So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #030: The Absolute Worst (PART 2!)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #030: The Absolute Worst (PART 2!)

Last week, I detailed half of my “all time worst” villain portrayals in comic book movies. No one attempted to fight me… yet. So, let’s roll the dice and do it twice! Here’s my top five all time awful comic book villains as portrayed on film.

And in case you missed last week? Well, sucks to be you. Loser. Read it here. (Sorry, normally I’m a pretty happy guy. This list just frustrated the bejesus out of me. And I don’t take that lightly. Jewish dudes love Bejesus.)

5. Jamie Foxx / Electro — The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Jamie Foxx, after proving his acting chops across the board with amazing performances in flicks like Ray, Collateral, and Django: Unchained was largely met with fanboy glee at the prospect of de-morting an often mostly goofy Spider-baddie. But, by the looks of it, Foxx showed up to set having accidently time-traveled directly off the set of In Living Color. Take the nebbishy grease stain of Jim Carrey as the Riddler, combine it with the mumbling/grumbling nuance of Tyler Mane as Sabertooth, and then drown it in incoherent CGI, and poof: Blacklectro. Foxx’s take adheres closer to the Ultimate version of the villain — which is a smart choice. But his distorted digitized growl, and third-act “death by dubstep” set piece was so dreadful (especially when paired with yet-another-what-the-hell appearance by the Green Goblin) it axed the whole Sinister Six franchise. I’d be sad about it, but Tom Holland is a superior Spider-Man, and Michael Keaton’s Vulture is one of my favorite adaptations of a villain to date. So, suck on those watts, Foxxie.

 

4. Oscar Isaac / Apocalypse — X-Men: Apocalypse

Speaking of weird blue CGI-mashed up wastes of time, we land on generically brown enough to give us points in diversity, Oscar Isaaac. On loan from the Star Wars universe, to take a big azure dump on another X-villain, Isaac’s En Sabah Nur en sucks nuts. With a costume that immediately drew comparison to Power Ranger’s Ivan Ooze, and a performance that frankly makes me sleepy even thinking about it, this version of Apocalypse managed to mangle a decent follow-up franchise to the original Bryan “Now Pen Pals with Kevin Spacey” Singer directed. Isaac underplays a villain who is mostly known to only speak in yelling in the comic series. And he’s given no favors throughout the film, as his misplaced accent-by-way-of-whatever-the-fuck-sounds-ethnic-ish delivers wet-fart after wet-fart throughout the film. Whether it was a bad script, bad costume, bad effects, or a little bit of all of it… by the end of X-Men: Apocalypse all I could hope for was a quick nuclear Armageddon so-as to not tip off future aliens discovering our remains the thought that this was how we were entertained.

 

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger / Mr. Freeze — Batman & Robin

Ahhhnold’s portrayal of the ice-hearted Victor Fries is brought to us by the same team that ruined the Riddler and Two-Face… and ups the ante to go gayer. Like, To Wong Foo levels of gay. With comedic pun-powers by way of Shecky Greenberg and the Borscht Belt Review. Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze is repetitious rapscallion whose only duty on set was to don whatever BDSM costume director Joel Schumacher was jonesing to see that day, and read off 5-10 cold-based puns the writers room from the Larry Sanders Show threw out from the night before.  Then, Joel would yell “Cut!”, the production crew would spirit gum icicles from It’s a Small World’s Antarctica on to pieces of the set and extras, and they’d roll camera just in time for Mr. Olympia himself to stare directly down to lens to a pant-less Schumacher before exclaiming “Ice to see you.”

Compare this to chilling voicework of Michael Ansara, over the design work of Mike Mignola in Batman: The Animated Series and their version of the character, and you’ll wind up like me; cold to the idea that two other portrayals could possibly be worse on this list.

 

2. Wes Bentley / Blackheart — Ghost Rider

Let’s go ahead and say that no one was ever going to be able to out-act Nic Cage is a movie where he transformers into Ghost Rider by cackle-laugh-cry-screaming, bug-eyed, directly into the camera for 45 seconds. But to have cast the weird emo-d-bag from American Beauty to phone in the same performance, but with CGI fart clouds and inverted irises as the nemesis to Cage is perhaps a thing of beauty. I could envision the executives now… as Cage describes their need to spend 12 million dollars to digitally burn him alive (after they convince Cage that they can’t afford the insurance to do it method like he wanted)… “But what about the rest of the cast, Mr. Cage?” And just as he’s about to call in a favor from John Travolta, Wes Bentley comes into the room — to remove the trash from the bins and check if anyone wanted a bagel or scone from downstairs — and Nic hangs up the phone. “You there, boy. I’m going to make you a star.” And with the remaining $12.75 left in the budget for the film, good old bag-cryer Bentley snarls and mumbles his way though another forgettable villain in what could have been a decent excuse for Nic Cage to scream a lot.

 

1. Ciarán Hinds / Steppenwolf — Justice League

I saved this top spot for an actor, who perhaps, is undeserving of my ire. Truly when asking nearly any comic book fan who might show up on this list, nary a one could even name Mr. Hinds. You’d then need to mutter “he was the voice of Steppenwolf in Justice League” for said fanboy to even register the thought that an actual human being lent anything to the “performance” of the bad guy that united the seven. Hinds’ Steppenwolf was given an unsurmountable task of being the harbinger of actual bad guy Darkseid in the DC movie-verse. Whereas Joss Whedon utilized Loki and an army of CGI-expendables to bring together the Avengers (which worked in spades, because, duh), Joss as would-be Cyranno could not convince Zach Snyder and his army of slow-fast-motion-mustache-erasers to replace the wooden non-starter that was Ciarán Hinds and his portrayal of an Apokolyptian war general.

It also helps that with all the money saved for the film’s “fully CGI villain, see, we can do it too, Marvel!” was spent instead removing mustaches and dyeing everything to burnt umber. Steppenwolf looks like a lifeless stand-in for final effects throughout the 82 hours the flick drones on. Combined with his creepy mewling of “mothaaaaa” every time a motherbox appears on screen, and boy howdy, do you wind up with something special.

Justice League was a trainwreck of a film, weighed down by a metric ton of problems. For many it was the brooding. Or the sepia-toned-everything. Or that as hawt as Jason Momoa was, is, and forever will-be… no amount of his bro-screaming was going to cut through the cynicism. Or maybe it was Henry Cavill’s weird CG-baby mouth. But for this writer? It was mostly shouldered by the worthless antagonist in the film. And while Movie-Steppenwolf isn’t that far off from his comic counterpart (both are generically forgettable also-rans) here he was shouldered with being a threat worthy enough to pull together arguably the most recognizable team of superheroes (plus Cyborg) in order to save the day. And what exactly did Hinds give us? Sleepy British snarling. The exact same sleepy British Snarling Professor Lupin gave us in Wonder Woman. So close, in fact, methinks that it’s likely Snyder wanted David Thewlis to reprise his Ares for the League, but after looking over his budget declared “…then get me his non-union Mexican equivalent!”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #029: The Absolute Worst (PART 1!)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #029: The Absolute Worst (PART 1!)

With the litany of comic book characters now living second lives as movie characters, we nerds now have an ability to truly start compiling the bests and worsts translated from pulp to digitally projected bric-à-brac. This week, I’d like to do what all great bloggers of the day do: make a top ten list to anger my readers.

So, here is my definitive (for now) list of The Absolute Worst Portrayals of Super-Villains in Movies.

The rules: We’re going to set the line at all comic book movies debuting after Superman (1978). We’re judging the main antagonists in the film (Lucky for you, Eddie Izzard in Mystery Men). My criteria takes into account the overall quality of the film, the on-screen portrayal, the distance between the on-page characteristics of the baddie, as well as how they matched against their nemesis throughout their on-screen performance. Sound good? I don’t care. My list, my rules. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #029: The Absolute Worst (PART 1!)”

Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist: Joe Rubinstein

Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist: Joe Rubinstein

We were able to get together with a legendary comic book creator recently. Joe Rubinstein began his career in comics as a teenager in the 1970’s. He has been an excellent and prolific inker for a very long time.

He has worked on some truly important pieces of comic history including the original Wolverine limited series written by Chris Claremont and laid out by Frank Miller; Joe did the finishes. He was the inker on Infinity Gauntlet. An interesting claim to fame for Joe is that he was the inker for 99.9% of the character pin-ups for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe over at twenty year period.

In 2016, Joe was inducted into the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame which is attached to the Inkwell Awards.

Joe is also a part of a team of well-known comic professionals who are producing a graphic novel called The Liberty Brigade. It was funded using Kickstarter in late 2018 and is in the process of being produced.

Recently, Joe has begun to put together a website to display his art and offer services directly to the public. You can find it at www.joerubinsteinart.com and below is our conversation with Joe about his career and what he is doing now.

Pop Culture Squad: I know that you are excited about the new website, what can you tell us about that?

Joe Rubinstein: It is still being filled, but it is up and running. It has a lot of my art, and also information about commissions and convention schedules. This piece is not up yet, but since a lot of my comic book work has become movies, we are going to be linking to trailers that have come from my stuff, like Infinity Gauntlet and Captain America and things like that. We will also have art lessons and tutorials. I will be posting instructional videos that will have free previews and a subscription service or something like that for full videos.

PCS: What can you tell us about the Liberty Brigade and how that is going? How did you get involved with that project?

Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Comic Artist: Joe Rubinstein”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

Here, we give our readers a preview of the new comic book series that we are looking forward to each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld.

March has a diverse group of premiere issues that we are excited about, and they come from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in March 2019”

Tom King Gave Away Comics to Furloughed Federal Workers!

Tom King Gave Away Comics to Furloughed Federal Workers!

I think it is stupid. I write comics about superheroes, and no superhero would be doing what the President is doing.

Tom King

The United States federal government is still in the midst of a partial shutdown. Over 800,000 federal employees, across multiple agencies and departments, are in some state of either on furlough or being required to work without pay. Today, Tom King, comic writer and former federal employee, tried to bring a little bit of happiness to some of the people affected.

At Third Eye Comics in Annapolis. MD, an in-store signing was quickly set up this week, and as emails and social media posts went out, the word spread that Tom King, current writer of Batman by DC Comics, would be signing comics today, Saturday, January 19th. In addition to signing whatever amount of comics that people brought, King announced that he would be giving away comics books from his own collection to anyone with a federal ID badge. At midday on Wednesday, January 16, the first Facebook post came out about this event. After all the tweets, retweets, facebook shares, and emails, the event was a rousing success with hundreds of people attending and at least three news organizations to cover it.

Steve from Third Eye Comics told us. “This was all Tom. He called us and said, ‘I want to come out and do something.’ We have a lot of customers and employees who are affected by this shutdown, and so we were all for it.”

Continue reading “Tom King Gave Away Comics to Furloughed Federal Workers!”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge

As of late, I’ve been lucky to consume a metric ton of digital media. For those in-the-know, I tend to operate on two screens; one primarily for the drawing work I’m doing for the evening, and the second monitor to play something to keep my ears happy. I tend to toss on Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu, and let a show run while I draw. It’s good for when I need to take a mental break — no, seriously, drawing causes me to intensely focus so I need to take it easy every few minutes — and it’s good to catch up on all the shows in the zeitgeist.

Recently this has meant consuming the second season of Iron Fist, the third of Daredevil, and as of a few days ago… giving Runaways a try over on Hulu. And it got me thinking specifically about the shows I consume week-to-week versus multiple-episodes-a-night— The Flash, The Gifted, and Legion being the most well-known.

Binge-Culture is a thing now, isn’t it? Shows being made specifically to be absorbed en masse as quickly as possible. It allows for motifs (be they visual, auditory, or a combination) to form, fire, and be appreciated far easier than for shows where you return, at most, once a week. But just because binging exists doesn’t mean it’s a valuable tool for every show. Case in point: The Flash (or really any CW show).  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #016: To Binge or Not To Binge”