November 30, 2013

Have a question related to pop culture, comics, movies, or music, to trivia that you need a second opinion on? Heck, even a first-rate opinion? Ask Trivia Club’s host Russel Harder anything! With a new column posted every SATURDAY! Ask Trivia Club on twitter @trivia_club or send us a message on the facebook page /TriviaClub!

Q: "With the recent Defenders announcement, not to mention Avengers 2: Age of Ultron on the horizon, are there any more superhero teams that Marvel could turn into movies? Especially since Fantastic Four and X Men (and therefore every mutant) will be under the cinematic control of 20th Century Fox until the end of time and/or movies." – @DamnAykroyd

A: Thank you for the question! You can enjoy Damn Aykroyd's Traders of The Lost Art Mix-Tape nights in person, at Hitch where I also have Trivia Club on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month! Now other then the Inhumans, as an in-roads to a Marvel Cinematic Universe including mutants (without having mutants), you mean? With Avengers going global (no doubt) against Ultron, and universal in the inevitable third movie clash versus Thanos, and the Defenders bringing the New York street level cinematic action to every small screen you own, thanks to that Netflix deal, all bases do seem to be covered.

Save for one exception.

No, seriously.
Trademark dispute not withstanding, as a team concept it has definite cinematic legs. Now before I get into it, I'd like to add the caveat that all characters already in Marvel films, planned for Marvel films, or under different studios will be off the board (but again, there is one exception).

Back-tracking a bit, The Defenders, in there comic book iteration of (Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Hulk, and Namor at least) were a non-team, or anti-team, meaning there were people that didn't necessarily like one another, but were the kind of people that were immensely powerful in specialized (or brute) ways, so as to be the only folks that could handle certain problems. They didn't team pro-actively, they played defense when there was no other name, and thus the name.

I don't think the Netfilx/Marvel four will go in this direction, however. Luke Cage and Iron Fist are friends, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are involved (and SPOILERS: inevitably married with child), Daredevil as a lawyer and a mainstay on the street-level is Marvel Cinematic's Spider-Man since Sony has the actual masked man. He’s both the biggest name and the inevitable glue of that team. More then the Cinematic Avengers, their Netflix Defenders will be a capital T - Team. The Defenders can be Marvel Cinema's answer to Batman (street level grit) and the Fantastic Four (family) rolled into one.

So I will undertake the Sisyphean task of prognosticating my wildest comic book movie dreams, since this question inspired something in me. Don't get used to it, dear readers, fantasy booking is a fools errand, however fun. My pitch to you is a film based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's California. Featuring Hollywood, the coastline, and the desert from L.A. to Las Vegas, and would tell the story of...

The Champions.

The Champions can be the non-team, this anti-team, a diverse group brought together more by circumstance then by any other conceivable reason. Fighting separate battles that, as it turns out, ARE related and inevitably coming together for that final climatic battle.

Duuuuuuude, YES!
The film would be able to begin as a transition from the Ant-Man film. I can only imagine that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man will be an incorrigible rouge, and potential foil to SHIELD, more a mix of a Eric O'Grady and Scott Lang then Henry Pym. To biology and physics what Tony Star is to weaponry and tech. For the people, after people for himself, etc. Seeing the potential in the Avengers and the Defenders, Ant-Man sets up shop in Hollywood and looks to become a marketable global icon. Especially if the rumors pan out and Paul Rudd becomes Ant-Man (double if Rashida Jones joins in as The Wasp), much fun would be had with this. This doesn't go without notice from SHIELD, and they put a man in the field to keep an eye on the Ant.

Good news? It's the only existing MCU hero already in play. Enter Hawkeye:

Funny, even without context.
Allowing the character much more room for growth from his appearance in the first Avengers film (great character moments not withstanding, he was inevitably shafted by the mind control storyline, and was there to fill out the roster), while also giving a subtle nod to the West Coast Avengers led by Hawkeye in the 80's and early 90's. 

Damn it man, let me finish!
This interoperation of the character would use shades of the current Matt Fraction and David Aja series, opening a door for a future film of its own for the character. He would be the rough around the edges every-man pro to Ant-Man's rouge-ish super scientist. A great foil for when things start getting out of hand on the Best Coast.

Cool as f*ck hair-style included, natch. 
Luckily when things do start getting out of hand, SHIELD has more then one man on the coast. And by man, I mean woman. Captain Marvel is the more outré example of superhero in the movie. Mentioned through press from the start, and with admiration by Hawkeye as Ant-Man rolls his eyes, Carol Danvers is a former Air Force pilot who gained powers beyond her comprehension thanks to Chitauri technology during the Battle of New York, in The Avengers film. She's still dealing with the limits of her powers, she's still dealing with a lot of things, but she's the kind of strong, level-headed person that has even gotten full recommendations from Fury and Captain America since. Going public, timeline-wise after the end of Iron Man 2, with the Mandarin's very ostentatious attacks on the West Coast not to mention Iron Man's slinking away from the public eye. She's the ace, the shining example, the brave public face even with internal conflicts yes, but with the iron-will and Superman-level appeal for Marvel. The perfect mix of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern in fact! She's the out-sized capital-SH "Super-Hero" in this mix of ground-level and other-worldly shtuff, in The Champions.

Other-worldly you ask?

Since Cinematic Marvel Asgard looks to be more advanced highly-advance inter-dimensional space-super beings, near ageless, and worshipped by those without the ability to fathom such things, then Magical God... then we can use them to connect to the most "magical" element. And go figure, THIS is the link to the comic book Champions! No, I’m not talking about Hercules…

100% Nic Cage FREE!
Now that the property is now back in houseGhost Rider and his being the "Spirit of Vengeance" would be linked to a long ago creation of Odin, with the flaming skull being a not so subtle threat to the Frost Giants, and would have served like the first and even less practical version of The Destroyer seen in the first Thor film. It would then follow the idea brought up by Jason Aaron and his writing tenure on Ghost Rider, becoming something of a legacy power passed on through history and made into myth and legend. Including, for artistic license, a dead sheriff in the old west and a fighter pilot shot down during World War Two (an easy family connection to Captain Marvel!). Eventually the Ghost Rider would find itself in Hollywood stuntman Johnny Blaze.  

The most dramatic connection to the Champions film though, would be the ancient use of the Spirit of Vengeance by Odin (possibly even in it's first iteration before he lost control of it, and it ran wild), used as the reason Atlantis sank. This not only connects Ghost Rider, newly returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entrenched in the established mythology of past films but also avoids involving God, the Devil, or Christianity in this version of the character and mucking up the mystical waters.

Anywho, with Thor running around for three movies now, Atlantis is no longer staying quiet, and its Bastard King Namor decides to start a war with the surface world/the west coast United States. Which means Ghost Rider and Namor have an unsuspected reason for heavy tension. It also gives Marvel a chance to duplicate that Loki magic in Namor, as the sassy scoundrel, royal dick, and inevitable flawed-hero in the form of a war-hungry monarch.

So when the battle is finally won and the forces of Atlantis are turned away before the world's coastline is swallowed by the sea, and all manner of octopi and krakens are released and defeated, Ant-Man would then make that "Shwarma pitch" to the collection of The Wasp, Captain Marvel, Ghost Rider, Namor, and Hawkeye, as I mentioned at the start of this crazy idea... "We... are... THE CHAMPIONS!"

Only to be laughed down, as everyone goes there separate ways for solo films. For now.

And THAT is my thoughts on option C for a team-up film for Marvel. If I had my way, which I don't but if I did this would be the third film in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Ant-Man and Captain Marvel leading up to it. It would prove a nice indirect sequel to both films, while also proving a useful rejuvenation of Hawkeye's story (the results of The Avengers 2 notwithstanding), and an origin story for Namor while helping re-introduce Ghost Rider free from the shackles of Nic Cage.

Back to the topic of actors though, I would skew older when casting Ghost Rider, go with a Jeffery Dean Morgan, skewing young Taylor Kitsch or, if the casting-stars aligned, Michael K. Williams. Paul Rudd, as noted, is still the perfect casting for Ant-Man especially in the more then able hands of Edgar Wright.

If Jeremy Renner doesn't want to continue as Hawkguy (or if Marvel is its usual self and is playing hardball), I have nothing against a Hulk-style casting change and going with a guy like Garrett Hedlund in the role or if at all possible, Ben Foster. Katee Sackhoff is still the geek favorite when it comes to Captain Marvel. And Namor? Phew, that's the hardest casting choice of them all, isn't it? You have to find the kind of lightning in a bottle that has made Tom Hiddleston potentially THEY break-out character in the Marvel Cinematic U if Tumblr is to be believed.

I know you're expecting me to say Anna Kendrick, simply to keep the streak alive. I will not. No, instead I'll go with the easy choice since the answer to this question has already proven how much time I have on my hands, I can rest on my laurels. The perfect Namor is Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is to say I'm only serving to make the OTHER HALF of the internet/tumblr happy now. Everyone else is a reach, casting-wise, yes even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Inevitably it would half-follow the Phase One formula of introducing the pieces before you present the completed puzzle, while also doing something of a Guardians of the Galaxy all-in-one reveal, continuing the stories of some characters while being the jumping off point for others. Who wouldn't want to see a Namor, the bastard king and now traitor to his people, oceanic epic or the continuing adventures of Captain Marvel? Ghost Rider, the legacy continues? Let alone Hawkeye versus the Tracksuit Draculas, in the spirit of Fraction and Aja! I know I would...

You guys, Kate Bishop could even get involved!
... and I thiiink you might, as well. You're welcome, the two people that knew anything about what I was talking about (no, I know there's more then two, you five).

And now a couple of random questions from a familiar face to the Cardinal Rule's Trivia Club!

Q: “How many licks DOES it take to get to the centre of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” -- Michelle C. of SPARTACUS

A: Looking through the extensive scholarly work on the subject (no seriously), I’ve decided that it all depends on the ol’ WWW method, when it comes to a Tootsie Roll Pop. The first W is for the weight of your tongue. Are you a heavy licker, a light licker, is this something that is the kind of information you don’t share in polite company? Speaking of which, the second W is for wet. I could have said moist, but I don’t want to lose the reader, after putting them through 2,000 words on an imaginary Champions movie. You get the idea though. The third, and most important W, is for willpower. Sure, that know-it-all owl never had any, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t. If you can avoid chomping down on that Tootsie Roll, made you’ll figure out how many licks it takes.

Either way, even with the WWW Method, it changes from person to person, and even from time-to-time. And the more I think about it, is kind of a creepy way to think about it, isn’t it… I think that line was crossed somewhere around moistness and/or tongue weight…

Thanks for hanging in there dude, I knew you'd enjoy it!

Ahem, you had another question Michelle?

Q:  “Who DID put the "bomp" in the "bomp shoo bomp shoo bomp"? Or the "ram" in the "rama lama ding dong"?” -- Michelle C. of SPARTACUS

A: I heard that Barry Mann was also wondering this, and he would also like to shake that man’s hand for helping Barry’s baby fall in love with him. So I'll try my best to answer this question for you AND for Barry.

I can’t give an answer that is without a doubt true, but spinning off the second part of your question I can tell you who put the bomp in the bomp shoo bomp shoo bomp. Earlier that same year, the Marcel’s Cornelius Harp did put some bomp in the song, “Blue Moon”. I mean, that guy has got to have SOME responsibility in all this.

Maybe that’ll be all that Barry Mann needs to start a shaking. Oh, not to mention the man who put the “ram” in the “rama lama ding dong”, the Edsel’s George Jones. "Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong" was another song that came out earlier the same year Barry Mann started asking questions. Ah, the Edsel’s came from a different time didn’t they? A time when changing your band name from Esso (yes, the oil company) to Edsel (because it was a new car) seemed like absolutely charming idea. Oh, and incase you were wondering, a Marcell was a hairstyle.

And Barry Mann? I suppose he was something akin to a later-day Girl Talk.

Though, I assume, not as drenched with sweat.

And I’m right, because you asked me.

If you’ve got a question you’d like to see Russel tackle in a future column, just send it to @trivia_club on Twitter with the hashtag #AskTriviaClub.

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