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Thor: Ragnarok Review – Third Time Is The Charm

 

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The first Thor movie was only monumental because of certain circumstances that surround(ed)  my seeing the movie – a personal story. Mostly I floated through it.

The second movie was worse. I went to the cinema twice to see it – and fell asleep midway through both viewings. What made the second time worse was; I was there on invitation from one of my closest friends. He wanted me to meet his fiancé.

However, I couldn’t help myself. That movie was a snorefest; and its dark themes and shadows didn’t allow it fit too convincingly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Permit me to say now; Thor Ragnarok is Thor’s Terminator II: Judgement Day.

If you don’t know what that is, Google is your friend.

While you’re at it, you might also want to check out Ragnarok – the actual Norse mythology version. In that tale, Loki is the one who brings about the ruination of Asgard by way of his alliance with the frost giants and Fenrir (Hela’s giant wolf in this movie) and Sutr the giant with a flaming sword.

However, the whole story was reworked by Stan Lee and others for the comics – and then reworked for the movie version. For example, Hela is Loki’s daughter in the comics; she was promoted to be Odin’s for this movie. She and him were conquerors who started out to rule the universe. After conquering nine realms, Odin grew uncomfortable with her ambition and bloodlust and sealed her off in a prison with his life force.

As long as he (Odin) lives…

 

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Thor: Ragnarok begins with Thor in chains and in a cage, soliloquizing about how he got there and what the next thing for him is (hold your breath for who his cellmate is) and then, he gets into a sharp quick battle with giant –

And then, he returns to Asgard where Odin has become a wine-drinking, grape swallowing, massage-enduring buffoon (watch for Matt Damon’s cameo). He plays a game of Catch-The-Hammer mostly with himself – and then exposes the fraud.

In a lot of ways, Thor has been reconstructed to better fit into the MCU; better and more regular jokes, colorful scenes and finally, a movie in which Thor gets to show his physicality. He is a better match for Hulk in this round, and the battle is exciting. There’s a scene in which Hulk grabs Thor and wipes the floor with him the exact same way he did with Loki in the first Avengers movie – and Loki, unable to help himself, jumps up in the bleachers and yells ‘THAT’S HOW THAT FELT!’ and effectively blowing his own cover.

A star-studded supporting cast do well in this turn also. Tessa Thompson shines well as Scrapper 142 or the last surviving Valkyrie, Marvel’s answer for DC’s Amazons. She holds her own well – which makes all the ‘feminist’ equality speech by Hemsworth at some point moot. Jeff Goldblum is the stellar Grandmaster, and with the co-opting and retconning of the War World storyline into Ragnarok and making the Grandmaster king instead of The Red King, and making the gladiatorial battles The Contest of Champions (another Marvel storyline) the arena is set for the ultimate smackdown: Hulk VS Thor.

Karl Urban plays Skurge, the original Executioner – who appears here without his usual boss The Enchantress. Instead, he’s a disgraced Asgardian who believes he is destined for greater things and mans the Bifrost Bridge in Heimdahl’s self-exile. Totting two AK-47s which he calls ‘Dis’ and ‘Troy’ he ends up in a way quite similar to his comic namesake’s end. Watch for spoilers. Mark Ruffalo is a great Hulk but an even greater Banner – or maybe vice versa – depending on who you ask, but his presence is felt every time he shows up on screen, either as the puny human who hasn’t ‘come out’ in two years – or his Hulking counterpart.

 

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A few plot holes slow this movie down – but none more than the following; when Thor lands on Sakar he is ‘injected’ with an ‘obedience disk’ which also doubles as a Taser of sorts. He enters the arena armed with double swords which makes sense because years of depending on Mijolnir, but after being pounded well by Hulk, he is able to summon his thunder in spite of being without his hammer. I mean, this man’s eyes were literally white, lightning was running up and down his arms – and yet, he was tazed into unconsciousness. AGAIN.

In a surprising turn of events Loki doesn’t outshine Thor much this outing – even though Hiddlestone remains sharp as ever. Instead, it would seem Thor has been built up and made more compelling – and his character growth is something interesting to watch.

All in all – Ragnarok is a fun watch. Go see this in the cinemas, and wait patiently; there are two post credit scenes. This is no Winter Soldier, neither is it Avengers 1 – but it is a worthy entry into the Marvel box-office successes.

I’d gladly watch it again.

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On Logan: A Paper.

 

This Took Longer Than It Should Have. I Apologize.

 

 

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Maybe it has to do with the type of comics I grew up with.

 

Maybe it was the idea that heroes stood for more than themselves; heroes were a voice for people who couldn’t speak.

 

Maybe it was the escape it offered such that; whenever I was having a bad day, I could just reach for a comic – and like that, I’m gone away like so much magic dust. Maybe it is the realization that comics; like X-Men for instance, showed me a world where people were feared and hated just because they are different. A world freakishly like the one I live in.

 

Maybe it was the fact that I learnt the difference between a phrase and a clause; thanks to an Incredible Hulk comic.

 

Whatever the reason, I am a proud comic book lover.

 

Long before DC started to drop box office bombs with the frequency of a radio broadcast, I was discussing with a number of friends and wondering what it would be like when these guys came on to the screen. As a result, we/I watched EVERY on-screen adaptation of comic books, just to see if they lived up to the image the owners have consistently created in our/my head(s) for years.

 

Usually, there’s stuff to complain about. Very few movies have nailed it down – even the most ‘critically acclaimed’ of these movies get a whole lot wrong. And even judging them on their own merit; at worst they created a hot, fudgy mess (Dawn of Justice, any of the CW series), at best they create amazing stories (Netflix Daredevil, Batman Begins and so on).

 

Logan is one of the latter moments.

 

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There was cause for concern; obviously. The first two Wolverine films were (even now I am shaking my head as I write this) just something to pass the time. I doubt I saw either of them more than twice, definitely not up to five time collectively. There just wasn’t anything to see – apart from a train roof fight sequence from the second one. Nothing.

 

Then Hugh Jackman teased this:

 

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I wrote a piece then, talking about how I suspected they were going to adapt the Old Man Logan storyline from the comics, or at least come pretty close. The biggest issue with adapting that would be the fact that it was a universe-wide event; even though it happened in a Wolverine story, it affected multiple characters; characters 20th Century Fox do not have rights to. I really wanted to see how they would play that.

 

I mean considering what they did with Civil War

 

I saw Logan twice before attempting to put anything down about it, and this was the first and only post I made concerning that film:

I will not be writing a review of Logan – simply because I don’t have anything new to bring to the conversation. I will, however be writing a treatise on why it’s one of the most important superhero films ever made.

There was only one scene that made me unable to control the waterworks from my eyes; even though there was a girl I was trying to impress present.

The climax.

No, it wasn’t the fact that Logan was dying; anybody who’s watched more than five movies should have seen that coming. People like Wolverine don’t get to retire peacefully. Their deaths have to be as violent as their lives (you’d understand better if you’ve seen Shane or actually listened to that part in the hotel room scene).

He had to die.

What made me cry; what shook me to my fibre was when the not-so-little little girl said, “Daddy…”

Forget that she was built in a lab. Forget that she’s killed more people than you’ve had orgasms (wellllllllllll). Forget that she’s a violent, half-animal, I-can-talk-but-would-rather-stay-mute-cos-that’s-way-cooler, murdering mutant. In that moment, she was just a child about to lose her father.

And that, is the type of pain no healing factor, no matter how heightened, can heal.

Aloha, Logan.

Aloha.

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One of the pieces I read after the second viewing said ‘Logan is the Batman Begins of the Marvel Universe’ and I agree completely. What both films have in common is that they brought superheroes to our level. ‘Begins and Logan were not ‘superhero’ films, they were films that had a couple of superheroes in them. In other words, the story/plot/progression wasn’t based on superpowers, these are stories that could happen to anyone; the characters just happened to be heroes.

 

Take away Christian Bale’s costume and gadgets. Remove Logan and Laura’s claws and healing factors. Would we still have stories? Yes; with minor adjustments. For example, in Logan, we wouldn’t have Reavers chasing Laura and the other kids because they were mutants, they might just be child-traffickers trying to catch some runaway kids some high-end clientele have paid for. Bruce Wayne could just have been some guy who wants to clean his city, a well-trained martial artist. The crime had a human face; Falcone, even the ‘super villain’ Scarecrow was just an insane doctor.

 

Ordinary people in extra-ordinary circumstances. Just like you and me.

 

 

Logan is a fitting end to Jackman’s run as Wolverine; he has never been better and I doubt he can ever be. Patrick Stewart was at his telepathic finest even with his mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s (see the irony?) and the new girl, Laura aka X-23 was just…

 

In all the many, many mortalities in all the X Men films, none of them hit me like the death of Logan. Not because he’s my favorite X Man (well, till they find a perfect Gambit) but because it was human. This was not a superhero, mutant, claw-popping, accelerated healing factor rocking guy dying; this was just an old man who happened to have lived too long.

 

In fact, I was kinda happy for Logan.

 

Finally, he’s going to rest. I mean, he has the burden of outliving EVERYONE he’s ever cared about. He’s lost his one excuse for sticking around; Professor Xavier, so his life pretty much had no purpose from then on. Finally, this lonely and grumpy old man will have peace.

 

But, he had a daughter.

 

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Someone who knows she was built in a lab finds out she has some kind of tie to humanity; she has a father. A father who denies paternity – but a father nonetheless. And when, just when he’s finally accepted she’s a part of him –

 

They kill him.

Even now, putting down these words that have been hovering in my head for almost two months, my eyes still smart. Finally, an X Men movie I can not only enjoy; but relate to. Themes of friendship, responsibility, purpose, destiny keep going on, over and over.

 

And then, when you consider I have a little girl of mine…

 

As far as I’m concerned, Logan is a movie that belongs in the ‘How To Make A Superhero Movie’ corner of libraries, film schools – and whoever else archives stuff like that. Me?

 

I’m just thankful I’m alive to see stuff like this.

 

Now, who has some tissue?

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – A Review

 

Warning: Major spoilers ahead.

 

With Marvel these days, a sequel is a certainty.

 

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Scratch that. With ANY high grossing movie, a sequel is ALMOST a certainty. Why, word dropped only some time ago about a sequel to The Wedding Party. Who can blame them? The biggest reason (or the second-biggest) anyone puts money down to support almost anything is to make more money, no?

Therefore, a Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a no-brainer.

When I heard in 2013 that a movie adaptation of these characters was being made, my first question was ‘Which Guardians?’ I know I keep harping on this fact – but you should read a freaking comic.

There are two teams known as Guardians of the Galaxy. The original team created in 1969 by Gene Colan (don’t quote me) comprises different characters, some of who you saw/will see at the end of the second movie; Charlie 27 (Ving Rhames), Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Yondu (Michael Rooker; appears in both films), Adam Warlock (mentioned at the end of two) and so on. But as is usual, the whole thing was retconned for the movie(s). The Guardian team the movies are mostly about is the 2008 version.

In this sequel, the Guardians get in trouble because Rocket Raccoon (if he catches you calling him that, don’t say you read it here o) decides to steal a bunch of batteries they (the Guardians) were hired to protect by The Sovereign. On their way from the planet, they are attacked by their erstwhile employers, The Sovereign – but are protected by a mysterious man who calls himself Ego (Kurt Russell) (after the living planet in the comics) and turns out to be Star-Lord Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.

 

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That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film – that; and further exploration of the relationship between Yondu and Quill. We get to understand why Yondu has a soft spot for Quill and, more importantly, why Yondu decided to keep Quill for himself instead of delivering him to – as per his employment at the time.

The sequel is a good movie; refreshing humor and emotionally satisfying moments well put together. It is not as good as the first one, however, and a number of head-scratching moments further take away from the shine of this outing.

 

Head-Scratching Moment 1 – why did The Sovereign hire The Guardians in the first place? As seen further into the movie, The Sovereign are quite capable and vicious in their own right. Ayesha (also known as Her and Kismet from the comics) explained it as ‘each of the Sovereign are created to specific genetic codes. We are all special and therefore must be protected’ or words to that effect – but still.

 

 

Shallow excuse.

Head-Scratching Moment 2 – why did Ego tell Peter Quill about killing Quill’s mom Meredith? I know, the ‘good guy’ needs inspiration; usually delivered via rousing speech to remember what he is fighting for – but that?

Made no sense. AT ALL.

Look out for the coming of Adam Warlock, one of the original Guardians! Well, it’s an Easter Egg so pay close attention or you’ll miss it. And The Watchers…!

The sibling rivalry between Nebula and Gamora came to a quite disappointing end – and some of that doesn’t make sense either. Nebula attacks Gamora with a jet, crashes the jet and is trapped. Gamora carries a big-ass canon, shoots the jet into a hole, ‘has a change of heart’, climbs into the hole and rescues Nebula. WTF?

Call that Head-Scratching Moment 3.

The movie had some slow parts; dialogue that seemed irrelevant and went on and on – but lends to the overall shape of the movie. James Gunn’s strength as writer/director remains the ability to not take any of the on-screen happenings too seriously – and that translates well for the characters. Quill remains as fun as ever, Drax the unintentional/well-meaning brute and loudmouth, Gamora who looks and fights nothing like her comic counterpart, Raccoon who remains as annoying as ever –

And Baby Groot who steals every scene he’s in with childlike charm and baby cuteness.

 

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A good movie; definitely worth watching.

Guardians of the Galaxy is now showing in cinemas across the country.


Lẹ́bẹ́: E Don Come!

 

It’s Out Now! Click: http://okadabooks.com/book/about/lebe_first_cut/13423 and buy Lẹ́bẹ́: First Cut!

 

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Thank you.


Lẹ́bẹ́: The Synopsis.

 

An amateur boxer is put in prison for getting on the wrong side of a rich man and roughing up police officers. Of course, he is forgotten there. Sometime later, he does the cousin of a colonel a favor and the colonel gets him released into his custody as a companion for the Colonel’s cripple son. Unknown to the colonel however, his son was the protégé of a murdered hero and he has been searching for a replacement. The amateur boxer, in exchange for help finding his wife and child helps rid the streets of a new designer drug and in the process, learns what it is to be a hero.

 

Lẹ́bẹ́ is a street-level, crime-noir pulp magazine-type publication and will be available on OkadaBooks from Monday the 13th of March for five hundred naira (N500). Thank you for the support!

 

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Coming Soon: Lẹ́bẹ́

 

 

 

Do ‘New Beginnings’ Exist?

 

How much of the past do you leave behind?

 

An innocent man is pardoned by a General after nine years in jail for a crime he did not commit. He goes to work for the General as a companion for his cripple son, who has other plans for the ex-convict; save-the-streets-hero-type plans. Lẹ́bẹ́ examines the transition a street level amateur boxer has to make from tout to local hero.

 

 

Lẹ́bẹ́ is a three-part series that will be released monthly via OkadaBooks starting from March 2017.

 

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#BuyLebe

 

 


The Original DC Extended Universe Movie Line-Up

 

How I Would Have Planned The DC Extended Universe.

 

I think it’s pretty much fair dinkum to say so far, the DC Cinematic/Extended Universe is barely batting averages. I mean, we could forgive the error that Man of Steel movie was – but since then, things have been pretty much downhill, with the critical failure Dawn of Justice is, the beautiful mess Suicide Squad is, and the obviously-rushed forthcoming Justice League movie intending to force us to root for characters we barely know or give a shit about.

 

Honestly, I don’t have a lot of hopes for Wonder Woman.

 

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason Marvel is doing so much better; they have fanboys at the helm of things. Jeph Loeb is executive producer. Joe Quesada is also pretty much high up there. How about Avi Arad, Stan Lee – and a number of others? When you put people who know their stuff in charge of stuff they have been working on for years, stuff they have grown to love, you can hardly go wrong.

 

Anyways, so here’s me in the DCU executive producer’s chair. In other words, if I began from Man of Steel, what would a DC Extended universe of my creation look like?

Check this out:

 

 

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Man of Steel

I’m not particularly crazy about this one; there are a couple of things I would change (the ending, introduction of Lex Luthor/Bruce Wayne) but that’s fine. We can still make do.

 

 

 

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The Batman

A solo Batman movie would definitely be next. This would happen the same time as Man of Steel. Bats would hear about the arrival of an alien in Metropolis, but before he can investigate, Deathstroke arrives Gotham and is gunning for Batman. He leaves the alien issue and goes to battle the deadliest assassin he’s ever come across.

Tie In To Extended Universe: At the end, footage used as the excuse for the Batman vs Superman conflict will come into play here. Is Superman really out of control? What if he decides to take over the earth and blah blah blah – who’s to stop him? Superman takes objection to Bats M.O in Gotham. Battle lines are drawn. Luthor begins his plot to destroy Superman, and he gains an ally, somebody mysterious who points him to STARLABS. Cyborg cameo.

 

 

 

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Wonder Woman

Pretty much a Captain America: The First Avenger rip-off, but that’s okay. Where do you think Civil War came from? This will remain pretty much as is; except that it takes place BEFORE Dawn of Justice.

Tie In To Extended Universe: Darkseid will be introduced here – as a shadowy, mystic entity who just noticed Earth and is wondering if it is ripe for conquering. Aquaman/Superman cameo.

 

 

 

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Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice:

This will also remain pretty much as is; except for a much less convoluted plot, ridiculous elements and story-line, and a better defined bad guy. Doomsday is unleashed, he destroys half of Metropolis and kills Superman. Darkseid is revealed as Lex’s ally, he dispatches Steppenwolf on a mini-invasion of Earth.

 

 

 

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Suicide Squad

The aftermath of a world without Superman. Amanda Waller recruits her squad – and in the process, falls prey to Joker who wants Harley back. We take away the Enchantress as the main villain (shudders) and make Joker the bad guy. He’s gotten his hands on some kind of weapon of mass destruction and he’s threatening to blow up an entire island, He has a gang of minions and the Royal Flush Gang at his beck and call. Will the Squad stop him or join him?

Tie In To Extended Universe: Batman and Flash cameos – just as in the original movie. Flash’s is a bit extended though, he’s in the beginning (extended sequence featuring the capture of Captain Boomerang – similar to the Batman/Deadshot sequence) and in the end (Batman AND Wonder Woman recruit him). Some strange activity is going on around Superman’s grave.

 

 

 

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Green Lantern Corps I

The creation of the universe’s largest police force. Reckless pilot Hal Jordan and Vietnam vet John Stewart find employment with Danvers Flight Company. While on one of their test drives, the prototype fails and Jordan saves their lives with a dangerous maneuver. Suddenly, there’s a green flash of light and blah blah blah.

You know the story.

Tie In To Extended Universe: Darkseid’s activities have been stirring up some interplanetary energies and some Lanterns are sent to investigate. They engage with some straggling parademons – and then, John Stewart is dispatched to follow Steppenwolf’s forces. Meanwhile, Sinestro  switches sides to Darkseid because of a promise of greater power. He’s the bad guy for this movie.

 

 

 

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Justice League I

This will be the mashup to end all mashups. My Justice League will look pretty much like the one they have now – except I’ll have a Green Lantern, probably John Stewart in there as opposed to Cyborg. I know Snyder’s trying to remain true to the New 52 Justice League line-up – but let’s face it; Cyborg’s not much of a compelling character. He’s pretty much as useful as Hawkeye in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe – and that’s putting it highly. Cyborg was moved up from the original Teen-Titans roster, why that was done is beyond me. But anyways, This movie has the originals Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, John Stewart – and they are in a firefight. Steppenwolf’s forces have arrived and they are tearing the Earth apart. The Leaguers are in the fight of their lives. As they continue – a black-clad figure suddenly appears and turns the tide of the battle. It’s Superman back from the grave!

While the Justice League gathers around him – there’s a sudden flash of light.

Darkseid the conqueror has landed.

 

 

What do you think? Would you have done yours differently? Let us know in the comments!