Credit: 2K Games

Fan Favorite XCOM: Enemy Unknown Gets a Sequel

Welcome Back, Commander Fresh off the latest expansion pack released for the Civilization spin-off Beyond Earth, Firaxis and 2K games have released a brand new trailer over at IGN announcing the sequel to their 2012 alien fighting strategy game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Enemy Unknown itself, being a revival/remake of the original 1994 title that started the […]

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Top 5 Film-Worthy Spider-Man Stories

Since it’s been publicly announced that Marvel’s poster boy is officially coming home, Spidey fans the world over have been spending the last couple months salivating at the possibility of seeing the iconic superhero reclaim the prominent spot he held in the world of film during the early to mid 2000s.
Many Marvelites have been wondering just what the house of ideas has planned for the integration of the Spider-Man franchise into their world-shattering, all-the-money-making Cinematic Universe.

Well, as we here at Plarko make no secret about lovin’ us some Spidey-Man, no matter what context he appears in, we’ve been wracking our brains with that question as well, (occasionally to the point where it haunts our dreams.)

(Some of those dreams are weirder than others.)

Our weird, weird dreams.

So, to finally give an official word on the matter, and assuage the red and blue clad voices in our heads, I’ve been tasked with combing through Spider-Man’s storied history and figuring out which of the many, many spider-tales would work best in a film adaptation.

(Full disclosure: When ideas for this list were first shot around, Civil War was the one that got the most mentions, but it won’t be included because he’s already going to be in that.)


Channing Tatum As Gambit

Talking about casting choices is one of my favorite things to do. People have been dissing this choice since the rumor first leaked and now that it has been confirmed, people have been blowing up my Facebook newsfeed with statuses about this choice. I was one of those unhappy with the choice of an on-screen stripper playing one of my favorite mutants, but as I thought about it more, the more the choice grew on me. I know, I’m taking a different approach with an article about casting choices. I like to change things up once and a while.

Most fans that I have spoken to agree that Taylor Kitsch was not cut out for the role in that train wreck of a movie that was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” While he was far from the worst part of that movie, he certainly did not do justice to the Ragin’ Cajun. My biggest complaint had to be his accent. I’m quite secure in saying that one of Gambit’s powers is not the superhuman ability to fail at maintaining an accent. He went from vaguely Southern, to a splash of Cajun, back to vaguely Southern mixed with French, then landed on a solid Midwestern accent. It was very distracting and took away from his portrayal of the character.

Now, one thing I know Channing Tatum will nail will be the accent, which eliminates my biggest complaint of the previous on-screen portrayal. Tatum is from the south and naturally has a Southern accent that he alters to sound more Midwestern. Also, much like Remy LeBeau, Tatum grew up in the bayous near the Mississippi River, so he can bring his background to the character and add some authenticity. That is important, since LeBeau is very proud of his Southern heritage.

Appearance is another factor to consider. Tatum is considerably larger in build than Kitsch, but Gambit has been drawn both ways, so either physical representation would be accurate to the character’s appearance. Kitsch fit the more svelte image, while Tatum fits the broader, bulkier image. Gambit in Exiles, and even some traditional “X-Men” artwork, he is shown much broader than Kitsch’s on-screen representation.

Tatum is known for being physically imposing, so he would fit the broader depictions of the character. Especially, if they are following the Age of Apocalypse storyline with the upcoming “X-Men” movie, since Gambit is transformed into Death, one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen, who is quite large and imposing. I mean, he is Death after all, a character with a pretty intimidating presence, which Tatum would convey well.

The only thing that makes me a little nervous is looking at Tatum’s past roles. He has typically played a jock-type funny man with a heart of gold, something Remy LeBeau really is not. While Gambit does his fair share of wisecracking, he is far from the jock of the “X-Men” universe. I guess I will just have to see how it turns out like everyone else. There is one thing for sure though, it can’t be worse than “Origins.”


5 Alternative Casting Choices for Aquaman

Yes, I’m a little late to this recasting party, but I have been discussing this with my friends recently, and realized I needed to put to words what we have discussed.

Jason Momoa. Beautiful, dark, and dangerous (in appearance and roles). I love this man endlessly; he is my  Khal after all. Momoa as Arthur Curry though? Not really who I pictured. Do I think he can do it? Yes. Do I think he is the best man for the job? No.

I think he is a talented actor, but I think there are other options out there that are better choices. So, here is my list, in no particular order:


1. Charlie Hunnam

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.17.31 AMPhysically, he is spot on. Tall, imposing, sculpted, and blonde. He looks like the perfect warrior of the sea and he has shown that he can back up that warrior appearance with his acting. He is fierce, protective, and family driven in “Sons of Anarchy” and he was a fierce, intelligent warrior in “Pacific Rim.” Those are all key elements that make up Aquaman. From his past roles, we know that he can convincingly play the warrior/defender role, and that is a huge part of Arthur Curry’s personality.


2. Alex Prettyfer

peeta02Alex PettyferHe is the ideal person to play if this Aquaman story documents Curry’s earlier years. Alex Prettyfer has played tortured, young characters, like his role in “Beastly,” so he has experience with characters that have pasts that aren’t all that pretty and happy. Prettyfer plays a nice mix of moody and strong without crossing over into the sometimes overly dramatic “Batman pout.” Meaning, he shows how his past has impacted him without coming across as a moody man-child. He would only be my pick if the writers and director chose to tell Arthur Curry’s story from a younger age.


 3. Anson Mount

The Paley Center For Media's Annual Los Angeles BenefitNow, every list my I end up coming up with while talking to my friends usually ends up with a slightly wild choice. This is that wild choice. While he is a bit older and way more brunette than the traditional Aquaman, I still feel that he would do a great job. Mount’s role as Cullen Bohannon in “Hell on Wheels” showcases his ability to pull of the warrior aspects of Curry’s personality. When his family is killed, he sets out for revenge, which would translate well to Curry’s need to defend the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. If the storyline follows the characterization introduced by Peter David in 1993, Mount’s performance as a slightly unhinged, revenge-driven man would work so well with this darker Aquaman. Also, Mount’s rugged looks would work if the story uses David’s newer look rather than the classic, clean-cut appearance. Personally, I think David’s Aquaman would be more interesting cinematically than the traditional Aquaman we would expect.

 4. Alexander Skarsgård

alexander-skarsgard__140110230615-275x391He might be my top alternative pick. He obviously has the look (tall, blonde, and built), and he comes from the gifted Skarsgård clan, meaning he carries quite a bit of talent as well. His time as Eric Northman on “True Blood” has shown that he has that fierce, protector thing down, as well as a tender side, fitting Aquaman’s major personality traits. Now that “True Blood” is over, Skarsgård has the time to commit to launching a new character in a new franchise, and it is clear that he has leading man capabilities, just maybe without his super long vampire hair this time.


 5. Jensen Ackles

jensenOkay, so this one is a little weird too. Yes, he is off physically (shorter, brunette, and a little older looking), but I think his personality fits very well with the role of Aquaman. His very popular role as Dean on “Supernatural” has shown that he can play a character that has a strong sense of family and will go to hell and back (literally) for those he loves and cares about. Curry also feels a strong sense of family and a need to protect, so Ackles’ time as Dean will translate well. Unfortunately, his busy schedule on “Supernatural” will keep him from joining a huge comic franchise for a while.


Why Miles Morales Should Be Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man

Marvel recently landed the deal that fanboys have been lobbying for the last half decade: bringing Spider-man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (reportedly for free). Having Spider-man fighting alongside Captain America, Iron-man, Thor and the rest of the Avengers feels like a homecoming of sorts, but the unfortunate effect of his existing film career may create some complications. In other words, Sony kind of messed things up.

Say what you will about the first Spider-man trilogy, the true offender is the Amazing series. While I was in the minority for liking the pair of Andrew Garfield entries, the fact that Sony rebooted the series is the true crime. This leaves Marvel with a precarious situation. Do they dare reboot again? Will audiences detract from having to sit through yet another origin story?

A perfect resolution would be using Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker.

Miles Morales as Spider-Man

For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Miles Morales is the current Ultimate Universe version of Spider-Man; a 13-year-old kid from Brooklyn who takes on the Spider-Man identity after Peter Parker’s death. 11 months earlier, Miles developed spider powers of his own after he was bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. A year later, struck with grief at not helping Peter Parker before his demise, Miles decided to follow his philosophy — with great power comes great responsibility — and so continues his legacy.

While Peter Parker was an integral part to Morales’ rise to hero-hood, the MCU could write in a new back-story. As easily as they supplanted Tony Stark as the creator of Ultron, so too could they nominate another hero to mentor the young Spider-man.

Why would this be a huge move?

1. Avoid Repetition

Spider-man Reboot: Tobey vs AndrewWe have all seen Uncle Ben die (twice actually). We don’t need to see it again. We don’t need to see nerdy Peter Parker coming of age and overcoming his shortcomings as a socially inept teenager. Marvel has a popular and well-received alternate in Miles Morales that deserves a shot at a movie of his own. After five Peter Parker films, how differently could Marvel do his story?

Additionally, the introduction of a new character would sever all confusion with the other series. Past events and villains that Peter Parker encountered in Spider-man and Amazing Spider-man would be more easily forgotten. It would allow the new Spider-man to come into his own.

2. Avoid Storyline Inconsistencies

This is a shoot-off of the last point, but if Marvel wanted to avoid a Peter Parker origin, they would need to establish Spider-man in the MCU with a past. That past would have conflicted mightily with the events of Avengers. How wouldn’t NYC’s #1 superhero not be involved in protecting the city from the alien attack?

Conversely, that New York attack served as an “outing” of sorts for all superheroes. This wouldn’t make sense if there was a web-slinging crime fighter on the loose that the Daily Bugle covered relentlessly.

The inconsistencies wouldn’t unravel the universe, but their inconvenience is undesirable.

3. Showoff Marvel’s Progressiveness

In stark contrast to DC, Marvel has been somewhat conservative with their properties. DC set the bar by announcing a slate of character solo projects that revolves around a woman (Wonder Woman), a minority (Cyborg), and casting a gay actor in the role of an old stalwart (Flash). No one batted an eye.

Recognizing the progressiveness, Marvel responded with Black Panther and Captain Marvel, but their moves look more reactionary than proactive. If they make a move to cast Spider-man as the black and Latino Miles Morales, they will show their dedication to diversity.

Race relations aside, Marvel has been very safe with their lead characters up until now. They had the chance to kill off Nick Fury in Winter Soldier, but chickened out in the third act. The only other recurring character that suffered a death, Agent Coulson, was later reincarnated on television. Marvel Studios doesn’t want to alienate audiences by doing things that create distance, but the double-edged sword is that they can create apathy (which can be equally dangerous). Marvel could really shake things up by doing the unpredictable and give audiences something truly daring, a non-Parker Spider-man.

4. Comic and Merchandise Sales

miles_morales_comicsThe bottom line may be much greater if Spider-man were given to Miles Morales. For 14 years, merchandising tie-ins to the five cinematic releases were all based on Peter Parker. Another Parker incarnation would just mean more of the same crap.

If Marvel decides to go with Morales, the door is open to a whole new line of toys, clothes, and lunch boxes. The movie will be only four years removed from Amazing Spider-man 2, so all the new Morales toys can be added to existing Spider-man collections without any duplicates.

The move would invite a drove of new comic fans back to the books as well. Those unfamiliar with Morales’ character would be eager to read up on the story lines that inspired the move.

Miles Morales 2018

We have three years before the Spider-man solo movie hits theaters, but he will likely cameo in an early installment of the MCU. Let’s hope the studio does something special and delivers a unique cinematic experience instead of the same old Spidey that we’ve come to expect in the last decade and a half.

Who do you think the new Spidey should be?


Who Can Beat The Hulk?

If there is one chink in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is their handling of the Hulk. Not only was his MCU solo project underwhelming, but when audiences got a Hulk they cheered for (in Avengers), Marvel did nothing to build on him. One of the biggest reasons for this inaction is most likely the Hulk’s all-too-powerful disposition that has been established. Why is that a bad thing? Well, just who can beat the Hulk?

Over the years, Hulk’s powers have swelled to a point where he has become near immortal (if not, totally). What fun is a character that always wins and overcomes every obstacle? In 2003’s Hulk, the hero faces off against the military, the Absorbing Man and Josh Lucas – all of whom he defeats with ease. In 2008’s Incredible Hulk, he takes down the military, the Abomination and his inner demons with the same level of effort. Good movies create good conflict. Neither did this. Throughout both films, audiences never feared the Hulk may lose. He was too unstoppable.

In 2012’s Avengers, things got much more interesting for Hulk. He was less a protagonist than a weapon unleashed against an alien army and a Norse god. But did any of us worry about his well-being? Maybe we were concerned that he would fail to get the job done, but we all knew Hulk himself would come out unscathed. Avengers even added to his invincible mythos when Bruce Banner describes his ill-fated suicide attempt.

As Marvel gears up for future phases that involve more cosmic and magic powers, there is hope for a Hulk scenario that will appease writers and fans alike: a world where Hulk can be defeated. This will create plot lines that are more exciting (less predictable). So exactly how can that be done? Who can beat the Hulk?

How To Beat The Hulk

Keep Calm

hulk-keep-calmHulk is a gigantic rage beast whose strength increases proportionally with his level of anger. If an enemy has any chance of taking him down, they would need to confront him in low- or no-rage mode. Even at his weakest, though, Hulk can lift 100 tons. So the likes of Captain America, Wolverine, or Daredevil aren’t going to contend for more than a few seconds.

The best one could do is surprise-attack Bruce Banner, but they better act swiftly. As soon as the Hulk monster is triggered, the rage will come on fast and strong. Whoever pissed him off better be ready to counter the attack if he didn’t neutralize it first. Once Hulk reaches full rage, he would be unstoppable for any terrestrial hero.


hulk-vs-strong-guyThis would be a tricky tactic, because it would require an opponent that can withstand the Hulk’s blows. In theory it could work. If an opponent like Sebastian Shaw or Strong Guy could spar with Hulk in a way that doesn’t aggravate him and make him angrier, there is a chance they can draw him into a down-cycle. Then they can unleash the kinetic energy stored during the fight upon Hulk when he is at his “weakest”.

This theory would be tough to swallow, however, as Hulk would inevitably get angrier as the fight progressed. This would make him angrier, more powerful, and more unstoppable. It would take a very controlled set of circumstances to pull this tactic off.


hulk-magicHulk has susceptibility to powerful magic but also has shown the ability to adapt to new situations. He’s exhibited the ability breathe underwater, to survive in space and to resist natural forces that should destroy him. If a sorcerer like Doctor Strange were to use dark magic against Hulk, there is a risk in making him angrier and thus stronger. Even if magic were used to transport the Hulk into the sun or a black hole, he may not necessarily be destroyed. He can be trapped in a limbo like state, getting angrier and angrier, waiting for his chance to return and exact revenge.

Think Outside This Dimension

hulk-never-createdA being who resides outside of the third dimension can hand Hulk his ass. One thing that Hulk is bound by is time and space. He, like most, is trapped in this existence. A being with the ability to slip through time and space would have perfect evasive capabilities and better potential to counter-attack. Infinity and Eternity are two cosmic characters that would demolish Hulk’s existence.

I suppose any character would have a chance if they were graced with the ability to time travel. Think Wolverine in Days of Future Past. The character would just need to go back in time before Bruce Banner became Hulk and stop the accident from occurring. Then no rage monster to worry about.

Who Can Beat The Hulk?

With MCU’s commitment to a cosmic universe that introduces the likes of Thanos and Doctor Strange, the foundation for a more evenly contested Hulk battle enters the horizon. This may very well lead to a Hulk solo project at some point, but in the very least it should extend his story line past being the bouncer for NYC.


Fantastic Four Trailer Review (2015) – Awesome or Awful?

The much-feared Fantastic Four reboot is now a reality. FOX has kept a tight lid on this project for months (to the point that many wondered if the film was actually being made). Other than the initial casting news and a few tidbits of information along the way, there has been little for fans to cheer (or groan) about.

Fantastic Four Trailer Review

With Tuesday’s Fantastic Four trailer release, that all changes. The two minute release plays more like a teaser in the sense it serves up enough to get excited about while giving virtually nothing away. There are no glimpses of the superhero team jumping into battle. No close-up displays of superhuman ability. Instead FOX wisely takes the time to establish its tone. This doesn’t look like a movie that is being pushed into theaters just so the studio can retain the commercial rights. Instead, this looks like a careful re-imagination of the Marvel characters. Gritty, dark, brooding. This is not your traditional Fantastic 4.

Now say what you will about how this disrespects the legacy of the characters or how it ruins any chance that the foursome will unite with the Avengers in the Infinity Gauntlet story arc. If we just analyze this movie trailer on its own, we’ve got to admit that it actually, kinda, looks good. Could they have injected a superhero flick with good sci-fi? The cinematography draw comparisons to 2001 and Aliens. While that says nothing about the plot or script, the attempt to visually set the film in a genre other than the recent flurry of superhero films is applaudable in of itself.

The small appetizers FOX has served has been a welcome strategy. Probably a response to the casting outcry, but welcome no less. When properties like Batman v Superman and Avengers drop new info every week about their upcoming films, it might be a special treat to go into the theater on August 7th not knowing the whole plot.

For now, based solely on this trailer, the verdict is: Awesome.

What did you think of the trailer?

Yes, of course, I'm a big enough narcissist to put in a photo that includes me. 
(Photographer: William Amaya)

Anime Los Angeles 2015 Retrospective

For those crying out for the return of the most dashingly handsome anime convention field reporter this side of Walter Cronkite, cry no more! After about 2 weeks in between posts, I now bring you: Days 2 and 3 of my Anime Los Angeles coverage! Which I’ve decided to cram together with more thoughts on my first day and rebrand the whole thing as a “retrospective,” in a vain attempt to make this mess look slightly more professional.
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Credit: Anime Los Angeles

Anime Los Angeles 2015: Day 1

Throughout my long and extensive career as a hardcore, mega nerdy, super geek, I’ve taken part in many of the usual “traditions,” from midnight releases to collecting and hoarding fandom related merch, to intense debates on absolute nonsense, but the one right of passage for the perpetually locker stuffed that I had somehow managed to avoid was attending a convention.

Until a hypothetical idea between my friends and I became real, and I wound up getting on a plane to California.
And now, I’m here at Anime Los Angeles 2015, dressing up like an idiot in public. Continue Reading