Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Trailing The Competition?

"No, I don't like movies, I don't go to movies, most movies suck. So when someone asks me to go to a movie you know what I say? 'I don't like movies, I don't go to movies, most movies suck.'"

- Joe, News Radio

OK so people complain all the time that Hollywood has no fresh ideas and all they do is adapt and reboot existing properties (comic books, TV shows, Smurfs, Ameritrash board games). And they're right.


If there's one thing Hollywood is better at than ever before, it's movie trailers. Movie trailers, once the province of people waiting in a theater, are now the third-most viewed videos online (after news and user-generated content) so of course more attention is going to be paid to making them stand out and entertain in their own right. (In fact given that many official trailers feature advertising, an entertaining trailer becomes a source of revenue for the film rather than an expense to advertise it.)

Here, for example, is the Les Miserables trailer (2012). (Thanks to my friend Bryan over at Film Geekery for the send.)

Part of the brilliance of this trailer is specifically focusing on the Fantine character --- women tend to be fans of musicals; women are more likely to suggest to their husbands/boyfriends to go see this than vice verse. Even though the male leads are more important to the story (and have higher billing), by highlighting the female lead they're playing to their key demo better. 

NOW compare it to this trailer for Les Miserables (1998).

One of them gives you goosebumps and doesn't make you think of Simon Cowell. The other feels like a boring literature class in high school.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

REVISED Dominion Card List


So two years ago I posted a very casual Dominion card list on Whitleypedia. Several new expansions of the game have come out since then, so I thought it time to update my spreadsheet with the new information. It's also color coded for your convenience.

There are many other more thorough resources for Dominion (which I encourage fans to check out here) but that simple spreadsheet I posted two years ago constitutes about 15% of the traffic to this blog. SO in the interest of staying viable, here's the new spreadsheet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Final Frontier ... finally: Star Trek on Mad Men

So I have been wondering when they would finally make a Star Trek reference on Mad Men; I had long suspected that Kinsey would be the guy to do it, since they establish him as a sci fi fan in season 1 when he references the Twilight Zone

Given that Cosgrove has been writing science fiction, I thought they'd have him mention Trek but I guess not. 

In last night's episode, which featured the return (albeit not triumphant) of Kinsey, he's not only watching the show, but he's written a spec script for it. The bit about the Negrons and Caucasoids or whatever was a reference to this uniquely awful episode, "The Omega Glory," where Shatner delivers perhaps the most ham-fisted speech of his career.  

See in this episode, the Enterprise encounters space Americas (Yangs, or Yankees) versus the Chinese (Kohms, or communists). 

Well done, Mad Men!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Game of Thrones reference on 30 Rock

Proving ONCE again that 30 Rock is the smartest show on TV now.

See, it's funny because:

1) Grizz is reading Game of Thrones
2) At this point, with the character having died in the TV show a year ago, anyone who knows anything about the series knows that Ned Stark dies ...
3) ... but Grizz learns about it first from reading
4) It's a complete non sequitr

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Avengers: How The Last Became First

So I didn't post a review of The Avengers, because I thought it would be senseless: the movie was an ambitious project that exceeded even the highest expectations. The pacing, the writing, the acting, the action --- everything comes together nigh perfectly.

Now that the film has surpassed $1 billion worldwide, though, I wanted to weigh in on the issue:

During the comic book boom (late 80s-early 90s, incidentally when I was collecting), the Avengers were NEVER Marvel's signature property: they never occupied the same space in the business side of the Marvel world as their counterparts at DC, the Justice League, even though they were counterparts within their respective universes. Respectively, neither Captain America's or Thor's one title sold as well as the least-selling one of the four that Batman and Superman both had.

Marvel's biggest sellers during that boom were:

  1. The X-Men (notably Wolverine of course)
  2. Spider-man (who at one point was starring in five monthly titles: Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, Spider-Man, and Marvel Comics Presents)
  3. The Punisher (a symbol of the Modern Age of comics and a character long since left by the wayside)
Look at the 100 top-selling comics from 1991: 45 of them are X books, 21 are Spider-Man, and only ONE has an Avengers tie-in (Wonderman #1). Hell, even Ghost Rider was a bigger deal than the Avengers in those days, counting for seven of the top 100 that year ...

Not so much nowadays

... and big, world-spanning Avengers events (like Acts of Vengeance) were only initiated once Marvel had proven they could do the same thing in previous years with the X-Men (notably with Inferno). Not only were the Avengers never a huge deal, but none of their individual members were either -- except for the Hulk under Peter David and Todd McFarlane (later Dale Keown). But that was more a matter of the talent driving sales rather than the character, and at that point Hulk hadn't been in the team for years. None of the Avengers were cool. None. Of. Them.

Take this cover from The Infinity Gauntlet: the world-stomping crossover that defined much of the Marvel Universe in 1991, with Thanos the Mad Titan taking over everything. (Yes, he's the bad guy at the end of The Avengers.)

Yes, Captain America is in the front, but that's only because he was supposed to be the leader whenever all the superheroes got together and because Marvel was pushing his 50th anniversary that year. The featured heroes on this cover are Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Cyclops. OK you'll say "But Whitleypedia, Scarlet Witch is pretty big too, and she was an Avenger!" Yes, but that's because Scarlet Witch is also a mutant.

Hulk's pretty big, but again, mainly because of the popularity of the talent on his book -- and he wasn't an Avenger at the time. Notice how Iron Man and Thor are tucked waaaay in the back EVEN THOUGH Thanos was always an Avengers villain!

I imagine it took some negotiating to get even these two main X-Men included in IG, given that the X-Men franchise were so busy in 1991 with their "Mutant Genesis" to get involved with Infinity Gauntlet in any meaningful way. Marvel had just started a second X-Men title (creatively titled X-Men), which was the No. 1 selling comic book of all time. Given the current market, this record will stand forever.

8.1 million copies of this thing sold in 1991

So naturally when Marvel starts making movies in the early 2000s, they lead with their strongest properties -- X-Men and Spider-man -- but then by the time they've refined the process of screen adaptions, those two stories are pretty well played: everyone hated X3 and SM3, and were indifferent to Wolverine and X-Men First Class. And The Amazing Spider-Man, regardless of quality, will get overlooked this year between Avengers as Dark Knight Rises. ASM should have been a Thanksgiving release, well after the summer movie season but a month before The Hobbit comes out.

Justsomerandomguy illustrates:

So thanks to the success of the X-Men and Spider-man franchises, Marvel finally had the clout to try something more ambitious: a world-spanning team up on-screen like they'd been doing on the page since the Silver Age. And to do so, they tapped their benchwarmers ... who are now their star players.

A sign that the Avengers have become Marvel's top-tier property (beyond the movies naturally) is the current Avengers vs. X-Men series. When I was a kid reading comic books, the Avengers were NEVER cool enough to share a masthead with the X-Men. But nowadays, on his Twitter feed Stan Lee lists the X-Men last! So I guess this is an example of the last being first and the first being last.

OK second last before "etc."


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