Top 10 MCU Characters

Now that the Avengers saga has ended, my attention into the MCU has ended too.  After 22 films, this franchise did something no other film series could have dreamed of, and all others who have tried have failed.  DC has been the absolute worst.  It looks like they’re walking away from that now.  Good on them.  I think the rest of Hollywood has walked off from it too, as they all have tried and failed.  Marvel did the impossible, and will never be able to do it again.  So now that it’s done, let’s talk about my favorite characters in the running saga.  Lots to talk about here.

10. Nebula
I actually didn’t think much of the first Guardians movie when it came out, aside from one of my favorite characters, who you will see much higher up on this list.  But Nebula started growing on me with the second movie.  She went from a generic villainess to someone with a complicated backstory who didn’t know what she wanted.  By the time Infinity War rolled out, she’s disillusioned with Thanos and is trying to get revenge, only to find that in the end, it only got her more alone, as her sister had died.  Once we see her in Endgame, she’s come full circle, trying to be a good person, and make up for misdeeds.  What’s more, she’s bonding with people outside of the circle we knew of.  It helps that she’s kinda hot, in that blue chick sorta way.

9. Black Panther (Only in Civil War)
I didn’t like the Black Panther film.  At all.  It was preachy, and stupid.  This character started out with so much promise, it’s a shame that it all went down the tubes.  However, when you first meet him in Civil War, he was a fun character.  Out for blood after the murder of his father, you like this guy from the first meeting.  He is distrusting of outsiders, and in a situation that is ugly.  With the death of his father, he goes from a man seeking vengeance to seeing what that mission leads to, ultimately choosing to show mercy and look to taking up the mantle of hero.  Helps that he was pretty badass in the film too.

8. Drax
This dude is just too much fun.  Like I said earlier, I didn’t like the first Guardians movie all that much.  By the second, all the characters in there really came into their own.  And this guy is just too much.  It’s so ironic that Dwayne Johnson gets so much recognition as an actor when every movie he is in is shit.  Meanwhile, here’s a guy who goes from wrestler to actor and does it flawlessly.  This character is so adorable.  His deadpan way of talking about things that are absurd is just the best.  When they find the body of Thor in Infinity War and he is talking about how handsome he is just tickles me pink.  Dave Bautista is the only man I can see making a role like this work.  It’s part of why I want to see Guadians 3, if only to see how that saga ends.

7. War Machine
I’m so glad they changed the actor on this to Don Cheadle.  This guy had so much great comedic timing.  Plus, the chemistry between him and Robert Downy Jr. was so much better than the first guy.  Col. Rhodes, Stark’s best friend, makes for a great superhero.  More of a sidekick to Iron Man, but that’s not a bad thing.  He’s a soldier, after all.  He likes to know where he fits into things.  I’m one of those people who actually liked Iron Man 2, and his debut in that was pretty fantastic.  I do admit that Civil War would have been more powerful if he had died in it, but you know what, seeing how his arc also comes full circle in Endgame was worth it.  Cool suit of armor, badass, and played by a fun actor.  What’s not to love?

6. Doctor Strange
I mean, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch.  You kinda knew that he was going to end up on this list.  God this dude just exudes cool.  Like, so much.  Having his ego up against Stark’s made for some of the best content in Infinity War.  And I did like the movie where he gets his namesake.  It was a formula that was done to death, but it was all in the execution.  The crazy fractal world of magic was rad.  Seeing his personal journey from an arrogant surgeon to the Sorcerer Supreme was believable.  I hear that the next film with him is going to be a straight-up horror movie, with a lot of Lovecraftian themes.  We’ll see if that is any good.  I’ll admit that a superhero horror movie has a lot of potential.  Especially with this character.

5. Thanos
One of the things that Marvel was (rightly) criticized for is having lame villains.  So when the previews were coming out for Infinity War, the big question was – what is Thanos going to be like?  What is this villain that they have been building up for so long going to be like?  What we got blew everyone away.  This dude was unbelievable!  Josh Brolin brought him to life in a way that no one else could.  His beliefs about the universe, and the forces that drove him were just spectacular.  A drive and dedication for a cause that has some real-world questions.  As morally awful as it is, overpopulation is a problem.  What should be done?  That’s hard to say.  Plus, he dies like an absolute boss.  When Stark gets the stones and does the snap, destroying everything, he dies with a lot of dignity.  Just sitting down and accepting it.  Such a boss.  Glad that the film series goes out on one of the definitive high points.

4. Nick Fury
It’s Samuel L. Jackson.  You had to know that he was going to be on this list.  Now, aside from the stupid shit in Captain Marvel that ruined some pretty epic lines in Winter Soldier, this dude has been excellent.  He’s a soldier, and a man of secrets.  He wants to do the right thing by the world, but often has a bad habit of being his own worst enemy.  Still, we see him change over the course of the narrative.  If it wasn’t for the dumb shit in the equally dumb movie Captain Marvel, his badassery in the franchise would be uncontested.

3. Rocket
This little bastard is the one thing about the original Guadians movie that stood out.  I love this character so much.  A lot of it is behind the guy doing the voice.  Rocket is just the best.  He’s a violent bastard who loves killing.  He’s a complete antihero, stuck doing heroic things with his friends, but doing little things to undercut it wherever he can.  His history is more than a little soft spot, and that’s one of those things that hasn’t really been explore, but still.  The scene in Infinity War, where he watches Groot die, again, was just heart-breaking.  Then we see in Endgame where he covers Groot when the ship is firing on them, not wanting to let his young charge get hurt again.  That familial relationship is just the best.  Sassy, badass, loves guns, and has a heart of gold under a streak of bad bits.  There’s nothing I don’t like about this character.

2. Spider-Man
I cannot tell you how much I love that they FINALLY got this character right.  For those of you who didn’t know, I HATED the Tobey Macguire version.  With the heat of a thousand suns.  The Andrew Garfield version had potential, but then wasted it.  Tom Holland, on the other hand, is just perfect.  When we first meet him in Civil War, he’s this adorable awkward teenager, just trying to do the right thing.  It begins the absolutely touching father-son relationship between him and Stark.  Homecoming was a good continuation of that.  It has the two cementing this.  However, the death in Infinity War was so heart-breaking.  The look in his and Stark’s eyes as he is vanishing away, and then in Endgame where he has to say goodbye to this man who is a mentor to him.  Great stuff.  This character is loads of fun, and only gets better.  Haven’t seen Far From Home, hear good things.  Will Netflix it, someday.

And my favorite MCU character is…

1. Iron Man
I mean, who else?  Robert Downy Jr. brought this character to life a way that ONLY he could.  No other actor could have made this character work in the way he did.  His perfect mix of sarcastic ego and genuine drive to do the right thing makes for a fantastic juxtaposition.  From the first time we meet him, you see his personal goal of finding redemption for his weapons being used against people he cares for.  This goal is what carries him all the way to the final choice he makes, to end Thanos and friends with a single snap of his fingers, with the Infinity Stones.  How his character went out in Endgame was inspiring.  I will say that the ending bit with him and the speech being delivered through a hologram was cheesy.  It would have had more weight if it was just a message he recorded and it showed the funeral and maybe having people move forward around him.  He’s gone from the franchise, and that’s the biggest reason I’m checking out.  Nobody else can take the reigns of this character like Downy Jr.  Nobody.

Until next time, a quote,

“No, it’s you who doesn’t understand!  Thanos has been on my mind for the last six years, since he sent an army to New York, and now he’s back!  And I don’t know what to do.” – Tony Stark, Avengers: Infinity War

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Review: Avengers: Endgame

The end of an era.  The final film in a saga that spans twenty-two movies.  Everything led up to this.  And I gotta say – it ends on a high note.  It’s hard to push the envelope after the last film.  Infinity War set the bar so high that this film could never surpass it.  That being said, the film does live up to it.  The highest compliment one can give a movie like this is that it lives up to the expectations that we all had.  Bringing the end to a film saga the likes of which we have never seen before, and for my money will never see again.  I said a while back that when this film came out and I saw it, that was it for me and Marvel.  Meant it.  The only thing I want to see now is Guardians 3.  After that, I have no desire to see what’s next from Marvel.  It’s sink or swim for this franchise now that the Avengers saga is done.  And if the end of this movie is any indication, it can only go somewhere stupid.  Let’s talk about it.

You all know the plot.  After Thanos snapped his fingers, he destroyed half of all life in universe.  Now it’s up to what’s left of the Avengers to find a way to make things right.  What follows is a pretty fantastic bookend to all the build-up we had.

My favorite parts of this movie were early on.  It opened with a truly fantastic scene with Hawkeye’s family disappearing.  It sets the stage for his personal drama really well.  Seeing what happens to every character when they are at their lowest point is just exceptional.  The reunion between Stark and Rogers was everything I hoped it would be, and more.  Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the movie was pretty fantastic, but that stuff early on was gripping.  It’s great to see all these heroes who we’ve seen be powerful as fuck up until now pushed to their breaking point.

It’s hard to talk about this movie, honestly.  See, you already know that the acting is pretty phenomenal across the board.  Visuals are incredible.  Soundtrack is really great.  So I decided that I’m going to preface my next point that I really liked this movie.  It closes things out on this storyline in a way that no other film could.  And with that said, I’m going to talk about some stuff that bugged me.  Because there’s an angle where I have lots to talk about.

First, I’m genuinely glad they kept Captain Marvel out of this film for most of it.  Because the comparisons between her and Superman are apt.  She’s OP as fuck.  Like, to the point that it’s genuinely boring when she enters the fray because you know that she’s going to win.  Watching Thanos kick her ass was actually kinda fun.  I bring this up because there was one scene in this movie that made me visibly cringe – the chick squad charge.  That was awful!  I swear, they might as well have had “GIRL POWER!” on the screen the whole time.  It was just as subtle.  I don’t blame the directors for this.  I get it – Disney wants to promote diversity.  But that didn’t stop it from being one of the cringiest things I’ve see on screen in a VERY long time.

Also, Bree Larson can’t act.  Her face has zero emotion.  She’s almost as bad as Daisy Ridley or Hunger Games chick in being a stoic, bland, unemoting female character.  I’ve figured something out.  See, a lot of people in Hollywood think that the strong male hero was a bland, boring character who just kicks ass.  When that wasn’t the case.  Sure, we’ve had a lot of stoic male characters in 80’s action movies, but here’s the thing – they had personality.  Watch old Ah-nold movies.  He was a stoic badass, but he had personality to make up for that, and cheesy one-liners.  Bree Larson had…um…something?  I’m drawing a blank.  Describe Captain Marvel’s personality in this film in a way that doesn’t require you describe what she looks like, what she does, or her role in the film.  The Red Letter Media Test.  You can’t do it.  This character is the most boring thing ever.  And given how I’ve seen Bree Larson act about all this off-screen, it’s clear that this woman needs to get her head out of her ass.  She’s clearly enjoying the smell of her own farts way too much.

Lastly – why was Falcon made into the new Captain America?  Yeah, I know – diversity.  I get it.  This is not rocket science.  Disney is all about this shit now, so of course their next Captain America has to be a diversity thing.  Here’s the problem – Falcon isn’t a super-soldier.  He’s some guy.  Just some random guy with no superpowers of any kind.  I think back to that fantastic scene in Winter Soldier, where Bucky and Cap are fighting, and he takes his shield.  The scene was a FANTASTIC set-up for him becoming the next Captain America.  And that makes sense, because he went through the super soldier project with Hydra.  I guess we can chalk that up to another fantastic scene from Winter Soldier ruined by Disney down the road.  Like the line about Nick Fury and his eye with that fucking cat in Captain Marvel.

Those are just nit-picks though.  Overall, this was a great film.  A perfect way to bookend the franchise, and that’s it for me.  The next thing I do will be to make a Top 10 of my favorite MCU characters, and then check out.  Disney has taken this franchise as far as it can possibly go.  The only place now is somewhere stupid.  Jay on Half in the Bag made a great point about this franchise in their video about Comicon 2019.  Marvel should have taken a break for a while.  But Disney couldn’t do that. Then they’d miss out on that sweet Marvel movie cheddar.  And if Disney doesn’t get their money, the whole company will collapse.  Or the studio execs there might not be able to get another yacht.  The poor dears.  As for me, nope.  This franchise cannot go higher than this point.  We’ve reached the high-water mark for the MCU.  It’s all gonna be downhill from here.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Retro Review: Mobile Suit Gundam: 8th MS Team

Time to talk about something that only oldtaku like myself are nostalgic for.  Since FUNimation got the rights to the Gundam franchise, they’ve been re-releasing all the classics on Blu-ray.  It’s great.  One of the ones I was most excited for was this one.  There was a number of OVA series made after the success of Mobile Suit Gundam.  They range in quality, but the one that truly sticks out to me in terms of how good it was made is 8th MS Team.  It tells a gritty story about a unit of troops under a rookie commander, Shiro Amada.  This OVA has everything.  Gorgeous animation, a neat little story, good character writing, and the dub is excellent.  Back when Bandai was in their heyday.  Let’s talk about it.

The story goes that the One Year War has been raging for many months, and the Federation has sent some of their mass-production Gundam mobile suits to the front in Africa.  An untested commander, Ens. Shiro Amada is sent to be the 8th MS Team leader.  A job that he is excited for, but quickly realizes how deep he’s in it.  Meanwhile, there is a young woman he met in his first battle, and takes a liking to.  But the two stand apart as she fights for Zeon.  Can love win out over duty?  The answer may surprise you.

What makes this series work is the characters.  Like another original series OVA that we will be covering down the road, this series is centered firmly on its characters and their relationships as the series progresses.  We have Ens. Shiro Amada, a naive man who just wants to help.  There’s MCPO Karen, who is bitchy, but grows to have genuine respect for Shiro.  PO3 Eledore is just the best.  The guy is such an asshole, and an admitted coward, but he steps up when it’s necessary, and nobody has ears like him.  Then you have CPO Terry, who is something of a grandpa of the group.  Everyone has their fun qualities.

That brings us to the voicework.  As some of you know, I don’t watch anime subbed.  I have no problem watching foreign films with subtitles, but anime is the exception.  I watch this dubbed only, and this series is pretty fantastic.  All-around, the voice cast is exceptional.  Every role has so much personality.  It’s funny that some of the OVAs from way back when ran the gamut of dub quality.  This series comes from a time when anime was taking so much more risks than it does today.  Yeah, I’m a hardcore oldtaku.  Modern anime is full of so much trash.  Glitsy, glossy trash.

Oh, that reminds me – the animation in this series is glorious!  Every frame is just perfect.  So much detail is put into this series.  I’ve seen full-length films that aren’t this rich in quality.  There are so many little attentions to detail that go a long way with me.  Like when the cockpit of a mobile suit opens in space, oxygen comes out.  What’s more, this series was made during a time when cells were still hand-painted.  As such, this gives them an excellent use of light and shadow that modern anime just doesn’t have.  Digital painting is such a step backwards in so many ways.  Yeah, I know that it’s easier.  Groj, I’m making myself look like such a hipster right now.  It’s not my fault that the glory days of anime are behind it.  I didn’t kill the medium.  Same way I didn’t kill Disney when they abandoned 2D animation.

Another thing this series has is a gorgeous soundtrack.  There genuinely isn’t a single flaw that I’ve been able to find with this OVA.  Man, between this and Macross Plus, there was a golden age of OVA anime being some of the best stuff that was ever made that we will never see again.  A point in time when publishers would throw money at whatever and hope to Groj that it actually came back to them.  Sure, some of the most insane and terrible anime of all time was also produced around this time as well, but no one could say that it wasn’t unique.

If there was one thing I could say is a negative about this series, it’s that it’s so short.  But you know what, I’d rather a series be short and made flawlessly than overstay its welcome or its animation budget.  Part of the problem with Neon Genesis: Evangelion was that it overused its budget and towards the end absolutely ran out.

Overall, this is a glorious 12-episode OVA.  If you have any love of this franchise, and haven’t seen it, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out.  It’s gorgeous, well-written, well-acted, and has a bittersweet ending that will stick with you.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: Picard Looks Stupid

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Trekkie.  I have loved so much from this universe.  My favorite of the original series movies is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  The way they bring the narrative of the original crew to a wrap is just perfect.  Kirk has his hatred of the Klingons introduced in III brought to a resolution.  Spock has his conflict with the dueling parts of his nature (the human and vulcan) finally brought to a resolution as he realizes that even his species is capable of horrible treachery.  And Sulu has command of his ship and is starting his own adventure.  It’s great stuff.

My favorite series is, without a doubt, The Next Generation.  The first two seasons were definitely rough.  Same with my second-favorite series, Voyager.  And just like Voyager, by the third season it really picks up its stride.  That’s when the series becomes one of the greatest pieces of science fiction of all time.  The series has great characters, great character growth over the course of it, and it ends on a perfect note.  The last episode of The Next Generation is pretty great.  Picard finds out that he is inevitably going to have an incurable illness and the crew will grow apart.  However, after he is able to go back in time, he decides that because he can see what’s coming, he is going to make the most out of every day he can.  He shares a kiss with Crusher, and the look on his face is just fantastic.  Like he just had a dream come true.  Then, it all ends with him going to the weekly poker game the crew has and him being told that he was always allowed to come to the game.  Now he doesn’t have to be professionally distant with his crew.  He’s reached the point that they can be more than his underlings, but also his friends.

So when I heard that there is a new series coming out with Patrick Stewart back as the titular character, I was thinking – why?  What more could they do with the character?  It doesn’t help that Star Trek: Discovery sucked.  It sucked so bad.  It was spitting on the very concept of being a Star Trek series.  As underwhelming as Enterprise was, at the very least it felt like a series that belonged in this mythos.  Discovery was basically an action series, with some science stuff sprinkled about so they can pretend that they are doing this series justice.  Remember in the old series, when they would have complicated problems that involved people sitting in rooms and talking?  And then people talking to other people about the things they talked about?  Yeah, that was good stuff, because we liked these characters and they didn’t have the budget for huge set-pieces.  The limitations of being a show made it better.

The trailer for it finally dropped, and I gotta say – this looks like shit.  For starters, Patrick Stewart doesn’t look or sound ANYTHING like his old character.  He sounds like a confused old man.  What happened to his relationship with Beverly?  If he’s getting back in the action, you don’t think that Riker or any of his old crew would rally to him?  And the trailer makes this series look like another action flick with science stuff sprinkled in there so they can pretend that this belongs there.  We have some new chick character who is super duper tough for no reason.  Who is she?  I don’t know, and given how often I see this archetype these days, I don’t really care.  She made me think of the main chick character in Rogue One.  And we all remember how amazing and great that movie was, don’t we?

This trailer made me think of the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies.  The iconic sets we grew to know and love are gone, replaced with CG abortion.  Everything is so glossy and digitally enhanced that it doesn’t look like anything real is happening with real people.  Why does Picard look so confused?  Is this the illness from the original series?  Okay, that’s cool and all, but could you explain that?  He’s supposed to be getting back in the saddle, but if he is infected and suffering the effects of the illness we closed out the original series with, then don’t you think that he wouldn’t be in the shape he would need to be to command again?

Oh, and don’t get me started on the TERRIBLE fan service we are given.  Seven of Nine is back!  Except, her quirky mannerisms from being a Borg drone are gone.  I like that they don’t have her in that terrible catsuit anymore.  I always contended that she was sexier in uniform.  Now it just looks like Jeri Ryan playing herself.  We have a Borg cube being repaired.  Neat, I guess.  Then we close out the video with a cameo of Data.  Wow.  That looked so terrible.  The amount of CG needed to make Brent Spiner look like he fits that character made the whole thing just look terrible.  That was even worse than the Admiral from Rogue One.  I can’t believe how bad that looked.  Why did they do this?

Right – because they want to make the fanboys/girls cum in their pants.  I am so fucking done with all this nostalgia crap.  Never have I hated nostalgia more than when I watch Hollywood and the entire industry connected to it milk it for all its worth.  Meanwhile, they take one of my favorite characters and stick him in something he was never meant to be in from the beginning.  A CG-tastic action series with nostalgia fuel to make the sad lonely Trekkies cum in their pants.  If you can like this, good for you, but I think what I saw looked terrible.

Until next time, a quote,

“When I want my Star Trek fix, I watch The Orville.” – Mike Stoklasa

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: His Dark Materials: Season One Trailer

For those who didn’t know, one of my favorite book series, growing up, was the His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman.  It had great characters.  I liked Lyra, LOVED Will.  The relationship that develops between the two is just beautiful.  The third book, The Amber Spyglass is one of the only books that has ever made me cry.  The ending was so unnecessarily depressing, when it could EASILY have been remedied.  Lyra and Will were both clever young people.  They should have been able to figure their way out of the predicament of never being able to see each other again.

So you might imagine that when they made the first live-action film version, way back when, I was really hoping it wouldn’t be terrible.  I’d seen them ruin so many things I love before, but maybe this time would be different.  The girl playing Lyra looked the part.  Nicole Kidman looked and sounded just as insidious as I would have expected Mrs. Coulter to be.  Sam Elliot was flawlessly cast as Lee Scoresby, with that southern charm.  I liked having Kathy Bates voice his Daemon too.  That was great casting.  Oh yeah, and they got Sir Ian McKellan to voice Iorek Byrinson.  Everything seemed to be set for something great.

What we got was something that shit ALL over the source material.  For starters, Roger lived at the end!  Um…no!  He was fucking dead by the end of the first book.  That’s important for the plot of the sequels.  His gruesome death was a key point to how he is brought back into the plot in the third book at the world of the dead.  Next, the film didn’t end with Lyra stepping into another world.  That’s how it ended.  Her friend was dead and the base was destroyed.  She knew her enemies were hunting her so all she could do was run.  So she followed through the same window that Lord Asriel went through, not knowing where she would end up.  It sets up the next book, where she meets Will in the other world.

But the thing that bothered me most was the fact that they took one of the central plot points of the series and basically gave it the finger.  That plot point was the fact that the main antagonist of film was not the church, but this vague government entity call The Magisterium.  Phillip Pullman was not subtle in the fact that the true villain of the book was the church.  The whole series can be viewed as an analogue to the battle between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation.  That wasn’t an accident.  It’s important.  There are multiple characters representing the church throughout the series, and even angels who the characters interact with.

Pullman was making a very direct statement about how the church, religion, and faith are all corrupt, led by people who are evil and manipulative, using the brainwashed masses to do their bidding.  Lord Asriel stood as a beacon of rebellion against them.  And so the church did everything in their power to destroy him.  The third book has a massive battle between the church’s forces and the army Asriel builds, which ends with Metatron, one of the biggest angels of all getting killed, along with Asriel.  It’s implied that both sides are utterly destroyed.

When I heard that a trailer had dropped for a new series that HBO is launching for this novel franchise, I was wondering what they would do with it.  So I watched the trailer.  And…I’m pissed. Won’t get into the fact that Lee Scoresby has been turned into a none-Southern dude and all that southern charm has been sucked away.  Whatever.  Or that we don’t hear Iorek speak.  That’s weird.  He did.  It was him who gave Lyra the moniker Silvertongue, due to her ability to lie so well.

But the thing that has me pissed off is this – why is the villain the Magisterium again?!  They were a puppet government who was basically a branch of the church!  It wasn’t them who was ever referred to as the main antagonist.  It was always the church!  Why is it that no production company is willing to do this right?  Is everyone just too afraid to shit on America’s religion of choice?  Is no one willing to take the steps Pullman did by making it understood that religion and faith are the enemy of logic and reason?  Of course not.  Because you have the Christian right shitting bricks and getting just as pissed off as the regressive left would for their hot-button issues.  How either side can call the other “snowflakes” is beyond me.

I wouldn’t be so upset about this if it wasn’t a central conflict in the story.  Huge portions of this narrative revolve around the war between Asriel and the church.  Especially in the third book.  By then, Asriel has basically declared war on Heaven itself.  And the implication is that he wins, albeit by taking the highest angel down with him.  Why can nobody run with this?  You’d think HBO would have more stones than a big movie production company.  They can afford to take risks.  But no.  I guess they have to play it PC for the right, because fuck what Pullman was trying to make.

Not gonna watch it.  The books will always be better anyway.  A pity that Will McAvoy is having his talents wasted in this piece of shit.  He’s a phenomenal actor and could probably play a good Asriel.  If only he was in a better production.

Until next time, a quote,

“All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity.”  – Mary Malone, The Amber Spyglass

Peace out,

Maverick

It’s Okay to Admit You Were Wrong

A while back, a popular YouTube channel called Extra Credits made a video where they made the argument (and then tried to say in the Comments that this wasn’t the argument they made) that putting Nazis and terrorists in video games can lead to embracing those ideologies.  It was a video full of terrible logical fallacies, most notably the slippery-slope.  The video was just awful, but their response to people rightfully ripping their argument to pieces was just the best.  Being sarcastic, of course.  It was so stupid.

There’s something to be said when you can just admit that you were wrong.  To just say that you had a video you made, and the argument you made was bad.  However, as it seems Extra Credits has now embrace politically correct culture, they now have to embrace the part of that culture where they can’t just admit that they were wrong.  Instead, they have to double-down on their argument and make sure that they demonize everyone who disagrees with them.  Because so long as you can say that the opposition was wrong, that makes you correct!  Right?

The communication director for the channel decided to go to Twitter (where it seems like every person in the politically correct sphere goes) to tell the world just how wrong everyone who disagrees with them.  Their argument?  “We love losing all the bigoted subscribers.  Are you kidding me?  Less bigotry is great!”  The kid who is their communications director looks like he’s fucking 12, so I’m gonna talk down to him.  Kid, come onto my website and find me something to prove I’m a bigot.  Go for it.  Have whatever flunkies you probably don’t have (because no flunky would respect this dude enough to do what he wants) come on here and find where I have EVER supported Nazism or radical Islam (which is where the vast majority of modern terrorism comes from).

For that matter, find me proof that the people who made videos destroying your bad argument are bigots.  Like Upper Echelon Gaming or TLDR.  Show me how they are bigots.  They made reasonable arguments about how your points were bad, going through your video and citing sources to prove their points.  Couldn’t help but notice there wasn’t a SINGLE citation in any of what you did.  Everyone who thinks that your video was dumb is just a bigot.  You all have a real gift at being declarative.  Wouldn’t you agree?

You can’t just admit that your video was stupid.  You can’t just admit that you were wrong, that your argumentation was flawed, that you made huge logical fallacies to make a point that you provided ZERO evidence for.  It was the Anita Sarkeesian method of argumentation – make declarative statements without evidence, and when you are called out on it, demonize those who respond negatively.  The video even said in it that those who are cool with playing as the Axis forces in a World War II game are fascists.  Gee, another word whose meaning has been utterly destroyed by sheer overuse from a political ideology that just LOVES to beat a word into oblivion.

There’s something to be said for admitting that you’re wrong.  It’s a mature thing to do.  Admitting that you made bad arguments based on biased opinions and that you didn’t think through what you were actually saying.  These things happen.  But we live in an age where nobody wants to admit that they were wrong.  That they made something bad and to own that.  It’s why so many great content creators are a laughingstock.  Or went so far overboard that they became a meme and were forgotten about.  You can come back from just a simple admission of wrongness.  However, those who decide to double-down and stupid arguments just come off looked horrifically biased and unwilling to see the bigger picture.

I’ve admitted when I’m wrong in my life.  It’s happened a lot.  When I make bad mistakes and then have to own it and do better.  Now I’ve grown at my job and have become a very knowledgeable and thorough employee.  A pity no one told Extra Credits how this works.

Until next time, a quote,

“The word ‘fascism’ has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.” – George Orwell

Peace out,

Maverick

Your Rage-Bait is So Painfully Obvious (A response to VG24/7)

I’ve talked at length about the fact that journalism at this point is a tired old whore who will tell you whatever she thinks you need to hear in order to pay her for services.  In the online sphere, that means whatever gets peoples click fingers going.  And games journalism is basically the king of whoring out whatever for those clicks.  All the clicks are needed.  Sure, it means their integrity basically doesn’t exist, but it functions, so there’s that.  Now it seems that they’re stepping up their game in order to get the clicks coming even faster.  After all, article after article has come out demonizing gamers and those who are critical of gaming and they get attention.  Which means more clicks.

Which brings us to an article saying that game developers need to stop listening to fans.  An article whose goal is so clear – rage-baiting.  They want to get people’s rage going, which will get responses, which in turn will get clicks.  It’s not even subtle what they’re doing.  But, this topic is stupid enough for me to take the time to really go into it.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

Don’t get mad, there’s a bit of hyperbole in that headline

Pathetic attempt to take shots at themselves for their deliberate choice make a title that is rage-bait.  Please.  You knew what you were doing, and it worked.  People are talking about it.  I’m talking about it.  But I’m not gonna take the bait.  I’m actually gonna respond to the stupidity on display in a constructive way.

BioWare has a lot to answer for, basically. Mass Effect 3 feels like ground zero for toxic fan entitlement. I’m sure the developer was just trying to do the right thing, but it changed the ending of its game due to negative feedback, bending its creative vision to pander to the baying masses.

You know, this point might have SOME level of a decent argument if it weren’t for the fact that stuff came out about the ending to Mass Effect 3.  See, EA was pressuring Bioware HARD to get the game out in 2012.  A console generation was coming to an end and they didn’t want to have to compete.  Not to mention that the time frame they were aiming for put them ahead of the competition.  As such, Bioware had the ending written by one guy and they accepted the first draft as the final one.  For a studio who had had teams of writers working on all the parts of the game to mesh everything with player choice, it strikes me as a little odd that you’re defending a game that had a bad ending that Bioware knew was bad.

This wasn’t people making them compromise their vision that they thought out and truly believed was the best.  It was EA doing what EA does and forcing Bioware to compromise their vision, which in turn had them redo the ending to try and save face.  Granted, I hate the revision, but at the very lease I see where it’s coming from.  Your point would be better if Neil Druckmann took out India lesbian from the sequel to The Last of Us: Part II because of all the conservatives railing about it.  And this isn’t even the end of the false-equivalence.

Things are often cut or changed. Some things don’t work. Some things work better than expected and are expanded upon. Nobody wants to release a bad game. Nobody wants the ending of their critically-acclaimed sci-fi trilogy to be ill-received.

Well, Bioware made a really bad decision in letting themselves get bought out by EA.  Game companies make bad decisions all the time.  But EA put their boot down and Bioware was stuck.  I have some level of sympathy for what happened to Mass Effect 3.  Since every other part was so carefully crated to accommodate all the decisions the player made, can you not see why people would be so upset that the ending totally throws everything in the trash?  I can’t be the only one who notices this.

Part of the issue here is how our industry feeds into this entitlement. Whether it’s PlayStation saying it’s “for the players” or it’s Xbox head Phil Spencer saying stuff like, “Games and gamers together now have the sheer magnitude to be a significant unifying force for the world,” whatever that means, our industry goes out of its way to say the customer is always right.

Um…are the basics of supply and demand just an illusion to you?  The customer is always right.  If you want to have an industry thrive where the goal is entertainment, then you have to entertain.  It’s pretty simple.  You entertain the masses and they buy your product.  If you start giving them sub-standard products, they won’t buy them anymore.  One of the products that gaming sells is narratives.  So if you have a product built on narrative quality with understandable narrative rules that the universe you created follows, and you finish the series by basically shitting on the rules and making it so that the cornerstone of your franchise – player choice – is thrown out the airlock, what makes you think that critical feedback will be positive?

This wasn’t a case of fans not getting some deeper meaning.  We know now that Bioware was in a corner so they just threw something together at the last minute.  Makes me wonder what could have happened if Bioware had been given the time and the game would have come out in 2013.

Metal Gear Solid 4 – the worst game in the series – was a game for the fans. People hated Metal Gear Solid 2 at launch because it forced you to play as floppy-haired newcomer, Raiden, instead of Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 4 put players back in Snake’s sneaking boots, but the game was basically an extended bit of fan service.

Dude, that wasn’t the fans’ fault.  It was Konami’s.  Are you just completely unaware of the ugly relationship between Kojima and Konami?  It destroyed his last project.  Konami wanted MGS4.  Kojima never wanted to make a sequel after 1.  His being forced to do so was consistently the studio he was tied with forcing his hand.  It’s why he’s cut loose so hard for his next project, to make it something so radically different.  That game was Kojima just putting something out there to please his benefactors, they wanted it to just be fan service, the video game.

Elsewhere in the Bad Place, some gamers actually petitioned Obama to get DmC pulled from shelves because they wanted a traditional Capcom sequel and not the Ninja Theory reimagining: “Dear Mr. Obama: As a consumer to the Video Game Industry there is one Video Game that has caused a lot of controversy over the past few month’s,” the petition said, grammatical errors and all. “The name of the game is DmC: Devil May Cry made by Ninja Theory and Capcom.

Yeah, there is the cringe-y shit like that.  But there are also petitions to get rid of Rotten Tomatoes for shitting on DC movies.  You know, because they have almost-universally sucked.  Two good movies in an ocean of shit.  That’s impressively bad.  This shit is everywhere.  You notice, it didn’t work.  The game was still published like always.  It’s just that a sequel was never made because the company who owned the IP decided to take it back and Ninja Theory has gone indie because they didn’t want to deal with publishers.  What’s your point?

Then there’s Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game taken down by gifs. Development focus was on creating worlds and learning how to use an entirely new engine that isn’t well-suited to RPG development. As such, the facial animations suffered and people took the piss in gifs. Back in the day, it was a given that RPGs didn’t look as nice as other games because of the scope. Nowadays, everything looks nice because developers want their games to look good in screens, rather than communicate what makes the games special. BioWare’s next game, Anthem, looked incredible, at the expense of everything else. It appeared to be a direct reaction to that negative feedback – those viral gifs of goofy character expressions.

There is a LOT to unpack here.  Mass Effect: Andromeda was not destroyed because of the bad facial animations and the gliches.  It was destroyed partially by that, but more because the story was poorly written.  The characters were terrible.  The voice acting was bad.  There were political messages blatantly shoved in there just for fan outrage because Bioware does that now.  It’s weird.  It was a bad game.  There were stories about that too that you could easily have found if you knew what research is.  But you don’t.  You just find the biggest click-bait articles and parrot their talking points.

The development team behind that game couldn’t make the engine work for what they wanted to do.  There was no set path for the game months before it came out!  Months of work and people didn’t know what the fuck they were making.  A problem which, by the way, Anthem suffered from.  That game had no clear vision for what it was trying to be.  That big, beautiful demo released at E3 a couple years ago was made from whole-cloth and reflected NOTHING of the final product.  The game was a victim of false-advertising and EA’s bullshit.

Why is this guy so incapable of knowing the context of ANYTHING?  It’s bizarre.  Oh right, this is all click-bait.  It’s rage-bait.  It’s meant to get people riled up.  I forgot for a bit there.

Look at any online game community and there’s always someone complaining about how their character isn’t strong enough, or how the character who can counter their hero is too strong. There will be dozens of posts about how their favourite weapon doesn’t do enough damage, or how another weapon is OP. There will also be another player somewhere typing out the exact opposite.

Wait, what?  How is people bitching about a narrative in a game equivalent to a game having balancing issues?  That isn’t a creative freedom issue.  It’s a gameplay one.  And if your goal is to have a game be marketable online to masses, you have to balance it.  Otherwise, it isn’t fair to other players.  How does this tie in at ALL to your points made above?  Narrative creative freedom is one thing, but this is basic game design stuff.  Companies need feedback fro stuff like this.  Otherwise the game will suffer for it.

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Henry Ford around the dawn of commercial motor vehicles: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” People are generally afraid of change. New ideas always get a bit of pushback – it makes me worry whether this environment of fan feedback development is holding back triple-A game development from reaching its true potential.

What true potential?  You haven’t defined anything.  You’ve just taken talking points that other articles have had and put them in your article, and act like your point has been made for you.  Generally, gamers like change.  We want games to be new and unique.  New IPs instead of the same old games made over and over again.  It’s why Indie titles get lots of attention now.  It’s why you have AAA developers working for Sony pushing narrative boundaries.  Because people are saying we want something good.  And generally they are.  Sony especially has a pedigree of quality to their work in the last few years that is really refreshing.  Games that push narrative boundaries, but never to the point where you break them.  Push as far as you can, then let the dust settle from the outrage communities and see what happens.

See, plenty of people were noisy about the lesbian relationship in Neil Druckmann’s latest project.  Hell, the social justice crowd came out against it because it’s almost a guarantee that India lesbian is dead by the time we get to where the gameplay portion of the demo at last year’s E3 picks up.  But they will still play this game because the first entry was amazing and the gameplay in this one looks slick as fuck.

Making a product for the masses means you have to take a measured approach if you’re gonna push boundaries.  Push them too far, and you drive people away.  That’s how it is with ALL entertainment.  Movies, TV shows, anime, whatever.  It all has the same rule – do new things, but don’t make new things a total aside.  You expand things over time.  Fan feedback isn’t killing that.  But since the writer of this article was just trolling for clicks anyway, it isn’t like he cares.

Until next time, a quote,

“People tend to blame the news for spreading all this fear.  As if there’s no market for it.” – Doug Stanhope

Peace out,

Maverick