Before Infinity War: Black Panther

*Avengers Theme played creepily a note at a time on the piano* Back in 2005, there was an idea…to bring together remarkable and individual comic book movies based on Marvel-owned characters…to see if it could become something more in a crossover film; so that when we the fans finally saw it, we would throw as much money at the screen…that we humanly could.

We are literally one month away from the biggest cinematic event since famous man-child Ernest graced the silver screen and scared Stupid (or was it direct to VHS?). Like most people, I have been a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Marvel Studios released a little indie hit called Iron Man back in 2008. And here we are ten years later: truly and successfully hyped for a movie that has had a decade and a hundred other films to build and campaign. Iron Man successfully knocked the piece that would eventually domino into what we know as Avengers: Infinity War today. The film where they finally get to face off with the villain that has been waiting in the background for the right chance to strike his balance in the universe: Thanos.

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…and his diabolical self-titled helicopter!

If this is going to be anything like the comic book event in which the film takes its name, a lot of people die. And when I say “a lot,” I mean everyone. Other than the dreaded finger snap that makes half the Earth disappear from existence, there are some major deaths that are actually quite “comical” (I don’t get it). For example in the big fight against the rest of the heroes, Thanos wills an impenetrable cube to exist around Cyclops’s head to guard his optic blasts which ultimately suffocates him. Wolverine’s bones are turned into rubber. Iron Man is killed off-panel, but we can make the assumption that his head is still in his helmet that was knocked off from the rest of his body. Thor is turned into glass I think. And then Captain America gets killed with a back-hand from Thanos after a rousing speech about not falling to Thanos (that’s an example of irony right?). Something to that effect will still probably happen since the preview has revealed a stand off between Cap (Nomad or whoever he is now) and Thanos.

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Me fighting my depression after Infinity War

But not to worry. Everyone is snapped back into life by Nebula after retrieving the Infinity Gauntlet from a husk of Thanos since his consciousness is now Eternity (I’m not exactly sure what I wrote) and proceeds to undo everything that Thanos has willed with the Gauntlet. Eventually, Thanos has to team up with everyone to defeat Nebula. Nebula ends up going to space jail on Titon which seems kind of unfair. Then the foiled Thanos goes to live on a farm (which is definitely unfair).

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“And stay away from my tomatoes!”

For a movie of this caliber, it would be a shame if Thanos’s reign came off as inconsequential by resetting everything so easily. I mean with the Infinity Stones anything is possible (like with prayer…I guess), but still there has to be higher stakes for the movie to really have an impact on the audience. And as we all know, film contacts are ending (the true super villain) which is a good reason to clear the way for a new set of Avengers to take the helm.

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“So in this next scene, you will die over here. And we won’t pay you anymore.”

I know this is not going to be a direct adaptation of the comic book story lines, but it can act as a nice blueprint of some of the direction they decide to take for the film.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. Every year since I’ve been in my position, I’ve taken my employees to the Marvel releases in May. And obviously, Avengers: Infinity War is the biggest film of them all. Everything is coming together in this one big event. I’ve been providing them supplemental materials to give them a background on Thanos, the Infinity Stones, and the Black Order. So I thought to myself it would be kind of fun to write up a little piece on where our heroes are prior to the events of Infinity War. I’m writing this up for my employees but figure I’d write it in my blog if anyone else is curious. I’m going to break this down into multiple posts for ease of reading (and to make myself feel important). The easiest thing to do would be start with the characters of the latest film and move my way backwards until I’ve covered the important characters. So we’ll start with Black Panther and the Wakandans. Please keep in mind, I will only be doing the characters that have been credited in Avengers: Infinity War.

As I always do, I like to preface my posts by letting you know that I am not an expert at really anything (except love-making of course, which I’m told I’m a solid 4 stars…………*cough* out of 10 *end cough*).

BLACK PANTHER

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Black Panther acted as more of a standalone film offering up more than just a superhero movie with its social, political, and cultural commentary as well as a lesson on the downsides of isolationism. It gave the main hero a solid back story and offered underrepresented communities a comic book movie hero to be inspired by.

As far as Infinity War goes, Black Panther gives the backdrop for one of the major battles we have seen in the trailers. We know it takes place in Wakanda, and we know they’re going to be fighting for an Infinity Stone. I have two guesses. Vision is taking refuge in Wakanda because of the Mind Stone. Our heroes want to protect him the best they can. Or it is revealed that the Soul Stone is actually in Wakanda, and the Avengers protecting that instead.

T’Challa (Black Panther)

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I think it’s safe to say that he is in Wakanda. Probably minding his own business ruling Wakanda until all hell breaks loose. That can happen one of two ways. They’re endanger because they have the Soul Stone and Thanos is coming for it, so the Avengers are coming to their aid. Or the other Avengers bring the trouble to Wakanda to find a safe haven for the Vision and the Mind Stone.  He’ll be a core part of getting his armies ready and preparing Wakanda for the battle.

Shuri

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T’Challa’s brainy, little sister. She is in Wakanda and is responsible for Winter Soldier’s rehabilitation as we saw in the end credit scene. It’s hard to tell if she is in the offensive running towards battle in the trailer. My guess is she’ll play a part in developing the strategy on the defensive side: keeping the Infinity Stone/Vision safe.

Okoye

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General of the Dora Milaje and head of Wakandan armed fores. She is going to be in Wakanda. She’ll probably be part of the big battle when the times comes and also help with prepping Wakanda for the fight.

Ramonda

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Wakanda’s Queen Mother will be in Wakanda to support T’Challa. I mean I really don’t know how she’ll play into the movie. My guess is she’ll have a quick scene with T’Challa about doing what he needs to do to save the world.

Everett Ross

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Not sure if he’ll be in Wakanda or back in the States. I can see him playing a more diplomatic role trying to warn political officials about the danger, but it will be quick and insignificant. Or he could be at Wakanda more or less doing the same thing. I don’t know.

M’Baku

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After reconciling with T’Challa, he and his army will definitely be in the battle. I’m guessing he will just be there, because they assume you’ve watched Black Panther, know M’Baku’s significance, and that T’Challa and him made up.

Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)

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The last end credit scene of Black Panther had Bucky step out of a tent while being called White Wolf. Not sure if this is a call back to the comic book character (who is not Bucky), or if the Russos are planning to set Bucky off in different direction where he is the White Wolf. Regardless, he is seen still without an arm and thanking Shuri for her help. He’ll have some bromance scenes with Cap and then be there for the battle. He’ll also have a new vibranium arm courtesy of Shuri I assume. I have a feeling he’s going to watch Steve fall to Thanos which would be a good plot device to set him up to become Captain America unless that privilege belongs to Falcon.

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Feeling Kind of Tired: San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Aftermath and Overview

Before I start off this post, I just wanted to say that San Diego has a really strong Pokemon GO game. It is seriously a way of life out there.

Every year after I get back from San Diego Comic-Con, I always get the comment: “I totally want to go to it next year” or some variation of that. Typically my response to that is “you should” and then something along the lines of “are you a glutton for punishment?” That’s not meant to scare anyone away or pull the rug out from underneath them but to shine some light on the painstaking reality of going to SDCC. It’s not all fun and games unless you enjoy standing hours in line with the high possibility of still not accomplishing anything (some people just call that “living life”). When I post pictures, it’s all the fun parts; so it looks like it’s a non-stop party. I’m not going to be posting anything about standing in line for three hours to shake Dan Harmon’s hand, or spending the night on the convention grounds for a chance to sit in the Game of Thrones panel in the infamous Hall H, or even how I fought to the front of the crowd to take pictures of Chris Pratt. So it’s very much like the media where you’re only getting half the picture (except it’s the more positive half instead of the half where everyone dies).

Now that I have downplayed Comic-Con (and you have decided not to try and get badges which will increase my chance of getting badges next year), let’s look into some of the things I was able to check out at this year’s SDCC.

Preview Night
Preview Night is the best chance to check out the Exhibit Hall and buy exclusives before the crowd multiplies by the thousands. It is literally a sea of people for about twelve hours a day in downtown San Diego for the duration of Comic-Con except for refreshing splashes of water you get overpowering hints of body odor (or Hodor…am I right? High five!). And much like the rest of Comic-Con, it starts with a line.

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Happiness (not pictured)

I flipped off Iron Man and gave Captain America a thumbs up.

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#TeamCap

And then it got weird…

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Get a room!

Day One
I started the day off right by waiting in a line (Line-Con) for four hours to get wristbands for the Silicon Valley signing…except when I got there, they ran out of wristbands and that didn’t start my day off right at all. It took every part of my being not to throw myself down five flights of cement stairs. Shortly after damning my existence, I joined up with friends I met at Comic-Con two years ago who were waiting in line (Sili-line Valley) for a chance to win an exclusive Conan O’Brien Funko Pop figure. My first victory of the show.

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And to think just an hour before this, I would have been rushed to a hospital for breaking every bone in my body if I had thrown myself down the stairs

We proceeded to the Game of Thrones off-site experience for the Hall of Faces. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, cool, you’ll understand what that means. If you’re not, the Hall of Faces is a room with shelves of faces (there, you’re caught up with the show, and winter is here). While we were in line (The Game of Lines), we got to play a rousing round of “Would You Rather” with Buzzfeed and Syfy. I have many goals in my life. Making it onto a Buzzfeed article is not one of them. But I did, so I guess I’ll have to deal with it for the rest of my life.

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Still a better king than Joffery Baratheon

 

I ran back into the Exhibit Hall after the experience, because I was adamant about getting a Stan Lee exclusive figure. Fortunately, his collectible store had a booth and they were selling Stan Lee DORBZ figures with his signature on the box. This is where I ran into Michael Rooker of Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy fame. I look goofy in the picture below, because that’s just how my face is 90% of the time.

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Wasn’t sure the picture was worth it when the kid in the back is forever ingrained in my nightmares

With Day One coming to a close, I met up with my friends again who were already in line (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azka-line) for Hall H. Hall H is synonymous with Comic-Con at this point. More than likely you’ve heard of the dreaded hall and how people spend nearly 24 hours in the line (Star Wars: Attack of the Lines) just to get into the panels for the next day. One of my friends that I go with is a “Hall H wHore.” He loves the ever-living crap out of Hall H and, in fact, spent the majority of his time at Comic-Con there. So once we got our wristbands, we headed to the overnight line (Star Trek: Deep Space Line) outside of Hall H and started our shift. It was quiet for the most part. We sat there and tried to start conversations with people around us just to simply pass the time. Suddenly a black Suburban drove up and out popped two actors from Game of Thrones: Isaac Wright who plays Bran Stark and Liam Cunningham who plays Ser Davos Seaworth. After recovering from a short hear-attack, I was able to get a picture with Liam.

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Ser Davos Seaworth and Sir Dumb Guy Stupidface

Day Two
The Hall H panels start off strong with Con Man, a show starring Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion on Comic-Con HQ which essentially parodies their lives after Firefly (a show if given the chance would have continued to be amazing like its first season which is similar to the pickup line I give when I date someone).

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Nathan Fillion “runs a very tight ship.”

I gave Fear the Walking Dead a legitimate chance. It just didn’t quite hook me as well as other shows have. It’s not a bad show by any means. It’s just not as interesting as it’s predecessor. Granted The Walking Dead had very good source material to go off of which helped with character development and story progression. Fear the Walking Dead is just kind of flat. There are maybe two or three deeply-layered characters while the rest seem fairly one dimensional. But after the preview of season 2, I may need to rethink my position and give it one more shot. Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures during this panel.

The Walking Dead left us with a cliffhanger for its season finale. It’s a gimmick that I get fairly tired of, and that sentiment is shared within the Walking Dead fanbase. I felt like the producers and even the actors understood the viewers’ disappointment of the season finale with the apologetic tone of the panel. Oh, they also revealed that Rick took Negan’s bat (no they didn’t).

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No, that’s not the line from the Omen

I was excited to see that the Game of Thrones panel was being moderated by Rob McElhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia who added a nice touch of humor to the interviews. What’s so great about these panels is seeing everyone interact with each other. You can tell this is a group of actors and actresses that are as devoted to the show as much its fans. If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, you need to do yourself a favor. Quit your job, tell your loved ones that you’ll be gone for awhile, find a cheap hotel or somewhere secluded where no one can bother you, continuously fill yourself up with pizza, Red Bull, and caffeine pills, and marathon Game of Thrones before the next season comes out next summer. If you die in the process, just know that you will have a soldier’s burial.

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Actor Iwan Rheon who plays Ramsay Bolton desperately reminds fans that it’s only a show and to not have their dogs constantly attack him

After being in Hall H for almost six hours, I needed to do some more exploring. Comic-Con is no longer restricted to the Convention Center. It’s become so big that it has spilled out into the surrounding areas of downtown San Deigo. This is where I found this gem: The Peanuts off-site experience. It’s good to have balance. So after sitting on panels about shows with lots of death and whatnot, it’s good to relax with bright and colorful images of Charlie Brown and the gang.

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Who would have thought that Lucy is a diehard Trump fan

Day Three
I waited in line (Wolver-line) to snag a wristband for the Rick and Morty signing. During the signing, I was super excited that Chris Parnell was there. He was one of my favorite actors on Saturday Night Live, so it was a pleasure to take a picture with him. These signings are kind of awkward, because I never have anything to say to these celebrities except “you’re awesome.”

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Rick and Morty is awesome

Comic-Con 2016 was a little bit more stressful than previous years (probably because I’m getting old), so I took every open opportunity to grab a drink. I stopped by the sushi shop set up in the Mariott next to the Convention Center, Komic-Kaze Sushi, which was also serving the 50th Anniversary Star Trek beer and the two Game of Thrones beers: Valar Morgulis, a dubbel ale and Three Eye-Raven, a dark saison.

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They drink a lot of craft beer in Game of Thrones

During my meal, one of my friends had messaged me that the Guardians of the Galaxy cast was going to be at the Marvel booth on the floor in the Convention Center. Needless to say…

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“Embrace me in your arms” is not considered a legitimate fan request and is looked down upon

Day Four

That last day of Comic-Con is very bittersweet. On one hand, you’re sad to see it go. On the other hand, you’re dead. So it doesn’t matter how you feel anymore. So to save you and me some time, here is another picture collage of my friends and myself during the trip.

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Filler post and caption

It seems like everything about Comic-Con gets harder  and harder every year, but I would say it’s definitely worth the effort you put into it. I hope by this time next year, I will be able to share my experiences once again. And maybe next time, I will see you there.

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: 7 out of 10

Now, for the moment everyone has been waiting for. My last post, I had uploaded a picture of the exclusive giveaway I got during Comic-Con from UCC Distribution. Here it is again.

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To enter, you must like and subscribe to my blog (that’s how I get you); and then comment below with your response to this question:

If Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were each Pokemon, what would they be called, what type of Pokemon would they be, and what would be their special move?

I will pick a winner next Monday, August 8th.