First, this post contains massive, I repeat, MASSIVE SPOILERS of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (GotG2), Wonder Woman (WW), and Spider-Man: Homecoming (SMH). If you haven’t seen all three of those movies and don’t want to know specific plot points, stop reading now. Go read something else, like my novel A Fine Basket of Fish.
You have been warned.
Second, I am sharing my thoughts on the three most recent superhero movies released in 2017. I am excluding Logan because it is essentially not a superhero movie. It is a dystopian sci-fi story that features some super-powered people. It’s a different type of comic book movie (CBM) and, while I appreciate some people like that type of film, I do not. Logan is dark, depressing, excessively violent, and I don’t even want to think about it.
SPOILERS begin here…
In which I present a few remarks about the “press briefings” of the 2017 E3, a snooze-fest of game trailers, most of which we have already seen.
Does EA actually need to hold a media event? Don’t their games just sell themselves (new FIFA, new Madden, new NBA, new Need for Speed)? I tuned in specifically to see the new game from BioWare and got 10 seconds of nothing.
Sea of Thieves, a new pirate-y adventure from Rare, looked rather bad, and looks even worse after Ubisoft showed Skull & Bones. SoT wasn’t the only dud, Super Lucky’s Tale and a few others weren’t especially exciting, but Microsoft’s game lineup was mostly solid. I finally got to see Anthem from BioWare and…color me unimpressed. What has happened to BW? They made a name creating narrative-rich RPGs and now they’re making Destiny rip-offs. I want a new Dragon Age or, yes, even a new Mass Effect, or something in that vein.
The big takeaway from MS is the Xbox One X. (Horrible name. Won’t spend time on it.) What is the point of this console?
Is it just a graphical improvement? If so, existing XB1 owners have no real reason to upgrade and non-XB1 owners have no reason to plunk down $500 large for this console when they can get an XB1S for under $300. Two-hundred plus is a lot to spend on a fancier graphics card.
But, is the XB1X more than just better graphics? Will we start to see games that won’t run on an original XB1? If so, MS just declared the XB1 to be dead, in which case they just told ~25 million people, “Sucks to be you.”
There’s also the nagging issue that all “exclusive” games to the XB1 are also available for Windows. Instead of putting down $500 on a console, you can spend $750 on a gaming PC and play the same games and keep your rig updated to run all the latest games.
I’m not feeling you Microsoft. I don’t understand your strategy.
Sorry Fallout and Elder Scrolls fans. Bethesda has decided it can make more money making cheap mobile games and selling mods for Fallout 4 and Skyrim. That’s pretty much the sum total of Bethesda’s 30-minute video sizzle reel.
And we’re getting a new Wolfenstein. I like the alternate-history aesthetic, but not my cup o’ tea.
I’m not the target market for most of what Ubisoft is selling, but they might have been the best show at the show. They had one big hit after another, all of which look great if that’s your type of game. The only one that I’ll be likely to look seriously at is Skull & Bones, though I may dip my toe in the waters of Assassin’s Creed again for Origins. Mario + Rabbids game looks pretty bad to me, but I know a lot of people are definitely picking that up. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was a solid closer.
Sony just did a victory lap by showing us all the games they showed us last year. True, almost everything they showed is on my watchlist. (Days Gone is a notable exception. Can we all agree zombie games jumped the shark with Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2?) Also, a lot of what they showed still has no firm release date. “2018” is code for “maybe next year, but probably not until 2019.”
Their most interesting information was in the pre-show, of which I saw about half. I liked Knack and will get Knack 2. Undertale is coming to PS4 and Vita. (Yes. Someone actually mentioned the Vita in a Sony presentation.) What really got me was PlayLink, a platform for making games that use smartphones as controllers. I think PlayLink has a lot of potential, and I’m surprised they didn’t include it in their official press briefing.
Or, maybe not so surprised. This was an hour-long video sizzle reel, not a press briefing. I enjoyed it, but it just didn’t have to punch of previous E3s.
That Spider-Man gameplay footage was LIT, though.’
To a certain extent, Nintendo is just doing a victory lap as well. The Switch is a smashing success, and Nintendo has figured out they just need to make Nintendo games using Nintendo IP and they will sell consoles and games. There wasn’t much new in the Spotlight, just solid Nintendo games. I find myself wanting a Switch to supplement my PS4. I really want Metroid Prime 4.
What was most interesting was the complete lack of anything related to the 3DS. I suspect Nintendo is going to phase out the “handheld” hardware and put everything on the Switch, which is both a home console and a handheld. The announcement of a “core Pokemon RPG” coming for the Switch seems to confirm my suspicion.
BioWare is deteriorating. (Sob) Microsoft is confused. (Hehehehehe) Bethesda is…I don’t know. Resting on their laurels, I think. (Sigh) Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo are still making great games. (Yay!) If all the games announced for 2018 actually release, it will be a great year for games. Fall 2017 doesn’t look that bad either.
Tale of Two Trailers
I was ten when Star Wars was released, and I saw it in theaters a bunch of times. (Those were the days when popular movies played in theaters forever. SW ran for over a year.) I enjoyed Episodes V and VI. Moderately enjoyed Episode I. Hated Episodes II and III. Got a warm wash of nostalgia watching Episode VII. I thought Rogue One was okay, but I like it better now when watched immediately preceding Star Wars. (I will never call it Episode IV.)
I said all that to say this, the first teaser trailer for Episode VIII is extremely boring. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it…
Now, a movie trailer is supposed to do one thing and one thing only: sell tickets. Movie trailers are supposed to put seats into seats, if you get my drift. I already want to see The Last Jedi just because it is Star Wars, and now this trailer is making me think…eh, I don’t need to spend money on a movie ticket. I’ll wait until it hits home video. This trailer is actively UNselling tickets.
There’s nothing about this trailer that excites me or makes me want to find out more. Even Luke’s big ending line, “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” is a throwaway. We KNOW that will be said in the first five minutes of the film, followed by Rey successfully cajoling Luke into training her. Why bother “teasing” it?
What the marketing gurus at LucasFilm need to do is walk across the studio lot to their friends at Marvel. Just a few days before The Last Jedi trailer hit the interwebz, we got the first teaser trailer for Thor: Ragnarok. Here it is…
It’s OK if you want to rewind and watch it a few (hundred) more times. Now, the Thor movies have always been my least favorite (modern, since Iron Man in 2008) Marvel films.  I never saw Thor: The Dark World in theaters because the first one was just so blah. I was moderately excited about the new Thor (Jeff Goldblum! Karl Urban! Benedict Cumberbatch! Hulk!), but wasn’t really anticipating it. Then I saw that trailer.
Sweet Christmas!  I’m now thinking Thor: Ragnarok might be the most exciting superhero movie this year. The movie might be BAD, but that trailer is going to put me in a seat in the theater, and that is its job.
As a side note, I am a huge non-fan of the Zach Snyder DC movies, but the first Justice League trailer is moderately awesome and makes me want to see the movie. Not as much as Thor, or Guardians, or Spider-Man, but WB/DC has significant baggage with me that must be overcome. Here’s that trailer…
Yeah, I know, that’s three trailers, not two. You got a bonus.
 I have a theory that casting Natalie Portman as the hero’s love interest is a death sentence for a movie. Discuss.
 I know I’m mixing my Marvel catchphrases. Not sorry.