Category Archives: superheroes

Thoughts on this year’s Fan Expo

Fan Expo Canada, a three-day convention in Toronto for all things nerdy, is always a hectic weekend. Despite its increase in popularity over the years, the frustration (and resulting pen stabbings) caused by crowds and line-ups have never reached San Diego Comic-Con heights. This year however, Fan Expo had some new obstacles, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the event (including the highlights, the loot and the hassles).

On Friday night, I attended a screening of the 1966 film, “Batman” (starring Adam West and Burt Ward) at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Although several of the film’s hilariously campy scenes have appeared online (including the infamous exploding shark), I had never seen the movie in full. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but “Batman” was the most hilarious movie I’ve seen all year. Besides Robin’s usual one-liners (“Holy bikini, Batman!”), I was amused the most by the obsessive-compulsive way every important button, switch or lever was labeled with its name and/or function. Most notably, midway down the Batpole, Bruce Wayne hits the “Instant Costume-Change Lever,” allowing the dynamic duo to seamlessly and instantly change into their superhero apparel.

Following the screening, the caped crusader himself, Mr. Adam West, appeared on stage to answer fan questions and indulge our requests. West’s ability to self-ridicule was reminiscent of William Shatner (West even noted that there were only a few people in Hollywood like himself who were able to poke fun at themselves), as he performed the “Batusi” and lines from Family Guy’s Mayor West (including, “Someone’s stealing my water”).

The next day at Fan Expo, fans were treated to a disorganized mess of cosplay and line-ups that spanned city blocks. Inside, the crowds were nearly impossible to navigate, and if you were lucky enough to actually make it into a room for a panel with one of your favourite celebrities, you had the privilege of almost being crushed to death while trying to exit through the narrow hallways. And unlike the hordes of people you might encounter at a sports game or a concert, the over-sized nature of cosplayers’ weapons and costumes definitely make large crowds a little more… difficult. (Trust me, getting smushed between Iron Man and a stormtropper isn’t as awesome as it sounds.)

Hobby Star Marketing President and CEO, Aman Gupta, apologized for the inadequate planning at Fan Expo and addressed the concerns of fans in a recent letter, stating that the company was unprepared for such an outpour of fans. Gupta also promised that Fan Expo 2011 would be held in a larger space — the entire South Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

However, despite the crowds and the lines, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Fan Expo.

Some of my highlights included:

  • Felicia Day. The Q&A with Felicia Day (writer, creator, and star of the “The Guild” webseries) was a lot of fun and let me bask in the awesomeness of my fantasy BFF. The one hour Q&A allowed fans to ask questions like “What’s your favourite video game of all time?” And, ” How does it feel to make girl gaming more mainstream?” Felicia’s passion for gaming, social media and writing came through loud and clear, as well as her knowledge of obscure video games. Afterwards, she signed my copy of issue #1 of The Guild comic, which I also got signed by artist Jim Rugg at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May. Unfortunately, I was so starstruck and engulfed in our conversation that I forgot to ask Felicia for a photo together.
  • Artist Alley. The area for artists was much larger this year, allowing for more crafts, art and interesting conversations. I always try to spend most of my time in Artist Alley, as the rest of the exhibitors typically sell posters, comics and merch that I can pick-up at any of my local comic-book stores. Artist Alley, on the other hand, features original and hard-to-find pieces that the creators are more than happy to talk about (and sign for you). This year I picked-up some great new posters and got to chat with quite a few artists, including Runaways artist Adrian Alphona.
  • The costumes. Cosplayers are always out in force at Fan Expo, and this year was no different. I’m always amazed at the detail that goes into every costume — envious of the time, effort and talent that goes into each piece. Next year, I think I’ll join in the fun and cosplay as Atom Eve, a superhero and love interest in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible comic-book series.

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Filed under comic books, felicia day, superheroes, the guild, Video Games

Iron Man 2: This Pepper needs a little more kick

It’s been almost a month since Iron Man 2 was released, so I’ve had some time to think about all the things that disappointed me. But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about its many failures from me — just go read any legitimate review.

Nevertheless, one point of pain that still doesn’t sit well with me is the film’s treatment of Pepper Potts. Spoilers ahead.

After being offered the position of CEO at Stark Industries, Pepper seems to take the reins with confidence and determination. Having to clean-up after Tony isn’t an easy job — he’s either acting like a jackass or a drunken fool for the majority of the film — but she deals with the media and tackles her newfound responsibilities with the grace and severity that they deserve. She even puts Tony in his place during an interesting scene that highlights the characters’ role-reversals. Sitting behind  Tony’s old desk, Pepper finally gets to be the boss and tells Tony that his antics have only hurt Stark Industries. And to rub it in, she gets leaves with her own assistant and Tony’s chauffeur, Happy.

At Stark Expo, Pepper proves that she can  handle a crisis with ease. When robots start killing people, she doesn’t lose her cool or suddenly become a damsel in distress. Instead, she calls the police, confronts Justin Hammer (consequently leading to his arrest), and helps the police get civilians to safety.

But she acts like a jabbering fool when it comes to Tony. Her discovery that Tony’s Arc Reactor was poisoning him gets her stammering and shrieking like a little girl — because powerful, confident women must always lose their sense of control when it comes to men — and to top it all off, she resigns from her position because it’s all too much pressure for her.

Wait, what? I’m pretty sure we just witnessed a level-headed, competent and professional Pepper Potts for the majority of the film.  So why does she resign exactly? 

Iron Man 2 gives us no reason to believe that Pepper is incapable of running Stark Industries or dealing with the “pressure” of being CEO, so her resignation not only doesn’t make sense, but has nothing to do with her ability to be CEO.

Instead, the only reason seems to be Tony. Pepper only freaks out when Tony is putting himself or her in danger (which is pretty often), and it all seemed a little too convenient that Tony finally kisses Pepper once she’s professionally inferior to him again.

So thanks Iron Man 2, for reinforcing a sexist and out-dated belief that women let their personal lives get in the way of their professions.

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Filed under film, film review, superheroes

You should watch: Misfits

So now that the awesomeness of the trailer has your attention…

Misfits is the story of five young offenders – Nathan, Curtis, Simon, Kelly and Alisha – who are accidentally imbued with superpowers when caught in an electrical storm. The characters’ superpowers often complement their personalities or circumstances, providing more meaningful storylines that explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of being “special.”

From left to right: Curtis, Alisha, Nathan, Kelly and Simon

Curtis, once a rising athlete with promise of participating in the Olympics, is given with the ability to turn back time. Alisha, a sassy party-girl who only values men for sex, is imbued with the ability to fill anyone with lust simply by touching them. Simon, the shy loner who spends most of his time making videos for YouTube and chatting with strangers online, suddenly has the power to turn invisible when he feels ignored. Kelly, a tough girl with an attitude, is able to read minds. And Nathan, well Nathan doesn’t seem to have a super power (or does he?).

Within the first few episodes, Misfits clearly demonstrates how superpowers, although often aspirational, can be more of a hinderance than a blessing. For Kelly, the ability to read minds destroys relationships, and for the sexy and superficial Alisha, the ability to have anyone she desires becomes meaningless.

Alisha

However, their abilities also provide the characters with new perspectives. By the end of the season, Alisha discovers the most meaningful relationship of her life with Curtis – one that isn’t based on sex, but understanding and love. 

Curtis’ ability is by far the most interesting and critical to the plot. The show deals with the consequences of time travel in a mature and realistic manner. By going back in time, Curtis actually changes the show’s storyline, and provides us with a glimpse into a future where he hadn’t joined the rest of the gang for community service.

 Misfits  finished its first season late in 2009, and has already been signed on for a second season by E4 (the brilliant minds who brought you the zombie awesomeness that is Dead Set).

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Filed under misfits, superheroes