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If the plot of James Wan’s (The Conjuring series, the Insidious series, Saw) big-screen adaptation of DC’s Aquaman – a reluctant hero born of two worlds, one technologically advanced beyond all (or rather some) imagination, forced to set aside his selfishness, ego, and contempt and embrace his heritage, literally fighting for his birthright in trident-to-trident combat in an arena, followed by loss, redemption, and the rest – sounds more than vaguely familiar, it’s because it should. Though likely unintentional, Aquaman’s credited screenwriters, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall (Wan shares a story credit), followed the Black Panther template practically beat for reverse beat, turning a reluctant outsider into a reluctant hero and leader while turning his born-to-be-king brother into a hardcore, ideological warrior eager to bring a world of hurt and pain to those who’ve wronged his underwater-dwelling people (and all marine life too). Basically, it’s superhero template filmmaking, but like Black Panther, it’s the details, it’s what you do within and outside the confines of that template, that dictate whether the result will be genre-elevating commercial or political art like Black Panther or – in the case of Aquaman – purely commercial entertainment. (more…)

It took 11 years, five movies, and the departure of director Michael Bay, but Transformers fans – the fans who grew up on the 1980s animated TV series/Hasbro commercials – finally get the live-action Transformers film, Bumblebee, they’ve always wanted and maybe even needed to help justify their decades-long love of the series. With paired down, grounded visuals, an intimate sense of scale, and an emphasis on the unbreakable bond between a teenaged girl, Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), and a fugitive soldier-robot, B-127, from a dying, warring planet of self-aware, transforming machines, plus a nostalgia-heavy ‘80s setting, Bumblebee delivers the first, near great entry in a franchise that had all but dissipated the enormous goodwill of longtime fans with Transformers: The Last Knight two years ago. And it all took was a coherent, compelling script by Christina Hodson (Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Unforgettable) and deceptively competent direction from Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), making his live-action debut after a career in stop-motion animation. (more…)

NASA is known for being bad-asses who fly spaceships and satellites through space, landing rovers on distant planets, and occasionally being funny as hell on the internet. And after fans cry out for NASA to “Save Tony Stark” in the wake of the Avengers: Endgame trailer. NASA took to Twitter, tagging Marvel and Avengers with advice. Robert Downey Jr. replies and suddenly the trolls and bots on Twitter don’t matter. Few places on the internet can you find such wonderful, fun, entertaining interaction between government entities, entertainment companies, and celebrity actors.

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Adapted, produced, but not directed by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit mega-series) – that honor (assuming it’s an actual honor) goes to longtime Jackson collaborator and visual effects man Christian RiversMortal Engines, a steampunk Mad Max meets Star Wars (all of them) crossed with The Terminator sci-fi tale that unfolds in a wholly absurd, post-apocalyptic future, earns the no longer rare distinction of being both a franchise starter and a franchise ender rolled up into one disappointing package. An overlong, over-loud, derivative revenge-plot occasionally elevated by semi-inventive production design and semi-convincing CG, Mortal Engines was made for the long forgotten and currently non-existent fans of Philip Reeve’s 2001 YA novel, the first in a quartet that obviously piqued Jackson’s desire to find another potentially profitable, spectacle-driven sci-fi or fantasy series. Apparently, though, someone forgot to tell Jackson or his legion of collaborators at WETA digital and elsewhere. (more…)

Fans have been waiting with bated breath for the first trailer for the 4th Avengers movie. Some expected it to drop on Black Friday and were disappointed when there was no sign of the trailer. Now that the trailer is here, people can’t stop talking about it. The trailer brings back people fans missed out on in the last movie in surprising ways and reveals what fans are calling the biggest loss from Infinity War. What could make fans sadder than losing Spider-Man? NerdBastards breaks down the trailer and gives fans not privy to comic book history some clues as to what’s going on the trailer for Avengers: Endgame.

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Iron Fist wasn’t a huge surprise. Luke Cage made fans nervous. Now, with the announcement that Daredevil, arguably Netflix’s most beloved Marvel show, is canceled, fans wonder what fates await the rest of the Marvel shows. Could these characters and their actors return on another streaming service? Or The Mouse scrapping everything to restart on its own? Fans of the canceled shows and remaining shows alike theorize across the internet. Does Marvel give any clues, or do they spark more rumors? Cast members of Daredevil speak on the cancellation, echoing the hearts and minds of fans the world over.

 

Here’s Stan “The Man” Lee. Because Bill Maher doesn’t deserve to have his face on NerdBastards.

On November 17, 2018, Politically Incorrect talk show how host, Bill Maher took to his website to post a blog entry on the death of Stan Lee and the world’s reaction to losing the champion of comic books and imagination. Mr. Maher spent three paragraphs belittling comic book readers, specifically adult readers. He went on in his tirade of insults, reducing Stan Lee’s work and his impact on society as “using our smarts on stupid stuff”.

Does Maher have a point? Does any of his argument hold water? Or is he an out-of-touch, pompous blowhard trying to get some clicks on his website by riding on the coattails of the death of a man far greater than he’ll ever be?

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Looking back, it wasn’t the military might, economic power, or moral right that won the Cold War for the United States and its Western European allies, but onetime underdog turned world heavyweight champion and Reagan-era propagandist Rocky Balboa (writer-director-actor Sylvester Stallone) who entered the ring against symbolic incarnation of the Russian Soviet Empire, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), and knocked him down flat. America won, but it took another four years before the Soviet Empire dissolved into Russian and former Eastern and Southern satellite countries. Thirty years later, the Soviet Empire might be a half-forgotten memory, but for Rocky and Drago, the Cold War never really ended. It just went into a deep Artic freeze, waiting for the perfect opportunity – a stealthy, unexpected, ultimately rousing combo of carefully calculated nostalgia and the one-two punch of filmmaker Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan – to thaw and get the sequel Stallone apparently always wanted. (more…)