Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 22

Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! This scene will put hair on your chest, 58:18-59:09 on the Blu-ray.

We start with a shot of our heroes walking through a rocky terrain with spikey snow-capped peaks in the background, possibly foreshadowing the snowy scenes up coming up later. The Brownies pop up in foreground, with Rool saying “This way, this way.” This is consistent with him being the one who knows the directions. Then there’s a scenic shot of a waterfall. The camera slowly pans down to reveal Madmartigan holding baby Elora Danan as Willow approaches.

Willow asks Madmartigan what he’s doing. He says, “I found some blackroot. She loves it.” Willow gets angry, saying, “I am the father of two children, and you never, ever give a baby blackroot.” Madmartigan counters with, “Well my mother raised us on blackroot. It’s good for you. It puts hair on your chest.” The Willow tie-in books state that Madmartigan comes from a family of nobles before he became a fallen knight, but I suppose it’s still possible his mother gave him this blackroot as a child. What’s unknown is the “us” in his statement, as the books don’t appear to mention any siblings.

Okay, so what is blackroot? The wiki has almost no information, just repeating what’s said in this scene. Here in the real world, blackroot is a common herb that grows throughout North America in a variety of kinds. According to the botanical websites I looked at (I can’t believe I looked at botanical websites for this), blackroot can be converted into a tonic for help with an upset stomach, so it looks like Madmartigan is right. Most of these same websites, however, state that blackroot should be avoided by expectant mothers, so Willow knows what he’s talking about. None of the websites mentioned blackroot growing hairs on one’s chest. (Behind the scenes, real blackroot wasn’t used. Val Kilmer is chewing on a vanilla stick.)

Real-life blackroot.

Madmartigan concludes his hair-on-chest argument by turning to the baby and saying “Doesn’t it, Sticks?” Willow gets even more impatient, saying “Her name is not Sticks. She’s Elora Danan the future empress of Tir Asleen, and the last thing she’s going to want is a hairy chest!” Willow takes the blackroot from Madmartigan, including the one he’s got between his teeth, and throws it into the water at the bottom of the waterfall. This doesn’t faze Madmartigan, who says to the baby, “Did you see what he did? He stole our blackroot. I’ll get you some more don’t worry about it.”

A few thoughts on this. Willow’s “future empress” line of note, since all Cherlyndrea told Willow was to take the baby to Tie Asleen where “a good king and queen will look after her,” only adding that it is Elora Danan’s destiny to defeat Bavmorda. Willow seems to be extrapolating all this “princess” and “empress” talk. Secondly, the wiki page lists aliases for each character, but as of this writing, “Sticks” is somehow not an alias for Elora Danan. Here’s hoping some fan corrects that in the future. Finally, there’s not a lot of new information in this scene, more or less repeating the conversation about the baby from the previous scene, but it serves to develop the friendship between Willow and Madmartigan just a little further.

Next: Meager lives.

****

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Fantastic Friday: Hot and pungent

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Like any good ’90s comic, issue #377 features multiple plotlines happening at once with tons of guest stars.

To recap, Johnny is in jail after accidentally burning down part of Empire State University. Franklin was taken into the future by his time-traveling grandfather and came back at least ten years older. Lyja and Sharon Ventura are still hanging around. The issue begins with a flashback (flashforward?) showing Franklin and Nathaniel Richards in as renegades in a dystopian future, where Franklin’s fought giant robots with a psionic sword and a plasma rifle. Sue still refuses to believe he’s the real Franklin and attacks him. Reed stops the fight, more worried about Sue’s furious anger than about Franklin. Sue and Franklin wander off to different parts of the building to calm down. Sharon and Lyja want to interfere, but Ben stops them, saying this is a family matter, and that there’s nothing they can do.

Cut to the streets of New York, where supervillain Klaw is roaming the streets in a Raphael-style hat and coat disguise. He’s just learning that Johnny is jail awaiting trial. A portal opens near him, and out leaps Huntara, a barbarian swordswoman. She says she is seeking “the four who must be destroyed.” Some trigger-happy cops open fire on her. Klaw helps her out by scaring the cops away. He promises to lead her to “the four.”

Back at HQ, Sue takes her anger out on supernatural nanny Agatha Harkness, blaming her for letting Nathaniel take Franklin away. Agatha says it had to be done because Franklin’s powers would have gotten too far out of control otherwise. Agatha adds that she’s seen the Malice persona as part of Sue’s mind.

In space, we catch up with villains Paibok the Power-Skrull and Devos the Devastator, not giving up on taking revenge against the FF despite their recent defeat. There are then several pages devoted to telling us Devos’ origin story. He was a child when an army of raiders destroyed his planet. The raiders abducted him, taught him to fight, and a scientist named Symka turned him into the killing machine he is now. Through all this, he developed his philosophy of creating peace by destroying any species capable of war. That includes Paibok, whom Devos is eyeing closely.

Back to HQ, where Lyja is suffering intense pain. She insists that it’s only stress, but Franklin can sense there’s more going on. Sue, meanwhile, calms down and admits to Reed that she’s been acting “like a total witch.” (Her words, not mine.) She says the world around them changed and grown darker, and she admits she’s struggling to keep up.

Reed, Sue, Ben, and Lyja head to the trial, with Sharon staying behind to keep an eye on Franklin. They’re being watched by agents of Dr. Doom, who we learn is sending out a probe in search another cosmic being whose powers he can steal. Outside the trial, we see photographer Peter Parker is there, alongside his boss J. Jonah Jameson. Silver Sable and the Wildpack are there as well, with the Sandman now among their membership.

Inside the courthouse, the FF meet with Johnny and attorney Matt Murdock, who says that because the university agreed to settle, the trial is a mere formality. Also there in this private meeting is Bridget O’Neil, the feisty co-ed whose live Johnny saved during the fight that destroyed the school. Lyja appears jealous seeing Johnny and Bridget get a little flirtatious.

The trial begins, with Murdock’s opening statement emphasizing that the fire at ESU was an accident. He is interrupted when Paibok and Devos come crashing through a wall, with Paibok boasting that he’s going to destroy the FF with the whole world watching. Then a wall on the other side of the comes crashing down thanks to Klaw and Huntara. Paibok can tell these two have similar goals, so the villains immediately team up, surrounding the FF.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Despite Reed’s insistence that his tests prove that this Franklin is the real Franklin, there’s one panel where he thinks to himself, “Who is this teenager who claims to be Franklin?”

Fade out: Sue’s speech about how the world has gotten darker is a curious meta moment, addressing (or not?) the sweeping changes in the comics industry in the early ‘90s.

Clobberin’ time: There’s a humorous bit where the FF need a cab to go to the courthouse Ben stops one by standing in front of it and then lifting it over his head. Why they’re not taking the Fantasticar I’ll never know.

Flame on: While in jail, a thug tries to pick a fight with Johnny and he uses his powers to scare the guy off. A guard chews Johnny out, saying that he’s not in one of the “special cells” because Murdock promised that Johnny wouldn’t use his powers while locked up.

Fantastic fifth wheel: Sharon still wants to reconcile with Ben, but he doesn’t trust her because she recently worked with Dr. Doom. When she stays behind with Franklin, whom he also doesn’t trust, that just makes things worse.

Four and a half: Again, there’s only a partial explanation as to where Franklin went during his time traveling. Aside from a fleeting mention of his “responsibility” that brought him back to the present, it’s still a mystery.

The Alicia problem: This issue seems to forget that Lyja is here to kill Johnny. Instead, she’s experiencing mysterious pains she wants to keep secret from everyone, and she feels jealousy when seeing Johnny interact with Bridget O’Neil. Bafflingly, one panel describes Lyja’s emotions as “hot and pungent.”

Commercial break: That’s one cool dinosaur.

Trivia time: We see Silver Sable hand Jonah Jameson a bill for when he hired her to capture Johnny a few issues back, and a second bill for the time he hired her to capture Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #375. The FF story wasn’t mentioned in the Spider-Man issue, so this “fixes” that continuity hiccup.

Klaw had a lot of appearances prior to this, but almost always whenever a big group of villains gather for whatever reason. It’s like he’s just wandering around the Marvel universe looking for a group to join, and that makes sense how he partners with Huntara so quickly.

Fantastic or frightful? This is an in-between issue, catching up on ongoing storylines, while moving the pieces in place to set up the next issue. You could argue it’s a few storylines too many, but that’s really all there is to this one.

Next: Superhero soup.

****

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Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 21

Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! Here’s two short scenes, in which Kael gets slapped and Willow flies, 56:30-58:17 on the Blu-ray.

We cut from the previous shot straight to Bavmorda’s throne room, not bothering was an establishing shot of the castle exterior. I suppose by this point, the audience recognizes this place as her throne room. In this shot, we see Bavmorda on her throne, with a bridge-like structure in front of her that visitors must cross to speak with her. There are also two stairways on each side of her and an additional door to one side, I’m guessing her advisors approach from these stairs, and the door leads to her private rooms. There are big windows behind her so that, metaphorically, she had turned her back to the light.

General Kael enters with two NockMaar soldiers. Bavmorda asks if he’s found the child. Kael, not wearing his skull helmet but still holding it to his side, says, “The search goes on, my queen.” Bavmorda says, “Why, with my powers and the strength of my army, can you not find one little child” The “with my powers” part of that sentence is interesting. Has Bavmorda given his warrior strength a boost with her magic? “We look even now,” Kael says. “It won’t be long.”

Bavmorda, who’s not sitting on her throne but pacing back and forth in front of it, hurried over to Kael and shouts, “Find the child!” She then backhands him across the face. This doesn’t appear to hurt him, but as a symbolic gesture, it’s loud and clear. Bavmorda calms down a little and says, “Time is running out” in a somewhat more measured tone. The movie doesn’t specify how much time, but based on the official map, I figure at least a couple of days must have passed for this message to get to Bavmorda, and that Willow and friends have been travelling unnoticed during this time.

Speaking of which, the movie does a classic George Lucas wipe to Elora Danan sitting by a campfire at night. Willow is right next to her, giving her a playful hello. Madmartigan admits the baby is cute, “when she’s quiet.” Willow says the baby is really a princess. Madmartigan goes into sarcasm mode, saying “Really? And you’re a great sorcerer, and I’m the king of Cashmere.” This line baffles a lot of first-time viewers, but thanks to the tie-in books, we know that Cashmere is a kingdom located to the easternmost part of this continent. The books also reveal that Madmartigan once romanced a Cashmere princess, which adds a curious layer to his joke.

Madmartigan says “Good night, Willow,” and he lies down to sleep by the fire, in a fetal position. Then it’s time for comedy  shtick with the Brownies, as they are also sleeping next to the fire. Rool has a nightmare about rats, which wakes up Franjean. “You and that stupid rat dream,” he says. Do I dare ask if these two are a couple? Do fans ship them?

Willow picks up Cherlyndrea’s wand and starts playing with it, waving it around. He recites three magic words, which according to the canon are, “Tuatha locktwaar tuatha.” Where did he learn these words? Well, back during his disastrous disappearing pig trick near the start of the movie, he also spoke magic words, those being “Wuppity bairn, deru, deru.” So he must have learned this magical language from somewhere, either from the High Aldwin or from his own personal studies. Anyway, the causing a spark and puff of smoke to alight under Willow, sending him flying straight up into the air

This wakes up Madmartigan, who looks around for Willow, and then spots him sitting on a tree branch. Madmartigan goes back to sleep. Willow ponders the wand for a moment, and then whispers to Madmartigan for help, but Madmartigan has already fallen asleep again. So what have we gained from this short scene. First, confirmation that the wand is indeed a powerful magic item, as we were told it was, and second, the banter between Willow and Madmartigan helps establish their growing friendship (for now).

Next: Gone fishing.

****

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Fantastic Friday: Streaking

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Things are about to get wild in annual #26.

Throughout the summer of 1993, every one of Marvel’s annuals introduced a new character, in the hopes that some of all of them would go on to be the next big thing. Fantastic Four got the first appearance of… Wildstreak!

Gimmie a gimmick: Each 1993 annual was polybagged, containing a card for every new character. Collect them all!

We begin at King’s Castle Luxury Resort for rich mobsters. One of the mobster’s wives goes for a swim, only to bond with the symbiote Dreadface, last seen as a gorilla symbiote in issue #360. Now a sexy lady symbiote, Dreadface makes a deal with Emmanuel King, leader of this place, to seek revenge on Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm.

At Four Freedoms Plaza, we pick up from the cliffhanger at the end of issue #376, in which Franklin was taken into the future and returned as adult Franklin. Reed runs some tests in the lab to authenticate that this is the real Franklin, but a distraught Sue refuses to believe it. Franklin wanders off by himself, giving only the faintest hints of where he’s been, and his psychic powers draw him to a letter the FF has received from the King Resort. Meanwhile, Sharon Ventura is still trying to get through to Ben. He takes off the metal helmet he’s been wearing to reveal that the scars on his face are now horribly infected. Franklin shows Ben the letter, and Ben doesn’t want to investigate. Franklin uses his powers to change Ben’s mind.

Cut to a seedy bar, where new hero Wildstreak is beating up a bunch of thugs with her cool fight moves and exoskeletal arms and legs. She gets some info a big crime about to go down in Florida. She then goes to a van outside where her father is waiting. She sits in a wheelchair while he recharges the power to her exoskeleton.

Ben and Franklin arrive in Florida, passing by Wildstreak and her dad at the airport. They arrive at the resort, which is now run down and empty. Franklin is unable to read the minds of any of the staff, with all of them coming off like automatons. Inside, we see that Dreadface has scared all the resort’s customers away while building a device called a duplitron.

We then get a flashback to Wildstreak’s origin. She’s Tamika Bowden, daughter of Dennis Bowden. Dennis is a genius mechanical engineer who fell on hard times, forced to take work for criminals. He tried leaving the life, only for the crooks to take revenge by staging an accident at one of Tamika’s gymnastics events. She lost the use of her legs, so her father built the super-powerful exoskeleton, which she now uses to after the bad guys.

At the resort, Franklin dons his “Psilord” (without a hyphen) armor to fly overhead and scan the place. Wildstreak also searches the place, coming across the symbiote, appearing less like a liquid and more like “living shroud.” She fights it, getting Ben’s attention, and he fight it as well.

Elsewhere at the resort, Franklin spies on more crime bosses confronting Emmanuel King. They then get taken over by symbiotes. Dreadface explains that the duplitron can create more and more symbiotes. Dreadface then leave’s King’s wife’s body, killing her, so it can possess a thug named Mr. Fisherman.

Ben finds his way to the duplitron room where he fights Dreadface. Franklin flies around overhead, avoiding attacks from the symbiote-possessed mobsters. Wildstreak catches up with King, who reveals he has explosives hidden throughout the entire resort as a contingency plan. Dreadface goads Ben into hitting him, causing Ben to come into contact with the symbiote. He struggles to resist becoming possessed by it. With Franklin’s telepathic help, Ben frees himself of Dreadface’s grasp.

King sets off the explosives, destroying the entire resort, sacrificing his own life, and seemingly killing all the symbiotes. Franklin protects himself, Ben, and Wildstreak in a telekinetic force field. Ben makes a quip about how this was a lousy vacation, and the story ends.

Then we get a backup story, returning to the deeply-buried storyline of cosmic beings Kubic and Kosmos taking a tour of the universe. This time, Kubik teaches Kosmos about the Celestials, and this several pages of grade-A sci-fi gobbledygook. It’s full of prhases like “the Philosophix Ultimus of the Xch’tul Hegemony,” “the Consortium of the Velsarius Six,” and “the recursive plasticity of the universe.” If you can follow this, you’re a greater nerd than I.

Unstable molecule: After proving that Franklin is really Franklin, Reed swears to find some way to restore his son back to childhood.

Fade out: The new tough, take-charge Sue refuses to believe the truth about Franklin, even threatening to suffocate him with a force field at one point.

Clobberin’ time: In addition to Ben’s scars being sensitive and easily harmed during a fight, we now learn they’re also infected, further necessitating Ben’s metal mask.

Flame on: There are several references to Johnny having turned himself in to the cops last issue, and now he’s locked up while awaiting trial.

Fantastic fifth wheel: We’re told several days have passed, so I guess Sharon is living with the team again. She’s not subtle at all about wanting to get back together with Ben in this issue.

Four and a half: Frustratingly, no one asks where Franklin was during his years-long time travel adventure. He thinks to himself thoughts about how he’s been trained to eb a warrior, and how he’s seen a lot of violence and slaughter over the years.

Franklin calls his armor “Psilord” armor, but he’s not calling himself “Psi-Lord” yet.

Commercial break: “It’ll be just as big as Jurassic Park, we promise!”

Trivia time: Like most of the 1993 annual characters, Wildstreak never gained a following. She returned in Thunderstrike to once again fight the mob. Much later, she had a cameo in the controversial Civil War event, where she was arrested for being on the anti-registration side.

There’s just not enough time in the day to go over all 27 new characters, but I did compile the list. Along with Wildstreak, there was Annex, Bloodwraith, Raptor, Bantam, Darkling, Cadre, Charon, Kyllian, Dreamkiller, Hitmaker, Assassin, Lazarus, Devourer, the Flame, the Face Thief, Nocturne, Night Terror, Legacy, Empyrean, Tracer, Phalanx, Khaos, Irish Wolfhound, Eradikator Six, X-Treme, and X-Cutioner (a different one from the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover).

This was Dreadface’s last hurrah as a villain. He had a very brief cameo in the Fantastic Four: Foes miniseries in the 2000s, and he showed up in the Fantastic Force series, which was set in the distant future, and that was it.

Fantastic or Frightful? This comic isn’t perfect, but I did enjoy it in an old-fashioned superheroics kind of way. I also like Wildstreak. The fact that she fights organized crime instead of supervillains could have made for a cool street-level Marvel comic. Maybe somebody at Marvel can bring her back someday, and really give her a moment in the spotlight.

Next: Join the hunt.

****

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Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 21

Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! In D&D terms, this is where Madmartigan joins the party: 53:48-56:29 on the Blu-ray.

This whole scene is about trying to figure out what’s going on with Madmartigan, and just where he is at in his character arc. Continuing from the wagon chase, Willow scolds Matmartigan, saying “You never, never drive that fast with an infant.” Enraged, Madmartigan says, “I just saved that infant’s life!” He scares the horses with a “Hee-yaw.” The horses run off, taking the wagon with them. I assume this is so that pursuing NockMaar soldiers are likely to follow the tracks of the wagon and not their footprints. Remember that we left behind at least three NockMaar plus Sorsha back at the tavern.

Madmartigan grabs ahold of Willow’s cloak and pulls him and the baby to the side. The Brownies follow. Rool, still dizzy from the wagon chase, says, “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.” Then he does a slapstick pratfall. Madmartigan says “Get down!” And he, Willow, and Franjean hide to the side of the  road as those remaining NockMaar ride up. (See? I was right about them following the wagon.) There’s more slapstick as the horse’s hooves narrowly miss Rool as he bumbles about. Franjean says “Rool you fool, get out of the road.” This gives the special effects a hand in cluing in the audience as to who is where. The NockMaar soldier ride past, not seeing our heroes. There are six of them now. So that’s three left behind from the tavern, and three new ones.

Madmartigan says Willow had better “clear out” before more troops come back. Willow speaks to the baby, saying “We don’t need him.” The baby starts crying upon hearing this. A running gag throughout the movie is Elora Danon somehow (magically?) aware of what’s going on around her. The now-shirtless Madmartigan walks into an open grassy area, apparently no longer concerned with hiding. Willow pursues him, shouting “Madmartigan, wait!” Madmartigan off-handedly tells Willow to go home. “It’s a dangerous world,” he says. Willow answers by saying “That’s why we need your help.” Recalling the conversation when the met, Madmartigan says, “What do you need my help for? You’re a sorcerer.” He adds a flourish with his hand upon saying “sorcerer,” mocking Willow. Willow calls Madmartigan “a great warrior and a swordsman,” then he adds, “and you’re ten times bigger than I am, stupid!” This angers Madmartigan, as he turns and points at Willow, saying, “Do you want to make my life harder than it already is?”

Dogs are heard barking in the distance, no doubt the Death Dogs from earlier in the film, and our heroes duck and hide in the tall grass. We get a reminder that the Brownies are still with us, as Franjean says “Hurry, big dogs.” Willow calms down and says, “Look, I’m sorry I got angry. We wouldn’t have escaped without you.” Madmartigan takes note of the baby, who smiles at him. But then he puts on the tough guy act and says. “Don’t expect me to help you again.”

Madmartigan gets up and starts to walk away. Franjean says “Good!” He says they are traveling to the lake, which is “this way,” pointing to the right. Rool corrects him, pointing “that way,” right at camera, this close to breaking the fourth wall. Franjean says, “You are drunk, and when you are drunk, you forget that I am in charge.” Rool repeats, “You are in charge.” Rools asks Franjean which way they should go, and both the Brownies point toward the camera and in unison say, “That way!” This is consistent with earlier, where Franjean believes himself to the be the heroic leader, while Rool is the map/directions guy.

There’s a silent, dramatic pause as Madmartigan and Willow eye each other. Then Madmartigan reacts with a big “Oh, no! That’s the way I’m going.” He says Willow can follow him as far as the lake. He asks if they’re going any further south, but Willow says just as far as the lake. Madmartigan answers, “Good.”

So, where is Madmartigan going? Upon being freed from the crow cages and losing the baby to the Brownies, his next stop was the tavern, where we saw his dalliance with Llug’s wife. This speaks to his status as a deserter, seeking only to escape. Now, though, he says he’s going south. According to the map from The Willow Sourcebook, which is canon, to the south is the kingdom of Galladoorn. This is both Madmartigan’s home and where Airk and his army come from. I find it unlikely that Madmartigan has decided at this point to rejoin Airk’s army, despite his “I’ll win this war for you” line from earlier. I suspect Madmartigan has other unfinished business in Galladoorn that the audience is not privy to. Whatever it is, he’ll never get to it, eventually learning the greater good is important.

Madmartigan addressed the Brownies as “Mumbo” and “Jumbo” and he asks them to get him “some eggs or something” to eat. We’ve heard birds chirping in the background throughout this scene, so it’s within reason that there might be nests with eggs nearby. Franjean says “We are not afraid of you.” Madmartigan demands “Now!” and the Brownies run off, squealing in terror. The phrase “mumbo jumbo” is believed to have first appeared in the 1795 book Travels in the Interior of Africa, allegedly in reference to West African god Maamajomboo. The Wikipedia page for “mumbo jumbo” has a list of times it’s been referenced over the years, but Willow is not included.

Next: Time is NOT on your side.

****

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Fantastic Friday: Grandfathered

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. It’s for time travel antics and family drama in issue #376.

After returning home from a space battle against Dr. Doom, the FF, with Sharon Ventura and Lyja with them, found Reed’s father Nathaniel Richards in their home, waiting for them. To recap, Nathaniel Richards disappeared years earlier after experimenting with a time machine. In an alternate timeline, he remarried and had a child. His wife was the Overlord of that world, while he was content with just hanging back and being a family man. In this issues though, something has changed, because now he’s a wandering time traveler.

We begin with a recreation of a scene from the classic X-Men Days of Future Past storyline where, in an alternate future, Sentinels are hunting down the last remaining mutants in a nightmare dystopia, and where adult Franklin is killed right in front of Rachel Summers. Back in the present, Nathaniel explains that he’d seen this alternate future on his travels throughout the multiverse. He further says that the FF can prevent DOFP dystopia, adding that the Sentinel menace only happened because of circuitry Reed invented.

The meeting is cut short with the arrival of attorney Matt Murdock and Makio Yakaki, the FF’s financial advisor. It’s time for Johnny to face the music after he accidentally destroyed part of Empire State University and became a fugitive. Murdock says the district attorney willing to arrange a dismissal of the charges, but only if Johnny turns himself in. Meanwhile, Ben and Sharon have a heart-to-heart chat. She’s upset that he’s been avoiding her since learning she worked for Dr. Doom until recently. Ben says there’s always a price for dealing with Doom. Speaking of which, we cut Latveria, where Dr. Doom kills a henchman who speaks out of turn, and then swears revenge on Sharon for betraying him.

Johnny surrenders to the police, with Murdock telling him and Ben to have faith in the legal system. Reed and Sue argue about the settlement, with Reed saying the Fantastic Four Incorporated cannot afford to rebuild the entire university, with Sue arguing that they must to whatever it takes to help Johnny. In another room, Franklin can sense his parents are fighting. Nathaniel says Franklin’s growing powers represent great danger. Supernatural nanny Agatha Harkness has sensed what Nathaniel is up to, and says there is no other way to do what must be done.

Reed and Nathaniel meet up in Reed’s lab to look into the Sentinel/dystopian future thing. Nathaniel shoots Reed in the back, knocking him out, while apologizing that he must do so. Sue bursts and attacks, saying she didn’t trust Nathaniel, only for Agatha to fight back with her magic. Nathaniel confronts Franklin, who defends himself with his psychic powers. Agatha tries to freak out Sue by revealing the Malice persona in Sue’s mind, but it doesn’t work because Sue has already accepted her dark side.

Reed recovers and tries to stop Nathaniel, while also demanding answers. Nathaniel says Franklin is a “pivotal point” in history, one which leads only to dark futures. He says if the universe is to survive, Franklin must be removed from the timeline. Nathaniel uses a time machine similar to the one we’ve seen Dr. Doom use over the years, and he escapes with Franklin.

Agatha says she had to fight the FF because she could see the torment in Nathaniel’s mind caused by all the dystopian futures he’d seen in his time travels. Then, it appears that Nathaniel returns via the same time machine, fully dressed in the Overlord armor. Only we turn the page to reveal that this is not Nathaniel in the armor, but an adult Franklin. He says, “I hope you missed me! I certainly missed all of you!”

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed is partially complicit in the creation of the Sentinels? You’d think this would be played up as something a lot more serious. The Marvel wiki doesn’t even mention this on its Sentinels entry.

Fade out: As part of the settlement with Empire State University, Sue gives the ownership of a bunch of Reed’s patents, which fund Fantastic Four Incorporated.

Clobberin’ time: In addition to wearing the metal helmet to protect his injured face, Ben dons a trench coat and fedora, for the full Raphael-in-New-York look.

Flame on: Look closely, and you can see that photographer Peter Parker is at police headquarters when Johnny turns himself in. I guess this resolves the subplot of the New Fantastic Four searching for Johnny.

Fantastic fifth wheel: Sharon eagerly wants to be a good guy again, but Ben keeps shutting her out. She joins the fight against Nathaniel, but he takes her out real quick.

Four and a half: It continues to be ambiguous how Franklin’s powers have evolved. At this point, it appears to be the usual Marvel telepathy/telekinesis combo, with the danger that it become much more.

The Alicia problem: Lyja is still hanging out with the FF, and will be for a while. She says she’s there to kill Johnny, but that has to wait until the current crisis has passed. This issue also has a scene where Ben introduces Lyja to Alicia, but we don’t see that outcome of that meeting, or anything they talked about.

Commercial break: They are from France, etc.

Trivia time: It was around this time that Marvel published Fantastic Four Unlimited #4. The Mole Man forced the Hulk and the Thing to fight to death, so he could draw energy from his battle to bring his love Kala back to life. The FF and the Hulk’s pals the Pantheon saved the day, although Kala did successfully come back to life. She even agrees to marry the Mole Man!

Fantastic or frightful? The original Nathaniel Richards story from Fantastic Four #271-273 is one of my all-time faves, so it’s disappointing to see the character so grossly misused here. This could be any Marvel time-traveling character, as opposed to Reed’s father. I keep wanting to like this run of the comics, but it’s like these just aren’t the same characters.

Next: Totally wild.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

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Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 20

Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! You want swashbuckling adventure? Here’s your swashbuckling adventure. It’s the wagon chase, 48:59-53:47 on the Blu-ray.

We’re still inside the tavern as the fighting starts, with the tavern ruffians barroom brawling with the NockMaar soldiers. There’s a shot of Llug throwing one more punch. As Willow runs through the tavern, he does a roll, tripping one of the NockMaar. People say that Willow never fights, but this shows that he does have some moves. Madmartigan runs up some stairs. Sorsha is smart enough to know where this is headed, and shouts, “To the horses!”

Cut to outside, where it has stopped raining. Madmartigan, who has the baby, punches a guy and then uses the outdoor rope-and-pully system to lower himself from the third floor balcony down to the ground in an impressive stunt. This infamously begins the carrying-around-the-baby-during-action-as-if-she’s-weightless thing that persists throughout the movie. If Elora Danon is magic, perhaps she’s unknowingly (or knowingly?) using magic to make herself lighter during awesome action. The barrel used as Madmartigan’s counterweight smashes open on the ground, with red liquid (wine, I’m assuming) splashes out of it. This causes a man standing nearby to fall backwards out of surprise.

On a wagon, Madmartigan sets the baby down on what looks like a brown blanket, conveniently pre-shaped to hold a baby. He takes the reins, gives a cowboy-style “hee-yaw!” and the horses take off running. Willow follows, doing an impressive leap off the balcony and onto the back of the wagon. He yells “Madmartigan!” here, and he’ll continue to “Madmartigan!” throughout this entire sequence. The Brownies fall off of Willow and onto the Wagon as well. This also reveals more barrels of wine inside the wagon.

The Nockmaar soldiers hop on their horses and begin pursuit. I count six soldiers on horseback, plus two more riding a horse-drawn chariot. (Chariots are not normally intended for long-distance travel. Maybe they commandeered it from one of the tavern ruffians.) We get our final shot of Llug, still shouting “Not a woman!” as the NockMaar ride off. Whatever happened to Llug? We never see him again, and his and his wife’s fates are unknown.

The horses pull the wagon at full gallop, and the filmmakers to a good job of making it appear as if everyone is moving ridiculously fast. Now there are three NockMaar in pursuit, with the chariot farther behind them. The remaining three soldiers must have taken a wrong left turn somewhere because we never see them again. Willow checks on the baby and pleads for Madmartigan to stop as he checks on the baby. Franjean and Rool stumble around, interacting with an apple rolling about. Even during action, there’s time for jokes. Madmartigan reaches into his shirt and pulls out some fruit, which we’re meant to think was part of his disguise as a woman. He looks around, considering throwing it at the NockMaar, but the wagon goes over a bump, the fruit falls out of his hand, and bonk Willow on the head. This is a cheap laugh, but it also establishes the geography of the scene, to the audience is clear on who is where. Franjean, still believing himself to be the hero of this story, yells “Prepare to die!” at the NockMaar.

A NockMaar jumps onto the wagon from the left, while another fires an arrow from the right, narrowly missing Madmartigan. Madmartigan kicks the invading Nockmaar. Madmartigan picks up a shovel that happens to be inside the wagon and knocks the NockMaar (heh) off the wagon. Because it’s been rainy and muddy, I’m assuming this shovel was to be used in case the wagon wheels got stuck in the mud. The wagon continues on, with two NockMaar seen riding behind it.

The NockMaar to the right jumps onto the wagon with a flamboyant flip. Madmartigan hits him with the shovel, but NockMaar isn’t fazed. He swats the shovel out of Madmartigan’s hand and draws his sword. Madmartigan reaches for the man’s wrists, and they struggle for control of the sword. Remember that Madmartigan bragged earlier about being a great swordsman, but we haven’t seen him use one yet. I’ve always felt the “swordsman without a sword” idea behind Madmartigan is iconic, like something myth/folklore that’s always been with us.

The Brownies run around, avoiding everyone’s feet, while Willow climbs onto the front of the wagon, calling for Madmartigan to stop. The reins, however, are loose, barely dangling off of the front of the wagon. Somehow, the sword is gone, as the NockMaar is now strangling Madmartigan. This NockMaar is not wearing a metal helmet, but a big furry cap. (I’m guessing this is to protect the stuntman’s safety gear.) Madmartigan punches him, and then gets on top of him. We don’t see what he does, because the movie cuts to Rool, acting seasick (Carsick? Wagonsick?). It’s hard to hear, but Rool says “No more beer,” referencing the previous scene. Willow reaches for the reins, but they slip and between the two horses, who are still mindlessly galloping forward at full speed.

There’s a big log in the path. The horses instinctively leap over it to keep running, and the wagon bumps over it and into the air, getting some impressive hang time before crashing back to the ground. The impact knocks Willow forward, onto the wooden rigging connecting the horses to the wagon (I know there’s a word for this, but darned if I could find it.) Rool is thrown a small hole in the side of the wagon and is hanging on for dear life. He calls to Franjean for help.

If all this wasn’t enough danger, one of the wagon wheels breaks apart. The practical effect of this is impressive, as the wheel more or less explodes,  with pieces of it flying all over. Franjean finds Rool and asks “What are you doing?” as Rool cries “Help me!” I guess Franjean has gotten so used to Rool being mischievous that Franjean just assumed Rool is doing shtick and isn’t in real danger. He pulls Rool back inside. At the front of the wagon, Willow climbs forward with determination, hoping to get at the reins. He succeeds, but then has to climb all the way back up the front of the wagon before he can use them. There’s a quick shot of Madmartigan and the NockMaar fighting over the NockMaar’s sword — so the sword is back somehow — and a shot of the baby smiling, just enjoying the ride.

A second NockMaar jumps onto the wagon. Willow picks up a mallet for self-defense. Why is a mallet there? Maybe it was used to hammer the lids securely onto the tops of the wine barrels. This NockMaar is wearing a proper metal helmet, but it doesn’t help, because Willow smacks him in face. This causes him to rear upward, only to get smacked in the face a second time by a passing tree branch. He falls off the wagon (heh).

Time for yet another crisis as the wagon’s second rear wheel breaks apart. The entire wagon is now at an angle, it’s rear being dragged along the ground, with Madmartigan and the Nockmaar soldier being dragged behind it, Indiana Jones-style. If that’s not enough, Willow falls backwards at the front of the wagon, and is knocked unconscious. Madmartigan and the Nockmaar continue to exchange punches as they hang onto the back of the wagon. (Look closely: You can see Madmartigan’s legs being dragged through the dirt, but behind the scenes, those legs are not Val Kilmer’s but a stuntman behind Val Kilmer. Simple forced perspective pulls off this illusion.)

Franjean looks to Martigan and then to the barrels of wine inside the wagon. He says to Rool, “We can cut the rope.” They succeed, breaking the rope and causing one (but not both) of the barrels to roll down the back of the wagon and knock the NockMaar off. The Brownies jump up and down in celebration.

The action doesn’t end there, though, because those two guys in the chariot ride up behind the wagon. One of them throws a ninja star, narrowly missing Madmartigan. It strikes a post on the wagon, though, see we can see it in close up. This is the only time in the movie we see one of these ninja stars. According to the tie-in books, these smaller units of NockMaar were called squads, as opposed to larger regiments and battalions our heroes later in the movie, so perhaps only squads get to be equipped with ninja stars. Alternatively, the lore states that “charioteer” is an official title in the NockMaar army, so perhaps only charioteers get to have ninja stars.

Still without a sword, Madmartigan picks up a large block of wood as a weapon. If this wagon falls apart this easily, I’m sure spare wood was on board in case on-the-road repairs were needed. The charioteers keep the variety-of-weapons fun going by pulling out a mace. Willow regains consciousness as Madmartigan and the charioteers swing their weapons at each other. A tree is in the path, and the two vehicles go around each side. You can hear Madmartigan say “Willow, stay down!” So Madmartigan isn’t just trying to escape. He really does care.

Willow doesn’t stay down, and instead reaches for the reins once again. He pulls back and cries “Whoa,” finally slowing down the wagon, while the chariot races on ahead of them. Remember that Willow is farmer raised in an agricultural society, so it’s safe to assume he knows his way around horses. Madmartigan asks “Are you crazy?” But Willow says they can’t chase around with the baby like this. “We’re getting off,” he says. Madmartigan responds by taking the reins and hee-yawing the horses back into the full gallop. Willow falls backwards for a little slapstick humor.

The chariot has turned around up ahead, so now it and the wagon are headed right at each other, jousting-style. Madmartigan somehow now has the NockMaar’s mace, and his swinging it furiously over his head. The charioteer now has a spear, and is holding it in the about-to-throw position. Madmartigan does him one better by actually throwing the mace, striking the NockMaar right in the face. He falls off, causing the guy next to him to lose control of the chariot. The side of the chariot rides up against a small incline, causing it to topple over. Its horses drag it along behind them. The charioteers’ fates are unknown, either dead or out cold.

Madmartigan brings the wagon to a stop, and there’s a comedy bit of Franjean and Rool stumbling out the back of it. Madmartigan says to Willow, “Now we stop, peck.” He seems really angry as he says this, even though he cautioned Willow to stay down earlier. I assuming he’s just speaking with the heat of battle still in him. Then more comedy with the Brownies, as Rool is dizzy and says, “Ask him to the stop the wagon.”

Next: Getting the band back together.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

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Fantastic Friday: Shiny

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. This weird and wacky storyline of the last six issues comes to an end (or does it?) with the double-sized issue #375.

Gimmie a gimmick: First, here we have a holofoil cover, in which the drawn characters are placed against a shiny, metallic-looking background. When people think of Fantastic Four in the ‘90s, this image is normally what they think of, with Sue’s sexy costume, Ben’s metal helmet and everyone’s matching brown jackets, complete with plenty of pouches.

 

Recap: Johnny is wanted by police after accidentally destroying part of Empire State University. To protect him, the FF battled the New Fantastic Four (including Wolverine), only to be mysteriously teleported away, with Lyja and Sharon Ventura along for the ride. Dr. Doom has stolen the powers of Aron the rouge Watcher, and has traveled to the moon to battle the regular Watcher. Got all that?

 

Turns out the Watcher was the one who teleported the FF away. They’re inside his home on the moon. He explains that Dr. Doom has stolen Aron’s powers, and the came to the moon to steal his. Then he admits that he might have violated his oath to always watch and never interfere, so just teleports away, leaving the FF alone in his house. All eyes turn to Ben, who was slashed in the face by Wolverine during the fight last issue. Wolvie’s adamantium claws cut him up real good:

Dr. Doom, meanwhile, is wandering around deeper inside the Watcher’s home. Remember that the Watcher’s home is filled with cosmic weirdness beyond human comprehension that drives normal humans insane. Dr. Doom is no normal human now, as he speechifies about using all his new cosmic knowledge and power to finally defeat the Fantastic Four.

The FF have decided to split up (I guess they’re also taking the Watcher’s house in stride) where Sharon and Ben are attacked by a giant robot. The robot punches Ben in the face. This causes him extreme pain, as Wolverine’s claws have torn away his rocky exterior, exposing sensitive skin underneath. He still manages to defeat the robot.

Johnny and Lyja have taken off together, which seems like a bad idea because she’s incredibly ticked off at him, believing that he abandoned her. They are attacked by Dr. Doom, and they’re no match for his new cosmic powers. Doom next appears before Reed and Sue. Sue ties to defend them with a force field, put passes out, not able to withstand Doom’s cosmic energy.

Back on Earth, attorney Matt Murdock and FF financial advisor Makio Yakaki offer a cash settlement to Empire State University to repair all the damage Johnny caused in the fight. Murdock worries that this might leave the FF penniless. At HQ, Franklin can sense his parents are in danger. When supernatural nanny Agatha Harkness tries to calm him down, he unleashes his psychic powers on her, knocking her unconscious. Then a mysterious armored man shows up and confronts Franklin.

Cut to the moon, where Ben has donned a metal helmet to protect the weak spot on his face. He and Sharon are confronted by the Inhuman royal family, who have come to investigate these strange goings on (so this takes place before Fantastic Four Unlimited #2, where they moved back to Earth). Sue recovers, and Reed starts modifying some of the Watcher’s devices to enhance the FF’s powers.

Doom reappears, and the FF use Reed’s “optimizers,” which are guns that can fight back against Dr. Doom. Everybody fights! Sue goes into a haze, unable to concentrate. Reed blasts Doom, and it seems like the fight is over, but then he recovers. The Inhumans then join the fight. Doom finally reveals that Sharon has secretly been working undercover for him during all this, but she betrays him and rejoins the FF.

Reed hands an optimizer to Black Bolt, amplifying the power of BB’s destructive voice. This successfully blasts Dr. Doom into “critical mass” so that he disappears. Instead of pretending Dr. Doom is dead, we see that he used the last of his new power to teleport himself back to Latveria, battered and beaten.

The Watcher shows up again and teleports everyone back home without a word. Back home, Sharon wants to talk to Ben but he wants nothing to do with her. We then see the armored man from earlier, who is Nathaniel Richards, Reed’s  long-lost father who is the Overlord in another universe. Franklin adds, “Grandpa came to help me!”

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Everyone’s matching brown jackets have a purpose. Reed invented them so that they somehow give our heroes protection against Doom’s energy blasts.

Fade out: After being defeated by Doom the first time, Sue gets redemption by protecting everyone with a force field during the finale.

Clobberin’ time: Get used to Ben wearing that metal helmet. It’s going to be around for a while. A lot of fan sites say this is the one he wore way back in issue #3, but that’s not the case in this issue.

Flame on: Johnny tries to talk to Lyja, but she’s too ticked off at him. His line, “I’m the injured party,” which makes me hugely uncomfortable.

Fantastic fifth wheel: Sharon secretly working for Dr. Doom pretty much comes to nothing. I don’t know that she did anything to actually assist him during all this. But, she’s now one of the good guys again.

Four and a half: Franklin shows immediate remorse after zapping Agatha Harkness. Also, one of his toys is the baby from that weird Dinosaurs sitcom of the early ‘90s.

The Alicia problem: Lyja puts killing Johnny on hold because Dr. Doom is the greater threat. She’s still with the FF at the end of the issue, so there’s still more Lyja drama to come.

Commercial break: A comics outlet called Entertainment This Month has two pages of these ads, shilling all the early Image comics.

Trivia time: This month saw the publication of Fantastic Four Unlimited #3. The FF traveled into the Negative Zone where they were caught up in a struggle between Annihilus and the Brute, who you’ll remember is Reed’s evil Negative Zone twin. The Brute allied himself with the Tyannans, the villains who more or less created Annhilius. It ends when the Tyannans seal themselves off from the outside world (worlds?) and our heroes return home.

Fantastic or frightful? Just frustrating. Everyone continually acts out of character, with little regard to consistency. Plot elements like the Watcher’s home, Doom’s new powers, and these optimizer guns are also inconsistent. That, combined with the tangled knot of plot threads from previous issues that got us here, give the whole thing a making-it-up-as-we’re-going-along feel. Paul Ryan’s art is nice, though.

Next: Grandparent’s Day.

****

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Fantastic Friday: All guest stars all the time

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #374 continues an ongoing arc with multiple plotlines and numerous guest stars — and this one has all the guest stars!

Recap: During a fight with villains, Johnny accidentally destroyed part of Empire State University, so now he is a fugitive from the police. Spider-Man got involved, hoping to find a way to help Johnny. Meanwhile, Dr. Doom has stolen the powers of Aron the rogue Watcher.

Spider-Man sneaks into Dr. Strange’s sanctum. (It appears that Doc merely left a window open. I guess he predicted Spidey would show up.) Spider-Man asks for help in looking for Johnny. Strange has a vision of Dr. Doom, and says Johnny’s disappearance has far-reaching, cosmic significance. Spider-Man asks Dr. Strange to contact three other superheroes who filled in for the FF with him a while back. Using his astral form, Strange reaches out to Wolverine, the Hulk, and Ghost Rider. It’s the return of the New Fantastic Four (with a capital N.)!

Back at HQ, Reed and Sue get into a huge argument about Johnny’s predicament, with Sue’s new take-no-prisoners attitude not helping. In the next room, Franklin is upset about the argument and his psychic powers manifest for a moment before he calms down. Supernatural nanny Agatha Harkness fears what Franklin might be turning into.

In Latveria, Dr. Doom has transferred Aron’s stolen cosmic powers into a special battery back, and he checks in on his tech guys, who are building a new suit of armor for him. As he dons his new shiny silver armor, Doom comments about how the Watcher is always up there on the moon, with seemingly godlike power that he never uses.

 

In New York, the FF split up, flying the four-part Fantasticar over the city, looking for Johnny. Johnny is hiding out in an abandoned tenement, looking all grizzled and homeless. Johnny says he can’t face his teammates after the mistakes he’s made. Nearby, the New FF has already assembled, with Dr. Strange’s astral form tagging along. Wolverine’s heightened senses are able to track Johnny with ease. Spider-Man just wants Johnny to turn himself in, but Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider are out for blood. Up in space, the situation is being monitored by Paibok the Power-Skrull, Devos the Devastator, and Lyja — the three who started all this. Lyja is having second thoughts about taking revenge on Johnny.

The New FF confront Johnny briefly, and then the original FF show up, and of course it’s a superhero misunderstanding fight. Ghost Rider knocks out Sue and then burns Johnny, because he has supernatural hellfire and not earthly fire. Spider-Man webs up Sharon before she can swing a punch. Reed makes his body so malleable that Wolverine has nothing to cut with his claws. Ben and the Hulk exchange a few punches, only for Wolverine to break free and slash Ben across the face. (!) This happens pretty quick, but it will have big consequences in issues to come.

Cut to the moon, where the Watcher has placed Aron in suspended animation. Dr. Doom, in his new armor with the cosmic battery attached, teleports into the Watcher’s home to pick a fight. We don’t see the results of because we go straight back to Earth, where Lyja appears, breaking up the fight between the two FFs. In space, Paibok sees this and declares that Lyja has betrayed him. We then see that Devos is also planning to betray him. On Earth, Lyja and the FF vanish, leaving the New FF behind. Dr. Strange, who’s still hanging around, says he fears they’ve finally seen the last of the Fantastic Four.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: It’s worth noting that Reed has started wearing his brown adventuring vest during this arc. In true ‘90s comic book style, the vest has tons of pouches that we never see being used.

Fade out: When Ben’s face is slashed by Wolverine, Sue reacts compassion, showing that her new attitude during this arc doesn’t have to be all rage monster all the time.

Clobberin’ time: Ben is still struggling with his feelings for Alicia. Sharon keeps confronting him, wanting to talk to him about it, but we don’t see them have that talk in this issue.

Flame on: I’m not sure what to think of Ghost Rider being more powerful than Johnny. We can chalk this up to Ghost Rider’s huge popularity in the early ‘90s, but still.

Fantastic fifth wheel: Sharon knows how to fight and she has some superhuman strength, but she doesn’t stand a chance against Spider-Man.

Speaking of Spider-Man, this issue finds him at the end of the Return to the Mad Dog Ward story arc, which introduced the laughable Captain Zero to the Marvel Universe. He’s also dealing the mystery of whether his parents have returned from the dead.

The Hulk recently left his long-running Vegas mob enforcer role, and now has a new headquarters called the Mount, and new teammates in the Greek mythology-themed Pantheon. This issue, however, still references Las Vegas, so maybe it’s just before that change.

Wolverine came to this issue after experiencing a lot of trauma in his solo series. His love Mariko died, and then he descended into madness while trying to recover some of his lost memories. Maybe that’s why he’s so bloodthirsty in his fight with the FF.

Ghost Rider was all over the place in Marvel during this time, appearing in Shadow Riders, Midnight Sons Unlimited, Spirits of Vengeance, and Nightstalkers in addition to his own series, all doing the usual demon fighting stuff.

Four and a half: Agatha Harkness uses magic to help calm Franklin down, and she chooses not to reveal what she knows about Franklin to Reed and Sue. Why did they hire her?

The Alicia problem: Lyja once again mentions her and Johnny’s “unborn child” pretty much confirming that her pregnancy was not a hoax, but a tragic miscarriage. (EDIT: I just did a little bit more research, and this plot hole will be explained in a weird way coming up in issue #390.)

Commercial break: I don’t know if I can handle this much coolness:

Trivia time: The reason Dr. Strange hangs back and doesn’t join the fight is because his powers were severely weakened in Dr. Strange #50. This led to him recruiting other heroes to help him fight evil, which was the premise of The Secret Defenders. Because of this issue, the New Fantastic Four also count as members of the Secret Defenders.

It was also this month that Fantastic Four Unlimited #2 was published. Black Bolt and Medusa have a son, Ahura, who gets caught up in a fight between good Inhumans and bad Inhumans. The FF show up and join the good side. It ends with the Inhuman royal family relocating to a new home on Earth, leaving the Inhumans on the moon without traditional leadership.

Fantastic or frightful? The New Fantastic Four may or may not have been a cash grab the first time around, but they certainly are this time. This could have been any four guest stars. On the plus side, this issue serves to tie together some of the parallel plotlines of the last few issues, making it feel less random and more like one cohesive story.

Next: Ooh, shiny.

****

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Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 19

Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freaking Willow! Gentlemen, meet Llug: 43:53-48:58 on the Blu-ray.

 

We begin with Willow and the baby in the rain, walking out from behind some trees and coming across a three-story building. The wiki merely defines this as a roadside tavern, not giving it a proper name. There’s a lot of activity out front, with people and animals walking about, and a large crate being lifted up to the second floor balcony via some sort of pulley system. Willow looks down at the baby, and then Franjean pops up from inside Willow’s backpack, saying “We are not going in there.” Willow argues that the baby needs fresh milk, and that they’re drenched. Franjean insists that he’s in charge, calling Willow “shorty,” and Willow’s having none of it. He walks toward the tavern.

 Cut to inside, where Willow walks up some stairs with festive violin music playing. There are a lot of people inside, and a lot of activity. It’s hard to tell, but it appears two of the people are fighting. Behind Willow, someone has brought a white pony inside the building. Willow makes his way through the room, as two gruff, mustachioed men frown down at him. There’s a funny reaction of shot of the baby staring back at them, wide-eyed. Willow moves forward, and next sees a bald man with a red snake tattoo on his arm. This man is leaning forward with his head resting against a table, probably to suggest he’d been drinking.

 Willow tries to get the attention of two women, one of whom has long bone-like attachments in her hair. He asks the women for milk for the baby, and one says “Get out of here, peck!” and throws some lettuce from a nearby bowl in his face. More follow suit, with everybody throwing lettuce at Willow and shouting at him. Willow walks past a staircase which, oddly, appears to be in the center of the room. He kneels down next to it, out of harm’s way.

 The two Brownies pop their heads of Willow’s backpack, and notice a pretty Daikini woman nearby. “Look at her,” Rool says. “I could use a love potion on her. Franjean, give me the Dust of Broken Hearts. Come on.” Rool reaches for a pouch around Franjean’s neck, and there’s some slaptick of the two of them fighting over it. Franjean says the dust is “very dangerous” and that it belongs to the fairies.

 A small amount of the dust falls on Rool’s face, and he falls out of Willow’s backpack. The dust glows bright yellow. Willow asks the Brownies to be quiet, saying “Do you want to get us killed?” Rool, still with the glowing dust floating around his head, hits the floor and rubs his eyes. Franjean says, “Rool, always playing with those fairy love potions.” I believe this is the first time Rool’s name is said in the movie. This also establishes that Rool has messed around the dust before, suggesting that it hasn’t gone well in the past. I’ll discuss the Dust of Broken Hearts in more detail when it comes up again later in the movie.

 We then see a cat walk into frame, next to a huge animal skull. This of course leads to a comedy bit where Rool falls in love with the cat, saying it is beautiful. He praises the cat’s eyes and whiskers and moves forward to kiss it. The cat hisses at him, which somehow makes fly straight up into the air, so he lands on a counter of some sort. There’s even more slapstick as he stumbles around and falls into a mug full of liquid. He pokes his head back out, spits out some of the liquid, and cheers, “Beer!” He laughs and starts swimming around in the beer, which is pretty disgusting.

 There’s more rowdy behavior from the tavern patrons, where two men on two other men’s shoulders hit each other with flails. One of the men falls near Willow, conveniently knocking him, the baby, and Franjean through a loose board into the next room. There’s more activity in this room, as a panicking woman is running around saying, “If my husband catches you, he’ll kill us both!” The camera pans over to reveal Madmartigan… in a pink dress.

 Willow says “Not you!” and Madmartigan asks “Where the hell did you come from?” Like Star Wars before it, here is another fantasy universe that throws the word “hell” around casually. Willow says “I trusted you!” Franjean recognizes Madmartigan and informs everyone that he stole the baby from Madmartigan while Madmartigan was, um, relieving himself. (The movie uses cruder language.) This sort of explains how the Brownies brought the baby to Cherlindrea, but it makes Madmartigan look like a real jerk for hanging out with this woman in a tavern instead of searching for the baby.

 The woman instructs Madmartigan to cover his face, and Madmartigan points out that Willow is “crawling with Brownies.” The woman shrieks and says she hates Brownies. So this establishes that the Brownies have visited this place before, which in turn explains how the Brownies know what beer is.

 A huge man enters the room, knocking Willow to the side with the door, demanding “Where is he?” This is Llug. The woman is his wife. Her name is not revealed, and the script unfortunately just calls her “the wench.” The wench says there’s no one but her and her “cousin Hilda,” referring to Madmartigan in drag. We get reaction shots of Willow and the baby being incredulous about this. Llug and his wife even get some backstory in the tie-in books. She didn’t want to marry him, but he sat on her (!) until she agreed to. As seen in the movie, Llug’s whole philosophy is that the husband can sleep around all he wants, but the wife must remain faithful. Classy guy, our Llug.

 The wench says “this is my husband, Llug.” Madmartigan, in a comedic female voice says, “Big husband.” Llug’s demeanor switches immediately from rage to lust, and he gets all predatory towards “Hilda.” When Llug starts getting grabby, Madmartigan snatches the baby out of Willow’s hands, making a crack about Willow being a nursemaid. Willow reaches for the baby, but Madmartigan kicks him to the floor. Madmartigan again comes across as a real jerk in this scene. There’s a quick bit where Rool enters, asking if this is a party, only for Willow to pick him up. Llug gets right up into “Hilda’s” face and simply asks, “Wanna breed?” Not subtle, our Llug. “Hilda” answers with, “Tempting, but no.”

 Madmartigan backs up to the door and is about to make an escape when it opens, and several black-clad soldiers enter. We see the soldiers rounding up everyone in the tavern, including Madmartigan, Willow, Llug, and the wench. The camera pushes in close on Madmartigan’s face, as he realizes what’s going on and how the serious the situation is. Sorsha is there, checking another baby for the mark on its arm. “That’s not the one,” she says. Willow then reacts, realizing that this one of the head bad guys.

 Sorsha approaches “Hilda” and asks if she’s the mother. “Hilda” says yes. Sorsha demands to see the baby. Willow steps in between them and says “No, don’t let her.” This is a bold move on Willow’s part, seeing as how Sorsha and the other guards are all armed to the teeth. Sorsha kicks Willow to the floor (that’s twice in one scene he’s been kicked). Sorsha says, “I gave you an order, woman.” She reaches for the baby again, but Madmartigan pushes her back. This causes the other soldiers to draw their swords on him.

 Sorsha removes her helmet, and Madmartigan gazes at her, wide-eyed. He breaks character and says, “You’re beautiful.” She, however, has him all figured out, saying “And you’re very strong.” There are a couple of seconds of tense silence, after which Sorsha removes the scarf from Madmartigan’s face and announces “You’re no woman!” Madmartigan smirks, as if he already knows what’s about to happen.

 Cut to Llug and his wife. Llug immediately freaks out, shouting “Not a woman? Not a woman?” As if he planned this from the start, Madmartigan quips, “Gentlemen, meet Llug.” Llug takes a swing a Madmartigan, who ducks out of the way, causing Llug to punch one of the guards instead. This causes everyone else to start fighting the guards, with everyone running around and fighting like crazy, setting up for one of the movie’s most elaborate action scenes.

 Next: Runaway cart.

****

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