3 Hardships for Modern Comic Book Readers

When you pick up a hobby (read: undertaking) like reading current comic books, you are immediately engaged in a medium so separate from television, from movies, and from the norm. Discovering new genres, new characters and worlds, and finding tastes among writers and artists is akin to experiencing new music and reaching deeper into your own soul. As with most hobbies, however, there are shortcomings of the business, the medium, and the nature of the readers that culminate into tragedies only comic book readers can understand.

Realizing the Universe is too big to comprehend

One of the great things about DC’s relaunch with The New52 back in 2011 was the immediacy and ease of access for readers who lack familiarity with the characters. Characters with extensive history such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, alongside lesser-known heroes such as Aquaman, Catwoman, and Batgirl, were given new titles with new writers and artists to take them to a new audience. However, once universe-wide events began, there were a lot of new factors that made understanding your new book just that much more difficult. Events like Trinity War, Forever Evil, and The Culling can work against the reader; instead of being intrigued by the introduction of too many characters, you are overwhelmed with the lack of diversity or importance of all the characters. It becomes off-putting when a book you enjoy becomes dependent on you understanding every character the company has ever made. Sure, you could just be up to date and read every title in existence, every week, on time, but does that give you the opportunity enjoy a universe more or does it simply become a chore just to understand what’s going on with the characters you have invested in?

FOREVER_EVIL_1
Can you name everyone here? If not, then you may not know what was going on for DC in 2013. Image from Forever Evil #1

Understanding what creative differences mean

There are so many great comic book teams at work creating your favorite stories right this moment. Occasionally, they will jump together to new projects. Teams like Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Scott Snyder and Jock, and Rick Remender and Greg Toccini have taken their success from Marvel and/or DC to smaller publications to tell new and engaging stories outside of the superhero genre. However, some teams don’t match up or, more often, teams disagree with publishers on where the books should be heading.. This can lead to books ending prematurely, or one person leaving the team, leaving someone to jump in and scramble to make a finished product (read: meet deadlines). This can severely hurt a book that is wavering and the readers will take not. A book like 2014’s She-Hulk suffered from a shift in artist change, while the Marvel event AXIS, which was the finale of Uncanny Avengers, failed to hit well with readers because of Marvel’s upcoming company-wide relaunch. Books can be considered successful or not based on a multitude of reasons, but when the forces behind the project are not on the same page, it hurts everyone.

A bit ambitious and unfortunately, the achilles heel of Uncanny Avengers. Cover to AXIS #2
A bit ambitious and unfortunately, the achilles heel of Uncanny Avengers. Cover to AXIS #2

Series take hiatus/are suspect to bizarre scheduling

This is what can truly can a reader’s soul. Let’s look at Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja. An Eisner award-winning, witty, simple, yet powerful book that helped shine a spotlight on the Avengers’ least powerful teammate. Here’s a panel from the first page.

hawkeye01

 

Fantastic writing, great coloring, unique style in art, and an accessible introduction, Hawkeye was set to break new ground every issue. And it did until it didn’t. Here’s a look at Hawkeye’s release schedule from start to finish.

 

  1. August 01, 2012
  2. September 05, 2012
  3. October 17, 2012
  4. November 21, 2012
  5. December 05, 2012
  6. December 19, 2012
  7. January 30, 2013
  8. February 27, 2013
  9. April 10, 2013
  10. May 01, 2013
  11. June 26, 2013
  12. July 10, 2013
  13. October 16, 2013
  14. November 27, 2013
  15. January 22, 2014
  16. February 26, 2014
  17. March 12, 2014
  18. March 26, 2014
  19. July 30, 2014
  20. September 10, 2014
  21. February 04, 2015
  22. July 15, 2015

Hawkeye, a monthly released book, just finished its 22 issue run last month, meaning it took the book an extra year to do what every other book in Marvel’s publication line has done. What this tells the readers of the book is that the writer and artist have not been able to complete the project. The gaps dishearten readers who worry about the book’s longevity as a whole. It disheartens people who pick up the books as trade paperback collections, because they wait even longer for these books to release as a whole. Don’t think I am solely picking on Marvel; this happens on multiple books across publishers, big and small. While there are numerous factors that cause these delays, the readers ultimately suffer and this is never good. The equivalent of this situation is having a television show airing once a week and then shifting the show to premiere new episodes once every 3 months. It is unheard of and ultimately leads to cancellation.

Is the struggle too real? What has been hard about getting into comics for you, the Swole Patrol? Let us know what has been your comic book struggle in the comments below or sound off on the official NerdSwole Facebook and Twitter pages!

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Stephen Amell Being Awesome

Stephen Amell is a popular guy.  He may not be a global movie star just yet but Stephen Amell is definitely a man of the people.  He can be found broadcasting live via Facebook or tweeting his upcoming match with Stardust at Summerslam.  We think this WWE/Arrow “crossover” is fantastic because who doesn’t like a “good vs evil” blend?

Our exact sentiments on his match at SummerSlam
Our exact sentiments on his match at SummerSlam

On occasion, we get to see celebrities step into the ring and maybe hold their own with pro wrestling stars.  However, it’s different with Stephen Amell.  For one, he’s actually built, athletic and a well known fan of pro wrestling.  His Arrow fame draws fans of the show over to pro wrestling and he’s a hit with the young demographic.  He’s an actor, whether it’s playboy Oliver Queen or badass Casey Jones.  Just give him the mic, have him say “You have failed this city!” and we’re sure the crowd will go wild.

Has the stare down on lock down
Has the stare down on lock down

Being a man of the people. Amell is launching a commemorative t-shirt for charity. We hope to see him in a modified Arrow outfit, fit to allow mobility and look cool on camera.  Yeah, his appearance will be on Pay-Per-View but we trust you’re going to see or eventually see the clips one way or another.  His tag team partner has a finishing move called the Red Arrow so what’s not to like?

Hyping the match with venue, city and "vs" image.
Hyping the match with venue, city and “vs” image.

No word yet if the Flash will be at ringside.

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News Roundup: Shiny Rayquaza, Ronda Rousey, Constantine

It’s hump day but already, a lot has happened this week!  Unless you frequent the Pokémon subreddit or Serebii, you may have missed the news on the SHINY Rayquaza event happening as of today, August 12!  That’s right, this is no ordinary level 70 Rayquaza.  It’s the shiny form and it knows Dragon Ascent, therefore allowing it to Mega Evolve.  There’s no time frame set so hop on the Mystery Gift and receive this rare beast via an Internet connection.

Shiny Rayquaza
Shiny Rayquaza
Dragon Ascent --> Mega Rayquaza
Dragon Ascent –> Mega Rayquaza

Earlier this week, famed Pokémon/DBZ/WoW nerd and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey did an Ask Me Anything (AMA) and it was nothing short of glorious.  She named the fighting Pokémon Throh as her ideal opponent in the octagon and stated that she rather train with Vegeta than Goku in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.  She named Kitana to be her favorite Mortal Kombat character and we all know Mew is her favorite Pokémon.

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Throh
Throh

Big news for DC Comics TV universe.  Actor Matt Ryan has received the green light to reprise his role as Constantine on Arrow.  Some speculate that his involvement will help revive a deceased main character on Arrow.

Matt Ryan as Constantine
Matt Ryan as Constantine

Now it’s time to turn on ORAS and land a shiny legendary!

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Funko POP – Funko POP Everywhere

Funko POP Vinyl Figures can be found everywhere,  You may have noticed that there are POPs for just about every franchise known to man,  If you can name a franchise that isn’t in POP form, chances are it will be soon.

What is it that makes these 3.75 inch figures so adorable and collection worthy?  Really, it’s a number of reasons.  The usual price tag is $9.99 and the availability throughout retail stores helps.  Their lines include popular franchises such as Star Wars, Breaking Bad and Harry Potter.  In addition, notice the huge, square head with black beady eyes and no visible mouth.  These figures can pretty much sit in an office, a room or in a box amongst others of its kind.

vegeta

For those that are serious collectors, the figures in an unopened box are a must.  Some figures have been discontinued while others were distributed in limited quantities.  At San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), Conan O’Brien held his TV show and distributed four variations of his persona in POP form to members of the audience. Each one goes for at least $100 on eBay and the set of four is easily listed at $600 or more.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.42.01 PM

Think this is crazy? Check out some of the Freddy Funko POP variations.  These are usually released every year at SDCC in extremely limited quantities.  As the years go by, the usual asking price on eBay is a whopping $1000 or more!

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.40.53 PM

Nerd Swole recently experienced the long lines and craze for Funko POPs in our recent trip to SDCC.  We were given a checklist of which Funkos we wanted and in the end, we got most of the items on our list.  Sadly, some POPs sell out rather quickly.  The tiny SDCC sticker on the box is what makes them so sought after as they are labeled as “exclusives”.

Notice the SDCC logo
Notice the SDCC logo

While we could never dream of possibly ever collecting all the POPs variations in existence, we do feel these figures make a great gift for any age.

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Artist Appreciation – Wes Craig

Many things come to mind when you think about comic art, but it’s an incredible surprise when comic art helps shape the story as much as the writing does. Wes Craig’s contributions to the comic book medium may be few, but his impact is monumental, as his bold and dynamic art is in a class of its own.

We can’t talk Wes Craig without showing off his exemplary work on Deadly Class. Both Erin and myself have talked about this comic to great lengths, and Rick Remender’s writing perfectly suits Craig’s style.Deadly-Class-1-Two-Page

Dynamic panel layout, simple design, and aggressive line work, accompanied by beautiful colors from Lee Loughridge, Craig’s art is such a joy to see. It’s not just his action sequences that are spectacular…

8263bf56731f11c8f22dcbd7a86add62

 

This incredibly powerful and introspective moment could not have been possible if not for crucial things that Wes Craig incorporates into every page he touches. The simple panel action, the structure of the scene (joining two characters who barely know each other), the focus on the characters and movement, and letting the inks do their job. He knows when show off action and makes you pay attention when the biggest moments come from delicate moments like this.

Fortunately, Craig has contributed to other pieces, includes DC’s Legends of the Dark Knight series, a Batman title that focuses on telling the best Batman stories without being bound to continuity.

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This story in particular tackles the age-old question of how Batman learned to disappear right when you turn to speak to him. It turns out to be in the early days of Bruce becoming the Dark Knight and finding love during his young travels. It’s a heartwarming story that in accentuated by Craig’s focus on character interaction and body movement.

Here’s a few pieces that he’s done outside of his major projects.

Reverse Flash
Reverse Flash
Barry Allen
Barry Allen
Guardians of The Galaxy
Guardians of The Galaxy
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents

What the pieces above show off is that, unlike some other comic artists, the bodies the people have in these scenes are realistic. While most of his designs rely on skinny characters who can perform the insane movement, the characters are not ridiculously muscular or out of proportion. It makes relating and believing these characters and their stories that much more satisfying.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of doing so, make sure to check out Deadly Class, available on our Amazon Store, along with other books, games, shows, and merchandise that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

Thank you again for checking out this article; tweet @Nerdswole for any artists you think should be featured, professional or not, and they will be considered to be featured in an upcoming article!

Interested in writing for Nerd Swole? Contact Brian at twentytwo.le@gmail.com for details!

5 Hard Truths About the Marvel Cinematic Universe

As we get more movies from the popular Marvel Studios, we find that there are some things that are evolving faster than we can process them. Some things are beautiful, some things are not so great, and both casual fans and comic book nerds will have to learn to accept these things. The Marvel train is going full speed and there’s no stopping it now. Here are five hard truths about the MCU, whether you like it or not.

Everything begins and ends with Iron Man (Tony Stark).

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When Marvel announced an Iron Man movie was coming out, People weren’t sure what to expect, as Iron Man wasn’t the poster boy (it was a tie between Wolverine and Spider-Man). Thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s performance and influence, the world of Marvel was born and now Iron Man is at the crux of everything. Building Ultron instead of Hank Pym, becoming the first public hero, and leading the Avengers, Iron Man will have a part in every major plotline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

There will be humor.

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DC movies (and shows) have been on a streak of seriousness, aside from CW’s The Flash. On the other hand, Marvel seems to work humor alongside the action and drama. Avengers Age of Ultron may have as many humorous moments as it did incredible action sequences, and even Guardians of The Galaxy incorporated humor into its very conclusion.

Everyone is hanging out together.

science_bros_by_lauren_bennett-d51lbex

 

Both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have sidekicks, but Tony Stark is also known to hang out with Bruce Banner. Nick Fury is in everything and knows everybody. Much like in the comics, these characters appear in each other’s stories and with Captain America: Civil War’s casting list, the cameos are endless.

No movie will ever match the comic that inspired it.

Age_of_Ultron_Vol_1_1

This is both a good thing and bad thing. While Captain America: The Winter Soldier mirrored the comic that inspired it, the movie took some liberties to make sure it fit the time frame of the movie universe. There’s also the case where not so great comics inspire the movies, and the differentiation between the two is a good thing (see 2013 AGE OF ULTRON event).

At least 10% of the movie is setup for the future.

thor-water-of-sight-790x330

The initial fun of the Marvel movies was the endings. After the credits rolled, audiences were treated to a small scene that would give a slight nod to the future of the movies. No moment was greater than seeing Nick Fury in Tony Stark’s house to talk about the Avengers initiative. However, as Thor’s cave scene in Age of Ultron was any indicator, these movies also have to make sure everything ties in together. The problem I have is that some scenes, like Thor’s little side-story, seem to detract from the main plotline that was being built over the course of the Phase 2 Marvel movies. In my opinion, these moments may seem more fitting in one movie, at the end of the credits, or to be completely removed altogether. The end scenes used to be fun and surprising, but now they feel expected and the fun seems to be gone.

Going into Ant-Man in July, we’ll see how he fits into this strange new world where everybody knows everybody.

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Things I’ll Miss About Marvel’s Ultimate Universe

Secret Wars hits the shelves this month, and this week marks the release of Ultimate End, the final issues left of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. For those who don’t know, the Ultimate Universe is an alternate reality that updated many of the Marvel mainstays for modern readers. Back in 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men launched the characters in a new way. As the universe formed, so did the titles, as Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Ultimates (aka Avengers) came to the forefront. With this year being the 15th and last year of the universe, I’d like to note some things I’ll miss about the beloved alternate reality.

Costume Design

Ultimatum05FinchWraparoundCoverWhile some characters maintain similarities to their main universe counterparts, the Ultimate Universe allowed for some much-needed redesigns. The main avengers cast had great updates, with Thor being one that truly separated him from his legacy. The Ultimate Nick Fury is what brought about casting Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as his likeness was used for the design. The designs used for the Amazing Spider-Man movie were closer to the Ultimate designs, and that was a great thing, especially for Electro. Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, and Moon Knight all had different designs that were used as influences for the main universe’s updated designs. Even the X-Men sported more manageable and realistic outfits that fit just right.

Keeping Things Close

Spider-Man. Fantastic Four. X-Men. Ultimates. While there were plenty of mini-series featuring single heroes, these four books carried the whole Universe. It was much easier to jump into these titles to get a grand sense of the Marvel world. Ultimate Spider-Man alone introduced Hulk, Daredevil, many of the street level heroes, and his whole world on top of all that.

Bold Choices

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The Ultimate universe was a playground where characters can be reworked, within reason. A big change that came was the event titled Ultimatum, which saw Magneto trying to destroy the world when it was thought his children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, had died. The whole world was affected, and our heroes fought to save a flooded New York. It may not have been the most well-received event, but the writers stood by it and continued on, with the event having lasting effects in every book. Plus, if it wasn’t for Ultimatum, we wouldn’t have J. Jonah Jameson give the best apology to Spider-Man ever.

2970492-ult8

Mixing Things Up

The Ultimates hate each other. Wolverine gets ripped in half by a Hulk who eats people. Deadpool hosts his own “The Most Dangerous Game” by hunting X-Men on a deserted island. The Watcher pops up all over the world. Kitty Pryde dates Spider-Man? These are a few things that kept the universe fresh and unexpected. The fun of the Ultimate Universe is that it kept things moving and expanding, never stagnating.

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Ultimate Spider-Man

3684460-ultimate_spider-man_200_covers

If nothing else, the Ultimate Spider-Man series is by far the greatest contribution the Ultimate line gave to comics. Ultimate Spider-Man revitalized the hero as a high school student and kept him there. This Spider-Man faced the sinister six, the Ultimates, the X-Men, Venom, Carnage, an actual Green Goblin and everything under the sun, while still doing his due diligence with his Aunt May, in school, and with friends. He passed the mantle to Miles Morales, who made his own impact as a fantastic, if not better, Spider-Man. Both of these heroes made their mark like no one else, and the world they leave behind will be missed. It’s a touch personal for me because my first time reading Spider-Man from start to finish was the original Ultimate Spider-Man run, and for that, I’m forever grateful to have enjoyed it as it came.

I am happy that Mark Bagley and Brian Michael Bendis will be helming the Ultimate Universe’s final moments, as they are the team that created this world that I’ll forever cherish. Thank you for 15 great years.
Ultimate_End_1_Young_Variant

 

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ICYMI: Legends of Tomorrow Trailer

First things first. SPOILER ALERT FOR THE CW’s ARROW AND FLASH. 

spoiler-alert

 

Well, we’ve been hearing about that CW Arrow/Flash spinoff for quite some time, but we also heard it got ordered directly to series, and now we know why. Legends of Tomorrow look like a whole hell of a lot of fun, and it looks like DC Comics really just wants to go all out and in on television. But first, let’s check out that Legends of Tomorrow trailer before we talk about it a bit.

Um. Yeah. That is happening. There is so much to talk about and discuss about what may or may not happen, but a more in-depth look is probably for another article. If we’re just talking about what’s happening in the trailer, that’s definitely one of the more odd and interesting groups of villains and heroes I’ve ever seen. I would have never guessed that group to be together for a comic book, but to have their own TV show? Even more surprising, but there isn’t a lot to dislike about what happens in this trailer.

DC and the CW have done a great job of bringing excellent special effects to shows on TV budgets, so I expect no less from this show, and the trailer certainly didn’t disappoint. Expect another article about Legends of Tomorrow soon from Nerd Swole. Until then though, let us know your thoughts!

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The 5 Best Comic Book Shower Thoughts

If you’re wondering what a shower thought is, it’s something that you think of in the shower or really anywhere and you end up having this face. REvelation It makes you think, makes you laugh a little bit, and sometimes pondering your very own existence. And of course reddit being the site that it is (the front page of the internet!) they had to have some comic book shower thoughts.

5. If the Flash was really good at chess, he would be Grandmaster Flash

by TheTwentyTwo character_bio_576_flash     This is just kind of a funny coincidence really.

4. When The Hulk gives up and reverts to Bruce Banner, he just rage quit.

by wildxlion bannerhulk Pretty straightforward, but still pretty funny. Consider a Hulk playing games and getting mad about campers and throwing his controller down through the ground and it coming out in China.

 

3. If Green Lantern smoked some Green, he’d have a lot more creative constructs.

by TheTwentyTwo character_bio_576_greenlantern I mean guns, walls, and jetpacks are cool, but imagine the super psychaledic and hilarious constructs he would make if he were high.

2. Spider-Man is just a boy going through changes shooting white stuff all over the city.

by cmonkey9876 spider-man That’s quite an interesting complex that Spider-Man is going through. Puberty is tough, man.

1. Batman and Daredevil should switch names.

by Skiddle1138 Batman_Daredevil Matt Murdock is blind and relies on his incredible sense of sound to orient his surroundings, something bats are known to be very apt at. Bruce Wayne is constantly grappling hooking around and jumping around off of buildings and just in general doing adrenaline junky type activities (base jumping, driving at incredibly fast speeds, etc) or done by someone you might call, a daredevil.

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Thoughts About Stuff: What if a Male Character was the Hero in Captain Marvel?

We’re not asking what if Captain Marvel was a guy, she is going to be Carol Danvers. When I say hero, I mean the person that saves the day at the very end with the city/country/world/universe in danger. So then what would happen if Carol Danvers was in a situation where she went toe to toe with her villain, and almost won, but ended up in a dangerous situation, and was saved by a supporting male character?

Would the internet explode in a huge rage? I’m pretty certain it would, but why? In the very first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s Pepper Potts that kills Obadiah Stane, not Tony Stark. In Thor: The Dark World, it’s Jane who creates the weapon for Thor to use to kill Malekith, in Iron Man 3, it is again Pepper Potts who actually kills the villain Aldrich Killian, and Black Widow closed the wormhole in The Avengers and certainly had a lot more to do with killing Alexander Pierce than Cap himself did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

So why would it upset people if Captain Marvel was saved by a male supporting character? It’s a question I’ve given a lot of thought, because recently there is an e-mail going around from one of the CEOs of Marvel listing unsuccessful female-lead movies.

If you haven’t seen it, this is what it says:

“From: “IP” 
To: “Lynton, Michael”
Subject: Female Movies
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 05:32:50 -0400

Michael,
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples.  There are more.

Thanks,

Ike

1.  Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm

2.  Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film
was a disaster.  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm


3.   Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie
came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.

Best,

Ike

I have not seen other e-mails in this conversation or the context, so if they are out there please correct me, but I don’t see anything in here about not doing female movies because those were movies were unsuccessful. This could just as easily be an e-mail about what to avoid doing when working on Captain Marvel. Like I said, I absolutely admit, I haven’t delved into deep research about the context, so if there is more to it proving that this e-mail is an argument against female lead movies, please let me know. But as of right now, it appears a lot of assumptions are being made.

The reason I’m discussing this in relation to the question posed in the title is that I’m just wondering if maybe, just maybe people are looking for a reason to be mad with Marvel sometimes. I understand getting behind Mark Ruffalo’s comment about the lack of Black Widow toys (a totally legit complaint), and Scarlett Johansson’s spoof on Marvel’s lack of a female lead movie, because Black Widow has proven she is incredibly popular among fans.

But why is it assumed that everything Marvel does now is in some way anti-feminist? This article about the e-mail above is one example, I’ve seen tweets where people are upset that Ant-Man has only one female character (even though it is slated to also have Haley Atwell and Judy Greer), and the anger over Black Widow being captured in Age of Ultron. And if Captain Marvel doesn’t deliver the finishing blow to the villain and is saved by a male character, I’m 99% there would be an internet rage shitstorm, even though Iron Man has never defeated any of his villains on his own, and twice where he was saved by Pepper.

All I’m saying is that there are reasons to be mad with Marvel like I mentioned earlier, the lack of apparel/toys for Black Widow is really disappointing and having no solo movie is also a letdown (it is worth noting Hawkeye doesn’t have one either though). But there are also things that people probably need to dial it back a bit on, the e-mail above is one example (again, if there is proof that this is an e-mail about not greenlighting female movies, let me know), and being mad at Ant-Man for only having Evangeline Lily on the poster seems pretty grumpy for the sake of being grumpy.

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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