#Face of a Franchise

Face of a Franchise: Mister Spock!

Spock Rules!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the kal-if-fee that is the comments section]

It’s time for us to get emotional about science-fiction’s most beloved logician.

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Face of a Franchise: Peter Parker!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

It’s not hard to see why Peter Parker is one of the most popular characters in all of comics-lore.

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Face of a Franchise: Traitorous Hero!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task – choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

Most us are nothing more than sacks of flesh feebly held together with some chicken-finger ligaments. We’re weak, cowardly, and directionless. The human condition, if you haven’t noticed, is not generally teeming with dignity. Consequently, we rely on those who manage to combine natural talent with hard work so as transcend the mundane. Whether into the realms of fiction or reality, we all venture forth in hopes of finding a hero.

So there’s really nothing more treacherous than when a hero turns his back on his admirers.

Unfortunately, there’re more than a few examples of our heroes failing us. No, these don’t include instances in which our champions fight on our behalves but fall short. Hell, dying for a cause might be the most heroic act of all. Instead, idols truly disappoint us when they disregard the joy and admiration we’ve afforded them, essentially spitting upon the very people who’ve forged the crowns adorning their heads.

So this begs the question – who is the most traitorous hero of all? Well, we’ve narrowed it down to two contenders: LeBron James and Hollywood Hogan.

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Face of a Franchise: Gruber!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

John McClane is a goddamn bad-ass. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, McClane made a point to periodically run through a Die Hard flick in the hopes of averting disaster and making clever quips. Towers? Airports? An entire city? No matter the intended terror-target, McClane never shirked from responsibility, even if it meant working through a bombastic hangover.

However, part of what makes the Die Hard trilogy so fun is the fact that John McClane never has an easy go of his adventures. By the end of each movie, Bruce Willis looks more like a broken-spirited vagrant than any sort of wealthy restauranteur. The truth of the matter is that McClane is always outmatched by his enemies, and as such he has to get the piss beaten out of him before he can save the day.

So who of McClane’s foes are the most formidable? Which motherfuckers stick in the craw most? Well, the honor has to go to the Gruber Brothers.

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Face of a Franchise: The Hulk!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

The Hulk is a pretty easy character to support. I mean, seriously, what’s not to love? Is it the fact that the dude is a research scientist hoping to improve the state of the world? Could it be the tremendous lengths he goes to while trying to win over the love of his life? Maybe it’s his incredible aversion to violence, the reticent willingness to engage in fisticuffs only as an absolute last resort?

Or perhaps it’s the fact that when the Hulk gets pissed off and push comes to shove, he fucking smashes.

Despite the general consensus about big green bastard’s appeal, a debate arises when discussing those depictions outside of the paneled page. Old school Banner-believers may cite the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno tagteam from The Incredible Hulk series as being the definitive portrayal. On the other hand, the more rabid fanboy-augurs amongst us are already claiming that the best Hulk-performance will be found in Mark Ruffalo. There’s no denyin’ that all three of these actors deserve recognition for their contributions to the superheroic Jekyll & Hyde mythos.

But when it comes to live-action dramatizations of the triple threat match between Banner’s id, ego, and super-ego, two actors stand above the rest.

In 2003’s Hulk,   Eric Bana used his supreme thespian skills to conjure up an image of a brutish, mentally-deficient being with enormous muscles. And that was just his take on Banner! Zing! Seriously though, the Aussie-actor guides the audience through a vision of the Hulk that must navigate his way through a whole mess of psychological pitfalls, including inferiority issues, Oedipal complexes, and the volatility of suppressed rage. Bana paints a portrait of the green goliath that uses both the broad strokes of intense violence as well as the subtle strokes of a shattered psyche.

Five years later, Edward Norton got the chance to bring the breaker of worlds to life in The Incredible Hulk. Somewhere in between a sequel and a reboot, this film tries to give fans exactly what they love about the character. Banner’s on the run, Betty Ross is lookin’ dope as hell, Thunderbolt Ross is bein’ a pain in the proverbial emerald ass, and there’s another monster for the Hulk to fight. Eddie Norton fit particularly well, as he looked the part of the scrawny science nerd but carried himself with the intensity of a man trying to iron out emotional wrinkles of the most brutal sort. Additionally, most fans agree that this second feature-length attempted was more successful than the first…but how much of that can be attributed to Norton?

This is a tricky one. Australia vs. America. Nero vs. The Narrator.

So who’s the best Hulk? Eric Bana or Edward Norton?

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Face of a Franchise: TV Scientist!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

Those who try to tell you that we’re living in the year 2012 are wrong. Well, they’re not so much wrong as they are missing the bigger picture. When you step back and look at all of the technology at our disposal — instantaneous global communication, metal eagles that carry us in their hollowed-out torsos, 4D movies — there’s no denyin’ where we’re living.

The future.

As residents of the future, it’s our duty to make sure that the next generation will continue to revere not only technological advancements, but also the sciences that create them. Kids’re all sorts of crazy-good at playing video games and sending text messages and even making music videos, but they don’t usually want to know how all this shit is possible. And they won’t listen to their parents! They think that parents just don’t understand! Consequently, we must seek the assistance of those folks that kids actually trust.

Television personalities.

But a new question quickly emerges – which wacky television scientist reigns supreme? While there’re plenty of contenders, two have baking-soda and vinegar’d their way to the forefront. Let’s take a look, shall we?

From 1992 to 1997, Beakman’s World graced Saturday morning television with equal parts scientific discovery and zany comedy. Each episode saw the titular Beakman (portrayed by Paul Zaloom) performing all sorts of experiments in an attempt to learn the kids a lesson or two. However, Beakman’s laboratory was a haven of hilarity, attracting such veritable characters as his female assistants (the strangely attractive Alanna Ubach during the golden age known as season one) and Lester, the anthropomorphic lab rat.

Hyperkinetic, crude, and wild-haired, Beakman is the perfect mad scientist to teach the kids about the wonder of science.

On the other hand, from 1993 to 1998 Bill Nye the Science Guy offered a more academic exploration of physical properties and empiricism and all that other jazz. Host Bill Nye did his best to foment keen interest, using kid-friendly television techniques like fast-motion and kooky graphics. Unlike Beakman, Nye steered clear of theatrics and fart-jokes, preferring to keep his laboratory and bathroom separate. Which isn’t to say that Nye was a stick in the mud, as nearly every episode ended with a gut-bustin’ music video parody.

Dignified, jocular, and kempt, Bill Nye is the role model empiricist that we hope our children become.

So, who’s the better television scientist — Beakman or Bill Nye?

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Face of a Franchise: The Boy Wonder!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

For nearly seventy-two years, Robin has assisted Batman in reclaiming the streets of Gotham from the clutches of the criminal element. Along the way, Robin has served as the perfect complement, adding a sugar cube of idealism to the coffee cup of justice-via-vengeance that is Batman. Robin is firmly embedded into the fabric of comics, embodying for most what it means to be a supporting character.

There’s no denyin’ that Robin is the most celebrated superhero sidekick of all time.

However, what is up for debate is who to credit with the best performance as Robin. Let’s take a look at the two combatants!

From 1966 to 1968, the Caped Crusader protected the airwaves with his iconic ABC series. While most comics fans can probably pick Adam West out of a crowd, they may be hard pressed to identify Burt Ward, the man responsible for the televisional depiction of Robin. In reality, Ward is largely responsible for solidifying our modern conception of Robin as a figure of wonderful idiosyncrasy. Without Burt Ward, we might not think of Robin as dude who wears green underwear in public, proudly refers to himself as the Boy Wonder, and constantly yells out, “Holy [insert campy reference here], Batman!”

The other praise-worthy portrayal of Dick Grayson was crafted by Chris O’Donnell. Director Joel Schumacher was so enamored of O’Donnell that he cast him in both of his neon-powered, head-scratching Batman flicks. With two films’ worth of canvas, O’Donnell paints Robin as less of a whimsical teen acrobat and more of a callused twenty-something carny. Additionally, Chris O’Donnell was so courageous in his performance that he donned the first Robin suit to feature nipples. Yowzah!

We all know who Batman is.

But who is Robin – Burt Ward or Chris O’Donnell?

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Face of a Franchise: The Brothers Metal


[face of a franchise presents individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the options at hand and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

Speaking from personal experience, I can say without hesitation that there is no relationship on the planet comparable to brotherhood. Friendships, business partnerships, and marriages are all pretty cool, but the connections between their members don’t carry the same weight as those between brothers. After all, we’re talkin’ about dudes bonded by BLOOD! And hell, I know that there’re some cool sisterhoods out there, but sorority members don’t have anything that fraternity members don’t have as well.

And yes, that includes slumber-party conversations about periods and boys’ dinkies.

In fact, the only relationship more inherently powerful than brotherhood is that of the METAL BROTHERHOOD! When you take two dudes that share genetic material, give them musical instruments, and encourage their bad ideas, then you’re bound to get something diabolically beautiful. Brothers – dudes that’ve spent their formative years hanging out, watching movies together, beating the shit out of each other, stealing nudie mags for one another – are more adept at collaborating on solos and breakdowns and subversive lyrics than anyone else.

With that in mind, we must now ask – who are most deserving of being known as The Brothers Metal?

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Face of a Franchise: City-Rockin’ Monster!

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

Monsters kick ass.

Since the dawn of narrative itself, we have been absolutely obsessed with monsters. These grotesque aberrations of death and doom have served as metaphors, representations of the tests of will that the human spirit must endure. The talking snake in the garden paradise is actually the ever-present temptation to do wrong. The giant fire-breathing dragon is a warning against the dangers of hubris. The reanimated corpse-man is the reminder that, for better or worse, we will be remembered by our work.

Once again, monsters kick ass.

So when cinema came around, blessing us with the awe-inspiring combination of moving-pictures and sounds, it was only natural that monsters followed suit. This new medium enabled the monster-metaphors to be pushed even further, inducing more fear and provoking more thought than previously possible. The horrors were no longer confined to the breathy whispers of epic poems or the staid declarations of prose, but could now run as free as the imagination itself.

Unfettered, movies figured out the exact type of behemoth that horrifies, thrills, inspires, excites, and shocks more than any other. Ghosts and wolfmen and vampires and trolls might be scary, but they pale in comparison to the champion. `Cause at the end of the day, ain’t nothin’ better at conjuring up cold sweats and death-screams than this juggernaut:

The city-rockin’ monster.

In the nearly hundred years of cinema history we’ve accumulated, there’s been no scarcity of city-razin’ beasts. Truthfully, most of ’em turned out to be more sizzle than steak, and a select few terrified us beyond the capacity for rational thought. But two of these metropolitan menaces have stood the test of time, and as such now must battle for the title of most formidable city-rockin’ monster!

The combatants are, of course, Godzilla and King Kong.

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Face of a Franchise: Daredevil

[face of a franchise presents two individuals that’ve fulfilled the same role. your task — choose the better of the two and defend your choice in the rancor pit that is the comments section]

Since his debut in 1964, comics fans (especially those that love to exclaim Make mine Marvel, muthafuckah!!!) have been wowie-zowied by the antics of Daredevi, the man without fear! Despite hitting the scene in a costume ridiculous even by comics standards, Daredevil won over fans by   beating all sorts of criminal ass at night while maintaining a successful law practice during the day as Matt Murdock.

Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Also, the guy’s blind. Which makes his feats even more spectacular. I mean, Ray Charles was cool as hell, but I don’t think he’d handle a trampoline half as well as Murdock.

Also tack on the fact that bad-ass writers seem to gravitate towards Daredevil (historically – Frank Miller/recently – Ed Brubaker), and it’s clear why the character is afforded such genuine respect. The mouthbreathin’, anti-social panel-worshippers that I count myself amongst fucking love Daredevil.

Fortunately, the admiration for this Marvel Knight has been truly honored by the two men fearless enough to portray him in live-action.

If for no other reason, 1989 was a wonderful year because it saw the release of The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, a made-for-TV movie continuing the adventure that began in The Incredible Hulk series. Of course, any time that a Marvel character goes on trial, there’s only one man to turn to for help: Attorney Matt Murdock! The hero of Hell’s Kitchen was portrayed by Rex Smith, the only man brave enough to ride the Street Hawk! Although relegated to a supporting role, Smith’s interpretation of Daredevil as a ninjutsu-lookin’ legally-blind lawyer that helps a green gargantuan is simply chilling.

Whereas Rex Smith’s Daredevil is a one-round knockout, Ben Affleck’s portrayal is a twelve-round slugfest. After blowing away audiences with Reindeer Games, Affleck was given his second once-in-a-lifetime role in 2003’s Daredevil. In this dark vision of the Daredevil mythos, Matt Murdock not only has to fight Bullseye, but the entire Green Mile as well! Proving himself to be a world-class thespian, Affleck navigated his way through playground battles with Elektra, Irish guys with facial scars, and a soundtrack that includes both Nickelback and Hoobastank.

A miracle performance. Nothing less.

So who do you think is the superior Daredevil? The dude from the TV-movie that no one remembers or the dude from the movie no one likes?

Rex Smith or Ben Affleck?

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