Tag Archives: Negan

Greatest Comic Book Villain Portrayals – Part 4

Welcome back to the countdown of the best portrayals of comic book villains. Ready to crack the top 10? Before we get to today’s entries, lets take a quick look at who we’ve covered so far.

25. The Penguin – Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham)
24. The Joker – Cesar Romero (Batman – TV Series)
23. Deacon Frost – Stephen Dorff (Blade)
22. Saint of Killers – Graham McTavish (Preacher)
21. Doctor Octopus – Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
20. Vulture – Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
19. Deathstroke – Manu Bennett (Arrow)
18. Green Goblin – Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)
17. The Governor – David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)
16. Catwoman – Julie Newmar (Batman – TV Series)
15. Hela – Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok)
14. Captain Cold – Wentworth Miller (The Flash)
13. The Joker – Jack Nicholson (Batman)
12. Helmut Zemo – Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War)
11. Magneto – Ian McKellen (X-Men)

On to today’s installment…

10. Cottonmouth – Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage)

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Oozing with charisma, and far more nuanced than the typical MCU villain, Mahershala Ali’s take on Cornell Stokes (a.k.a. Cottonmouth) was superb. While I do love Mike Colter’s take on Luke Cage, I actually found Cottonmouth to be far more interesting than the titular hero. So compelling and engaging was his character, that his death halfway through the first season, throws the entire show out of whack leading to a disappointing back half. Showing him being forced into the life of organized crime despite his wishes to avoid it, yet fully embracing it once he’s in, he did a fantastic job making Cottonmouth come across as both vicious and slightly sympathetic.

9. Bane – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises)

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I know some dislike the voice Tom Hardy chose to use for Bane, but I personally thought it gave the character a memorability and helped in making his incredible dialogue standout even more. And make no mistake, his dialogue is just that: incredible. He easily has some of the best material in the entire series. Including the “darkness” monologue, which sums up a villains backstory better in just a few sentences than some get with entire scenes dedicated to it. Being the first of three villains from The Dark Knight trilogy being in the top 10, it speaks to just how amazingly well Christopher Nolan did in creating great villains.

8. Ra’s al Ghul – Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)

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Number 2 in The Dark Knight trilogy big bads. The shock of learning that Liam Neeson’s character, originally claiming to be Henri Ducard (the man that helped train Bruce Wayne in the comics), was in fact the real Ra’s al Ghul, was a truly wonderful plot twist. While Bane may have had better dialogue, and the Joker got more focus, I really believe that there was more charisma in the interactions between Christian Bale’s Batman and Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul than any other villain in the franchise. With the connections to him in the events of The Dark Knight Rises, he in many ways was actually the primary villain of the trilogy.

7. Erik Killmonger – Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

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Easily one of the most complex villains in a comic book property. While his actions and his ultimate goal are evil, due to the life he was forced to live due to the horrible mistakes of his father and uncle, it’s understandable why ended up with such a distorted worldview. That’s something that is rarely seen in comic book movies or television series: a full understanding of why the villain believes what he does. Typically the villain’s reasons for evil-doing and their motivations are simple, shallow, and one-dimensional. None of those could be used to describe anything about Killmonger. His death scene is one of the most truly heartbreaking moments in the MCU.

6. Negan – Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)

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Over-the-top and in love with the sound of his own voice, yet charismatic and entirely engaging, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance as Negan is a spot-on portrayal of its comic book counterpart. Even though the quality of the series as a whole has been in a bit of a downward spiral the last few seasons, it is in no way due to the show’s villain during that time. Negan has been one of the few bright spots and compelling things going on for a while. I can remember thinking that his casting seemed a bit out of left field as he hadn’t even been rumored to have been a choice, and was only cautiously optimistic about his potential…but man, was I wrong. Now, I can’t imagine anyone but him playing the part. It’s almost like he was made to play it.

Sadly, I have not been able to pump this list out as fast as I had hoped, but I’m still aiming to get it done tomorrow. Hope to see you then, when I finish off the countdown with the Top 5!

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What Does The Walking Dead Do Now?

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With the bomb that was dropped on the world of The Walking Dead in the form of the announcement of Andrew Lincoln’s departure from the series at some point next season, it is truly the end of an era for the zombie apocalypse drama. Lincoln’s portrayal of Rick Grimes has been the driving force of the show from the pilot’s opening scene until now. It’s all been about Rick, his choices, and how they effect the others in his group and those that oppose them. So what does the one-time ratings giant do now that it’s losing its star? Who can step into that lead role?

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This is actually a situation that has been building for quite some time in the comics on which the show is based. Rick’s son Carl has been just as much a focal point as his father in story arcs over the last several years. The series’ creator, Robert Kirkman, has implied on more than one occasion that Rick is going to die in the relatively near future, and that Carl will take over as the lead character. It makes perfect sense. And it would have made perfect sense for the show as well…but unfortunately, Scott Gimple idiotically (and I’d say rather shadily) fired Chandler Riggs from the show last season. Carl is already dead. So the character that is literally a product of that world, who has been raised in it, lived a good portion of it without the safety of walls, had to fight to survive, and has killed both people and walkers alike to do so, is not an option. Which is a shame as even Negan commented last season after discovering that Carl had outwitted him in the bombing of Alexandria, that Carl was “made for this shit”. And he really was.

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But I digress. I could write an entire article on how stupid the decision to kill off Carl was….but I won’t, and that’s not what this article is about. Another strong choice would have been Maggie, played exceptionally by the lovely Lauren Cohan. Sadly, she is only signed up for 6 episodes this season, and has accepted a role on a new show on ABC, meaning Season 9 will almost assuredly be her last. This is even more notable in that with Carl gone, and now Rick and Maggie following shortly behind, that three major characters that are still alive in the comic are now going to be dead on the show.

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So with Carl and Maggie sadly out of the picture, who is really a prominent enough character and actor to take over? Daryl would have been a decent choice a few seasons ago, but his character has devolved down to a shell of his former badass self, speaking mostly in grunts, living in a constant state of anger, and continually making stupid decisions that cause horrible outcomes. Maybe Carol? While I know she has a large fan following, I’m personally not one, but even looking at her objectively, I just don’t see enough in her character to be a lead. Same with Michonne and Ezekiel. Love them both, but they’re just not big enough personalities to take over that role.

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The only character I really see with that kind of personality and is played by a large enough star to build the show around is Negan. But how crazy would that be? That the man that murdered fan favorites Glenn and Abraham, scarred Dwight’s face, ordered the attack that killed most of the people from the Kingdom and Hilltop, and bombed Alexandria could take over as the lead of the series. I would think that would have to be the biggest character turn in television history. To go from the primary antagonist for 2+ seasons, and being the baddest of the big bads in the series, to the lead protagonist. But in all honesty, I don’t know how they could go with anyone but him. If nothing else, should they choose to go that route, it would certainly make seeing his progression over Season 9 particularly interesting.

25 Greatest Comic Character Portrayals (First Revision)

It’s been a couple of years since I made the first edition of this list. With the plethora of new comic films that have been released since then, several of which have introduced us to new characters or at least new takes on established ones, I figured it was time to dust off the old list and give her a revision. As before, I looked at a combination of performances that stayed true to the comic counterpart and just plain old great acting to create a compelling character. Some of them lean more towards one side of the equation, but I feel like all of them touch on at least a little of both. Some portrayals have risen in the ranks, some have fallen, and several fell off all together. Also like before, with several of these characters having been played by multiple people, I list the actor and what movie(s)/television show the portrayal is in.

Portrayals that fell off from the previous list:
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) – Road to Perdition, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) – The Amazing Spider-Man, Marv (Mickey Rourke) – Sin City, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) – X-Men, Superman (Christopher Reeves) – Superman, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) – Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) – The Dark Knight trilogy

25. The Flash (Grant Gustin) – The Flash

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24. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) – Black Panther

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23. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) The Walking Dead

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22. X-23 (Dafne Keen) – Logan

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21. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – The Walking Dead

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20. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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19. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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18. Kilgrave (David Tennant) – Jessica Jones

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17. V (Hugo Weaving) – V for Vendetta

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16. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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15. The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – Watchmen

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14. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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13. Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) – Watchmen

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12. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – X-Men

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11. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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10. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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9. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) – Deadpool

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8. Thanos (Josh Brolin) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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7. Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) – Daredevil (TV series)

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6. Daredevil (Charlie Cox) – Daredevil (TV series)

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5. Batman (Christian Bale) – The Dark Knight trilogy

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4. Captain America (Chris Evans) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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3. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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2. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) – Spider-Man

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1. The Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight

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So what do you think? Who’s too low? Who’s too high? Who got left off that shouldn’t have been? Let me know in the comments.

Spoilerific Review of Season 7 Premiere of The Walking Dead

 

landscape-1476100221-rick-negan-walking-dead-season-7After 6 months of speculation about who new The Walking Dead big bad Negan had chosen to kill after the creepiest game of “eeny meeny miney mo” ever, we finally got our answer Sunday night. Following a significant backlash from fans upset by the fact that Season 6 ended with no closure on who Negan’s victim was, producers promised that the fans’ patience would be rewarded with the premiere. Now that the show is back, can we really say that it was worth the wait?

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW! If you have not seen the episode yet and don’t want to know what happened, now is the time to turn back.

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You’ve been warned.

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I’m not kidding.

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Seeing as how that victim turned out to be Abraham (a character already dead in the comics by this point), and a second victim, Glenn (thanks to Daryl lashing out for Negan taunting Rosita with the bloody Lucille), was the character that got the business end of the bat in the original story, it would be easy to say “No, it wasn’t worth the wait.” But I would disagree. As I’ve written before, I felt like Glenn NEEDED to die here. It couldn’t just be someone that was expendable like Aaron or Sasha, or even fan favorite Daryl. It HAD to be Glenn. So I’m not upset with him being one of the 2 that met their bloody end Sunday night, nor do I feel like it was lazy on the writers’ part as I’ve seen some suggest.

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With Abraham also falling to Negan, it did give the story on the show a twist that fans of the comic wouldn’t see coming. I’m sure the writers also felt like this would give even more gravity to the episode. But, knowing what I know about how the story progresses from here and how it affects those left alive going forward, I can’t help but feel that having more than Glenn die here kind of cheapened the moment. You couldn’t really finish processing or mourning Abraham’s death before you’ve been shocked further by seeing Glenn get very brutally and graphically beaten to death as well. But it’s not something that bothered me so much that I was unhappy with the final product.

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We also got to see Rick finally reach his breaking point when after repeatedly failing to convince Negan that he was in fact “his”, Negan forces Rick to choose between cutting Carl’s arm off with his own hatchet or watch everyone die. A sobbing Rick picks up the hatchet only to have Negan stop him at the last second, knowing that Rick is completely broken and subservient to his will. Man was it uncomfortable to watch. Rick Grimes is the baddest of badasses. He is the one for 6 seasons that we’ve seen give out orders and kill those that he deemed a threat to his people with little to no accountability. Now he’s the one groveling on his knees to someone else. I’ve read from some fans that this was so upsetting to watch that they claimed if it stayed like this for very long, they’d quit watching the show. *Insert eye roll*

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First off, fans threaten to quit watching the show all the time for really dumb reasons…and yet they continue to watch. Second, let the story play out before you start going to that point. Let’s not be so quickly reactionary. Third, the writers are painting the picture that Negan is a legitimate threat. They need you to see that Rick and his band of survivors are vulnerable and outmanned. They need you to believe that our group may not be able to win. That’s good writing and villain development.

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It looks like next week is going to be solely about Morgan and Carol being brought into The Kingdom. We’ll hopefully be introduced to the leader of The Kingdom, King Ezekiel and his pet tiger (yes you read that right) Shiva. I. Can’t. Wait.

Who Negan Killed. And Why It Has to Be Glenn.

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“You can breathe. You can blink. You can cry. Hell, you’re all gonna be doin’ that.” With those words season 6 of The Walking Dead came to a violent close. Seeing the bat come down from the unfortunate soul’s point of view was a decision that intrigued some (like me) but infuriated most. But regardless, it had us all talking. We’re still two months away from finding who got the business end of Lucille, and the speculation is running wild about who Negan’s victim was.

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As fans of  AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama are known to be rather passionate, everyone seems to have an opinion as to who it was. I’ve heard from some disgruntled fans that feel like it was some minor character like Aaron (sorry Ross Marquand, I love your work, but Aaron could disappear from the show and I don’t think most people would notice). Others believe it will be fan favorite Daryl or our favorite wordsmith Abraham. I’ve also heard from some that think it’s sickly mother-to-be Maggie. But there are others, like myself, that believe it’s Glenn. I would go as far as to say that I would all but guarantee that it’s Glenn.

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Why the certainty? Several reasons.

The easiest and most obvious answer: he’s the one that dies here in the comics. Yes, I know that Scott Gimple and company play pretty loose with the story from the comic books on a regular basis. However, from the end of season 5 throughout season 6, the stories have lined up very closely. Pete’s demise, the herd breaking through the walls at Alexandria, Carl losing his eye, and Jessie’s death are all events straight from the comic with very little deviation. Of course that means nothing when it comes to this situation, at least on its own.

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When you pair that with the reprecussions of Glenn’s death in the comics, it really seals that is needs to be him. This is a moment in the comic that launches the story forward. Everyone is affected. Glenn getting bludgeoned to death wasn’t just for shock value (though there was plenty of it). It was a milestone in the series. It fed so many other threads…created so many plot lines…changed so many relationships. Not to mention it established Negan as THE big bad.

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Think about it from the show’s perspective. If Glenn dies, Rick has lost his oldest friend in the apocalypse, and the man that helped reunite him with his wife and son. Maggie loses her husband and the father of her unborn child. Also how will Maggie’s relationship with Rick change knowing that is was his hubris that led them to this point? Also will she blame herself for negotiating the deal with Gregory to take out the Saviors? Daryl loses a close friend, and some one that helped him overcome his own prejudices. Abraham would see up close what can happen in an instant in that world to someone you care about…after just starting to consider wanting to start a family with Sasha. Would he want to leave her in the same situation that Maggie would be in? The group as a whole would also lose their moral compass yet again (RIP Dale and Hershel). That’s heavy stuff. And much better story arcs than just about anyone else’s death could provide.

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Now let’s look at this from a technical standpoint. Very seldom on the show have we ever seen things from a particular character’s point of view. Yet, the finale opened with, and after every commercial break, returned to what turned out to be a character’s vantage point inside the van where Glenn, Daryl, Rosita, and Sasha were being held. If you look closely the view is from the very back of the van. Meaning it would have to be the person that gets out last. That would be Glenn. So if we hold to the idea that the POV shots were consistent throughout the episode, then Glenn’s view opened and closed it. It has to be Glenn.

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I love Glenn. As a fan, I don’t want it to be him. I would hate to see him go. But I just feel like all evidence points to his violent and bloody end. Am I right? We’ll find out in October.

In Defense of The Walking Dead Finale

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I know that this may seem a bit late to the party, but I wanted to let heads cool on the situation before commenting. After the final seconds of Season 6 of The Walking Dead (for my money, the best season of the series so far), the fan outrage was at DEFCON 1-level insane. Watching the debuting big bad Negan pick one of Rick’s group at random to kill, only to have it turn to a first person view of the victim as he’s about to deal out the bludgeoning sent fans into a fury. How dare they not show us who died! How dare they leave us hanging!

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But was it really that bad or even the wrong decision? I personally don’t think it was. Now before you start losing your collective sh*t all over again, hear me out. Do I wish that we knew who got acquainted with Lucille? Absolutely I do. But I also understand that the producers of The Walking Dead aren’t being paid to offer us instant gratification. Their job is to build a product that people want to consume (zombie pun intended) and come back to watch next time. And that’s what they’ve given us for the last 6 years. Have there been hiccups along the way? Sure. Large chunks of the first half of Season 2 and the back half of Season 3 are testaments to that. But overall they have delivered us what I still consider the best show on television. I fully believe that what they gave us in the Season 6 finale is in-line with that.

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The build-up to Negan’s appearance was incredibly well done. The tension of Rick’s group being outwitted turn after turn was something we’ve never seen on TWD. Our merry band of survivors have been shown to work like a well-oiled machine and are great strategists. But not this time. With every blocked route, you could feel the noose getting tighter around their necks. And just when they thought that they had their spot to slip out, the rug gets pulled out from under them and it is revealed that all they’ve done is play right into the Saviors’ hands. The demoralizing of Rick was apparent.

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And that, to me, is why this scene worked so well. Negan self-aggrandizing and threatening was truly something magical to behold. Jeffrey Dean Morgan played his part to perfection. I felt like I was seeing the Negan of the comics come to life. His performance alone would have made this episode special, but it wasn’t just about him. Nor was this episode about who Negan killed. It was about the fact that he was going to kill someone, and there was nothing Rick could do about it. It was about seeing Rick break. His kingdom crumbling before his very eyes at the hands of someone more cunning, more powerful, and certainly more dangerous. It was brilliant television. Let that be the lasting memory of that episode instead of the lack of confirmation on who’s head was bashed in by Negan.

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Now again, I totally wish we had seen who it was. And I have a pretty strong belief that I know who it is…but that is a topic for another day. But the makers of the show didn’t give us that. They wanted us to think about it for the next six months. They wanted us to talk about it for the next six months. They wanted us to debate it for the next six months. And you know what? They got exactly what they wanted. We were Rick to their Negan. We were their puppets and they were pulling our strings. But I for one am not upset by that at all.

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