T-Minus One Month And Counting…

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Space City, Houston, Texas

A few years ago I decided to go on a solo adventure to the Galleria in Houston, TX for a first year convention that featured such guests as Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek:  TOS, Bonnie Piesse of the Star Wars prequels, and Joseph Gatt of Game of Thrones, Thor, Star Trek Into Darkness, and multiple other projects.  When I got there, I was a bit lost.  Not because the convention had poor directions, but because I didn’t know anybody at the convention.  I was that one guy from Louisiana that crossed over the Sabine River into H-town and didn’t know anyone in the whole joint…..until I ran into an artist friend of mine named Vo Nguyen.  We talked for a long time, but soon enough I had to leave his table so that other folks could find out how cool he was and how great his artwork was as well.

Despite only knowing Vo, my social anxiety didn’t prevent me from meeting new people.  I talked to numerous folks in different fan groups, other artists, and a lot of vendors.  I also managed to get autographs and photos from Ms. Piesse, Mr. Gatt, and Jason David Frank, the Green Power Ranger.

When I left the convention, I was happy to have attended it.  It was fun, a tad chaotic, but all in all, a solid first year event.  I looked forward to the next convention.  In fact, Space City is the only convention that I have ever booked for the next year as soon as tickets were available and before any guests were announced.  I had decided that I was going to make Space City Comic Con an annual event, even if there were no guests that I wanted to see in attendance.

Well, I needn’t worry about not having any excellent guests to see.  Over the last few years Space City has welcomed personal favorites like Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor from Doctor Who, Adrienne Wilkinson from Xena and many other projects, and Michele Specht from Star Trek Continues.  Other excellent guests that have attended include Richard Hatch, J. G. Hertzler, Denise Crosby, Vic Mignogna, Jason Momoa, Melissa Ponzio, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darville, and the Shat himself, William Shatner.

This year plans to be just as exciting as every other year.  Sons of Anarchy fans might be interested to know that a cast reunion will happen at this year’s convention.

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Along with the SOA cast members, there will be a TON of other guests.  Just a few of the names that you might recognize are the returning Gigi Edgley, William Shatner, and Michele Specht, as well as newcomers like Drea De Matteo, Doug Jones, Billie Piper, Colin Baker, Alex Kingston, and many, many more.  There are literally too many of them to list here, so I highly suggest that you check out Space City Comic Con’s website here!  Below is just a taste of the wonderful lineup that Space City has in store!

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If that’s not enough for ya, be sure to hang out with the many faces of Star Trek that will be on hand including Marina Sirtis, Chris Doohan, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Rene Auberjonois, and the aforementioned Mr. Shatner and the lovely Michele Specht!

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I plan on attending this excellent event.  As of right now I have not secured my ticket, but I hope to acquire it very soon.  If you plan on attending, let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading.  Here’s a little slideshow of a few of the faces I’ve met over the years at Space City Comic Con.  I plan on making more memories this year!

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Revisiting Voyager

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The Delta Quadrant

I’ve been watching a lot, and I mean a lot, of Star Trek:  Voyager in the last couple of months and I have to say that I’ve become extremely fond of the series.  My first exposure to the show was in syndication a few years ago, but I never was able to watch it consistently.  Now, with the beloved streaming service that is Amazon Prime, I’ve been able to catch up with numerous television shows and films that I missed on the first go round or never had the opportunity to see on a regular basis.

While catching up, I came across the brilliant episode entitled Tuvix.  I immediately fell in love with the episode due to the moral and ethical challenges it presented to the crew of Voyager.  In my opinion, Star Trek has always been at its best whenever it challenged the viewer to think.  Two previous episodes of Trek that came to mind while watching Tuvix were The Devil In The Dark and Outcast.  From the Original Series, Devil dealt with the Horta, a creature that is believed to be attacking miners on Janus VI, but turns out to be a misunderstood alien that is merely protecting its young.  The challenge comes whenever Spock decides that the creature might be the last of its kind and shouldn’t be killed but Kirk believes that the lives of the miners are more important and that eliminating the Horta was the right thing to do.  Kirk is eventually convinced that the Horta just wants to be left alone and allowed to raise its children.  Together with Spock and Bones, Kirk convinces the miners to leave the Horta alone and, in return, the Horta would help the miners find valuable minerals on the planet.

The Next Generation episode entitled Outcast sees Riker befriend a J’naii scientist named Soren while the two work together to find a missing J’naii shuttle.  The two eventually become romantic (surprise, surprise, Number One!), but their love is forbidden due to the fact that the J’naii are an androgynous race that see identifying as a male or female within their species as a perversion.  When their romance is witnessed by another J’naii, Soren is placed on trial and sentenced to treatment in order to remove any perverse thoughts of sexual identity despite attempts by Riker and Picard to stop the process.  Unfortunately Soren is “treated” and returns to an androgynous state.

Both of these episodes challenge the viewer.  They make the viewer look at all sides of the story.  Is the Horta worth protecting?  Should Soren be allowed to follow her desires?  Are the J’naii wrong for wanting to “treat” Soren?  Are the miners justified in their intentions to kill the Horta?  At first the answers seem clear, but looking deeper into both situations, one learns that the decision is extremely difficult depending on how you look at it.

Tuvix poses a similar question.  In the episode, Tuvok and Neelix are fused together while beaming back aboard Voyager.  This results in the creation of a new life form that takes on characteristics of both men.  Tom Wright potrayed Tuvix in the episode and did a brilliant job of combining the Vulcan leanings of Tim Russ’ Tuvok and the humorous aspects of Ethan Phillips’ Neelix.

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The holographic Doctor is unable to separate the two men into their respective beings, but vows to find a way to bring them back.  In the meantime, Tuvix begins to adjust to his new life.  He struggles with the memories, feelings (or lack thereof in the case of Tuvok), and relationships of both men.  The crew attempts to adjust to their newest member as well, with Kes having a particular amount of trouble with Tuvix.  While she showed him no ill will, she remained uncomfortable around him for a long time since she was romantically involved with Neelix and looked up to Tuvok as a mentor and good friend.

As Tuvix and the crew adjust to life with each other, he proves to be an integral part of the crew.  He also develops a sense of self.  He is literally a new man, and as the Doctor’s research begins to show some signs of successfully being able to separate Tuvix into the two persons that he once was, talk surfaces of actually attempting to bring Tuvok and Neelix back.

It is at this point where the crew, particularly Captain Janeway, faces a moral dilemma.  On one hand, restoring Tuvok and Neelix to their distinct selves seems to be the right course of action.  On the other, Tuvix has fully integrated himself into the daily activities of Voyager, bonded to varying degrees with members of the crew, and has become a unique individual.

Would bringing back Tuvok and Neelix essentially kill an individual?  Despite being two men bonded into one, Tuvix is his own person.

By allowing Tuvix to remain as he is, does that mean that Tuvok and Neelix no longer exist or no longer have the right to live?

It’s a brilliantly difficult moral and ethical dilemma, one that truly has no right answer.  One could argue that Tuvok and Neelix deserve to live, but Tuvix deserves to live just as much.  Tuvix is adamant that he be allowed to live, essentially denying the right to life for both Neelix and Tuvok.

Even the viewers are forced to struggle with whether or not Tuvix should live.  In the brief time that we get to know him, he is presented as likeable, humorous, intelligent, and a well-adjusted being.  Viewers like Tuvix as much as the crew of the ship likes him.  The viewers have also developed a relationship with Tuvok and Neelix over the first and second season at this point.  Much like Janeway, Chakotay, Kes, and the rest of the Voyager crew, we are asked to make a decision on who is allowed to exist and who must be sacrificed.

Ultimately there is no correct answer.  No matter who Janeway or the viewer decides to live, someone else has to suffer for it.  That is what makes the episode so brilliant.  After the credits roll, the crew of Voyager AND the viewer is left with no real resolution to the events that unfold.  Unlike Devil and Outcast, where the viewer can turn off the episode knowing in their mind that they are correct about their decision on what should have happened, Tuvix leaves the viewer internally struggling with what happened, why it happened, and if it should have even happened.  It’s wonderful, and has quickly made this episode one of my top ten episodes in all of Trekdom.

I highly recommend watching Tuvix if you haven’t done so.  It will leave you thinking, conflicted, and longing for more episodes that are just as excellent.

Tuvix is Trek done right.  Few episodes are as wonderful as this one.

As always, thanks for reading.  As I watch more Trek, I’ll be sure to blog about the episodes that really stick out to me.  Sooner or later I’ll address The Devil In The Dark and Outcast in their own posts.  I really enjoyed writing this post, and I believe that I might focus more on content like this.  Let me know in the comments if you would like for me to post more things like this.

Live long and prosper.

CyPhaCon 2016!

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Lake Charles, LA

CyPhaCon celebrated its sixth year in 2016 this past weekend and, as usual, it was an excellent event.  Although I spent most of my time at the USS Lafitte table, I managed to attend two panels, hosted one panel, and also got to meet the wonderful Nana Visitor of Star Trek:  Deep Space 9.

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I attended a panel about the local Starfleet International group, the USS Lafitte (of which I am a part of) and its beginnings.  I also attended a panel which was actually a performance  by the wonderful ladies of Orion’s Envy.  They introduced a new dance number into their performance and it was excellent.

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My panel was basically a free-for-all about Doctor Who.  We talked about our favorite Doctors, our favorite episodes, and our favorite companions.  There was a surprising amount of people who declared Christopher Eccleston as their favorite Doctor and quite a few people who claimed Amy Pond as their favorite companion.  From there, the panel turned into a discussion of multiple fandoms, from Batman to Star Trek.

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There was a whole lot of things going on, but what makes CyPhaCon so special to me is the amount of time that I get to spend with friends.  A few of my friends are featured in the slideshow above, including members of other SFI groups, the Just Us League, and other groups.

I took many other pictures, but most of them feature one of my children and, as a rule, I do not post photos of my kids on this blog.

If you attended CyPhaCon, let me know if you enjoyed it.  It was a really fun convention and I can’t wait to attend it next year!

The Local Con

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Lake Charles, LA

I still haven’t recovered from the awesomeness that was (and still is) Southern Geek Fest, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not excited and/or ready for ANOTHER convention this weekend, April 8-10, on my own turf in Lake Charles, LA.  CyPhaCon returns for its sixth year at the Lake Charles Civic Center and it looks like this might be their biggest event yet!

As you can see from the header and the very Doctor Who-like circles above, CyPhaCon is bringing a ton of talent when it comes to media guests.  Nana Visitor of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine,  Aaron Douglas of Battlestar Galactica, and Tony Amendola from Stargate:  SG1 will be in attendance as well as Monica Rial  and Kyle Hebert of Dragon Ball Z and other various anime productions.

Entertainment will be provided by the always excellent Suzaku 7 (who I was unable to see at SGF due to other commitments) and the lovely and entrancing ladies of Orion’s Envy as well as other groups such as the hilarious Take One Productions.  Cosplayers, comic artists, authors, and many others will also be at the convention ready to entertain you.  CyPhaKids will be putting on activities for the younger nerds and geeks in attendance, so don’t worry about your little ones getting bored because dad’s sitting through another panel about costuming!

This year CyPhaCon will also have a pub crawl for the first time and there will also be a Fan Appreciation Party.

Be sure to check out the convention website for more info including ticket prices, panel and entertainment schedules, and maps for the event.

As always, thanks for reading.  Be sure to look me up if you’re going to the event.  I’ll be blogging and posting photos afterwards, so check that out as well, because you never know who might show up in the photos!

 

Southern Geek Fest!!!

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Hattiesburg, MS

Over the weekend I took a road trip to Hattiesburg, MS for the first ever Southern Geek Fest.  It was an excellent event put on by Rafe White, Tim Nicholas, and a wonderful group of local and not-so local volunteers.  There was an excellent mix of vendors, authors, comic artists, celebrities, and cosplayers.

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The event prior to opening.

The convention was very laid back.  Since many of the attendees were part of Southern Geek’s Facebook group, the convention felt more like a family reunion or a get-together of good friends (many of which were meeting for the first time) than an actual convention.  That, in my opinion, is a good thing.  The Forrest County Multipurpose Center served as an adequate venue to hold the convention at, allowing for plenty of floor space and two nice panel rooms that were actually in a building adjacent to the main facility.

Fan groups from Star Trek, Star WarsDoctor Who, Ghostbusters, and other fandoms were on site, as well as a few local groups as well.  Many of them were having raffles or special events (like shooting a Dalek) to raise money for various charities.  Miss Southern Magnolia, Alexis Carter, was also present, raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network.  She was posing for photos, signing autographs, and seemed to be a genuinely sweet young lady.  Myself and a friend talked with her briefly and she was kind enough to pose for photos with us.

There were many excellent celebrities on hand as well, including Tim Russ of Star Trek:  Voyager, Anne Mahoney of The Walking Dead, Jeremy London of Mallrats, and John Mangus of Jurassic World and many other films.  I visited with Mr. Russ and picked up an autograph from him.  I also sat in on his panel.  I’ve known John Mangus for a few years now, and he’s always a treat to visit with whenever we see each other at conventions.

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John Mangus and myself.

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Tim Russ autograph.

I also got to meet Scotty Whitehurst, a member of the cast and crew of Star Trek Continues.  I can honestly say that this is one of the best shows around and every single member of the cast and crew that I’ve met or interacted with online has been cordial.

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Autographed Scotty Whitehurst photo.

SGF featured a number of excellent cosplayers including Alice Infinity, Kimberly Battista, Angie Starr, and Shane Dison.  I’ve known Shane for awhile now and he’s one of the coolest people that you could ever meet.  He gets what I’m doing with DDK and demanded that I keep my left ear cocked like I did with my previous costume.  I also visited with Angie Starr.  She also gets the whole DDK thing and thought that it was very cool.  All of the cosplayers were very nice, and I hope that SGF brings some of them back next year.

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DDK with Angie Starr as Harley Quinn.

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With Shane Dison as a Toaster…..er, Cylon.

I also got to meet a few new people and catch up with old friends.  Many of my friends and myself were either volunteering or involved with groups at the convention.  Will still managed to get a reasonable amount of time to hang out with each other.  I also got to eat that evening with a few friends.

As the convention started to wind down a bit, I snagged a few Doom Metal CDs from Cave Moran, who’s also an artist (just check out his work on the album covers).  I managed to listen to all of them on my long ride back home.  Driving to and from the convention was crazy.  I had to deal with bad rain throughout most of Louisiana and typical terrible Baton Rouge traffic on my drive to Hattiesburg and beautiful skies and a road raging lunatic on my way home.  With that said, though, I’d do it all over again to go back to Southern Geek Fest.

This was a very fun event, and I hope that it was a success as well.  Attendance appeared to be steady and strong, and I heard of very few complaints.  Hopefully Rafe, Tim, and the core staff of this event will keep what worked and change whatever they feel needs to be changed.

As I stated in a previous post, this event looked to be an excellent first timer.  It definitely was.  If SGF returns next year, I hope to see YOU there!

Heck, even DDK was sad to see the event end!

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As always, thanks for reading.  If you attended this event, let me know what you thought about it and if you plan on returning next year!!!!

Huge Weekend Ahead!!!!

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Hattiesburg, MS

I have to admit that I am totally stoked for this weekend!  Southern Geek Fest is almost upon us and it is looking like it will be a blast!  Rafe White, Tim Nicholas, and a whole bunch of other excellent nerdy people have managed to put together what I believe will be one of the best fan-run first time conventions to come along in a long time.

I’ve been to many conventions over the last few years and a few of them were first timers.  In fact, the very first convention that I ever went to was a first timer and, considering the state of fandom and conventions at the time and the size of the area it was serving, it was very good.  Another one that I went to was in a large city (Houston) and while it didn’t have many guests, it was very well attended and had very few bumps.  That particular convention has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and has become one of my favorite conventions to attend (I’m looking at you, Space City Comic Con).

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Southern Geek Fest has an excellent (and lengthy) list of guests, and you can find most of them listed throughout other posts I’ve done about this convention, but two of the biggest guests that I’m interested in meeting are Ann Mahoney of The Walking Dead and Tim Russ of Star Trek:  Voyager and Star Trek:  Renegades.  Both of these actors are amazing talents and happen to be a part of two of my favorite shows.  Mahoney portrays Olivia on TWD and that particular character is still growing and forming on the screen.  Russ portrays Tuvok on both Voyager and Renegades.  He’s one of my favorite Vulcans and a real source of humor despite lacking all emotion.  I’m really excited to meet them both!

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There are plenty of other wonderful guests that will be in attendance.  The above slideshow gives you just a taste of all of the excellent cosplayers, podcasters, comic artists, and other talent that will be present.  There will even be a village idiot at the event (The Discount Dark Knight, me)!   To get a glimpse at the full lineup, head on over to the convention’s website and check out everything that’s going to be at the event!

I’ll be arriving on Friday evening for the convention.  If you’re going to be in attendance, be sure to let me know and we can hang out for a bit.  I’m looking forward to meeting a few old friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, a few other friends that I’ve never met in person (courtesy of ye old Facebook), and hopefully I’ll make a few new friends as well.

Also, DDK will have a slightly different look at the convention.  Be sure to check out his new cowl and cape combo.  The cowl is in the photo below.  Sexy, isn’t it????

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If you can’t make it to Southern Geek Fest this weekend, have no fear!  Next weekend is CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA!  It’s also a fan-run convention but it has been around for a few years and has grown consistently larger and better each year.  I’ll be in attendance at that convention as well, so be sure to come by and say hello to me.  They’ll have Nana Visitor from Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine and a whole bunch of other guests as well.  I’ll be posting more about CyPhaCon next week, so be on the lookout for that post.  For now, go to CyPhaCon’s website for more information.

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Again, I’m really excited to be going to Southern Geek Fest this weekend and I really hope that this convention is a hit.  I personally know some of the folks involved with this event and I want it to be a success for them and for all of Mississippi and the rest of us nerds on the Gulf Coast!

As always, thanks for reading my post.  Talk at ya soon!

 

Black N’ Blue

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On The Big Screen And Across The Web

(No Spoilers, So Read With No Worries)

With the dust settling on the recent Deadpool movie (which I still haven’t seen) and plenty of hype surrounding the upcoming Captain America:  Civil War, DC Comics and Warner Brothers decided to sneak in a little flick hoping to cash in on the seemingly endless flow of Marvel’s comic book movies.

Nah, there was a ton of hype for Batman Vs. Superman:  Dawn of Justice, and despite bad reviews from “professional” critics, BvS still managed to have the largest opening for a comic book film in the world and the biggest opener for Warner Brothers ever.

Was it perfect?  Absolutely not.  Was it still a good film?  You betcha!

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BvS, for those who may not know, is a tale that takes place about eighteen months after the events in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (which, for the record, wasn’t that great in my opinion).  After witnessing the destruction of Metropolis firsthand and then watching other events unfold that seem to be a result of the reckless actions of Superman, Bruce Wayne sets out to put an end to the alien’s godlike reign.  Clark Kent, on the other hand, sees the actions of Gotham City’s resident vigilante to be out of control and intends to uncover who really is behind the mask.  Of course, a lot of things are happening behind the scenes and both of our heroes are being manipulated to an eventual endgame, but I don’t want to spoil that for any potential moviegoers.

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The film takes a fair amount of time to develop, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that has ever viewed a Zack Snyder film.  However, I will say that this film has plenty of action laced throughout and I never found myself bored while watching it as I did with Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, or Watchmen.  If you managed to tolerate the development of the first Iron Man film, you’ll be able to make it through BvS.

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The cast is fairly solid in my opinion.  Gal Gadot is excellent as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.  Jeremy Irons drew laughs from the crowd as Alfred PennyworthHenry Cavill does a decent job with what he’s given to work with as Clark Kent/Superman, but I still believe that the character is terribly underdeveloped.  Holly Hunter, Tao Okamoto, Laurence Fishburne, Harry Lennix, Christina Wren, and Kevin Costner provide solid support as new characters and a few old ones revisited from Man of Steel.

Two other members of the cast were written off almost as soon as they were announced.  Ben Affleck was ripped to pieces by plenty of angry fanboys and other idiots, but he pulled off both of his characters with brilliance.  “Both”?  Yep, I consider Bruce Wayne and Batman to be two different characters.  Up until this film’s release, I considered Michael Keaton to be the superior Batman on the screen and Christian Bale as the best Bruce Wayne.  Ben Affleck has replaced both of them as my favorite actor in both roles.  His portrayal of an age and mature Bruce was perfect.  His grizzly and violent portrayal of Batman injected some much needed fear and brutality into the character on the big screen.

While most people share my opinion of Affleck’s performance, Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t get as much love.  In fact, he’s probably the most polarizing presence in the entire film.  People either love him or hate him.  I happened to really enjoy his performance in the film.  He’s young, aggressive, and a bit stuck on himself.  To me, that’s the perfect base for the future power-hungry and intelligent man he will become.  Let Eisenberg’s portrayal grow on you a bit, because I believe that big things are coming for the character later on.

Many have said that the plot is off balance, convoluted, and just plain trash.  Those people have every right to express their opinion, but I just don’t see where they are coming from.  Yes, there are a few bumps in the road, but in no way is this film trash.  The story develops just fine in my opinion, with action on par with both of the Avengers films and, in the case of Batman, brutality that gives the R-rated Punisher films a run for their money.

The big face-off between Supes and the Dark Knight was excellent.  Borrowing heavily from the same sequence within Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, the fight is paced well, is believable within the confines of a comic book, and has a decent payoff.

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Of course, you can’t expect two of the comic world’s greatest heroes (and best friends) to end their feud on a sour note, so a new threat makes its presence known in the third act as the result of the actions of the grand manipulator.  While I won’t name that villain here, the name and image of that character has been plastered in countless articles and even in trailers for the film.

When this baddie shows up, a third hero pops into action.  That hero, Wonder Woman, enters the battle and takes the action up a notch.  Many people were glad to see Diana Prince on the screen (I was one of them) and while she’s only in the film for a brief time, she makes full use of every second.

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When the dust settles, we’re left with the foundation for the future of DC on the big screen.  In recent years, only the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight films have impressed me.  As mentioned earlier, Man of Steel isn’t a favorite and Green Lantern could have been a whole lot better….really, a whole lot, but I do believe that BvS gives DC some solid footing in the market.

Marvel is way ahead of the curve when it comes to comic-to-film adaptations.  They’ve got many years of developing their stories and characters under their belt, and I believe that because of this there is a lot of unfair comparisons between Marvel and DC on the silver screen.  Yes, DC is playing catch up, but where critics give Marvel a pass on plot holes and foreshadowing that may or may not make sense at first, they hammer DC in this film for doing the same thing.

NEWSFLASH:  DC FILMS ARE NOT MARVEL FILMS

Once critics get this through their heads and decide to hop off of the “Marvel makes nothing but awesome films” bandwagon (I’m looking at you, Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, Thor:  The Dark World, and The Incredible Hulk), I believe that the playing field with critics will level out a bit.  Until then, ignore the critics and give this film a shot.  It’s the basis for what looks to be great things to come, and I can’t wait to see some of my favorite heroes on the screen together for the first time.