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A Marvel Time

So we heard the news, we read the stories and they are all beyond what most expected it to be. Not only is Black Panther in 9th position at present, it is still on the course to get to 8th position within 2 weeks, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. It is unlikely to catch up with his brother on 7th (Age of Ultron), which now implies that within the coming week 4 Marvel movies will be set in the register of the 10 most successful movies of all time. These are The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Black Panther and upcoming racing to number 4 or higher is Avengers: Infinity War. some of the players saw this coming (I was one of them), yet I was late to the party, merely because I never looked at some of the other numbers, for me it is and will remain the joy of watching a movie on the screen, preferably the big silver one. I expected this to some extent, as I mentioned it in my blog ‘the successful and the less so‘ last week, still seeing that the movie made a global $1,166,407,350 in 10 days is still hard-core awesome. And Netflix is picking up on it, and has been for some time. You see there is a good, an evil and a dangerous side to all this. When we consider the ones in Netflix Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent Carter, Marvel’s Inhumans, Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, Marvel’s The Defenders, Marvel’s The Punisher, Marvel’s Runaways and Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger they might think it is all good and dandy, but the danger is that there will be too much Marvel on the retina’s and they will learn the one lesson that Paramount learned too late with Star Trek, too much of it is also not a good thing. I accept that like comic books I never read them all. I was nuts about Batman and the X-Man, and my youthful best friend was all about the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, so on Saturday we read the ones we bought and quickly exchanged them on Sunday to give back on Monday, a ritual that went on for years because as younger people our budgets were limited. The fact that we can let ourselves go on Netflix like a teenager who ‘accidently’ gets locked in the pastry shop all night long has several issues which we will not go into. The evil side (yes it is), is not how the approach is made, it is how it is translated to the screen, the fact that the social roles of Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are reversed, because in this day and age it would fit either way, but the darkness of the original comic books is lost when we see “acquire superpowers while forming a romantic relationship“, the actuality is lost, because in the actual story it was not some “superhero love story”, they were captured and experimented on to make drugs more efficient in creating addiction, the experiment went wrong and they acquired superpowers, they were set together in a deep bond because of the rage and violence, drawn together as they needed to rely on one another. That darkness that was the appeal for many who loved the comic and it all got a little more interesting as police detective Brigid O’Reilly became Mayhem. So we have a switched setting, that darkness gone and I am uncertain that ‘watering down’ American issues is any way to get anything done, that darkness held an appeal, that appeal is now lost. The danger is also escalating as more series take a ‘lighter’ setting to the visualised darkness that some readers embraced and watering down remains a bad thing.

We acknowledge what Marvel has achieved and we are in awe and in desperate need to view of what comes next, but by saying that, we need to see that some of the darker parts have their own appeal, it was voiced many times with Logan (2017), the darker side was well captured and it was widely regarded as the best Wolverine movie of the lot, Wolverine basically left on a high and that should have been comprehended by those in charge of the Marvel IP.

I believe that to some extent, the Rotten Tomatoes score seem to indicate my version of deviation from the comic books when we see the Punisher with a mere 62%, yet as I am extremely unaware with the some of the comic books, I cannot explain Iron Fist (18%) and the Inhumans (10%), I am willing to wager that the oddity of the Inhumans is more like the Guardians of the Galaxy (little exposure to either comic book), yet the movie got it just right, whilst the Inhumans on the TV series might have (speculative) faltered there.

I reckon that we all have our guesses on that; I am merely telling you that my guess will be as good as yours. It is actually a shifting situation, as the fans got introduced that the Marvel series are moving to Disney, there is a side of me thinking that this is a bad move, not that they move to Disney, but that they move away from Netflix, you see, Netflix has massive momentum and Marvel alone cannot create that momentum for Disney overnight. They need to realise that they are poisoning their own well, they are setting the stage where they decrease momentum. Netflix has 118 million paying viewers, there is definitely space for a second channel and by the time Disney resets its brand to ‘include’ the mature watchers, they will optionally have lost 3 years and many millions, so whilst we see nearly a dozen series take hit after hit on amount of viewers, how do you think the future for all these productions are set? It is not merely the advertisers who take a back gander in all this, whomever is making that decision at Disney needs to realise that they are undersigning close to $200 million loss for longer than a short term, so by the time the momentum is back on the road half a billion is gone, with almost no option to recapture that, do they not realise that?

And no one is insensitive to the Marvel Universe, most of us have been exposed (beyond the comic books) through animation series, TV series and other means of exposure like video games and we all know it works, yet in that light being extra careful, not brazenly blunt is the way to go for a long term setting with a fickle viewing audience, because DC is just one step behind. They had several fumbles and whilst the relaunch series started their successes with Smallville (2001-2011), they still have the same issues that Marvel has. I believe that Constantine showed part of that flaw. It has the goods, yet in my personal view was not willing to be dark enough, it is a view that Europeans and former Europeans share and in all that it is an important side, because they are 50% of Netflix at present and they represented 61% of the Avengers: Infinity War revenue (actually the non-Americans are that), but a massive part is Europe and in the equation of revenue that is a lot more important than the producers realise. You see Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddlestone are not just excellent actors, they are non-American actors and that ‘non’ part is equally important. Europeans seems to be identifying themselves easier to these actors which is becoming more and more of a factor. And that is nothing negative on the quality of any of the American actors, which is of the highest quality. So as we realise that non-American parts are increasingly important, why is the embrace of the story so often too deeply soaked in American ‘value setting‘? It is not merely that a person like Mark Wahlberg was in Boogie Nights, he was awesome as an actor, it was merely the setting and directness of Boogie Nights that captured the global heart, the fact that this movie was American in origin was even more astounding. That is the captured emotion Marvel (DC also) needs and I believe from my side that going deeply dark on some of the series will not be negative, most will see it as a refreshing side to a comic book universe that has many colours. I believe that in that regard Witchblade was made too early, it merely got through 2 seasons, like the Darkness (also a Top Cow production) it was deeply dark and as special effects could not match the comic books (it pretty much can today) as well as the need to be dark as hell (pun intended) showed over 20 years a setting embraced by many readers and mostly appreciative of the amazing illustrations. Marvel still has a few option (they have loads actually), yet the setting of a darker presence they have the series Moon Knight, which ultimately led to the Secret Avengers (how secret can a comic book actually get?). Even as it started with the inclusion of Captain America, Black Widow, Ant Man and War Machine, it would also give us temporary people that have been in several comics like the Avengers and Thor (Valkyrie), X-Man (Beast) and New Warriors (Nova), Moon Knight, even as you might have seen him in a comic or two with Spiderman, remains unknown to a much larger audience. It would also grace presence from Hawkeye (played presently by Jeremy Renner) and Venom (agent Venom), the Flash Thompson version. So not only are a few characters darker, the interaction might allow for a level of darkness, or perhaps better stated ‘living via less legally accepted values’ to interact with the greater good. It is a part that Civil war scratched on, yet as we know that it had been in the central side of many comic books for the longest of times (the DC Azrael series as well as Knightfall), the acceptance that we have that by the book never gets us anywhere and going overboard to the extremely other side is also accepted as ‘existing’, those who are in denial of that existence, please look up ‘mercenary’, ‘Blackwater’ and ‘Aegis Defence Services’, so there is that to consider. We are already seeing the reality of certain places and the issues they provide and solve (and create). So part of Moon knight is already fraught with examples that go back to the Congo and as present as Syria (some Russian corporation), the absence of that darkness is in the end not a good thing, things become ‘too vanilla’ is perhaps not the right tone, but when we consider the near impossible achievement that Avengers: Infinity War created, we need to see that staying on that exact course is not achievable as it started with almost a dozen other movies (3 Iron Man, 3 Thor, 3 Captain America, 2 Guardians of the Galaxy, 1 Dr Strange, 1 Black Panther and several Spiderman’s), so that foundation was well designed and part of the creation of the hype, but pulling that off again might not be possible to that degree. Now it becomes a melting pot of settings between light and dark, good and wrong, evil and optional.

Philosophically we could speculate that we are shaped as people through the interaction of extremes, so ignoring the other side, or perhaps trivialising it through caricature characters like MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing), we can giggle on it in the comic books in an obsolete episode (read: one off), yet when it becomes the main boss in a TV series, the people will change channels to watch the late news pretty quickly. I believe that making Constantine much darker, by adding these options and by not making Cloak and Dagger some love story, momentum could have been gained. There are plenty more opportunities there, yet I feel that the overall package might at some point become lesser. I feel that the evidence shown in the movie Watchman, the darkness that Rorschach represented was perfect, overall the exposed darker side was what made the movie an absolute gem and of course there was no lack of evil when we saw a blonde version of Matthew Goode playing Ozymandias (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

So if that one side of Marvel can get addressed they will optionally be having an even bigger marvellous time than they are already having. there is larger premise to my consideration, we see this over the ages as Marvel has had its share of ‘darker’ characters, it is seen in Spider Woman, who is originally set as “In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was to be an actual spider evolved into a human as imagined by writer/co-creator Goodwin. Her debut was shortly followed by a four-issue story arc in Marvel Two-in-One in which Wolfman presented a different origin retcon as he felt her original origin was too implausible for mid-1970s readers“, it was the sales of Marvel Spotlight#32 that took it to a new level. Even now as we see gene splicing, we see the setting of adding to the human gene, yet the setting of adding human sides to the other gene is still a little far-fetched, yet in 40 years we have gone from ‘too implausible’ to merely ‘implausible’, so there is progress. In all this we have the presented setting like the movie Ex Machina, Kirk Langstrom (man bat character from Batman), Venom, my favourite Alex Mercer from the Prototype series and last but not least the original X-man Beast both the Kelsey Grammer and the Nicholas Hoult edition. There is a league of settings that Marvel (as well as DC) already offered and it seems they are stepped over (read: partially ignored), not merely in one part as they weren’t as successful as the Asgardian characters or the billionaires Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, we can debate that all day, but the American setting is getting more and more ‘wrong’ ((less accepted might be a better term), implying that darker series will be a lot better received that most American producers can fathom, I merely need to point at the success of American Gods to make that point.

So let’s see that we can all have a marvellous time between now and 2020 (when the Infinity War hype passes), because after that we still want to go to the movies, watch Blu-ray and Netflix (those who have not passed away by then that is).

Was that dark enough? Have a fun day today!

 

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About them copyrights

It’s all good and fine to get through the day, to read on how it is all ‘sooo’ virtual, so available. Yet, in the end, is this ‘the truth’? Consider when we see the article, again the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/15/taylor-swift-uk-itunes-out-of-the-woods), so we could say how it sucks to be Taylor Swift at this point. You see, when you use the ‘excuse’ “due to a new strategy my record label is working on in the UK“, we can safely assume that this is about something else. Likely commission, possibly ‘better’ kickbacks, or better margins, yet overall the fans will suffer and they are now looking at other means like uploaded records to get their music.

I wrote about such events in ‘The real issue here!‘ where I stated “So, almost 20% end up buying the discs (implying 80% will not)“, I had written about such issues in gaming, in movies and as Taylor Swift will soon learn in music too.

By playing for tougher deals, you end up losing a lot. And in this case, as I see it Team Swift only have themselves to blame. Just like the gamers of day old were ignored by the US at large, music fans will not tolerate delays on such events. That is the drawback of the digital age. When you offer it NOW, you better offer it to all. So when we see the quote “Out of the Woods is likely to be available for at least some of Swift’s fans in the UK soon, then. But many will have turned to other means to hear the track: for example, there are already a number of uploads of its audio to YouTube“, you better believe that fans will find another avenue. In the end, her real fans will buy it one way or the other, yet Taylor lost out on a vibe that could have gotten her a few hundred thousand, perhaps even a million additional downloads. She will miss out on that one this time.

So is this fair to Taylor? Does that matter? When you decide on a strategy that leaves one out, that one will either find an alternative or will move on to something else. Such is life. In gaming, when this happened in the 80’s, people had no choice but to copy or wait for outrageous prices. So, those with copied games got to play it, those who had no contacts ended up waiting in excess of one year. The digital age now has given us the option to get it ANYWHERE fast, usually at a base price and often as fast as day one. In the age where product outstrips demand by a lot, the digital age becomes a different field. An opportunity missed is a chance lost, not delayed. Music is exactly that to a massive group (the Taylor Swift fans will always buy), but that leaves a large group missed and it loses out to potential new fans, but is that a given?

No it is not, yet we see that the digital wave tends to attract the curious, those who get one song and then learn that the music is interesting to seek out more. Through Audio Galaxy in 2000-2001, I got to know the Corrs, Bond, and a few others. Now, I have almost all their albums, which I bought in the record store, it started with one simple song. That market relies on the new waves of songs, not anticipated waiting.

So, is this me changing my view on copyright? Not entirely, when a movie comes out, one should buy it. I have no issues with buying a movie or watching it in the cinema, so when I decide to buy a game, movie or album, when it is released, I expect it to be released. When we get an alleged form of discrimination where the consumer is discriminated against, should such injustice not be fought? I am not talking about a simple delay like we tend to see it in games, where movies tend to be out in the US one moment, and a few weeks later the rest sees it. That part I have no real issue with. Yet, in the case of Star Wars Episode 1, where the movie was released in May in many places, it would take 5 months until it was released in the Netherlands, for a movie like that, such a delay was just unheard of and as such an illegal download of the movie was circulating within a few days. Many would still see it on the big screen, but not all. Evidence of such events have been seen for decades, so why would the team of Taylor Swift be this ‘uninformed’ (ignorant might be a better word) in thinking that the fans would accept it, and beyond that the rest would just ‘wait’ for a girl named Taylor Swift?

Some might, most will not.

And if you want to consider alternatives, then think of the time, the line and the timeline. Our world is changing, it is less about the product that is convenient for us, it is more and more when it becomes convenient for them, not us (cinema and TV marketing has been all about that for far too long). We could read it as a form of maximised profit, yet overall it is about marketable momentum. That is seen as we see at present that ‘analysts’ already are stating that they predict ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ will make $1.2 Billion at the Global Box Office. The movie is nowhere near release and these predictions are already made. As we see that this movie is coming out in 2015 as a summer release, so much can go wrong! And we are already been ‘tailored’ to fit a 6 week gap.

People are still in a financial depressed era. Even though it is now starting to pick up, the longevity of our economy is currently not a given, with the Tesco issues still  in play in a hardy way, there is a real issue in the UK, even though there unemployment is now down to 6%, yet overall the cost of living is still rising faster than most of the incomes correct for, so as such, income is still not in the level that we see where people en mass (especially those with family) can just go to the cinema. The last movie to really make it was Avatar in 2009; it was a unique wave not unlike Titanic, they are still the first two movies in the all-time box office records. So, at present SW7 is already ‘anticipated’ as one of the top 6 movies of all time. That, whilst the first Avengers movie, making 1.5 billion, took the cake in 2012 and the anticipation of the second movie is extremely high on many minds. Beyond that there will be Fantastic Four, Pan (with Hugh Jackman) and at least three additional movies are on the list for the summer of 2015. Now consider that until the economy is truly repaired families might have the option to see two of these movies. What are the chances that they choose Star Wars? There is no denying that Star Wars will be very high on the list of many, but then so are the Avengers. That is if nothing else happens, like new games, new records and shifting time lines.

So as we see the escalations of ‘needs’ and ‘options’, we will see a change on how people perceive copyright and translate this into the ‘right to copy’, welcome to the new economy of those who cannot afford it!

So as we see what team Swift thought would be and what Team analyst expects it to be. I would state that the truth is nowhere in the middle, and that the truth is revolving around two points of flexible perception, whilst a placement of either is not a given either positive or negative, but what will be, is not linearly in the middle of what would be and that what is expected to be, that what is, is not a given ever in marketable approaches!

But what ‘might be’, requires us to take another look at what we see that is currently done to us. As we are all reduced to ‘product to purchase’ and no longer regarded as ‘consumers to buy’, we see a changing market of expected anticipation.

Is this a negative evolution of marketable industries?

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