Spider-Man: Far From Home

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The ever amazing Alex Yi has worked up a fun sketch reminiscent of old Marvel Vs. Capcom video games. I’m looking forward to seeing this one again. Full of twists and turns and a classic Spider-Man villain ripped perfectly from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. There is no question in my mind that Tom Holland is perfect embodiment of Spider-Man/Peter Parker and here’s hoping he has as long a run as Hugh Jackman did with Wolverine in the X-Men Franchise.

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Logan's Run - Opening Gross Analysis

March is off to an incredible start for box office in 2017. To get an idea of what we are looking at it’s only March 12th. So far the overall gross for the month, according to the wonderful Box Office Mojo, is $259,396,912 million and the biggest movie of the month hasn’t even opened yet in Beauty and the Beast.  Now to get a little context the final tally for the month of March in 2016 was an insane 1 billion and change, which included huge titles like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zootopia. So there is still plenty of room to grow but I think it’s very possible that this year could overtake that billion dollar gross once it’s all said and done. This week Logan has to square off with the biggest baddest ape of all Kong which at this writing has apparently grossed over 61 million and taken the top spot at number 1 this weekend.  So where does that leave our old bedraggled X-Man?

Pencils by Alex Yi

Logan got dropped to 2nd place with an estimated 37 million dollar take. Not too shabby given the competition.  It dropped about 60% or so which is within the parameters for superhero movies. It’s hovering at about $152 million at the moment. Honestly this kind of release schedule ends up hurting both studios in many ways. If Warner Brothers had some distance from Logan who the hell knows how much further north those estimates would actually be. And for Logan I think their second week would have most certainly been stronger without the giant gorilla in the room. The critics have been gushing about the movie declaring it the greatest superhero movie ever. I saw it last weekend myself but I’ll put some of my thoughts about the movie later this week. Today is about box office and the question is, how close did I get to calling it? 

I gave an estimate between 80 and 90 million for the weekend. The actual opening box office was 88.4 million. Not bad I must say, totally within the margins. The question is how much does the Rated R status affect Logan? If this were a comedy with similar critical praise it could have made more. Look at Deadpool as the example which cleared over 132 million. While Logan has serious critical praise I have heard some rumblings, small they may be, that Logan was a bit too slow compared to most superhero fare.  I’m always inclined to believe it minimizes the base of younger kids that would love to see this movie but can’t due to the R. It’s hard to prove in either case, it’s more of a hunch. Time will tell if Logan reaches my lifetime goal around 225 million. I have a feeling that despite the drop it still has legs and audiences will keep it floating for at least a little bit longer.

Next up on the docket is Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 on May 5th. Things are going to get interesting as I will also be looking at whether or not Superhero fatigue is a real thing or is it something  haters come up with because they don’t happen to like this genre. I’m inclined toward the latter but let’s revisit in a couple of months.  

Logan - Gross Analysis

Team Weapon X - Drawn by Alex Yi 

This week’s comic book release is Logan, distributed by 20th Century Fox and it is the third, and last, film in the Wolverine series or at least to star Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Last time we took a crack at Lego Batman where I was over about 13 to 18 millon. Not too shabby, but I underestimated the kinky sex movie Fifty Shades 2. Sex still sells and clearly there was a ton of it in that movie. Go figure.

So going into this week, March 3rd, you have four movies entering the field: Logan, The Shack, Before I Fall and Table 19. None of these movies are expected to or will directly compete with Logan. It’s going to be number one without question. Internal tracking for the film, or first choice, is in the 20s. According to Fandango pre-sale ticket prices for Logan it has already surpassed early sales for all previous X-Men ensemble films, not including Deadpool. That’s an impressive start. Like Deadpool Logan is Rated R, which will be the first X-Men related franchise to put up that hard R. It worked for Deadpool because they brought the raunch the laughs and the bloody action. Logan however is much more serious. It will be interesting to see if it can put up similar numbers. On Valentine’s Day weekend last year Deadpool pulled in an insane $132 million on it’s opening weekend. For some comparison the last movie with Jackman as the lead in the Wolverine in July of 2013 grossed only $53 million and topping off at $132 million domestic. Wow for its lifetime Wolverine made almost the exact number of Deadpool’s opening weekend. The trailers for Logan have been fantastic, and this film will be incredible but I just don't see it beating Deadpool's opening number. The dark and broody tone could keep it from reaching that kind of goal. But records were made to be broken.

I’m going to put my estimate of Logan between 80-90 million opening weekend. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse grossed only $65.7 million opening weekend and topped off at $155 million. So if Logan is a solid film and the clamoring for Wolverine to go Berserker in bloody Rated R is a legit thing for audiences then I could be seriously underestimating this opening number. Whatever it is they are going to need it too cause it’s probably all downhill no matter the fantastic 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. You got Kong: Skull Island next week and the Behemoth Beauty and the Beast the week after that. All in I’m thinking $200-225 million all in. Snikt-Snikt!

Doctor Strange

Art by Alex Yi

By the Eye of Agamotto I declare that Dr. Strange was...Fantastic. Big shocker I know but Marvel just continues to do everything right. Whether you love the Marvel Universe or not you cannot deny that they never just phone it in. They are meticulous and they allow the characters to breathe. They start with the fundamental aspect of film-making that makes or breaks a film despite the auteur filmmaker. It's the script stupid.  

I'm going to talk a bit about the movie and there will be some SPOILERS below so be forewarned. I wanted to talk first about the relationship between the comics and the film and how Dr. Strange has evolved. Dr. Strange was created by Steve Ditko (Spider-Man, Hulk, Shade: The Changing Man) pretty much on his own. This is one of the major characters that although Stan Lee did write some issues he claims absolutely no ownership of it.  Ditko wrote and did the art for the character in 1963 that debuted in Strange Tales #110. Dr. Strange was never an A list hero but his creator made an art out of this very bizarre and odd form of storytelling . Despite his stories inability to capture mainstream comic fans his beautiful designs and colors stands as a testament to the art of comics and how Dr. Strange became a true reflection of the Warholian pop art community. Which is apropos to the man himself who in 1968 pulled a J.D. Salinger and retreated from Marvel and the mainstream for a small office in the concrete jungle of NYC. (You can read a geat article about his current whereabouts by Abraham Reisman) I really enjoyed the Strange Tales books from the 70's. They are trippy a bit goofy and very weird but in the best way possible.  After Ditko and then Bill Everett as writer/artist (Sub-Mariner, Daredevil, Marvel Classics)  in the late 60s it was artist Frank Brunner (Howard the Duck, Vampirella, Creepy) and writer Steve Engleheart's (Captain America, Avengers, Detective Comics) run that defined the series for most comic fans.

Dr. Strange was an arrogant neurosurgeon who, after a nasty car accident, loses the use of his hands and simultaneously ending his career. He seeks help in all directions but finds no cure until he comes to Kamar-Taj deep in the Himalayas and finds instruction from the Ancient One. He teaches Strange the mystical arts. He uses artifacts like the Eye of Agamotto and the Book of the Vishanti and says crazy things like "By the Hoary of Hosts of Hoggoth!" His main villains over the past 30 years include Baron Mordo, Mephisto, Nightmare, Satannish and the big bad himself Dormaummu. Doctor Strange is currently being written by Jason Aaron (Thor, Ghost Rider, Scalped) and artist Chris Bachalo (Uncanny X-Men, Generation X, Shade: The Changing Man). My all time favorite Dr. Strange in the comics are his guest spots on Spider-Man. If you've been paying attention to the blog you'll notice my connection to many characters in the Marvel Universe is through the webbed wall crawler. That is not an accident as he was my primary reading as a kid. But I always loved how much of a fish out of water Spidey was every time he had dealings with Dr. Strange. Whenever Spider-Man would get sucked into another hellish dimension with Dormammu or accidentally get thrown into the astral plane. His freak outs are legendary and I always thought they were a fun pairing so keep that in mind in the future Kevin Feige. 

Cumberbatch nailed Dr. Strange in all aspects and you got to give the man his props for selling it so convincingly. This is by far one of the more difficult characters to bring to screen and he handled it with charm, deftness and sheer bad assery. The film looked incredible with the various worlds especially the mirror world was most spectacular. Now according to Rotten Tomatoes most of the reviews were positive. But  after looking a little closer I began to notice a theme. Apparently the movie was was too formulaic for their tastes and that Strange was too much of like Iron Man. And to this I say - huh? Yes Dr. Strange is arrogant and incredibly gifted and is charismatic like Tony Stark but that is the only thing that connects them.  He can be a smart ass which is probably why, on the surface, people liked to compare him to Tony Stark. The truth is he's a much more emotional and far less of a narcissist. Yet in some ways he excels at being an asshole, which the film proudly allows him to be. Dr. Strange is confident and understands his exemplary gifts which is why he is a snob to his fellow doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) when asked to lend his talents to the ER. He has nobler aspirations yes,  dickish they may be, but after watching him perform such spectacular surgery it's hard to argue with his logic. There is however a particular trope in most blockbuster films, including this one, that I wish would be addressed and at least tweaked if not removed and that would be the training montage. I understand that no one wants to see Dr. Strange meditating and reading books but at the very least they can acknowledge that things are hard regardless of a photographic memory and that sometimes things take years to learn. For God's sakes you can throw up a 4 years later card or something. We aren't told exactly how long he's been there it may be months or years but it always bugs me so let's try to address that the next time Marvel. 

So what can we expect from Dr. Strange in the future of the Marvel Universe? Well it's clear that he will appear in Avengers: Infinity War given that it is revealed in the film that the Eye of Agamotto is the time stone, one of 5 of the Infinity stones. Up to this moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have seen the Tesseract or Cosmic Cube from the Avengers and Captain America which is the Space Stone. The Mind Stone appeared in Loki's scepter in Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and now resides in the headpiece of the Vision. The Aether from Thor: The Dark World is discovered to be the Reality Stone. The final stone is the power gem from Guardians of the Galaxy.  All of these forces being brought together to combat Thanos who covets the 5 gems in the Infinity Gauntlet which he revealed at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he proclaimed as he took the glove that he will have to now get them by himself. With that being said now that Strange has beat back Dormammu and is on his way to being the Sorcerer's Supreme has he created possibly two new allies for Thanos to get what he wants? The second being Baron Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor who started as an ally and a mentor to Strange but by the end of the film felt betrayed by the order and is now a rogue sorcerer doing some really bad things. It sounds like he will certainly be back for the second Dr. Strange film but it would be a great twist to have him return as a heavy in Infinity War.  I appreciate that the film brought the visual style of Ditko and kept the weird while deftly bringing Strange perfectly into the Marvel Universe. Bring on Infinity War.

Bat Family sketches by Alex Yi

Catwoman

My boy Alex Yi has been hard at work sketching and drawing new pieces. I wanted to show a few here and they are also on his Art Gallery page if you want to check them out there. He has a combination of pencil sketches and rubber mat sketches done only with a sharpie. Unfortunately they don't scan well so there is a bit of a glare on the photo but it doesn't take away from the awesome. Please enjoy and if you are interested in buying any of these drop Alex a line on Instagram @alexyiart.

Suicide Squad Wasn't Quite as Bad as Critics Said

Sketch by Alex Yi

I Just got out of Suicide Squad and I came away liking much more than the critics said I would. Is the film perfect, absolutely not. I will agree that the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), while interesting, was not the best choice for this band of rogues to go to war with. Her powers are weird and very hard to define and they didn't have enough time to establish her or her relationship with hero Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). That being said the Dirty Dozen meets the DCU is a fair comparison of what we saw on screen and the character moments are strong with certain members of the team. Diablo (Jay Hernandez), doesn't get as much time as Harley, Flag and Deadshot but what he does have is a solid arc and one of the most tragic backstory of this ragtag group of anti-heroes. Deadshot (Will Smith) probably gets the most airtime and they allow his humanity and humor to shine through the bad that he's done, and even though it was a bit forced at first, showed the compatibility with Rick Flag at the end of the movie. This is honestly a return to form for Will Smith and it cannot be ignored. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)  was electric as expected and truly captured the gonzo insanity of the Joker's girlfriend. Jared Leto was good but I admit I didn't care about his character that much, he did his job in the movie and played the role admirably, maybe in future installments he'll show me something truly interesting but for now he was just serviceable. It was nice seeing Batman show up at times and Affleck continued to show why he belongs in the cowl. But the real standout here is Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), you don't get any colder or calculated than this woman and she nailed it. This was the Waller from the comics who could completely be the villain or the hero of this tale as she weaves the line throughout. Suicide Squad doesn't work without her and it makes it clear to you why. You also get some nice surprises from Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who brought some of the humor and a little heart in unexpected places.

Overall I think the critics were right to trash the story a bit but they just can't ignore how great many of these characters are and how they are depicted on screen. Yes it plays like an episode directly ripped from a comic book, but that is kinda the point I think.  Ayer deserves a lot of credit and it shows how much better a filmmaker he is compared to Zach Snyder and the contrast between this and Batman v Superman couldn't be any more stark. What do you think?

Sketch by Alex Yi

Sketch by Alex Yi

The Legacy of Captain America

The above sketch is drawn by our illustrious artist extraordinaire Alex Yi, were about to put up a whole bunch more of his work as he has diligently been slamming out these new prints every week.

Captain America, the First Avenger, he's meant so many things to so many people over the past 75 years and this year seems the most precarious since he's finally made it to the  A-list at the movies due to Captain America: Civil War and apparently to a Hydra sleeper agent in the comic books.  I'll keep this short and sweet Steve Rogers is and will always be the moral leadership of the MCU it's not what makes him boring or predictable it's what makes him inspirational. It is why someone made a bronze statue of him which is going to remain until the end of time in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY. This current story line has made some people mad, I get it, I didn't really appreciate it either but if you've read Captain America since his inception in 1941 he's been through a lot worse and is still kicking around. This new plot line, by Nick Spencer, is I think meant to show the inverse of patriotism, for love of country. The dangers of Nationalism and blind loyalty to a symbol that was once the ultimate in trust. Thus in turn pushing the reader to understand truly what Captain America has been fighting for all of these years and why his trust actually matters. I strongly believe that Steve Rogers' morality will be restored eventually and when that happens perhaps he will have inspired another generation of Americans to always ask questions about your leaders and remind them their trust must be earned and never given. Happy Birthday, Cap! Hoping for 75 more!

 

 

Deadpool's Seven Year Itch

Just wanted to showcase the extraordinary talents of Alex Yi with this fantastic panel of Deadpool feeling his inner Marilyn in a scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955). I added a few word balloons and viola.  You can check out the rest of Alex Yi's  artwork right here on his artist page just click on his name above. 

Suicide Squad Team

Hey everybody, so wanted to share with you one of Titan Vs. Titan's featured artists Alex Yi and his awesome team sketch of the Suicide Squad that hits theatres on August 5th of this year. Alex, I think really captured the diversity and in turn some of the weirdness of this team. It's gonna be awesome to watch when it comes out but until then enjoy this piece of some of the Suicide Squad: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc,  Captain BoomerangRick Flag and Katana