The Conjuring universe has proven to be not only one of the most successful horror franchises but also one of the best-shared movie universes. There’s a third Conjuring on the way with a third Annabelle and a Crooked man spinoff following after, but before they arrive, here’s my definitive ranking of the series thus far:
5. Annabelle (2014)
The first of the Conjuring sequels proved to be the most generic. It featured a few good scares but the unoriginal characters and plot keep it from being as memorable as the others in the franchise. Ultimately, it was a nice history lesson about everyone’s favorite demonically possessed doll, but not much else.
4. The Nun (2018)
The most recent film in the series offers by far the fewest scares. It trades in most of modern cinema’s horror tropes for old-school Dracula style ambiance. The movie may as well been filmed in black and white for all the graveyard and castle hijinks that go on. It also features great performances from Demián Bichir and Taissa Farmiga that elevate it beyond the mediocre throwback horror movie it could’ve been.
3. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
The second Conjuring movie proves to be almost as terrifying as the original. It has great set pieces, another solid plot, and another round of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s great chemistry. It doesn’t quite ever reach the heights of the original, however, as the oversized family haunting by a creepy old lady ghost-demon feels all too familiar way too early in the franchise. Hopefully, the third film in the series branches out a little more to provide more of the spine-tingling scares the original had in spades.
The crooked man also just didn’t work for me. He just seemed like some weird creepypasta creation that was supposed to be featured in a different movie that never got made so they threw him in this for shits and giggles. Go home, Crooks, you ain’t no Babadook!
2. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
I don’t think I’ve ever been as surprised by a horror movie as I have been by this Annabelle sequel. In the months leading up to its release, I had no intention of spending my money on another thoughtless cash grab like the original. The strangely positive reviews convinced me to give it a shot, but I was still skeptical. Much like every cop in a Conjuring movie, my skepticism was proved wrong when the scares started coming in. I attribute this almost entirely to the hiring of David F. Sandberg who was fresh off the heels of the feature adaptation of his short film Lights Out (2013/16). His horror skills matched with a solid plot and some impressive child actors made this trip to the Mullins’ house much more memorable than it had any right to be. Here’s to hoping the third outing can keep the momentum.
1. The Conjuring (2013)
Is anyone surprised? There was a time when I really hated horror movies. High school friends would gather around a tv to whatever half-baked horror movie was fresh at blockbuster (yep, I’m old) and I would just sit there, bored by the cheap thrills and the cheaper plot. Then I saw The Conjuring and that all changed. As a relative newbie to the genre, I’d never seen a horror movie that had complex themes and interesting characters before. Most of my experiences with the genre were things like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel or some Rob Zombie remake. James Wan turned me on to how artful and theatrical these movies could be. It led to me finding more amazing horror films like The Exorcist (1973) and It (1990) later that year. This is the film that will always be responsible for my intense horror fandom and I’ll always love it for that.
Also, it’s damn scary. Like I watched it this week and I knew that witch was gonna be on the wardrobe, I was prepared this time, and I still screamed. Seriously though, maybe take a tour of a house first to make sure it isn’t filled with a bunch of haunted crap before you move your sixty daughters in there. More seriously, buy condoms, Roger. You drive a truck for a living. Kids are expensive.
R.I.P. Sadie. You were a good dog. They just wouldn’t listen.
Marvel’s Spider-man released last week for the PS4 with a huge splash. It’s one of the most impressive superhero games of all time and a big feather in Sony’s exclusive game hat. A sequel at this point seems like a done deal. The game hints at it so much it wouldn’t surprise me if the next game in the series was greenlit before the first one released. So with all of the hints, easter eggs, and references in the game, what should we expect in the sequel?
Here comes the Spider-men:
The game’s first post-credit sequence showed our secondary protagonist, Miles Morales displaying his newfound Spider powers. It’s a safe assumption that Miles’ black suited Spider-man will be a major playable character in the sequel. It’s entirely possible that you’ll be able to switch between the two Spideys at any time ala GTA V. What will be interesting though is how they will keep each hero unique. While they have many of the same abilities and fighting styles, they have a few different powers. Miles has the ability to shoot a venom blast which will surely be a fun feature that will distinguish himself from Peter. He also has several villains of his own that will almost definitely come into play. It really wouldn’t be a good Miles Morales origin story if it didn’t feature his uncle, the Prowler. Speaking of new villains…
Goblins and Symbiotes Galore:
The most referenced sequel set up in the game was undoubtedly Norman Osborn’s eventual turn to the Green Goblin. There are several Oscorp videos that reference military gliders and performance-enhancing drugs. Norman’s office also features a prototype helmet with a heads-up display and a prototype pumpkin bomb. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think that a newly down-on-his-luck former Mayor would turn to a life of Gobliny crime to continue funding his research to save his dearly near-departed son.
What will be interesting though is how they handle Harry. While he never makes a physical appearance in the game (conscious that is), Harry Osborn makes quite the impression. Unlike previous incarnations of the character, this Harry seems like a genuinely caring kid who seeks to become an environmental lawyer like his mother. His biggest impact on the game is in the various research stations he asks Peter to help him with while he’s away. These stations do things like help fix the air quality on the streets of New York. It seems like a lot more of a stretch to take such a humble and giving character and make him into the Goblin. Though there are a lot of examples of that pesky Goblin formula warping people’s minds.
The other possibility lies in the oddest part of the game’s second post-credit sequence. When an exhausted Norman visits his son’s incubation tank, a strangely familiar tendril reaches out to him. Fans will no doubt recognize its similarity to the character Venom. While it would be weird for Norman to have bonded his son with the traditional alien symbiote version of the character, the Ultimate version would make a lot more sense. In that story, the symbiote was part of a research project Peter and Eddie Brock’s parents were working on to cure cancer. It remains to be seen how exactly Insomniac plans to play this out as Harry isn’t one of the various characters to bond with the symbiote, but it seems safe to assume Venom will be in play in the sequel one way or another. Speaking of crazy lab experiments…
A Superior Villain?:
Though while it wasn’t as overt as other setups in the game, Insomniac did lay the groundwork for The Superior Spider-man arc. In this arc, Doc Ock takes over the body of Spider-man and decides to show Peter how much better he can be as the hero. While it was a wacky idea at the start, the storyline really won fans over and has become one of the most talked about Spidey stories in recent years. In the game, Octavius’ main motivation is that his degenerative disease is soon going to leave his brilliant mind trapped in a worthless body. His final pleas to Peter in the game are to help him complete his work so that he won’t be forced to go to prison and fully succumb to his disease. The last shot of Octavius in the game is of him getting in his cell and looking particularly nefarious. It seems like Peter isn’t done with Otto quite yet and what better revenge is there than stealing his own pupil’s healthy, super-powered body? Also, what would be a better test for young Miles Morales than having to beat up his Freaky Fridayed mentor?
Parker Industries or Full Time Chef?:
The ending of the game sees an unemployed Peter weighing his future with MJ. While he jokes about changing career paths to cook for a living, it’s safe to assume he’ll stick with science. (I mean you can make a metal Spider-man suit in a few hours but you can’t cook a few dumplings without starting a fire? Dumplings aren’t hard, man. Stick to your day job.) The logical progression is that Peter will convert Otto’s old lab into his company from the comics, Parker Industries. This could add a lot of fun new challenges for Peter as he juggles being Spider-man and running his own company. There are a lot of ways this could also lead to some cool villains. Maybe a certain Curt Conners works at the lab with Peter. Maybe Michael Morbius is working with radioactive bats without the proper safety equipment. The Spider-man rogues' gallery is filled with lab accidents gone wrong so a new lab setting is the perfect jumping off point for more baddies to come. Speaking of baddies...
Gotta have more Boss Battles, amiright?:
No matter what direction the next game takes, they will definitely feature more of Spider-man’s rogues' gallery. Characters like Mysterio and Chameleon were referenced in the game so it’s safe to assume they didn’t make Otto’s cut for his big Raft breakout plan. Other fan favorites like Sandman, Carnage, Jackal, Kraven, and The Lizard would make for excellent boss battles and side quests. “The Bar With No Name” featured in, “The Superior Foes of Spider-man” also makes an appearance in the game so maybe there will be a few comedic appearances from characters like Boomerang and the Beetle.
The Kingpin’s capture still left a power vacuum as well so perhaps The Maggia will try to fill that. One could see characters like Silvermane and Hammerhead fill the role Mister Negative did in the first one as the big gang leader of the first few acts. Somebody has to employ the bad guys Spidey has to punch.
There could also be a crossover with villains from different parts of Marvel lore. It wouldn’t be crazy to think of characters like Doctor Doom or Juggernaut (holy sh*t balls!) making an appearance to further expand the Marvel gaming universe. (I’m officially coining the term MGU, so if you see it anywhere else, they owe me a nickel.)
A Bigger Universe:
It’s no secret that Marvel hopes to expand its video game presence and it seems like this game was intended to be the first step in that process. Sony’s video game Iron Man to jumpstart another mega-successful Marvel franchise machine. Honestly, it’s surprising that it’s taken them so long. Assuming that there isn’t a new Avengers or X-men game in between Spidey sequels, it’s a safe bet that we will see more of New York’s super people in the next game. To be honest, it was a little strange to not see characters like Daredevil or Luke Cage hanging around their neighborhoods in New York. Though it was nice to see Avengers Tower, the Sanctum Sanctorum, Alias Investigations, Josie’s, and the Wakandan embassy. My biggest question is, how much would you have to pay Robert Downey Jr. to voice Iron Man in the video games?
So there you have it, my thoughts on the continuing Spidey video game saga. If there were any giant easter eggs or hints I missed, please lemme know on facebook or twitter.
What the hell is Warner bros doing? This week we found out that Henry Cavill is out as Superman. (Rumor has it Ben Affleck is on the way next.) So is the DCEU dead now or are they gonna keep trying to limp this thing along? Frankly, I think they should burn the whole thing down but there’s one big problem to that.
Curse you, Wonder Woman:
If it weren’t for the success of the Wonder Woman franchise, this would be an easy fix. They’d just reboot the damn thing. But Wonder Woman had to be so friggin’ fantastic. Since they introduced her in BvS, there’s really no way to get rid of the universe because she’s such a big part of it. Now they have one incredibly successful franchise that is dragging along several non-starters. It’s like if Marvel only pulled off Iron Man but couldn’t start over because they’d lose Robert Downey Jr. Did you really have to bring it so hard, Gal Gadot?
Of course you did, that was a stupid question...please don’t beat me up…
Speaking of girl power…
Harley Quinns For Everyone!:
Even though Suicide Squad was a big swing and a miss, everyone pretty much agreed that Margot Robbie killed it as Harley Quinn. Now it seems that the game plan is to bet allll the chips on her now. There’s been a slew of reported Harley Quinn projects that no one really asked for.
Suicide Squad 2 This one actually looks like it’s going to happen with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Black Adam. It remains to be seen how a bunch of barely superpowered people can fight someone who trades punches with Superman, but I guess we’ll find out. Hopefully, they actually make a coherent plot this time and don’t let the people who made the freakin’ trailer recut the damn movie.
Harley Quinn & Joker Because no one seems to understand that this is an abusive relationship. This film is reportedly like a dark romantic comedy. Move over Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s a new f****d up romance in town. I guess people who shop at Hot Topic want to watch movies too.
Gotham City Sirens This one is the one I actually want to see. A movie featuring Batgirl, Harley, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, etc. sounds super fun. Like a rowdier Ocean’s 8! I also think the Harley/Ivy romance is way more interesting and healthy than the Harley/Joker one.
The whole internet kinda went “huh?” when it was announced that Martin Scorsese and Todd Phillips would be making a 70’s set Joker origin movie with no Jared Leto and no Batman. (Though no one was crying about the Leto part...except Jared Leto.) It was a bit more exciting when they announced that Joaquin Phoenix would be the new Joker but it remains to be seen what this movie will actually be. Or if it will actually see the light of the day.
Stuck In Development:
There are a ton of announced DC films that are in various points of development hell.
The Batman They’ve been talking about this Matt Reeves directed feature for years with no real movement. Maybe Ben Affleck, maybe Jake Gylenhall, maybe Kit Harrington, who really knows? One would think that this would be the film they’d fast-track, but whatever.
Green Lantern Corps Lethal Weapon in space! This film would see a veteran John Stewart training a rookie Hal Jordan in the ways of space cop justice. There were lots of rumors about casting but as of yet, no real movement has been made. Ryan Reynolds would have made a great Hal Jordan, but too bad he was murdered by an unknown assailant while reading a spec script for a Green Lantern movie that never happened. (That’s definitely canon now.)
Flashpoint Ezra Miller was widely regarded as one of the few fun parts of the Justice League movie (while also regarded as Tom Holland’s Spider-man in a Flash costume). This movie seemed to be the reboot the franchise needed but it lost director after director and seems dead now. It’s not like the Flash has a super successful television series and a lot of name recognition right now.
Sony finally made the movie they always wanted and it’s a videogame
Marvel's Spider-man (2018)
*WARNING FULL SPOILERS AHEAD*
Unlike most people, I wasn’t very impressed with the early footage of Sony’s new Spider-man. I’ve been a huge fan of the character since I was a kid and have played most of the video game adaptations. Activision’s Spider-man 2 (2004) and Ultimate Spider-man (2005) were both personal favorites of mine. So when I saw the initial footage which primarily demonstrated Spider-man’s open world web-slinging, I thought it was merely a prettier version of games I’d already played. After spending a week with it though, I have to admit I was wrong.
The game drops you immediately into the action as a veteran Spider-man who is in the midst of taking down his arch nemesis, the Kingpin. It plays a little bit like the final boss battle of a completely different game. This injects it with a surge of adrenaline that most games severely lack in the opening act. From then on, the adrenaline never lets up. Whether it’s the unending fun of swinging through New York, the dynamic combat system, or the creative boss battles, the game is a thrill ride from start to finish.
Surprisingly though, it’s the story that offers the most thrills. Spider-man has had many game adaptations and almost all of them skimp on the story. Insomniac took the opposite approach. The story seems simple enough at first, but gets more and more complex with each twist they throw your way. Midway through, they completely change the concept of the game after New York is attacked by a bio-weapon. The streets become a war zone as you have to fight your way from mission to mission, dodging Sable soldiers and escaped prisoners. It’s such a massive right turn that you feel the weight of each story quest and side mission so that you can return New York to the way it was before.
Like most great Spider-man stories though, the narrative focuses less on the battles Spider-man faces and more on how those battles affect the life of Peter Parker. Over the course of the game, Peter loses his job, gets evicted from his apartment, mourns two serious loses that he could have feasibly prevented, reconciles with his ex, and battles with two different mentors who have lost their way. It’s a surprising amount of character development for a game that could have easily skated by on its gameplay alone.
It’s not just Peter that gets plenty of narrative focus either. The game wisely puts a lot of focus on the supporting cast. Aunt May goes from a mostly passive maternal figure to a successful administrator of a massive homeless shelter. Norman Osborn is changed from a sinister businessman to a morally compromised Mayor (and formerly sinister businessman) who will stop at nothing to find a cure for his son’s terminal disease. J. Jonah Jameson even makes several appearances as the voice of his own Alex Jones style radio show that lambasts every move that Spider-man makes while also trying to unite the city through several of the disasters it faces.
Really though, it’s the two surprise playable characters that really shine through. Mary Jane’s missions as an ace investigative reporter add a new level of depth and agency to the character that’s usually lacking. Playing as MJ gives the game a greater sense of danger as she continually pushes herself deeper into the conspiracy. As Spider-man, often you don’t truly feel in danger as you can easily take care of any challenge that comes your way with your awesome superpowers. MJ, by contrast, feels extremely human as she sneaks around gunmen, looking for clues or defusing bombs. This goes double for the Miles Morales missions. Even though Miles is a relatively new character, few have ever made such an impact. His story ended up being one of the biggest surprises in the game and his missions some of the most tense.
The game isn’t perfect, however. The two principle villains essentially have the exact same arc and only one of them plays out in a satisfactory way. While Doc Ock gets an emotional send-off, Martin Li gets tossed to the side despite the fact that he had the most screen time of any villain. It would’ve been nice to see him find the redemption Octavius didn’t in the final act. Maybe a Spider-man and Mister Negative team up to save the day?
There are also a few side missions that are brutally dull compared to the main story. Tasks like chasing down pigeons and dealing with an amateur doppelganger feel like tedious busywork after finishing the great main story. This is truly confusing since there are dozens of Spidey villains that the game didn’t include who could have easily filled these roles. There are a few secret bosses that are pretty great but most of the other side missions feel very skippable.
These flaws do little to detract from the game, however, because even after you finish the main story, there is still a ton of fun to be had. The game offers an impressive plethora of easter eggs, collectibles, and challenges that never feel tedious. Doing things like picking up old backpacks or clearing out enemy bases offer serious gameplay advantages in the forms of upgrades and new Spidey suits. If that isn’t enough for you, the game’s innovative photo mode allows you to take selfies, make comic covers, and capture any moment from the game in the form of your own personal artwork. It’s a small but ingenious feature that has already led to endless fun as players share their work with each other across the internet.
What ends up being the most amazing part of the game, though, is how many characters and setups it manages to fit in one cohesive narrative. The game introduces Doc Ock, The Sinister Six, Kingpin, Silver Sable, Black Cat, and firmly entrenches itself in the greater Marvel lore with constant references to other heroes and teams. It also sets up several arcs including the Miles Morales Spider-man, the Otto Octavius Superior Spider-man, Green Goblin(s), Venom, and more. What makes this so surprising is that this is the exact sort of thing Sony has been trying (and mostly failing) to do with its various Spider-man movies. They have tried to set up the Sinister Six in two different franchises and this game manages to flat out introduce them with no awkwardness at all. In another world it would be easy to see this story as a better jumping off point for their “Spider-verse” than 2012’s Amazing Spider-man or even their most recent Marvel outing.
It seems very strange that Sony continually spins its wheels trying to set up franchises like Silver Sable and Black Cat while their own video game does this exact thing with relative ease. If they truly want to create their own shared universe on the big screen, maybe they should look less to the MCU’s example and more to Insomniac’s. In many ways, this game is the best Spider-man movie to come out since Spider-man 2.
Summary: Marvel’s Spider-man ends up being not only the best Spider-man game to come out in years but in many ways is the best movie as well. Its exciting gameplay, story, and customizable features ensure that it will remain one of the most memorable superhero games of all time. At least until the inevitable Marvel’s Spider-man 2 that is....
The original Avengers imagined for the cinema were very different and to understand it we must go back to a difficult period of the House of Ideas, the 90s.
During this period, Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy and was trying to sell its film properties to various companies in an attempt to keep their heads out of the water. However, when he saw the performance of films like Spider-Man and X-Men , he decided to build his own universe.
Between 2004 and 2005, the colossus obtained a loan of 525 million dollars in an attempt to start its own film franchise. The idea? Take the scraps, or characters that had not yet sold and tur.n them into figures of certain appeal to make a franchise. That year Marvel published the list of ten properties they wanted to use to get back to the top: Captain America, Power Pack, Shang-Chi, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger and The Avengers.
Doctor Strange was supposed to be the Iron Man of the situation but then seeing the success of the film in 2008 became Tony Stark the pivot of the MCU we all know. A great credit for the success of all this and the arrival of Avengers: Infinity War is certainly to be entrusted to President Kevin Feige who has always believed in it.