E3 2017 in Retrospect

Well, I said I wanted to do something about E3, except, well, now I don’t really know what to talk about here. That said, I’m just going down a list of games that caught my attention and giving my thoughts on them.

 

From EA Games:

Star Wars: Battlefront II: I grew up with the old Battlefront. I’d just like to make that clear. When I finally got Battlefront II to work on my computer, it was staggeringly better. That said, if EA updates their Battlefront remake the way the older games did, then maybe the new Battlefront II will be something worth playing.

Then again, I still play Battlefront II (the older one). I know people who put down the new Battlefront after only a few months.

 

From Bethesda:

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Ah, Wolfenstein. The more story-based entry of Id Software’s three first-person shooters. The franchise has interested me mainly with its concept: the Allied Forces lost World War II, and now Germany controls the entire world. Sure, it used to just be about running around and shooting Nazis, but it’s come so far and grown up.

I may do something on this series at some point, probably alongside Id’s other two FPS’s: Doom and Quake.

All of whom are now owned by Bethesda now. Not Id Software. Are they still around?

[Googles it.]

They were bought by ZeniMax who gave the rights to Bethesda. That makes sense.

 

From Nintendo:

[Pours a cup of coffee, drinks it slowly.]

Nintendo. What are you doing?

I mean, I’m glad that you’re taking initiative with getting games on the Switch. That’s good. It’ll keep it from becoming another WiiU.

But after this year’s E3, I can’t help but think…really?

ARMS, you pulled off well.

Splatoon, you pulled off well.

Earth Bound was strange, but I could accept it. In fact, most of your IP’s are that way. You specialize in “silly.”

[Sips coffee.]

But why are you doing a crossover between Mario and Rabbids?

I saw the release and stared at it for a good two minutes, just trying to process…why Rabbids? I thought we were done with them back in 2010.

I won’t say you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but…actually, I’m going to say it. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. That or there’s a Rabbids fandom that I don’t know about.

[Sets down coffee.]

Despite this, Nintendo had some decent releases at E3 this year, as always. More stuff for Mario Odyssey, a couple other upcoming games, and even some new stuff from Pokemon.

Oh, and a couple Metroid games, but I stopped liking that franchise years ago.

 

And that’s about it for E3 2017.

 

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Guardians of the…Mentor Archetype?

[Note: because of the subject at hand, this is a slightly longer post than usual. However, because I want to write about Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 so I can move on to other things (like this year’s E3, an anime review or two, and some stuff about Christian culture), I’m going to unpack a lot here.]

Baby Groot
“This button will start the blog post.” “I am Groot.” “Wait, no!” [photo credit: YouTube.]
So, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 has been out for over a month now. I was able to talk about Wonder Woman without going into deep spoilers, but Guardians 2?

This is why I waited so long to do the review. Because of the ad campaigns, and what I knew about it going in, I didn’t know what counted as a spoiler or not.

Ergo, I’m opening this review with a big ol’ SPOILER WARNING.

I mean, we’re talking Ego the Living Planet sized SPOILER WARNING.

Speaking of whom, Guardians 2 opens with Star Lord, or Peter Quill, and his motley crew doing what they did in the first movie: save lives while committing crimes under the table. Of course, this doesn’t last long before they get an entire planet’s army on their tail.

To their surprise, the Guardians are bailed out by Star Lord’s birth-father, who turns out to be Ego the Living Planet.

Now, I’m not familiar with the comics, but this felt like it came out of nowhere. After a quick Google search, some of the comics had a different character—named J’son—as Star Lord’s father. Not Ego. As such, it comes across as a means to incorporate Ego the Living Planet into the MCU.

Now, bear in mind, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that it felt like an odd choice when I first heard it. “So, Star Lord’s mystery father is…a planet? Okay.”

In fact, I’m almost glad that they changed it to Ego. It gave Guardians 2 the chance to play with the theme of Mentors and Fathers. And by “plays with,” I mean it takes the theme, deconstructs it, and reverse-engineers it in a dozen different ways.

So, to cover as much ground as I can in as little time, I’m breaking one of the blog-post rules with this…[inhales deeply]

Star Lord starts to kindle a relationship with Ego, only to learn that Ego had selfish intentions for bringing Star Lord back into his life; Star Lord also continues his relationship with Yondu, and eventually realizes that despite his almost-abusive tendencies (which were implied, but never shown, oddly), he was a better father for Star Lord than Ego could have ever been; Gamora gets more screentime with her sister, Nebula, and their relationship develops when Nebula reveals that her father, Thanos, was abusive to her, but not to Gamora, which led Nebula to be better than her sister, showing that by being a bad father and showing favoritism can destroy one’s children; Rocket and Groot have an oddly father-raising-toddler vibe, but it’s played for comedy; and (to my surprise) Drax of all people got some heart-to-heart time with a new character, Mantis, and he starts to accept her as his substitute daughter.

[Catches breath.]

Basically, every single member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy learns what it’s like to be a dad or to have a dad.

And I’m not complaining. The writers of Guardians 2 did a good job with this, and because of it, it’s probably my Number 1 favorite superhero movie, if not Number 2—this and Guardians 1 keep flipping between the two slots.

Though I do find it interesting how this trend is beginning to unfold in other superhero movies.

Sure, by the nature of character archetypes and the typical Hero’s Journey, there are always Mentors, fatherly figures, and people influencing the Hero. But now there seems to be an emphasis on the Heroes becoming the Mentors. Logan was billed as an older Wolverine mentoring the younger, less-experienced X-23. Spider-Man: Homecoming looks like it will play into Peter Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark, who already got six movies of development.

Long story short, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was a good movie. I enjoyed it, at least, and it was a pretty refreshing addition to not just the MCU, but superhero movies in general.

Other things I liked: toddler Groot was downright adorable. I liked what they did with Yondu, even though I’m not the biggest fan of Michael Rooker. The side villains—even though I can’t remember their name—were well-written. Also, two words: TAZER FACE!

Things I didn’t like: I wasn’t that fond of Drax, to be honest. I mean, he got good development in this movie, but he seems like he’s still there solely for comic relief, while providing little for the team. Also, the language felt a little…strong at times. It felt like everyone got in a swear. Even Groot. Somehow.

Baby Groot 2
Also, this scene. I liked this scene. [photo credit: Screenrant.]
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Wonder Woman: Another Game-Changer for the Genre?

So, I’ve gone and seen movies on my own before. My first experience was Jurassic World, back in summer of 2015. I did it again when I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (review pending). That said, I am used to walking into a movie theater on my own to see a movie.

Wonder Woman Poster
(Image courtesy of IGN)

 

But, when the movie in question is Wonder Woman

The thought didn’t cross my mind until I was standing in the line to get my ticket, and I realized that I was the only guy going alone. And almost every group had a one girl with them.

I went to see Wonder Woman on Sunday, and it was pretty good. I won’t say it’s my favorite superhero movie—I won’t even say it’s my favorite DC superhero movie—but it is up in my top ten.

And, I’m going to put a SPOILER ALERT right here, because one of the big things I was impressed with happened in the third act. So, if you haven’t seen it, it’s good, go see it.

If you have…

Wonder Woman focuses mainly around the title character, who goes by Diana of Themyscira daughter of Hyppolyta for most of the movie, on her quest to track down Ares, the last surviving Olympian god, and kill him. To do so, she ends up running around the trenches and battlefields of World War I looking for him. Diana operates under the assumption that he’s manipulating the Germans, because they are producing superweapons.

When she reaches the final battle with him—and actually finds him—she learns that he’s been manipulating the British/Allied forces too. The two armies came up with the super-destructive weapons on their own because humans are generally evil.

I thought this was an interesting takeaway. Especially for a superhero movie, wherein humans are generally played as neutral, if not wholly good. Here, they’re shown to be bad, if not sinister. Even Diana’s motley crew is made up of—by their own admission—liars, smugglers, thieves, and murderers.

So, I commend DC for being able to do a good job with a movie about Wonder Woman. Knowing that Marvel’s going to be close behind with one of their own female superheroes, I’m curious to see what comes.

Hopefully, a Black Widow movie.

Other things I liked: this may be just me and my opinions, but it didn’t feel like they over-sexualized any of the female characters. I was quite impressed with it. The fight scenes are well-paced, and the action is good. The Act III plot twist was impressive—I almost didn’t see it coming.

Things I didn’t like: the relationship between Diana and Steve felt awkward rather than romantic, when it felt like the writers were pushing for romantic. And while the Act III plot twist kept me interested, it still felt like it dragged on. And on. And on…

 

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Injustice: what kind of gods are they?

One of my first forays into the fighting game genre—after Super Smash Bros. Brawl—was a game from the last console generation. That game was Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game based around the DC Superheroes, made by the company behind Mortal Kombat.

And, honestly, it was one of the last games I expected to get a sequel.

The basic premise of the first game is what you would expect for a fighting game: everything’s okay in the happy-go-lucky DC Multiverse, until someone does something that gets everyone fighting each other.

In the case of the first one, Superman went off the rails and turned the Justice League (and, to my excitement, members of the Teen Titans) against each other.

The sequel continues the story in that universe, by pulling in more members of the DC Universe. Supergirl, Robin, Scarecrow, Blue Beetle… Gorilla Grodd… Swamp Thing…?

*Sigh* There’s always a weird character choice in every fighting game. I mean, this is the company who put Harley Quinn in a game subtitled “Gods Among Us.”

Which brings me to my main point. When the title of the game uses “god” in the title, it raises a few eyebrows. Especially mine—or those of a younger me. “Gods” (big-G or small-g) hardly ever come up in video games. What’s their reasoning behind their word choice?

So, I looked into it. One of the common views on comics is that they are this generation’s mythology. The Greeks had their mythology; the Norse had their mythology; the Romans just stole from the Greeks. Comic books are the “American mythology.”

Partially because of this mentality, the DC superheroes are seen as the equivalents of the Greek Olympians. Strong, powerful, mighty, looking out for humanity, and only somewhat flawed. They are “gods” in the sense that Zeus or Odin are gods. False gods, doomed to fall, but still powerful in their own way.

So, how does this play into the Injustice series? Short version: DC isn’t committing blasphemy. They’re just comparing their characters to classical mythology. [Sarcasm voice] Which isn’t conceited at all.

That’s all I have for this week. I’ll try to do another review next week, but we’ll see.

Oh, and for those wondering, I mained Aquaman in the first one. I could also do Green Arrow or Wonder Woman, but Aquaman was my go-to.

 

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How the Media Portrays Hell

Before I begin, I would like to give some quick thanks to “elliot5445,” for commenting on my last article, correcting my poor research. I’ll try to do better research in the future.

Last week, I touched on how the Bible says Hell is, more for clarification before I go into this post.

Hell is surprisingly common in media, from my understanding. The thing is, this is because a lot of fictional universes have what I call a “Come-and-go Hell.” This version of Hell is what I hope it sounds like: people are free to come and go as they please, as long as they are still alive. And even if they are dead, they have the chance to go back.

Doom, at least the four games in the franchise, was the first example of this to come to mind, wherein the hero repeatedly enters Hell, shotgun in hand, to fill demons with piping hot lead.

Another one that comes to mind is Looney Toons, but my memory of the specific cartoon is fuzzy. It was a bit more kid-friendly than Doom, from what I recall. I think it had Yosemite Sam die and go to Hell, but is sent back with the deal that if he kills Bugs Bunny, he can stay alive. He goes back two or three times before giving up and staying in Hell as a demon.

Note: as a demon. This raises even more theological issues.

Another depiction of Hell that came to mind is Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his Divine Comedy. I picked it up when I was younger, out of curiosity. I was originally going to categorize this as a depiction of a “Come-and-go Hell,” except there is no implication that Dante goes back to Earth in the end. He goes to Hell, then to Purgatory, then to Heaven/Paradise, and…it stops.

Still, it is no less accurate to the Biblical portrayal of Hell than Doom or Looney Toons.

You see, the thing about Hell, the actual place, is that there are few clues as to what it will look like. The only thing that I could find out for sure is that there will be fire, and it’s built to torture demons.

Therein lies another discrepancy in adaptations: a lot of versions of Hell that I’ve found actually have Hell run by the demons, as though it’s their kingdom. Again, Doom is an example. Another one is in the DC Universe, with their Hell being governed by Trigon. Fans of Teen Titans are probably familiar with that name.

 

In fact, to be honest, almost every example of Hell in media that I have found has this. Hell is where “the bad people go.” Not where the demons go.

Normally, this is where I would give an example of an accurate adaptation of Hell that I have found. Except, I don’t have one.

Well, this is awkward.

 

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How the Bible portrays Hell

Well, I’m back from my brief hiatus. I got my things taken care of, and now I’m in a place where I can blog again.

So, I was scrolling through my older posts, and I found a few old articles based around the theme of “How the Media Portrays…” I did Jesus, angels, and demons, but what about Heaven and Hell?

Well, I’ll get to Heaven at some point, because this week, we’re going to Hell.

Metaphorically.

Now, the main issue I have is that there are many different interpretations of Hell in the media, just as there are many different interpretations of Jesus, angels, and demons. The problem with discussing Hell is that it seems not even the Christians have a good idea about how Hell looks.

So, normally, I would start with the media and then look to the Bible, but in this case, I’m going to do it backwards, solely so I can get a good understanding of things.

 

The Bible (the definitive)

In the translation I use (NIV 2011), “Hell,” the word, doesn’t really come up in conversation that much. Four of these times are the, “If your X causes you to stumble, cut it off; for it is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to Hell,” passages, and several others are in a similar vein.

So, I broadened my search to the concept of Hell. A lot of the passages I came across acknowledge that Hell is a place, and it involves fire. In my studies, one of the most telling passages is Revelation 20:7-10, where Satan receives his final judgment: being “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur” where he “will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Verse 10)

I have two things to note about Hell, from this passage. First, sulfur technically doesn’t burn, as it is a mineral. Rather, it melts at roughly four-hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and boils at twice that temperature. Any scientists in the audience, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Second, we know that Hell is calibrated to torment demons for eternity. Just to put that in perspective.

With that, I’m going to leave the rest of this article for next week. This one is going to be lengthy.

 

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Well…this is awkward.

So, you may have noticed that I did not post anything last week. That is because my schedule has been an absolute mess lately. I’m fine. I’m alive. I am healthy. But at the same time I have homework and projects coming at me from all sides, and no back-up posts to help.

That said, I will be taking a few weeks off. I finish my classes and projects on May 11th, so I will probably start posting again after that. At the earliest, I will post again on May 10th.

Projects and homework aside, I will also be using some of the time to research an upcoming post. I plan on continuing the “How the Media Portrays…” series with “How the Media Portrays Hell.” This ended up being a bigger task than I thought, so I’ll need a little time to do some research on the subject–both how Hell appears in the Bible and how Hell appears in the media. Hopefully, that will be the post I upload when I get back, and (as the post stands) it may be a two-part article.

And lastly, Noah, I’m fine with you talking about Lovecraft. Again, my chief grievance against him was more against his fandom than anything else. I mean, I respect Lovecraft as a writer. To his credit, he basically started a religion. (Then again…he basically started a religion, so that’s also a mark against him.)

I, for one, treat Lovecraft the same way I treat Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer, and E.L. James; I recognize the fact that they are published writers, though I do not appreciate what has become of their writing.

To be fair, I also kind of like (and occasionally reference) “Welcome to Night Vale.” It’s a decent podcast–and this coming from the guy who doesn’t really like podcasts.

So, yeah. I will see you all, readers and co-writer, in a few weeks.

 

Isaac’s Twitter: @Isaac_Trenti

Correlation’s Twitter: @CorrelationBlog