Author: Louis Ryan

The Visitors Might Be Listening – V: The Original Miniseries – Part 1

In The Postrider’s newest podcast miniseries, Louis Ryan and Lars Emerson take a look back at V, the sci-fi franchise from the 1980s. Each episode takes the viewer back to the wonder years of Network TV Miniseries events, and has the hosts determine whether what they’re watching holds up as a cult classic or cultural artifact.

In the first episode, Lars and Louis discuss the first part of V: The Original Miniseries, created by Kenneth Johnson. A tale of aliens, fascism, and graffiti!

5 Rabbits To Make for an Unconventional Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is upon us, that time of year when we gather with our families for buffets at the local country club, debate eating marshmallow peeps, and look for garishly painted eggs. And for some of us, it’s a time when we think about looking for that mysterious Easter Bunny. Who is he? Where did he come from? It hardly matters. Instead of trying to make heads or tails of Easter traditions, I’ve assembled this list of 5 rabbits that would definitely make your Easter Sunday one to remember.

 

Captain Carrot

Captain Carrot might not be the first rabbit superhero (that distinction belongs to Hoppy The Marvel Bunny) but, the good Captain might go down as the rabbit superhero with the most puns in a single comic book! The comic started from a simple idea: To bring back the funny animal comics that were popular in the intermediate aftermath of World War II. The instigator of this idea was long-time comics writer and aficionado Roy Thomas, who no doubt grew up reading such comic books. He figured that making the funny animals into superheroes was a way to sell the idea to readers.

The story of Captain Carrot takes place on Earth-C, a world much like our own except filled with talking animals and lots of things based around puns. The Zoo Crew itself is a group of superpowered animals operating out of Follywood, Califurnia. The president of the United Species of America is Mallard Fillmore. Captain Carrot was the alter ego of Roger Rodney Rabbit, who could eat a “cosmic carrot” and gain a variety of superpowers, but only for 24 hours. He is joined in the Zoo Crew by the likes of other super-powered animals such as Pig-Iron, a pig whose body is living steel. There’s also Rubberduck, who can stretch his body into any shape, and Yankee Poodle, who has the ability to repel and attract things (similar to magnetism).

Ultimately, the series proved short-lived, ending at issue 20. Since then, Captain Carrot and his gag-based friends have been mostly absent from the DC Universe, but not completely forgotten. In 2007, they returned in a three-issue mini-series called Captain Carrot and the Final Ark. After this, they made a memorable reappearance at the climax of Final Crisis, helping Superman defeat Darkseid. The Captain and his crew have mostly remained absent since. Now that an entire generation now knows Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, could a revival of the Amazing Zoo Crew be too far behind? As it is, the series remains mostly ignored and uncollected by all but the most cultishly devoted individuals. But, who knows when DC might decide to pull a rabbit out of its hat?

 

Roger Rabbit (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

This next entry will be about one of the most famous cartoon rabbits of the 1940s. If you were thinking of Bugs Bunny, you’d be dead wrong. I’m talking about Roger Rabbit, who first appeared in Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, a mystery novel by Gary K. Wolf. The book was optioned by Walt Disney Productions and later became the hit feature film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Roger is a hyperactive, easily distracted rabbit that always finds himself on the wrong end of an anvil. So, pretty similar to your average kids cartoon, right? Well, the movie is anything but kids’ stuff.

In the film, Roger is a cartoon star in 1940s Hollywood. He exists in a world where cartoon characters actually exist, coming from Toontown, and are filmed by Hollywood production companies. Roger hires a private detective named Eddie Valiant to keep an eye on his wife, the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit. When the guy Jessica sees winds up dead, all fingers point to Roger as the prime suspect. Roger is innocent, however, and works with Valiant to clear his name. From there, a criminal conspiracy is unearthed that will demolish Toontown and put up a freeway. Along the way, cartoon characters from the golden age of animation interact with the real world in an incredibly well-done special effects bonanza.

The film was released in 1988 to rave reviews and box office success. Roger Rabbit became a bonafide cartoon superstar practically overnight. Surely a sequel was imminent, right? Well, unfortunately, a sequel entered development hell and never materialized. The director, Robert Zemeckis, still maintains that it could happen, promising to use the latest and greatest CGI. Apparently, nobody has mentioned to him that the combination of live-action footage and hand drawn animation was the big appeal of the first film. Roger himself went on to appear in a couple of theatrical shorts for Disney, but has mostly disappeared from the spotlight. I’m sure Roger will reappear soon, but only, as he says in the film, “when it would be funny”.

 

Greg The Bunny

Now here’s a rabbit who knows how to have some fun. Greg the Bunny is a small, brown precocious rabbit, whose cuteness and amiability help him get by as an actor when his smarts don’t quite do the trick. He was created in the late 1990s by scrappy filmmakers Spencer Chinoy, Sean S. Baker, and Dan Milano for a public access show called Junktape (Milano has been the voice and puppeteer for Greg since the very beginning.). This show caught the attention of IFC, the Independent Film Channel, who gave Greg his very own segment where he parodied the films featured on the channel.

This was enough to get the attention of the FOX network, who, in 2002, gave Greg and his puppet pals his very own show about Greg and his puppet pals as actors on a kids show called Sweetknuckle Junction. In the world of the show, puppets are animate beings treated as a racial minority. There were problems with the show from the start. The network advertised the show as “edgy and adult”, but would take every opportunity to tone it down and make it more tame. The showrunner assigned to the show wanted to focus more on the human characters, including some unknown actors like Seth Green, Sarah Silverman, and Eugene Levy, instead of the puppets. A classic case of the network executives completely misunderstanding the show they’re spending millions of dollars on, Greg the Bunny on FOX died a quick death after 13 episodes.

The real appeal of Greg the Bunny, in my opinion, comes from his return to IFC in 2005. Once again, the team parodied movies (including the likes of Annie Hall, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, and Monster) but this time, the production values were noticeably higher and the writing was much sharper. An encounter between Greg the Bunny and Gilbert Gottfried discussing the rules of Mogwai in Gremlins stands out as a memorably hilarious moment. Recently, their distributor, Shout Factory, hosted a marathon of these shorts with a reunion panel of Chinoy, Baker, and Milano; the entire run can be watched on the Shout Factory website, and I highly recommend it.

 

David Lynch’s Rabbits

Anyone even vaguely familiar with David Lynch’s work knows that his content isn’t exactly “kid-friendly”. From the surreal nightmare-scapes of Eraserhead to the quirky cosmic terror of Twin Peaks, Lynch manages to find both humor and horror in the most unlikely of places. In 2002, with the advent of the Internet, Lynch decided to tackle something slightly different for him. At the turn of the new millennium, Lynch took notice of how easy it was to create content with digital cameras and decided he was going to make a web series. Not just any kind of web-series, but a sitcom. This sitcom would be about some humanoid bunnies and called Rabbits.

Imagine the dumpiest living room with the highest ceilings you’ve ever seen, and you’d have a good picture for the main setting of Rabbits, the staging of which deliberately evokes the feel of a sitcom. The three humanoid rabbits are played by Scott Coffey, Laura Elena Harring, and Naomi Watts, and they all exist in a sitcom, seemingly devoid of any situations. The three rabbits drift in and out, spouting zen koans at one another. In between these proverbial non sequiturs, we are treated to uproarious laughter from the unseen studio audience. Every episode is isolating and uncomfortable, especially the ones where each individual rabbit is given their own spotlight to spout the urbane poetry that constitutes their monologue.

Theories abound about what is actually going on underneath the surface here. Are the rabbits dead? Is this reincarnation? Purgatory? We’ll never know. Rabbits is definitely one-of-a-kind, and yet, seems to presage the kind of twisted anti-humor surreality that is common on the internet. As far as combining sitcoms with horror, need I remind anyone of Too Many Cooks? Rabbits made its way into Lynch’s 2006 film, Inland Empire, to further confuse an already plenty confused audience. The whole series runs just shy of an hour, and is easy to find on all corners of the Internet. Just make sure you watch it when your Grandma is out of the room.

 

Bunny Rabbit (Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: Wishbones)

Finally, we come to the most disturbing entry on the list. If you were a fan of cartoons in the early 2000s, then surely you remember The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, a show about two kids entrapping the Grim Reaper to be their collective best friend that had the tendency to comedic in very dark and disturbing ways. Look no further than the episode “Wishbones”, which first aired in June 2005. In the episode, a magical skull named Thronambular gets passed around the show’s cast of characters, granting them wishes. However, these wishes come at a severe cost, similar to a Monkey’s Paw.

The segment making this list in particular involves the character of Pud’n, an insipidly sweet character in the vein of Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons. Pud’n wishes for a bunny rabbit to love him, conjuring a cuddly, sweet pink bunny rabbit that anyone in their right mind would find adorable. With a voice reminiscent of Darth Vader on helium, the bunny goes on to explain “tough love” to Pud’n. Evidently, causing pain equates to love in this bunny’s eyes, which turn out to house a demon hell-spawn that wouldn’t be out of place in Cthulhu’s dimension. Pud’n tries to flee from the rabbit, which disturbingly hunts him down, evoking the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Pud’n manages to gain the upper hand and the bunny is seemingly lost in an explosion.

Pud’n immediately regrets that the bunny had to die, but before he can mourn for too long, the half-decayed bunny returns.  It ensures Pud’n that it will never, ever leave him alone. This is an extremely disturbing two minutes of television, that has stuck with this author since he first watched it. This episode will be a surefire way to upset anyone under the age of 10; it’s shocking that this even aired on Cartoon Network as is, and somehow managed to avoid controversy. Don’t watch it on Easter. Don’t watch it ever. If you have enough strength of will, this episode can be seen on HBOMax for your viewing displeasure.

Superman & Lois: Episode 1 – The Man of Steel lands on The CW (Review)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…loving father?

Once again, the Powers That Be have taken it upon themselves to create another primetime show centered around the father of all superheroes, Superman! It’s been ten years since Smallville went off the air and in that time some things have changed. The CW has turned into superhero central, with most of its line-up sharing continuity inside the lucrative Arrowverse. After finding success with characters like The Flash, Supergirl, and Black Lightning, Greg Berlanti and his production team finally decided to give ol’ Big Blue his own show.

We begin as most stories with the Man of Steel do, with a rocketship falling to Earth. You all know the basic story by now. Clark Kent grows up in Smallville, Kansas under the watchful eye of his adoptive parents. His father passes away from a heart attack as he reaches adolescence. Clark eventually moves to the city of Metropolis to start a job at the Daily Planet where he meets his future wife, Lois Lane. This is information we all know, and the creators know this. All this is relayed in a quick montage, which climaxes with an appearance of Superman, paying homage  his classic cover appearance on Action Comics #1, holding a green sedan and wearing a costume mimicking the one he wore in the classic Fleischer cartoons. By doing this, the creators are sending a clear message that they know, understand, and respect the history of the character.

At this point, one could imagine the show moving forward a year or so to get us to the status quo of Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet, while Superman fights crime on the streets of Metropolis. This is what this writer was led to believe, thinking this show would be a 2020s Arrowverse update of Lois & Clark, which ran on ABC for four seasons. Instead, we hop back into montage mode and continue our journey through the years as Clark Kent narrates his life. Eventually, he started dating Lois, ended up revealing his secret identity, and proposing to her at the entrance of the Fortress of Solitude. They have twins named Jonathan and Jordan, after Clark’s two fathers. The show leaps forward about 15 more years, to when the twins are in their teens. We learn quickly that although Jonathan is as much the golden boy quarterback that we could imagine Superman’s son to be, the other child, Jordan, suffers from anxiety problems.

All of this occurs within approximately the first five minutes of the show. On the one hand, it’s clumsy and rushed. And yet, it tells you everything you need to know quickly and succinctly so the show proper can actually begin. It can also be a little disorienting to watch the Superman mythos be simultaneously honored and tweaked. When we, the general audience, picture the status quo of Superman, it usually stops either before or after he and Lois get married, if that, so it can be a little weird to watch them date, get engaged, get married, have twins, and then go forward another 15 years, in the space of two minutes. As someone who was expecting something more in this traditional vein, I was dreading the appearance of two teenage sons as regular characters.

But I digress. Once we get past this opening montage, and the show proper can begin, everything is OK. As I said, Superman is about twenty years deep into his career. He has continued his never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way, in more ways than one. His father-in-law, General Sam Lane, is able to call Superman into a situation using a nifty device that emits a super-sonic sound. Sometime in the past twenty years, General Lane learned of Clark’s little secret double life, and encourages Clark to let his kids in on the secret, as well. Clark isn’t so sure it’s the right time.

We get a peek at the Kent’s home life in Metropolis, living in a two-story brownstone. In his everyday guise as Clark, we witness as he fumbles from room to room, trying to dispel any notion that he could possibly be confused with the Man of Steel. He walks in on Jonathan Skyping with a pretty girl and it takes him just a little too long to get the message to leave the room. He then moves on to Jordan, playing Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe on his video game console, listening to music just a little too loudly. “You playing as Superman?” Clark asks, pride noticeably swelling in his voice. “Nah, Superman’s boring,” Jordan answers. Jordan is upset with Clark because he missed family therapy that very night. To be fair, he was busy saving the world as Superman, but Jordan doesn’t know that yet. No matter what he does, Clark seems to have lost that connection with his kids. His time as Superman seems to be making him kind of an absent presence in their lives as they reach young adulthood.

The next day brings even more bad news. The Daily Planet has just been bought by rich industrialist Morgan Edge, who’s begun cleaning the paper of all the dead wood, including Clark Kent himself. Lois, being the star reporter that she is, gets to keep her job. Clark is flabbergasted by this, but begins to look on the upside of being able to spend more time with his kids. With this sudden change comes another, as Ma Kent passes away at the farm in Smallville. In a touching moment, Clark flies to Smallville soon after he gets the phone call. He finds the doctor there, but it’s already too late. With all the speed in the world, there was nothing he could do. Soon, Clark and family find themselves bound to Smallville to bury the late Mrs. Kent.

At the funeral, Clark and Lois are greeted by his old high school sweetheart Lana Lang, along with her family. The kindly Lana is married to a firefighter named Kyle and they have a daughter named Sarah, who is the same age as the twins. Where Lana is kindly and warm, Kyle is an all around douchebag. A veritable “hick” who looks down on these “big city folks” who “abandon” the rural dustbins that they spawn from. It’s clear that he knows about Clark from Lana spinning stories about him. Kyle is a jerk, and he’s designed to be a jerk. Whereas 10 years ago, I might have sympathized with someone like Kyle’s feelings about life and society, I now see it for the thinly veiled contempt for minorities and extreme self-loathing it is. It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine Kyle storming the Capitol building to overthrow the government.

But I digress. Sarah is a bit of a wild child. She’s a little exuberant, but with a noticeable chip on her shoulder, presumably from her dysfunctional home life. Both Jordan and Jonathan have a slight infatuation with Sarah. Where Jonathan tries overly hard to ingratiate himself with her, the withdrawn Jordan manages to gain her favor, and score her digits. The three make plans to meet up at a local teen party later but before that happens, an accident occurs. Some steel pipes accidentally fall on the twins but miraculously neither of them get injured. They’re both perfectly fine. Everyone sees this as a lucky break, except for Clark & Lois, who both know this means one or both of their kids might have some Superman genes.

Clark and Lois realize that it’s time to finally come clean to the twins about what their dad really does for a living. The twins are in a state of shock when they find out. Jordan doesn’t take it well at all, and runs off to the party to meet with Sarah. There, Sarah opens up to Jordan about an attempt at suicide via some pills. They share a tender moment, which turns into a kiss. Unfortunately, this gets spotted by Sarah’s boyfriend, a much larger, stronger individual than Jordan. Just when it looks like Jordan is about to get the beating of his life, his latent heat vision emerges, just in time to distract everyone at the party. This confirms that it was Jordan, not the quarterback Jonathan, who has inherited his father’s abilities.

Eventually, Lois and Clark come to an epiphany that Jordan (and Jonathan) could use more parenting from Clark, especially now that Jordan has powers. This leads to the decision to move the family from their Metropolis apartment to the old Kent farm. There, Clark can focus on raising his children, helping Jordan with his new powers, and find some fulfillment of his own, in somewhat isolated privacy. Both Jordan and Jonathan take this news shockingly well. It’s to the show’s credit that it acknowledges this presumably argumentative discussion will happen off-screen, but we know that the decision has been made. The family will take up residence at the Kent farm.

I thought this was a very effective and well-made pilot. Every actor seems to nail their part immediately. Taylor Hoechlin is fantastic as Superman, and doubly so as Clark Kent. Elizabeth Tulloch plays a great Lois Lane. The twins, played by Jordan Elsass and Alex Garfin, were very compelling in their roles. They were the aspect of the show I was dreading the most when this episode started, but I was won over to them within a few minutes of screentime. The show has the makings of sort-of an inverted Smallville, where Clark is now the father dispensing wise advice to his own teenage sons. As a fan of that classic WB program, I’m excited to see where this goes. One of the ultimate flaws of Smallville was its reluctance to have “flights or tights”, and it’s clear that this show isn’t afraid to have Superman in his own show, even if he is missing the red trunks.

Stray Observations:

-The other major subplot which will carry through past this episode involves an individual messing with nuclear power plants across the county. General Lane has Superman investigate this, and they find some Kryptonian writing. Eventually, Superman encounters an individual in some battle armor and they duke it out for a bit, with even some Kryptonite getting used, before this individual gets away. Given the Kryptonian writing, I suspected this might be General Zod, or some riff on him, but it turns out this is actually a “Captain Luthor”, and the battle armor is another riff on his iconic “warsuit”, first seen in Action Comics #544.

-This Luthor also happens to be black, if that matters to you. With the arrival of Superman: The Animated Series on HBOMax, I’ve seen discussion on social media about the confusion of Luthor’s race in that show. Lots of individuals think that Luthor on TAS is supposed to black, despite the fact that he has the same skin color as Superman. The confusion probably stems from the way Luthor’s lips are drawn, which was an effort to give him a more Greek looking appearance in the vein of Telly Savalas, and the creators of the show have stated that Luthor is white. This Captain Luthor presented here is 100% definitively black. Although, I’m not sure if the show’s first role of color being a supervillain is as progressive as it could be.

-In a weird almost coincidence, Jordan Elass portrays Jonathan Kent, instead of Jordan. Also, for anyone curious, the character of Jonathan Samuel Kent has been a major character in the Superman comics for about 6 years now. He ultimately shares nothing in common with the Jonathan Kent of this show, apart from the name and birth parents.

-Jordan is a brand new character who doesn’t have a comics counterpart. Assuming his middle name is Elliot, Jordan Elliot would be a clever reference to Superman’s Kryptonian dad, Jor-El. Famously, “Jordan Elliot” was the identity Superman adopted after de-powering himself in the classic “Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” written by Watchmen scribe Alan Moore.

-Lana Lang and, by extension, her family do not know that Clark Kent is Superman. I just thought I would point this out for clarification since, depending on the continuity, Lana does or does not know the secret. If Kyle ever finds out, God help us all.

-The party that Sarah invites the twins to happens outside the old Shuster mines. This is a reference to Joe Shuster, the co-creator and original artist of Superman.

-Toward the beginning, when Jordan was playing Mortal Kombat, he was playing as Raiden.

-I really like these devices everyone uses to summon Superman in a jiffy. I guess in our modern world you could just text him, but these are more fun. They’re an homage to Jimmy Olsen’s famous signal watch, which he could use to summon his pal Superman whenever he needed or wanted to.

Next time: It’s the first day of school for Jonathan and Jordan, and it looks like Jor-El might be one of their teachers!

Four Cool Concepts I’d Like to See in ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ (But Probably Won’t)

Over the 80 years that Captain America has been published by Marvel Comics, a large amount of ideas, concepts, and mythology have emerged around the character. Some of these ideas and characters have made their way outside of comics and into other media, and others, for one reason or another, have not. With the release of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney+ this week, I thought I’d take a look at some concepts from the comics that I’d like to see adaptedonto screen. As a self-proclaimed Captain America expert, here are four cool ideas I’d like to see in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but probably will not…

#4: The Serpent Society

  • Recommended Reading: Captain America 308-315, 365-367, 380-382

Photo Credit: Marvel Comics

OK, so I’m pretty sure some of you might know about this one. If you recall, in the run up to the third Captain America movie, ‘Serpent Society’ was floated as a title before being kiboshed and revealed to have simply been a red herring for a ‘Civil War’ movie. This ended up leaving a few thinking, “Well, what about the Serpent Society?” They haven’t been heard from since. So, who exactly are they?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that they are a group of supervillains (a society, if you will) based around the theme of snakes (AKA serpents). Pretty crazy, huh? In all seriousness, the Serpent Society is a pretty simple idea executed fantastically in the pages of Captain America. Let me explain why.

In the world of Marvel comics, you’ve got two types of supervillains. There’s the would-be world conquerors (think Doctor Doom or The Mandarin) and then you’ve got the superpowered thugs, people like The Vulture, Electro, Green Goblin, and Kingpin. These are people who want nothing more than to use their extraordinary abilities to knock-over banks and steal a few thousand dollars. These are what Nucky Thompson might call the “honest crooks” of the Marvel Universe. These are the types of guys that write in “Villain” as occupation on their taxes. They like to go out, rob a few banks, do some shifty stuff down by the docks, and then go home to their one-bedroom apartment and catch the football game. Sounds pretty great, right? Except for one thing: Superheroes.

It’s hard out there for a crook, especially in the Marvel Universe. It seems like you can hardly get up to anything in New York without Spider-Man, Daredevil, or Captain *freakin* America getting involved and spoiling all your fun. Although, when you really think about it, for every one superhero, there are about a dozen supervillains. They could have strength in numbers if they did something like say… unionize?

That’s the idea that a supervillain by the name of Sidewinder has in mind when he comes up with the idea for the Serpent Society. Meeting together in a conference room at a Manhattan hotel, Sidewinder lays out his vision for a unified and extremely organized supergroup based around snakes. Members would receive guaranteed pay, better access to technology, along with insurance and health benefits. Along with that, Sidewinder has a teleportation cloak that enables him to teleport anyone he wants in-and-out of jail, in case any of the members gets pinched. It sounds like a great racket, if you ask me. Direct deposit every Friday? Who wouldn’t sign up? Heck, I’ll put on a snake costume!

The cool thing about them is that when they’re first introduced Captain America has absolutely no idea that the group even exists! They manage to operate under his very nosewith The Sentinel of Liberty is none the wiser. Also, when it comes time for their first professional job, they’re hired by AIM to assassinate that organization’s former leader, MODOK. And they actually do it! When you have a group that can kill a Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing, it’s a pretty strong team.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

One reason I like the Serpent Society is that they follow the old tried and true Marvel formula of combining the fantastic (i.e., supervillains) with the mundane (i.e., labor unions) and combine it into a package that is extremely entertaining, bordering on silly.

Lastly, in terms of female members, they are vastly, vastly OVER-represented in the Serpent Society. You’ve got Princess Python, the Asp, Black Mamba, Diamondback (who I’ll get to later), and Anaconda. With female representation being all the rage these days, why not feature a group like the Serpent Society? Anaconda in particular is rare for being a female supervillain with a plus-size body type. All I’m saying is, if you had to cast Rebel Wilson in a Marvel movie, you could do a lot worse than having her play Anaconda.

#3: Scourge of the Underworld

  • Recommended Reading: Iron Man #194, Marvel Fanfare #29, Amazing Spider-Man #278, Captain America #318-320, 358-362, USAgent (1993) #1-4

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

As I said earlier, it could be awful lonely as a Marvel supervillain, especially if you’re just a run-of-the-mill crook. If you’re not part of a group or organization, you’re pretty much left to your own devices. The cops will be after you and there are superheroes everywhere. If you’re not careful, you could turn a corner into a dark alley, only to find that “JUSTICE IS SERVED,” courtesy of the Scourge of the Underworld. Of course, Scourge’s idea of justice is splattering supervillain brains all over the alleyway.

First introduced in Iron Man #194, the idea of Scourge was a simple one. He’s simply a figure, always wearing a disguise, that goes around assassinating C-level Marvel supervillains, usually with a firearm, and proclaiming “Justice is served,” for anyone that can hear it. This is pretty much the basic set-up for his first half-dozen appearances, which are apage or two at the most, crossing over into different Marvel titles, killing off supervillains too weak or vulnerable to defend themselves.

The real reason that Scourge was created was that Marvel Editorial wanted to clear out some of their lesser known and unpopular supervillains. I’m talking about really unpopular supervillains. There are famous names that surely everybody knows! Fearsome foes like the Enforcer, The Miracle Man, and The Melter. Yes, The Melter. You read that right. Make sure he doesn’t get near any ice cream. One by one, the Scourge of the Underworld manages to take all of them down. The thing that really takes the cake are all the disguises that Scourge manages to wear. He manages to pose as an old man, a long-haired hippie on a bus, a policeman, and a construction worker. He’s more chameleonic than even The Chameleon! (Who wasn’t killed off. Spider-Man villains get a pass.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking, what does any of this have to do with Captain America? Don’t worry. I’ll get to it. Scourge managed to rack up a bodycount of successfully “serving justice” to 11 Marvel supervillains, but his greatest act comes when he poses asthe bartender at The Bar With No Name, a bar and supervillain hangout on the outskirts of town. While all the supervillains there are shaking in their boots, talking about teaming up to fight the Scourge, the “bartender” serves up a fully-loaded machine gun, which dispenses bullets into the bodies of 18 more Marvel supervillains, bringing his total body count to 29. This guy makes The Punisher look like Mr. Rogers!

Eventually, Cap realizes that enough is enough and that he can’t let this Scourge guy show him and the rest of the superheroes up any longer. He devises a clever plan to ensnare the Scourge. He secretly takes the identity of Mirage, a supervillain killed at The Bar, and has the media announce “Mirage’s” survival of the massacre. Scourge catches wind of this and becomes mighty embarrassed at the idea of letting one of his purported “victims” walk away with breath in his body. Scourge tracks the fake Mirage/Cap down to a secluded cabin where Cap successfully traps him. Scourge is unable to bring himself to kill a hero like Captain America and the jig is up.

Eventually, he reveals everythingto Cap. Scourge is the brother of The Enforcer, his first victim. Their father was ashamed of Enforcer’s criminal activities, which led to the creation of the Scourge identity and the killing of his supervillain brother. Enlisting the aid of an insider named “Domino” to locate his future victims, Scourge continued his parade of supervillain-killing. As soon as he wraps up his spiel to Cap, Scourge catches a bullet from an unseen sniper. Cap fails to catch him, only hearing the phrase, “Justice is served”.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Of course, this was not the end of theScourge of the Underworld. Far from it, actually. Scourge was revealed to be much, much bigger than one individual. (Someone whose name we never even learn by the way.) Scourge is the umbrella name for an entire organization dedicated to ending the threat of Marvel super-villainy by any means necessary. Its origins even involve one of Marvel’s classic golden age heroes, The Angel, if you can believe it. When Scourge returned, it was left to the devices of USAgent (John Walker) to deal with them, and he continued tracking Scourge down from the pages of Captain America into his own four-issue miniseries. It just goes to show that no matter how many times you think it’s over, justice will never stop being served.

#2: Captain America of the 1950s/Grand Director (William Burnside)

  • Recommended Reading: Young Men #24, Captain America #173, 231-236, 602-606, Captain America Annual #6

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Those of us privileged to be Captain America fans know that Steve Rogers was not the only person to “wield the shield”. He was simply the first, the most successful, and longest-serving. Bucky and The Falcon have both served as Cap in Steve’s absence, and this Disney+ TV show will no doubt be dealing with the legacy of Captain America, and who deserves to walk a mile in Steve Rogers’ red shoes. However, there have been several other individuals who have taken up the mantle of the good Captain and, like any big family, there’s always one black sheep. And that black sheep is William Burnside.

In the mid-1950s, Marvel comics launched a sort-of revival boom of their classic 1940s superhero titles. Hoping to cash-in on name recognition and nostalgia, they brought back all the old favorites: Namor the Sub-Mariner, the android Human Torch and his sidekick Toro, and Captain America and Bucky, too. This post-WWII Cap fought the greatest threat to the homeland: Communism! The Red Scare was in full swing and everyone was getting into the action. Even The Red Skull had given up his “Natzy” ways and joined up with the good ol’ USSR. Needless to say, this Cap didn’t have the same fervor and appeal in a post-war society. The mid-1950s relaunch died a quiet death in short order.

Cut to 1961: The Marvel Age of Comics! Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Ant-Man! So many new heroes and they’re taking off like gangbusters. Pretty soon, Marvel wants to bring back Captain America again to juice up the Avengers. So it is there, in Avengers #4, we are introduced to the idea of Steve Rogers being frozen in a block of ice and residing in suspended animation in the closing days of World War II. And all was well. But this all raised one (Just one?) question, if Steve was frozen in a block of ice, who was the Cap of the 1950s?!?

Eventually, we learnthe truth: after Steve Rogers’ absence at the end of WWII, a college professor named William Burnside became obsessed with Captain America. By the time the 1950s roll around, Billy is the biggest Captain America fan in the world, even deciding to legally change his name to Steve Rogers after figuring out Cap’s secret identity. Of course, the real test of his fandom is to undergo the same “Super-Soldier Serum” procedure that gave Steve the skills to be Captain America. Of course, the serum that the government cooked up for this new “Steve” didn’t quite work as planned. No, this serum messed with his brain. This already-fragile mind of this obsessive fanboy was driven over the edge into near-insanity, leading to his one-man war on the many “subversive communists” plotting to take down America.

Eventually this Burnside Cap came face to face with the real-deal, and they’ve come to blows multiple times since. Unlike Regular Cap, Burnside Cap suffered greatly from the shell-shock of waking up a half-century into the future. He’s about as stereotypically 1950’s as you can get: racist, sexist, homophobic, and increasingly at odds in our 2021 world. From his point of view, America is going down the tubes, and to try and fix it, he’s had to resort to some pretty extreme measures.

In one notable storyline, Burnside, as a result of brainwashing, became the Grand Director, leading a fascistic brigade known as the National Force. In order to picture this guy, think of the Grand Wizard of the KKK mixed with a Nazi foot solider. I’m not even joking; his costume is an all white ensemble with a Nazi armband. Eventually, order is restored and Burnside manages to recover from being an “overt” supervillain.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

In a recent storyline,“Two Americas”, Burnside leads a pack of terrorists called the Watchdogs in an effort to blow up the Hoover Dam. He has to be stopped by Bucky and the Falcon (This was during a time when Steve was “dead”). Through it all, the thing that makes Burnside compelling is that, in Steve Rogers eyes, he’s not a true villain. He’s simply a man that got carried away with an idea of patriotism. In some moments, it’s clear that Burnside is extremely mentally ill, and Steve Rogers knows it. It’s not incredible that William Burnside went insane, it’s incredible that Steve Rogers didn’t. Despite not really deserving it, Steve Rogers always treats William Burnisde with respect. The respect that someone who once held the title of Captain America deserves.

#1: Diamondback (Rachel Leighton)

  • Recommended Reading: Captain America 310, 319, 358-364, 371-378, 380-382

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

And now we come to the end; to the character I’d most like to see show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the grand history of Captain America comics, ol’ Cap has had quite the trouble maintaining a supporting cast, specifically female characters for any stable amount of time. During the Silver Age of Comics, there was Agent 13, otherwise known as Sharon Carter. She was the original love interest for Cap, and disappeared from the pages without leaving much of an impression. 

Fast forward to 1980 and we meet Bernie Rosenthal, Steve Rogers’ Jewish bohemian neighbor in his Brooklyn apartment building. They eventually dated, she learned Steve’s secret identity, and they became engaged. Of course, when her glass-blowing business (Yes, you read that right) went belly-up, she decided to go back to law school and pretty much put the kibosh on any future wedding plans. Of course there’s also Peggy Carter, who served during World War II — British, admittedly easy on the eyes, but that’s about it. To me though, there’s one female character who manages to surpass them all: Rachel Leighton AKA Diamondback.

We first meet Diamondback when she joins the Serpent Society in their first formation. She comes across like a typical bad-girl, wanting the finer things in life, even if she has to steal from someone to do it. Diamondback possesses no special supernatural abilities, other than being an excellent gymnast who uses special throwing diamonds to disarm her prey (Yes, she literally throws diamonds from her back. She really wanted to stay on theme with the whole snake thing). She quickly fits in with the other crooks in the Serpent Society. In fact, the first time Captain America encounters her, she’s attempting to use her diamonds to subdue The Porcupine, a somewhat-reformed supervillain, with seemingly deadly intent. She later denies this, but first impressions are everything to a guy like Cap. It’s clear to her, though, that she’s somewhat enamored with Captain America.

Later, during the Scourge fiasco, the Serpent Society tries to mobilize forces to track down the murderous vigilante. Captain America manages to encounter Diamondback again. They decide to team-up since they’re following the same leads, and Diamondback offers Cap a ride on the Serpent Society’s aircraft. Diamondback tells Cap about her backstory as a young girl from Texas whose father got killed and mother worked all-day-long. Young Rachel spent most of her time with her delinquent brother, which is how she got started in a life of crime. When her brother was killed in a robbery gone wrong, Rachel was left on her own to fight her own way in the world as, in her words, “a costumed crusader”.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

She tells Cap she’s only bad because she’s never had any good influences, and thinks Cap could be a good influence on her. So, she offers an ultimatum: she’ll crash the ship into the ground unless she and Cap start hooking up. Cap refuses her feminine wiles, and demands an immediate end to their partnership since he clearly can’t trust her. Not exactly the best first “date”, but it’s clear that Diamondback is hurt by this, and was serious about needing a good influence in her life.

Cap’s next major encounter with Diamondback occurs in the Bloodstone Hunt arc. Diamondback gets accidentally mixed up in Baron Zemo’s quest for the rare and supernatural Bloodstone and teams up with Cap to help track it down, a la Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood. 

Diamondback clearly showcases a more noble side to her character here. She attempts to be her own good influence around Cap, in an effort to show him that she can change. Diamondback and Cap manage to successfully thwart Baron Zemo’s plan, but there’s a slight snag. The newly-introduced villain, Crossbones, kidnaps Diamondback and absconds with her to Madripoor and holds her for ransom.

Eventually Cap manages to find both Crossbones and Diamondback. The two unlikely allies manage to get away with their lives, and it becomes clear that Cap cares just a little bit more about Diamondback now. She asks, aping the closing line of Casablanca, “Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?” And the truth is, it was the beginning. Rachel and Steve would become closer to each other in the issues to come. Partners in crime-fighting, and partners in love. No, I don’t think Diamondback will show up in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but without Cap around, I’m not sure there would even be a point.

Chatroom: WandaVision and the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

This past Friday marked the series finale of WandaVision, the first television entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to debut on Disney+, and the first in a number of TV shows on that platform that will feature characters from the MCU films. Whether you liked WandaVision or not, it’s safe to say that it caused quite a stir, with lots of fan theorizing and critical backlash, and then a lot of backlash to the backlash.

[This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity]

Michael Lovito (Editor-in-Chief, Movies & TV Editor): Here to discuss today we have Postrider President and Editor Lars Emerson, and Postrider Friend (and first-time contributor) Louis Ryan.

Louis Ryan (Contributor): Hi, I’m Louis, but you can call me Agatha Harkness.

Lars Emerson (Editor): I’ve en”Vision”ed this for a long time, it’s good to be here.

Michael: A lot’s been going on these past months in regards to this show, but we’ll start with the most immediate: What did you guys think of the finale? Was it satisfying? Disappointing? Completely unaffecting?

Lars: I was expecting a little more out of the finale itself, I thought it was actually weirdly boilerplate?

Louis: Yeah, the finale confirmed all my worst fears. Namely, of this feeling like the standard third act conclusion of a big CGI blockbuster film and less like a well-written, conclusive season finale of TV.

Lars: I thought it was kind of jarring to see an actual action/fight sequence, even though I guess we all knew it was coming, was I the only one?

It felt very cliche superhero ending (which, obviously: I mean, this is a superhero show, but it often billed itself differently)

Michael: I tend to agree: it ended with a very typical MCU action scene that didn’t live up to the weirdness of the rest of the show. It’s also kind of weird that after weeks of holding these people hostage, the show ends with Wanda being portrayed pretty unambiguously as the hero/victim. I will say, though that the whole scene where the hex or whatever it’s called is receding and eventually disappears Vision and the twins was fairly affecting, and felt like something you’d find at the end of a comic book miniseries.

Lars: Yeah, I appreciated that moment of loss at the end, I thought it was well executed

I don’t know that it umambiguously paints Wanda as a hero, though it definitely paints her as kind of a victim.

Louis: Those moments fell a little flat for me, because they were speaking very literally, with little subtext about the proceedings. I find that something like Endgame hit a lot of the same points a bit bitter, in my book.

Lars: She’s kind of — to quote The Ringer, “neither hero nor villain” but just someone very traumatized who lost her grip trying to bring people back who she loved.

I mean Endgame also had 21 movies before it in which to build up sympathy for Tony Stark and Captain America, etc. I don’t know about y’all but I never felt like “deep emotional connection” to The Vision haha.

Michael: I guess so — but Monica doing the whole “they’ll never understand your sacrifice” thing kind of felt like it was giving her a heroic moment.

That’s true Lars, and I feel like if this show is good for anything, it gave center stage to two characters who are very consequential in the comic books but who never really got their due on the big screen.

Louis: Yeah, I agree with Mike. The audience is expected to swallow a lot in regards to Wanda by the end.

Lars: And it was, but it’s sort of a step back towards redemption, Wanda is basically the antagonist for the middle up until the last 30 minutes of the show. So I think you can “right” the ship while keeping her controversial.

Which she’s always been in the movies too! Tony Stark talks about her saying, “She’s not a U.S. citizen and they don’t grant visas to weapons of mass destruction,” as someone who is somehow allowed to roam and use her powers.

She’s never been a pure agent of good, you know?

Louis: Yeah, part of my problem with Scarlet Witch, as a character in comics and films, is that she’s way overpowered, and I feel like that reared its ugly head into this show. However, that might be a separate discussion altogether.

Lars: Someone that overpowered kind of has to become the villain at some point, I mean it happens with The Vision in the movies at moments too. So I guess I lean towards this show doing the right thing there too.

It was cool to actively root against Wanda as she mind controlled an entire town and feel sympathy for a dead and/or confused, mind-controlled Vision. I think that’s where the show peaked for me

Louis: I agree with you, Lars, and I feel the show would have been better serviced keeping Wanda as the main antagonist overall.

Instead, the show tries to play it both ways. Have their cake and eat it too.

Michael: Yeah, for our readers who don’t know, in the comics Wanda’s breakdown about the loss of her children results in the deaths of multiple Avengers, creation of an alternate universe where her father, Magneto, is basically king of the world and mutants have overtaken homo sapiens from a societal standpoint. At the end of that ark, everything goes back to normal, but 90% of the world’s mutants are depowered. It’s a whole thing.

Backtracking a little bit, though: We all have different relationships with the MCU. What drew your guys to this shows in the first place and what kept you all watching? Because this show changed a lot over just nine episodes.

Lars: Hahaha we do.

I mean, I’m an MCU completionist, so there’s that.

I also think the MCU is great and am a big fan, so, you got me.

Louis: That’s true, Mike. I will admit I’m not the biggest MCU fan in the world. I pretty much started watching WandaVision just out of social obligation. I was actually pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the first two episodes of the series the first week. I am a big fan of television, and the effort to replicate classic production values shone through. It felt less like a parody and more like a sincere attempt to recreate a bygone era of TV.

Of course, because nobody punched anyone through a wall in those episodes, they have somewhat of a mixed reaction amongst MCU fans.

Lars: Louis is the only person I know who felt obliged to watch the Marvel TV show WandaVision and not Marvel’s biggest movie of all time… but alas.

Louis: There is a global pandemic now, Lars.

Michael: Exactly. I watched an inordinate amount of TV Land as a child and grew up loving comic books (and eventually the MCU), so this show was kind of tailor made for me. Even when I didn’t find the more sitcom-focused episodes “funny,” per se, I was excited to see how they’d keep recreating different eras, and actually got a little annoyed when they kept pulling back to focus on Jimmy Woo or Darcy or Monica Rambeau, characters who, frankly, I don’t care about as much.

Lars: I thought the lack of action movie theatrics and fight scenes was actually a major draw. It was new. That’s why I was peeved (and brought it up earlier in the chat) when that actually happened, it felt off.

Michael: TBH, the best part of the show was Elizabeth Olsen jumping from Mary Tyler Moore to Elizabeth Montgomery and on and on and on. I thought she was actually pretty great in this show (not having to do her accent helped)

Louis: Yes, Mike, to me, the first two episodes were the peak of the series.

Lars: Elizabeth Olsen is very good in the show, to state the obvious. And yes, the lack of the accent really helps.

Louis: Don’t forget Vision phasing through the ottoman.

Olsen is great in the early episodes.

Lars: I feel like the peak for me was the middle. But do we all seem to agree than the end was not the peak?

Louis: I would say the first half was better than the second.

It felt like more of a chore every week.

This whole season could have been condensed in half, but you wouldn’t have had to stay subscribed to Disney+ for two months, so that’s probably why they extended it.

Lars: I was telling Mike this last week — but I am kind of peeved that Disney+ “got me”.

Like, I’m only subscribed for one episode of one show released every week — first it was The Mandalorian then that stopped and a couple weeks later came WandaVision and now that’s stopped and it’ll be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier… and it pales in comparison to Netflix or HBO where you have multiple shows coming out every week (none of which I follow as aggressively as Marvel’s shows but, still!)

Michael: We’ll get to Falcon and the Winter Soldier a little later, but for now, let’s move towards the middle of the series: what did we think of the twists and reveals? I was pretty stoked about the Evan Peters as Pietro reveal but then disappointed that it ended in nothing more than a boner joke, and the best part of the Agatha reveal was…the literal reveal, with the Munster parody and everything. Then she just became a generic MCU baddie and never really unpacked what it meant to be the Scarlet Witch or what chaos magic was.

Louis: Let’s discuss each character separately.

Lars: I think I disliked every single reveal. The only thing I thought was courageous as the showrunners in these reveals was that Evan Peters as Pietro turned out to be a red herring. I am actually super thrilled that that didn’t amount to anything, if we want to start with that one.

Louis: Yeah, the twists in this series were WAY overblown. I was not a fan of Evan Peters here. I was trying to imagine how the screenplay itself was written. “Wanda opens the door and it is EVAN PETERS from Fox as Pietro.” It’s not motivated by anything in-universe, other than to be cool to us, the audience. Lame writing, if you ask me.

I will say that I was a fan of Peters as Quicksilver in the Fox films, but it just fell completely flat here.

Flat is a good way to describe this show for me. I just felt empty, by the end.

Michael: Fair enough. And what did you think about the Agatha reveal? Were you disappointed she didn’t say “The twins can come over to my house, Franklin [Richards] would love the company!”

Lars: Lol

Louis: Ha ha! You both know what a huge Fantastic Four fan I am. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed in the end by Kathryn Hahn, who I think is a good actress.

Lars: I guess I found Agatha about as interesting as I found the Skrull reveal at the end — not at all.

Maybe if they’d have given her a whole episode to talk about the Salem witch trials or something, a little more motivation and character oomph — but she was just kinda there doing stuff and it wasn’t super obvious why.

Louis: Not that this needs to be a perfect adaptation of the comics, but Agatha in WandaVision, was Agatha In Name Only. There was very little of the comics character in this screen portrayal, which I think is very disappointing for one of the last major Stan Lee – Jack Kirby creations.

And she ends up becoming Palpatine from Rise of Skywalker by the end, anyways.

Michael: Hahaha

Louis: I swear Hahn was on a green screen for the entirety of the last episode.

Michael: Yeah, and she was given some of the laziest one liners in the action scenes too

Louis: One thing I liked about the final episode, was its portrayal of magic burning the tips of your fingers. I thought that was kind of cool.

The reveal of Wanda’s Runes was not.

Agatha entered Wanda’s red dome of doom with absolutely no back-up plan? Lame.

Michael: Yeah. It’s also still unclear to me how Agatha ended up in Westview in the first place. The whole mythos around the magic was really, really underdeveloped. I don’t need an entire episode unpacking the specifics of how it all works, but just a little bit connective tissue to make it all make sense.

Lars: I guess we’ll have to wait for The Multiverse of Madness Ft. Doctor Strange.

Louis: How did she get from Massachusetts to New Jersey? Did she take the bus?

Lars: I was gonna ask, how did it feel for you Jersey boys to have your state featured so prominently in a Marvel property? 😂

Louis: Why did Vision buy property in such a lousy part of New Jersey?

Michael: I was curious where, exactly Westview was supposed to be, if anywhere. I guess Westfield? I have some cousins there that would be excited about that.

Louis: How does Vision have money?

Michael: Low key one of the funniest things about this show to me was how the deed to the house listed the owners as “Wanda Maximoff”, “The Vision”.

Is that the name he puts on his taxes? Does he even pay taxes?

So many unanswered questions.

Louis: And he has a WILL.

Lars: Is he even an American citizen? Is he a legal person?

Louis: Conceived in Korea; born in NYC?

Should we talk about the Vision now, guys?

Lars: Which one? Hey-oh!

Louis: The one that REPRESENTS me on screen. #VisionsSoWhite

Lars: lol – I honestly can’t get past the name “White Vision”

Louis: Yes, I don’t know if you felt the same Mike, but I was not aware of the white Vision storyline from West Coast Avengers.

So, the reveal at the end of the penultimate episode did not elicit any reaction from me.

Michael: I was not familiar with the White Vision either, and I think you nailed it, Louis — I didn’t really feel that much about The Vision in this show either. I thought Paul Bettany did a good job, but outside of that it definitely felt like things were happening to him instead of him being an actual, active participant of what was going on.

Louis: I disagree with you there, Mike. I think Vision was very good in the show. It’s a shame he seemed to disappear for 2 whole episodes near the end. Playing the role of a “Pinocchio” type is an easy way for an actor to engender likability from an audience (See “Data” in Star Trek: The Next Generation). And I feel like it was crucial to their interplay.

Like what Lars and I were discussing before, if Wanda was indeed the overall villain, the show might have ended up becoming Wanda vs. Vision, which I think a lot of us would have wanted to see. There would certainly have been more drama, in my opinion.

Lars: Yeah I liked The Vision in the show, and I didn’t mind White Vision, I thought that was an interesting and logical wrinkle; but the show is definitely more about Wanda since she’s… you know, the only one still alive of the two.

Vision slowly realizing his reality is a lie and that he may not be real and discovering Wanda is behind all of it is like the best part of the show for me, I wish it’d have done more with that.

Michael: That’s a good point about Wanda vs. Vision, Louis. One being whose emotion causes all kinds of destruction versus another governed by pure logic.

Would’ve been interesting to see actually play out.

Louis: Vision having to convince Wanda to let him go? Pssh. LAME! Get back to magic fighting with beams!

White Vision was introduced too little, too late. One ship of theses conversation does not a show make.

Michael: Yeah. And they could’ve used it as an excuse to introduce Simon Williams too!

Louis: Or bring Ultron back, maybe? I guess now we’re unfortunately getting into fan theory territory.

Michael: Ugh, we are. But we can use that to segue into our next point: Do you think this was a success for Disney? It felt like the week by week format not only let them hold onto subscribers but also let them generate a lot more conversation than a show released all at once would.

Louis: I do think the show was a success. People won’t SHUT UP about it.

Lars: Yes! I was reading Shirley Li’s piece in The Atlantic and she talks about how the show proves “appointment viewing” is still interesting.

And I agree, I feel like WandaVision is the first time since we all watched 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return that we all independently watched a show every week, tracked along with it, and talked about it.

Louis: UGH. That makes me feel sick.

I doubt people will be talking about it this time in 2022, though.

Michael: WandaVision is the new Twin Peaks, you heard it here first folks.

Lars: Lol to be clear – The Return is a better show.

But this does feel like the first time we all had pretty regular appointment sit down viewings and would talk about it.

Louis: I mean, is the show really more successful than Mandalorian? There wasn’t really a Baby Yoda in this…

Lars: I think this show is better than the Mandalorian, even with no Baby Yoda.

And like I was saying earlier, I think Disney got me at least.

I can’t unsubscribe, even though I’m paying so much more for so much less than over on Amazon/Netflix/HBO.

Louis: Yeah, well, I only used Disney+ originally to watch DuckTales, and they have the Muppet Show now. It was something I already had.

Michael: I have not watched The Mandalorian yet so cannot comment. But one key difference is that there are a bunch of Marvel shows all queued up and ready to go (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on March 19th, Loki in June). Did this make you more or less likely to want to watch any of those or the other upcoming Marvel shows?

Lars: The fact they own this content I really need to see means I’m willing to shell out for it every month just to turn on the app once a week and watch it.

Definitely more likely, Mike. Months ago I thought WandaVision would be like weird and kinda go out with a whimper and then people would be like “eh, we don’t really need a Hawkeye show or a Loki show”

But the fact we can all disagree on the show on various levels but all still watched it and are (hopefully) enjoying talking about it with each other demonstrates it was a success, and I intend to stick around!

Louis: I was just thinking the same question, Mike. Quality-wise, WandaVision ultimately let me down, so I am definitely wary about the upcoming Falcon and Winter Solider show. I’ve been reading a lot of Captain America recently, so I’m excited on a fan level to see Falcon, Bucky, US Agent, and Baron Zemo (with the HOOD ZOMG). But I expect I’ll feel similarly empty by the end of it.

People are going to watch it early and often to avoid spoilers. That’s it. It’s not going to be Season 6 of The Wire……

Lars: I also agree with that, Louis.

Michael: I’m probably going to watch all of these shows either way, but if WandaVision does anything I think it highlights the need for a charismatic lead. Probably the biggest reason I kept coming back was to watch Olsen and Bettany interact on screen. I don’t see Anthony Mackey and Sebastian Stan pulling of something similar (Tom Hiddleston, on the other hand, is always a delight).

Lars: Honestly I think the Hawkeye show is what I’m most looking forward to.

Louis: I think charismatic leads are good, but I think if they have an ironclad-tight plot, which befits the characters, it could work.

While a 9 season show like The Office needs charismatic leads, these are not really “TV shows”. They are more like miniseries, like Roots or the original V.

Just have a good plot.

Lars: Yeah I think it’s interesting that these have all (to my understanding) mostly been billed as single season series. It’s not like they’re building out multiple seasons on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier yet, as opposed to what earlier Marvel TV ventures did (with Daredevil most successfully)

They feel more like a connective tissue than a singular focus.

Louis: And it’s weird that WandaVision had to feel like that, because what did it really set up for future movies?

The new Monica Rambeau (Photon)?

More skrulls?

Lars: The Doctor Strange movie, I guess?

Michael: Olsen has already been confirmed to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I don’t know what, exactly, it sets her up to do (try to take the Sorcerer/ess Supreme title from Stephen?) but she’ll at least be in it.

Louis: But you’re just making an assumption. I mean, just on the face of what we saw in WandaVision, it doesn’t leave me excited to revisit these things anytime soon.

If they are reintroduced and they are GOOD, then that’s a plus. But I’m not exactly itching for more Wanda right now.

Lars: But I think we’re supposed to think of this story as kind of a closure for Wanda as she was.

Wanda’s story has kind of “ended” even though she’s coming back as a more advanced character with a new look on things, able to put all of this behind her. (edited)

So they were kind of closing the book on the Wanda Maximoff and the Vision of the MCU up until this point.

And honestly, I’ll take any way we can spice up a standalone Doctor Strange movie, because ugh.

Michael: I guess we can close it out with: Is there a particular MCU show you’re looking forward to watching in the future? Lars, you said Hawkeye, and as someone who loved Matt Fraction’s run on that title (which the show seems like it’ll be taking heavily from) and who is still waiting patiently to see Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, I think I’d have to agree.

Lars: I know Jeremy Renner is problematic and whatever, but I think Hawkeye is awesome and I like dark brooding Hawkeye especially, I don’t care. Come #cancel me!

Louis: Oh, God. In Loki, I like Owen Wilson playing the Time Variance Authority guy aka “Mark Gruenwald”.

I think Loki will suffer from having a cool trailer cobbled together from the 2 very best minutes of the show, however.

That’s my prediction.

Lars: Yeah, that’s a pretty fair prediction actually, I see that.

I think that there’s an upward trajectory for Marvel shows though, I think it is more likely to get better.

Louis: In a pandemic-free world, I might not watch anymore of these shows.

But that’s not ending anytime SOON, baby!

Lars: Always the optimist, Louis 😂

Louis: There’s always the FF to look forward to.

“Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III

Michael: What happens first: the pandemic ends or the Fantastic Four get their own show/movie?

Louis: To every person suffering from OCD’s distress: FF will be in Phase 5.

I just don’t see any way it comes out earlier.

Lars: So I guess we’ll all get back in a group chat when that happens.

Michael: That’s true, because what is Slack, if not the discourse persisting? See you all next time.