identified as “Earth-616″.

guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe - Marvel logo

With us so far? Good. Because it gets a bit more complicated.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the media franchise consisting of a series of superhero films set in the Marvel Universe. And Disney is ambitious, because it’s a pretty big series. (The competition from Warner Bros., with their DC comics based DC Extended Universe probably has something to do with it too).

It’s so big that it is broken up into phases (like a military campaign, you ask?).

Phase 1 lasted from 2008 to 2012 and is made up of the movies: “Iron Man” (2008), “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), “Iron Man 2″ (2010), “Thor” (2011), “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) and “The Avengers” (2012).

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe involves Iron Man.

The Avengers feature are part of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic UniversePhase 2 started in 2013 with “Iron Man 3″. Then, until its conclusion in 2015, the following movies came out: “Thor The Dark World” (2013), “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014), “Guardians Of The Galaxy” (2014), “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” (2015) and “Ant-Man” (2015).

The guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe features Iron Man 3 as well.

Ant-Man is an element of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Regarding the future, due to the various changes in release dates quite recently announced (most recent on the 8th of October), it is yet unclear whether the movies announced are part of a single Phase 3 or whether Marvel plans a Phase 3 and a Phase 4.

What is clear is that Marvel has planned and announced movies set in the MCU until 2020. And judging by their most recent post, it would appear that Phase 3 extends from 2016 to 2020. So let’s assume that there is just a Phase 3 for the moment, until an official declaration clarifies things.

Anyway, it’s unimportant whether there are 2 phases or just 1. What is important is that among the movies announced until 2020 there are 3 of them whose title has not yet been released. But the movies themselves have been confirmed. So, the big hype now is all about those movies’ theme. Which superhero(es) will they present? What story.

A little guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe is in order.

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe? Captain America: Civil War is part of it.

Inhumans is talked about in the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movies whose titles have been confirmed are: “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), “Doctor Strange” (2016), “Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2″ (2017), “Spider-man” (2017) – a reboot, “Thor: Ragnarock” (2017), “The Black Panther” (2018), “The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1″ (2018), “Ant-Man And The Wasp” (2018), “Captain Marvel” (2019), “The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2″ (2019), “Inhumans” (2019).

Looking at the release year of movies for each phase we can see Disney has a penchant for patterns. To be more precise, the number of movies released in the same year, per each phase is as follows:

Phase 1:               2 – 1 – 2 – 1

Phase 2:               2 – 2 – 2

Phase 3:               2 – 3 – 3 – 3 – (3?)

With the last (3?) representing the 3 mysterious movies set to be released in 2020.

These patterns look like a thorough, thought-of marketing strategy, which seems to warm audiences to the MCU by starting Phase 1 strong with 2 movies, to keep them interested, then releasing 1 more the next year so as not to spam yet, but still keep them hooked. Then releasing two more the next year for a surge, then toning it down with just 1 movie “tease” in order to prepare Phase 2, which goes all the way with 2 movies/year.

Though Phase 2 has the same number of movies in it (6), it is more “intense”, as it is shorter than Phase 1 (which lasted 4 years), Phase 2 running for 3 years. And this build-up goes all the way to Phase 3 which, in the span of just 5 years will bring 14 movies to the public! More than double the number of movies Phase 1 had with just an extra year longer. Pretty good build-up, eh?

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe, Illuminati joke.

Of course, it could just be that it’s NOT a marketing strategy and is in fact an Illuminati scheme to take over the world! (Wait! I’m confused… From themselves? Since everyone knows they rule it … Maybe it’s some weird “Capture The Flag” style tournament they hold once in a while in which they pass the rule from one family to another… Whatever.).

Back to patterns, another predilection of Disney’s regarding the MCU, is doing things in threes. Each hero OR team of heroes centered story has three installments or is planned to have three installments. Best example? “Iron Man 1″, “Iron Man 2″, “Iron Man 3″. Robert Downey Jr.’s official declaration confirms beyond a doubt that there are no plans for a fourth one. The Captain America cycle was also confirmed to end with “Captain America: Civil War” by producer Kevin Feige.

And finally, the last clue we get is the pattern of sequels and “introductory” or “original” movies. Which is as follows:

Phase 1:               5 original / 1 sequel

Phase 2:               2 originals / 4 sequels

Phase 3:               5 originals / 6 sequels / 3 ???

Looks like the number of originals is set to grow each phase?

Anyway, in essence, because Iron Man has 3 installments and Captain America, Thor and The Avengers will also have 3 installments confirmed in Phase 3, the possible choices left for the three unannounced titles in this phase are: Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Spider-man, Doctor Strange, The Black Panther, Captain Marvel or Inhumans sequels, OR new detailed/original movies for other Marvel heroes (of which there are many).

Of the sequels, a Hulk one would encounter some legal difficulties as Universal has distribution rights, so that seems unlikely. And Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, The Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans have movies with release dates too close to 2020.

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe - Guardians of The Galaxy.

Therefore, the plausible choices for sequels seem to be those of: Guardians Of The Galaxy (almost certainly) and… Spider-man. As for the original/detailing installments, a Black Widow movie seems most plausible, a fact that even Feige declared that he would like to see happening.

So, what do you think about the guesswork performed and the conclusions reached? Leave a comment if you have a different reasoning oooor if you’ve managed to find the secret Illuminati message in the patterns.

As part of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ben Stiller the Illuminati joke.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

6 TGIF Shows That Left A Mark

If you grew up in the 90s you surely remember some of the shows that ABC aired on Friday night and that seemed to contain important life lessons for your “problems” at the time or talk to you in particular. And in fact, they were. Because the shows in question were good wholesome situation comedies designed specifically to be viewed by families, hoping to instill that happy, balanced, feel-good vibe which should reign whenever a family gathers to spend some leisure time together.

But they probably wouldn’t have had the popularity and appeal they had if Jim Janicek (a writer and producer for ABC) hadn’t went to the network executives and pitched the idea of TGIF. It’s an acronym which has a double meaning, making reference to both the well-known expression in English “Thank God It’s Friday” as well “Thank Goodness It’s Funny”.

In short, Janicek, nostalgic after his childhood memories of his family watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” together, wanted to create a family-oriented programming block on Friday night. For the network, it would be a good thing because it would possibly convince viewers to watch all of ABC’s family oriented shows (of which “Perfect Strangers”, “Full House” and “Mr. Belvedere” enjoyed popularity already) one after the other.

So he sold the idea to the network, who agreed and the TGIF block which ran from 1989 to 2000 (and then had a re-run from 2003 to 2005), achieving great ratings, especially in the 1989 – 1990 period was created. Let’s remember 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

1. Perfect Strangers (1986 – 1993)

Perfect Strangers, one of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

Revolves around the mismatched life-styles and behavior of Larry Appleton (played by Mark Linn-Baker), a Chicago reporter, and his long-lost unexpected cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) as they have to live together as roommates.

The show, apart from its great fun and the endearing yet annoying character of Balki is also notable for having led to the creation of the “Family Matters” spin-off (another popular TGIF show) and for helping the TGIF concept take flight as it was moved early to Friday night and its stars hosted the first inter-segments between all the shows (doing so for the entire ’88-’89 season).

2. Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996 – 2003)

6 TGIF shows that left a mark - Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

Based on the character in the series published by Archie Comics (starting in 1962), Sabrina is a teenage-girl who finds out she’s a half-witch via her father. Then the series revolves around her attempts to control her new-found powers and use them for good while simultaneously dealing with the problems of adolescent life, all the while not revealing the fact that she is a witch.

The show was so popular that it moved to Warner Bros for its final three seasons, managing to outrun the TGIF programming block which had ended. Melissa Joan Hart stars as Sabrina and Nick Bakay as her also-noteworthy talking and sarcastic cat Salem (an ex-witch punished for attempting to rule the world).

3. Boy Meets World (1993 – 2000)

One of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark is Boy Meets World.

Also catering to adolescents, “Boy Meets World”‘s subject is the dangers of growing up as it follows the life of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) all he way from junior high, through college, up to his marriage. Funny and striking true emotionally for all the young viewers who saw at least parts of themselves in Corey’s journey, the show aired in 1993 and lasted until 2000, making it probably the best known of the later half of the TGIF period.

4. Family Matters (1989-1998)

6 TGIF shows that left a mark - Family Matters.

It started out as a show centered on a pretty normal African-American family of the working-class with a twist: their next door neighbor Steve Urkel who happened to be a boy-genius who invents all sorts of cooky stuff. For good or for worse (depending on which fans you ask), the Steve Urkel character played by Jaleel White gained such popularity that the show gradually turned into a platform for him to showcase his brilliance, despite still managing to focus somehow on the Wilson family. It ran for 9 seasons in total (the last of which, on CBS).

5. Step by Step (1991 – 1998)

Step by Step is one of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

The story of Frank Lambert (construction worker) and Carol Foster (beautician), both of them widowed and with 3 children each. As you can see from the start, it featured the extended families motif and the working-class character background of other TGIF shows, but added to that the widowed status of both protagonists. An interesting twist, extending the target audience of families and individuals some other shows catered to, by promoting the idea that, despite the hardships of integrating 2 different families, “everything will be alright, you can get your life together if you just find the right person and work at it” for people in the situation of the protagonists, which were played by veteran TV stars Suzanne Summers and Patrick Duffy.

6. Full House (1987 -1995)

One of the first 6 TGIF shows that left a mark, Full House.

Possibly the TGIF show that springs to most people’s minds first. Maybe because it was one of the earliest TGIF shows and, as a precursor, it contained “the formula” that would be varied by others. It centers on the life of Danny Tanner (Bob Seget), morning talk show host, faced with the problem of raising his three little girls (D.J., Stephanie and Michelle played by Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and the Olsen twins respectively) after his wife is suddenly killed by a drunk driver. He calls his brother in-law Jesse Katsopolis (a rock musician played by John Stamos) and his best friend Joey Gladstone (comedian, played by Dave Coulier) to help him with raising the girls and so their life together unfolds. Extended family? Check. Mismatched life-styles? Check. Emotional? Check. Add to that a lot of catchphrases and simplistic good-natured lessons and the formula for good wholesome fun is complete.

 Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Worse Than Joffrey

Carl Grimes is a character who first appeared in the comic book series “The Walking Dead”, the first issue of which got published in 2003. He is an important character, son of the protagonist (sheriff Rick Grimes) and was introduced in issue #2 of the series. So, naturally, when the comic book series was adapted as a horror drama TV series by the same name, the character of Carl was kept as an important piece.

The reason he is important (apart from being the protagonist’s son and all the decision altering consequences and emotional investment this implies) is that he is supposed to present the difficult road to maturity of a human child thrown into a world completely different than the one in which his ancestors grew up in. A world in which survival just became way more difficult and is the top priority, trumping other moral considerations that we take for granted in our current “civilized” society.

Could Carl Grimes be worse than Joffrey?

And on top of that, his elders can’t really guide his development, because it’s kind of difficult to give advice to a kid and know how he should grow up during a Zombie Apocalypse, with which no one has dealt with before. So, in this context, it’s pretty clear that the character of Carl doesn’t have an easy road ahead of him and should be given some understanding and tolerance for all the mistakes he will most probably make.

This is true of the TV series character as well, whom the writers appear to want to follow the comic book version pretty closely, as concerns his development. Which makes Chandler Riggs‘ job (the actor who plays Carl) a difficult one, that any actor would find challenging. But now take into consideration that when the series premiered in 2010, Chandler was, by the necessity of the role, a child himself, 10 years old!

Carl Grimes, possibly worse than Joffrey.

It should come as no surprise then that the character of Carl Grimes as portrayed by Chandler Riggs in “The Walking Dead” TV series is one of the most polarizing ones in history and possibly even more disliked than the character of Joffrey in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, because in the case of Joffrey, the general opinion of the audience was that they HATE the character, without many notable comments regarding the acting of actor Jack Gleeson.

Is Carl Grimes worse than Joffrey?

In other words, the general feel was that Jack Gleeson was just an actor doing his job (damn well, I’m sure you’ll agree), and his job happened to involve a clear-cut dislike-able, obnoxious, psychotic, cowardly, pampered and general Lord of Douchebaggery character.

As described above, the character of Carl Grimes is rather complex and not clear-cut at all.

So the big question is: why do so many people hate him with a passion and wish he would just decide to up and go become a juicy zombie burger with ample blood and guts sauce and a seasoning of pain and gruesome death? So much so that there’s even a dedicated Facebook page called “I hate Carl Grimes (The Walking Dead)”.

Sure, not absolutely everyone hates him. There do exist a relative few opinions ranging from puzzlement as to why people hate him to out-right defense along the line of “Carl’s a good kid. He’s just growin’ up in a messed up world.” or even the rare, isolated “I just LOVE Carl Grimes” (though one might suspect that the chances of those being posted by some trolls who are at it again are not null).

Hard to decide if Carl Grimes character played by Chandler Riggs is worse than Joffrey Baratheon.

But the majority of the opinions fall in the negative camp. And the reasons behind them can only revolve around one of the following scenarios: the people hate exclusively the character (like in Joffrey’s case), they hate both the character and Chandler’s acting or they just hate Chandler’s acting.

Either of the main components (character or acting) bear debate.

Because, as regards the character, the explanations given before stand: he is not your average spoiled kid in an average situation. So perhaps he should be given some lee-way. Of course, he could be more obedient, respectful and open to advice and it’s not hard to imagine another kid with another personality in his circumstances reacting more to the audience’s liking… So in this case, it’s a personal, subjective reaction to how the character was written, or what personality he was given, to be more precise. As opposed to how the audience thinks he could/should have been written. But hey, life is pretty weird with many types of individuals roaming about. So a character with Carl’s personality in a Zombie Apocalypse setting is by no means implausible. On the contrary, he might even be common. And the audience will just have to deal with the fact that he is a part of that fictional world and he has the personality he has, so just analyse things from this perspective.

Worse than Joffrey Baratheon? Possibly Carl Grimes as portrayed by Chandler Riggs.

Regarding the acting, again it seems to come to personal preference and a subjective decision, because Chandler Riggs’ credentials show him to be a talented actor, judging by the 3 awards and 2 nominations he won for specifically for the role of Carl!

Still, the statistics remain. If the general perception is that this character is just as hated as that of Joffrey or more, despite being clearly more redeemable and excusable than Joffrey, could it mean that Carl is … worse than Joffrey?! Is such a thing even possible?! Or Is Chandler Riggs doing something terribly wrong? Yours to decide.

Image source: 1, 23, 4, 5.

Interesting Info From Lex Luthor’s New Profile

The DC Extended Universe is the media franchise and shared fictional universe revolving around the superhero film series based on the original comic books (referred to just as “the DC Universe”). These films are produced by Warner Bros. that also owns DC Entertainment (the company that creates the comics) and DC Comics Inc. (the company that publishes them).

This film series began with “Man of Steel” in 2013 and has a host of movies planned until 2020. The second entry in it consists of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” which will be launched in 2016. In it, Lex Luthor is the main villain, and to create hype around the project, Warner Bros., quite classily, created a Fortune profile for him, despite the fact that he is a fictional character.

We get some interesting info from Lex Luthor’s new profile.

1. Kord Industries

Kord Industries is part of the interesting info from Lex Luthor's new profile.

One of the comic book heroes to which DC currently has the rights is The Blue Beetle. Of the three Blue Beetles that existed in the comic series’ history, Ted Kord is the second one. And he owns Kord Industries which in Luthor’s profile is mentioned as one of the top three charitable corporations in America, with his own LexCorp occupying 3rd place and Wayne Enterprises taking the 1st.

As it was reported that Blue Beetle will have his own movie, fans can only be happy at this mention in the profile, as it makes that possible movie even more plausible.

2. Superman’s bane

A hint in the interesting info from Lex Luthor's new profile revolves around Kryptonite.

As the interview for the profile progresses, it is noted by the writer that Lex Luthor has a collection of meteorite crystals. Yup. Meteorite crystals. Nothin’ worrisome about that for an average human, right? I mean geologists and astronomers aplenty have such collections. Still, considering that what Lex Luthor hates the most is Superman, one can’t help but wonder whether that collection also contains… oh, you know, KRYPTONITE! And whether he’s figured out what effects it has on Superman. Especially since in one of the trailers for the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie, Lex is staring intently at a chunk of it!

3. Hailing, Not Heil!-ing From East Germany

The Third Reich's East Germany is included in the interesting info from Lex Luthor's new profile

Lex Luthor’s name is actually Alexander Joseph Luthor Jr. . His father, Alexander Luthor Sr. was born in East Germany and came to the USA as a destitute immigrant, who somehow managed to build LexCorp (“an empire of oil and machines”) starting from rock bottom, with nothing but his determination. Interesting to note is that, by Lex Luthor’s own words, Luthor Sr. “came from a country where the government, in the guise of protector, had absolute control over the citizens.”. Ironically, since he’s supposed to be the villain of the movie, he continues with: “That drove him. I get it. Heck, I’d hate to see that sort of thing happen over here.”

4. Major Change Of Direction

Interesting info from Lex Luthor's new profile? Luthor's achievements.

Lex Luthor is presented in the interview as just as formidable (if not more so) than his father, at one point earning Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year and being included on the magazine’s list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Because after his father’s death, Lex took the “aging petrochemical and heavy machinery dinosaur” of a company and turned it into a cutting edge tech company ranking in the Fortune 500 and 2nd in the world as an emerging technologies company after Wayne Industries. The profile mentions some interesting facilities the company has, to give us a sense of its feel: an R&D lab named the “crucible”, an “inspiration station” for its employees, complete with a rappel wall, and a “vegan food cart”.

5. Ominous Concern

The interesting Info From Lex Luthor's New Profile includes the promise of a new technology.

 

At the interview’s end, Lex Luthor says that: “The true gift of LexCorp is our products. We are on the cusp of unveiling a technology that will change the world forever. (…) It’s about safety. This is a product that will protect you, and everyone, from threats you don’t even know about yet.” Pretty cryptic, ominous and especially ironic (remember his declaration regarding the Germany of his father’s time?). As Lex Luthor’s major concern is aliens, like Superman, it’s safe to imagine that the technology he’s talking about bodes nothing well for the hero…

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

5 Artists Who Took A Chill Pill

We’ve all had the urge to just go Poof! and disappear into thin air for whatever reason, be it physical or psychological fatigue from our work, an ardent need to change the routine or to get away from some negative factor in our life, or just a random desire to grow our hair excessively or a massive beard, braid it into an Origami and color it purple.

Well, here’s 5 artists who took a chill pill from their busy public personas as well, despite being well-known and influential in their domain.

1. Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo is one of the 5 artists who took a chill pill.

 

She reached international fame with barely her third movie “Flesh and the Devil” (a silent one!), and gained three Academy Award Nominations for Best Actress, not to mention being voted in fifth place as one of the greatest female stars of all time in 1999 by the American Film Institute.

After a downturn in her career of about 3 years she came back up as she switched to comedy.

So it came as a surprise that such a determined impressive go-getter like her would decide to retire after “Two-Faced Woman” in 1941, at the prime age of 35. She kept her decision until her death at 84, in 1990 and never returned to show-bizz.

2. Gene Wilder

The list of 5 artists who took a chill pill includes Gene Wilder.

Born Jerome Silberman, Gene Wilder is famous for his comedic roles with quirky turns of thought and especially for his particular “don’t take things so seriously” manner that he manages to instill through his portrayal of the mostly endearing characters he plays (“Blazing Saddles”, “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”, “Young Frankenstein”, “The Producers” etc.).

He was asked in a 2013 interview (92nd Street Y) by his host: “What’s the biggest misconception that people have about you?”. To which he replied “Well, umm. ‘What a comic! What a funny guy! What a…’ , all that stuff. And… I’m not…  I’m really not, except in a comedy, in films.”

Despite the seeming tongue-in-cheek tone of his response, it must be true. Because he certainly had to be more than just “a funny guy” to occupy his time after effectively retiring from Hollywood work after “Another You” (1991).

3. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick si part of 5 artists who took a chill pill.

 

Now here’s an artist who is currently fairly prolific, as the filmmaker hailing from Texas appears to have several projects in the works at the same time most of the time and releases movies quite regularly.

But there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding a huge gap in his career, from 1978 to 1998 to be exact. It’s a period in which he just disappeared from the spotlight, with unconfirmed reports conflicting on why, or what he did during this time.

The man himself refuses to give a definitive answer or do interviews on the subject…

4. Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill numbers among the 5 artists who took a chill pill.

 

A prominent hip-hop/reggae artist, possibly most known for the flagship songs “Ready or Not” or “Killing Me Softly” performed with The Fugees, Lauryn Hill took a big pause for most of the period between 2000 and 2010, with a few occasional appearances here and there.

The reasons she gave revolved around the need to stay true to herself and the music as opposed to “the machine” that she felt was making her “way too compromised”.

The good news? She made her comeback with a one-night only performance in New York in 2012.

5. Captain Beefheart

5 artists who took a chill pill? Captain Beefheart is one of them.

 

When you hear that stage name, you immediately know that you’re dealing with an original person, to say the least.

Don Van Vliet (by his not as arresting real name) was an American musician (1941 – 2010) who really didn’t care about conforming to musical trends or norms. Which is evident in the genres he mixed in his music: rock, blues, psychedelia, avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition.

He released 12 studio albums, 3 live and 7 compilation ones for about two decades, after which, in 1982 he just quit the music business.

The explanation? He was getting “too good” at the things he played, referring to the fact that apart from being a composer, he was a player of harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.