WHAT A NERD WANTS: With the Disney + original, Loki, coming to a close this week, it got our hosts thinking about nerd media universes, and the works that push those meta narratives forward. What’s better––a standalone series showcasing the nuances of a single character? or a show that pushes that cinematic universe into the next stage of its overall narrative? Andrew and D. Bethel put on their thinking caps and engage with these surprisingly nuanced questions.
NEWS BLAST (COVID-19 EDITION): A lot of stuff is going on amid the global pandemic, and Andrew and D. Bethel are here to talk about it (if Dan actually was able to record his audio this time). They talk about the AMC theater chain shunning Universal Pictures amid Trolls World Tour‘s success, Civilization VI‘s bold new plan for a year’s worth of DLC and expansions, Marvel and DC Comics are shipping books again, The Flash has an abbreviated season (ending on somewhat of a downbeat), and New Mutants gets a theatrical release date…again.
SHELTER AT HOME: With both hosts hometowns under a “shelter at home” quarantine, they discuss how they’ve had to adjust their behavior to continue their normal nerdy procedures. To that end, Andrew discusses playing tabletop RPGs online using the Roll20 website and the teleconferencing program, Zoom. D. Bethel, on the other hand, talks about comic book distribution and how the major (only?) comics distributor, Diamond Comics, decreed that it will cease ordering (and shipping) new comics immediately; Dan talks about how this affects him and, more importantly, how it affects local comic shops.
Here is a look at the virtual tabletop Andrew created for his game of Spectaculars:
Also, here is the video made by Sacramento comic shop proprietor, Ben Schwartz––owner of Empire’s Comics Vault––laying out the dilemma of comic shop owners in the time of the quarantine (especially before Diamond stopped shipping):
NOT FAR FROM HOME: It was announced that Sony and Disney/Marvel had once again struck a deal that will keep Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much to the joy of fans and to the benefit of both companies’ bank accounts. Having discussed the initial breakup back when it happened in August, Andrew and D. Bethel have a surprisingly heated discussion of this generally happy news.
THE STRANGEST HANDSHAKE: British tabletop company, Games Workshop, announced that it will be licensing one of its beloved properties––Warhammer 40,000––to American comic book giant, Marvel Comics, to make a line of comic books. This is interesting because both of Games Workshop’s original Warhammer line and especially its Warhammer 40,000 line have deep lore and continuities that has our hosts wondering how well it will translate to a comic book series.
New Dangers (20 September 2019): Where, briefly, D. Bethel and Andrew display their light wrestling knowledge in the light of AEW’s strange storyline built around a jock heel wrestler insults his opponent for liking Dungeons & Dragons.
The lauded limited podcast series returns with a new episode as well as a fan-favorite co-host, Kyrun Silva of Taurus Comics as he and D. Bethel (check out his webcomic, Long John, and his podcast, A Podcast [ , ] For All Intents and Purposes) pair up to take on the first StocktonCon Winter show. This episode focuses on the strange space that indie creators inhabit, that realm between fan and professional and how those waters can get muddied, especially when it comes to reading and respecting creators from your childhood (there is a lot of Rob Liefeld talk in these conversations) to meeting your heroes as a creator in your own right.
CORRECTION: D. Bethel said that one of the Uncanny X-Men issues he had Jim Lee sign was #249; he meant to say it was #248. All apologies.
Con Artists #01 – StocktonCon, pt. 1 : The drive home from the first day of the show. Kyrun and D. discuss making sales, confidence, and the comics they grew up reading and enjoying.
Con Artists #02 – StocktonCon, pt. 2 : The drive to StocktonCon to start Day 2 of the show. They discuss the importance of continuity, the level of fan engagement and ownership over continuity, and Dan’s strange reading habits growing up.
MIRA DEL MAHER: Bill Maher redoubles his “complaints” against adult comic book fans on a recent episode of his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, in an editorial titled, “Grow Up” (from the “New Rules” segment he does at the end of his show). Andrew and D. examine less the content of his argument and more the ideas it intersects, discussing the need for fandom self-reflection, literature and literary history, the Western canon, and the invented division between “high” and “low” art.
Though linked above, here is the segment in question:
Wikipedia article about one of the earliest examples of this thing called “comics”, The Yellow Kid.
Comics writer, Peter David, responds to the segment:
Cat Valente’s Response to Maher’s comments on Twitter (click on the tweet to read the entire thread):
Last night, Bill Maher went on a rant about comic books & those who love them & the generation (it rhymes with Schmelennials!) that uses words like #adulting & doesn’t want to give up the things they loved as kids or grow up
Well my name is Miss Valente & I got something to say
GOING BACK: Having played Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, D. Bethel has since gone back and played the first game in the Uncharted series and was rather frustrated by it. This experience got our hosts thinking about entering series (of games, movies, tv shows, etc.) mid-stream––what’s the value of going back to the start?
[This article has been updated by the author since seeing the film; the content remains spoiler-free. -D. Bethel]
When Marvel’s trailer for Avengers: Infinity War debuted, many comic fans, like myself, were excited. The culmination of ten years of dedicated movie watching will pay off in what MCU mastermind, Kevin Feige, has dubbed “[a thing] you’ve never seen in superhero films: a finale.” But being a self proclaimed comic expert, and even having my own YouTube Comic Book Show, means you become the person your friends text when they have questions. One that struck me after the trailer debut was “Who’s the purple dude that looks Hellboy-ish? The bad one who put a jewel into his knuckle?” The question is perfectly fair, although my response was a bit, um, charged:
“Um… Thanos? The Mad Titan. The ultimate villain that has been teased since Avengers ONE. WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHO IS THANOS?!!!!”
That simple question led down a rabbit hole of a discussion with my friend about the fact that they missed Thanos inallthree of his movie appearances (two of which were post- or mid-credits scenes), and his mention in another. Then you have the Infinity Stones and how they fit in (literally and figuratively) with the Infinity Gauntlet and how all of this relates to the average moviegoer. When all is said and done, when you sort the movies out using those requirements, you have the following:
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – Mentioned due to being Gamora/Nebula’s “adoptive” father.
Infinity Stones Appearances/Mentions
Thor (post-credits scene) – Tesseract/Cosmic Cube – Space Stone
Captain America: The First Avenger – Tesseract/Cosmic Cube – Space Stone
The Avengers – Tesseract/Cosmic Cube – Space Stone and The Scepter – Mind Stone
Thor: The Dark World – Aether – Reality Stone
Guardians of the Galaxy – The Orb – Power Stone and Aether – Reality Stone
Avengers: Age of Ultron – The Scepter/Vision’s head – “Mind Stone”, All 6 of the Stones were in Thor’s vision.
Captain America: Civil War – Mind Stone in Vision’s head
Doctor Strange – The Eye Of Agamotto – The Time Stone
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – mentioned Power Stone again
Thor: Ragnarok – Thor was looking for the Stones from when he had that vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
So, counting the above, in order to understand Thanos and the Infinity Stones (minus the Soul Stone.. WHERE IS THAT BAD BOY?) before going into Avengers: Infinity War, a person would have to have seen ten of the eighteen movies over the last 10 years just to understand everything that doesn’t have to do with our main characters. But is all that necessary? Could we shorten the list? Or, alternatively, how short can we make the list and still have it all make sense?
Let’s start out with movies from above you could skip as they are unrelated to most of the Infinity War plot (either secondary mentions of Thanos/Infinity Stones or no mentions).
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Then let’s take out movies that can have single line explanations in Infinity War to remove the bloat:
Captain America: The First Avenger – By the way, the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract was the macguffin of this movie and is seen in The Avengers.
Doctor Strange – The necklace Stephen Strange wears and uses in this movie has time powers and is the Time Stone
Thor: The Dark World – The Aether (aka red mist) was from this movie and that is actually an Infinity Stone.
So removing those means that only fourfive movies in the MCU have to do with the actual events of Infinity War from an understanding of the villain, giant cast of characters, and major plot points.
[UPDATE]: After seeing Avengers: Infinity War I would recommend that you watch All NINE of the below films for the most effective enjoyment of this film aka THE NEW HOTNESS. My recommendation is less due to the plot in all nine movies and more attributed to the character arcs and relationships that help push the plot of the new movie forward. However as far as plot goes, Thor: Ragnarok has been added to the list as it leads directly into Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Not bad. But let’s add in some movies to round out character motivations, and side characters that may be pertinent to Infinity War:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Arguably the best MCU movie and introduces The Winter Soldier who’s a pretty major character at this point.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – MORE GUARDIANS (for real they added another member to the team in this movie. Plus, BABY GROOT!).
Spider-Man: Homecoming – Gives you more information on Spider-Man and his relationship with Tony Stark.
Black Panther – Many of the locations and characters from Black Panther are sure to be important in Infinity War based on the trailers alone.
In conclusion, here is this comic nerd’s list of the movies you should probably watch before Avengers: Infinity War. Additionally, if you swap Avengers: Age Of Ultron for Iron Man (the first) these may be the best movies of the 18 MCU films anyway. The list below is in viewing order (by MCU chronology) with bolded titles being the MUST SEE four films.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
With all nine of these movies under your belt, anyone should be able to enjoy Avengers: Infinity War to its fullest.
Have any suggestions or edits to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Taylor Katcher doesn’t like sand. It’s coarse and irritating and gets everywhere. But he loves comics, typefaces, and most other things to a fault…mostly.You can follow Taylor’s unbridled love for stuff on Twitter.
WEEK IN GEEK: In a fit of nostalgia, Andrew picks up The Sims 3 again (starts at 1:49) while Dan can’t get past a nit-pick to enjoy anything Netflix’s Castlevania has to offer (20:46).
SDCC 2017: [starts at 34:04] It was a big weekend for nerd culture as the San Diego Comic Con dropped a bunch of new trailers on the world. Dan and Andrew look at three trailers and how they seem to be pointing out the creative direction of their respective studios with Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, DC/Warner Bros.’ Justice League, and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
For reference, here are the three trailers the discussion focuses on.