A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…again

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday Disney dropped an atomic bomb right on the heads of the nerd community when they announced their purchase of Lucas Films and their plans to produce Star Wars Ep. VII. That’s right, you read correctly. Disney is making a new Star Wars movie, scheduled for release in 2015.

While no information on the film itself has been released, Disney execs claim that the film is ALREADY in early production stages.

Hordes of Fan Boys and Girls around the globe are speaking out against the a new addition to the 30 year old legendary saga. Some complain about the fact that making an addition to such a classic film is almost Taboo, while others believe that a mega-conglomorate like Disney will fail to give Star Wars the authentic care and attention that is required for such a pivotal new sequel. I myself am on the fence about this new movie. Even though I am a die hard star wars fan who believes that the series is perfect the way it is, I can’t help but be curious of what Disney can bring to the table.

Let me make one thing clear to those who don’t know (though judging by my audience, I doubt there are many), while the name Disney is associated with legendary children’s movies, the company is by no means limited to that tone of film. In recent years Disney has purchased several companies such as Marvel and Pixar, and as such, they have professionals who have created some of the most gripping recent hits (the Avengers, Iron Man etc). With a powerful company like Disney at the head of a potential billion dollar movie, it is a safe bet to say that the company will not be frugal in their use of resources at their disposal. As a result, if there was a company to give a Star Wars sequel its due diligence, I believe it would be Disney.

Now that the company aspect of this article is out of the way, I would like to touch upon what I am most curious to see. Story. We have seen the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s rise to power, fall to darkness, and ascension to redemption; we have seen the story of Luke Skywalker ending the reign of the Galactic Empire’s tyranny; we have seen the death and rebirth of the jedi order (at least in it’s initial stages). What are we going to see next? With such an expansive EU section, covered in books, comics and video games, the possibilities are nearly endless.

In a discussion with fellow nerd friend and co-author of the site, we came upon a theory of what the next segment of the Star Wars  saga will be. The Yuuzhan Vong War.

Now, some of you fellow Star Wars fans may be shaking your heads. Why would they skip such a crucial era, the birth of the New Republic and the New Jedi Order. Surely they will show Luke going back to Yavin IV to start the Jedi Praxeum. Well, while that is indeed an important chapter of the Star Wars saga, it would mean the recasting of legendary figures, Luke, Leia, and Han. Perhaps Disney would think of this as a wise choice, but I am sure the fans will agree that recasting will lead to nothing but disaster.  That issue would not arise with the Yuuzhan Vong war.

There is about 20 years between the end of Return of the Jedi and the Yuuzhan Vong invasion (25 ABY [After Battle of Yavin]). However, there was nearly the same amount of time between the end of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (The Empire was formed in 19BBY [Before Battle of Yavin]). Because of this, the roles of Luke, Leia and Han will not have to be recast and while the actors are a little older than their character counter parts, Hollywood make up can hide it. Star Wars is clearly no stranger to time skips, and I believe that with the two gaps being nearly equal, it would provide for a more consistent flow between the trilogies (prequels-originals-sequels).

Along with that, the reconstruction of the Republic and Jedi order fails to convey the same sense of impending conflict as the YV war. Sure, there was the whole Dark Empire crisis with Palpatine’s clones but comparing that to the great YV war that brought the galaxy to the brink of Destruction makes Palpatine look like a Storm Trooper standing next to Death Star. It’s nothing.

So maybe the timing is perfect, but why should the Yuuzhan Vong be the enemy? What makes them so special? Well, if you haven’t read the book series revolving around the wars I suggest you hop to it. Seriously, it is one of the most gripping wars in the history of Star Wars. While the jedi and sith have been going head to head for thousands of years, they did not wreak nearly as much destruction as the Yuuzhan Vong did in their 4 year campaign across the galaxy. This war would successfully convey the intense conflict that we are familiar with in the previous films, and amplify it, as all of the beings in the galaxy (Jedi, Sith, Mando and Wookie) are forced to unite against this grave threat. During the wars we would see the introduction of new great characters, the death of old favorites, the revival of an anicent culture, and the war against the current one.

Master Skywalker vs the Vong

While I will not out right condemn Disney if they chose to cover a different portion of Star Wars history, I highly doubt they will make a movie that can be nearly as successful. One of my worst fears is a new Star Wars movie being nothing more than a sequel to the other films. We don’t need another sequel, we need a stand alone trilogy, one that does not alienate fans, but also brings in new elements to the story. The Great War of the Yuuzhan Vong can do that.

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Anyway, there’s my two-cents about the new Star Wars movie. If you think that there is a better era to cover, please leave your opinion in the comment section below. I hope you enjoyed this article, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TheNerdNexus.

Batman over the years: Kane to Noland

The Batman series has had its ups and downs through out the years. Because of this, I have decided to acknowledge how far the series has come since its creation from Bob Kane. Rather than telling the story of the Dark Knight of Gotham from start to finish, I have decided to just post a picture that I found on http://www.geektyrant.com. You’re welcome.

Click image to enlarge!

Which was your favorite era of Batman? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Hedge Fund – Super Rich Super Heroes in The Great Recession

Guest Written by Mark Gundle

In a global sense, the economy isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders. Massive debt, shrinking job markets, unfair tax brackets, and slow deaths of the middle class in several countries are all contributing to the continuing unrest and discomfort that are plaguing people across the globe. Four years after the US government announced its financial crisis that seemed to take the whole world with it, not much has changed for the common man. Progress, while being made, is being made at a snail’s pace. With all this weighing on the shoulders of those not taking home six-figure paychecks, it’s only natural to want to escape from the world for a bit, which could be part of the reason that summer flicks have been making record amounts of money. In particular, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises have broken records in record time.

Which brings us to the point of this little article today, children; in a struggling economy, what do we make of heroes whose superpower is basically an infinite money cheat?

The recent trend in comic book films has been to make the characters relatable to the audience. Granted, Marvel has been doing this for far longer a time than DC (since at least the early 1960s, when a young high-school student got bit by a radioactive spider), but DC has definitely tried to pick up on that trend in recent years, and doing so has been one of the reasons for the New 52 relaunch. Yes, this is the company that has the unreachable bastions of cardboard-personality perfection that are Superman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and the like, but give credit where it is due; at the time they were created, that’s what people wanted (a case could be made against Superman, though, as he was a MUCH less empowered being during his first run in the late 1930s). Relatable characters are a thing now. And as far as movies go – especially recently – they’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that. The Spider-Man movies have always had Peter Parker’s everyman lifestyle at the forefront in some way, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has examined Batman as being much more like any of us than practically any previous incarnation, and every movie leading up to The Avengers has had their eponymous characters have at least one very vulnerable, very human moment that everyone in the audience could connect to, and helps to build the all-important suspension of disbelief (no, seriously, it’s crucial).

But money? It’s a hit. Take the two most popular characters from the summer’s two most popular franchises. You know who I’m talking about. Don’t play that game.

Tony Stark. Iron Man. He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel, as his 60s theme song puts it, and nobody watching the films would really disagree. We look at Tony Stark and we see one of the common people; someone who would rather be at an AC/DC concert than the opera, and who would spend all day tinkering in his garage if given half a chance. So let’s take a look at his checking account, eh?

Assuming the infographic  is true, this is a guy who has enough personal wealth to trump some national GDPs put together. He’s constantly tinkering with the Iron Man, and such tinkering does not come cheap. He already has a top-of-the-line house, a whole fleet of luxury cars, and the production capital to build one of these suckers in his garage, and that’s BEFORE building the Mk. II prototype. For me, the suspension of disbelief isn’t broken by him having all this. The suspension of disbelief is broken when he continues to build the blasted things, each one an upgrade on the last.

Keep in mind that, prior to this, he sent his company into an economic nosedive by shutting down the weapons division it was famous for. As a board member, it’s likely that he was paid in stock rather than cash, so that would have severely curtailed his income. His stock crashes, and while it could be assumed that it eventually picked back up, we’re still dealing with a guy who is spending MASSIVE amounts of money on one-off suits of powered armor, with costs going from $80,000,000 for an unarmed steel prototype to a jaw-dropping HALF BILLION for the latest model (in fairness, though, War Machine wasn’t really his doing).

For all of his cool and all of his awesome, where the HELL is he getting this kind of money? With any luck, it’ll be explained, but holding out hope is foolish; this is a country where even presidential candidates don’t have to share their tax returns, right Mitt?

Anyway…

Bruce Wayne. Batman. He had an infographic himself for the Dark Knight iteration of the character, and while it’d be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper to get those wonderful toys, it’s still a heart-attack inducing nine figure sum we’re looking at. Not something your average schlub could scrape together working overtime, that’s for damn sure.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman, however, gets major points for actually addressing Wayne’s wealth in all three movies; he’s head of the company because he bought a majority shareholding, there’s a scene or two dedicated to business upkeep, and the most recent movie has him robbed of his billions and his company on the brink of failure (two seemingly-independent events, mind you). In the most basic sense; this incarnation of Bruce Wayne, while still stupidly rich, does NOT have a limitless bank account, and these movies work harder than any other work before them to prove that. Even using the stuff already on hand is a bit of a double-edged sword; yes, he wasn’t blowing away millions by his lonesome, but the stuff in his storage shed is STILL worth more than any of us will ever make ever. $10,000 for communications? $18,000,000 for a tank? $1,000 for a BULLETPROOF JOCK STRAP?

But hell, compared to other versions of the character, this Batman is SLUMMIN’ it. He didn’t really pay out of pocket for much of his equipment, and generally seems to be a much more bare-bones type of crime fighter. His car’s not as tricked out, his plane’s not as capable, his suit’s not as invincible, and his cave is still VERY much a cave instead of a secret high-tech hideout in comparison to other versions. And while Bruce himself had just about all of it in storage beforehand, his company still suffered. Funds channeled from R&D into a super-secret hedge fund, the CEO putting on the appearance of a careless tool, and using company money to supply an all-out assault on crime has left Wayne Enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy.

And in a world where even juggernauts like Freddie Mac get cast down from their gilded thrones, that’s probably the LEAST responsible thing to do.

But that’s not the point of this article, to debate business sense or to say that either Batman or Iron Man aren’t heroes. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t love them. The idea here is to ask why, given that it’s such a sensitive and yet such an important issue in today’s world, they can still be relatable. Did I answer my own question? Yes and no. Yes, it can make folks rather uncomfortable, and not making mention of the Stark / Wayne / McDuck money pool is probably a good idea from that angle. No, that doesn’t mean that by not addressing the no-limit credit cards means we’re just going to assume that these guys are just regular Joes who got lucky. Remember; many of us are scraping to get by, and rather than use the money to better the lives of people in the simple /obvious / risk of death-free way, they spend untold millions on miniature nuclear reactors and Sound-O-Vision to clean up the streets the hard way. As Alfred points out in The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce could have kept his company afloat by putting his Bat-toys on the civilian market. And while Obadiah Stane was an evil money-grabbing bastard, he did have a point in saying that the miniaturized Arc Reactor could save the company; that thing alone would have pulled up the company’s stock back to par and then some, even if used for the wrong reasons.

I found it funny that the most popular superheroes of 2012 are the ones that are closest to irrelevance, as far as the all-too-precious relatable factor is concerned. And while both companies do bang-up jobs at present their characters as ordinary human beings, they conveniently neglect to address how big a part the silver spoons they were born with played in their ability to transcend the ordinary and place them in the super pack.

The Geek had to be Released! (An Analysis on the Tesseract in Marvel’s Films)

Guest written by Mark Gundle

 

It’s okay, Marvel. We’re smart. We’ve pieced it together. And we know that there are a boatload of reasons (namely; timing, good storytelling, lack of space, leaving room for expansion, discussion among the fanbase that led exactly to this sort of thing being written, etc..) for not expanding on a plot point that has had several geek friends and I chomping at the bit since the double-whammy of Thor and Captain America when seen in the context of the Iron Man films. But at this point, it’s less a titillating plot point and is quickly becoming an elephant in the room; eventually, keeping it in the dark is going to be counter-productive.

Just outright say it in one of the next films so some of your more dedicated fans can finally have a good night’s sleep; the finished Arc Reactor and the Tesseract are the same blasted technology.

Now, why does this bug the crap out of some people? For some, it’s an issue akin to one a detective would face; all the evidence is there and the hypothesis is just begging to be proven, and we just have to know if we’re right or wrong. For some, it’s a matter of personal pride; what, does Marvel think the audience won’t get it, so they’re not telling us? And for others, it simply bugs them because at this point- now that the Avengers have assembled and the idea has its roots in at least two of the preceding films – they really might as well just out and say it, like it’s a playground super-secret that Boy X likes Girl Y but just can’t spit it out despite half of the jungle gym kids knowing already.

The discussions pertaining to the topic have been happening since movie-goers first started to piece it together, and from what this humble writer has started to gather, such speculation is starting to get a little old (even though it couldn’t possibly have been addressed yet, we know, we geeks are flawed creatures).

But some of you reading this probably haven’t the faintest idea what I’m smoking. As with any trial, let me present my evidence to you, the jury.

The second scene in Captain America had Hugo Weaving’s deliciously over-the-top Red Skull find the Tesseract, which he describes as being part of Odin’s treasure room (often considered to be where he kept the Infinity Gauntlet, the Destroyer, the Casket of Ancient Winters, and of course the mighty Mjolnir in Thor). For bonus nerd points, the place it’s kept was also used as the setting for a battle between Frost Giants and Asgardians in Thor’s prologue, but that’s for another day.

No, we’re introduced to a blue, glowing thing that holds the untapped potential for unlimited power. The Tesseract was used to develop new weaponry, which was itself used to great effect; imagine playing Halo or Call of Duty with a pistol that shot through walls, shot in a straight line, had no real need to reload, and turned every enemy you’ve faced thus far into blue goo / ash, and that’s more or less what we’re dealing with. One can imagine what fun a megalomaniac like the Red Skull would have with such toys in his chest.

Right off the bat, we get two movies that provide an explanation for what the Tesseract is; a treasure of Asgard that somehow found its way into human custody and protection, glows with an obnoxious blue light, and has enormous civilian and military application.

So that’s the Tesseract. What about the first piece of awesome that the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced us to? Built in a cave (yes, yes, with a box of scraps, we know it’s funny) to replace a car battery, the Arc Reactor’s humble beginning skyrocketed to being the battery equivalent of a rock star when it was used to power Tony Stark’s Iron Man weapon / tool / hi-tech prosthesis. Using palladium in some fashion, it’s noted that the Arc Reactor supplies clean energy – and a lot of it, let’s face it, three gigajoules per second on the first attempt can’t be wrong – but isn’t particularly cost-effective. So, we have a blue glowing thing that has enormous civilian and military potential (hence Obadiah Stane’s willingness to just pluck the damn thing out of Tony’s chest).

But here’s where the plot thickens, children.

As Nick Fury tells Tony in one of Iron Man 2’s quieter scenes, the Arc Reactor was unfinished and that, when it finally was completed, it would be the be-all end-all of energy. His father, Howard Stark, had originated the idea and also served in WWII alongside Captain America himself (if strictly in a technological capacity). After the good Captain liberates a camp and acquires a sample of the enemy’s tech – itself based on the Tesseract guns that Skull’s been making – he has Howard experiment with it. And towards the film’s end, Howard recovers the Tesseract after it fell from the site of Cap and Skull’s final brawl.

Leading American genius recovers an obnoxious blue glowing power source and develops an obnoxious blue glowing power source. Hmmm…

Now, as Iron Man 2 goes on to say, Howard died before he could perfect the Arc Reactor, though he left a clue behind for his son to complete it (for the truly nerdy among us, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot shows a drawing of a hypercube in Howard’s notes, Google it for a rather telling synonym). Tony being Tony, he does so, and assuming we didn’t remember that tidbit about the completed Arc Reactor being significantly more powerful, we have the lovely Black Widow’s analysis that Iron Man’s repulsor output reads significantly higher. What’s more, this seems to completely cure his palladium poisoning, which should be impossible even with Tony’s genius; remember that this is a guy who – by his own admission – has tried literally everything else.

Obnoxious blue power source seems to inspire a knock-off obnoxious blue power source which in turn is perfected into the original obnoxious blue power source. As the still-fanon theory goes, Tony Stark, using clues from his father, successfully recreated the Tesseract.

And that has some of the more ardent geeks in an absolute uproar over its lack of acknowledgement.

Now, before this ends, I should say that there are two clinchers to the theory that all but confirm it, which certainly doesn’t help the case. For one, watch the breakout scene from Captain America again, where everybody’s running amok and the big damn factory’s being blown up. Some of the Allied troops start fiddling with one of the Hydra guns in the middle of the battlefield, and it makes an odd noise before firing its blue ray of destruction. Watch it. Listen to it. Sound familiar? It should; you’ve had two movies to listen to it. That sound is the exact same noise made by Iron Man’s repulsor blasts just before they fire.

Tesseract-based weaponry making the exact same sounds as Arc Reactor- based weaponry? The House of Ardent Geeks agree; there’s no way that’s a coincidence. The other allusion to the connection between the two technologies comes in The Avengers; during the typical misunderstanding fight between Thor and Tony, Thor opts to summon up the lightning and uses it to try and fry the Iron Man suit. It backfires; JARVIS helpfully states that the attack not only did nothing to damage the suit, it actually ramped up the Arc Reactor to four times its capacity. Not something that one typically thinks when the weapon of one world discharges itself onto the weapon of another. Hell, that scene alone probably could have made the argument itself.

Yes, it’s all there. Yes, we’ve pieced it together. Yes, it’s an incredibly clever piece of world-building. But it’s okay, Marvel, you can tell us now.

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I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates.

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Review

Written by Mark Gundle (Guest Writer)

It’s a rare thing to see the “threequel” perform as well as its two predecessors. Spider-Man 3, JurrasicPark III, Superman III, and many others have brought ruin to their franchises. Fortunately, such a trend has been bucked in recent memory, a notable example being Toy Story 3, and another notable example being the third Lord of the Rings film (11 Oscar nominations can’t be wrong, folks). Much of this comes from trying to outdo the second film in the series. So what, then, could one expect going into The Dark Knight Rises, knowing what a truck-flipping juggernaut The Dark Knight turned out to be? As it turns out, going in expecting it to be as good or better wasn’t too far off the mark.

Taking place eight years after The Dark Knight, the film sees Batman’s return to action as a masked terrorist called Bane emerges to destroy the city, implied to be the first since the conspicuously-absent-from-mention Joker. Knowing the police are in way over their head, the reclusive billionaire takes up the cape and cowl one more time to save the city. Complicating his quest for justice are the sultry Catwoman, and the mysterious corporate mastermind Miranda Tate, who has big plans for a joint venture with Wayne Enterprises.

The story, while somewhat predictable to those familiar with Batman canon (most specifically the No Man’s Land, Knightfall, and of course The Dark Knight Returns story arcs), does introduce a few new elements that had more than a few hardened Bat-Fans guessing and occasionally voicing their disbelief right in the theatre. It chugs along at a decent pace, pays great respect to both the source material and the series’ established history, and has (vague spoiler ahead) the single most satisfying conclusion to a trilogy this writer has EVER seen.

And as with any good movie, the story’s only as good as the characters that are caught up in them. Christian Bale turns in another great performance as the raspy-voiced Batman, though this time I found his performances as Bruce Wayne to be far more engrossing and engaging than the ass-kickery that was the Caped Crusader. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman all return to their roles with equal drive, and they’re all every bit as fun and heartstring-tugging as they were in the last two nstallments. Tom Hardy does his best with a mask that leaves only his eyebrows, eyes, and body to perform and enunciate for him, and I personally found it a good bit of work, despite the naysayers. But special mention has to go to Anne Hathaway, who not only transcended everything I’ve seen her in, but has done the previously-impossible and trumped her predecessor Michelle Pfeifer as the defining image of Catwoman.

Further, Christopher Nolan’s stated preference to practical effects over CGI helps add to the realism of the film and further engages the audience, and it’s a choice that has worked well over the series and doesn’t disappoint here. They got the Bat (Batman’s latest wonderful toy) to actually fly, they got buildings to actually explode, and it all helps further the world-building that the cast and crew create. Sure, they could’ve used a computer. Sure, they could’ve done it all in a computer lab. And while none of it quite lives up to the Holy Shit Quotient provided by flipping over a semi-truck, they do plenty to bring the poor, unsuspecting viewers along for the ride.

One thing I could complain about, however, was the score. Hans Zimmer is a genius, make no mistake, and I’ve never heard a score of his I didn’t absolutely love. But as has been said before, music is supposed to complement a film, not overwhelm it. Not every moment needs a blaring band to back it up, nor does it need to be an especially complicated piece; the music in Batman Begins was an odd mix of subtle and explosive, The Dark Knight’s score nailed the formula set by its predecessor, but this latest installment feels like it’s constantly hammering you with EMOTION! GRAVITAS! FEEL THE NOIZE!!

All told, the final installment is worthy of the Dark Knight name, and more than worth the price of admission. Don’t wait for the DVD. Don’t go and Redbox it. Go and see Batman’s final fight as it was meant to be seen.

But if you’re reading this review, odds are you weren’t going to wait anyway.

FINAL VERDICT: 4.9/5

Walking Dead Season 3 Preview Weekend!

The Walking Dead, an AMC hit series based upon a graphic novel, has brought the horror of a blockbuster zombie films to television and does it over and over every week! Telling the story of sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who wakes from a coma to find the civilization destroyed, and the world over run by decomposing corpses that move and feast on the living. We follow Rick as he seeks out his family and safety from what may very well be the end of the human race. With two seasons under its belt, the show is priming for a third season which is said to be even more heart pounding than its predecessors.

Season 2 of Walking Dead ended on such an intense note, that it left viewers crying in outrage as they were forced to wait until Season 3 to see the fate of what was left of the team that we met in Season 1. Well, cry no longer my friends, as AMC has announced that on this weekend (July 7th and 8th) they will be hosting a special Preview Weekend to help placate the fans.

This weekend will include a 19 episode marathon of the hit series, showing from beginning to end of the road which we have walked on so far. Each episode will be introduced by Chris Hardwick from the Season 3 set in Atlanta. Following the marathon, an original episode of ‘Talking Dead’ hosted by Hardwick, which will air once and only once. In this Talking Dead Hardwick will show a scene from Season 3, as well as new interviews with members of cast and production. After the Talking Dead, AMC will place the cherry on top by showing a never before seen black-and-white Walking Dead pilot episode, which will follow the original story of to the comic series which inspired the show.

While this is not the type of preview week I would like (personally, I think the name is a tad bit misleading), it will probably keep me comfortable until Season 3 starts in October. The team decided to release this preview a week before ComicCon. Will this weekend help gain the show even more popularity, or alienate more fans of the comic? There is only one way to find out. Barricade your living room, turn on your TV and get comfy for this Zomb-tastic weekend.

Below is a preview for Season 3, with interviews from various cast members. Beware, there are spoilers that hint at the events of Season 2, so if you have yet to finish up, don’t watch this video.

Check out the original article from AMC’s blog Here.

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I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates.