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Yes, There’s a Scene after the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” End Credits

Spider-Verse!

Introducing: Spider Squad Six!

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse one of The Year’s Best Films!

So…there’s that. But I can’t simply post a screen shot of Ralphie’s teacher from A Christmas Story writing “A++++++++++” on her chalkboard and be done with it, because we know that’s not how I roll.

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Past Time for “Bad Times at the El Royale”

El Royale!

The Don. The Dude. The Diva.

For some reason I had a heck of a time trying to keep the name of Bad Times at the El Royale straight my head. On the way to the theater, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t called Bad Times at the El Diablo. Then I stepped up to the cashier and asked for tickets to Bad Times at the El Dorado. Before setting up this entry, I had to double-check and remind myself it also wasn’t Bad Times at the El Rodeo, though that might make an intriguing sequel in which the survivors step fully into California for an upper-class shopping trip that goes horribly awry.

Until that worthy successor to this very entertaining film arrives, it’s El Royale all the way. El Royale, El Royale El Royale. I think I’ve got it now.

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“Creed II”, or “How to Train Your Drago”

Creed II!

This time around, “Baby Creed” has a happier, less insulting context.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Creed, the seventh film in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series, was one of my two favorite films of 2015. It was the first major-studio film for director Ryan Coogler, whose debut Fruitvale Station was my favorite film of 2013. This year’s Coogler model, the amazing colossal Black Panther, will be ranking very, very high for this year’s standings. Tangential note: remember how Black Panther was a 2018 release, even though it feels five years old by now, because 2018 has been that kind of year?

I was a little nervous knowing Coogler would be handing over the reins of Creed II to a relative newcomer, one Steven Caple, Jr. Granted, we knew the main cast would be back — Stallone himself, Thor: Ragnarok‘s Tessa Thompson’s Bianca (levels above the standard Concerned Girlfriend), and of course Michael B. Jordan, star of Fruitvale Station and costar of Black Panther and season 1 of The Wire, which I will never, ever stop name-checking. With the larger-than-life core of Creed still intact, could failure possibly be an option?

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Ralph Breaks the Internet” End Credits

Ralph Breaks the Internet!

Fun in-joke scene for the eight people over 40 who ever loved AskJeeves.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the original Wreck-It Ralph. Not only did John C. Reilly’s layered performance hit me squarely in the heart with that big act of would-be noble sacrifice in the climax, but it later inspired me to write a jokey Top Ten-style follow-up that remains one of the site’s most enduring “evergreen” entries to this day. 2012 was a fun year for me in a lot of ways, and it tickles me to remember that Ralph was no small part of that.

Alas, with great success comes the threat of sequels. Disney Animation hasn’t released a theatrical sequel since Fantasia 2000 graced IMAX screens 18 years ago. Someone up high decided it was time to break the streak with Ralph Breaks the Internet, which, to be fair, tops very nearly every direct-to-video Disney sequel ever. I would have to see Aladdin and the King of Thieves again to decide between the two. That’s faint praise, though. Even as I dwell on the phrase “direct-to-video Disney”, memories of Dan Castellaneta’s Genie, Princess Ariel’s daughter, and The Fox and the Hound 2 return and make me wince.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Venom” End Credits

Venom!

For attending on opening weekend, our local theater gave us a free comic! It’s an adaptation of several random scenes, at least two of which differ from the finished film. Spoilers for anyone who peeks inside before the movie starts.

The character of Venom may not mean quite so much to you if you haven’t been a Marvel Comics collector within the past thirty years, or if you saw Spider-Man 3 and hold a grudge against Topher Grace and Sam Raimi to this day. When first introduced on the printed page, Venom was a team-up of two of Spider-Man’s enemies: Eddie Brock, a bitter workplace rival of Peter Parker’s who got fired and blamed him for it; and Spidey’s former black costume, which was actually an immoral liquid alien parasite that Mr. Fantastic had to help him escape. Venom was the perfect anti-Spider-Man — he all the same powers, the spiffy black design, all of Peter’s memories which the alien had absorbed, and the ability to sneak-attack Spidey without setting off his Spider-Sense. I was 16 at the time and thought Venom was a great idea for a nemesis…one among many nemeses, mind you.

Unfortunately in the ’90s, whenever fans liked any one character a lot, Marvel editors and/or executives would then decree that character must appear in as many comics as possible. Characters such as Wolverine, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider were each given two or three series to their name and/or dropped into other heroes’ titles as special guest stars, constantly and gratuitously. Sometimes it worked and sales spiked with every appearance, until the mid-’90s when their sins finally caught up with them and they knocked off the guest-star oversaturation for a while.

Among those Fan Favorites du Jour in the ’90s was Venom. One problem: he was a most heinous villain with a body count. Homicidal maniacs can be protagonists, but that’s a tough premise to weave into four to six comics per month. Marvel therefore tried reinventing him as an antihero and hoping the other Marvel heroes would forgive and forget, and not try to arrest or kill him four to six time per month. I never loved Venom that much, especially after he began spawning imitative spin-offs like Carnage, Riot, Toxin, Hybrid, Scream, and several more my son could name but I can’t because I never cared. Unless that was all of them. I wouldn’t know. I quit reading the various Spider-titles shortly before all those Venomettes hit the stage and spread the Venom plague.

I’ve run across Venom at random times since then (loved Rick Remender’s version starring Flash Thompson; had no strong feelings about Ultimate Venom) but don’t go out of my way for him. So why did I bother giving a Venom movie any attention? Because I was curious to see if Tom Hardy could sift gold from dross, because I really liked director Ruben Fleischer’s horror-comedy Zombieland, and because my son has been a Venom fan since he was a kid. The occasional father/son outing is a good thing, and we had fun trying to sort out this mess together afterward.

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Scott Wilson 1942-2018

Scott Wilson!

File photo from Wizard World Chicago 2015.

I’ve been offline most of today, but upon returning late Saturday night was saddened to hear of the unexpected death of actor Scott Wilson at age 76. Most folks today know him as Herschel from seasons 2-4 of The Walking Dead, the kindly farmer and sage of the ensemble, often the conscience during the toughest of times when he wasn’t dealing with critical injuries, grieving the loss of teammates and family, or suffering the cruelty of the Governor. Barely an hour before his passing, news had broken at this weekend’s New York Comic Con that he would be returning this coming season for a flashback, most likely in connection with Andrew Lincoln’s farewell episodes and hopefully not as his surprise twin brother Murschel.

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