In new research on social networks, ‘a mathematical argument for stable families or for stable friendships’

Large social networks foster connections by erasing national, geographic, and even linguistic barriers. But when it comes to fostering cooperation, global connectivity leaves something to be desired, new research says.

Improved variety of guayule plant as a natural source of tire rubber

Rubber is a substance usually made from petroleum or from the Asian rubber tree plant. But rubber can also be produced from a domestic plant called "guayule." Guayule is a woody desert shrub cultivated in the southwestern United States as a source of natural rubber (latex), organic resins, and high-energy biofuel feedstock.

Reasons behind mosquitoes’ unusual flight behaviour identified in new study

The reason behind mosquitoes' unusual flight behaviour has long puzzled scientists. The angular sweep of their wings is around 40 degrees, which is less than half that of the honey bee, prompting speculation over how they fly at all.

Inventing tools for detecting life elsewhere

Recently, astronomers announced the discovery that a star called TRAPPIST-1 is orbited by seven Earth-size planets. Three of the planets reside in the "habitable zone," the region around a star where liquid water is most likely to exist on the surface of a rocky planet. Other potentially habitable worlds have also been discovered in recent years, leaving many people wondering: How do we find out if these planets actually host life?

Prolific Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter completes 50,000 orbits

The most data-productive spacecraft yet at Mars swept past its 50,000th orbit this week, continuing to compile the most sharp-eyed global coverage ever accomplished by a camera at the Red Planet.

Expanding super bubble of gas detected around massive black holes in the early universe

In a study led by Sandy Morais, a PhD student at Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço and Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (FCUP), researchers found massive super bubbles of gas and dust around two distant radio galaxies about 11.5 billion light years away.

Drugged-Up Dog’s Blissful Post-Surgery Smile Melts All Our Hearts

This adorable dog in Australia couldn’t stop smiling after undergoing surgery.

Dosed up on drugs, Oscar the golden retriever grinned all the way home during the car ride back. His Adelaide-based owner, identified only as Sarah, shared a snap of her beloved pooch on Twitter Monday.

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Drugged-Up Dog’s Blissful Post-Surgery Smile Melts All Our Hearts

This adorable dog in Australia couldn’t stop smiling after undergoing surgery.

Dosed up on drugs, Oscar the golden retriever grinned all the way home during the car ride back. His Adelaide-based owner, identified only as Sarah, shared a snap of her beloved pooch on Twitter Monday.

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Why More Companies Are Incorporating Meditation Into the Workplace

Lifestyle›Mind and BodyMindfulness is the new key to success. It seems that when you ask anyone how they're doing—whether it's friends, family, colleagues, or strangers on the street—the answer is always "stressed." What is causing all that stress? Turns out that most of the strain is coming from our jobs. The World Health Organization even estimates that stress costs American businesses up to $300 billion a year in job turnover costs, health care expenditures, and absenteeism. We've morphed into a culture that expects a frenetic pace, demands that we don't stop until our energy is depleted, and asks that we limit self-care to the bare minimum. But finally, employees are resisting this speed, and employers have realized that slow and steady—not crazy and all over the place—wins the race. The idea of "mindfulness" has made its way into the mainstream with apps like Calm and best-selling programs from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. It's become clear that the workforce needs to decompress, calm their thoughts, and take the adult version of nap time during their workday to succeed without imploding first. The solution? Meditation rooms in the office. These were once a "new age" perk pretty much only available in the start-up cultures of places like Silicon Valley. But more and more companies are now recognizing that the ability to sit still and meditate during the workday is good for employees. A study conducted at the University of Washington found that those who had meditation training in the workplace were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. Meditation also improved memory and alleviated stress. Major companies are trying to capitalize on these benefits, incorporating meditation into their culture on a daily basis. Etsy's headquarters include a "breathing room" where digital devices are not allowed. The only furniture is a stack of mats. Google goes a step further by offering their staff mindfulness courses, including one called "Search Inside Yourself." At General Mills, there's a dedicated meditation room in every building of their vast campuses, and they offer all staff members weekly meditation sessions and yoga classes. They also teach "Mindful Leadership" to settle the mind and create a calmer, more productive workforce. And Zappo's, in addition to encouraging their team to meditate throughout the day, offers their employees EnergyPod chairs, massage chairs, regular wellness fairs, and on-site health screenings. "Everyone gets stressed, so it's important to have ways to manage it in order to stay productive," explains Nico Pronk, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., F.A.W.H.P., president of HealthPartners Institute and chief science officer for HealthPartners. "Precision, accuracy, speed, and quality of work all suffer when people are stressed." You guessed it: This benefits companies just as much as it benefits employees. "More productive employees create a more pleasant company culture and an increased bottom line," explains Steve Orma, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and specialist in insomnia and anxiety. "This kind of culture attracts the most talented applicants, because they want to work in that kind of environment," he says. "Just look at all the perks companies like Google offer their employees and how that attracts the smartest people in the world." If your company doesn't offer a quiet room (yet), then make it a priority to take 10 to 20 minutes every day to quiet your mind. Add it to your calendar. Go outside and sit on a bench to close your eyes, clear your head, and take deep breaths. Put on headphones and listen to a meditation on an app such as Calm or Headspace—you can do it at your desk.

Comic Book Detectives: Who’s That Purple Guy Who Defeated Superman?

Comic Book Detectives: Who’s That Purple Guy Who Defeated Superman?

This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future requests to brianc@cbr.com!

Reader Bob T. wrote in with his request:

I am haunted by an image — Superman, unconscious, being held by his cape by a villain in purple (with a sword?) in front of a waterfall? Though I can not remember if this was the front comic cover or the interior splash page?

It would be from one of the very first Superman comics I ever bought off the new stand as a very young child (mid 1970s) and it left such a strong impression on me, that to this very day, I still search comic bins in every comic shop I visit trying to find it.

But I do not remember if it was in Action Comics or Superman or even the name of the villain (was he Kryptonian???) All I recall is the alway amazing Curt Swan art, and the plot involves adult Clark Kent returning to Smallville. Chief Parker is in the story. And the story’s climax! It blew me away as a little kid. It looks like Superman is defeated, and he turns tail to fly away, except he really flies around the Earth in seconds and hits the villain from behind!!! At least that is how my inner child remembers it.

Your memory mostly served you well, Bob!

The comic in question is 1979’s “Action Comics” #495, by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte. Here is the splash page of the issue, just as you remembered it…

The story is the second part of a two-part story where Clark Kent and Lois Lane travel to Smallville to investigate a mysterious package sent from Smallvile of an alternate version of Superman’s S (in a clever bit, Bates has used the way Superman’s chest S originally looked in “Action Comics” #1 as an alternate S that Ma Kent came up with but decided not to use). While there, they met up with Clark’s old friend, Chief Parker….

Parker and Lois are both visited by a ghost (Parker of a Civil War general and Lois of a World War II general). It is clear that something is appearing as military people to the residents of the house. It turns out that it was a psychic entity that was trying to draw Superman there because of an old grudge from back when Superman was still Superboy, when he destroyed some bad guy who has taken this long to rematerialize, and he has taken on the form of an ancient Kryptonian warrior!

The warrior was really handing it to Superman, but Superman came up with a plan…

He then forces it to surrender using the sword (as a Kryptonian warrior always had to surrender when threatened with his/her own sword). You slightly misremebered this part, Bob, as it was Superman throwing the sword around the world, not himself. Very close, though!

Okay, that’s another case solved! Thanks for the request, Bob! If anyone else has a comic book from their youth that they can’t recall now, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com and I’ll see if we can find out the comic you’re missing!

The post Comic Book Detectives: Who’s That Purple Guy Who Defeated Superman? appeared first on CBR.

White House Seeks Near-Term Cuts to NASA and NOAA Programs

The Trump administration is asking Congressional appropriators to cut millions from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite programs and from NASA science programs in any fiscal year 2017 spending bills.

Watch Live: ISS Spacewalk Now, SpaceX Launching Used Rocket Later

Two NASA astronauts will perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday (March 30), and SpaceX will launch a satellite atop a used Falcon 9 rocket at 6:27 p.m. EDT. Watch all the action live here at Space.com.

NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping-Stone to Mars

It looks like NASA's stepping-stone to Mars will be a miniature space station in lunar orbit rather than a chunk of captured asteroid.

SpaceX to Launch Used Rocket for 1st Time Tonight: Watch Live

SpaceX will launch one of its used rockets on an orbital space mission this evening (March 30) for the first time ever, and you can watch the historic liftoff live.

Thursday’s Morning Email: North Carolina To Repeal Transgender Bathroom Bill

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Please Stop Asking Morgan Freeman To Record Your Voicemail Messages

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Australia Hit by Real Life Sharknado

The Australian state of Queensland was hit hard this week by a vicious tropical cyclone. And while there has been property damage, thankfully no one was seriously injured by Cyclone Debbie. Well, no one, unless you count this 5-foot long shark that was found dead this morning near the floodwaters.

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Aunt Viv Of ‘Fresh Prince’ Calls Co-Star A ‘Media Hoe’ After Reunion Photo

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Arctic sea ice lets in light and prompts algae bloom – Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Arctic sea ice lets in light and prompts algae bloom
Daily Mail
But experts have warned that this pearly white scenery is turning green, as sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic. The green tinge is caused by the bloom of microscopic algae as thinning ice allows in more sunlight - the consequences of which are ...
Why Is Arctic Ice Turning Green? Phytoplankton Bloom Explained By New ModelInternational Business Times
Harvard researchers help solve mystery of the Arctic's green iceHarvard Gazette
The Arctic is turning green at an alarming rate, and scientists finally know whyScienceAlert
Science News-Alaska Public Radio Network-The Australian-The Independent
all 18 news articles

Conan Dissects Donald Trump’s Habit Of Taking Credit Where It Isn’t Due

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Study says best-looking politicians lean right, best-looking scholars lean left

According to research by Berggren, Jordahl and Poutvaara, in elections run in Australia, the European Union, Finland and the United States, right-leaning politicians are generally more attractive than left-leaning politicians. The current study by Professor Jan-Erik Lönnqvist shows that this applies specifically to politicians and does not mean that right-leaning people on the whole are more attractive.

A novel method that helps reducing noise problems produced by road traffic

Scientists from the universities of Granada (UGR) and Southampton (United Kingdom) have designed a new method to reduce noise problems caused by road traffic, one of the main environmental impacts of roads, and which has important effects on people's health and their physical and psychological well-being.

Good Thing Disney Changed Nearly Everything About Elsa In ‘Frozen’

Elsa, the magical white-haired princess in Disney’s smash-hit “Frozen,” quickly became an audience favorite after the animated film’s 2013 debut. And not just because her signature song was catchy.When Elsa sings “Let It Go,” voiced by magical Broadway princess Idina Menzel, she embraces the thing that had made her a social pariah,allowing that unique quality to fill her with confidence instead of oppressive fear and anxiety.

But originally, as Entertainment Weekly reports, Elsa’s character was almost completely different: Her powers made her an evil villain.

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Flying Turkey Smashes Through SUV’s Windshield On Indiana Highway

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Potatoes successfully grown in conditions similar to those found on Mars – Yahoo News

The Independent
Potatoes successfully grown in conditions similar to those found on Mars
Yahoo News
Scientists have successfully grown a potato plant in conditions similar to theose found on Mars. Researchers in Peru created a simulator with below-zero temperatures, high carbon monoxide concentrations and air pressure similar to that found at an ...
In lab simulating harsh Mars climate, a nascent potato growsmySanAntonio.com

all 2 news articles

Lemon Chips

Avocado “Schmear”

Carrot Chips

Escarole Chips

Radish Chips

Avocado Chocolate Truffles

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Pear Chips

Avocado Margherita

Samsung eyes rebound with Galaxy S8 phones, virtual assistant

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its new Galaxy S8 smartphones, incorporating the virtual assistant Bixby, as the market leader seeks to rebound from a chaotic handset recall and a corruption scandal.

Stephen Colbert Shreds GOP For Scrapping Internet Privacy Rules

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One Of The World’s Most Mysterious Octopuses Has Been Caught On Video Eating

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‘Underwater wasteland’ worries after cyclone hits Barrier Reef

A powerful cyclone that smashed into northeastern Australia could have caused further damage to the under-pressure Great Barrier Reef, turning parts into an "underwater wasteland", scientists warned Thursday.

Federal agency refuses to ban pesticide used on crops

President Donald Trump's administration denied a petition by environmental groups that sought to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops, reversing a push by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food after a government review concluded it could harm children's brains.

US climate science hearing descends into bullying ‘food-fight’

Lawmakers and scientists called names, lamented Soviet-era tactics and accused each other of wrongdoing at a nearly three-hour hearing on climate science in the US capital on Wednesday.

Study: Early Americas girl ‘Naia’ may have been young mother

More details have emerged about one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas, a young woman nicknamed "Naia" whose nearly complete skeleton was discovered in 2007 in a water-filled cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Westinghouse’s woes spotlight US nuclear sector’s decline

Westinghouse's bankruptcy announcement cast a pall over the future of nuclear energy in the United States and comes as the Trump administration seeks to revive the coal industry.

SpaceX poised to launch first recycled rocket

SpaceX is poised to launch its first recycled rocket on Thursday, using a booster that sent food and supplies to the astronauts living at the International Space Station in April.

Medical News Today: EKG results for A-fib: What do they look like?

A doctor can identify some kinds of atrial fibrillation by looking at an EKG. Learn about their characteristics and how they are identified.

Medical News Today: Parkinson’s risk may be higher with hepatitis virus infection

Researchers have found that people infected with hepatitis B or C may be at significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Medical News Today: Occupational exposure to magnetic fields increases risk of ALS

A new study finds that high exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields through work significantly increases the risk of dying from ALS.

A faster single-pixel camera: New technique greatly reduces the number of exposures necessary for ‘lensless imaging’

Compressed sensing is an exciting new computational technique for extracting large amounts of information from a signal. In one high-profile demonstration, for instance, researchers at Rice University built a camera that could produce 2-D images using only a single light sensor rather than the millions of light sensors found in a commodity camera.

Study finds that napping flies have higher resistance to deadly human pathogen

A new University of Maryland study has found that fruit flies genetically coded to take frequent naps had the strongest resistance to both a fungal infection and to a bacteria that the World Health Organization says is one of the world's most dangerous superbugs for humans.

Donald Trump Aces Keith Olbermann’s Screening Test For Psychopaths

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Stephen Colbert Illustrates How Deep In Trump’s ‘Inner Circle’ Devin Nunes Is

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Samantha Bee Dissects Donald Trump’s First Major Failure As President

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Trevor Noah: ‘Trump May Destroy The World, But God Damn He’s Cute’

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Federal Court In Hawaii Halts Donald Trump’s Travel Ban Indefinitely

HONOLULU ―A federal judge in Hawaii ruled Wednesday night to extend his previous order blocking President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

Hours after hearing arguments from both sides, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson sided with the state of Hawaii Wednesday and granted a motion turning the original temporary restraining order against Trump’s ban into a nationwide preliminary injunction, as requested by Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General on March 21.

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Oscars Board Decides To Keep PwC For Awards Shows Despite Best Picture Debacle

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Wonder Woman Footage Description Teases Ares, Lasso of Truth

Wonder Woman Footage Description Teases Ares, Lasso of Truth

“Wonder Woman” will hit theaters in just a few months, but Warner Bros. and DC Films still have a few tricks up their sleeves. During CinemaCon, the studios revealed some new footage from the upcoming DC Extended Universe film that namedropped Ares and showed the Lasso of Truth in action.

According to TheWrap, one scene found Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) on a boat as they sail towards London. The two have a conversation, where Diana reveals that she left Themyscira in order to find Ares, the God of War. She believes he is behind World War I and that he is driving the Germans to battle. However, Steve has other topics on his mind; he explains the concept of marriage to her.

RELATED: Wonder Woman Lands PG-13 Rating

Another scene sent Diana into action when a pickpocket confronted her and Steve on the London streets. In this scene, she used her Lasso of Truth and her gauntlets to put a stop to the thief.

ScreenRant also details a third scene that revolved around General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr Maru (Elena Anaya), two of the film’s villains. Both characters are on the Germans’ side and plot to unleash toxic gas on their enemies in an effort to win the war. During the scene, Ludendorff takes a swig of a mysterious drink.

RELATED: Wonder Woman Director Confirms Boxer Ann Wolfe as Artemis

Each of these three scenes take place early on in the film, between Diana’s departure from Themyscira and her arrival in London. Since none of the trailers quite reveal the primary antagonist of the film, many of “Wonder Woman’s” finer details have been kept under wraps, and that seems to be the case with this CinemaCon footage as well.

Based on a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns from a story by Heinberg and Zack Snyder, “Wonder Woman” follows the Amazon princess who, after discovering the body of American fighter pilot Steve Trevor washed ashore washed ashore on Themyscira, sets out to bring an early end to World War I. The the film takes place long before the events of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” where the character made her theatrical debut.

Opening June 2, “Wonder Woman” stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Lisa Loven Kongsli and David Thewlis.

The post Wonder Woman Footage Description Teases Ares, Lasso of Truth appeared first on CBR.

When it comes to biological populations, expect the unexpected

Human beings are familiar with the idea of extreme events. Meteorologists keep us up to date on hurricanes, floods and high temperatures. Economists watch the stock market for signs of crashes or rallies. We spend a lot of time trying to better predict these events, yet are often surprised when they occur.

Arrow Recap: Oliver Chooses His True Brotherhood

Arrow Recap: Oliver Chooses His True Brotherhood

Tonight’s episode of “Arrow” picked up right where last week left off with Oliver telling Diggle, Felicity, Curtis and the team to go home. There was no voiceover this week, which might be the first time “Arrow” has omitted it in five seasons. The lack of voiceover that usually praised the “something else” that Oliver had become was a perfect reflection of Oliver’s state of mind. He doesn’t know who he is, he doesn’t know who he wants to be, and he currently has no mission. Tonight’s flashbacks lined up with the modern story really well, especially when Anatoly showed up in Star City to help Oliver bring down Prometheus. With Team Arrow “Disbanded,” Oliver looked to the Bratva for help, but their help came at a great cost — a cost that Diggle refused to let Oliver and Star City pay. Tonight’s episode perfectly set the stage for the final five episodes of the season and the conclusion of Oliver’s original crusade as the Green Arrow.

Something Else

Arrow Adrian Chase

When Oliver arrived back at the Arrow cave last week, he was a broken man. Prometheus had stabbed Oliver with arrows, had burned off his Bratva tattoo, and had gotten Oliver to confess that he liked to kill. While many other villains had harmed Oliver and even gotten into his head, Prometheus was the first to make Oliver believe that he was a monster. Whether it was true or not, Oliver believed it, so he disbanded the team. Oliver told Diggle, Felicity, and Curtis to leave and not help him. Oliver packed up all the uniforms and changed all the locks on the doors. Prometheus had won and he didn’t even have to kill anyone close to Oliver to accomplish that goal. Back at City Hall, Quentin Lance wanted to drag Adrian Chase off to jail, but he couldn’t because he had no proof. Susan Williams even gave the police a statement about Chase being the Throwing-Star Killer, but without evidence, she too was not believed. Oliver managed to get Chase off the streets by putting him into the witness protection program, but he still wanted vengeance.

True Brotherhood

Arrow Anatoly

Before Chase was sent into protective custody, Oliver ordered a hit on Chase’s life. Oliver called in the Bratva to commit the execution, which Diggle was not comfortable with. Twice the Bratva tried to kill Chase, but Team Arrow stopped them. Diggle argued with Oliver that the Bratva’s price for the hit was too high. Diggle believed that Anatoly and the Bratva were stealing medicine from Star City to synthesize a drug, which turned out to be true. The tension between Oliver, Anatoly and Diggle came to blows and Oliver punched Diggle square in the face. Diggle refused to back down, no matter how many times Oliver pushed him away. At one point, Oliver told Diggle to “let my crusade die,” because Oliver believed what Prometheus told him, that he put on the Hood as an excuse to kill, not to be a hero crusading for Star City. Diggle still stood by Oliver’s side, just like Oliver stood by Diggle’s side after he killed his brother and wanted to die.

Diggle’s commitment to Oliver got through to him, so Oliver re-assembled Team Arrow to stop the Bratva from stealing diabetes medicine. Oliver chose the “brotherhood” of Team Arrow over the “brotherhood” of the Bratva. Considering his tattoo was burned off last week, it would appear that Season 5 is bringing Oliver’s ties to the Bratva to an end. In the flashbacks, Anatoly agreed to let Oliver return to Lian-Yu, but admitted that he was worried he would turn into something else if Oliver left. Five years later and that fear had become true — Anatoly had become something else.

Time for a New Suit

Arrow Oliver

The episode concluded with Oliver suiting up with the team to stop the Bratva, but wearing all black — no Arrow suit. Does this mean a new suit is on the horizon? Felicity and Curtis also had a breakthrough in reversing Prometheus’ face-masking software, which allowed them to leak his identity to the police and the public. Prometheus killed his witness protection duty however and then went on the run.

Everything felt like it was falling into place tonight. In the flashbacks, Oliver is getting ready to head back to Lian-Yu. We know from the pilot episode of “Arrow” that Oliver is on Lian-Yu long enough to grow a beard before he’s rescued by a Chinese fishing boat. We also know that sometime during the Season 5 finale, that we’ll see a version of those events unfold. In the current timeline, it seems as though Oliver really has to make a choice between staying the Green Arrow, staying the Mayor, choosing one over the other, or becoming something else entirely. Five seasons and 10 years is a lot of ground to cover, so I don’t think his suit upgrade will be a minor one. We could be seeing an entirely new version of Oliver when the show returns for Season 6. Until then, Team Arrow still has a few loose ends to tie up, like Felicity’s dealings with Helix and the final takedown of Prometheus. All of that will continue to unfold when the show returns on April 26.

Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.

The post Arrow Recap: Oliver Chooses His True Brotherhood appeared first on CBR.

Angela Rye Slams Former Rep. Joe Walsh: ‘That’s What Makes You A Bigot!’

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Jeffrey Lord Makes Bizarre New Claim About Democrat ‘Collusion’

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Transformers: Bumblebee’s Long History Teased at CinemaCon

Transformers: Bumblebee’s Long History Teased at CinemaCon

At CinemaCon, Director Michael Bay screened new footage from his upcoming movie “Transformers: The Last Knight.” While a few clips were shown throughout the event, a bit about Bumblebee stood out in particular.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anthony Hopkins’s character reveals that he met Bumblebee back when we was a boy in one of these clips. This suggests that either Bumblebee has been on Earth for much longer than was originally believed, or that he has come to the planet on more than one occasion.

RELATED: Transformers: The Last Knight Introduces Cogman With New Motion Posters

Since Paramount has plans to build a spinoff film around the heroic Autobot, it makes sense his character would receive a boost in “The Last Knight.” The as-yet-untitled “Bumblebee” spinoff, which has tapped “Kubo And The Two Strings’” Travis Knight to direct, is scheduled for a June 8, 2018 release.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” sets the stage for the planned expansion of the $3.78 billion franchise, which includes another “Transformers” sequel in 2019 and a possible origin movie for the warring Autobots and Decepticons.

Opening June 23, “Transformers: The Last Knight” stars franchise veterans Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro, joined by newcomers Isabela Moner, Liam Garrigan, Jerrod Carmichael, Mitch Pileggi, Laura Haddock, Santago Cabrera and Anthony Hopkins.

The post Transformers: Bumblebee’s Long History Teased at CinemaCon appeared first on CBR.

North Carolina Announces Deal To Repeal Transgender Bathroom Bill

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Legion Finale Pits Mutants Against Humanity in a War For Survival

Legion Finale Pits Mutants Against Humanity in a War For Survival

“Look at you, you’re gods, and some day you’re going to wake up and realize you don’t need to listen to us anymore.”

— Clark, the Interrogator

Time is a slippery concept on “Legion,” where some of the fashions, decor and technology are artifacts of decades long past, and Oliver Bird, although lost on the astral plane for 20 years, lives frozen in a time of beat poetry, free love and leisure suits. But the opening of tonight’s season finale brings a jarring awareness of linear time, as we learn six weeks have passed since David Haller’s fiery rescue in the first episode.

More importantly, however, it upends our perspective of the story with a glimpse into the life of Hamish Linklater’s now horribly disfigured Interrogator, depicted here as a man with a devoted husband, a loving son, and an unwavering sense of duty to his country (not to mention a name; it’s Clark). With that, Division 3 becomes much more than a vaguely defined existential threat represented by faceless soldiers in tactical gear or, far more tangibly, the relentless predator that was The Eye. Embracing some of the larger themes of Marvel’s X-Men, “Legion” re-frames the nebulous “war” referred to throughout the season as a larger evolutionary battle for survival.

Legion Episode 8

War is chief on Clark’s mind as he orders his soldiers to apprehend David Haller and kill the rest of the Summerland mutants. Any empathy he might have displayed in his first encounter with David burned away in the fiery escape, and in the six excruciating weeks of recovery and rehabilitation that followed. But the tables are quickly turned as David casually uses his telekinetic abilities to stack the Division 3 soldiers like a game of Jenga, and the Interrogator becomes the interrogated.

Clark remains defiant in captivity, armed with the knowledge that every move is being monitored by Division 3, via a contact-lens camera, and that another strike team is no more than 20 minutes away. That places a ticking clock on the events of the episode, but it’s secondary to David’s rapidly deteriorating condition. He may appear in control of his powers, but he’s on the verge of being lost forever to the Shadow King, whom Cary likens to a computer virus ready to overwrite “the original program” and permanently erase David.

RELATED: Ahead of “Legion’s” Finale, Producer Talks Mutants, Reality and the X-Future

But as Cary and Oliver focuse on saving David, the others are caught up in disagreements about what do with Clark, and about the imminent threat posed by Division 3. Ptonomy wants to kill their prisoner, while Melanie hopes to learn what the enemy knows before they’re forced to evacuate Summerland. And David? He’s almost eerily calm, and determined to bring an end to this war.

“So, you’re just gonna whip up some peace accord, what, before lunch or before dinner?” Syd asks David. “Babe, I don’t care if you save me, or the world if you don’t save yourself.” It’s in that moment that we realize, even if Syd doesn’t just yet, that she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her boyfriend. How she might do it starts to become clear a little later, as she finds herself back in the white room, face to face with the Shadow King, whose “Lenny mask is running”; the flesh is decaying, and her boots oozing like hot tar. Even as Syd and Lenny circle and taunt each other, they begin a dangerous negotiation for David’s life. “You’re going to help me escape,” Lenny says. “You want me out of David? Fine, I’m gone. But you have to help me get away. … Because, if you don’t, I’ll kill him.”

Legion Episode 8

There are larger-scale, and more philosophical, matters of life and death being unpacked in the finale, though, as Melanie cuts through the Interrogator’s bluster and promises of an entire army coming down on Summerland to make it clear she and her mutants are done hiding from Division 3. “Here’s the thing, Clark: You caught me on a good day, so I’m going to be honest with you,” she says. “You were right, about David. He’s a world breaker, and if you’d killed him before he figured that out, then maybe your tactical forces and — what is it? — world coalition, maybe that would have impressed me. But not now. Well, kid, better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over.”

RELATED: “Legion” Season 2 Won’t “Suddenly Look to the Comics For Storylines”

However, the threat of a world breaker rings a little hollow when, during his attempt at detente, David begins repeating “You don’t have to be afraid” with different inflections, which turns into a chant that’s as annoying as it is unnerving. He passes out, triggering a desperate Syd to blurt out to Clark what’s happening to her boyfriend. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you like David,” she says, over Melanie’s protests. “You feel something for him. So I’m going to give you a chance here: You wanna help?”

His opportunity comes, of course, but not quite yet, as now it’s up to Cary and Oliver to begin a procedure to remove every trace of Farouk from David’s mind. It seems to work, too, at least initially. Inside his own mind, David confronts the decaying Lenny, asking, “I was just wondering, what am I without you? You know, we’ve been together for so long … sun and moon. People lose a limb in the night, years go by and still they reach for it, the phantom. Are you my phantom? What happens to me when you’re gone?” Although their relationship is parasitic rather than symbiotic, the exchange reinforces the parallels between David and the Shadow King and Cary and Kerry. In each instance, they’ve shared an existence for so long that they’re left to ponder what’s left when one half is gone.

Legion Episode 8

Farouk isn’t willing to find out just yet, however, and begins clawing back lost territory in David’s mind and memories. He’s still enormously powerful, so much so that Summerland’s generators begin to overload, and an image of the Devil With Yellow Eyes flashes on monitors. “You see that, right?” Clark asks his watchful Division 3 supervisor, who orders for “the Equinox” to be sent in.

Realizing, at last, what she must do, Syd springs into action even as Kerry does the same, creating a race for who is going to save David. But of course it’s Syd; it had to be Syd, not only because of her mutant ability but because of their shared story. Kissing him once again, she brings the Shadow King into her own mind, before passing him on to Kerry, who takes out both Cary and an armed Ptonomy before making a break for it. Left unattended, Clark steps out the interrogation room and strikes a fleeing Kerry. It’s enough to delay her until David can drop in like a character from a wuxia film. It’s here that “Legion” delivers its most blatantly superhero scene of the season, as David and Kerry, both super-charged with energy, run at each other in slow motion and collide in a flash of light and a building shaking tremor. Kerry is sent flying, right into Oliver, and the Shadow King’s consciousness is transferred to him. (We probably shouldn’t dwell too much on how. Syd is an obvious conduit because of her mutant power, but what would trigger Farouk to pass from Kerry to Oliver? Maybe we’ll find out next season.)

RELATED: “Legion” Finally Makes That Key X-Men Link We’ve Been Waiting For

Amid the chaos, Oliver calmly slips into a car and drives away from Summerland (with Lenny chilling in the passenger seat), leaving David finally free of his parasite, but the Shadow King now unleashed upon the world. On the plus side, Clark’s glimpse of the Devil With Yellow Eyes leaves him open to approaching his superiors about a truce between the government and the mutants. The negative side — well, the other negative side — becomes apparent in the post-credits scene, and Syd and David stand on the balcony as the latter psychically tracks the direction of Oliver and Lenny. A mechanical orb, which we can probably assume is the Equinox sent by D3, flies up and scans David, who’s then somehow beamed inside it. It then flies up, with an imprisoned David screaming “Help me!”

It’s an ending that leaves viewers wondering what the hell they just watched. But should we expect any less of “Legion”?

Odds, Ends and Unanswered Questions As Oliver and Lenny head down the road, to the sound of T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” Oliver asks, “Where should we look first?” It’s a reference to that mysterious “it” Lenny was frantically searching for in the previous episode. There’s been no indication what it is, but it would make sense if it were something that would permit Farouk to exist once again on his own, without the need for a host. That’s only a wild guess, though. Lenny replies “Someplace warm,” which would seem to be a nod production moving next season from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Although the love story between David and Syd has been core to the season, it doesn’t hold a candle to the romance shared by Melanie and Oliver, filled as it is with heartbreak, devotion and, well, more heartbreak. (Jean Smart and Jemaine Clement are incredible; I could watch an entire episode of Smart’s Melanie walking around, looking wistful.) The only thing more gutting that Oliver not remembering Melanie is for him to finally make the connection … right before the Shadow King takes control of his body. As Oliver leaves Summerland, he’s singing Tony Bennett’s “If I Ruled the World,” which is only fitting, given Farouk’s ambitions. We still don’t know how Cary and Oliver know Amahl Farouk. Perhaps now that he’s parked his consciousness in Oliver’s body, “Legion” will explore their history in the second season.

The post Legion Finale Pits Mutants Against Humanity in a War For Survival appeared first on CBR.

Let’s Dive Into the Shadow King’s Big Move on Legion’s Season Finale

Legion just aired its first season finale, and all I can say is “Hell. Yes.” It started off relatively slow, but that was just to get us warmed up for the plethora of twists and turns the Shadow King would hurl our way—ending in something I, in no way, predicted. I’m pretty sure I owe somebody on this site $5.

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Progressive Hindus Declare Queens Temple The First Sanctuary Of Its Kind In U.S.

NEW YORK — Revelation came to Sunita Viswanath one summer morning six years ago, as she set down to read the newspapers in her living room in Taos, New Mexico.

There was a story in The New York Times about Rohan Narine, a young American Hindu community organizer who wanted to screen the 2008 animated movie, “Sita Sings The Blues,” by trailblazing Jewish female director Nina Paley. Narine chose his uncle’s Hindu temple as the location, hoping the screening could be part of a series of events through which young Sikhs and Hindus — the two dominant religions in his Indo-Caribbean community — could “get to know each other.”

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New Footage from Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman Hits All the Right Notes

“Tone” has been the magic word for the DC Universe since the release of Batman v Superman. Would future films get the right tone, giving audiences a sufficiently fun, superhero feeling to go along with the universe’s decidedly dark vision? Well, at CinemaCon 2017, that answer, maybe for the first time, was “Yes.”

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Arrow: [SPOILER]’s Secret Identity Gets Outed

Arrow: [SPOILER]’s Secret Identity Gets Outed

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Disbanded,” the latest episode of “Arrow.”

In “Disbanded,” the latest episode “Arrow,” a critical Season 5 character had his secret identity outed to the world: Prometheus. After a series of harsh defeats, Team Arrow finally got one up on Adrian Chase with a little help from the covert hacker group Helix. Using a photo from Helix’s archives, Oliver and his crew released a photo of Prometheus unmasking himself to the police.

Of course, that’s a lot harder than it sounds, because Chase is no fool. He had prepared for security cameras like this by using a piece of Kord Industries tech that scrambles photos. As such, Felicity needed to track down this tech so that she could reverse-engineer it. Fortunately for her, Team Arrow needed to break into Kord Industries to stop Anatoly and the Bratva, so she and Curtis were able to de-scramble the photo. The end result? A crystal clear photo of Chase wearing the Prometheus costume.

RELATED: Arrow EP Reveals the Two Lines The Show Will Never Cross

Team Arrow immediately took that photo to the police, who authenticated the picture using three separate programs. They sent this information to Chase’s handlers, seeing as he was in a federal witness protection program in light of the fact that he was “Green Arrow’s” target. Chase’s handlers immediately made a motion to capture Chase, but Chase acted too quickly for them. He killed one by throwing a pen into his eye; the other, by strangulation.

Shortly thereafter, Chase hijacked a car and took off. His last scene found him cruising by a handful of cop cars, whistling as he went. However, the cops were none the wiser as Prometheus slipped away from them once again.

RELATED: Arrow: Katie Cassidy Will Return as Series Regular for Season 6

That doesn’t mean Team Arrow is out of the woods just yet. They’ve made it more difficult for Prometheus to get the upper hand, but it’s not impossible for him. Plus, they’ll have their hands full with Felicity and her involvement in Helix, which grows ever shadier with each episode. Nevertheless, Team Arrow scored a victory in taking Chase by surprise.

Starring Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Willa Holland and more.

The post Arrow: [SPOILER]’s Secret Identity Gets Outed appeared first on CBR.

15 Reasons Superhero Movies Should Be Less Gritty

15 Reasons Superhero Movies Should Be Less Gritty

Superhero movies have come a long way in the past couple decades. It used to be that superhero movies were simple affairs with a blandly good hero crushing a strangely evil villain, saving the town or world as a whole, all while getting the girl. Or, they were something a studio might take a gamble on like Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” or Stephen Norrington’s “Blade.” With the success of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy, things have changed, but not necessarily for the better.

RELATED: 15 Superhero Films Stuck In Development Hell

The new template for the superhero megahit is a dark, gritty film that focuses on the difficulties of being a superhero. However, this trend has run its course, but not before making the superhero movie landscape more desolate and frustrating. Of course, there’s more humorous fare like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool,” and some dark takes on superheroes are pitch perfect. A canny director with a deft narrative touch can make a lot of surprising things work. But this is the exception, not the rule. The time has come for superhero movies to be a lot less gritty.

GRITTY IS PLAYED OUT

Avengers Age of Ultron

Trends wax and wane. At this time, the gritty superhero movie is played out. It’s not fresh or surprising anymore. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for superhero movies with darker themes. In fact, some characters and story arcs work best in a gritty setting, Batman being the obvious success story after years of campy oddity. But other characters and story arcs have been bogged down by this aesthetic. It’s matter of personal taste, but did “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” really need so much time having sad feelings at a farm? Is there a point in trying to make such a fantastical franchise work on such a mundane level?

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” wasn’t all grit, but it succumbed to the aesthetic in ways that didn’t necessarily add to the watching experience. Fans are more likely to remember and enjoy the fun parts, not the shoehorned drama. You know you’re at peak trend saturation when the trendy selling point is forgettable.

MONOTONOUS COLOR PALATES

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman

For some reason everything becomes gray and washed out once a movie is “gritty.” (Or washed out, then color corrected to be mostly orange and teal.) Yes, color is a way to convey tone and emotion, and the dynamic between bright and dull colors can be used in an interesting and meaningful way. “The Dark Knight” has a lot of gray, orange and teal going on, and it’s not a worse movie for it. But it seems like Hollywood has been in its gray, orange and teal period of a long enough that superhero movies have become kind of ugly.

The color choices may have to do with creating a more realistic vibe instead of a Technicolor extravaganza, but superhero movies are also action movies. The way said action plays on the screen is an important part of generating a visceral audience response. The monotonous colors don’t indicate vibrant action, but persistent depression. It’s almost obscene that so much time, money and effort goes into visual effects that are flattened for the sake of an edgy tone.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Nightwing DC Comics

“Gritty” usually translates to a movie about the trials of being a superhero or grappling with dual identities. The source comics often have similar arcs, but those arcs don’t account for years of issues. After the heroes figure out their emotional stuff they go and do things. Maybe they even become emotional about something besides themselves.

Some of these arcs are still dark like mutants at war with each other, the replacement of the justice league, various incarnations of Robin and more. However, they need to be tackled in a different way than just trying to completely ground the plot in a recognizable, everyday reality. Superhero movies should be able to display a full range of emotions, interesting conflicts, and character development via various aesthetics based on the stories they’re trying to tell. But making a movie different from the current bleak offerings requires risk, creativity and comfort with source material that seems to be rare in Hollywood, with a few notable exceptions.

POINTLESS VIOLENCE

Captain America Civil War Airport Explosion

Okay, most superhero movies require a bit of theatrical violence. Many fight scenes function like the opening set piece of a musical: they set the tone, provide something lush for the audience, and just barely forward the plot. But once the protagonist’s fighting style and the villains are established, it’s pointless to throw in more fights to show how grizzled and cynical the hero is. Ideally, the actual narrative will do that work.

Worse still is when graphic fight scenes are thrown in to show how dark and edgy the movie is. (Look, if the movie is all gray, orange and teal, the audience already knows.) Without the plot or motivations to make buoy up multiple extended fight scenes, the violence ends up as expensive dead air. Narratively, violence without meaning achieves the same thing as watching the hero sort through junk mail for 10 minutes. For example, “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” is rife with flaws, but perhaps the most unforgivable is that people could get smashed, incinerated, exploded and shattered, and it wasn’t even horrifying: it was tiresome and boring.

ADULTS ONLY

Captain America Civil War Emily Vancamp and Martin Freeman

Gritty movies aren’t targeted at families or kids, which is fine. Not everything has to be a kid-friendly, heartwarming morality tale. But when the default superhero movie is gritty, dark and tortured, kids don’t have many they can see. For parents, this means that they either need to choose a different movie to see with their kids or find a sitter if they want to see the next superhero blockbuster. For kids, this means that they’re less welcome to participate in superhero fandom.

Yes, the movie gold seems to lie in a PG-13 rating and many kids are fine seeing PG-13 movies. But while gritty superhero movies might take a lighter hand with things like graphic violence, sexuality and swearing to maintain a rating, they often leave in even less kid friendly stuff like a bunch of suits talking shop in a boardroom or heavily-veiled information exchanges at cocktail parties. Movies like “Deadpool” and “Logan” show without a doubt that superhero movies aren’t just for kids, but it doesn’t seem right that the majority of superhero movies aren’t trying to appeal to kids at all.

EXCHANGING TROPES

Batman Knightmare scene from Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice

Tropes play a weird role in genre storytelling. To an extent, they’ve developed over time as themes that help make sense of what’s going on. There’s a reason why superheroes are often orphans with traumatic backstories who do their crime fighting work while masked, but ultimately believe in the good of humanity. Superhero tropes may be a bit cliché or even a joke, but they’re useful and when used correctly, they can still make highly enjoyable superhero movies.

However, what many gritty superhero movies do is try to break away from their genre by discarding various superhero tropes in the name of greater creative license. There are fewer hijinks around concealing identity and less wholesome speeches about protecting the innocent. Now that would be all well except, more often than not, superhero tropes are replaced with different genre tropes, like film noir, spy thrillers, or daytime crime dramas. Creepy, but revealing autopsies, cyber crime and shooting first then asking questions later (all were in “Batman V Superman”) rarely enhance gritty superhero movies and end up muddying the plot.

GUESS WHO DIES?

Quicksilver in Avengers Age of Ultron

This is how it works: in a cinematic universe, more or less comparable to the real world, it’s impossible that every character will escape unscathed from so much fighting. Someone needs to bite it to show how real the stakes are. That person cannot be a main character unless the death happens near the end. The person who dies needs to be likeable, but not instrumental to the plot. Said death should further motivate the protagonist(s) to do what they’re already doing. With these ground rules, you can probably narrow down who will die to two or three characters in the first few minutes of the movie. If someone doesn’t do a lot, but gives a stirring speech near the middle, they’re a goner.

Like nearly everything else on this list, adding to a movie’s death count can be done well and in a meaningful way. The problem with killing off characters in gritty superhero movies is that it has become formulaic. Even if you don’t consciously play “Guess who dies?” the unsurprising, decorative death of a character isn’t moving. It’s just another ham-fisted technique to make a movie seem serious.

EVERYONE’S SUSPICIOUS

Matthew Goode as Ozymandius in Watchmen

The surprising betrayal by a trusted friend is much less surprising in these grim, gray universes. In fact, this kind of character behavior is expected in a morally ambiguous setting. For movies like “Watchmen,” it makes perfect sense. Not only because of how the source material was written, but because the whole story involves the examination of heroism, motivation and what it means to do good and for whom.

However, most superhero movies are not “Watchmen,” nor should they be. The emotional ups and downs work best with a tone that is at least neutral or have a touch of foreboding, if not outright be happy. Even if it’s not a surprise that Obediah Stane is out to get Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” it works similarly on an emotional level. But as Iron Man’s screen time continued in progressively dreary, morally ambiguous movies, there’s less impact to each disagreement and inter-hero fight.

MISERY REPLACES CHARCTERIZATION

Hugh Jackman Logan

Gritty superhero movies love misery: the misery of the protagonists, the misery of those who are collateral damage, the misery of the villains. Everyone’s unhappy, and this unhappiness carries the plot more than the actual characters because it’s the only reason why anyone does anything. Even rather good superhero movies fall into this trap like, “X-Men: First Class.” Luckily, there are lighter moments that give “First Class” good balance, but it seems that instead of internal motivations based on unique character perspectives and desires, the titular first class is only at Xavier’s school because they’re sad mutants. Then some stuff happens to them.

Perhaps that’s unfairly glib, but unhappiness alone does not make a character complex or interesting. Misery isn’t a character trait. Plus so many superheroes are unhappy for the same reason and in the same way: past misfortune dogs them into the present, they have a hard time balancing love and crimefighting, they’re not sure where they fit in or they accidentally hurt someone with their powers. Maybe if these movies would lighten things up a bit, the actual characters would shine through.

COMPETITIVE GRITTINESS

Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad

It’s one thing for a movie to use dark themes, violence, and shocking scenes to tell a complex and interesting story. It’s quite another when a movie uses all those same things to prove how edgy it is. When the majority a superhero movies have the same tone, the way to stand out with a more serious movie is to up the ante. The shock and gloom factors need to be more intense and more over the top than before.

The audience ends up presented with the protagonist’s nightmares, torture, fight scenes that show how vicious the hero is and more. Again, if that’s how the movie works the best, then all that should be included. But if it’s all flavoring and no substance, like Jared Leto’s Joker in “Suicide Squad,” then all that dark, edgy, weird stuff is actually vapid fluff. The competitive grittiness of superhero movies has created the grim, gloomy equivalent of a cheap laugh.

CONVOLUTED PLOTS

Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man 2

Not every gritty superhero movie has a convoluted plot, but unnecessary complexity seems to be a method of making movies more “adult.” After all, reality doesn’t usually work in neat narrative arcs, and making superheroes appear grounded in reality has a way of making them gritty and edgy. The problem of course is that a lot of screen time and effort needs to go into explaining what the hell is going on.

The intent seems to be that audiences will discover who the bad guys are, why they’re bad, who they’re threatening and so on when the heroes do with various little clues and interactions and the occasional information bombshell. The result is that many of these convoluted plots require blatant, expositional dialogue that no one would actually have. (Looking at you, “Batman V Superman!”) Making a reality-based superhero movie doesn’t count for much when the characters act like NPCs (“non-player characters” in a video game) instead of people. Even if some of the ins and outs are cannon, film is a drastically different medium from comics and requires streamlining and prioritization to make an enjoyable, watchable movie.

LESS FUN

Guardians of the Galaxy full team

In a way, it’s fitting that studios are gearing superhero movies towards adults by making them less about fun and more about crushing responsibilities and guilt. Fun and grit aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but it’s often filmed that way. It’s a strange thing to not want to be the characters that can fly, cut through metal, shape shift, and live in mansions. They spend their screen time brooding about how hard everything is, and viewers aren’t encouraged to enjoy the fantasy of superhuman powers as much as they’re supposed to dwell on the meaning of humanity or good and evil.

There’s a place for these movies, and they can be entertaining and compelling, but this is also true of war documentaries and Oscar-bait dramas. It seems that in the pursuit of joining the ranks of “serious” genres, superhero movies are losing the valuable, if light, qualities that make them different from other fare. Luckily, successes like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool” are turning the tide.

DISAPPOINTED FANS

Man of Steel Metropolis

Fan demand isn’t everything, but fans are the ones who literally make these movies worth it. And yes, most fans will keep giving their favorite franchises and heroes chance after chance. But that doesn’t mean that it will last forever, or that fans haven’t noticed that the same tired formulas are being recycled movie after movie.

For some characters, gritty will always work pretty well and that means their gritty movies will probably always rake in cash hand over fist. But others don’t fit that template and fans more than anyone will have something to say about it. How many Superman fans loved “Man of Steel’s” grim take on their favorite caped boy scout? Despite the big-budget visuals, excellent cast and cool new costume, fans came to see Superman as the character they understood him to be. Even severe flaws in plot or pacing would be forgivable if the film delivered that, but it didn’t. If there’s any reason to stop cranking out dark, edgy superhero movies, it’s that eventually the well of goodwill will dry up, followed by the money.

GRITTY DOESN’T EQUAL SERIOUS

X-men Animated Series

It wasn’t so long ago that superheroes were thought to be frivolous, fluffy, kid stuff. Superhero stories weren’t “serious” or worth the attention of non-nerds. Happily, this isn’t the case anymore, partially due to the mainstream success of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy. But it seems like the continued persistence of gritty superhero movies is based on a kind of anxiety that critics will suddenly decide that people wearing spandex and saving the world is silly if these movies stray too far from Nolan’s formula.

If every gritty superhero movie were a triumph, this list wouldn’t exist. Tone and substance are different things. Depressed characters, convoluted plots, and monotone color palates don’t make movies anymore serious. Cartoons can take on interesting and complex themes (see the ’90s animated series for “X-Men,” “Superman” and “Batman”), and gritty reboots can be trite and clunky. What will make each superhero’s movie(s) successful depends on the character. Sometimes the answer is a dark, realistic tone, but it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to creating character depth and compelling narratives.

UNBALANCED STORYTELLING

Deadpool Wade and Vanessa

A balance of light and dark themes in movies allow for a better understanding of both. It makes the highs higher and lows lower. Most gritty superhero movies end up doing the equivalent of painting black on less-dark black. They slog through tortured backstories, conflicted and emotionally strained presents, and end with bleak, uncertain futures. After all, if the premise of a gritty movie is that superheroes are grounded in a reality that needs them, the world needs to be in bad shape. Especially since crime fighting and world saving exact such a heavy toll.

All those choices are supposed to make a superhero movie super complex and super sad. (Sorry.) Instead, what ends up happening is a viewer fatigue of misery. It’s hard to care about the next awful thing in a terrible series of events. Without a meaningful portrayal of joy, humor or love in the story, all that hard stuff simply doesn’t seem worth it, both for the hero and the viewer.

What are your thoughts? Less gritty, more gritty or do superhero movies have just the right amount of gritty to them? Tell us your opinion in the comments!

The post 15 Reasons Superhero Movies Should Be Less Gritty appeared first on CBR.

Paul Ryan Says He Doesn’t Want To Work With Democrats On Health Care

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Aquaman Footage Description Includes Black Manta & More

Aquaman Footage Description Includes Black Manta & More

DC Films officially debuted concept art footage from James Wan’s upcoming “Aquaman” film at CinemaCon 2017. Now, descriptions of said footage have begun to surface on Twitter, and the response has been massively positive so far. According to these reports, the film boasts underwater dogfights with armored sharks, the full scope of Atlantis, an “accurate” Black Manta helmet and more.

RELATED:  Aquaman Is Already the Best Thing About Justice League

Wan says #Aquaman couldn’t have been made five years ago, concept art showing massive underwater “dogfights” with armored sharks and more! pic.twitter.com/WM53Yqjwrh

— DCEU Facts (@dceufacts) March 30, 2017

Tons of Aquaman concept art shown at #CinemaCon, including Black Manta and amazing wide shots of Atlantis. pic.twitter.com/8Dz12b5fld

— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) March 30, 2017

Just saw a super slick reel of Aquaman concepts. It included people riding sharks underwater described as a dogfight. Wan has a great vision

— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) March 30, 2017

Aquaman concept art footage looks epic. Sci-Fi underwater with a LOTR vibe to its design too. Lots of creatures. Manta helmet looks accurate

— Jim Vejvoda (@JimVejvoda) March 30, 2017

They just played a behind the scenes trailer 4 Aquaman which showed animated production artwork & narrated by @creepypuppet. Huge thumbs up

— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) March 30, 2017

“I’m leaving tonight to Australia to shoot Aquaman for James Wan” –Jason Momoa #CinemaCon2017

— Dave McNary (@Variety_DMcNary) March 30, 2017

RELATED: Aquaman, Justice League Movies Are Getting VR Experiences

Notably, Jason Momoa — who plays the titular King of Atlantis — also revealed that he’s headed to Australia to begin filming. The movie doesn’t come out until winter 2018, so there’s still plenty of time for Momoa to shoot this solo “Aquaman” film. Aquaman will also play a prominent role in “Justice League,” which just dropped its first trailer and releases this November.

Momoa wasn’t the only member of the Justice League present at CinemaCon. Zack Snyder, who directed “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and heralded in the DC Extended Universe, snapped a photo of Ben Affleck (Batman), Ezra Miller (Flash), Ray Fisher (Cyborg) and Henry Cavill (Superman) and shared it on Twitter as well.

#CinemaCon My Boys pic.twitter.com/V9q9ZbcuCV

— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) March 30, 2017

According to the film’s synopsis, which hails from Acting-Audtions.org,

“Aquaman” will center on Aquaman as a reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis who is caught between land dwellers that are always polluting the globe and his own people who are ready to invade the surface. Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Jason Momoa will play Aquaman. Also starring is Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, Hollywood Film Awards winner Amber Heard as Mera, two-time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, two-time Golden Globe Award nominee Patrick Wilson as Orm/Ocean Master, New Zealand Film and TV Awards winner Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta.

Directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Patrick Wilson (Orm) and Willem Dafoe (Nuidis Vulko), “Aquaman” swims into theaters on December 21, 2018. Aquaman will next be seen in “Justice League,” which opens on November 17.

The post Aquaman Footage Description Includes Black Manta & More appeared first on CBR.

No, Trump Will Not Be Building The Border Wall On Mexico’s Side Of The Border

The Trump administration is not planning on claiming land on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border for purposes of building a border wall, an administration official confirmed to The Huffington Post.

The possibility of such a seizure was raised in vague remarks by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week, when he spoke about the difficulty of building a partition between the two countries along the Rio Grande.

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15 Best Moments From Star Wars Rebels Season 3

15 Best Moments From Star Wars Rebels Season 3

The third season of “Star Wars Rebels” wrapped up with an explosive hour long finale on Saturday. It was a season full of revelations and returns for the Disney XD animated series. As the series barrels forward towards the events of “Rogue One” and “A New Hope” more connections were made to characters and events from those films. We also saw character development for the returning characters, resolution to the story arc of Maul  and a shift in focus onto Sabine as a much more important character in the series.

RELATED: 15 Star Wars Characters Who Could Lean An R-Rated Film

In this list, we look across the 22 episodes of “Star Wars Rebels” season 3 and pick out 15 of the best moments; some highs, some lows and some strange.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the third season of “Star Wars Rebels!”

YULAREN DEBUTS

Yularen StarWars Rebels

In the 17th episode of the season “Through Imperial Eyes,” Grand Admiral Thrawn continues his hunt for the traitor among the Imperial forces. To help Thrawn with his search, Colonel Wulff Yularen of the Imperial Security Bureau arrives. Yularn’s inclusion is particularly cool because he is one of the biggest retcons made to “A New Hope.” Yularen appears in “A New Hope” as an unnamed Imperial officer in the conference room scene and didn’t get his name and rank until a 1995 card game.

George Lucas and Dave Filoni brought Yularen into “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” in the role of an Admiral in the Republic Navy. Yularen appeared in the series premiere movie and continued to appear as the commanding officer aboard the ship or group of ships assigned to Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. Given his relationship with Anakin, if anyone outside of the Emperor and Tarkin knows who Vader really is, then this is your man. In this episode, Yularen is also portrayed as a mentor to Kallus which adds nice depth to both characters backstories.

RETURN TO THE CLONE WARS

Kalani with Rex and Ezra in StarWars Rebels

In the sixth episode of the season “The Last Battle,” we see two veterans of the Clone Wars face off one last time. The antagonist of the episode is the droid Kalani, a Separatist super tactical droid who served as a droid general during the Clone Wars. Kalani was the super tactical droid featured in the Onderon story arc of “The Clone Wars,” an arc which also introduced Saw Gerrera. In the episode Rex, Kanan, Ezra and Zeb land on the planet Agamar looking for resources they can scavenge for the Rebels. They are surprised and captured by Kalani and his droid forces and convinced to participate in a battle simulation to prove whether the Separatist or Republic forces were superior.

While Rex, Kanan, and Ezra win the mock battle, it is largely as the result of the degraded state of the droid forces. Ultimately both sides are forced to unite when Imperial forces arrive and attack. The Rebels escape and both Rex and Kalani are able to find personal closure to their experiences in the Clone Wars with the help of some wisdom from Ezra, a small comfort for a character in Rex who has lost so much.

SABINE’S HOMECOMING

Sabine Ursa Krowsnest Star Wars Rebels

In the 16th epsiode of the season, “Legacy of Mandalore,” Sabine returns home to Krownest, the Mandalorian planet controlled by Clan Wren. We have seen bits and pieces of Sabine’s backstory in previous episodes of the series, but it isn’t until this episode that we learn just how important a person she is and how important her family is to Mandalorian society at large. We get to meet the leader of Clan Wren who is Sabine’s mother, the Countess Ursa Wren, Sabine’s brother Tristan Wren, and learn about her father who is being held hostage by the Imperial aligned Governor of Mandalore, Gar Saxon.

This is one of the most important episodes for “Star Wars Rebels” going forward as it set up a key event in the season three finale but it also sets up future storytelling around the civil war currently engulfing Mandalore. In Lucasfilm’s online aftershow “Rebels Recon” they shared concept art for season four which featured the Mandalroian helmets of Clan Wren and Fenn Rau scattered across what looks like a battle-torn wasteland promising even more stories involving Sabine and her family in season four.

THE DEFECTION OF WEDGE AND HOBBIE

Wedge Hobbie Star Wars Rebels

The fourth episode of the season “The Antilles Extraction,” brought two more big-screen characters into “Star Wars Rebels” in Wedge Antilles and Hobbie Klivian. As Rebel pilots, Wedge Antilles appeared in all three of the original trilogy films while Hobbie appeared “The Empire Strikes Back.” Both characters became frequently used fan favorites in the Legends line of books and comics, featuring significantly in the X-Wing series of novels. In the new canon books Wedge has been used as part of Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” series of novels as a New Republic operative.

In this episode Sabine goes undercover to the Imperial Skystrike Academy and helps Wedge and Hobbie defect to the Rebels. This is a great way of connecting the series to the original trilogy of films without getting too close to the central characters of those films. Wedge is an important Rebel pilot but one without a canon backstory, this gives us a little glimpse into that backstory. The idea of many Rebels joining from the ranks of Imperial forces or Imperial Academies is something that goes back to the earliest of “Star Wars” stories with Biggs Darklighter and the aspirations of Luke Skywalker.

THE SPIRITS OF THE NIGHTSISTERS

Nightsister Ghosts Star Wars Rebels

In the 11th episode of the season, “Visions and Voices,” we return to Dathomir where Maul has set up his home within the former village of the Nightsister clan. He lures Ezra hear in order to perform a Nightsister ritual that he hopes will allow him to pull the location of Obi-Wan Kenobi out of Ezra’s mind. The cost of accessing the magic that the Nightsisters is a high one and Maul, unbeknownst to Ezra, promised living flesh to the spirits of the Nightsisters so that they could rebuild their clan.

The Nightsisters’ spirits are able to possess Sabine and Kanan and control their bodies leading to a brief battle with Ezra. Ultimately Ezra is able to free his friends from their possession and seemingly destroy the spirits by destroying the Nightsisters’ ritual altar. This is the first time we have really seen this sort of magic in “Star Wars Rebels” and the green magic mist and possession effects provided some of the coolest visuals of the season.

JETPACK BATTLE

Ezra and Sabine jetpack in Star Wars Rebels

In the seventh episode of the season, “Imperial Super Commandos,” we see one of the most innovative fights we have seen in Star Wars. Returning to the planet Concord Dawn, Ezra, Sabine and Hera are pursued by Mandalorian Governor Gar Saxon and his Imperial Super Commandos. These white-armored Mandalorians are based off of the early Ralph McQuarrie Boba Fett concept art. The Super Commandos chase after Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper as they attempt to escape to their ship. Sabine with her jetpack and Chopper with his rocket have a distinct advantage over Ezra who has neither during this case.

What is novel about this battle is that it is very similar to starfighter chases we have seen through canyons before, but instead of starships, it is individuals with jetpacks that heightens the tension and excitement. Exchanging blaster bolts back and forth, Ezra shielding with his lightsaber and Sabine throwing detonators as they fly was exciting enough to begin with, but it gets even further elevated as Ezra goes from holding onto Sabine to surfing on the top of Chopper.

IMPERIAL JUMPTROOPERS ON GEONOSIS

Jump Troopers Star Wars Rebels

The 12th & 13th episodes of the season “Ghosts of Geonosis,” brought us back to the planet Geonosis and introduced Saw Gerrera into the series. While the introduction of Saw was cool, the highlight of the episode was the introduction of the Imperial jumptroopers. The jumptroopers are specialized stormtroopers equipped with jetpacks, who were first created for video games. In this episode, they are deployed by Imperial Captain Brunson once she has the Ghost ship and crew trapped in an underground cavern. Attempting to capture them, Brunson sends the jumptroopers down the cavern, while her ship blocks the mouth of the cavern.

The flying troopers have a tactical advantage over the Rebels until Sabine emerges from the ship with her own jet pack and has an action hero sequence in which she takes out jumptroopers left and right. This conflict forces the Ghost deeper under the planets surface to avoid fire from Brunson’s light cruiser. This fight once again shows Sabine’s battlefield skill against opponents with a jetpack and armor; that she has become a formidable warrior.

AP-5’S MOMENT OF BLISS

AP-5 from Star Wars Rebels

The 19th episode of the season, “Double Agent Droid,” provides one of the most absurd and enjoyable moments of the season, a brief musical number. Droids in “Star Wars” come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with a variety of programmed personalities. While droids seem ever present, there are a few that make a memorable impact and that is largely due to their personalities. Examples of this are R2-D2 who has a large range of emotions but ever loyal, C-3PO who is anxious, K-2SO who was humorous, and Chopper who is cranky and argumentative. For AP-5 he is a protocol droid dating back to the Clone Wars, his personality is very much that of a grumpy old man who believes in rules and order. Unfortunately, AP-5 droids don’t really get to retire; they operate until they are obsolete.

After saving the day and preventing a reprogrammed Chopper from dooming the Ghost’s crew, AP-5 is lost in space and drifting. He is surrounded by a small flock of the space flying creatures and he finds a bit of bliss in the peace and quiet of space and the company of the flying neebrays. AP-5 is so happy being alone in space that he breaks out in a brief song, only to have his revere interrupted by a rescue by the Ghost which he objects to rather loudly.

HERA WRECKS THE HOUSE

Hera Blows Up Her House in Star Wars Rebels

In the fifth episode of the season, “Hera’s Heroes,” Hera returns home to the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth and is reunited with her father Cham Syndulla. Cham and one of his chief lieutenants Numa are characters that were first introduced in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Cham was a freedom fighter who allied with the Republic to fight off Separatist occupiers, while Numa was a young girl during the war who was rescued by a pair of clone troopers.

The episode centers on Hera’s facing her past and trying to get a family heirloom known as a Kalikori. This is one of the few times in the series that we see Hera act selfishly, putting her interests before the interests of the Rebellion. Hera is a dedicated Rebel similar to Leia, they are true believers in the cause and some might even say zealots. At the end of the episode, Hera blows up her family house as a distraction to allow for the rebels to escape. This act is pivotal in showing just how far Hera is ready to go in putting her family, crew and the Rebellion before herself.

INTRODUCING GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

Admiral Thrawn from Star Wars Rebels

The two-part season premiere episode “Steps Into Shadows,” marked an important milestone for both the series and for the new canon of “Star Wars.” With Disney’s purchase of the “Star Wars” franchise, the tie-in narrative material that had been known as the Expanded Universe was converted into “Legends.” This meant that decades of storytelling and thousands of characters that fans grew attached to over the years were no longer considered part of the canonical “Star Wars” universe.

The resurrection of Grand Admiral Thrawn represents the canonization of one of the two most popular Expanded Universe characters of all time, the other being Mara Jade. In this episode, Lothal’s Governor Arihnda Pryce requests more military assistance from Governor Tarkin. She specifically requests and receives Grand Admiral Thrawn and his fleet. Fans were treated to a small amount of the Grand Admiral in this episode but it was a huge moment ably performed by Lars Mikkelsen.

SABINE’S MONOLOGUE

Sabine battles Kanan with Darksaber in Star Wars Rebels

In the 15th episode of the season “Trials of the Darksaber,” we see a intimate episode focused on the training of Sabine by Kanan in the use of the Darksaber. The Darksaber is a unique lightsaber created by a Mandalorian Jedi named Tor Vizsla and then stolen from the Jedi Temple by Mandalorians after his death. The Darksaber became a symbol of leadership for Mandalorians and was introduces in “The Clone Wars” as the weapon of Pre Vizsla the leader of the Death Watch.

Sabine took the Darksaber from Maul’s lair following the events of “Visions and Voices” and now had the responsibility of wielding it. Kanan trains her in an extremely harsh fashion in order to try to break down the emotional walls she had built up to protect herself, these walls were inhibiting her ability to connect with the blade. The episode culminates with Sabine finally letting go and talking about her past in a cathartic monologue while dueling Kanan. Actress Tiya Sircar’s performance in this monologue is some of the best acting in the entire series.

THRAWN ATTACKS A STORM CLOUD

Bendu Storm in Star Wars Rebels

The “Star Wars Rebels” crew may have saved the strangest for last in Season 3 with the revelation of a new ability for Bendu in the season finale, “Zero Hour.” Introduced in the season premiere, Bendu is a powerful Force-using creature who lives on Atollon, the planet the Rebels had set up their base on. With the ability to blend in with the natural environment and an ability to touch both the dark and light sides of the Force, Bendu who claimed to represent a middle ground between the two aspects is an incredibly powerful being.

Kanan and the Rebels disturbed his rest by coming to Atollon, but it wasn’t until they drew the Imperial war machine to the planet that he got really angry and turned into a giant storm cloud spitting lightening at both Imperial and Rebel forces. What was Thrawn’s response to seeing glowing eyes in a giant storm cloud? Blast it out of the sky with AT-AT’s and then going in for the kill with his personal blaster, only to have Bendu predict Thrawn’s demise and then disappear.

OBI-WAN STANDS WATCH

Obi-Wan Watches Lars Homestead in Star Wars Rebels

The 20th episode of the season “Twin Suns,” presented fans with the rematch years in the making. Obi-Wan avenged his master and dealt a seemingly killing bisecting blow to Darth Maul on Naboo in “The Phantom Menace.” To Obi-Wan and everyone else’s surprise, George Lucas decided to resurrect the Sith Lord for “The Clone Wars,” robbing Obi-Wan of his justice and letting a wildcard villain loose on the galaxy. In this episode, Maul finally tracks Obi-Wan to Tatooine and draws him out using Ezra. Unfortunately for Maul, he is no match for Obi-Wan in a duel that only lasts seconds. While this duel was the selling point for the episode, the coolest part of it was the very end.

We see Obi-Wan riding a dewback on a bluff, looking down upon the Lars homestead as Aunt Beru calls teenage Luke home for the night. We see a shadow on the horizon of Luke running home to the safety as Obi-Wan resumes his solitary watch. The importance of Obi-Wan’s new mission and the self-sacrifice necessary to carry it out have become the real focus of his life.

REBEL FLEET ASSEMBLES

Rebel Fleet Assembles in Star Wars Rebels

In the 18th episode of the season, “Secret Cargo” we see Mon Mothma’s debut on the series as the secret cargo being transported away from Imperial pursuers after delivering a scathing speech against Palpatine. When the Imperials arrive and interrupt the Ghost’s mission to escort Mothma’s ship, Mothma and her escort are forced aboard the Ghost to escape.

The Imperials pursue the Rebels and the Gold squadron of Y-Wings that accompany them through the Archeon Nebula. Fighting off the newly deployed TIE Defenders along with Admiral Konstatine’s capital ships, the rebels are forced to use the innovative tactic of launching torpedoes into the nebulae to cause it to erupt and destroy the Imperial ships. The episode ends on a triumphant note above Dantooine as Mon Mothma sends out a message across the holonet, a call to arms for Rebels. As the message ends, a few seconds pass and then a one by one a large assembly of ships appear and we see the first major collection of Rebel cells.

INTERDICTOR BATTLE

Interdictor from Star Wars Rebels

The two-part season finale, “Zero Hour,” featured one of the longest and most elaborate space battles of the series that happened over two separate engagements. Thrawn arrives just after Rebels get word of the impending attack with a fleet of Star Destroyers and a couple Interdictor cruisers. The Interdictors are specialized ships that possess gravity well generators, a technology that allows the ships to either pull other ships from hyperspace or prevent them from entering hyperspace.

The action in this battle centers around the rebels’ efforts to take out two interdictors. The first rebel assault is a suicide attack by Commander Sato flying his carrier into Admiral Konstatine’s interdictor destroying both ships. This sacrifice allow Ezra to escape and recruit Sabine and other members of Clan Wren to aid the rebels. The second attack features the Mandalorians led by Ezra staging a combined starfighter and boarding party assault on the surface of the second interdictor, leading to its destruction. The destruction of the second ship allowed the remaining rebel forces to escape Thrawn’s clutches, bringing this two-stage space battle to a close.

What do you feel were the best moments of “Star Wars Rebels” Season 3? Be sure to tell us in the comments!

The post 15 Best Moments From Star Wars Rebels Season 3 appeared first on CBR.

Luke Cage #1 Comes in Swinging with New Preview Art

Luke Cage #1 Comes in Swinging with New Preview Art

Over the last year, Marvel Comics’ Luke Cage has starred in a critically-acclaimed Netflix series as well as David Walker and Sanford Greene’s “Power Man and Iron Fist.” However, now that “Power Man and Iron Fist” is coming to a close, Walker will team with “The Magdalena” artist Nelson Blake II to bring Power Man into a new “Luke Cage” ongoing series.

Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso took to Twitter to share Blake and Marcio Menyz’s first two pages from the series’ first issue. In his caption, Alonso quoted Fantastic Four’s Benjamin J. Grimm signature catchphrase: “It’s clobberin’ time.”

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Launches New Luke Cage Ongoing

It’s clobberin’ time.

First two pages of @DavidWalker1201, @nelsonblake2 & Marcio Menyz's LUKE CAGE #1. pic.twitter.com/eAD7MbRvZ3

— axel alonso (@axelalonsomarv) March 28, 2017

The opening arc will examine the relationship between Luke and Dr. Noah Burnstein, the man who gave him his super-abilities. The story will also take the Hero for Hire to New Orleans to investigate his father-figure’s death.  As for the type of threats Luke will face, Walker told CBR that he has plans to use foes old and new: “We’ll have an antagonist that’s brand new to the Marvel Universe and there’s an older character that shows up who will always be in question. Is this character an ally, or an antagonist?”

David Walker and Nelson Blake II’s “Luke Cage” #1 arrives in stores this May.

The post Luke Cage #1 Comes in Swinging with New Preview Art appeared first on CBR.

A Man Confronts the Perils of Perfection in This Clever Dystopian Short

Gary Roberts’ The Problemless Anonymous imagines a world where anyone deemed too perfect is forced to accept a carefully-chosen flaw. Ivan dutifully heads in for his appointment, where he encounters a fellow patient whose “fault” is not what it seems. As for Ivan’s new problem? You’ll have to see it to believe it.

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Trump Creates An Opioid Panel As His Budget Threatens To Worsen Epidemic

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Dragon Ball Z: 15 Things You Never Knew

Dragon Ball Z: 15 Things You Never Knew

Since the debut of the original manga in 1984 and the introduction of its anime adaptations, “Dragon Ball” has taken the world by storm, becoming one of the most popular series in the world. Created by Akira Toriyama, the “Dragon Ball” franchise has become a global phenomenon, spanning a number of animated films and video games in addition to its popular animated series like “Dragon Ball Z” and the currently running “Dragon Ball Super.”

RELATED: Dragon Ball Z: 15 Things You Need to Know About Krillin

Given its vast popularity, there are a number of subtle facts and tidbits within the franchise that many fans might be unaware of, given its long run time. Fortunately, we’re here to shed some light on the inner mechanisms of the series. For this list, we’re counting down some of the more interesting facts within Dragon Ball that helped define the series while also adding to its long-standing and wide-reaching impact.

GOKU DOESN’T KILL (MUCH)

goku-vs-hit

“Dragon Ball,” which follows the adventures of Son Goku, has some of the most intense action scenes of any series. Goku is the main character of the franchise and faces evil on a pretty regular basis, so it’s surprising to note that he has only killed a whopping two people in the entirety of any “Dragon Ball” series.

The first time he killed an opponent was Yakon during the early stages of the Buu Saga. Yakon was one of Babidi’s henchmen who had the ability to absorb energy. Goku turned this against him, giving him energy until it was too much and he exploded. The other was Kid Buu, who he defeated with the use of the Super Spirit Bomb. These were the only instances in which Goku definitively killed his opponents, as he failed to kill Frieza on Namek and Piccolo was the one who dealt the blow to his brother Raditz. As powerful as he is, Goku rarely crosses that one particular line. The same can’t be said for Vegeta, however, who holds a rather admirable list of kills when compared to his Saiyan rival.

GOKU ONLY DIED TWICE

Goku-Died-Twice-In-Series

Despite his reputation, Goku has “only” died twice in the entire series, which, when compared to other characters like Yamcha and Krillin, is a pretty solid record. The first death took place during his team-up battle with Piccolo against Raditz. Being too strong for them to overcome alone, they hatched a plan to catch the Saiyan off-guard, with Goku acting as the bait and wrapping him up from behind, giving Piccolo the chance to perforate both he and Raditz with his beam cannon.

The next time was during the Cell Saga, when Cell attempted to self-destruct to destroy Goku and his friends. In an act of quick thinking, Goku used Instant Transmission to take him to King Kai’s planet, where he was caught in the explosion. It’s interesting to note that during both of these instances, Goku’s death was a result of sacrifice, as no opponent has ever killed him in single combat. Such deaths speak to Goku’s skill and his righteous nature to protect his loved ones.  Of course, he was eventually brought back by the Dragon Balls both times, but it didn’t make his sacrifices any less impactful.

TORIYAMA FORGOT SUPER SAIYAN 2

Toriyama-Forgot-Super-Saiyan-2

A series’ creator has to juggle a lot of things on their plate. From various plot lines, characters, story arcs and designs, it’s not easy creating any kind of world. Unfortunately for Toriyama, “Dragon Ball” gave him a little too much to juggle, as he admitted in an interview that he forgot a very important aspect of his characters’ powers: Super Saiyan Two.

The form, also known as Ascendant Super Saiyan, was introduced as the level beyond the base Super Saiyan form. The form was what allowed Gohan to defeat Perfect Cell in the Cell Games saga and was what acted as the eventual stepping stone into Super Saiyan Three. For some reason, the form was never addressed much beyond its introduction and fans inquired as to why Toriyama didn’t make use of it. When asked, he simply replied, “I forgot.” Well, at least you can’t doubt his honesty, and it was certainly a better response than trying to manufacture an excuse for it. Regardless, if fans wondered whatever happened to Super Saiyan Two post-Cell Games, they now have their answer.

SUPER SAIYAN WASN’T INTENTIONALLY BLONDE

goku-super-saiyan-dragon-ball-z

Manga artists put a lot of work into their craft. Unlike regular comic artists, who routinely switch between issues, manga artists must write the story and are responsible for the art. Manga artists like Toriyama put out work on a weekly basis and run on very little sleep and few days off. This can sometimes lead to changes in character designs that might make it easier to draw and lighten the load, if even a little, on manga artists and their assistants.

Such was the case for Toriyama, who, when unveiling Goku unlocking Super Saiyan during his battle against Frieza, opted to make his hair blonde to make it easier to draw for himself and his assistants. The decision was made because the form would have required a lot of extra filling in of black used to represent darker colors given that manga does not use colors like superhero comics or graphic novels. This artistic decision certainly worked out for the long term, especially once the reveal was adapted into “Dragon Ball Z,” and goes to show how little design decisions like hair color can go a very long way.

IT’S OVER 9000 WAS CHANGED

vegeta over 9000

The Saiyan Saga of “Dragon Ball Z” became the birthplace of one of the most iconic memes, which featured the “It’s Over 9000” statement made by Vegeta in reference to Goku’s power level upon his return to face he and Nappa. However, what few know is that the statement made by the Saiyan is, in fact, a change from the original source material.

In the manga, Vegeta’s statement placed Goku’s power level at 8,000, not the iconic 9,000 that the series became known for. However, when dubbing the series over to English, the change was made in order to make the lip sync process more consistent, and the words flowed more naturally with 9,000 as opposed to the original 8,000. As is often the case when dubbing from anime or other foreign works, words are often changed to either make more sense to the audience or allow the words to line up with the character’s lip movements. While 8,000 certainly doesn’t have the punch that 9,000 has, it was yet another small change that managed to resonate with English audiences and maintain the impact and popularity it had in Japan.

NAMED AFTER VEGETABLES

Goku-Eating-dbz

When it comes to any creative work, names can hold significant power and meaning. This is especially the case in “Dragon Ball,” where the names of each character have their own unique meanings. For Toriyama, some of his characters have a common theme associated with their names: food.

The Saiyan characters are unique in that their names are all based on vegetables. Vegeta’s name is based on the word “vegetable.” Broly’s name is based on “broccoli,” while Goku’s original name, Kakarot, is based on “carrot.” By the same token, his other brother Raditz’s name was taken from “radish.” These Saiyans follow a common theme, several other “Dragon Ball” characters take their names from food. Gohan’s name means rice in Japanese and Krillin’s is translated to mean chestnut. If there’s one thing Toriyama loves to do with his characters, it’s to make creative use of their names through various puns. At the very least, he might be delivering a subtle message about the importance of vegetables by making his most powerful characters’ names based on them.

BATTLE OF GODS WAS GOVERNMENT FUNDED

BATTLE-OF-GODS-GOVERNMENT-FUNDED

“Dragon Ball Z” has been such a major worldwide success and one of the most popular franchise to originate from Japan. So, when the 18th film in the “Dragon Ball Z” universe, “Battle of Gods,” was slated for release in 2013, it got a little help from a very unlikely source: the Japanese government.

Looking to promote more of its work overseas, the government approved an initiative started by a non-profit organization known as UNIJAPAN, which seeks to support the Japanese film industry on an international level. The organization initiated what was known as a “Co-production Certification Program,” which gained the backing of important areas within the Japanese government. Fortunately, “Battle of Gods” happened to fall within their realm of support. As a result, they were able to provide Toei Animation, the studio that animates “Dragon Ball Z,” a generous gift of 50 million yen (roughly $636,000). Given the expenses of making anime in general, this was quite an astounding means to help fund the project. Their money wasn’t wasted, as “Battle of Gods” was met with resounding success both in Japan and overseas, earning over $51 million at the box office.

THOSE FILLER EPISODES HAVE A PURPOSE

Anime like “Dragon Ball Z” often have to borrow from their source material, which is the original manga drawn by Toriyama. As a result, the manga is often ahead of the anime so that it can stick to the source material in a timely fashion. However, there are times when long-running series catch up to the anime and there isn’t enough source material to cover. As a result, filler episodes are made to give the manga time to get ahead. “Dragon Ball Z” is one such example of this.

Storylines like the Garlic Jr. Arc and the Other World Tournament Arc are designated as filler, meaning that it only appeared in the anime and not the manga, which designates it as non-canon to the overall story. Some can be as long as those arcs or last one episode, as was the case when Goku and Piccolo took a day trip to the DMV at Chi-Chi’s behest to learn how to drive. Such episodes often occur in-between major canonical story arcs and can often be very lighthearted and add more comedic elements to the series that are absent during primary story arcs.

VOICE ACTOR PASSED OUT GOING SUPER SAIYAN

GOKU-ENGLISH-VA-PASSED-OUT-DURING-SCENE

It’s no secret that screaming power-ups and transformations are a staple within the “Dragon Ball Z” franchise. Without it, it just wouldn’t be the same. All that screaming certainly takes it toll, and one of the voice actors found that out the hard way. Sean Schimmel, who did the English voice of Goku for Funimation, revealed in an interview back in 2013 that he passed out during one of the Saiyan’s many transformations. The moment-in-particular came during the anime-only “Dragon Ball GT” when Goku transformed into Super Saiyan Four.

Schimmel explained that he had been working non-stop and was very tired. While recording, he states that he misjudged the amount of air and proper vocal technique needed during power-up scenes, which resulted in his passing out. Given how long Schimmel has voiced adult Goku and never passed out through all the Super Saiyan transformations up to that point, doing so once in the non-canon series is a pretty stellar track record. It also speaks to his voice acting ability to play such a demanding lead role like Goku, who demands near constant screams due to his power-ups, making Schimmel’s contributions nothing short of amazing.

187 FIGHTS (AND COUNTING)

DBZ-HAS-TON-OF-FILLER-EPISODES

As an action-based anime, it should come as no surprise that “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z,” as well as the other companion series, have given audiences us a fair share of fights over its long run. In fact, that number is a whopping 187 fights between the two series. It’s also worth noting that this number doesn’t even take “Dragon Ball Super” into account yet.

From child Goku’s fights in World Martial Arts Tournaments in “Dragon Ball” to adult Goku’s epic battles against Frieza, Cell and Buu, Toriyama has managed to keep fans wanting more and more after every fight. It’s rare that a long-running series can keep having captivating fights at such high levels. To have had such a large number of them speaks to the show’s ability to continually offer something a little different with every fight. Obviously, some fights will be more memorable to fans than others, but with 187 fights to choose from, there’s bound to be plenty of agreement on which fights constituted as the best within the franchise.

GOKU’s 30-YEAR VOICE

GOKU-HAS-SAME-JAPANESE-VA-FOR-30-YEARS

Before Sean Schimmel became popular in the states for voicing Goku in the “Dragon Ball Z” English dub, there’s a more famous voice actor beyond him: Masaki Nozawa, who has voiced adult Goku from the beginning of “Dragon Ball” until now. That’s over 30 years of voicing the iconic Saiyan warrior. In addition to Goku, she also provides the voices of Gohan, Goten, Gotenks, Vegeto and even Bardock. Nozawa is nothing short of a voice acting legend in Japan, having been with the anime from the very beginning.

As is often the case in Japan, many lead male characters in popular anime series are actually voiced by women. Naruto Uzumaki is voiced by Junko Takeuchi in “Naruto,” Mayumi Tanaka voices Luffy in “One Piece” and Pikachu is voiced by Ikue Otani. Nozawa is widely popular in Japan and even owns two Guinness World Records for the “longest voice acting career in a video game” and “voicing the same character in a game for the longest time,” having provided the voice of Goku in “Dragon Ball” games for over two decades. Even at age 80, she’s still going strong and shows no signs of slowing down.

GOKU’S SYMBOLS REPRESENT HIS MASTERS

GOKU-SYMBOLS-MEANING

During the first half of “Dragon Ball Z,” Goku wears unique symbols on the front side and back of his clothes. Given that these are Japanese symbols, it could be hard to understand what they mean. These symbols actually have some deep meaning and have actually changed several times.

The symbol he first wears is Master Roshi’s kanji, which means “turtle” in homage to the hermit. It is given to Goku after he completes his training with Roshi and is worn as the small patch on his chest. When he completes his training with King Kai during the Saiyan Saga, Goku dons the kanji for his new master, which can be translated to “world king.” At this point, Goku wears Roshi’s symbol as a patch on the left side of his clothes and King Kai’s on the back. Then, after training on his way to Namek, both masters’ symbols are replaced with Goku’s own kanji, which represents “wisdom or enlightenment.” While the symbols disappear during the Android Saga (likely for the sake of drawing time), these symbols hold a lot of weight and chronicle Goku’s progression as a fighter throughout the series.

CELL WASN’T ORIGINALLY THE BIG BAD

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The Cell Saga was one of the most exhilarating story arcs within “Dragon Ball Z,” as it introduced us to a powerful villain in Cell and introduced cool characters like Future Trunks. However, that entire storyline was not Toriyama’s original intention and neither was Cell, who wasn’t going to be the main villain. That title was set to go to Android 19 and Dr. Gero, the latter of which was responsible for creating Cell and the rest of the Androids as revenge against Goku for his actions against the Red Ribbon Army.

However, Toriyama’s editors didn’t feel that this old man and android were exciting villains, so they became short-lived as support villains. Instead, he tried to make Androids 17 and 18 the primary villains, and his editors still weren’t moved. It was only after this that Cell was created and Toriyama’s editors were satisfied. These kinds of decisions illustrate how the power of good editors can change the flow of a story for the better and challenge their writers to do better. They were certainly changes for the better, as having those previous Androids as antagonists wouldn’t have had the same feel of menace that Cell did.

GOKU VS FRIEZA IS THE LONGEST FIGHT

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Particular fights within “Dragon Ball Z” can often last quite a while, but none of them hold a candle to Goku’s battle against Frieza, which holds the title as the longest anime fight at an astounding three and half hours. Starting from Goku’s base form all the way through to his becoming a Super Saiyan, this was a knock-down, drag-out anime fight for the ages.

In this fight, everything was on the line, from avenging his former home world and Krillin to protecting his friends on Earth, the battle had a great amount of emotional weight that could be felt with each punch and every blast. Eventually reaching a point where Namek was on the verge of exploding, it was stated that Goku and Frieza had only five minutes to escape or they would be caught in the blast. It became something of a running joke among fans of how technically short the fight was within the show, given the five-minute designation that took about five episodes to occur. Regardless of length, the fight holds a strong resonance with fans and further cemented “Dragon Ball Z” as arguably the best action-oriented show of its time.

MAY 9TH IS GOKU DAY

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“Dragon Ball Z” is such an iconic series that has made its mark both worldwide and its country of origin in Japan. So, why not have a day to celebrate it? Approximately two years ago, that’s exactly what happened, as May 9th was officially named “Goku Day” in Japan, though that shouldn’t stop fellow fans everywhere from celebrating it. But why is May 9th the exact date?

The reason is due to the fact that the numbers five and nine are pronounced “go” and “ku,” respectively. As a result, the holiday is a bit of a cultural pun, yet it works out all the same. The decision to create a Goku Day was initiated by Toei Animation, who applied to the Japanese Anniversary Association to have the date recognized. In much the same manner that May 4th is “Star Wars Day,” May 9th is the day to celebrate the accomplishments of Goku and the “Dragon Ball” franchise. As such, fans often raise their arms high to give Goku their energy to commemorate his continued success in beating down the bad guys.

What did you think of our list? Do you have any little-known facts about the Dragon Ball franchise? Let us know in the comments!

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