The Movies of Q3 2017

Hi readers! It’s the first day of July; which means we have officially entered into the second half of the year and also a brand new quarter with brand new movies to look out for! Here are some films from around the world I am interested to see.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I think “interested to see” is an understatement for how I feel about this movie. No, I am more than excited to watch it. As a fan of Marvel Studios’ works, 2017 has got to be one of the most “blessed” years for me. It’s only been a couple of months since we had Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and now, we are going to have Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is a fresh & different origin story for Spidey, Tony Stark is going to be in it and Tom Holland plays & fits his role so well. Do we need more reasons to watch it?

Dunkirk

The Dark Knight trilogy. Inception. Interstellar. You have probably heard of and enjoyed these films a lot. Well, behind all of them are a great team and the amazing director Christopher Nolan. And now, he has a new film. With that alone, I am already sold for this movie. But considering how it is also based on an inspiring true story about the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from a difficult situation, I think this will be something I’ll catch the moment it releases.

The Dark Tower

Now this is a film that really intrigued me. Based on the highly acclaimed The Dark Tower series by famous author Stephen King and serving as a continuation of it, this movie brings to the big screen an even bigger universe full of characters, worlds and stories to discover. Blending multiple genres such as fantasy, science-fiction, horror and Western, this looks to be a cool movie to get into the cinema for.

Wind River

I know what you are thinking – Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch solving a crime together. Haha, though a movie with that plot would be pretty awesome, this is nothing like that. Starring familiar actors Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, this is a crime thriller that will appeal to people who enjoy mysteries, just like me. Sure hope it releases in Singapore soon!

American Assassin

If you have watched him in the Maze Runner films, you would know that Dylan O’Brien is a young rising star. But this time, instead of playing a teenager in a dystopian world, he is an American assassin (duh), trained to fight and thwart terrorists operations. I am personally looking forward to seeing the character developments and interactions in the movie. Hope that us Singaporeans will get a release date for this film too!

Stronger

I always loved movies that are inspirational and uplifting. So I am glad to see that there is one we can look forward to in the next few months. Based on a true story from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the film tells the story of Jeff Bauman, a victim who lost both his legs in the incident, yet showed the world that what doesn’t kill you, truly can make you stronger. Jake Gyllenhaal is going to be phenomenal in this, I just know it.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

“Being a Kingsman is more than the clothing we wear or the weapons we bear. It is about being willing to sacrifice for the greater good.” One of the best spy movies I’ve watched in recent years is back with a sequel! The first film had some of the greatest action sequences, musical scores and unforgettable moments I’ve seen in any action movie, and I can’t wait to see more of it again in The Golden Circle. Never has suits and umbrellas been so cool…

… and I guess if I can catch all these films, it will be cool!

And that is my “must-watch” list from July to September. Maybe you will enjoy these films too? Haha. Thank you for reading and I’ll see you in the next post!

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The Movies of Q1 2017

It felt like yesterday that we were just talking about movies at the end of 2016, but here we are in February 2017! Here are some movies I’m looking to watch from now all the way through to March! Maybe you would be interested in watching them too?

The Space Between Us

If you know me, you will know that I love anything that has to do with science-fiction. And this is why I’m excited for this movie. It’s probably going to be my first sci-fi film of the year! But more than that, it’s actually a romance film. Telling the love story between a boy from Mars and a girl from Earth, I’m hoping this film will be as beautiful as it looks.

The Lego Batman Movie

A spin-off from 2014’s The Lego Movie; what else is there to say about this? It’s LEGO and it’s Batman. This combination is going to bring loads of fun to the big screen and I can’t wait to just catch it with my friends who love animation!

John Wick: Chapter 2

If you would love to have a good action film to watch over Valentine’s Day this year, you have one. A sequel to the 2014 hit film John Wick, this action thriller looks to slay once again. Starring The Matrix star Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter 2 sees the returning of a legendary hitman and his face-off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

Logan

For some reason, watching this trailer gets me slightly emotional. Maybe it’s the fact that this will be the final portrayal of Wolverine by Hugh Jackman. Maybe it’s the reality that this will be Patrick Stewart’s final appearance as Professor X. Or maybe it is the knowledge that this will be the conclusion of Logan’s story after 17 years. Whatever it is, I’m watching this.

Before I Fall

Imagine for some reason, you get trapped in a day, having to live it again and again and again. How would you make this day different and special each time you live it? Before I Fall explores that idea and looks to be really interesting. Got to catch it!

The Shack

Based on the book of the same name, this movie talks about a father’s journey through loss and his struggle with faith. Looking at the trailer and reading just the synopsis of the story, I can’t help but feel this could be one of the most uplifting films these next few months.

Table 19

Now this looks really light-hearted and interesting. This film talks about the story of an unlikely group of friends who met at a wedding table reserved for the most “unwanted” guests. What kind of sparks will fly and what tales will follow from their first meeting? We shall find out in this comedy film starring Anna Kendrick.

Kong: Skull Island

Set in the same universe as 2014’s monster film Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island brings the iconic beast back on the big screen! I remember when I was really young, King Kong (2005) was one of my favorite films as a kid. So I’m just excited to see what fresh take this film is going to have on Kong. And not to mention, it has a stellar cast too!

Beauty and the Beast

Now this is one of the highlights of the year for me in terms of movies. It just looks so amazing and seems to pay so much homage to the original animated film that we all watched when were little. The cast is so fitting of their roles, the visuals are stunning and the soundtrack so beautiful. I think we are all going to feel really nostalgic when March comes.

Power Rangers

As if the last 2 films I talked about weren’t enough to bring back childhood memories, here comes another one! Every 90’s kid would remember the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so this film would be another major throwback for many of us! Can’t wait to see a whole new portrayal and imagination of our childhood superheroes.

Life

Probably the second science fiction film that I’m going to watch this year, Life explores the possibility of alien life (hence the name) in space, and as seen from the trailer, things don’t go very well for the scientists. Looks like an intense thriller I’d like to catch for sure!

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The last film on this list is going to have to be this drama film set in World War II. Based on the true story of how a couple saved the lives of hundreds of Jews during the Occupation of Poland, this film is going to portray both the terrors of war and the existence of heroes in our world.

And that’s it for my list of movies to watch until the end of March! Do you have any movies that you’re looking forward to that isn’t listed here? Let me know your thoughts and as always, thank you for reading.

Heroes

As soon as the word “hero” pops up, a few individuals/characters would come to your mind. If you’re a DC fan, you would probably be thinking Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. If you’re a Marvelite, I would guess Captain America, Iron Man or Spider-Man would be some of many heroes that you will think of.

Or you could possibly be leaning towards more of Japanese manga and anime type heroes such as Goku, Naruto or One Punch Man? All the gamers here would probably mention protagonists such as Link, Master Chief or Nathan Drake. How about all the Trekkies out there? Maybe Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are your favorite heroes? Star Trek Beyond is awesome by the way; go watch it if you haven’t!

And of course for all the Star Wars fans reading this, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or even Darth Vader would be your go-to in terms of heroic figures. Or perhaps you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond, Indiana Jones, The Hunger Games😄

The list goes on and on and on. And it seems like there is no end to the number of characters we can think of in the fictional world who all share common heroic traits! But today, these are not the heroes I want to talk about. And neither am I going to talk about famous real life people in history who have done heroic things that made the world a better place.

Because while the first heroes we are reminded of are always the ones that are strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, has a unique look and personality, has a special set of abilities, had great adventures and fights evil, I want to look at another type of hero apart from the ones we are familiar with, a type that might possibly point towards a certain reader looking at this post right now – the unlikely hero.

For all the Christians here, we read the Bible and we see the men of God who has lived before us. And if we want to talk about heroes, you would immediately think of great men like David who slayed giants, men like Moses who parted the Red Sea, and men like Paul who spread the Gospel far and wide.

And sometimes we can focus so much on their heroic deeds that we forget that actually, many of the great men chosen by God didn’t start out that great at all. David was young and inexperienced, Moses couldn’t even speak properly and Paul was anti-Christian! These men were all (less than) ordinary and were the most unlikely to be used by God for His purpose and yet God still picked them. See? Unlikely heroes.

Another unlikely hero in the Bible is a man named Gideon. And you must be thinking “who is this guy?” or “what does he have that God would choose him to be His hero?” Well I guess by now you wouldn’t be surprised, but honestly he didn’t really have much! In fact, all he had to offer when God sent an angel to him are these 4 things: worries, insecurities, doubts and fears! 😛

Haha if you don’t believe me, you can take a look at the scriptures in Judges 6:11-24. It is clearly written that Gideon asked questions in worry and doubt and didn’t even believe that God was there with him when an angel was literally standing in front of him. It is almost hilarious just reading all that.

But jokes aside, maybe some of you who are reading this are feeling the exact 4 things that Gideon was feeling. You can totally relate to him. Maybe deep down on the inside you know that the life you’re living now isn’t all there is to life. Maybe you feel that you are meant for greater things. Or maybe God Himself has even given you a great dream and a vision.

No matter what it is, you are hesitant to follow your heart, to chase after your dreams or to obey God. You ask yourself questions in worry, insecurity, doubt and fear. “What if I fail? How can it be that God has called me? Why would He choose me? Am I really strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, good-looking, talented, experienced and holy enough to be used by God?”

Well, if you are having thoughts similar to the ones above and completely understand Gideon’s feelings, I have great news for you. You are a person with an incredibly high potential of becoming a hero for God, albeit an unlikely one. 😉

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27

Here’s the thing. God doesn’t see the way we do, He doesn’t see the way the world does. We might have tons of worries, but God doesn’t. We just got to learn to listen to His voice and obey it. In reference to the previous scriptures in Judges 6, God didn’t even take Gideon’s worries into account and just told him to rescue Israel from its enemies! We just have to see from God’s perspective and His word will triumph over our worries.

To us, we might think that we are not the heroic type and don’t have much to offer in terms of making a difference in the world. We might feel insecure even and disqualify ourselves from becoming the person that God has created us to be. But God sees beyond all that. He sees beyond all the insecurity – a hero within. He would rather pick a person that seems to have nothing but is humble, than another who has everything and is boastful.

It’s interesting how the angel of God addresses Gideon as a “mighty hero” even before he has done anything heroic. We might not see anything mighty or heroic about ourselves, but I believe that God is seeing a mighty hero within us just as He did in Gideon. Humans might only see problems in their lives, but God sees otherwise. We see our problems but God sees our potential.

What else? Maybe today you are doubting God. You doubt the dreams, visions and promises He has placed in you. Or maybe you doubt yourself. You doubt that you have the ability to do anything significant. It doesn’t matter, just know this. Our doubts do not deny God’s divinity.

Just like how the law of gravity, no matter how much you try to doubt it, cannot be denied, God is the same. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Our doubts cannot change the fact that He is real and has chosen us to be His unlikely heroes.

But maybe even after knowing all that, you still fear what’s to come. You know what, if you need peace, just invite God into your life and whatever situation that you’re in. Because God doesn’t just bring peace, He is peace.

“So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.” – Judges 6:27

So how did Gideon become a hero despite everything he was feeling and the low chances he had? He took a leap of faith. You see, faith isn’t the absence of worries, insecurities, doubts or fears. Faith is having the courage and desire to see from God’s perspective and to make a move forward despite all that. Read the verse above, it is clear that Gideon was still afraid when he obeyed God’s command! But it didn’t stop him.

Today no matter what stands against you, take the leap of faith. God is looking for more unlikely heroes in our generation. You can be one of them.

If you don’t yet know Jesus, take that first leap of faith to believe in Him. I can’t talk about heroes without mentioning the true superhero of the world – Jesus Christ. He was sent to our world to save us from our sins. He died for us and rose again to give us an abundant life, a life where anything is possible – including becoming heroes. But we got to first have faith and believe.

Truly in God, heroes can rise out of the most unlikeliest of places.

[Inspired by The Unlikely Hero, a sermon by Garrett Lee of Heart of God Church.]

Why I Enjoyed: Civil War

Don’t worry reader; this is a spoiler-free article.

Hi everyone! Captain America: Civil War may only be opening today in the United States, but for some of us lucky ones living outside the U.S, we’ve already been given the chance to watch it since a week ago. And personally for myself, I’ve already seen it and am so satisfied by the outcome of the hard work of everyone that was involved in the making of this film. In fact, as of now, Civil War is my favorite movie of 2016! Here’s why.

1. Action

action

Right when the first sequence begins, you would know immediately that the “action” factor in this movie is covered. And you will not be wrong, because Captain America: Civil War is packed with some of the most epic and coolest action scenes you will see in the superhero genre for years to come. But of course, action isn’t enough to make a movie great. Let’s see what else makes this film such a memorable experience.

2. Comedy

comedy

Even though Captain America: Civil War has a more serious tone and deals with more mature themes, you would be pleasantly surprised by the amount of hilarious moments present in this film. But actually, if you’ve been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe for awhile now, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to you. It’s just that the jokes here are really, REALLY good.

3. Character Interactions

mcu-for-beginners

This movie is full of what I call “geek fantasy” moments – interactions between characters that we’ve been hoping to see on the big screen since the beginning of time. And if you are one of those people who are going to see this film because of “that one character”, no matter who it is, you will not be disappointed. Because literally every character was portrayed and used in the story so, so well. ESPECIALLY, but not limited to Spider-Man!

4. Emotion

emotions

Okay, some people might look at the trailer of Captain America: Civil War and be afraid that it would turn out to be just some senseless superhero beat-down with no emotional depth. If that is what you’re concerned with, don’t worry. I can confidently say that this is one of the most emotional films in the MCU, and you will feel it too when you watch how our favorite team gets torn apart.

5. Plot

plot

Last but not least, an emotional film full of action, comedy and fun would still be mediocre unless it has a great plot that carries those elements well. I don’t want to say much about the plot of Civil War because I don’t want to spoil it to you; but you got to see it for yourself. All I can say is that from start to finish, you will be fully engaged and kept in suspense; and at the end, you will get a satisfying conclusion to the Captain America trilogy and a strong start to Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And that’s about all I have to say about this film. It is a must-watch! If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for? 😎

p.s. In case you’re wondering, there is one mid-credits scene and one post-credits scene at the end of the movie.

Marvel Cinematic Universe for Beginners

Happy 1st of May everyone! It’s that time of the year again. That particular time of the year when adrenaline rushes through me as I walk pass the cinema in excitement BUT ALSO as I attempt to once again put together a comprehensive guide for a series of movies. That’s right. If you’ve been on Fool’s Bench for awhile now, you would probably remember Star Wars for Beginners, the result of my first shot at meeting the need of an average moviegoer.

Well today, I give you my second shot – this time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because even though the MCU has only existed for 8 years in contrast to the almost 40 years lifetime of Star Wars, it has birthed forth twice the number of films in one-fifth the time. And unless you are an expert in “MCU Studies” like me, you would find it hard naturally to catch up on all 12 films and digest everything before Captain America: Civil War, which may I add, is already showing in my country. So don’t even get me started on the TV series & shorts!

Once again, I must say that the highest motivating factor for me as I write these guides are my friends. I love them too much to see them walking into the cinema this weekend unprepared for Civil War like how a kid walks into the exam hall unprepared for the Mathematics paper. Okay, it’s not that bad. 😄😛

But how do you know whether this guide is for you? How do you know if you even need it? Well here are some indicators. One, you think that Captain America: Civil War is some sort of propaganda film filled with historical drama. Two, whenever you go watch an MCU film, you leave the theater as soon as the credits roll. Lastly, which is the worst of them all, you think that Iron Man and Batman are best buddies. Can relate to those examples or anything along those lines? This post is for you.

Okay! I am about to begin. But before that, I must warn you that beyond this paragraph lie potential spoilers for every single MCU film, short film and TV series before Captain America: Civil War. Of course, this article does not include every single detail there is. As much as I want to talk about every interesting fact, I also want to avoid giving you an information overload. So that is why, I have written this article in a way that relates the most to Captain America: Civil War, keeping it relevant to you now. If you find that there are missing information (which I have left out on purpose), you probably don’t need this post anyway. But for the rest of you, consider this your cheat sheet to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s first talk about the universe itself, shall we?


1. Film Rights, Studios and Universes

The first thing that we got to address is what films are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what films are not. Because as much as we’d like it to be, not every film that has a “Marvel” label slapped on its opening credits belong in the same shared universe. And this is due to different film studios owning the film rights to different Marvel Comics characters. So this means for example, if you and I own two different film studios, and I bought the rights to use Iron Man in my movies, you can’t. Because you don’t have the right to. Let me explain further with a few well-known examples – namely 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox owns the rights to all the X-Men characters, which is why every film in the X-Men film series are produced and distributed by them. Fox also owns the rights to the Fantastic Four. Unfortunately, these two groups of superheroes as of now do not belong in the same fictional universe. Here are all the films under 20th Century Fox:

fox-movies

Now I must make a special mention about one X-Men, and that is Quicksilver. This guy is a special case. He is the only character so far that exists (or existed) simultaneously in two universes – the X-Men film series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reason why this is possible could be because of the nature and history of the character itself. You see, in the comic books, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch hang out regularly with both the X-Men and the Avengers. So I guess you can’t completely own the twin characters even if your studio has the film rights to one of the super teams.

That’s not to say that there are no limitations to their usage in film though. For example, Marvel Studios cannot mention the word “mutants” or even talk about “Magneto” when handling the two characters, while Fox can’t link Quicksilver to the Avengers. You think that’s complicated? Wait till you hear about Spider-Man!

Sony Pictures Entertainment

This is where things get a little interesting. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and produces & distributes all of the character’s films through Columbia Pictures (one of their studios). The movies in the original Spider-Man trilogy, as well as those in the recent The Amazing Spider-Man film series belong to them. That is why you never see Peter Parker hanging around Tony Stark. Well that is, until now. Because just last year, Sony Pictures managed to strike a deal with Marvel Studios in a way that allows Spider-Man to be reintroduced again (but hey, I’m not complaining) within the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Based on what I know, Sony still owns the character. But because of this collaboration with Marvel Studios, Spider-Man can now exist in the MCU with a brand new cast & story, which could be the best thing that has ever happened to Spidey! And that is all that matters now, right? So enjoy these following films if you will, but when Civil War comes out, just know that the new Spider-Man and his future movie(s) are unrelated to any of these past tales:

sony-movies

Marvel Studios

This film studio, now owned by Disney, is the one we want to focus on today. Because these are the guys that have brought us and will continue to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our main topic of the day! “Which characters do Marvel Studios own?” Every character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Which characters or films are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?” I am glad you asked.

Marvel-Cinematic-Universe

Now you see why you need this guide. Thankfully, unlike Star Wars, most if not all of the MCU stories are released and told chronologically. So there’s no confusion about that. Still, there’s just way too much content to digest in a short amount of time.  Of course, the best way to enjoy the entire MCU is to watch every single one of those movies and TV series above; or at least, all the movies. In fact, just watching all the movies would prepare you for Phase Three, which kicks off with Civil War. So if that’s your style, go ahead. You’ll understand every cross-reference, see every link, and be awed by every connection across the films. But once again, time is the problem.

If you just want to be ready for Captain America: Civil War however, I can recommend you to watch the following films. Just these 4 SHOULD be sufficient for you to fully enjoy Civil War:

prepare-for-war

Yet again if you’re reading this, why worry? 😉 Let’s get on with the real stuff today.


2. The World

The world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big one. And though so far, most of its stories take place on Earth, some of them like Guardians of the Galaxy has increased the scale of this fictional universe. And sometimes, you might forget that these stories are actually interconnected even though sometimes they happen so far apart. So today before we focus on and talk about some of the more prominent characters & events in the MCU, let me first give you a general idea of the world in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“The Nine Realms”

9-realms-thor
Thor explaining the concept of the Nine Realms to Jane Foster

This interesting concept was first introduced by Thor when he was banished to Earth five years ago. It basically describes how nine different planets from separate distant star systems are aligned in a figurative tree known as Yggdrasil. And yes, Earth – just like Thor’s home world Asgard, is one of these planets. How far exactly these planets are apart from one another is unclear, but what we do know is that they are far enough to exist on different planes of space with their own laws of “science” that even the greatest scientists on Earth cannot explain/understand. But of course, these are not the only planets in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These are just nine of them that happened to be positioned in a certain way and in this case – in a tree-like alignment we call Yggdrasil. So definitely, there are many other planets and galaxies existing outside this alignment, which is what I am going to talk about next.

Neighboring Galaxies & Planets

Morag_1

Okay this is pretty simple. Our Earth is part of the Solar System. Our Solar System is part of a galaxy. Our galaxy is known as the Milky Way. The Milky Way is only one out of many many galaxies in the universe. All of that is real. What I’m about to say next is fictional. The Guardians of the Galaxy and all of their shenanigans, conflicts and battles are found in a neighboring galaxy to ours. In fact, we can safely say they are in the galaxy closest to our galaxy. But still, that is pretty far away! So now you understand, right? The Guardians of the Galaxy roam a galaxy with its own stars & planets that are all outside the Nine Realms. But despite all that, you must know that they together with the Nine Realms and Earth, all exist within the same universe. Now that all the dust is cleared up, let’s talk about our planet Earth and some of its important characters & events, the usual subjects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


3. Important Characters

There are a lot of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it will be almost insane to introduce every one of them to you here. So today, I will be focusing on some of them who are more important in the MCU or more relevant to Civil War now. And I will try to keep the descriptions short! But come to think of it, who doesn’t know these guys?

Tony Stark / Iron Man

tony-stark-iron-man

A self-proclaimed genius, billionaire and philanthropist, Tony Stark’s life took a different turn when he was captured by terrorists 8 years ago. Forced to build a weapon of destruction, he witnessed first-hand the horrible possibilities & consequences that have resulted from weapons manufactured by his company. So instead, he built himself a mechanical suit of armor and escaped, leaving the man that he was behind; well for the most part, except his egoistic self. Eventually, he became the armored Avenger – Iron Man and continued to develop his suits & technology to fight the terrors of this world. When we last saw him in 2015, he accidentally unleashed an evil artificial intelligence named Ultron upon the world. Fortunately with the aid of all the Avengers, Ultron was stopped. Tony Stark will once again appear in Captain America: Civil War as the main man siding against the Captain.

Bruce Banner / The Hulk

bruce-banner

When an attempt to experiment and recreate a super soldier program from World War II goes terribly wrong, Dr. Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk – “an enormous green rage monster” whenever he gets angry, extremely stressed, or put directly into harm’s way. Originally choosing to live a life of isolation for the safety of others, Bruce Banner has since become a part of the Avengers, a team of remarkable people commonly known as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, who uses their unique abilities for the protection of the world. Banner has even recently learned to control and channel his inner monster and is able to use the Hulk to his advantage… most of the time. After the Battle of Sokovia against Ultron, the Hulk left the Avengers, leaving his current whereabouts and status unknown.

Thor

avengers-age-of-ultron-chris-hemsworth-image

Thor was once childish, arrogant and unwise. But after his father Odin banished him to Earth for provoking a war between Asgard and the Frost Giants, he realized his mistakes and has changed ever since. After regaining his powers and ability to wield the legendary hammer Mjölnir, he went on to fight numerous battles for the Nine Realms. Some of these battles even helped to protect Earth against its enemies. And that was also how Thor became part of the Avengers, when he joined the fight against the alien forces that invaded Earth during The Battle of New York. Last year, he teamed up once more with the heroes and defeated Ultron’s army. Afterwards, he returned to Asgard to investigate mysterious forces that seemed to have orchestrated recent events.

Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow

black-widow

Having been brought up in cruel ways to become a trained killer, Natasha Romanoff is an ex-assassin turned agent who worked for S.H.I.E.L.D as a highly-skilled spy until its fall in 2014. But more than that, she is an Avenger and was one of them who stood against both the aliens in 2012, and the robotic army of Ultron in 2015. Today, together with Captain Steve Rogers, she has trained up a new group of Avengers that we will see more of in Captain America: Civil War. Of course, she will be making an appearance as well; but from what we know, she is on Tony’s side.

Clint Barton / Hawkeye

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Most commonly recognized with his trademark bow and arrow, Clint Barton was a S.H.I.E.L.D agent like Romanoff, but with skills in archery that have been trained to the peak of human ability. He has since joined the Avengers and have fought dangers no mere mortal should have ever encountered. During the period of their fight against Ultron, Clint reveals to the bewilderment of the team that he is both a husband and a father and has a family residing in a remote area. After the battle in which he nearly lost his life, Clint “retired” from the Avengers and committed himself to his family. In Captain America: Civil War however, we shall see him again fighting alongside Cap.

Steve Rogers / Captain America

steve-rogers

Alright, before we move on to talk about some newer characters, let’s first talk about the Captain, our titular character of Captain America: Civil War. Originally living in the time of World War II, Steve Rogers was just an ordinary man who wanted to serve in the military and help fight alongside his countrymen against the enemies. However, due to his extremely poor physical & health condition, it was impossible for him to do so. And it remained that way until he was chosen to be a subject for Project Rebirth – a secret super soldier program created for the Americans and their allies.

Steve Rogers then became the world’s first superhero and fought many battles during the war. He was also usually seen with his signature shield that was made out of vibranium – the strongest metal in the world. Eventually in one battle however, he sacrificed himself by crashing an explosive-rigged aircraft in the Arctic. Fortunately, he survived frozen in the ice and was kept in suspended animation until 70 years later when he was found and brought home by S.H.I.E.L.D. Soon after, the events of The Avengers unfolded and he became part of the team ever since.

Now, with all the original Avengers covered, it’s time to take a quick look at some of the more new/unfamiliar faces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sam Wilson / Falcon

sam-wilson

Being one of the new Avengers who are on Team Cap, Sam was first introduced during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. By now, he has grown to become one of the most trusted & treasured comrades of Captain America. He wears a highly advanced wing pack and is most proficient in aerial combat.

James Rhodes / War Machine

war-machine

Alongside Tony Stark, James Rhodes is a character that has been with us since the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also known as War Machine, he has been on countless adventures with Iron Man so obviously, you know whose team he is on. Most recently, he was seen undergoing training in the new Avengers facility.

James “Bucky” Barnes / The Winter Soldier

winter-soldier

Bucky was the closest friend that Steve Rogers ever had. After Captain Rogers witnessed his demise in World War II, he was thought to be dead until he showed up again in 2014 in Washington, D.C. It turns out that he survived his fall but was brainwashed, physically enhanced and used throughout history by the rogue organization HYDRA to sow chaos whenever & wherever needed. When he’s not needed however, HYDRA would put him back to sleep in suspended animation, similar to the state that Steve Rogers was in. The last time we saw him, Bucky almost killed Captain America, but instead saved his life, seemingly to have recovered his memories.

Scott Lang / Ant-Man

ant-man

Scott Lang was once a thief, but has now become the latest superhero to be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His unique suit allows him to command armies of ants and also to shrink in size. When he is tiny & unnoticeable, his strength is retained & even multiplied to the point in which his tiny punch can feel “like a bullet”. He has had a previous encounter with Falcon and will be appearing in Civil War on the side of Steve Rogers.

Vision

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The result of the combined efforts of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Thor, Vision is like the perfect version of Ultron without his twisted side. Bestowed with powers from the Mind Stone (the gem on his forehead) and created with a body laced with vibranium, Vision is also currently known as the only being other than Thor worthy of lifting Mjölnir. He is now a new Avenger siding with Tony Stark in Civil War.

Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch

wanda

Wanda Maximoff was a subject of HYDRA’s human experiments. This successfully granted her telekinetic & telepathic abilities, as well as powers of energy manipulation. After losing her twin brother in the Battle of Sokovia, she has since become an Avenger under the training of Captain Rogers and Agent Romanoff. She is also on Team Cap.

Sharon / Agent 13

sharon

In 2014, Sharon was a S.H.I.E.L.D agent tasked to live as a neighbor to Steve Rogers to watch over and protect him from any threats. But today, she works for the CIA and will also be appearing in Captain America: Civil War. As to which side she is on in the conflict, it is still currently unclear.

Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross

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Back in 2008, General Ross was the man who led the pursuit on Dr. Bruce Banner. But of course as we all know, his plans on capturing Banner did not come into fruition. 8 years later today, he makes an appearance once again in Civil War.

HYDRA

Hydra_logo

I’ve mentioned HYDRA a few times before, but let me explain now who they really are. Originally started as a cult, this rogue terrorist/criminal organization have turned into one of the greatest enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D and the world due to their extreme beliefs in world domination. Basically, these are the bad guys. After World War II, HYDRA was thought to have been extinguished until their re-emergence in 2014.

S.H.I.E.L.D

S.H.I.E.L.D._logo

Another organization that I’ve been talking about over and over is S.H.I.E.L.D. The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is an intelligence agency tasked with global security. Their job scope in recent years include protecting the world from the threats of super powered individuals. Even the knowledge of these people and their not-so-subtle activities have been successfully kept under wraps by S.H.I.E.L.D. But all these changed after some large-scale events in recent years, which I’ll be talking about now.


4. Important Events

Since Tony Stark first revealed to the world his superhero identity 8 years ago, many things have happened. But some of them I am about to list are probably considered the historical ones that have changed the world.

The Battle of New York

battle of new york

As I’ve said before, S.H.I.E.L.D has done a pretty good job over the years in keeping watch over the people who could be potential threats to the world. This includes individuals like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, even though they might not have any ill intentions or whatsoever. More than that, they have also kept a lot of information about these people and their activities from the world – “classified” as they liked to say it. But all these efforts of keeping secrets went down the drain in 2012, when a hostile alien army invaded New York City.

Avengers_vs_Chitauri

This was the event that first united the Avengers against a common enemy, and introduced Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the world. The battle that ensued also revealed to people across the globe that their world is even bigger and weirder than they have ever known. In the end, the Avengers successfully defeated the alien forces, though unfortunately, a trail of destruction was left behind and many still lost their lives.

The Fall of S.H.I.E.L.D

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In 2014 – two years after the Battle of New York, Captain Steve Rogers & Agent Romanoff discovered to their horror that HYDRA never ceased to exist. In fact, it has been secretly operating and expanding within the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. Together with Sam Wilson, they later helped prevent a global genocide in Washington, D.C and also exposed HYDRA to not just all legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D operatives, but to the general public and to the world. Once again, the battle in Washington, D.C resulted in much death and devastation. After this event, S.H.I.E.L.D was no more; at least to the world.

The Battle of Sokovia

sokovia

After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D, the Avengers began operating independently on resources provided by Tony Stark. Specifically, they went on a hunt against HYDRA, in search of a dangerous alien scepter recovered from New York, but were now in the hands of these criminals. After a chain of events, Tony Stark created Ultron – an artificial intelligence that went sentient and turned against the Avengers. This eventually led to a catastrophic battle in Sokovia, the latest event involving our heroes a year ago. Although many lives were saved after that because of the Avengers’ victory, the Battle of Sokovia probably became one of the main triggers to the conflicts in Captain America: Civil War.


5. The Story

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Before I end my discussion today about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would like to just bring us to an overview of the entire series so far. Because beyond what we’ve seen happening so far, there is a hidden, deeper overarching story.  If you have watched all the films in Phase One & Phase Two, you would realize that a lot of them are loosely connected by similar objects filled with incredible power. And from recent events, we can identify that the source of power within these objects are actually hidden gems called Infinity Stones. Let me take one of them – the Mind Stone as an example, just to talk about why these stones are labelled the most powerful objects in existence.

Chitauri_Scepter_HYDRA

The Mind Stone was found within the scepter that the Avengers recovered last year. And you know the things it can achieve. It allowed whoever that wielded the scepter to control the minds of people; it gave Wanda Maximoff her enhanced abilities and powers; it created the mind of Ultron but it also gave life and power to Vision. And all these are probably only some of the many feats that an Infinity Stone is capable of.

Vision_AoU
Notice the Mind Stone on Vision’s forehead

You must be wondering why we are talking about these Infinity Stones. The reason is because there a total of six Infinity Stones and so far, we’ve already found four of them. Why does that matter? Because I know that someone is looking for them – someone we still know almost nothing about. He is none other than Thanos, a cosmic figure apparently regarded as the most powerful being in the entire universe.

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If you’ve ever seen the mid-credits scene from The Avengers (that’s why you should always stay till the end), you would know that since the Battle of New York, Thanos has been the mysterious force pulling the strings in the background, directly and indirectly causing many of the events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, it was his army that invaded Earth in 2012 even though on the surface, it looked like it was Thor’s evil brother Loki leading the charge. His goal in doing things like that is to obtain all six Infinity Stones for his own desires. And when (not if) that happens, the entire universe will be in trouble because he will be unstoppable. Do you now see how the entire MCU has been leading us towards its climax in Phase 3 – Infinity War? And just saying, Thanos has become impatient and has planned to retrieve the Stones personally. Great danger awaits.

So as you can see, in a sense, Thanos was the one who has inadvertently caused the formation of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. And though we have yet to see much of him, he is a looming threat that have caused and will continue to cause much opposition for our heroes. But for now, we got to first deal with what’s currently happening on Earth.

Captain America: Civil War kicks off Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will show us some repercussions of things that have happened previously in Phase One & Two. And though our heroes were involved previously in disastrous events and will be blamed, I place all the fault on Thanos. It’s only because of his lust for power that all these bad things could happen. Unfortunately, no one in the MCU knows that yet.

And that is all I have for you now. Hopefully I have helped you have a better idea of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prepared you for Phase Three and also excited you for Captain America: Civil War! Personally, I can’t wait to find out what Black Panther is all about and how Spider-Man is now going to fit into the entire universe. Last tip; and I can’t stress this enough guys – always stay till the end of any MCU film, after EVERY single credit has rolled. Have a great time in the cinema. 😉

The Movies of Q2 2016

Happy April Fools’ Day everyone! Hope you liked my little “gift” for all of you this morning. Haha! 😆 Time passes real quickly, doesn’t it? This week marks the end of an awesome first quarter for the year, but it also kicks off its second quarter. And by the looks of it, we have even more movies to look forward to from April to June. Here are the movies on my watch list for Q2 2016.

1. The Jungle Book

A live-action adaptation of the classic Disney animated film that simply looks beautiful. Honestly, I have never really read The Jungle Book story or watched any of its previous films, but I just feel good about this one. With Iron Man director Jon Favreau at its helm, a familiar cast and stunning visuals, this is one film I am sure will positively kick start the second quarter of the year in cinema.

2. Captain America: Civil War

One of, if not my most anticipated films of the year. In fact, I think this might become my favorite film of 2016. I mean if you know me, you would know that I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So it is no surprise that I’m going to be found at my local IMAX theater on opening night for this movie. Seriously, we’re talking about Phase 3 of the MCU, a conflict within the Avengers and Spider-Man reintroduced. Aren’t you excited?

3. The Angry Birds Movie

When you think about the iPhone, you’ll think about the iPhone games. When you think about the iPhone games, you’ll think about the popular classic ones. When you think about the popular classic ones, you’ll think about Fruit Ninja, Temple Run and of course Angry Birds. With a simple core mechanic and a variety of content, Angry Birds has become the iconic iOS game. But now, it’s also becoming a movie. Time to find out why these birds are always angry.

4. X-Men: Apocalypse

One of the most memorable superhero films I’ve watched in recent years is X-Men: Days of Future Past. It exceeded my expectations and blew my mind at some points. So it is no wonder why its follow-up – Apocalypse would be in my watch list now. With all the alterations to the X-Men timeline, new characters and a very threatening villain, I am extremely curious what kind of future this film will define for the X-Men film series.

5. Me Before You

Hey, I’m not all about superheroes, science fiction and adventure. I have a heart for romance too alright. Not all the time, but yeah! Hahaha anyway, this film has caught my attention ever since I saw its trailer. Firstly, it apparently opens on my birthday. Secondly, it looks to be the kind of film that you’ll (gladly) shed tears for. Why? I don’t know, let’s go watch it together.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows

You know what this film is? Childhood coming back for you. AGAIN. And when childhood beckons, how can you not answer? Especially not when there is your favorite turtles, explosions and Oliver Queen in one film! Oops, I mean Casey Jones. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see a sequel to Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But here it is! If you enjoyed the previous one, then this is a must-watch for you.

7. Now You See Me 2

I actually have a very vague memory of the first Now You See Me film. But what I do remember is that it was pretty cool and I enjoyed it. This time, it seems that the characters are back with an even bigger setup that will surely blow the audience’s minds. What’s more, we have Harry Potter in the mix. I’m sure this film will be MAGICAL. *ding*

8. Warcraft: The Beginning

If you are a gamer or have been a gamer like me at any point of your life, you would definitely know Warcraft. I dare say it is one of the most successful & critically acclaimed video game franchises of all time. From their first real-time strategy game to their latest expansion to the popular World of Warcraft, a rich lore has been established for this fictional universe. And now, fans & general audiences alike can finally experience its story in the best way possible – on the big screen.

9. Finding Dory

Here’s another call from childhood. And an even harder one to ignore I must say. Everyone knows Finding Nemo. It is such an iconic film that is so deeply etched in many of our minds as one of the best animated films of our childhood. So that is why when a sequel is announced more than a decade later, the inner child on the inside of us just wakes up & freaks out. Here’s some perspective. If you were 8 years-old when Finding Nemo first came out, you’d be 21 now. Time to be childlike again!

10. Central Intelligence

I have not watched a true-blue comedy film for some time now, so when I saw the trailer for this film and laughed out loud, I got excited. It looks so ridiculously funny. And not to mention, we have one of the most interesting combinations here! Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is such a beloved pair and you can already see their chemistry and kind of humor that will potentially make this film a hit. Top it off with some action; why not?

11. Independence Day: Resurgence

Lastly, here comes another sequel to a film after a long time. But this time, it’s not just 13 years. It’s 20. Yes you heard me right, I am as old as the first Independence Day. The follow-up to the popular science fiction thriller brings Man of Steel scales of destruction and Star Wars-like space battles back to our modern world. Aliens invading my country Singapore? Just take my money!

And that’s it for my watch list from now till the end of June! See you around when Q3 hits. Thank you for reading.

5 Burning Questions about One Punch Man

Warning: Spoilers ahead for the entire season of One Punch Man (anime).

Just last week, I finally found time to finish watching the remaining episodes of the first season of One Punch Man. And personally for me, I really enjoyed it. It is rare that you can find stories that are both epic and ridiculously funny at the same time, and One Punch Man has seriously been the perfect combination of both. Even though I wished the season lasted a little longer, I was happy with how it ended. But right after, I also had a few questions that I am looking forward to finding the answers for, hopefully in the next season.

1) Does Saitama have a family?

alone

We all know very vaguely about Saitama’s origins. Of course, I don’t mean his origins as a hero. Because like he always says, he started out doing it as a hobby for fun. What I meant was his origins as a person. At the start of the series, we’ve always seen Saitama living alone in his apartment until Genos moved in to be his disciple. He didn’t seem to have any friends or family. We don’t know how he ended up living there, who his parents are, and if he had any relatives. It will be nice to get some answers for that.

2) What is the REAL source of Saitama’s powers?

power

Up till today, I still do not believe that 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats and a 10KM run every single day is enough to give one man powers of that scale. I mean seriously, to be able to defeat a cosmic being like Lord Boros with little effort and then emerging unscathed… there’s got to be something else that gave Saitama his powers that he isn’t telling anyone about. Hopefully, we will get our answers in the second season.

3) Is Metal Knight who we think he is?

If you remember, at the beginning of the season, we met Genos and heard about his dramatic backstory for the very first time. Before Genos became a cyborg, he was actually living a pretty peaceful life with his family until one day, a deranged cyborg destroyed his entire town, killing his family at the same time. After his rebirth as a cyborg himself, Genos swore to hunt down that evil robot who destroyed his life. Fast forward to the last episode of One Punch Man, we have all the S Class heroes, Saitama and a few others resisting Lord Boros’ invasion. Well, that is, other than Blast and Metal Knight who never showed up during the course of the battle. As the victorious battle against the alien invaders were coming to an end, one of the S class heroes named Drive Knight warns Genos about Metal Knight, claiming that he is his “enemy”.

drive-knight

Seeing that Metal Knight is also a cyborg, and doesn’t show up until the final battle ends, there is reason to doubt his character as a hero. In fact, this isn’t even the first time he shows up and ends up not helping at all. This time, he only appears after the major battle to pick up its remains and build more powerful weapons “for the sake of peace”. Maybe there is some sort of conspiracy going on and Metal Knight turns out to be the cyborg who Genos has always been looking for. Who knows?

4) Does Saitama have a weakness?

weakness

So far, we know that Saitama is virtually indestructible. I mean just watch the show, you’ll know what I mean. He survives anything and everything. Like I said, the most he got out of fighting Lord Boros was dirt on his face. But I don’t know if you actually noticed this: during the course of his fight with Boros, Saitama ended up on the moon. And as he was up there, he couldn’t breath. For a moment there, it looked like he was struggling for air, just like any normal human being would. Could this be the only weakness the One Punch Man has –  the need for oxygen? If it is, then we could potentially see enemies taking advantage of this knowledge against our hero!

5) Who is Blast and where was he?

blast

As you all would know, all the heroes in One Punch Man have classes and ranks. Ever wondered who is number 1 among them all? Well, unfortunately we didn’t get to see him yet. We just know his name is Blast and he was absent at the heroes meeting before the final battle and during the fight. What are his powers? How does he look like? Where was he this whole time? Maybe we will find out in season 2.

BONUS: When is the second season going to be confirmed?

LOL. This is probably the most important question. Even though I have mentioned “season 2” multiple times throughout this short post, the fact is it is still in the process of becoming a reality. I guess we can just live first on the original video animations that are going to be released over the next few months. Then hopefully, we will get a confirmation soon and can follow Saitama on his epic adventures again.

p.s. No, I do not follow the manga. Sorry about that. 😆