Great Moments In Comic Book History: The First Appearance on Ghost Rider


Marvel Spotlight was a comic books that existed so Marvel could introduce new characters and showcase heroes who were being considered for a full time series.  Think of it as being the Marvel equivalent of pilot season.  In August, 1972, Marvel Spotlight #5 introduced the world to Johnny Blaze, the motorcyclist who once made a deal with the devil.  Johnny Blaze was better known as Ghost Rider!

While riding through Manhattan on his motorcycle, Johnny spots two criminals committing a murder.  He wants nothing to do with it and tries to drive away.  The two criminals follow him and corner him in an alley.  And then this happens:

The rest of the story is simple.  Ghost Rider makes flames emerge from the ground.  The criminals, who are named Clyde and Dingbat, run away.  How does one criminal end up named Clyde while the the other has to settle for Dingbat?  The rest of the issue is a flashback, telling how stuntman Johnny Blaze sold his soul to Satan (later revealed to be a disguise of frequent villain Mephisto) in order to save the life of his cancer-stricken stepfather Crash Simpson.  Though Crash survives the cancer, he still dies when he attempts a dangerous stunt.  Satan still wants Johnny’s soul but is vanquished by Roxanne, Crash’s daughter who is pure of soul and has been reading up on occult practices. However, every night, Johnny is transformed into Ghost Rider.

It’s nothing complicated but, from such humble beginnings, legends are born!

Marvel Spotlight Vol.1 Issue 5 (August, 1972)

Here’s The Official Trailer For Spider-Man: No Way Home!


A few days ago, the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home supposedly leaked online.  I say “supposedly” because I would honestly be shocked at the idea of anything in the world of entertainment happening without Disney somehow knowing about it beforehand.

Anyway, I held off on sharing the leaked trailer because I have integrity or something.  Or maybe I was just scared I would get sued or the site would be taken down.  I don’t know.  I held off for some reason.  But now that the trailer has been officially released …. well, here it is:

Apparently, Peter’s life has gotten difficult now that the world knows that he’s Spider-Man.  Since Tony Stark is dead and Robert Downey, Jr. would probably demand too much money to play Tony’s hitherto unknown twin brother, Peter decides to get a new bearded mentor but, in typical Peter fashion, he screws up Dr. Strange’s spell by talking too much and soon, universes are literally colliding.

If I sound like I’m being snarky, that’s just the way I always sound.  I love these movies in all of their occasionally silly glory and I’m really looking forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home.  I really enjoyed the previous two movies and this trailer is certainly more entertaining than the one that dropped for The Eternals.  I actually think that Tom Holland and Benedict Cumberbatch have the potential to be a pretty good team.  Plus, I know a lot of our readers are probably really excited about Alfred Molina showing up there at the end.  Will the other Spider-Men make an appearance?  We’ll find out soon.

Here’s The Trailer for Marvel Studios’ What If….?


I apologize for being a few days late in sharing this. It’s been a busy week. What if …. it hadn’t been a busy week!? Well, I probably would have shared this trailer yesterday.

Anyway, What If….? is the first official animated series in the MCU. It appears to take moments from MCU history and ask, “What if…..” Like, What If Clint Had Sacrificed His Life Instead of Natasha? That’s something I’d like to see.

Here’s the trailer!

Film Review: Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (dir by Rod Hardy)


Uh-oh, Hydra is up to something!

If you don’t know who Hydra is, they’re an international group of villainous superspies. The organization was founded by a Nazi war criminal named Baron Von Strucker and they’re always trying to take over the world or destroy it. Hydra hasn’t had much success on either front but it’s not for lack of trying. Fortunately, there’s another super secret organization that’s been founded to keep Hydra from reaching their goals. The name of this organization is S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are headquartered in a big flying helicarrier thing. So, if you work for S.H.I.E.L.D., you not only get to save the world but you also have a hell of a work commute.

Anyway, Hydra’s latest plan is to steal the body of their founder and somehow not only bring him back to life but to also spread a deadly virus across the world. S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that it’s going to take the world’s greatest secret agent to defeat this plot but, unfortunately, Nick Fury (David Hasselhoff) is retired and living in an abandoned mine shaft in the Yukon. Nick wears an eye patch, smokes a cigar, and speaks in a permanently annoyed tone of voice. Nick’s done with saving the world. Or, at least, that’s what he thinks. When S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Lina Rinna) informs him that Hydra killed an old friend of his while stealing the Baron’s body, Nick emerges from the Yukon in search of revenge!

Long before Samuel L. Jackson donned the iconic eye patch and brought Nick Fury to life as one of the mainstays of the MCU, David Hasselhoff played the character in this made-for-TV movie from 1998. The movie was meant to serve as the pilot for a Nick Fury television series. (Hasselhoff, by this point, was looking to move on from Baywatch.) Of course, it wasn’t picked up and today, whenever this early Marvel film is mentioned, it’s usually in a somewhat dismissive manner.

And, believe me, I can understand that instinct to preemptively dismiss Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I mean, it’s David Hasselhoff and its from the 90s and it was made for TV. I get it. But, having watched the movie on Saturday night, I have to say that it’s actually not that bad. It’s low budget. It’s campy. It’s thoroughly silly. The film is full of actors giving uncertain line readings. And yet, it’s also fast-paced and, when taken on its own admittedly “special” terms, rather entertaining. In the role of Nick Fury, Hasselhoff plays the role with just enough self-awareness to indicate that he’s in on the joke. He delivers his lines with just the right amount of deadpan humor and he chews on that cigar as if the fate of the world depends upon it. In short, as opposed to almost everyone else in the film, Hasselhoff appears to be having a good time. In fact, one could argue that David Hasselhoff is a good Nick Fury for the same reason that Samuel L. Jackson is a good Nick Fury. Both of them play the character as if he’s someone who secretly realizes that he’s a character in a comic book film and who is determined to have as much fun with the role as he can.

The film’s plot does occasionally border on being incoherent but, honestly, who cares? Are you really watching a film like this for the plot? There’s a lot of explosions and one-liners. Hasselhoff has fun with the lead role, as does Sandra Hess in the role of Strucker’s daughter. It’s a dumb but entertaining. It’s also only 90 minutes long so it’s not like you’re having to sacrifice a major part of your life to watch it. Explosions and a short running time, who can complain about that?

Here’s Yet Another Black Widow Trailer!


It’s a new month and that means that it’s time for a new Black Widow trailer. How long have we been waiting for this film now? Where that old lady from Titanic? Has it really been over 80 years? I think that’s an exaggeration but we have been waiting for quite a while now.

Personally, I just hope this movie provides some sort of justice for the character. I’m still massively annoyed with how Natasha was treated in Avengers: Endgame and hearing that Black Widow 1) takes place before Endgame and 2) features Florence Pugh as the character who took Natasha’s place in the comic books does not particularly make me happy. At this point, though, I’ve been waiting so long to see the film that I’m just hoping Scarlett at least gets to beat a few people up with style.

Here’s the latest trailer. Black Widow will finally be released on July 9th!

Here’s The Trailer For Venom: Let There Be Carnage


The trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage was released earlier today. A lot of people on Twitter are really excited. Personally, I have no idea what to make of any of it. Apparently, this is not really an MCU film except that maybe it is. It’s like sitting in this sort of “Made in Association with Marvel” limbo. Who knows? The first Venom film drove my ADD crazy, though I should add that the film itself was liked by quite a few people here at the Shattered Lens.

Tom Hardy’s really cool. That’s the important thing, as far as I’m concerned. Tom Hardy is credited with coming up for the story for this film so hopefully, that means that the film’s plot will be kind of dark and cynical and odd and yet unexpectedly sweet and sentimental, like the Tom Hardy who regularly shows up in interviews. Regardless, it’s nice to see Tom Hardy taking ownership in the franchise. It reminds me of how Ryan Reynolds not only stars in the Deadpool films but obviously enjoys them as well.

Anyway, Venom: Let There Be Carnage will be released on September 24th. “Only in theaters!,” according to the trailer and I have to admit that I was happy to see those three words. Theaters need a shot in the arm.

Here’s the trailer:

Marvel Studios Invites You Back To The Movies


Due to the Pandemic, 2020 was the first year since 2009 not to see the release of any new Marvel films. Many people wondered if the MCU would be able to survive taking a year off. Would people still care about or even remember the Marvel movies without having a new one released every four months? With so many of the MCU’s most popular characters either dead or retired by the end of Avengers: Endgame, would viewers in a post-Pandemic world still flock to theaters to see what Marvel’s fourth phase had to offer?

The positive responses to Disney+’s WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier would seem to suggest that the answer is yes but the first real test will be when Black Widow, Shang-Chi, The Eternals, and the latest Spider-Man film are released later this year. Black Widow is the first solo movie of one of the Marvel’s most popular characters and Spider-Man is Spider-Man so both are expected to be blockbusters. The Eternals are less well-known but, because their movie was directed by Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao, expectations are high. Shang-Chi is probably the biggest question mark but the trailer generated a lot of enthusiasm.

With Black Widow just a few months away from opening, Marvel Studios today released a sizzle reel to remind viewers of what’s coming out. After a brief look at Marvel’s past, the trailer provides footage of Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and, for the first time, The Eternals. It ends with a list of upcoming Marvel films, including the newly titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Marvels. (The Marvels is the sequel to Captain Marvel, presumably titled to remind people that there is more to the film than Brie Larson.) Finally, things end with a hint that The Fantastic Four will soon be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Here’s The Trailer for Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.


Marvel’s continuing conquest of all forms of entertainment continue with the trailer for Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. This is an animated series that is going to air on Hulu. It’s about a super villain struggling with a mid-life crisis after his evil organization goes bankrupt and ends up getting sold to another evil organization. As much as I want to call him Gru, his name is apparently M.O.D.O.K.

Apparently, this series is not officially a part of the MCU but instead it takes place in some sort of parallel universe where everyone is animated and super villains sound like Patton Oswalt.

Anyway, the series drops on May 21st and here’s the trailer:

Here’s The Trailer For Loki!


Like many people, I was broken-hearted when it appeared that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was killed during Avengers: Infinity War. Then I was happy to see that he came back (in a fashion) in Avengers: Endgame! As for the upcoming Disney+ series featuring Loki …. well, let’s just watch the trailer and patiently wait for June 11th, shall we?

It looks good to me but, of course, you knew I was going to say that. I’m among those who feels that Tom Hiddleston can do no wrong so I’m going to be happy to see him in just about everything. Does this series make Loki the first Marvel villain to get his own MCU vehicle? Good for him. Who doesn’t love Loki?

Here’s The Latest Trailer For Black Widow!


The Black Widow in happier times

As I’ve said before, both on this site and on twitter, I have mixed feeling about the upcoming Black Widow film. On the one hand, Natasha was my favorite member of the Avengers and I’m glad that she’s finally getting a solo film. On the other hand, it annoys me that she’s only getting a solo film after being killed off in Avengers: Endgame. Don’t even get me started on the screwed-up logic of her sacrificing her life when Clint was the one who had basically spent 5 years killing everyone that he met. Natasha may have made mistakes when she was a spy but at least she was never a serial killer!

Apparently, the Black Widow solo film takes place in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and it seems very likely that it’s also going to serve as an origin story for a character played by Florence Pugh, who may end up becoming the new Black Widow. I hope that’s not true but, from what I’ve heard, it seems probable. I’m not particularly excited about the prospect of that happening. I don’t want a replacement Black Widow. I want the original to come back to life and I want Clint to do the right thing.

To be honest, though, I’m now at a point where I just want to see the damn movie. That release date has been moved around so much that I no longer care whether or not the film’s any good or not. I don’t care whether or not they’re going to do the right thing and resurrect Natasha from the dead. I JUST WANT TO SEE THE DAMN MOVIE! Hell, I’ll even spend the extra 30 to see it in Disney Plus, I don’t care. I JUST WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE!

Anyway, with all that in mind, Black Widow is going to be released on July 9th and it’s about time! Here’s the latest trailer: