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Duane Lester

Duane Lester is a freelance writer and homeschool dad for his six children. He also blogs at All American Blogger.
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5 ‘Wolverine Vs.’ Battles I’d Pay To See in a Theater

Friday, July 19th, 2013 - by Duane Lester
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Hugh Jackman owns the on screen role of Wolverine.  Next week, he dons the sideburns again, and with a “Snikt!,” The Wolverine takes on the Yakuza and the Silver Samurai.

In a recent interview, he told Collider he’d love to see all the movies in the Marvel universe start crossing over:

When speaking with Jackman, Steve asked him what it would take to get all of these characters together onscreen, and the actor noted that he’s been asking the same exact question:

“Mate, I ask the same question.  I literally asked the same question the other day to Tom from Marvel who works with all the other studios, he works with Sony and Fox, that’s his job to liaise.  I said, ‘Man, can this happen?’ and he goes ‘Look, it’s not gonna be easy because you’re working with different studios and they’re their properties.’  But I believe—maybe I’m optimistic, I understand at Marvel they’ve got The Avengers, they’ve got a lot of big things going on, but at some point I just find it almost impossible that there’s not a way to bring Iron Man, all the Avengers characters, Wolverine, the X-Men characters, Spider-Man, and somehow get them in together.”

Being the fan boy that I am, I’d just prefer Marvel took back the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-man and rebooted them in movies more faithful to the comics, but that’s about as likely as Jackman’s wish coming true.

But, if Marvel hadn’t sold the rights to all its characters and could make crossover movies as frequently as they make crossover comics, there are a few people I’d love to see Wolverine battle on an IMAX screen.

Starting with…

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How to Raise Superheroes in a World Gone Gotham

Monday, July 8th, 2013 - by Duane Lester

batmanandrobin

This weekend I dropped my eldest son off at Boy Scout camp for the first time.  He’ll be gone for a week.

Prior to leaving, I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I know the boy had been.  I asked him how he was feeling.

“Good,” he said.

“Scared?”

“A little.”

“Nervous?” I asked.

“A lot,” he replied.

I smiled, ruffled his hair a little and told him he’d be just fine.  I don’t know if it eased any of his worries.  I hope it did.

Later, when it was time for me to leave him at camp, it hit me.

That feeling in your gut.  It was then I knew how the boy was feeling leading up to that moment.

As he was about to walk off with his troop to start his week away, I pulled him close.

“I love you, son,” I said and kissed him on his forehead.

“Love you too,” he said and joined his group.

As I walked away, I grew sad.  My Robin was becoming Nightwing.

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8 Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts You Can Get Your Dad Without Leaving Your Keyboard

Friday, June 14th, 2013 - by Duane Lester

Every year, I forget Mother’s Day until it’s too late.

Father’s Day I usually remember.

This evening I was driving my children to Little League and I said to my wife, “Is Father’s Day this Sunday?”

“Yep,” she said.

I forgot.

I’m sure there are people out there who are in the same boat as me. Back in the day, I’d be scrambling for a fishing lure or work shirt.

Today, though, I don’t need to go anywhere. I can buy my Dad a gift right here at the keyboard.

So, if you read this and find yourself in the same boat as me, you’re in luck, because I’m about to list off eight different gifts you can get your father for Father’s Day without leaving the keyboard.

Starting with something manly.

A Manly Book

I make bracelets with my son.

I know that doesn’t sound like a “manly” hobby, but it is.

We make them using parachute cord, or paracord.  Take a length of paracord, depending on the size of your wrist, tie a few knots, and BOOM!

Not actually my wrist.

Not actually my wrist.

You can buy paracord in pretty much any color you want.  You can buy buckles and use them, or you can buy flint and steel and make a firestarter survival bracelet.

Now that’s manly.

However, you can’t download the paracord.

You can’t download the buckles or the flint and steel.

But you can download the ebook Manly Crafts.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Manly Crafts?”  That’s an oxymoron.

Well, here’s the first manly craft in the book.

Take this:

wood

A manly chunk of wood.

 

And turn it into this:

woodenspoon

A Viking wooden spoon, because Viking equals manly.

Using these:

Viking "crafting tools."

Viking “crafting tools.” Do I really need to say it? That’s manly.

The best part, aside from the time you’ll spend with your dear old dad working on the project in this book, is that the book’s less than a dollar.

There are tons of cheap ebooks out there for Father’s Day. Get your dad a couple.

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The Judge Dredd Guide to Parenting

Monday, October 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

In Mega-City One, there is one constant: Judge Joseph Dredd.

Cloned from the first chief judge, Eustace Fargo, Dredd’s growth was artificially accelerated. After his brain was electronically implanted with all the appropriate information he would need, he was “born” at age five, just in time to enter the Academy of Law.

Called the toughest school on Earth, it takes fifteen years to make it through the Academy. Judge Dredd was fast-tracked.

He made it through in thirteen.

He is by far the most famous street judge in Mega-City One, known for his unshakable devotion to the law and the swift and brutal punishment he brings to anyone who violates it.

What can he teach us about being a good parent?

I can think of five things.

Photo Credit:  Boyce Duprey

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VIDEO: Fan Makes Working Model of SHIELD Helicarrier from The Avengers

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 - by Duane Lester

You know you want one:

Hat Tip: Super Hero Hype

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See more from Duane on superheroes at PJ Lifestyle:

‘Who Is Thanos?’ And 10 More Post-Avengers Comic Book Movie Rumors

Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

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VIDEO: Deleted Scene From The Avengers

Monday, August 20th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

In this deleted scene, Bruce Banner chats with a security officer about the depth of his character.

Spinoff Online writes:

The clip expands on the sequence in which the Hulk plummets from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier into an old factory, and Banner awakens amid a pile of rubble to be greeted by an unfazed security guard (played by veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton). The expanded scene finds Ruffalo’s character struggling with whether to return to the fight to save the planet, and with his nature: Is he, as Stanton asks, “a big guy that gets all little, or a little guy that sometimes blows up large”?

Here’s the clip:

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The Avengers comes out on Blu-Ray September 25. I’m sure it will have more deleted scenes like this.

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More from Duane on superheroes at PJ Lifestyle:

‘Who Is Thanos?’ And 10 More Post-Avengers Comic Book Movie Rumors

Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

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How I Lost 50 Pounds in 6 Months without Exercising

Friday, July 6th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

Here I am around 295 pounds.

299

I looked at the number again.

I was one pound away from 300.

Something had to change.

I had tried to use the gym at work, but with a 12-hour day and a 4 a.m. alarm, rising an hour early to work out wasn’t happening. Warm beds are difficult to leave at three in the morning.

So I brought workout clothes with me in order to hit the gym after work. Instead, I convinced myself my time was better used behind the keyboard at home than in the gym. At the end of the day, I just went home without a second thought.

But when I looked at the scale, standing on the edge of 300 pounds, I knew I was in real danger. Heart attacks are common in my family history. So is diabetes.

It wasn’t long after that I heard this episode of  EconTalk. Russ Roberts was talking with Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Taubes is also the author of Why We Get Fat, a book Glenn Reynolds promotes on Instapundit. I expected a good interview, but this was an eye-opener.

It would change my life.

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10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Stay-at-Home Dads

Sunday, July 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

Over the last decade the percentage of fathers opting to stay home with their children has more than doubled. In 2001, only 1.6% of dads were full time care providers. Today, it’s 3.4%.

What’s a dad to do? All that time at home with the little ones can get tedious if a guy isn’t prepared. But if you put a little effort into finding activities you and your kids can both enjoy, then your day will be much easier.

And if you can get them outside, away from the television, it’s even better.

Here are ten activities which I think you’ll enjoy.

10. Go Fishing

The one thing I could count on my dad wanting to do every weekend was grab some fishing poles and head for the nearest body of water. He loves fishing, and because of him, so do I.

His hobby is now my children’s hobby.

I loved watching each one catch a fish for the first time. It was exactly this cute:

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If you don’t know anything about fishing, don’t worry about it. You can learn with your child. There are plenty of books on the basics of fresh-water fishing.

And the bonus is that even if you don’t catch a fish you still spent some time outside having fun with your kids. It’s a win-win.

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A Disappointing Marvel Panel At San Diego Comic Con Announced

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

The San Diego Comic Con is scheduled for the middle of July. Today, Marvel Studios announced its panel for the event:

Marvel Studios: Saturday, July 14th 6:00pm – 7:00pm (Hall H) – Marvel Studios presents Iron Man 3. Join Producer Kevin Feige and special guests as they provide an inside look at the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures: Thursday, July 12th 2:05pm – 3:05pm (Hall H) – A Q&A panel featuring the imaginative director of Frankenweenie, Tim Burton; A special look at the world of Oz The Great and Powerful with director Sam Raimi; the illustrious voice cast of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph, including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and director Rich Moore.

I’m guessing Robert Downey, Jr. will be present for the panel. I’d also expect some details on the upcoming Thor and Captain America sequels.

But overall, doesn’t it seem a bit, well, underwhelming? After all, they have some other movies in the works besides Iron Man 3.

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New Judge Dredd Trailer Looks Like They Got It Right This Time

Monday, June 25th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

I was not a fan of Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd.

But it looks like they’re on the right track with this new adaptation:

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“Momma’s not the law. I am the law.”

I got goosebumps. Yeah, I’m that big a geek.

Word is he never takes off his helmet. That’s awesome. So true to the comic.

This one looks good.

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The New Dark Knight Rises Trailer

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

This new trailer for the Dark Knight Rises makes me want to create a fund where people can contribute money to keep Christopher Nolan happy making Batman movies. I don’t want this to be the last one:

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This looks fantastic. I can’t wait.

Hat Tip: Spinoff Online

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Mixed Reviews on Alan Moore-Unapproved Prequel Before Watchmen

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

Some recent previews for DC’s Before Watchmen have me wondering if it will be able to rise above the controversy.

Controversy?

No surprise, it seems Alan Moore disapproves of the idea of a prequel:

“I don’t think it’s going to work. From what I hear, there’s a certain degree of comic creators’ hostility and negative feedback posting on entertainment sites. Some people are writing petitions. I would have never have asked any of the readers to do that, but I’m genuinely grateful. It’s not a kind of reaction I can ever remember from a readership before. I would have thought, from a DC perspective, that’s it’s a lose-lose perspective, unless they did something better or as good as ‘Watchmen.’ But realistically, that’s not going to happen, otherwise it would have happened before.”

Some have looked at the first book with mixed reactions. At the A.V. Club, Oliver Sava thinks the book’s quality might be enough to make people who were once against it, go ahead and read it:

That sense of dread permeates the story, highlighted by the contrast between the bold superhero action depicted on-panel and the ill omens of Hollis’ narration. The final shot of Nelson “Captain Metropolis” Gardner smoking a stogie in a bubble bath is accompanied by the caption, “Some would say we’ve been paying for those benefits ever since.” Everything is about to fall apart for these characters, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes tumbling down. Minutemen #1 feels like DC’s first major effort to create a piece of art in its post-New 52 climate, and it’s unfortunate that the behind-the-scenes politics will prevent a lot of people from checking out this stunning new work from one of the industry’s best.

However, The Huffington Post’s Scott Thill doesn’t seem to be a fan:

As Before Watchmen‘s opener, the first issue of Minutemen seems instructive. After its initial head-fake, it problematically stays uneven, and already boasts sloppy continuity. Cooke’s throwback style and racial epithets well evoke the period, but his breakneck race through the The Minutemen’s back story and costumed roster leaves him little room for more than truncated introduction. Its scattered pace and sensibility is the diametric opposite of Moore and Gibbon’s patient original, although it continues to wax poetic about The Minutemen’s individual characters.

I have no skin in this game, nor have I seen the book yet. And I don’t know of a project that Alan Moore has even remotely been associated with where he’s said, “Oh yes.  I’m very happy with this.  It’s a slice of fried gold.”

As long as a comic has a solid story and some good visuals and I’ll be content.

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DC Brings Original Green Lantern Out of the Closet

Friday, June 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

You can stop wondering.

The character DC intends to bring out of the closet is the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott:

The original Green Lantern – a DC Comics’ mainstay for the past 70 years – will be revealed to be a gay man in next week’s issue of “Earth 2.”

Alan Scott – formerly a married father of two who first appeared in 1940 – tips readers off to his sexuality early on in the comic when he gives his boyfriend a welcome home kiss.

“He’s very much the character he was. He’s still the pinnacle of bravery and idealism. He’s also gay,” “Earth 2″ writer James Robinson told The Post.

The Emerald Guardian’s sexuality was rebooted along with the rest of his fictional universe as part of DC’s “New 52″ initiative aimed at rejuvenating their characters.

Robinson said he decided to make the change because making the character young again meant erasing Scott’s gay superhero son out of existence.

Yep. I’m sure that was why.

No political agenda, just the obvious choice.

While a gay wedding in Archie Comics earlier this year and impending same-sex nuptials in a Marvel X-Men comic have recieved a small amount of backlash from angry parents, Robinson said he’s not worried about that because “that kind of negativity is stupid and outmoded.”

“We should be preaching love and tolerance,” he said.

That’s odd. I thought, as comic book writers and artists, you would be focused on making awesome story arcs with killer visuals.

Nope. Comics are for preaching love and tolerance.

I think I need to go re-read my Punisher comics. Clearly I missed something.

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Major DC Comics Character Coming Out as Gay and Marvel Announces Same Sex Marriage

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 - by Duane Lester

DC Comics has decided that following President Obama’s “evolution,” they should have a major character come out of the closet in a future edition.

Who?

They aren’t saying:

Senior VP Sales Bob Wayne said DiDio’s view ‘had evolved’, comparing the shift to Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage.

DiDio did not specify which character would ‘come out’ or in which issue it would be featured.

But Courtney Simmons, DC Entertainment’s senior vice president of publicity, told ABC News that it would be soon.

‘One of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June,’ Simmons told the network.

Meanwhile, Marvel just sent out a “Save the Date” for Northstar’s same sex marriage to his boyfriend:

Today, fans worldwide learned on ABC’s “The View” that Jean-Paul Beaubier, aka Northstar, proposes to his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in ASTONISHING X-MEN #50, on-sale May 23 in comic stores, on the Marvel Comics app and at the Marvel Digital Comics Shop. The creative team of New York Times best-sellers Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins have put Northstar and Kyle’s relationship to the test—and now they’re about to take their biggest step yet. But will their path to wedded matrimony in New York City be smooth or are there hidden dangers around the corner?

I hate to get all grumpy old fanboy on you, but back in my day, the comics didn’t really focus on the sexuality of the superhero. They focused on his battle against the super-villain.

I know, Northstar has been out as gay for decades, but they didn’t really make it a big deal. It was always about the battle between good and evil.

Crazy, I know.

That being said, I wonder how much of the comic book industry is actually targeting kids today. Comics are not cheap anymore. And most of the collectors, like me, are probably adults:

“Despite notable efforts from many in the industry, comics and graphic novels continue to be repeatedly mislabeled as just another children’s book category,” said Warren Pawlowski, online publishing manager for Simba Information and an analyst within the company’s Trade Books Group. “With nearly a quarter of the comic reading audience beyond the age of retirement, there is a misconception that needs to be corrected.”

The full report is $1,200, money I don’t intend to spend to find out more regarding the demographics of the average comic book reader. But I’ll bet Marvel and DC have, which lead them to the decision to make the books more mature.

What do you think? Is this move, to have one of the main DC characters come out of the closet, a sign that DC understands its demographics or a sign that sales are getting weak and they felt controversy increases the number of books out the door? Or both.

And, who do you think is coming out of the closet? I would guess Wonder Woman, but they already have Batwoman out as a lesbian, so it’s more likely it’s a guy.

I’m betting it’s the Flash.

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‘Who Is Thanos?’ And 10 More Post-Avengers Comic Book Movie Rumors

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

I’m telling you right out of the gate, this article contains spoilers for The Avengers. If you have not seen the movie (how’s life been under the rock this weekend?), you should probably bookmark this for reading later.

You’ve been duly warned.

* * *


The big news this weekend wasn’t that The Avengers owned the box office, smashing the previous opening record held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. It was the appearance of Thanos, the Mad Titan, in the end credits.

Who is Thanos?

If you’re not a comic book fan, you probably have never heard of him, which makes his inclusion in the movies a nod of appreciation to the fans and a feeling that future movies from Marvel Studios will lead to even more stellar sequels to The Avengers.

That’s because Thanos is a more powerful villain than The Avengers have faced before.

Thanos is an Eternal of the planet Titan, born with the Deviant gene. This means he looks different than all the other Eternals. He’s a bit self-conscious about it.

Being an Eternal, he has some special powers:

Thanos possesses the superhuman physiology of all Eternals, granting him superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and agility. His skin in nearly invulnerable, particulary against heat, cold, electricity, radiation, toxins, aging, and disease, and he can survive indefinitely without food or water even before his “curse” from Death left him immortal, unable to die. His mind is also invulnerable to most forms of psychic attack, and can project a psionic blast of energy as well as blasts of plasma/cosmic energy from his eyes and hands.

Yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.

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The Avengers Own the Weekend Box Office, Villain for Sequel Revealed

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

As expected, The Avengers dominated the weekend box office. Authorities on such things knew it would do well, but they underestimated just how well:

The superhero smorgasbord featuring Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk brought in $200.3 million its opening weekend in 4,300 U.S. theaters, smashing the previous domestic record for any movie’s first three days, Walt Disney Studios said Sunday in a news release.

While “The Avengers” was predicted to be a hit, the performance outpaced expectations. Box Office Mojo, for instance, had projected the film would pull in $172.5 million on its opening weekend.
Its ultimate domestic haul is well ahead of the $168 million “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2″ conjured up in its opening weekend domestically in July.

On Friday alone, the movie took in $80 million.

No surprise: Disney announced a sequel:

Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed the obvious today. After smashing through the record books with its $207 million domestic opening weekend and ruling the world with over $702 million grossed to date, Walt Disney Studios is working on The Avengers 2.

Those wondering where The Avengers 2 might go need only to stay until after the credits of the first film. (Spoiler alert!). That’s cosmic villain Thanos, who makes a cameo at the end of the movie. He’s a force to reckon with, having killed every one of the Avengers in the comic book world.

You really can’t sum up Thanos in one line, so I won’t try. I will say that he is powerful; Black Widow and Hawkeye are probably going to be replaced in the sequel. They’ll need some Avengers with much greater powers than guns, arrows and acrobatics.

A primer is needed on Thanos, and the other news from Marvel Studios that you need to know for the future of the series. Look for that soon in my next Superhero List Post, here at PJ Lifestyle.

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And see Duane’s previous hits:

Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

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Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 - by Duane Lester
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The movie I have waited my entire life to see arrives in all its IMAX and 3D glory this week. My desire for this movie to happen echoes in the declaration of its director, Joss Whedon, who said at ComicCon, “I have had a dream, all my life, and it was not this good!

The Avengers is the culmination of years of planning by the folks behind Marvel’s modern movie successes. It is what Robert Downey, Jr. said it is: the most ambitious movie I’ve ever seen.

What makes this movie so fantastic is how they have been able to build up with five different movies, each essentially a prequel to this one. And then they were able to bring the original actors — with the exception of Ed Norton or Eric Bana for the Hulk — and put them all in one epic.

Each of those movies stood on their own feet as blockbusters, but some were better than others. Which was the best? Why was one not as good as the others?

Great questions. Let’s find out. Starting with the movie that was, ironically, the weakest of the five:

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The Amazing Spider-Man’s New Lizard Poster May Upset Your Inner Fanboy

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

As a comic book fanboy, it always irritates me when Hollywood thinks they can improve on something that has worked for decades. Take this poster for The Amazing Spider-Man:

What logic puts a human face on The Lizard? So he looks more like a human? He’s a super-human monster in a comic book movie, for Pete’s sake! And where’s the lab coat?

I do like the international poster, though:

And I like that they went with a skinny kid. Truer to the book.

Another thing they are getting right in this one: The web-shooters look awesome!

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The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

Friday, April 20th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

How many times have you read about one of your favorite comic book characters finally getting his own movie, learned the actor that was cast to play him, and thought, “What were they smoking?” It’s happened over and over. It’s going to happen again.

What else would you expect from Hollywood, where they focus more on putting the pretty people in the roles, rather than the right people. And sometimes the movie is horrible to begin with and they are only taking whoever answers the phone.

Priorities like that make the following list possible. Here are the 10 worst comic book movie casting blunders, starting with…

10. Nicolas Cage – Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider

Johnny Blaze is a young motorcycle daredevil in the comics. In the movie, Cage looks every bit his 43 years. He looks tired. I keep seeing the scene in the graveyard where he’s drinking coffee and Caretaker says, “You all right?” and Cage replies, “Yeah, I’m good.  Feels like my skull’s on fire, but I’m good.”

That’s how he looked through the movie. Like an over-the-hill stunt rider that just wanted to hang up his leather chaps and take a nap.  This would have worked if the movie were based on the Danny Ketch thread of the Ghost Rider story and Johnny Blaze shows up years after having been the rider, but that’s not what they did.

It seems like rather than find the right actor for the story, they worked the story around the actor.

9. Vinnie Jones — Juggernaut

The Juggernaut is massive. According the the Marvel Comics wiki, he stands nine feet, five inches tall and weighs in at over 1,900 pounds.  I can look past how they changed the origin of the character for X-Men, The Last Stand — making him a mutant when in the comics he’s magical — but I can’t accept the way they simply took Vinnie Jones, slapped a poorly designed costume on him, and called it good.

Juggernaut is big enough that he would warrant his own vehicle and security for transport. He wouldn’t be shoved in the same trailer as all the regular mutants. This guy is a tank.

In the movie, he was Vinnie Jones in a leftover costume from Gladiator.

Don’t get me wrong. Jones is good at playing really hardcore bad guys that don’t take crap from anyone. He would have been great voicing a CGI Juggernaut, perhaps putting his face on the special effects, as they did with Mark Ruffalo and the Hulk. But casting him without any assistance from the special effects department did the character an injustice.

8. Ryan Reynolds — Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds brought an awkward feel to the role. Hal Jordan is one of the most serious comic book heroes in the genre. While arrogant, he wasn’t aloof when he first had the ring. He has a sense of humor, but he didn’t throw it around because there wasn’t any time for that. There were serious things going on.

Reynolds nails the arrogant part, but has the baggage of all his previous — and sometimes hilarious — roles. Because of that, people had a hard time seeing him as the super-serious Jordan.

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