Venom, Black Cat and the Silver Sable: The potentially R rated universe we aren’t sure we want

Currently there is a triple threat match taking place in the world of superhero movies. Marvel is our titular hero, with its high flying moves to wow the crowd and the years of experience it has behind it to land these tried and tested crowd pleasers. Their opponents are veteran of the pen & paper ring making their relative debut to live action in DCEU, and a fighter of fluctuating skill in Fox. But wait! What’s this! A new challenger in the Cinematic universe fight of the century; SONY!

To be fair, all of these companies have been in the superhero business for a while now, but it is only in the past five years when we are seeing the cinematic universe race pick up its pace, and Sony, the focus today, does not want to be left behind. Currently they are in conjunction with Marvel over the use of Spider-man in the MCU, and while Sony still owns the rights to the character, Marvel is directing the ship anytime Spider-man appears in their universe. So the obvious choice is for Sony to start their own cinematic universe without this Spidey AND kick off their universe with a Venom character right. . . . right?

Snark aside, Venom seems to be front and center in this new Sony Cinematic universe and for better or worse it looks like they are going for an R rating, making the Symbiote a starkly different character compared to their other properties. Couple this with the announcement of both a Black Cat and a Silver Sable film, or a Black Cat/Silver Sable, as it is not very clear at the moment, Sony is looking to build this universe from the ground up on secondary and tertiary characters, many of which are obscure to even some comic book fans. I will talk about the ladies in a moment, but first let’s focus on the main aspect of these announcement’s; Venom, and what/how he could be brought to the big screen.

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I have been seeing three big story idea’s being thrown around for the Venom movie, all of them with some, in my opinion, serious merit. They are the Horror angle, as the image above suggests, a new Spider-man separate from Tom Hollands character in the MCU and an Agent Venom story line, where Flash Thompson receives the symbiote after losing his legs in war.  Out of the three, the Agent Venom potential story arc intrigues me the most but let’s break down what each of these could actually turn into.

With the Horror genre really getting its groove back over the past couple of years, it makes a lot of sense to take a character who can be creepy as hell and put him in that genre. Not only does the symbiote take over a person, so sit’s comfortably in a body horror skin, pun intended, but is also stands in the shadow of movies like Alien as a creature that can hunt it’s enemies. Think of how Spider-man cannot ‘spidey sense’ Venom, and apply that to a group of military personal who are trying to capture the symbiote. Having to use tech like motion sensors, sonic weapons and fire to battle a horrific creature could be a really compelling movie. This is also where I think the R rating stands at its strongest. Horror almost always benefits from this rating as it allows the film makers to explore the harder hitting nature of violence, mature subject matter, and gore.

The second option seems to revolve around a new Spider-man within the Sony universe. Many put forth that Miles Morales would make a great addition to their roster, not only as he is a great character, but also gives us another multi-cultural character to enjoy. Whether or not you care about that personally, it is a big issue in the movie world, and as we have seen with movies like Ghost in the Shell, people want to see more diverse characters in their movies, and not always default to “the white person”. While I don’t know much about Morales personally, as I don’t follow Spider-man much, I do know he is a beloved character, so any of his story arc’s would make a great backdrop to spin Venom into, but I imagine they would take a hard look at adapting the ‘Venom Wars’ story arc.

Silver Sable

The last option many people are talking about, and one that I am personally the most excited for, is the Agent Venom angle. This puts Flash Thompson, a character from Peter Parker’s Spider-man past, in the role of our anti-hero. After losing his legs in the Iraq war, he is bonded the symbiote so he can continue to serve in the military. The bond between man and monster can only be short-lived, as Venom looks to take over his human host and wreak destruction once he has control. I like this idea for two major reasons. The first is the fact that a action-horror military movie could be really awesome as the supernatural elements, in terms of strength speed and resilience of Venom vs regular military personal, would create a cool dynamic as they have to control not only the creature, but the message about how it is being used.  The other aspect is that you could tie Silver Sable into this movie as an introduction to the character and the general movie going public before her solo outing.  She is another military style character, so her expertise could be used to either try to contain the symbiote fueled Flash, or as the hunt squad needed to bring it back under control.

The other two movies Sony has touched on are the aforementioned Silver Sable, and Black Cat. I will fully admit I don’t know much about these characters, as Silver Sable has never seen a huge arc come to fruition in the comics and Black Cat, as well as Catwoman from DC, have never interested me much due to their character design and, in my opinion, lack of interesting story lines. It might also be my age, but I am really tired of “My super power is a low-cut costume and flexibility”, but that is a different story all together.

Silver Sable, as I mentioned above could fit very nicely into an Agent Venom story, to then spin-off into her own movie. Her outfit, the Wild Pack, is a mercenary group who hunts war criminals and while one of her main rivals, Doctor Doom, is out of the picture at the moment due to rights issues, there are a ton of smaller characters that can be drawn upon for her and her group to battle against. This would give Sony a, if done correctly, strong female lead who has the team dynamics of say a Cyclops or Storm, with the grit and guns of a Punisher, Deadpool or Grifter, minus the healing factor or other mutant abilities of the latter two. If Sony and Marvel could make another trade of minor characters, we could potentially see a Baroness Zemo as a Villainess to Sables hero in her own standalone.

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As to Black Cat, I think my bias to this character comes out to strong, much like my dislike of Catwoman. I think there is potential if you are doing something like a heist movie, in a similar vein to Ant-Man. I also think her movie would be ripe for cameo’s from other hero’s in the universe, in a sort of backdoor announcement, much like Luke Cage was in Jessica Jones. However I am truly at a loss for what would make this character stand out enough to warrant their own movie. If you guys have an idea let me know.

As the months roll on, I am sure we will hear more about these movies, their potential franchises and other characters Sony wan’t to add into their universe. Do we hear about the Sinister Six, the Green/Hob Goblin’s, or any myriad of other characters Sony can pull from to be the fourth pillar in this Superhero cinematic universe showdown.

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The Forge: Putting up something Fantastic as we look at the possibilities for Marvel’s phase 4

Every fan of the comic book genre has their particular hero or heroine that they cheer for or want to see make the jump to the silver screen. For me I have Thor, who is one of my favourite characters in all of the Marvel comics, right beside Wolverine. Over in DC I am a huge fan of Wonder Woman and Big Barda due to their warrior nature, much like that of Thor. Alas, for each of these characters I get to enjoy on-screen, minus Barda obviously, there are five I personally want to see on the big screen in the upcoming phase four of Marvel’s cinematic universe. We will also take a quick look at some potential TV shows that, in my mind, would make for excellent stories to spread out over eight to thirteen hours.

Before jumping into what we want, lets first look at what we have, because it is a lot. Marvel has been steadily ramping up their production and we are getting three movies this year, next year, and potentially three movies for the foreseeable future. Add to this fact that phase three looks to be the first phase that gives us more than six movies, as the first and second rounds of the MCU were both six films apiece. With this in mind, lets look at what I believe will be the line up for this stage of Marvel’s world domination. Some of these are at the end of 2019, which I think will fall into phase four, and add them to my speculation section.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Spider-man: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ant-man and the Wasp
  • Captain Marvel
  • Untitled Avengers Movie*

Eight movies over the next two and a half years is quite the tall order. We have the potential for universe ending devastation in Guardians, Ragnarok AND both Avengers films, not to mention any potential inter-planetary conflicts from Captain Marvel. We also have smaller scale conflicts in Black Panther with potential war in Wakanda along with the big, or small depending on how you look at it, hi-jinks that Ant-man and the Wasp get into. Oh, and Peter might lose his homework while swinging across the city to school, but that’s a low-key problem. Those of you who know the current announced line up might notice that I have not included Spider-man: Homecoming 2, and that’s because I think it is going to be the start of phase four, and the start of the fallout from the Untitled avengers movie. That being said, with all of these great films to look forward to already, what six movies could possibly be waiting for us in the waning light of 2019? **Potential spoilers for infinity war as my knowledge of the comic’s will come into play a bit here**

Spider-man: Homecoming 2

Spiderman Homecoming 2

To me, this just makes perfect sense, as we are coming off the hard-fought victory over Thanos, spoiler alert the MCU doesn’t end in 2019, and now the repercussions of that fight, any potential deaths, or changes to reality due to the infinity gauntlet’s power and the person/persons who wield it. Bringing the universe point of view back down to a very personal level with Peter Parker also allows the rest of the movies in phase four to get the reset they need. It’s hard to care when the world/universe is always the macguffin to save.

The other reason I think this is likely is that we get to see Peter either in his final year of highschool, or his first year of college, which adds a whole new dynamic to the character, as his greater work load will affect his superhero life and vice versa. I also personally hope the story line they go with is the Kraven the Hunter arc: Kraven’s Last Hunt.

Fantastic Four

fantastic four logo

Yes I am one of those people. While it may be a long shot, especially with the rumours of a second one being developed by Fox, I still have faith that the lack of interest in their studio’s attempts will make them give up any plans they might have, and allow the rights to revert back to Marvel. Fox’s repeated mishandling of the First Family has been nothing short of disastrous, and if they could get back into the hands of the MCU I see great things able to happen.

While to some, it might make sense for F4 to be the first movie of phase four, I think it actually makes more sense for them to come second, as they can expand upon the multiverse nature of the MCU, and gives them a brand new foothold to branch off from. Whether it’s knowing the characters in a different light, or simply meeting heroes who were never in their version of earth leaves open a lot of story options. Frankly if this does happen, I put money on the Hulk being their nemesis for the first movie, to mirror the times in the comics where they have fought.

Nova/Nova Corp

Nova

This might seem like an odd choice, as many don’t know who this character is and the Nova Corp only played a small role in the initial Guardian’s movie. As a intergalactic police force, they serve as a great backdrop to any of the Marvel movies which take place in space, and the character of Nova in particular can be portrayed, and often was, as a “John McClane in space” kinda guy. His power set, and the exotic nature of foreign planets and species allows for a huge host of villains to fight.

My bet would be a story loosely based on the Annihlation story arc, which has a ton of characters in it, many of which Marvel can’t use one being the actual main villain, Annihilus. However a minor change to your antagonist, or if Marvel does get the rights back to this character it would make an incredible visual spectacle along the lines of the best parts of Guardians, and the incredible nature of Guardians 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Guardians of the Galaxy

This is a no brainer in my opinion. Not only has James Gunn said that Guardians 3 is on the docket, the likelihood of Guardians 2 being bad is about as likely the sun exploding by Christmas. With a growing cast of characters, GotG 3 will likely be another smash hit simply due to the cast’s excellent chemistry and the bombastic and fun nature that these movies portray.

I couldn’t even guess at what stories they would go forward with, as I don’t know the Guardians from the comic’s all that well, though if my speculations hold true, there could be a significant chance that Nova plays an integral part in their movie.

Black Widow

Black Widow

This is another movie which I think is a no brainer in phase four. As, currently, the biggest female hero within the Marvel universe Black Widow has been dying for a movie as she is a kick ass character who has so many stories to tell, not only from her past, but from any point throughout the latter two Captain America movies.

Personally, I would love to see her solo, but I would also be jazzed for her and Hawkeye as both actors have fantastic chemistry on-screen, and in my mind the back and forth they had when they were assassin’s seems like the best story to tell, as it finish’s with them both in S.H.I.E.L.D.

Namor the Submariner 

Namor-Sub-Mariner

This is my ‘long shot’ prediction, and I swing for those underwater fences because Namor is a FANTASTIC asshole character. Smug, narcissistic, and has little patience for idiots, Namor to me is a character that needs to be made. This also gives Marvel their analog to DC’s Aquaman, which is a character that is seeing a revival in popularity.

The problem with this, however is no one seems to know where the rights to Namor lay. It seems to be in limbo with Universal, Lionsgate and Marvel all somehow holding a piece of him. I will admit, I have no idea how this will get resolved, however when you’re wishlisting for a movie to get made, you try not to worry about these things.

Talking TV

While the movies are great, and any or all of my speculated movies being added to the slate would be fantastic, there is another place where we can get our Marvel fix. That comes in the form of MTVU or Marvel TV Universe and the Netflix universe. While Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hit or miss, I personally like it, it is not the biggest market for our TV heroes. Netflix is where we see the biggest market with two seasons of Daredevil, a season of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. While Iron Fist was the first real stumble, we still have the Defenders coming as well as the highly anticipated Punisher series. Two other series, which I am not actually sure who is publishing, is the Cloak and Dagger series, and the Inhumans series. I believe Inhumans is ABC, but C&D is a series “cloaked” in mystery. Haha, terrible jokes are terrible. That said, Here are two series I would love to see, both preferably on Netflix or HBO simply because that affords them the budget and ability to show more mature subject matter.

Moon Knight

Netflix-Moon-Knight

While the allusions to Batman are very strong, Moon Knight is a brilliant character to bring to the small screen. Whether it sticks strictly with the origin of Moon Knight, or blends some of his later story arcs where his mental instability has started to come through. Unlike Deadpool, Marc Spector, the characters real name, is much more troubled which adds such complexity and depth to his character. In my mind The Bottom arc should be the material taken from.

This series not only deals with mental illness, but violence, hatred and how madness can slowly seep into a person, especially when being pushed to the limits, both mentally and physically, by their villains. The fight scenes in a series like this could be legendary.

The Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

To me, the Ghost Rider is a must have and the longer they take to get his project off the ground, the more time they spend not making all of the money. While I am a fan of the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, I have been hearing a lot of great things about the new ghost rider, who appeared in Agents of Shield, Roberto “Robbie” Reyes. With a new look, new ride and a fantastic story to kick off on, Robbie could make the Netflix Marvel Universe a much more hellish place for the better. While this may seem trite to mention, it also goes to continuing the diversity of the marvel Netflix cast as a Latino-American actor would be a welcome addition.

What Ghost Rider brings to the table, besides the crazy visuals, is a story of vengeance turned to hatred to an eventual deal, begrudgingly, to work together with the demon inhabiting his body, the promise to kill and sate a thirst for murder, albeit only to kill the those who do evil and punish those who deserve it.

While this is a lot to consider, I think it is pretty safe to have some trust in Marvel, be it the movie arm or the tv arm, as they are both producing quality products more often than not. Some of these choices, like the new Guardians and Spider-man movies are pretty safe bets, but sometimes it’s fun to put your speculative hopes out into the universe, just in case it’s listening. Or it’s the Beyonder and he is shaking his head saying “Sir, you are higher than a Super Skrull on Helium if you think that is happening”. Either way, cannot wait for the present movies and TV, let alone the future.

The Forge: Looking forward at the second phase of the DCEU & what can help shape the universe

“I am sure you’re wondering why I have all gathered you here. As you can see on the monitor, we are experiencing some significant turbulence within this time line, and are looking to the future thanks to Boomtube technology to give us an idea of how to fix this problem”

Fun Justice League scene aside, many fans are always looking to the future, whether it is the next movie for a particular character like the recently announced Man of Steel II, or the latest movie to shed light on the universe as a whole such as the soon to be released Wonder Woman and potential juggernaut in Justice League later this year.

Before we can even get into phase two however, we have to take a look at what is actually announced for phase one, if it is actually going to stay in this phase and if phase one will actually end as new movies seem to be getting announced every week. Currently according to IMDb, which I realize is not the be all and end all of information, has phase one of the DCEU as the following movies.

  • Man of Steel
  • Batman v Superman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Wonder Woman
  • Justice League part 1
  • The Flash
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam
  • Justice League Part 2
  • Cyborg
  • Green Lantern Corp

Automatically we know that The Flash is in major trouble, with multiple director changes and multiple script rewrites. The Shazam movie is at the moment vaporware with the Rock attached to play Black Adam, yet Black Adam is also supposed to have his own movie? Cyborg may get folded into a Teen Titans movie and the Green Lantern Corp may or may not be getting screen time in any of these movies already mentioned. Couple this with talks/announcements of The Batman, Man of Steel II, Bird’s of Prey and the Justice League Dark Universe; a magic and supernatural side of the world; we have to wonder what is actually being made and if they are going to keep it in all in phase one or spread it out. For the purpose of this piece I am going to make some assumptions on the newly announced movies and hedge my bets on them being part of the second round of DCEU shows. Here are the six movies I think are going to be the start of Warner Brothers follow-up to phase one.

The Batman

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I think everyone realizes that this will be the first salvo used in DCEU’s next phase as it’s their primary character and Warner Brothers and DC seem to be unable to have something NOT loosely affiliated with the Dark Knights universe. With Ben Affleck stepping down as writer and director on this movie, it opens up a lot of potential for a new vision, not only for the movie itself, but for the potential direction of their cinematic universe. The interesting aspects of this movie is what story arcs will it take from the comic books, if it does at all.

In my mind, I see someone like the Riddler or the Penguin as the main villain as they challenge Batman/Bruce Wayne in a way that the other villains in these past four movies have not. The Riddler brings forth the capacity to have the detective nature of Batman come out. We can have deadly traps and queries meant to push our hero to the limit. On the flip side the Penguin is a strong opponent because you could play him as a rival business man to Bruce Wayne, while his criminal element causes strife for his alter ego.

Man of Steel II

Man of Steel II

This is the other sure-fire movie to be at the start of phase 2 as it has been pretty terrible of Warner Brothers to keep this movie out of the lime light. Man of Steel was the best movie, in my opinion, from the DCEU and their mishandling of their other properties from a critical viewpoint have made pushed this to the forefront of development.

What is exciting about a new Superman movie is we have a ton of places we can take this story. Do we take queues from the Justice League movies and expand from there, or do we introduce new villains like Mongul, Metallo or Cyborg Superman to challenge our hero on a more physical level compared to a mental one. In my opinion it would be to soon to bring in Braniac as his villain due to the fact that both he and Darkseid are similar ‘god tier’ opponents.

Birds of Prey/Gotham City Sirens

Birds of Prey

There has been a lot of talk lately about these movie, partially due to how well Margot Robbie was received as Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad and partially because any time some notes something positive DC has to rush off and announce it’s in talks for a green light. Snark aside, I think there are a lot of positive aspects to a Birds of Prey or a Gotham City Sirens movie. We get to see Harley again, hopefully some cloths that cover something (didn’t like the look, sue me), and a potential cast of Bat Girl/Oracle, Huntress, Black Canary, Catwoman, Hawkgirl, Posion, Ivy, Wildcat and of course Batman.

The potential issues with this series though is what villains do they use and can they find a script which doesn’t paint these women as catty, or inept, or boring. Each of their personalities are drastically different in the comics and if they don’t capture that diversity of character it could leave a real sour taste in people’s mouths.

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

This is a personal wish of mine, above and beyond its actual potential to be made. This is the buddy cop movie of the DC universe which will help diversify their roster, and their emotional palette. These two characters together have such great chemistry in the pages of comics, that two action driven comics could be a perfect on-screen. Think 21 Jump Street but in space.

The hard part here is how to introduce these characters, as in the cinematic universe we are nowhere near these characters being revealed and depending on the path WB and DC choose to take for the rest of phase one, we may be a long ways off from getting to them. Still, snarky robots and buddy space cop comedy sounds like an instant hit.

Black Adam

Black_Adam

Black Adam is one of two movies I am suggesting that falls into the ‘Logan’ style of movie. A strong, potentially R rated movie about a character who struggles with who he is, his abilities and the morality of being such a powerhouse character.

My idea is to take the story arc from 52, where Black Adam is actually a hero at first, but has his family killed by the 4th horsemen of Apokolips Famine, and he goes berserk. His turn to anti-hero and eventual villain at the end of the movie then sets him up as the bad guy in a Shazam movie whether that means its a prequel or sets him up for a future movie is moot. You get fantastic character development, and gives The Rock a great surface to flex his acting and physical muscles on.

Hawkman

Hawkman

This is the other anti-hero character I think would fit well into the DCEU universe. He brings a bit more of the fantasy aspects, ala Wonder Woman or Marvel’s Thor to the universe, but also brings a darker, grittier world as Hawkman is much more of a troubled and violent character, when written well, than the rest of the JLA.

Interesting plots could be a twist on the Thanagarian War, which could introduce Hawkgirl into the DCEU. It gives us some great battles, incredible visuals and an interesting story line where the heroes finally know their team’s real identities, besides of course Batman, as he already knows. Another potential multi-movie plot could involve the Rann-Thanagar War, leading into the Death of Hawkman storyline. This doesn’t account for any one of my favourite fights in comics which is Superman & Batman vs Hawkman and Captain Marvel which would make for an epic second-to-third act battle.

 

DCTV

Warner Brothers TV

I have been an off again on again watcher of the DCTV universe. I liked Arrow season one and two, and disliked season three and four. I have been entertained with Flash, though my major problem with all of these shows is most prevalent on this series and that is the “CW romance, but I can’t say what I feel or do the right thing because it’s a twenty-three episode show” troupe. Legends of Tomorrow is wacky and entertaining, and while I haven’t seen the second season yet I actually had a really good time with Supergirl.

While the CW shows are great, I have always been a fan of the freedom that Netflix, Amazon and other services of the like have when making their shows. You see Preacher on AMC, Game of Thrones on HBO and Marvel characters on Netflix seeing good to great success because they are allowed to tackle more mature themes and stories, it also doesn’t hurt that we can see the trinity in effect; Swearing, Violence, and Nudity. If I could pick a property I would want to see, it would defintely be the following.

Etrigan the Demon

Etrigan

One of my favorite “oddball” characters, Etrigan the Demon could be a crazy fun trip through the ages. A demon tied to a hero of ancient time, Jason Blood, Etrigan represents the possibility for deep story and character driven development in the for of Jason Blood as they tell his story and how he ended up being bound to the Demon, as well as some fantastic fights scenes and special effect laden battles when Etrigan comes out to play. Also the struggle of these duel personalities makes for a great secondary macguffin.

Along with the clear horror ties this character has, he could also backdoor in others such as Swamp thing, Constantine and Deadman.  We would also be able to run the gambit of fantastical villains as we traipse through multiple timelines and era’s.

While I have my own wants and potential stories to be told, I would be interested in hearing what others want to see, and what the movie universe holds in store for you if you were in control.

The Forge: Looking at Ubisoft Club and how cosmetic rewards should be part of the rewards for trophies/achievements

There has been suggestion, ever since their introduction, that trophies and achievements should add some sort of value to the games they are attached to. Idea’s like each platinum or one thousand gamer score of a game should garner you a few dollars in store credit. Others have been looking for something a bit less monetary, seeking stuff like themes, costumes and other in-game goods.

There have been many games that do this in some fashion, such as Dragons Crown and its artwork after completing levels and quests, Halo and Gears of War giving you avatar helmets, shirts and other accessories as well as many games now a days giving you pre-order skins, weapons or themes for your console. Before we jump into, what I consider to be, the positive aspects of Ubisoft Club lets take a moment to reflect on how Uplay was the first incarnation of their system and how god awful it was.

uplay-logo

Uplay, Ubisofts attempt at DRM, launched way back in July of 2012. While initially it was being touted as a distribution service, similar to Steam or EA’s Origin but it was quickly found out that Uplay was actually Usucks. As a DRM service it quickly became clear that Ubisoft were more focused on trying to control the experience as well as compete with the previously mentioned services as well and just as quickly as the DRM aspect was found out its user base found the service to be incredibly poor.

Not all was lost however, as Uplay introduced, and ultimately became the system I want to talk about here today which is Ubisoft Club. To give a bit of context, Ubisofts Club program which tracks, if you are signed up, your games progress across multiple platforms. As you get trophies or achievements within the game or complete in-game quests or challenges. What does this do for you? Well it gives you an app currency call units, which allows you to purchase in game items. Examples are things like gun skins for Rainbow Six Siege or character costumes in South Park: The Stick of Truth.  Like stated above, there has always been a drive to see our trophies or achievements reward the player in some stance, and while it would be nice to see a monetary value I highly doubt that will ever happen.  What I can see becoming the norm across all gaming platforms is something like Ubisoft Club, let me explain why.

division-1

First off, lets talk about the potential negative aspects for a system like this being implemented across all platforms. The immediate though it sectioning off content from the main game to use for this system, much like some believe DLC content is being used. To be fair we have seen companies play on both sides of this fence and some of the less scrupulous one would opt to take the easy way out. Another aspect of this is watered down versions character creators or customization within the game as the developers would want you to play through as much of your game to unlock these options.

The other potentially negative aspect of this system is the cross-pollination rewards from the same developer. Ubisoft already does this as when you are going through one game, such as The Division, you see rewards for being a part of the alpha or beta for that game as well as having a copy registered of another game, such as Rainbow Six Siege in this example. Some may consider this to be a moot point, as you could make the argument for, “If I don’t want the game, I won’t buy it” and that argument is valid. However I do have the worry that this point couple’s in with my first point on sectioning off the best content to these essential pay walls.

Considering all of the negative aspects though, I personally think there is potential for this type of service/system to be a net positive overall. Obviously, if you don’t care about the cross promotional items then not having them will be a moot point, which goes double for customization options in general if that is not an important feature to you. What I think could be the driving force behind this however is the ability for each dev to give more to the players without really raising the costs of their development.

There is obviously the initial investment of setting up this Club type system but once that is in place on one game, you can start to streamline the process across all your other titles. Giving your players who beat the single player campaign of their game a new character skin or weapon skin is just a small piece of the picture. You could include themes or wallpapers. If you want to move away from Collectors editions you could include the soundtrack once you have platinum/1000 gamer score a game, or completed it on the hardest difficulty.

Coupling the single player aspects into multiplayer could also bring about significant longevity to a game as a new skin or taunt animation from single player could have some of us going back in to grind/work for it while multiplayer-centric unlocks and items could not only be tied to, once again, trophies or achievements but to quests or missions you carry out in the game. A perfect recent example of this is For Honor, which has a mission system in its game already, and once that could be easily modified or copied over to Ubisoft Club’s platform to keep people invested in said game much longer. Rainbow Six Siege already has this function enabled, and gives you in-game currency and experiences points.

While I am not sure if this will ever happen, to me it seems like a smart move as a publisher to start looking into something like this because at the end of the day, don’t you want a higher retention rate on your games? Maybe the gamification of games can help with that.

The Rumour Mill: How the DCEU seems to churne under weight of speculation

Warner brothers and DC are currently at the end of round three in a twelve round fight with Marvel. Shots have been exchanged but Marvel is, by the score card, ahead in points. If this were a movie we would be treated to a flash back to the beginning of the fighters run as they go through their trials and tribulations to get to this big fight. This is not a movie however and there is no Denzel to lead us through the current battle. Fight analogy aside the WB/DCEU is in a box office battle against Disney/Marvel for the superhero crown and the last four months have not been kind to the house that is to give us the Justice League.

batman

Arguably the most popular and well-known hero in the world Batman has been a good card for DC to use when they need to draw interest. Whether it’s the Christian Bales/Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy or the newly minted Affleck from Batman v Superman, our caped crusader draws in a large and enthusiastic crowd. For all its positives though, this latest iteration of Batman has brought some turmoil to all involved.

Before touching on the Batman as a solo project lets look back on the three entries already in DCEUs current cinematic universe, and as an aside I personally enjoyed all of these movies and while I had issues with aspects of each movie I feel they were in the “good” category rating in line with some of the  Marvel films.

DCs first entry was Man of Steel and it gave us the starting point for both tone and feel that Warner Brothers wanted to head in for their movie universe. Superman squares off against true warriors of his race as he battles to find his place in the world of man. The next movie jumps us forward into a pre-justice league style movie with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman featured prominently with cameos from the remaining team members; Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The holy trinity battle against Lex Luthor (from earth 3 it seems, but that’s neither here nor there) and the monster known as Doomsday. The last movie WB has put out is the Suicide Squad, a ragtag band of villains who get forced into work for a secret part of the government to take out even bigger threats.

You might think “Well why do those movies matter if we are going to talk about Batman” which is a great question. Ben Affleck was one of, if not the, best thing about Batman v Superman in many people’s eyes as he brought a great look and feel to both sides of the character. Fast forward to the last six months and the Batfleck has been the eye of the storm for many of the rumors and speculation. Before his movie Live by Night came out, Affleck seem to have carte blanche for his producer/director/co-writer/actor roles for the upcoming solo Batman movie. A weak performance at the box office and Life by Night might have actually cut off some of the freedom that Ben had. Couple this potential issue with statements like “I will only direct if the script is good” when he is writing the script and one can surmise he was getting pinned in a corner. We have now, over the last month, gotten information that Affleck is no longer directing and no longer writing. For the directing chair it seems Warner brothers is looking at Matt Reeves and the script has gotten one full rewrite treatment by Chris Terrio with a potential second heavy/full rewrite.

Add to the fact that there are rumors that the Terrio script was liked by Ben and WB, that it’s going in for full rewrites and the potentially A-bomb that Affleck wants out as Batman and fans have a plethora of potential reasons to be concerned with the future of this cinematic universe.

wonder-woman-logo

While all of the Batman news eats up most of the headlines, there has been rumblings that the Wonder Woman movie is not shaping up well. These rumors claim that the movie is a jumbled mess, which is a pretty serious accusation to throw around on a movie which has a huge load on its shoulders. Wonder Woman is the first female lead super hero movie to hit the big screens from either company, which is huge on its own right, but it is also another chance for DC and Warner Brothers to get the double thumbs up; a critical and box office success. Out of every DC movie I personally want to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman crush it, so these types of rumors kill me inside a bit.  On the positive side, the lack of mainstream coverage on this could be a good thing as these accusations of a poorly constructed movie could be nothing more than simply that, accusations.

flash-image

This brings us to the last movie I have heard a ton of rumors/issues about and that is the Flash. This movie has been struggling for over quite a while now with the numerous script rewrites and directors leaving the project which, in my opinion, puts it in the most jeopardy of cancellation or push back to 2019/2020. The Flash, tonally, is the lightest out of the entire DC movie roster as the character is often depicted as the comic relief or heart of the team. With the delays and rumours about this project stagnating and being slow to start-up again, it is worrying on how Flash will fit into the overall DCEU universe, especially when he is likely to be the vehicle that Cyborg will also be introduced with.

So all of these seemingly negative aspects for Warner Brothers and DCs cinematic universe are more than enough to give the average person pause. It seems, if you only listen to the rumors, that nothing is going well and everything is doom and gloom. This type of mind-set that the general audience can get is what really hampers the studio’s ability to get the most out of their movies. While it’s not strictly a competition many compare Marvel studios and the success their films have had over DC as a marker for what success is, usually the billion dollar mark, and when the DC films miss that mark, they get labeled as a “failure”. This is obviously false as a universally loved movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, made less than Batman v Superman, which was highly divisive with fans and critics alike.

At the end of the day, I think there is one thing that WB and DC could take from the Marvel studio’s style of story telling and that is to come up with a solid movie first, then add their respective character flavor to it. Oh and let’s stop announcing projects 10 years into the future please, as we know they are not going to stay in the places you initially mention them, and it looks pretty stupid when you have to cancel/move projects multiple times because of flash in the pan hype on something, and yes I am looking at you Birds of Prey movie.

Games of the year: Why have only one!

Christmas has passed,  and I am looking at the pile of games beside me still humming and hawing over what have been my biggest and brightest for the end of the year. So many games have come out that I have enjoyed it is hard narrowing it down to a single choice, so I thought it would be enjoyable to pick a list of five games which have blown me away with story telling and game play. Please forgive my shitty logo as I suck at such things. As with any game of the year list, these are the games that stuck out to me, probably not objectively the best.

doom

I would be remiss if I didn’t start this list off with Doom. When I heard a new Doom was in the works, this is what I imagined it to be, and by god they delivered. The previous editions of  Doom left a bad taste in my mouth, as I have always thought the *straight action* aspect of the early era Doom games was the correct path for this franchise, and spinning into a more horror-survival style game wasn’t really my speed. Cut to 2016 and id software returns us to a deluge of thundering metal and the satisfying symphonic whine of the chain gun spinning up as you punch, kick and blow your way through Hell.

What enthralled me with Doom is its old school style but new school aesthetics. It’s the combination of fast and frantic gun-play and the near need for constant changing of play style which really makes this game stand out as a single player experience. You, as the Doom Marine, answer any and all questions with a visceral punch and a femur shattering kick, and while that may seem cheesy/childish to say out loud but once you step into those heavy boots it all feels right.

ratchet-and-clank

If Ratchet & Clank isn’t on your list of games of the year, I don’t really know what to say to you. Bringing back one of, if not the, best platformer heroes on the Playstation console. Ratchet & Clank is a near master piece for this genre in my opinion as it checks off pretty much every box this series has been known for. Great third person shooter mechanics? check; Over the top ridiculous weapons? Double check; Entertaining story? check-squared; Annoying front facing run missions as clank which piss you off because you didn’t time your jump correctly? Still there *shakes fist*.

Joking aside, this game brings the nostalgia of this series back for us old timers, and gives the new generation of players to the Groovitron, the Sheepinator and the ever chipper Mr. Zurkon. If you have not picked this game up yet I implore you to spend a few dollars, as it’s probably cheaper now than it was at launch, which was still only $40 at launch. You will have a fun, family friendly game that you, your significant other and/or your kids can get behind for a damn good time.

grand-kingdom

Into RPG’s? Like multi-lane combat systems? Hankering to have a Dragon Mage leap into the air and death laser as your warrior uses his area defence to block for your entire party?! Then you are in luck because Grand Kingdom should quench your RPG tactic’s thirst. I have put in a ton of time into this game, whether it’s through the five different stories or battling against other players in their online war system, and each fight brings its own unique challenges as you play a loose game of paper-rock-scissors with your four man, or woman, party as you battle your way through enemy armies and monsters.

I think what interested me most about this game was its blend of art direction, a combat system that allows you to customize your party to your play style and a fairly lightweight but fun inventory management that again, lends itself towards a party & play style that works for you. If you are looking for a fun and engaging tactical RPG, then look at Grand Kingdom, as you can also get it on PSVita and you should be buying more games on Vita.

overwatch

Not surprising and assuredly on many people’s list this year is Overwatch. What is there really to say about this game other than it is a masterclass in the shooter genre. Blizzard blows the doors off of pretty much every other shooter out this year with not only the quality of its shooter mechanics, but also it introduced us to many loved characters, and adult themed tumblr blogs of those characters, to which we rally behind.

Whether its playing late night with a friend from Toronto as our Zarya (me)/Zenyatta (him) duo crushing noobs or sitting beside a buddy as we Mercy (again me) and Soldier our way through the upper tiers of gold, Overwatch has given me countless hours of enjoyment, frustration and *fuck yeah* moments both as a solo player and in groups. It continues to add characters, events and skins to keep players interested and will be a staple in my system for many months to come.

i-am-setsuna

As a huge fan of the old school RPG’s from early Nintendo and Playstation years, especially Chrono Trigger, I am Setsuna was an INSTANT buy for me. It has been a long time since I have gotten to sink my teeth into this style of game, and while Grand Kingdom does sait my hunger slightly for JRPG’s, I am Setsuna is really the *full meal experience* that I was looking for. Much like the Witcher 3 from last year this game, for me, stands out amongst the crowd for its story and overall theme, which again harks back to one of my favourite games Chrono Trigger.

I don’t know if I have played a game like this in the past couple years, as it blends a fantastic art style along with a somber and almost depressing tone to tell a great story. On top of that is a deep and beastly magic system to blow your way through enemy’s as you escort Setsuna to the end of her line.

stardew_valley

Only last on this list because it is the latest I have picked up is Stardew Valley. This game has been out for a while on PC, but I picked it up for PS4 and holy cow, what a fantastic game. A buddy of mine turned me onto it as I had forgotten about it, and I cannot thank him enough for it. Who doesn’t want a game to relax with a bit of farming, some potential romance and battling slimes in a mine as you gather ore.

This game is incredibly relaxed, and in a time when we are battling through world war 1, floating through space fighting robots and still playing Overwatch, it is fantastic to have a light weight RPG farming simulator which lets just do your thing. Chopping wood, making iron bars, and farming your way to a fortune is just too damn good. Get this game people.

Obviously these are my personal games of the year as they were the highlights of my year. I didn’t play everything and while other games did better in sales, or had higher review scores, these six games gave me the most enjoyment of the year. I do want to give honorable mention to Ubisoft’s The Division. While it had its issues in the beginning, I found myself drawn back into the game once the fixes started coming in. All in all a great year of games and I cannot wait for 2017’s list to kick off.

Year in Review: Gaming level ups, failed objectives and the age old promise of great gameplay.

Like many who write, either full-time for work or just to enjoy the act of putting thought to page, I too have a year in review type article to add to the internet’s list. It is currently 4am and I have a literal two liter mug of coffee so let’s get this started.

The beginning of the year, for the non-game news was a mixed bag. EA released Origin Access in January, and while I don’t partake, it looks like a decent system for Microsoft users to toy around with. Blizzard Entertainment celebrated its 25th anniversary in February as well as the Pokemon franchise turning twenty. On a sad note, GameTrailers had to shut its digital doors and the internet mourned for a moment, then went back to making memes.

As we head into spring, another unfortunate closer in the way of Evolution studios in March, though in April the majority of their employee’s were taken in by Codemasters. The Resident Evil franchise had its 20th anniversary, Sega acquired Atlas and Lionhead studio’s was closed by Microsoft. In weird news Gamestop announced its new publishing arm called Game Trust and NIS America announced it cut ties with Atlas due to the Sega acquisition. The first casualty in the ‘toys to life’ genre was had when Disney Interactive studio’s closed Avalanche Software as they decided that self publication was not in their best interests. On a more positive note, juggernaut gaming new site IGN purchased a ton of GameTrailer’s assets from Defy Media. Oh we cannot forget that Yahoo’s games was shut down by Yahoo. . . . *sarcasm*

Rolling into the summer months, things start to heat up with the Vivendi hostile take over of Gameloft. June saw the rise of the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 which had both Microsoft and Sony give incredible conferences. Electronic Arts also had their first ‘fan-event’, EA Play,  outside of E3 with a moderate amount of success. Quietly, yet somehow equally as raucous Sonic the Hedgehog celebrated his 25th anniversary and if you haven’t seen their live show clips on YouTube, please do yourself a favour and watch that madness. On some bitter-sweet news Adam Boyes, VP of Third Party Relations,  left his position at Sony to flex his creative muscles over at Iron Galaxy an indie dev breaking onto the scene. At the end of the summer we had Gamescom in Germany and I imagine that was packed to the gills as usual. We also had an interesting turn from Nordic Games, who changed their name to THQ Nordic. Unsure if this was to help with brand recognition, as they bought most of the ip’s THQ had, or they are tempting fate by putting THQ in their name.

The fall, and leading into the winter gave us some interesting spikes in non-game specific news. Microsoft Studios announced their ‘Xbox Play Anywhere’ program to allow cross-play between Xbox One and Windows 10. Blizzard announced that they would be phasing out their online battle.net, in name only, to a more generic ‘Blizzard tech’. This allows for less confusion on which account name you need, and I imagine makes their back-end management significantly easier. We also had two pretty big shows to close out the year in The Game Awards, hosted by Geoff Keighley and PSX, a fan focused Playstation event. The Game Awards, in my opinion, were very lack luster, as most of the awards were given off camera and the categories were not given the explanation and gravity you would want or expect. Also the product placement was pretty terrible. Skip forward a week and you have Sony’s PSX event which rocked the house. Like any good fan focused event, Playstation got the crowd fired up with the Crash Bandicoot triglogy look, Patapon/Loco Roco/Parappa the Rappa remasters and a Wipeout HD collection for the PS4.

all-about-the-games

Talking about the year we obviously cannot forget the actual games. Above and beyond the games however there were also six new pieces of hardware released, which is insane. March and April saw the release of PC gaming’s VR gladiators; the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, then piling all into the end of the year we have the Xbox One S in August, the PS4 slim in September, the Playstation VR in October and finally just released in November is the PS4 Pro. Hardware aside, we also got a metric ton of games to sink our teeth into. Some great, some terrible, and others leaving an odd taste in our mouth.

January kicks us off with a cluster of gems that need to be played. If you own a Vita, and you should, pick up Volume as it was released near the beginning of the month. A fun tactical stealth game which hooks you almost instantly. Another pair of fantastic games that were criminally overlooked was That Dragon Cancer, a heart crushing story about a boy with cancer and The Banner Saga, an intense turn based strategy RPG harking back to the old days with beautiful artwork servicing your journey. While I have not played it yet, Oxenfree was another game that became a critical darling yet did not see the love it seemingly deserved. If you are a fan of the Soul’s style of tension and overbearing nature I should not have to say much for Darkest Dungeon a game that lends credence to the motto “stare into the abyss long enough and the abyss stares back”. Nintendo had a strong month with Minecraft Story Episode 1, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam and Final Fantasy Explorers. Sony also had a strong finish to the month with The Witness, a complex puzzle game as well as Dragon Quest Builders a game of Dragon Quest meets Minecraft.

February and March had a bevy of games for us to purchase, and hear our wallets weep due to their emptiness. In no particular order, the first half of the month gave us, Firewatch, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Great Detective Pikachu, an expansion to Dying Light called ‘The Following’, Lovers in a Dangerous Space time and a remaster of the fantastic tactial RPG Valkyria Chronicles. The back half of February gave us Rocket League on Xbox, a fantastic RPG in I am Setsuna, Fire Emblem Fates, Stardew Valley; which is a must play and Planets vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 which was surprisingly fun. March brings us gems such as Broforce to PS4, Gears of War: Ultimate edition on Xbox One and the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on WiiU. We also got the punishing side scroller Salt and Sanctuary for the Bloodborne fans, an episodic action adventure stealth game in République. As the month closes out, we get the start of season three for Killer Instinct, Hyper Light Drifter and a fantastic but brutally underrated game known as Sleeping Dogs Definitive edition.

April thru June at first glance seems like a dry portion of the year, I however think there were a ton of great games to be played through these months, not to mention your backlog of games that you keep meaning to get to. We get games like the punishing game Enter the Gungeon, the time warping Quantum Break and everyone’s favourite way to hate themselves; Dark Souls III. We cannot forget the incredibly well done Ratchet and Clank game, a new entry to the franchise after so long, as well as the snarky yet charming Stories: Paths of Destiny, and before you say it I do agree it had a whackadoodle name, but it is pretty damn fun. The 3DS rocketed back into many RPG fan’s lives with Bravely Second: End Layer, and Vita Owners got another great reason to dust off their system with the release of Axion Verge. If you are into Metroidvania games this is a must pick up on either Vita or PS4, but really just get it for Vita and support the cause. A follow-up to a great game on PC, Banner Saga 2 got released near the end of April though we also saw the release of the not so hot Star Fox game for the WiiU, so much potential there.Alienation fed our ‘fast paced Diablo but in space with lasers’ fix as we fought corrupted humans, bipedal alien soldiers and Goliath’s that could crush you in a single blow.

Battleborn a game that should have come out six months earlier releases at the beginning of March, and consequently gets demolished by Overwatch which came out near the end of the month. We also saw the rise of hell and the subsiquent asskicking it received in the fantastic Doom game from id software. Uncharted 4 was also released and much like the previous titles, it was another smash hit. On the disappointing side we had Home Front: Revolution which failed to capture its previous games glory as well as TMNT Mutants in Manhatten, a game which seems like it would be hard to bungle, but ended up being a spastic mess. We can swing back to positivity though with Total War: Warhammer, a true blue representation of Games Workshop’s table top battle game as well as Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness. A cluster of smaller games also came out throughout this block of the year which I found very entertaining. Grand Kingdom, a three lane tactical RPG, stole many nights and weekends from me while Hearts of Iron IV consumed a few friends for a full month and the always beautiful Odin sphere Liefthrasir had Atlas back in the spotlight.

July through September, to me, were the months of the indie title. I played more small/budget games over these three months than I have in the last couple years. Headlander, Brutal, Abzu, Bound and Song of the Deep gave me the joy of a simple yet challenging game, much like the games of our youth (if your over 30) while titles like I am Setsuna tugged at the emotional heartstrings and Hyper Light Drifter gave Playstation and Xbox owners a sample of what Zelda could be like on their system, the real winner is Pokemon Go. This game nuked everything else around it from orbit and dominated the majority of July.We also saw the release of Telltales new Batman series which got rave reviews and from what I hear, the entire first season is a great buy. Dues Ex Go also came out and brought a new spin to a franchise that it needed as well as got us up to Tomb Raider Go! We cannot talk about heavy hitters without mentioning the new World of Warcraft expansion as it did insane numbers. We were also treated to the Bioshock Collection on PS4/Xbox One as well as the Dead Rising collection. While not an incredibly notable game, I would personally be remiss to leave out Warhammer 40k Eternal crusade from my list as while my PC is blown out, and I write this on a tablet, I am a huge Warhammer 40k fan and want to start playing this. I also have to shout out Spacehulk: Deathwing, out in December, another 40k game that allows you to cleanse giant spaceships full of aliens with both blade and bullet.We cannot talk about all of these games, plus those not mentioned, without pausing to give light to No Man’s Sky. A mountain of promises and hype which crumbled under its own weight. I personally had a pretty good time playing the game, as I had not expected ‘the world’, to turn a phrase, from this game. It’s current updates seem to be moving in the right direction in terms of features promised, but we will have to see if people are still interested in trying to sail to the center of the universe.

At last we come to October to December. Many games pushed into the new year, many games announced but no release dates, and many still incredibly vague on details with a seemingly close release. Looking into these gets me excited, my wallet terrified and my electric company happy with the power usage. Mafia III is the first big title I looked at, and I have to say minor bugs aside I had a good time with this game. It falls into a similar trap many Ubisoft games do; which is the collectible grind turns into a slog, that turns into a “why am I doing this again” type of mentality. Gears of War 4 was released to a moderately positive review/reception while Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th year anniversary got stellar praise. As the VR train for Sony was officially out we got a lot of experiences like the Batman VR which ran the gambit of responses. Some, like Batman VR, were received well, while others fell flat or didn’t fulfill their ambitious goals. I do not have a virtual reality headset, so I don’t believe my opinion on these games is very valid. We have four titans battling it out as we continue through October and head into November. Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty Infinite Warfare all shoot it out, while Civilization VI consumes you one turn at a time. Midway through November we have Dishonored 2 and Watchdogs 2, both games didn’t interest me too much personally and if you look at their sales numbers, that sentiment was echoed across the player base. We obviously cannot forget the juggernaut that Nintendo have in their back pocket with the 3DS’s Pokemon Sun & Moon, while a personal favourite of mine got remastered. . . well Warmastered. Darksiders Warmastered edition is another fantastic remaster to own and beat back daemons and angels. I have to say that December has been a slow month for me, lack of money to purchase games means I have been working on my backlog and sinking time into the PS4 version of Stardew Valley (which you should get if you don’t have it). That said, can you beleive the mostly positive attention that both Final Fantasy XV and Last Guardian are getting! Who would have thought those troubled developments would turn out the games they did.  I have heard however a lot of the games being released this month have been doing well so that is positive news heading into the holidays.

It is obvious we didn’t cover all the games released this year, as that would be insane and require a team of people. I do think however the ones I have covered, both games and game news are some of the highlights of this year. This also doesn’t cover the media aspect of gaming, such as the gentlemen from Kinda Funny or listening to the fantastic podcasts from IGN. Listening to Giantbomb Podcasts while planting  beans in Stardew Valley or watching the Knerds of the Round table podcast on YouTube while researching DPS builds for the Division Darkzone. Let us not forget reading Superman American Alien by Max Landis while listening to Collider Heroes dish on all the Comicbook related movies and TV.

This year has been a bounty of games, experiences, people and shows. I look forward to another 365 days of nerding/geeking out and look forward to consuming as much content as humanly possible.