Thursday, February 23, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (2/20/2017 - 2/23/2017)

Heads up for next week: I'll be watching the miniseries When We Rise on ABC, so recaps of Powerless and Riverdale will be posted as a separate blog as I won't be watching the night that they air. Also, Legends of Tomorrow will be taking a week off next week and Agents of SHIELD is taking a hiatus before they get into their third storyline of the season.

Supergirl: "Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk" - Mr. Mxyzptlk arrives from the Fifth Dimension to take Kara as his bride, trying to woo her. But Mon-El is ready to fight. Alex wants to celebrate Valentine's Day with Maggie, who doesn't care for the holiday. Winn gets a date with an alien.

The Flash: "Attack on Gorilla City" - Jessie Quick comes to STAR Labs from Earth-2 to report that her father is being held in Gorilla City, where the gang left Grodd last season. Arriving there, they are captured and are told that they must fight in an arena against the leader of the City and defeat him or they will be killed. Wally and Jessie patrol Central City and Wally confesses his feelings for Jessie.

Legends of Tomorrow: "Camelot/3000" - The quest for the Spear of Destiny takes the Legends back to Camelot, where mind control devices have been used to turn Arthur and some of his knights against the rest of the kingdom by the Legion of Doom. Ray gets a little too involved in the heroics of the day as Mick helps Jax and Dr. Stein reverse engineer the devices.

Agents of SHIELD: "Self Control" - Most of the team at SHIELD have been replaced by LMDs, and Daisy and Simmons have to find who hasn't been replaced and try to find a way to rescue their team mates in an engaging winter finale.

Arrow: "The Sin-Eater" - As some of Oliver's previous (female) baddies escape prison, Oliver's world gets a little more difficult as a reporter has been clued in that he is the Green Arrow. Also, word gets out that Oliver's office covered up the death of an officer who was killed by Prometheus, but made to look like the Green Arrow's victim.

Legion: "Chapter 3" - David and his friends journey deeper into his memories and find many new puzzles as the story begins to come together.

Powerless: "Emily Dates a Henchman" - Emily gets swept off her feet by a dashing gentleman she meets in a bar, only for her coworkers to reveal to her that he's a henchman. After Teddy and Ron find a batarang, Van tries to use it to get Batman to pay up for repairs on a damaged car.

Riverdale: "Heart of Darkness" - As the Blossoms have a funeral for Jason, tensions rise about how his killer is still walking free. Archie is offered the chance to become captain of the football team and has to decide how to balance his place on the team and his musical pursuits. Hermione Lodge gets a shocking message while Veronica gets to know Cheryl better. Jughead and Betty stumble upon new information in their investigation of Jason's death.

Iron Man: Rise of Technovore - This is one of two Marvel anime movies by Madhouse Studios, following several anime series. This one finds the launch of a Stark satellite called Howard is sabotaged, and Rhodey is feared killed. Tony discovers it's the work of Ezekiel Stane, who has merged with his nanobots he calls Technovore. As Tony works on his own to stop Ezekiel's plot, Nick Fury sends Black Widow and Hawkeye after him, forcing him to turn to the assistance of Frank Castle, the Punisher.

This is clearly meant to be in a continuity all its own, though it's easy to see the MCU films (this was released just before Iron Man 3) as backstory. I found the story rather odd, some scenes rather dreamlike, and the tone pretty dark. I'm not an anime fan, but I don't object to it. This is not one for younger viewers, but viewers should be aware of what they're getting into.

The Lego Batman Movie - After four movies that present a dark, grim Batman, The Lego Batman Movie comes as a breath of fresh air. It's a spinoff of The Lego Movie, which is set in a somewhat self-aware world made of LEGO pieces and characters, where virtually every property that was ever made into a LEGO set can and do crossover. After several direct-to-video shorts and films featuring the DC heroes in LEGO form, this one focuses on Batman, offering a tongue-in-cheek new Batman adventure that celebrates Batman's history.

As Batman celebrates a long career of keeping Gotham safe, Alfred points out that he still has issues about having a family, which gets complicated when he accidentally adopts orphan Dick Grayson. Commissioner Gordon retires and is replaced by his daughter Barbara, who proposes that Batman work with the police for more effective crimefighting. Batman decides that to stop the Joker once and for all, he needs to send him to the Phantom Zone.

This satirical, high energy and just plain fun take on Batman delivers in much the same way the 1966 Batman TV series starring Adam West did, except this has some character development for Batman. It's imaginative but not stupid and has laughs for all ages. Definitely recommended, and a great start for the superhero movies of 2017.

Iron Man 3 - The third Iron Man film launched Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and currently seems to have set the standard that there will be no more than three solo films per character. It could change, however. This installment was directed by Shane Black, taking over from Jon Favreau, who still appears in the film as Happy Hogan.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is dealing with PTSD from his heroic acts at the end of The Avengers and he's not dealing with it well as he spends much of his time in his workshop building new suits of Iron Man armor, even discovering how to use his armor remotely. Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) makes a proposal to Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) about working with his new Extremis technology to hack DNA and improve humanity. Meanwhile, the United States is threatened by a mysterious terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) via video messages. All is certainly not as it seems to be, and when Tony's California home is attacked and destroyed, he finds himself in Tennessee without a fully functioning suit and believed to be dead. Tony must finally address what makes him Iron Man and a hero: his armor or something else?

Again, Iron Man 3 fails to satisfy as a sequel but works better as a chapter of the MCU. The film is well done and brings more of the world of Iron Man to the big screen, but a lot of fans were disappointed at the use of the Mandarin character. (Marvel would reveal that there is actually a more mysterious, secretive Mandarin, but they have yet to be seen.) The film gives a good wrap up to focusing on Tony's story, though it will continue in later films, wisely leaving it open-ended. Perhaps it is because it leaves us wanting a bit more that the movie doesn't get a lot of love...

All Hail The King - A Marvel One-Shot found on the bonus features of Thor: The Dark World follows Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) as he spends time in prison and is questioned about his career and what he knows about the Mandarin. I wasn't watching the other One Shots this time around, but this one sets up a tantalizing possibility for a future MCU villain.

Thor: The Dark World - As Loki (Tom Hiddleston) sits in prison in Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) works to bring peace back to the Nine Realms. However, there is a convergence of the Realms happening, reawakening Malekith the Dark Elf (Christopher Ecclestion), who wants to use a mystical substance called the Aether to plunge the whole of reality back into darkness. Thing is, the Aether has joined with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who Thor has taken to Asgard. When the Dark Elves attack Asgard and cause a devastating loss, Thor has to pull together a last ditch effort to save not just themselves but all of the Nine Realms. He calls on Heimdall (Idris Elba), Jane, Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander), the Warriors Three and his adopted brother and former enemy Loki.

Thor's second film gets even less love than the first one. Despite the stakes of the story, the film never feels that serious. In addition, Malekith gets little screentime much less development, fans pointing to Loki's presence diminishing the character. It's hard to argue with that, but despite those shortcomings, the film is still another enjoyable and often exciting Marvel adventure, and sets up further things to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Thor's own story.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Still adjusting to the 21st century, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) works closely with SHIELD, making a new friend in Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and going on missions with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). That said, Steve questions a global surveillance program called Project Insight. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has his own questions about the project, he's suddenly attacked. Steve and Natasha join forces and go on the run as they discover the Red Skull's organization HYDRA might not be as dead as they thought. In addition, a face from Steve's past that he never expected to see again shows up.

Few fans were complaining about this film! A tightly focused plot and exciting action, good character development for the characters, plus the introduction of Falcon and the Winter Soldier to the big screen all left audiences very satisfied.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (2/13/2017 - 2/16/2017)

The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are taking a week off, presumably for Valentine's Day.

Supergirl: "Luthors" - After showing some of Lena Luthor's backstory, Lena is accused of helping Metallo break out of jail, while Kara and her team feel sure she's innocent. Thing is, with Lena's mother pulling strings, Lena's public image isn't so good.

Agents of SHIELD: "The Man Behind the Shield" - Coulson, Daisy and Mack invade the base of Anton Ivanov to rescue director Mace. Anton is targeting Coulson because he believes him to be responsible for alien invasions. There is also a flashback story of when Coulson and Agent May first crossed paths with Ivanov. However, with AIDA around the base, can the SHIELD team be careful enough?

Arrow: "Spectre of the Gun" - After an unexpected shooting at City Hall, Oliver has to take action on gun violence. In flashback, we see what made Rene become Wild Dog.

Legion: "Chapter 2" - David and his new friends explore his memories. Many more questions arise and few answers are given. I know I'm not giving many details, but given the schizophrenic pacing of the episodes so far, it's difficult to say much about the plot without dropping major spoilers. My suggestion is to watch each episode twice, focus as much as you can. If you can use headphones, do it.

Powerless: "Sinking Day" - Van attempts to get promoted to the Gotham office with a pitch for products Emily's developed for Atlanteans. When he claims to have Aquaman attending a party for an Atlantean holiday, the Atlantean team asks to attend. Emily's staff believes a fellow employee to be a local superhero.

Riverdale: "The Last Picture Show" - Cheryl spots Hermione Lodge with what seems to be an unsavory character. Jughead works to save the drive-in movie theater. Betty and Veronica discover Miss Grundy's relationship with Archie and find that she has quite the history, Betty confiscating a gun found in Grundy's car.

Thor - This was the first of two movies in the MCU released in 2011, the second year Marvel Studios released two films in a year. That was their plan, but they weren't able to keep it up until 2013 and have been doing that ever since, now bumping their slate up to three films a year this year.

This one had the unenviable task of introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor in the original comics was a man named Donald Blake who found a stick in a cave and striking it three times, it gave him the appearance and power of the legendary Norse god Thor, the stick becoming his hammer Mjolnir. Eventually, the comics revealed that Asgard was an actual place, and eventually rewrote it that Donald Blake was actually Thor in exile the entire time. It got complicated as the comics eventually tried to make it so Donald and Thor were different people.

The movie streamlines it by having Donald and Thor nearly unrelated, with Donald Blake being entirely offscreen. When Frost Giants invade Asgard during Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) coronation, Thor, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the Warriors Three and Lady Sif use the Bifrost to attack Jotunheim. Being stopped and reproached by Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor is banished to Midgard, also known as Earth, where he encounters researcher Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team. Thor has to learn how to be worthy of his hammer again before he can return to Asgard, hopefully in time to save it from the schemes of Loki who orchestrated the Frost Giant invasion so he can take the throne.

Personally, I love this attempt to reconcile the grounded world of the MCU which had previously worked with technology and science with the fantastic realms of Asgard, reinterpreting the myth of Yggdrasil as a cosmic nimbus connecting the realms, which can be easily accessed via the Bifrost. Thor acts as a fish out of water, putting a spin on stories like The Wizard of Oz in which a normal person visits a fantastic world, this time being a fantastic character going to a normal world.

So, does it work? I've yet to see a compelling reason as to why it doesn't. There's a clear plot: Loki, being told since childhood that he will always be in Thor's shadow, conspires to get Thor out of the way. Thor has to address his own shortcomings, so there's also some good character development going on. Add to that a healthy dose of action, fantastic visuals, some excellent music and you got yourself a good time.

Captain America: The First Avenger - Captain America was one of the first Marvel heroes created by legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and had already been the subject of three live action subjects: a 1944 film serial that costume design and name aside, had nothing to do with the character; a pair of 1979 CBS TV movies that served as a pilot for a never-realized series that were loosely based on the character; and a 1990 movie faithfully adapted the character with its slim budget, but was nothing spectacular.

The First Avenger takes quite a few cues from the revised version of the character seen in Marvel's alternate Ultimate universe. Instead of being a kid Cap recruits as his partner, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is now the longtime friend of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who continually tries to get drafted to fight in World War II despite his clear physical limitations until someone decides to make him the guinea pig of an experiment to enhance soldiers, turning him from a scrawny little guy into a physically perfect soldier. Instead of having a secret identity as in the original Simon/Kirby comics, Steve openly works with the military as in the Ultimate comics.

The movie has its own twist by having Steve begin his post-serum career as a mascot for the armed forces, intending to encourage goodwill, until he discovers Bucky's regiment has been either killed or captured and—with help from SSR Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)—he breaks away from the army to rescue the captive soldiers, including Bucky, but runs afoul of Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), the head of just divorced from the Nazis scientific group HYDRA.

The movie is directed by Joe Johnston, who also directed 1991's The Rocketeer, which also featured a WWII-era world with a good old American guy using a special weapon to fight Nazis. Also, both movies are a lot of fun with some great special effects when you decide you can enjoy them. I've heard criticisms that movie was nothing more than a prequel to The Avengers as it establishes the Tesseract, which comes up again in that movie, as well as introducing Captain America. But honestly, it's a story worth telling. Steve Rogers begins as a man who believes he has nothing to lose and wants to help fight in the war, then later, he discovers he actually does have something to lose, and has to decide to give it up for the good of the world. It's not about how a man became a hero: it's about how he always was a hero and how he was able to put that drive to good use.

The Avengers - The sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe capped off "Phase One," the first over-arcing storyline. Each of the previous movies told its own story but was also leading to this one. The original comics had several Marvel heroes meet up and decide to work together, but the movies take after the Ultimate comics version and have the organization of the Avengers be under the supervision of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Following from Thor, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has met with a mysterious alien who has equipped him with a spear that grants him control of people's minds. He infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. and captures the Tesseract along with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Erik Selvig (Stellan SkarsgÄrd). S.H.I.E.L.D. calls in Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to bring in Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, replacing Edward Norton from The Incredible Hulk) as Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) convinces Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) warms up Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) for the mission. Meanwhile, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on the lookout for his brother.

The movie works not by having the Avengers work as a whole but by having them address why they don't easily work together. About midway through the movie, the team manages to capture Loki, but their personalities clash with each other in a way that ends disastrously, forcing the heroes to finally pool what they can offer to stop Loki's plot and recover the Tesseract.

Taking on a movie like this was ambitious, but Marvel wisely laid their groundwork and got good storytelling. Someone who hadn't seen the previous five films is given enough information about the characters that they can go in blindly and still understand the story. Seeing all the previous films only enhances the experience. An exciting, stirring, well-paced film, what more can you ask for?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (2/6/2017 - 2/9/2017)

As Gotham and Lucifer take an extended break, Legion debuts this week.

Supergirl: "The Martian Chronicles" - M'gann realizes a white Martian is after her and she and J'onn discover it has breached the DEO. It's disguised as someone there, but who?

The Flash: "Untouchable" - Wally practices phasing through solid objects as a new villain arrives who can cause items to rapidly decay, including people. And he has his eyes set on the West family...

Legends of Tomorrow: "Turncoat" - The Legion of Doom brainwashes Rip to kill George Washington. The Legends recognize this as a trap and try to stay one step ahead of them. To make matters worse, all power on the Waverider has shut down, including Ray's suit while he's shrunk and Firestorm can't merge. Rip boards the ship, intent on getting a piece of the Spear of Destiny, and now altered by the Legion of Doom, he isn't afraid to take out anyone in his way.

Agents of SHIELD: "BOOM" - As Coulson meets the woman who AIDA is based on, Radcliffe's goals for the Darkhold and the LMDs becomes clear. Daisy and director Mace deal with a new Inhuman who causes explosions.

Arrow: "Bratva" - Arriving in Russia, Oliver and Team Arrow run into a face from Oliver's past who ends up compelling Oliver to take on a rival of his. But how can they do this and retain their status as heroes?  Meantime, Rene Ramirez (Wild Dog, played by Rick Gonzalez) and Quentin work together to prepare for a media interview after Quentin's trying times recently.

Legion: "Chapter 1" - David Haller (Dan Stevens) is in an institution for his schizophrenia, but it doesn't seem that simple as David finds himself slipping into realities that exist wholly in his mind and having telekinetic fits. This first episode of eight begins to tease what is going on with David with some very cinematic visuals.

Riverdale: "Body Double" - Archie tells the police that he heard the gunshot that supposedly killed Jason. Betty convinces Jughead to get involved with investigating the mystery. After being made the latest victim of a cruel slut-shaming prank, Veronica rallies the girls to refuse to accept this treatment. Betty plots revenge.

Powerless: "Wayne Dream Team" - Van Wayne bemoans that he isn't in the "Wayne Dream Team" photo and attempts to fix it. Emily feels that her coworkers' obsession with a superhero fantasy league website is interfering with productivity and reports the situation to HR, causing an intense filter software to be activated on all work computers. Just hope no one discovers that Emily is responsible...

Justice League Dark - The latest DC animated movie finds members of the main Justice League finding civilians seeing other people as demons and attacking them. Sensing that there might be something strange afoot, Batman seeks the help of mystical powered heroes: John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing and Etrigan the Demon to solve the mystery of what's going on.

This one's very good in showing how this team works together as well as weaving a good plot and introducing who these characters are. Good one, DC.

Deadpool - Last year's R-rated super anti-hero hit was one of the best Marvel movies ever made. And it was from 20th Century Fox. Budgeted extremely low at $55 million, it became Fox's highest-grossing Marvel-based movie ever (not adjusted for inflation). And it's easy to see why, it openly embraces its origins—although the origin story and some characters are altered—and has a great time with it with humor and energy the audience can easily pick up on.

The film introduces us to Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a mercenary who falls in love with a woman named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but when he discovers he has extensive cancer, he tries an experimental cure offered by a secret organization led by Ajax (Ed Skrein) or—as Wade discovers his birth name—"Francis." After mutating with enhanced healing and regenerative powers and becoming horribly disfigured, Wade escapes, donning a red bodysuit and going by "Deadpool." Afraid to confront Vanessa, Deadpool hunts down Ajax, ending in an action-packed finale co-starring not one, not three, not ten, but two X-Men!

The Invincible Iron Man - This animated film (from the Marvel/Lionsgate partnership) offers a somewhat different take on Iron Man's origin. Tony Stark and James Rhodes investigate stolen shipments of weapons by Stark Industries. Being captured by a cult who are trying to bring the return of the Mandarin, Tony and Rhodey have to build a suit of armor to escape. But back in New York, Tony discovers that odds are stacked against him. Sneaking into his own company, Tony makes use of several armored suits to prevent the return of the Mandarin.

The animation is serviceable, these were really to tell a story rather than to stun. The big problem with these animated Marvel movies is that they don't really do a good job of introducing the characters. These are better enjoyed by people who already know the characters, which limits the audience.

Iron Man - Okay, NOW we're talking! This is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios decided to hang onto the rights to the characters that they still had and create an interconnected universe with them. The first two movies were released in 2008.

Careless playboy genius and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is critically injured and captured by a terrorist organization in Afghanistan. Now living with an implant in his chest to keep shrapnel from reaching his heart, Tony is forced to make a weapon for them. However, he secretly builds an iron suit that he eventually uses to escape. Returning home, Tony has a new outlook on life that sets a new direction for his company and his personal activities. However, there was more to Tony's capture than he realized and he'll have to suit up again.

Being Marvel Studios' first big movie, it's strange how much it seemed to be just another Marvel character adapted successfully for the big screen like Spider-Man or X-Men but was actually preparing for the larger MCU, specifically introducing in a small way an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D.. They weave a good story around Tony and the villain of the story, pace the action of the movie perfectly, and do some really beautiful shots. Although I do like starting my MCU re-watches chronologically with Captain America: The First Avenger, it was nice to take Iron Man on its own and appreciate what they'd done.

The Incredible Hulk - This one is kind of the black sheep of the MCU. It is not quite as fun as the other MCU films, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was recast before he appeared in the series again, and add in that the movie is the only MCU film not outright owned by Marvel Studios. None of the characters aside from Bruce reappear until Captain America: Civil War. Still, it shares with its predecessor a lot of beautifully done shots and good pacing.

Bruce Banner is hiding out in South America, trying to keep a low profile as he tries to work remotely with another scientist to find a cure to the gamma radiation (and unbeknownst to him, an attempt to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America). However, Col. Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) is on the lookout for Banner, but strikes by the armed forces cause Bruce to turn into a huge, green muscled rage-fueled monster of a man. Bruce makes his way to New York where he reunites with his girlfriend Betsy Ross (Liv Tyler), but when a special operative named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) tries to recreate Bruce's accident to become more powerful than Bruce's alter-ego, Bruce realizes that the answer is not to seek a cure, but to embrace it.

There's a bit where the army uses a S.H.I.E.L.D. database and Tony Stark himself pops up right before the end credits, but the effects of The Incredible Hulk on the MCU seem to be slight, but with word that Betsy Ross might reappear in Avengers: Infinity War and General Ross having returned to the MCU recently, perhaps it might get more love soon. Don't write it off.

Iron Man 2 -  The sequel to Iron Man and the third entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets a lot of negative criticism from fans. It builds on Tony and his relationships with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), James "Rhodey" Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle). The main plot is to celebrate a new period of global peace, Tony revives the Stark Expo. However, the government wants to weaponize the Iron Man armor, but Tony doesn't want to turn it over. Enter competitor HammerTech, run by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who enlists the help of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who has a vendetta against Stark after Tony's father had his own father deported. To top things off, the palladium core in Tony's arc reactor in his chest is slowly poisoning him. Oh, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) are keeping a close eye on him.

A lot of criticism has come from the movie introducing Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who gets hired as Tony's assistant Natalie Rushman as well as the reappearance of S.H.I.E.L.D., claiming this takes away from Tony's story. However, I respectfully disagree as I feel Tony's story in the film is told well enough, and S.H.I.E.L.D. and Natasha take up relatively little of the just over 2 hour runtime of the movie.

That said, the movie probably comes off a lot better now that I'm watching it as part of an ongoing series. I didn't watch the movie in theaters, and by the time I had a better idea of how to appreciate it after my initial DVD viewing, it was four years later. The stuff with Tony's dad which felt pointless to audiences in 2010 winds up paying off as we meet Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger, seeing him again in Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War as well as the Agent Carter TV series. And the plot with the government wanting Tony to turn over his technology to them or create an equivalent is cast into a new light when the senator demanding it is revealed to be a secret member of HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, as the sequel to Iron Man, it may disappoint, but as a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it does the job very well.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (1/30/2017 - 2/2/2017)

The lineup of DC shows expands this week with Powerless on NBC. Gotham and Lucifer will be going on hiatus after this week.

Supergirl: "We Can Be Heroes" - As Mon-El finishes preparing to be a superhero, Livewire returns. During a standoff with her, Kara discovers that James is Guardian. J'onn assists M'gann when she goes catatonic and relives her life on Mars in her dreams. Both James and Mon-El go after Livewire, trying to prove themselves to Kara. As it turns out, Livewire isn't their biggest problem.

Gotham: "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" - Eddie confronts Oswald about killing Isabelle. Jerome kidnaps Bruce to kill him in front of his cult, but luckily, Jim and Alfred are not far behind, and Bruce has a trick or two up his own sleeve.

Lucifer: "A Good Day to Die" - In order to save Chloe, Lucifer has to take an emergency trip to Hell, where he winds up having to face his own demons.

The Flash: "Dead or Alive" - When Gypsy—a law enforcer from Earth-19—arrives to collect HR for punishment, Team Flash rallies around him, with Gypsy agreeing that she will face off against Cisco as to whether or not she'll take HR with her. Iris and Wally team up to take down a gang, despite the better thoughts of Barry and Joe.

Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom" - Malcolm Merlyn and Damian Darhk try to get Rip to open a vault they hope holds the spear and also try to discover the reason of Eobard Thawne's erratic behavior. In fact, so are the Legends as they try to make some adjustments to the ship. Dr. Stein is forced to confront his daughter about her origins as a time aberration.

Agents of SHIELD: "Hot Potato Soup" - Radcliffe (the real one) and one of the Koening brothers are captured by Anton Ivanov in a plot to get the Darkhold. SHIELD is also on the case. A few twists, some extra details about LMDs in the MCU, and what seems to be terrible losses for SHIELD occur.

Arrow: "Second Chances" - Curtis discovers Tina Boland, who was affected by the particle accelerator accident in the first season of The Flash who has a sonic scream, and they track her down to hopefully invite her to become the new Black Canary. Felicity meets a hacktivist who was inspired by her as they work to get Diggle out of jail.

Riverdale: "A Touch of Evil" - As more details of Jason's death emerge, suspicion runs in Riverdale with several accusations being flung around loosely. Keep your eyes open for very classic Archie moments.

Powerless: "Wayne or Lose" - Emily Rose (Vanessa Hudgens) starts work at Wayne Security under Van Wayne (Alan Tudyk) in Charm City, which regularly  experiences supervillain attacks and of course, super-standoffs. Their job? Creating new products to help people in this world deal with living with that reality. When Bruce Wayne announces the closing of the company, Emily encourages the team to make a last ditch effort to create something new to make Bruce reconsider. A very fun new series.

So, as I try to wrap up watching more live action Marvel properties, here's a couple more:

Man-Thing - The mysterious man-turned monster who guards the Nexus of Realities in the Everglades is turned into a simple man-turned swamp monster who kills a large number of people as the new sheriff tries to figure out what to do. There's barely any actual character development. They tease the mystery, but basically, the monster is mad about a factory in the swamp. It could not be more of a basic monster horror movie. This is definitely one of the worst Marvel movies.

Generation X - 1996 brought yet another TV Marvel movie that was supposed to be a pilot for a TV show that didn't get picked up. Generation X was an X-Men spinoff comic about a group of mutants taught by Emma Frost and Banshee/Sean Cassidy at an academy in Massachusetts.  The TV movie puts it back at the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and changes out some of the younger mutants for new ones that would be more budget-friendly. The team of misfits bonds in an admittedly nice Marvel style where they function through dysfunction, but the plot they're saddled with—taking on a man who has found a way to crack into the "Dream Dimension," intending to profit by placing advertising—is less than impressive. Fans were also rightfully outraged that fan favorite mutant Jubilee was not depicted as Asian but played by a white actress. I guess X-Men fans should check it out to see how it eventually led to the X-Men movies (the same building is used for Xavier's school), but it's not very good on its own.

Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD -  David Hasselhoff stars in this first attempt to bring SHIELD to live action. Nick Fury is called out of retirement to help SHIELD take down the plots of HYDRA, who threaten to release a deadly virus on Manhattan unless they receive one billion dollars. Story is pretty basic, but it introduces a lot of fun concepts of SHIELD. The acting is pretty hammy and the proceedings never rise above the expectations of a late 90s TV movie, which is what it is. Fans of Marvel who want to see the various film and TV incarnations should give it a watch, but few will be returning for seconds.

X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: The Last Stand - After some these other Marvel movies, watching these again was a nice change of pace. Coming after Blade, but before Spider-Man, the X-Men series was the first to try to embrace the comic book nature of the X-Men while not being too silly or goofy. The trilogy follows a main group of the X-Men: Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman and is depicted as a newcomer to the group), Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, Iceman, and (in the last film) Kitty Pryde, led by Professor X. As the world fears mutants, Professor X with his "School for Gifted Youngsters" and the X-Men work to better relationships between regular humans and themselves. However, Magneto and his brotherhood of Mutants (featuring the shape-shifting Mystique) believe that mutants are the successor race to humanity, and for peace, humanity must either be subjugated, forced to mutate or wiped out.

The first two films are very good, the second being considered one of the best superhero films of all time, having good character development and action along with a good story. The third one gets a pretty bad rap, though it keeps up with the action, but planned as the final installment of the trilogy, goes too heavy with character death when it should've focused on the return of Jean Grey as a super-powerful telekinetic mutant calling herself the Phoenix. It also works in a plot about a "cure" for mutants. Overall, I'd say it's not bad, but it's just not as good as the other two.

The Amazing Spider-Man (1977) - This was the first pilot movie for the CBS Amazing Spider-Man television show, which only ran for thirteen episodes. It featured Nicholas Hammond as newspaper photographer and scientist Peter Parker, who gets the ability to climb walls after being bitten by a spider that has become radioactive from the experiments of Peter and his lab partners, which he uses to fight crime. For those familiar with later versions of Spider-Man, there is no Uncle Ben here. While mastering his powers and gaining recognition as Spider-Man, Peter helps the police foil a plot that sees several people of New York inexplicably commit suicide.

Apparently, Stan Lee did not like the series and called it a "total nightmare." It's believed he's preventing it from getting a DVD release, though I'm wary of that claim. It didn't seem any worse than the versions of The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Dr. Strange that also aired on CBS. More likely broad market appeal isn't expected since the series would require four or five discs (vs. the one-off DVDs for Dr. Strange and Captain America and the big fanbase of The Incredible Hulk) and many people would likely prefer more recent versions of Spider-Man. Luckily for the curious, the pilot movie and some other episodes can be seen on YouTube.