Welcome to Heroes and Villains, a place where we look back at the Premier League action and try to figure out where our favourite footballers would fit in the storytelling universe. It would be super boring to just list a bunch of people under those two categories, so for this, we will be incorporating more than just the protagonist/antagonist labels.

Box office bomb 

In the 1960s, Marvel’s best selling comic wasn’t Spider-Man or Captain America or Thor. It didn’t feature a single character featured in that superhero movie that earned 2.8 billion dollars this year.

It was The Fantastic Four. Yes, a story about a team featuring a dude who can stretch really far, his invisible wife, their son-in-law who turns into a flame, and a gigantic rock man was the most popular superhero comic in the world. Things were much different sixty years ago, huh? 

(Did you figure out the club yet? I promise there are clues throughout this anecdote.)

There were multiple attempts between the 90s and the early 2000s to turn the F4 into a decent box office franchise. Despite several promising casts and storytelling styles, the flicks were led by mediocre directors that just couldn’t meet the standards held by their superhero film rivals. Even when they seemed like they were going to be good, they failed miserably. Hope was lost for the one-time headliners of the Marvel universe.

(Are you seeing the connection yet??)

Until 2014, when a hot-shot director was hired to try and pump new blood into the superhero crew. Josh Trank coming off his hit film “Chronicle” hired young rising stars like Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller for roles and promised a more gritty view into the family dynamics of the heroic team. Early reports on the script were glowing. It was said that in this project we would witness, “a bold new take on heroes that you didn’t know you needed”. Fanboys rejoiced! Things were looking up!

(If you don’t have it yet, I’m shocked.)

But all of a sudden, when the hype seemed to be at the highest, nasty reports started to surface. The Fox Studio board wanted to bring in certain actresses, that the director didn’t really like. Conflict arose behind the scene. Rumours started to swirl that some actors, writers, and staff members wanted out of the film completely. Trank even went so far as bashing his own film before it even opened in theatres, explaining on Twitter how the movie he envisioned had been edited away and would probably never be seen. Studios don’t really love being called out in the media about their financial decisions or hearing their directors publically lowering expectations. It was so dysfunctional that Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Things got so bad at one point, in fact, that the director, Trank, and the lead actor, Miles Teller’s constant disagreements brought them chest-to-chest, daring one another to throw the first punch.”

(Come on, it is so obvious. Micro-managing studio chairman pursuing low salaries. Snide comments to the media about incoming talent and telling fans the project isn’t at the same level as higher-paying rival studios. Dust ups between the talent and the guy that’s supposed to be putting them in the best position for success.)

The movie was an absolute bomb losing somewhere between 80-100 million dollars. Critics tore it apart. It earned only 9% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently the lowest-grossing Marvel movie of all time. Trank was even taken off his dream job as director of one of the new Star Wars films.

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said the film is “like a 100-minute trailer for a movie that never happens. It is maddeningly lame and unimaginative. I watched and watched, expecting the talented heroes to actually use their powers and strike the opponents, rather than just circle around them for 79% of the film. This movie seemed ready to challenge the big boys this year – the Batmans, the X-Men’s, at the top of the superhero table. Instead, we got the same old uncreative junk we’ve seen from this team since it’s glory days. All flash, no substance. This movie was just so disappointing, right when I thought they had gotten it right, they go and blow it. It was just…so…so…what’s the word?”

“SPURSY.”

(Ok, I guess you know the team now).

Hero for a day but thankfully gone tomorrow

It’s been a few months since Game of Thrones ended, but I found myself thinking about it the other day. As a book reader, I know there were some pretty awesome things that the show couldn’t explore because of contracts, budget, and time (or showrunners that have had their heads turned by the prospect of making another lame Star Wars flick). For the most part though, given that it was a television program featuring a zombie ice army and fire-breathing dragons, there definitely more hits than misses (save your finale opinions for another day, folks). 

Anyway, the coolest character the show ever introduced mid-series was a dude by the name of Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper. The guy had absolute charisma the moment he appeared on the screen. My man could pierce his spear through a body in both battles AND in the brothel house. Hey-yoooo. The guy was a hero to all. So, when he met his sudden demise in the most epic one-on-one combat scene in television history, naturally the show shifted focus to his warrior daughters seeking retribution for their father’s death.

Here’s a description of those characters: 

  • Obara Sand is the eldest of the “Sand Snakes”, the eight bastard daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell. Obara inherited her father’s martial prowess, particularly his skill with a spear. When combined with her muscular build and brute strength, she is extremely deadly in battle. 
  • Nymeria Sand is the second oldest. Nymeria is the most observant and calculating of the sisters. Instead of charging head-on into a situation, she will stand back and observe her enemy’s weak points, then move in precisely for an accurate strike. Her choice of a bullwhip as her primary weapon exemplifies this mentality. 
  • Tyene Sand is the youngest of the sisters. Tyene fights using a pair of long daggers, though her other signature weapon is poison – a tactic she learned from her father. Like her father, she is known to coat her blades with poisons, making a single scratch lethal. Tyene can feign being soft-spoken and childlike, but this is just an act to keep her enemies off guard.

THAT SOUNDS DOPE, RIGHT? 

Well, terrible execution can ruin everything. The whole storyline was an absolute disaster. A show that had never been criticized before was suddenly being destroyed on social media for the awful portrayal of these characters, who had been hyped up for months prior to their debut. When a character on Thrones dies, it’s usually a BIG deal. The Snakes were killed within ten minutes of one another and never mentioned again. 

Aston Villa are kind of like the Sand Snakes. On paper, they are an awesome concept – a scrappy, talented Championship playoff-winning team sneaking up on the big clubs is close enough to an elite bloodthirsty female warrior squad killing all in their way. On my tele screen though, both are 💩. The nice thing is that at the end of this campaign, when Villa are back wallowing in the lower divisions struggling with their finances, we can all pretend they don’t exist. If only Thrones fans could be so lucky.

But what they did last Friday was truly spectacular. Every squad member deserves a knighthood or at the very least that thing that Harry Kane received last year for scoring a bunch of penalty kicks in the World Cup. 

Please don’t get this confused – Villa still stink. There is close to a 100% chance that they are down in the Championship next season, Jack Grealish will be sold to the highest Big 6 bidder, and Birmingham will once again be first-flight-football-less.

How could they win an award, you ask? Yes, they only beat a mediocre Everton team but surely, you don’t understand the magnitude that victory had on the Premier League table. If the Toffees had won, they would have finished the day with 7 points, meaning that for close to 48 hours until City’s inevitable win on Sunday, both Liverpool and Everton would have been (gasps) top of the table!

This ain’t the 1980s, people. We all aren’t capable of handling this level of terror. We simply can not have it. Sure, this is all hypothetical, since Everton imploded per usual, but only one team answered the call to protect us from the horror of smug Liverpudlians. Villa now has a special place in my heart for halting the collective arrogance of the entire Merseyside area. 

Thank you, Birmingham boys. You saved us from a week of absolute misery. And like the Sand Snakes, I will try to never think of you again. 

Weak villain threat of danger that ultimately doesn’t pan out

You know how in every single action movie the villains have a twisted and elaborate plan of launching missiles and nuclear bombs throughout the world and you’ve spent two hours and thirty minutes of your life waiting to see a cool CGI explosion that will wipe out New York or Tokyo and with just a moment remaining before the detonation the threat is stopped with a last moment gasp of heroic effort?

Let’s rewrite that paragraph to fit our Premier League theme.

You know how in every single action movie match the villains Manchester United have twisted and elaborate plan been awarded a foul of launching missiles and nuclear bombs giving them a penalty kick, the highest percentage shot available throughout the world in the entire sport and you’ve spent two hours and thirty minutes 67 minutes of your life the game waiting to see an opportunity for a cool CGI explosion your most expensive World Cup-winning star or your English wunder-kid finally play up their enormous potential that will wipe out New York or Tokyo   and finally see a situation where they can smash an easy strike in the back of the net to lead the Red Devils to a much needed 3 points in their journey to attain Champions League football and with just a moment remaining before the detonation the threat is stopped with a last moment gasp of heroic effort they predictably self-destruct in the brightest lights disappointing the entire fanbase yet again. 

Hey! I just realized I can just copy and paste this section again for next week! Thanks in advance Southampton!

Until next week, just remember that we can all be a hero. Except you, David Luiz. But, hey, at least you will be clean after being put through the spin cycle.