10 Radical Movie Makeovers of Nerd Characters (and How We Ultimately Received Them)

Monday, April 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

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He's weird looking. He's not how I envision the character. He would appear to be violating canon in multiple ways.

That's what a whole lot of people were saying about Jared Leto's reveal as a tattooed, "grilled" Joker, as revealed Friday night...but it's also what we've been saying about cinematic interpretations of our favorite characters ever since people have been listening to our voices. And each time, a number of self-appointed gatekeepers in the mainstream media tell us something to the effect of, "Well, you're the ones who said Michael Keaton would be like Adam West. Why should ANYONE listen to YOU?" This is, of course, a gross distortion of the comic-nerd's point of view, which could point you to the plusses and minuses of both West and Keaton (funnily enough, in reviewing the 1966 Batman recently, I've decided that West acts far more psychotic, of the two).

So let's look back at some legendary "first looks," and see how we really felt about reimaginings, both before and after the fact.

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8 Comic-Book Characters Who Need To Come Out As Bisexual Already

Friday, April 24, 2015 at 5:00 am


So you may or may not have heard, but after years of speculation, the X-Men's Iceman was outed by fellow telepath and teammate Jean Grey as being gay. This led to accusations of "bi-erasure" as Bobby Drake's years of girlfriends suggest to many that he was actually bisexual, and not gay, and thus another example of bisexual erasure in pop culture. For those not familiar with the term, bi-erasure is essentially "the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or re-explain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists."

While I agree with the All-New X-Men writer that Iceman's relationships with women felt more like someone trying to pass as straight than someone who was really bi, there's no denying that bisexuals are even less represented in mainstream comics than gays and lesbians (as is often said, the "B" in LGBT is often silent.) Especially when it comes to bi men. Women have it somewhat better, as bisexual women are titillating to the mostly male readership - Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are all pretty much confirmed as bi, for example, and there was little fanfare with those reveals.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of getting rid of Bi-erasure, here are eight comics characters that I personally think making bisexual officially would explain a lot, and give comics some more bi characters in the spotlight.

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The 9 Worst, Most Exploitative Nerdy Crowdfunding Campaigns

Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 5:00 am


Crowdfunding is a huge breakthrough for the arts and technology worlds. Done correctly, it enables artists to make something that would not otherwise exist. Creating is hard work, and making stuff for free with the hope that somewhere down the road you'll be able to use it to do fun shit like "eat" or "pay rent" was an obstacle that left thousands of projects dead at the idea phase. Crowdfunding makes art into an entirely new experience for fans, too - it lets people get in early on the creative process and gives them a sense of ownership over that material, a beaming, proud sense of responsibility for the existence of that art. Crowdfunding is unquestionably a great tool and a benefit to the art and technology worlds.

Unfortunately, it's also created an entirely new way to abuse customers. Kickstarter, Patreon, Indiegogo and the like have enabled an entirely new world of online grift: crowdfunding somebody's whims, making money on both ends of a project, or in some cases, outright theft. Crowdfunding abuse typically falls into one of three categories: rich people who have the money to do what they're asking people to fund, but run a Kickstarter to try and get someone else to cover their costs for the hell of it; campaigns with no forethought whatsoever, projects so ridiculous or so half-assed that they would have been laughed out of the room had their creators' names not rhymed with seal nephenson; and corporations trying to figure out a way to make a profit off of the production phase of a project. Here are eight of the most egregious, most nerdsploitative crowdfunding campaigns.

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11 Movies Improved by Being Found-Footage Films

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 5:00 am


Towards the end of March, a found-footage horror movie called Nightlight premiered in select theaters across the US, and it was also made available through Video On Demand. While it's not an absolutely perfect example of what a found-footage movie could be, it's a damn good horror flick that's really fun to watch.

There's a lot of undue hate for the found-footage approach. Often, I get into conversations with people who state that they're "sick of that genre", and I have to explain the difference between genre and format. A found-footage movie can be horror, sci-fi, comedy, a heartstring tugging family movie, etc. The technique of using a consumer level recording device to reinforce the sense of realism is a key element in crafting a believable world for a movie that wants the audience to think at some level, "this really happened!" When that trick is pulled off correctly, a story can be elevated to a place on or past the very edge of suspended disbelief.

It's endlessly fascinating to see the reactions to found-footage movies. They're often seen as a cheap method of making horror movies that end up feeling contrived. When a found-footage movie does things right, however, glorious things can happen.

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8 Nerdy Strains Of Weed To Smoke On 4/20

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 5:00 am


Stereotypes permeate every kind of culture, and pot smokers are no different. Though there are plenty of us who love listening to Dark Side of The Moon while watching Wizard of Oz, there are also plenty of us who would listen to a drumset fall down a staircase before listening to Pink Floyd. One of the relatively recent trends to emerge is the link of the number '420' to marijuana culture, specifically using the time 4:20 as a "tea-time" of sorts, and even more specifically the date 4/20 being turned into a holiday. Despite what several people may tell you, this has nothing to do with Earth Day; in fact its origin is more mundane than you may expect. So mundane, in fact, that some of us pot smokers even think the whole idea is kind of annoying. If you smoke regularly, you shouldn't need an unofficial holiday taken from an arbitrary number to be able smoke freely.

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8 Things We Learned About The Force Awakens Yesterday at Star Wars Celebration

Friday, April 17, 2015 at 5:00 am


Look, let's face it, if I run a big feature this morning about something other than Star Wars, is anyone gonna read it?

I'm thinking not. At the same time, I'm also thinking the average casual reader doesn't have the time to do the kind of Internet legwork to assemble everything we learned yesterday about The Force Awakens, not just from the trailer, but from the Celebration itself, which revealed a bit more in panels and displays. So I've compiled this list as a summary of everything I saw and heard that went down, and how it all fits together. There are no spoilers beyond what was either in the trailer or said/displayed at the show - but there is some speculation as to how all the tidbits combine.

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8 Possible Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Spin-Offs Marvel Should Seriously Consider

Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 5:00 am


Last week it was announced that Marvel Studios' and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was getting ready to spin-off a series for next season, although just what that series is and what it will be about is still very much under wraps. Still, the Marvel Universe is filled with tons of possibilities; some are characters and concepts that have already been introduced in the series, and others are Marvel Comics mainstays that are waiting for the chance at live-action (and probably won't make it to the big screen any time soon.) Here are eight properties that are just ripe to be spun off from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and into their own series.

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6 Things to Consider When Spending Your Entire Paycheck on a Star Trek Tricorder

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 5:00 am


Most of us people of the geeky persuasion have a collection of some sort. With the seemingly infinite diversity of fan bases and the actual limitless lengths companies will go to make money, you can, for the right price, collect just about anything, geeky or mundane. For purveyors of Topless Robot, one might collect toys or comics, films or anime wall scrolls. As someone who loves film, science fiction and technology, my drug of choice for the better part of the eighteen years of my adult life has been movie props.

The problem with collecting props, as a married man with four kids, is that the prices involved with collecting props generally range from "I'm never getting laid again" to "Divorce Court." Therefore, my authentic prop collection is limited to a pair of screen-worn Caprica Buccaneers jerseys (a gift from my wife), and Eddie Griffin's briefcase from Undercover Brother. While I'd love the addition of some top tier props to my collection, the fact is that most cost more than my first car. [Hey, it's tax day - spend your refund! - LYT]

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The 15 Best Quotes From the Avengers: Age of Ultron L.A. Press Conference

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 5:00 am


Being in a room with all of earth's mightiest mortals is less daunting than you'd think. Hulk is permanently Banner, Thor has short hair and a suit that covers up his biceps, Ultron is an older guy in a hat, and Tony Stark...well, he still owns the room, let's face it. But when they're all relaxing and doing their best to be warm, approachable, and above all, deadpan-dickish in the Downey mold, it's easy to get comfortable.

I was front-row center for the main event. Here are the very best quotes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron press conference. Minor spoilers ensue.

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10 Crucial Observations Made After Watching Netflix's New Daredevil Series

Monday, April 13, 2015 at 5:00 am

Netflix/Marvel Studios

This weekend I spent about thirteen hours streaming the new Daredevil series. Daredevil is the first of the Marvel/Netflix shows and seems to be a good portent for future efforts. I definitely enjoyed it, though I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to stream it all in one weekend if I hadn't been prompted with a deadline for this list. I've read a decent amount of Daredevil stories and generally like the character, though he's certainly been through a few versions like all good comic characters.

Daredevil is a break with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it has existed up until this point: grittier and darker than what we've seen before. It's closer to a movie feel than the more episodic Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I like it much more than Agents for that and other reasons. This show felt big, like an event. Compared even to my beloved Arrow and Flash, it seemed bigger and meatier, with a little more going on. This isn't to say it was perfect; many of the reviews and commentaries on the show are extremely favorable, but it still definitely has its flaws as well. Be warned, spoilers follow.

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