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Marvel’s MCU: What will the X-Men and Fantastic Four bring to the cinematic universe?

For anyone who is a comic enthusiast, a 90’s baby, or just a lover of comics in general, the idea of seeing a great movie about the Fantastic Four and X-Men in theaters has been a dream that most fans have wanted for a very long time. Now, since Marvel Studios has acquired the rights in making their movie franchise with these two series, this introduces a new phase of characters that will now get the spotlight alongside everyone who was, or perceived, as an Avenger by Endgame.

In addition to new characters, villains, powers, and the like, an important question that NEEDS answering is how the two groups will fit into the narrative constructed by Marvel Studios and, to another extent, Disney. At its earliest stage, the Fantastic Four were about superheroes, taking on bad guys that threatened the city, and the world, from chaotic turmoil. On the other hand, The X-Men have unique origins. Those origins, compared to current events, are a powerful narrative that Disney could play around with to make into a pseudo “family-friendly” topic; however, changing that narrative could be both good and bad.

For this article, I’ll be presenting three topics within Phase 4’s possible cycle, including The Fantastic Four and X-Men. The issues I’ll be focusing on will be integrated within the story as a prominent point of focus for these two groups, evolving, and progressively changing the scope of how they’ll present with future plot points. As a rule of preference towards constructive worldbuilding and storytelling, I won’t be including casting predictions or indictive biases. For this idea, let’s imagine that we (the collective fanbase) have received what we wanted in terms of “The Perfect Cast” for these movies. Henceforth, removing the debate of how the characters would look (White, Black, Asian, etc.), body types, and how Marvel Studios/Disney will promote them (Johnny being a playboy, Iceman potentially being gay, the existentialism of The Thing and his powers, etc.).

  1. The Fantastic Four will be the next Captain America ‘Ice Story‘ for the MCU.

Synopsis: The story for the Fantastic Four would start somewhere in 1989. Their account will be linked together with the Quantum Realm, Pym Particles, and Mitchell Carson (The person that Michael Douglas ((Hank Pym)) punches in the first Ant-Man film). Reed Richards and Susan Storm would be recruited by Mitchell Carson to explore the possibilities behind Pym Particles; however, Carson lies to the two of them when in regards to Hank Pym’s participation and continues to lie to them as they work in succession towards using the Pym Particles. Eventually, the experiment leads to the shrinking of our four heroes, in addition to various pieces of tech found within the laboratory. Upon arriving in the Quantum Realm, Reed quickly develops a way to build off of the shrunken tech that’s entered, or is continually appearing, within its space to ensure their survival. Eventually, after a certain amount of time has gone by, the team experiences the first symptoms of their newfound powers and use these powers to build their home in the Quantum Realm.

Since the flow of time in the Quantum Realm is different, explained loosely by Scott Lang in Avengers Endgame, the idea that five hours would equal five years positions our characters in an intricate time frame. The team would’ve been stuck in the Quantum Realm for at least 24 hours, unaware of how to get out of it while experiencing shifts in their powers, until Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne develops a way to get them out.

Unlike Captain America, the group won’t be officialized in the media until their first big fight, or first overall win, against their first villain. As their adjusting to the world, learning about the things that haven’t heard or known about for 24 years, the development of small character arcs would be implemented for the group; such as Reed trying to figure out how advance the world has become, Susan’s grief over the loss of those she used to know, Johnny’s disposition as a Millennial but with a Generation X mindset, and Ben’s grip with being The Thing which makes him feel like more of a mutant than a human. The team will argue, break-up, and nearly come back together for all the wrong reasons – until the right reason comes at the final act, solidifying the group and naming themselves the Fantastic Four after two specific characters, recognized as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, leave a letter behind for the team and characterizes them as “Four individuals that will do fantastic things.

Conclusion: Whenever Marvel Studios decides to release the movie, the amount of time passed within the Quantum Realm, compared in real-time, affects what kind of Fantastic Four team we’ll get in the future. If the story occurs in the ’90s and the movie is released in 2024 (Branding possibilities, it’s going to be significant), that would be the perfect sweet spot for its development. This development re-introduces the Fantastic Four to the present and works as a double entendre for the MCU franchise.

In other words, the sweet spot for The Fantastic Four is to be old but relatable.

  1. Mole Man could be an introduction for mutants and for the X-Men.

This idea sounds blasphemous when you compare the wants of an X-Men movie before a Fantastic Four movie; however, this premise is on the belief that what comes after the Fantastic Four movie is in the interim of the X-Men series.

Synopsis: The side plot found in Avengers Endgame comes from the amount of energy released from Thanos, and the snap felt worldwide. In this interpretation of the character, Mole Man could be one of the many people affected by the wave of power that covered the world from the Snap/Blib. His story would be, more or less, the same with a few adjustments to his character and how he would eventually end up as the Mole Man. His abnormal appearance could be altered much like Oswald Cobblepot’s (The Penguin) appearance has been shifted from fat to skinny in various Batman Origins. His pursuits of finding the Subterranean Realm would lead him to understand his newfound powers. As the world progresses, Mole Man’s complexes could provoke him into wanting to show the world how it’s treated him and decides to use the Fantastic Four as an example by devaluing their abilities when compared to his own.

Mole Man’s story, outside of the Fantastic Four’s, could be structured differently to make him the focus of what he has become, or what others will think of him, as a precedent to introducing mutants. In discovering his powers, acknowledging the cruelty he received before gaining them, his attempts at showing his newfound abilities, his confrontations with the Fantastic Four, and his loss against them, Mole Man could be the start of mutant propaganda. In the movie’s final post-credits scene, Mole Man appears to be in a dream-like area and is approached by someone as they talk about rehabilitation and understanding his pains with having this power. Mole Man refuses his help, stating that he knew what he was doing and doesn’t want to play soldier for someone like “him,” before revealing to the audience the first glimpse of Professor Charles Francis Xavier otherwise known as Professor X.

Conclusion: While Mole Man’s inclusion within the MCU would be a stapling achievement for the Fantastic Four as their first big bad guy, he also plays a part in the development and announcement of mutants within the MCU. It shows off what new mutants, or whatever the safe word will be for them in the MCU, are capable of and how the Mole Man practically starts the Civil War (Comic Book story) between humans and mutants.

  1. Each X-Men film will focus on new members (young and older additions) while exploring unheard events between 2012 and the present.

The idea sounds like a no brainer; however, the image I would like to implement for the movies is that the team is nonexistent at the time of the Fantastic Four’s appearance and has, for the most part, been hearsay from different sources. For anyone who’s read the comics, there are HUNDREDS of mutants within the series. A lot of them don’t get as much attention due to their abilities being too dangerous, not practical, or just irrelevant in a fight. The movies will buildup the initial roster, minus Wolverine for various reasons, and creates the original team that will eventually coordinate with other notable members as the films progress.

Synopsis: The story behind the various films would have ranged in regards to certain characters. The first established members, depending on the storyline and timeline of when and where the initial conflict begins, would revolve around Professor X and Magneto’s public figureheads. Before the snap, Mutants would be the focus of the first film that roughly crafts Cyclops, Jean Grey (Marvel Girl), Angel, Beast, and Iceman. Later movies will see Colossus, Storm, Kitty Pryde, and eventually Wolverine joining their rosters; however, each film is a separate synopsis of a smaller/larger arc that’s interpreted differently by the main cast of characters within that movie.

The first movie will discover the initial five, which roughly takes place somewhere between 2012 and 20?? (Whenever the movie comes out). It’ll be a melting pot of revelations for the group that will start the X-Men with the appearance of aliens, costumed superheroes, vigilantism, the government, and how all of these things shape the MCU version of the team. They’ll start in their original outfits as a way to hide their faces and to essentially avoid being called criminals; a throwaway joke about “wearing ski masks” could be used here for comedic effect. Eventually, through shenanigans, they’ll get a taste for their costumed individuality and create outfits that work for them, perhaps an amalgamation of the original with their more iconic look. Like Wolverine, specific characters would be integrated into later films after his debut film, amalgamating two prominent storylines from a plethora of different characters within the series.

Overall, this sets the tone for the franchise with self-discovery and individuality. Each film will dive into the good and bad portions of the X-Men mythos and highlight a powerful sentiment that is present in most MCU films. Eventually, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters will be a reality in the MCU.

Conclusion: The MCU’s timeline and movies are ever-changing regarding the development/inclusion of a new series. While the X-Men are hopeful stays in the MCU, the ability to craft a reasonable and updated timeline with those characters can be a plaguing problem. By approaching each movie with a narrative that focuses on the characters, as it’s worldbuilding develops with other films, the X-Men movies will be able to fully flesh their names out for years to come in this cinematic universe.

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J. Arthur’s Gaming Workshop: Rival School Games in The Present. (2020’s)

Whether it’s in movies, books, or tv adaptations, older shows from the past tend to be a recurring topic going into the present. When developing new media, some franchises are used divisively to promote new growth within the show’s already durable source material. An example of this would be with the original Twilight Zone and its use of “weird, unusual circumstances and situations” to promote a manner of recognizing real, impactful notices to concerning topics. It presents something new but still invokes the general premise of what it was based on; furthermore, using the context of “weird” and now relating it to “normal abnormalities” creates a more persuasive narrative towards The Twilight Zone’s ominous take on the unknown and informing others about what is obscure; using an old franchise to promote new concepts.

The same works in regards to older video game franchises, and this was made relatively clear in a character announcement for Street Fighter 5. Since its inclusion of Seasons, a regularly attributed notice to new DLC in the form of characters, stages, mechanics, and so forth, Street Fighter 5 has built itself from its initial launch back in 2016. The game was, in a word, “rough,” and fans felt shortchanged by the efforts that Capcom produced with one of their biggest IPs and a staple point in fighting games everywhere. With their announcement of Season 5, the fanbase was surprised and blown back by the sudden appearance of a particular character, a character that hasn’t been seen in years, in the form of Akira Kazama from the Rival School Series.

They said it couldn’t be done….they said it was dead. My god….they were wrong.

Such a character’s announcement was unexpected due to the lack of interest Capcom showed towards their older games, especially towards its fighting games. Titles like Power Stone, Star Gladiator, and Rival Schools are just three of many forgotten fighting games that Capcom hasn’t digitally released or rumored for a very long while despite being popular IPs that fans, young and old, still love in the present. Since her announcement was made in August of this year, fans have been speculating the power dynamics of what Akira’s appearance could mean for Capcom fighting games.

At the time of writing this article, Producer Yoshinori Ono has departed Capcom after 30 years of working with the company. Producer, Shuhei Matsumoto, and director, Takayuki Nakayama, will potentially be responsible for the direction of new content in regards to Street Fighter, Fighting Games, and Capcom’s possibly underused series that still holds a place in older fans memories.

However, in the case that they would revitalize an older series, Rival Schools’ idea as a current fighting game is both exciting and divisively-speaking, a problematic development. As someone who wishes to create new games creatively and narratively, I wanted to try my hand at figuring out how a current generation Rival Schools game would look, feel, and be developed through a gaming workshop. In this article, I’ll focus on four points of interest that are necessary for rejuvenating the franchise and providing new content for players. These four points will be Presentation, Mechanics, Story, and Inclusions. I will be using these four interests explicitly to construct what I think a new Rival Schools game would be like. In adapting multiple references and ideas from previous Capcom games, and other notable fighting games, this is my video game workshop towards a new and improved Rival Schools innovation.

  1. Presentation

    As an older franchise reintroduced into a new generation, the first idea that popped into my head was its presentation. Presentation plays a big part in how it will be received within the media and its community fanbase.

When Street Fighter IV was announced it displayed distinct animations with a flowing display of painted colors and backdrops in trailers. Artistic depictions of strong ink motions with a brush, and calligraphy-inspired movements (Which in turn would be a definitive feature known as “A Focus Attack“) made the characters feel like they were fighting on an artistic landscape. This excited fans about the future of the Street Fighter series. This presentation, first shown in FMV (Full Motion Video), before it was demonstrated in gameplay, made fans excited to play Capcom’s classic 2D fighter as a 3D fighting game.

Regarding Rival Schools, I don’t think the style of Street Fighter IV or V is necessary for their presentation. When I first heard about the Rival School series, I imagined it more like “Street Fighter High” rather than as a full-blown fighter in multiple countries. Because of its local feel, and whatever the story may be within it, I thought that the presentation for the game could be something similar to Street Fighter IV’s approach with artistic representation. Since it also has ties to being like a Marvel vs. Capcom game, perhaps it could also take a page from out of MVC3’s comic popping inspirations, and, lastly, the game itself could be presented as both a throwback and as a recollection of events that occurred within the series – like a yearbook OR a scrapbook.

Imagine it: Rival Schools’ idea as a new game would also be seen as a throwback to various events within the franchise. The game would be presented through pictures, comic strips, and the characters seamlessly walking in cutscenes from one image to another, and so forth. This would build upon the already established comic style inspirations found within the MVC series and would also play coyly with that of the Arcade endings in SFV, and tastefully incorporating the traversing mechanics of an older Sega Genesis game called Comix Zone. The game (Comix Zone) explored the idea of traversing comic panels, going page by page throughout the adventure. The presentation, not so much the gameplay, could be played around with in regards to the cutscenes with fading backgrounds, dropping polaroid frames to connect to another scene, turning the page, etc.

An example of how it could be implemented but NOT EXACTLY like TTYD.

It’s innovated enough to show growth and presents the game in remembrance as a franchise, continuing to play upon the yearbook theme in this title. A yearbook filled with memories about Rival School characters is the perfect setup to include multiple, and I mean MULTIPLE, costumes for the franchise. Whether it involves an entirely new generation of fighters for the series, OR revels in antics made between past and present views from within the series. This level of presentation would not only make the game a standalone fighter for the series, but, in case it isn’t the best game in the world, it provides it with a last ‘hurrah‘ in regards to its comeback within Capcom’s eyes.

2. Mechanics

When it comes to the mechanics for a new Rival School game, I believe it should be a mixture of old and new; however, it should be simple for newcomers and intricate enough for older fans. Given that the game’s last entry was a mixture of tag-team combat and one on one battles, I think that system should stay with new additions to the mechanics that work the 2D&3D fighting perspective:

  • 2D to 3D to 2D Battle Transitions: Justice Transitions

Project Justice’s Sidestep/Dodge Mechanic into a German Suplex

If this particular Rival School’s game was to go in the way of being an MVC fighter, yet still grounded with what makes Rival School such a nostalgic gem, one aspect that I think Rival schools would be terrific in implementing is a 2D to the 3D transitional battle system. When I thought about Pokken Tournament and their use of 3D to 2D combat, this idea came to me, transitioning from a 3D combative phase into a close-quarters 2D phase. The plan would be implemented in a distinctly different manner than Pokken’s and would involve brief transitions to 3D, rather than a full shift into a 3D arena mode.

Let’s call these moves “Justice Transitions” (Like transitioning between 1st Period, 2nd period, etc.), and it could be used as both a dodge against specific attacks with low frames and even some of them could have super armor enabled for them, while others can be used as counterattacks to change the flow of battle. Whenever the action is perfectly executed, it leads to a transitional cut between strips of a comic, or pictures in a yearbook, that turns the arena on a 3D-axis as the opponent is propelled into nearby objects (trash, benches, statues, handrails, etc.). The follow-up can be with the controlled character for extra damage, OR it can be transitioned back into a 2D state.

An inspired take on what a Justice Transition could look like in-game.

Regarding the 2D vs. 3D issue, this issue can be explained through the arena. As fighters are going against one another and use a Justice Transition, bouncing on the object that they would hit, another hit can be executed to turn the stage, showing another portion of the screen and, technically, resetting the stage or getting themselves out of the corner. This system could evolve through updates or new mechanics being added into the game; however, until that beautiful Season 1 update occurs – I believe this should suffice for the first stage of the game’s evolving combat.

  • Versatile Focus Attacks: Hall Pass Kenpo
It can be used to set up faints and counter-attacks.

Hall Pass Kenpo, or evasive moves/counters, could be implemented into the game to give everyone options when dealing with various kinds of matchups. Some of these moves will help their character speed pass projectiles, pushback opponents, initiate feints of some sort, amongst many other things that the game includes in its revamped playstyle. This would also, story-wise, make sense since for most of the characters. The use of particular sports, hobbies, and activities to produce a powerful combat style would make a bit more sense in this game if 1st years, or students that could defend themselves, had suddenly developed particular strengths in this installment. It’ll be treated as a ‘video game rule’ that the students in this game can do because of their love for the “fill in the blank activity” and that this makes sense within the game.

  • Perfect Guard: Grade Adjustment(s)
A perfect guard that can push back OR counter an opponent’s attack.

Grade Adjustment would be the equivalent of a Perfect Guard, allowing the characters to guard and secure further damage from making their HP gauge decrease. While this sounds very similar to the parry system, this idea actually came to me from a concept found in some forms of JRPGS.

This particular idea came to me from games like the Mario&Luigi franchise and Paper Mario series, respectively. A chance to decrease damage, or nullify it completely, sounds like a pretty basic concept since its foundation in many fighting games comes in the form of counters and parries. The idea of being able to counter and have the choice to push back or power through to attack the opponent is only found in some technical 3D fighters; an excellent example of this would be found in Tekken and Soul Calibur as reversals.

Grade Adjustments would give the choice of either being defense or using it to be offensive. In a sense, you’re adjusting your school work/homework and making it into something viable for a better grade. It could also be used to improve your rank at the end of the match; A+ being the highest and D- being the lowest, since F wouldn’t really exist because you have to move and/or do something in these matches.

  • Team Assistance (Support Attacks):
Initiating attacks into an assist attack OR the assist attack that you can use to catch others off guard.

Team Attacks, which could also include specific centered Vigor Combos for each character in addition to them, could be done in three different formats. The first would be the simple assist that comes out when you’re on the ground, the next would be a different assist that occurs while you’re airborne, and the third would be a brand new assist attack that uses the combined efforts of the two assists that you are using.

When used together, it would do something along those lines but as support; not as a super

Depending on the characters you’re using you’ll get different results and, in the case they don’t go together at all, the assists will come out just as they normally would; however, in the fact that they’re relatable to one another, the characters will produce a unique animation and attack, or support, for the fighter on screen.

  1. Story
20th anniversary. Perhaps a re-release or new game is necessary?

In regards to its story, Rival Schools can go in multiple directions with its narrative. Since Akira’s inclusion into Street Fighter 5 is supposedly in the future, where Sakura goes to a university, it could be implied that the adventures in this entry are of the past. By the story’s conclusion, older models of the students could be revealed, and through the season, for both young and old models, costumes could be added for each of the characters; Past and Present versions included.

  1. Inclusions

Now with most of the newly added mechanics implemented into the game, how it will be presented in-game, and a sampled story for the narrative enthusiast, let’s discuss the inclusions within the game. A game like this should have more than just the game (Controversial, I know) so, here’s a couple of ideas that could be implemented, HOWEVER, it’ll be done without a heavy data consumption:

  • Digital Download of Rival Schools (1 and 2)
Sprite Fighters, anyone???

Sweeten the deal with a digital release of Rival Schools OR even redeem codes to download it with the game’s purchase. Gathers the old, introduces to the new, and establishes the communities that love the games.

  • School Life Mode (Arcade mode, Synopsis and History Compendium, Time Archives)

School mode should be unique, maybe even like an arcade mode but with story mode notes and, if the yearbook motive is still active, you can learn more about the past of individual characters as it leads up to their graduation; so it’s sort of like a “fill in the blank” on certain characters history and giving them a synopsis by the time of their graduation, and where they would be in the Street Fighter Universe. It makes it interesting for casual players, and for diehard fans can appreciate the detail made in giving a complete synopsis on characters that haven’t been seen for 20 years!

In conclusion, this is just a possible continuation of the series and one way to pay respects to the franchise. Whether it becomes a thing or appears in the form of a new IP, this is my take at workshopping a classic game for the current generation of fighting games.

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J’s Writing Corner: Main Characters

Allow me to introduce you to the first of many articles focused on the scope of writing and development within storytelling. These Writing Corners will act as my personal interpretation into distinct elements for storytelling and other topics that align with the main focus of the centered article. While most of the examples that I will use will be related to video games, I will outline the most important parts, aligning them in reference to written literature structures, and using them as a base to universally connect the two forms of art together. In this week’s WC, I’ll start us off with a concept that is essential to creating a story, a fundamental that is necessary for direction and establishing forms of narrative: Main Characters.

What makes the Main Character the main interest of a story?

In many stories, if not all, there’s a directive notice to the plot in which the MC is either apart of or has a hand in playing which leads to the events that create the story. Their appearance is used in a way to narrate the story, illustrating points and/or details that would’ve had otherwise been overlooked through the eyes of multiple characters. The main character could be considered the “missing puzzle piece” within the story that prevents further conflict from arising within the world or could be the very thing that is causing conflict and is unaware of it.

When introducing the main character within your story, it’s important to remember simple concepts and structures that are to be used with every character:

  • Story and Character Development: A character within a story deserves every bit of detail and attention to their appearance within their works. This application doubles in priority for the main character as they are our eyes and ears to the situation within their titled works. A knight that is tasked with saving a princess and slaying a dragon would be informed about the dragon, how powerful it is, whether it’s safe to fight it now or later, and if it can be defeated. As much detail can be given about the dragon that hasn’t been seen on the screen/page, the same amount of detail can be given to the titular character that isn’t aware they are the main focus for us, the readers/players, as the tale unfolds.dragon-quest-viii-journey-of-the-cursed-king-444835.2 A good example of story and character development for the main character that I found to be one of the better standards was in Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. The synopsis of the tale accounts to a cursed king, cursed into a toad-like monster, and his equally cursed daughter, who’s been turned into a horse, roaming the land alongside a single guard who was unaffected by the curse that had been cast by a vengeful jester wielding an ancient and powerful staff. While the title of the game states that the cursed king might have some importance within the game (Which holds true in some degrees) it’s treated as a red herring but, in a twist, it’s subverted in the direction of our silent main character. With the king and princess in their altered states, one more hostile to civilians than others, the guard acts as their liaison, representing the kingdom, fighting their battles, sharing in part their troubles as a soldier, and continues to follow the king and princess, instilling hope in their advances to defeat the man that caused this conflict, lifting the curse and bringing peace back to the kingdom.

    Now, without saying a word, the main character has already shown a distinct sign of loyalty to his king and princess in helping them regain their kingdom. The game follows up with the player in revealing more about the main character as a knight that has served the king faithfully and has suffered from amnesia since appearing at the castle as a young child; showing proof in further testimonies to his development as a character – un-wavered by these memories throughout the entirety of the story. Along the way, he’s met with other characters that join in his quest to help the cursed king. He’s shown immeasurable trust amongst these characters, which furthers develop his ability to lead as the game progresses, and is even recognized through the efforts of the cursed king who deems him worthy as a candidate for marriage with his daughter; something which is exclusively forbidden since commoners are unable to marry royalty without their own royal backgrounds within this setting.

    Despite his silent disposition, he’s established his character as a righteous knight that travels with the remains of royalty from a cursed kingdom and sees the journey to an end in the hopes of making things right once more. His story has a definition to the role he plays within the game, he’s developed from that of a guard into that of a leader while engaging in liaison affairs on behalf of his cursed king, and these developments are made prominent from the involvement of other characters as they progress to the endgame. Not bad for a silent protagonist, huh?

  • Involvement within the story: Plot twists and secret developments aside, the involvement of a character, main or not, is credited as having some sort of part to play within the story. Whether they were a simple cattle boy that tended to a farm before being visited by an intergalactic samurai of the distant past (Star Wars) or a primate that travels across lush jungles while fighting off anthropomorphic reptiles that have stolen his bananas (Donkey Kong Country), the prologue of their beginnings are made clear.job-classes-skills-stat-bonuses-chart-octopath-traveler

    Octopath Traveler
    is a game that uses this concept as its main form of storytelling and focus, giving you control over eight characters whose individual tales play an important narrative in revealing the world to which they inhabit. Unlike that of the pride and true method of some stories, the main character for this game is split amongst the eight party members that you can choose from when starting the game. Each is given their own specific narrative which provides them with a background to their story, a goal they are in pursuit towards, and a climax of events which leads to their stories conclusion.

    While playing a character, the involvement of other characters is virtually unseen within that character’s story. While this could be seen as inefficient to the establishment of character it actually does the opposite. Their narrative is uninterrupted by outside sources, creating a raw and tangible continuation in their tales. For example, Cyrus, an astute scholar, begins his adventure in search of a missing book from his kingdom’s library that’s known for its dark magic; he’s blissfully unaware of this little fact, mind you. Each chapter, in his narrative, showcases that the individuals who had possessed the book had been wrought with great power but with the price of their humanity as the cost. By the end of his journey, he learns that the book was being used to convert humans into a red crystalized substance and that those who knew of this power, which is revealed to be a nice handful of individuals amongst the eight storylines, could lead to the very resurrection of a demonic monster that nearly brought ruin to the world from a millennia ago.

    These events mark an endgame that never occurs within the main story. Yes, I’m not joking, an awesome setup that could lead to our eight heroes fighting against an apocalyptic monster is an optional quest that never interferes with the character’s main narrative. Cyrus’s goal in finding the book, meeting old acquaintances that promote his character along the way, revealing his intuitive detective skills that could even impress Sherlock Holmes, his persona of a high-educated scholar whose goal in life is to teach others in hopes that they will one day become teachers in some way, and his obliviousness to social situations is the life’s essence within his narrative and that of his traveling companions; individually different, narratively sound.

  • The Characters are Extensions of the World: Whether it’s one or two main characters, a character is supposed to represent something new and different; Different parts of the world, different cultures, different groups, etc. The diversity of establishing characters as something unique, distinctly different than the cliche of making them the main focus of a story because of A, B, and C, is an on and off again occurrence within acts of fiction and written literature.ID - MCs

    One example from a film that was executed well in using two protagonists was Independence Day (1996). This particular film as a summer blockbuster used the dynamic star power of Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller and Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, to tell a story from two different perspectives in a story about aliens invading from space. Steven Hiller’s role within the movie was to encapsulate a certain crowd and a distinct measure of authority for his character. He was in the armed forces, a captain, an African American, his girlfriend-turned-wife is a stripper, he had a child, respected as a leader and experienced survivors remorse (In a more angered fashion) all throughout the entire film. On the other hand, David Levinson used to work with the government, now working for the people, an untypical nerd archetype, conflicted scientist, riddled with guilt from his past mistakes (Love and Success), survivors remorse (Incredibly emotional) and an
    evolving mind.

    The two individuals come from entirely different backgrounds, sharing very few similarities in regards to their unknown positions as main characters. They start from the opposite side of the continent, a West Coast-East Coast comparison, which eventually leads them coming together in a place that doesn’t exist, however, is used to center their assault on the alien forces (Area 51) by using the unknown to create a new future (Defeating the aliens). A union of two characters, different personalities, familiar goals and attention to details within their own specifics; he shoots and he will science.

  • Personality: That last thing that any character needs, ESPECIALLY A MC, is the lack, or interest, of having a personality. In my earlier thoughts, I explained how a silent character, whose personality is pretty neutral, can be demonstrated by their actions; this is used to convey an “actions speak louder than words” prerogative. On the other hand, the implication of giving the main character a personality is what sets the tone of their story.Travis Touchdown

    In a game called No More Heroes, the title card protagonist for this game is a man by the name of Travis Touchdown. His personality is a unique blend of social tropes, doused with a bit of realism, subversion of cliches, and a mockery to multiple stereotypes. In other words, he’s the anti-hero to your general perspective of heroes; hence the title. He becomes an assassin just for the hell of it, indulged upon with the idea of getting some “naked tango” lessons from another character if he ends up becoming the number one assassin amongst them all, all while giving very little details about himself including his past and his motivations. He uses this persona to engage the audience that’s clearly playing the game, messing with the meta, yet again, in regards to the 4th Wall Breaking format.

    He uses his personality to subvert expectations to which the story might imply, leading the player along in a world that is, without question, a cliche and stereotyped obstacle that he, our main character, is going to break down. If Travis had no personality, or refused to develop one by the end of the game, his actions to do what he does and his ability to connect with the player, or the audience – as he puts it, would disengage the player and make the game less of a contrived story with flaws that held inner meanings – rather than a game that was just being played because it had an interesting title and story, but with a protagonist that was a dull as loose board.


Animated Movies, Character Structure, Comic Book Movies, Creative Writing, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, Spiderman, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Uncategorized

Spiderman “Into the Spider-Verse” and The Narrative of Relationships. – Part 1


With the ongoing successful accolades and success of the newest Spiderman film and the praises it has received since its premiere back in December; including a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The idea of dissecting the film and its characters that created such a wonderful adventure with breathtaking experiences is to be expected, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of the film’s characters. For this article, I will be going over the relationships seen within the movie. These include the relationships between Miles Morales and Peter Parker (The Acknowledging Spidermen), Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy (Building of Friendship), The Alternate Spider-people (A Shared Identity) and various others that some have questioned but have yet to come to a correct conclusion in terms of their relationship for the film.

The system of analysis that I will be overseeing for this article will be based on three structures of relationships: Movie Structure, Comic Structure, and Narrative/Representation Structure. Through the use of these three, a clear and cohesive analysis can be made for the characters that reference both their movie and comic counterparts; alongside their impact in and out of the film.

——————————————SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS AHEAD!————————————-


  1. Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker (Acknowledging Spidermen)
    peter and miles - spidey
    It should go without saying, or not, that the main relationship within the entire narrative of the story is cast around the building and budding relationship of Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker. What starts as a unique meeting for the two in regards to their shocking introduction, quite literally for Peter, begins the foundation for a teacher-student role that was quite different from its comic book origins for the two. In this adaptation of the story, both Spidermen are considered students to one another and proceed to learn new things throughout the film after their rocky start, which leads into the development of different roles of mentoring and being a mentee.Movie Structure: The dynamic pairing of Miles and Peter makes sense towards the narrative of “Teacher and Student”; alongside the entire premise of the movie as Miles learns how to become Spiderman. With Peter in his 30’s, tired and clearly tired from his superhero antics over the years, it sets up a quintessential choice and image for the budding student: “Do you really want to be Spiderman?” This question builds the foundation to which both Peter and Miles experience; both as a newbie and as an expert to the mantle. Mile’s enthusiasm to the cause of being a superhero, by neglecting his means of success in the real world, is similar to that of Peter’s resolution near the end of the movie with his plan of staying behind and sacrificing himself. After Gwen asks him, “Peter, you don’t have to stay. I’ll do it” and with his response of “It’s okay… I’ve made up my mind” could be paralleled to the same thought that entered Mile’s head the moment Peter’s words of taking ‘a leap of faith’ had questioned his own integrity as Spiderman; as both of their lives would change – for better or worse.

    Comic Structure: Transitioning Peter and Miles from the comic pages for the movie must have been a critical headache for the filmmakers to make sense of in the writers room with Miles debut on the big screen (Invoking the idea of a black Spiderman; much less a bi-racial one) and with a bigger audience, including those of the comic community, waiting to see how it would pan out in animation. Mile’s relationship with Peter in the comics are, for the most part, grounded after his death. With crossover events from the main continuity universe and Mile’s universe (Known as the Ultimate-verse), creating the symbolism of Spiderman teaching another Spiderman, while still being a young superhuman, creates a dynamic that relates from one age gap to the next. So when the transition of characters are older, such as Peter B. Parker within this story, the familiarity of “being the same” is taken differently from the Peter of the comics; in comparison to his and another universes’ Spiderman.

    Narrative/Representation Structure: In the end, Miles and Peter’s representation within the movie is nurtured towards the success that’s gained in life through accomplishments. The sides of this similar coin are displayed through Miles’ recklessness in trying to become something that he wasn’t intended to be, however, it was a challenge as to whether he would succeed in his endeavors to uphold this one truth: Can I be Spiderman? This same question resonates with Peter in his endeavors after having the mantle and when he questions towards the end with “How do I know I’m not going to mess it up?”; which is immediately acknowledged by Miles and is further acknowledged by the acknowledgment of Peter before returning to his own universe; accomplishing his task of a renewed vigor in Spiderman and for Spiderman.


  2. Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen) ~ (Decisions, Decisions)
    peter and gwen - spiderThe second relationship for this article is one that a lot of fans, including myself, were really interested to see in animated detail. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy are no stranger to one another, both in the comics and in the movies, but for the two to have the mantle of Spiderman (Spiderwoman in Gwen’s case) and to essentially have the same role that comes with being the heroine of their story, it’s to be expected that the chemistry of these two would be uniquely portrayed within this adaptation of the Spider-verse.

    Movie Structure: Despite the age differences between the two heroes, Gwen and Peter’s relationship as heroines for their universes shows them on equal footing as heroes. The banter they share is tied with respect and this respect comes from their unannounced past to the origins of their original tales from the comics. It’s through the dynamic of an older Peter (which seemingly appears to be similar to the Peter Parker of her reality – more or less aging from the serum that transformed them into the Lizardman) that a sense of dependability and renewed faith in her acknowledgement of Peter Parker, in taking the mantle of Spiderman and helping others in much the same way she has been doing in her dimension, which creates the dynamic duo for this film. The theme behind these two is built on second chances and the established trust in changed fates.

    While the chemistry between the two was unannounced on screen, a mutual respect and blossoming relationship as superheroes was being established through covert acknowledgments between the heroes. Peter B. Parker’s notices of Gwen are few and far between due to his past with Gwen Stacy and since this particular version of Parker uses humor as a means of deflecting conflict (amidst physical and emotional confrontations), making his only interactions with the young heroine to be straightforward outside of their introduction. He quips at Mile’s surprise at Gwen’s reveal but showcases a silent and positive approval at the two of them getting along; showcasing a sense of detachment to the loss of love and to the welcoming of new love for Miles and Gwen. He furthers this approval as the movie reaches its climactic finish with Peter’s choice to stay behind and essentially die in Miles’s dimension; all the while Gwen acknowledges Peter’s decision, never rallying with Miles against Peter and furthermore acknowledges his decision to do what’s right; even at the cost of his life and the unfulfilled conflicts that resonate for both himself and Gwen personally.

    On Gwen’s side of this unique relationship, it’s to be assumed that the Peter Parker of her world appeared similar to one another; aligning to the idea that Gwen’s take to the older peter, mocking the appearance of a serumed Peter from her world, is a reminder of her failure and is a consistent reminder in trying to prevent her greatest failure from ever occurring again. She, in furthering her respect and trust in Peter, also acts as his light in regards to various situations that he, on his own, wouldn’t have faced; mimicking a significant other in addition to Peter’s divorce from Mary Jane, losing his way as a superhero and the death of his Aunt May – something to which she would’ve known in seeing Mile’s Spiderman’s (Before taking the mantle) death in this dimension. In leading him to Aunt May (Supporting him emotionally), rallying him to be a leader (Reminding him of the great responsibility and power that he has; indifference to what Miles doesn’t have yet) and preventing him from being caught up in the past with MJ and his future (His denial coming to bare with his feelings, internally conflicting him, alongside his mind’s decision to “be a hero”). Her self-sacrifice when Peter says “It’s okay….I’ve made up my mind” after suggesting that she could stay behind creates depth for their relationship, allowing both heroes to acknowledge their mistakes as a past and present dynamic that keeps them strong and keeps them as Spiderman/Spiderwoman.

    Comic Structure: The basis of trust between the two Spider-people are established through the origins of their comics. When introduced to one another, the two found that their relationship, as comrades, was based upon their faults in their alternates deaths. They share a mutual and founded respect for one another, knowing one another in some tangents, which creates the dynamic duo through their chronicles of both “Spider-Verse” and “Spider-Geddon

    Narrative/Representation Structure: Peter and Gwen’s relationship for this movie is arguably needed as a base for the light and darkness within both characters. The two of them play off of one another but with founded respect, newly found by the discovery that they are in fact Spider heroes, which creates the unique connection that makes them the main leads for the film. Peter showcases the gruff and gritty perspective in growing up, while being a hero to others for over 30 years and Gwen showcases the beginning aspects of taking up the mantle to be a superhero; something to which is necessary for Miles to learn in his ongoing quest to do what’s right for Spiderman; both the name and the person.


  3.  Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir (Peter Parker) and Peter Porker (Spiderham) ~ (United We Stand)Spider-Verse CastNow, who could forget the colorful cast of characters in addition to the big three Spider-figures of this film? The highly animated styles of Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir, and Spiderham were probably one of the most festive looking characters throughout the film as they borrowed respective coloring and highlighting from their comic universes.

    Movie Structure: In addition to being supportive characters and heroes on the screen, the trio of Spider-people represent something that is essentially linked with the film’s animation – their own. In their first appearance on screen, re-telling their backstories, as humorously as it is to the audience, the animation of their backstories are highlighted in the shading that theirs premised behind, with Noir’s being that of a black and white setting, Peni’s contrast of colors with shading imitating the style that you’ll see in eastern animated cartoons and with Porker’s being the classic representation of early animation that’s similar to that of Looney Tunes. When stripped from their original dimensions, unlike that of Peter and Gwen, their style is consistent with their animation and this representation speaks volumes in regards to their origins; in addition to their representation within the film. From Peni’s ever shaking eyes, or expressive changes, to Porker’s cartoon antics with his punches and hammer/anvil tactics, resonates to the adaptation of different animations styles in today’s society.

    Comic Structure: Linking back to the previous statement, representation in animation was the main focus for these heroes on screen, however, their interpretation in comics was just as pivotal to their on-screen appearances. Characters like Peni Parker might, at least for movie-goers, seem like the first Asian Spider-Woman, however, her appearance in comics is seemingly different from that of her big screen appearance; going for more of a “Kawaii” (Cute) appearance than that of her older and more reserved look; this is seemingly the case for her mech, Sp//dr in terms of its interpretation from the comics to the movies.

    Peni Parker Differences

    Noir’s interpretation from page to screen was respectively transitioned with his initial look, with the famous detective raincoat and hat, included in his outfit. On the other hand, Porker’s transition was more than likely the most appropriate from his origins in various media. While in the comics he is a spider, bitten by a radioactive Aunt May pig (Yep, you read that correctly), his appearance within the comics presented him in the most cartoon-ish fashion of a pig that seemingly had the powers of a spider; including the idea of giving him incredibly long ears, a large extended snout and a body that was lengthy in some degrees to a spider’s form. This transition into a more Porky Pig, or Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon adaptation, gives the character another realistic touch to their pig appearance rather than the artistic take of how pigs looked in one dimension; which in itself is another question.

    Narrative/Representation Structure: The narrative for these three was established pretty early as other Spider-People, establishing roles within their own universes, but the general dissection of their appearance in relevance to the plot, and its representation, is a fundamentally sound lesson. Whether you are young, older or just a little bit different, you’re capable of showcasing so much more of yourself. Peni’s intelligence and the will her father gave to her with manning the Sp//dr is her own responsibility, as is the same that goes for Noir Peter Parker and Peter Porker in regards to their Uncle Ben/Benjamin. With great power, comes great responsibility, no matter where you’re from – something to which these three illustrate with pride.

This concludes the first part of this ongoing article. If you enjoyed this, comment, like and support me by following me at my Facebook at J.Arthur’s Roundabout for updates, new stories and so much more!

Animated Movies, Comic Book Movies, Spiderman, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Uncategorized

Spiderman: “Into the Spider-Verse” Review: A Step in the Right Direction

Representation in media and comics for minorities has always been a topic of interest. Where one idea represents a race or ethnicity, such as the impacts of Black Panther and Black Lightning has had during the year of 2018 with its meaningful and relatable matters on racial issues and circumstances in the African American community, the continued trend of representation is upheld by another figure: Miles Morales. In Sony’s newest film “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” it’s starring protagonist is of African American and Dominican descent. This combination of hero shows a different representation and the mixing of cultures is presented well with Miles’ story as he learns how to become a better person; in and out of the costume.

The Story:


For anyone that hasn’t heard of Spiderman, a brief synopsis of the hero is introduced for the moviegoer with his exploits in being a superhero, how he received his powers and a convincing explanation of his accolades as the masked hero for over two decades. Flashbacks of his efforts, including some memorable moments from the past Spiderman films and actual real world memorabilia that has existed, are artfully directed to the narrative of this Spidermans’ tale. After concluding his tale of heroic efforts, the scene is immediately shifted to our main character, Miles Morales (Voiced by Shameik Moore), as he’s jamming out to Post Malone and Swae Lee’s song “Sunflower” while showing an enthusiastic youth to which the audience can relate towards. Miles is further introduced as a student at a highly qualified charter school in Brooklyn, New York and is shown to have a rather stressful life with being from two different bureaus of life; socially and ethnically.

The story’s pacing is worked from the perspective of Miles perspective from being at school, hanging out with his Uncle Aaron (Voiced by Mahershala Ali) after his first day to discuss about how it feels at a new school and one which he is unfamiliar with, alongside the issues that paint Miles life with conflict. This is further enhanced after Miles comes into contact with a mysterious spider with the number “42” on its abdomen, biting the young youth and mutating the cells within his body and making him into something different from within. While I could dive into the story and explain all of the moments that make the film and its story incredible, I’ll leave my take on the story as a cliffhanger for those that haven’t seen, however, to those that have seen the film – the story and how it was managed from beginning to end was orchestrated well and was tactfully directed in regards to race, a branching storyline and the accompaniment of different elements towards the storytelling for its characters.

The Characters:


A powerful movie should also have a cast of powerful characters, and the voices gifted to the cast of ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ is no exception.  Backtracking back to the story, Miles’s adventure begins when he encounters Spiderman and is thrust into an array of dangerous complications that give weight to the main narrative of the story for most of its characters. This leads to the arrival of different “Spider People”, as Miles politely points out in one scene, that originate from different universes; hence the name. This is the meat and potatoes of the movie, as are the same ingredients for the comics; minus a table full of bloodthirsty vampires trying to hunt them down, however, that’s an analogy for a future post. In his quest to make things right with Mile’s Spiderman (voiced by Chris Pine), he’s assisted and taught by an entirely different Spiderman from a different dimension who, unlike the comics, is a more a seasoned and older hero that’s experienced conflict. This Spiderman is voiced by Jake Johnson and really gives attention his performance by using his broad sense of comedy (a staple of the hero) and his detachment to serious motives as a setting to Spiderman that Miles and moviegoers are unfamiliar towards. In addition to his role is the additional hero to which actress Hailee Steinfeld portrays in that of Spider-Gwen. Her addition to the cast is both intuitive to the perspective of female superheroes and can be seen as a fan favorite to the comics with a different take on the Spiderman mantle; replacing the antics of Peter Parker with the distinct differences of his female interest, Gwen Stacy; creating a narrative that was reciprocated in kind by the community and was an added investment of female representation within the film.

Alongside the two are other spider entities that included Spiderman Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage) a Peter Parker from the 1930’s and Noir Universe (A universe that is…well…noir), Peni Parker (Voiced by xxx) who comes from the future of 2099 and fights in her father’s created mech known as the “SP//dr SUIT” (Equipped with a living spider on the inside of its system) and one of the most hilarious interpretations of the character in Peter Porker – otherwise known as Spider-Ham (Voiced by John Mulaney) – adding a distinct cartoon flair to an already animated cast; a play on a words to the different animation styles showcased from Noir, Peni and Porker when compared to the rest of the cast.

In contrast to the batch of heroes that the movie showcases there are also a few recognizable villains which make an appearance within the film. The main antagonist of the film belongs to Wilson Fisk (Voiced by Liev Schrieber) who’s entire narrative, as a villain, is represented in making his plans work and eliminating those in his way – sets the tone and the plot to which he follows. Additions to this include ‘The Prowler’, whose role is both dynamic and exquisitely showcased throughout the film, Tombstone, a forlorn villain of comics past that’s given a distinct style, The Green Goblin, whose appearance is more of a representation to the Ultimate Spiderman’s version of the character, Scorpion, whose surprisingly a Hispanic variation to his New Yorker counterpart in the comics, and Doctor Octopus’ surprising appearance are all unexpected and yet their presence is never without merit; symbolizing the ins and outs of villains from the rogues gallery for this version of Spiderman’s Sinister Six.

The Representation:


It’s easy to miss the signals that are scattered within the film amongst all of the action and storytelling that the cast does a wonderful job of acting and portraying with their characters, however, Spider-Verse also gets another thing right within the movie: Representation. With popular debates and news over the importance of representation among races, a popular superhero that has always been debated in regards to representing others is Spiderman. Under the mask, Spiderman is generally a white male that lives in New York City, going through school, hiding his identity and saving the lives of citizens within the city; even when slandered with hate by media and other officials that are against his vigilante ways. In some ways, the mantle of Spiderman is a representation of those that wish to do good but are against playing to the rules of the law, which is why Miles’ culture and ethnicity play a big role within this film.

Directors Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman and Robert Persichetti Jr. orchestrated a beautiful story and interpretation for the Ultimate Spiderman and the mantle of it being passed down to not only just Miles but that “anyone can wear the mask” which was a deep and inspiring moment for the filmmakers to showcase in times of strife and separation. I felt that the same narrative of storytelling, where it was showed rather than said, was similar to another animated film that came out earlier in the year – Incredibles 2. The story was dedicated to the material that it was based on – Superheroes that were seen as a liability to the foundation of human society – and built upon the future of the source material by including women’s rights and feminism representation with just a splash of realism. ‘Into the Spider-Verse” doesn’t shy away from the premise of storytelling as it showcases Mile’s discomfort in going to a new school, leaving his old one behind, discussing his lack of importance and ability to perform well; undermining his own abilities and trying to fail.

The mantle of Spiderman and the name “Miles Morales” represent something more within this film. By using the mantle of Spiderman to cover his shortcomings or the fact that he doesn’t believe he can be better as Miles Morales, it’s through the guidance of other Spider-people and the impending threat to the city, much less the dimension, that plays with the moral and social ambiguity that the film’s direction can take and that moviegoers can speculate over after watching it.

Overall Score: 11/10

spiderverse cast

A film that should not be missed whether you are a Spiderman fan or not. The narrative is easily understood by kids and the action pieces, combined with the visual effects that make it feel like a live-action story straight from the pages of its comics, is a welcomed breath of fresh air after a year of CGI mashups. The characters are relatable, the plot isn’t convoluted, the representation for Miles and the mantle for Spiderman are explored with detailed examples, and it’s overall a great film to see with friends, family or even by yourself; don’t let the absence of others be the reason you miss out on 2018’s Best Animated Film.

And also – A Happy New Year to everyone in 2019! Expect more content in the future for this year!