Sunday, May 15, 2016

Geekdom Madness 2016 - The Real Game: Unbreakable/House of M

This week is a test of durability both of body and of will.

Let's reacquaint ourselves with the combatants:

 MATCH 1: Unbreakable


Mewtwo was created by Ken Sugimori for the 1995 video game "Pocket Monsters: Red and Green", better known to US audiences as 1998's "Pokémon: Red and Blue". It is numerically the last Pokémon in the original generation (not counting its "parent" Mew, who was added into the game code secretly as a prank), and the one that is potentially the last to appear to a player as it only becomes available after the end of the main storyline.

It was originally meant to be seen as the most powerful Pokémon ever, and the developers went to great length to build it up as such in the original games. The extreme difficulty in facing Mewtwo as an opponent in any situation radically changed how people approached playing against each other and ultimately influenced some of Game Freak's design philosophies going forward with the franchise. While changes to gameplay have lessened Mewtwo's power over the generations, it remains a deadly and popular option for many fans.

While it's in-game description as a power sponge has lead to some world-domination motives in some adaptations, many others (most notably the animé) have attempted to expand its backstory in the hope of fleshing it out as a character with personality - usually paralleling Frankenstien's Monster. This has only increased his popularity amongst fans and newcomers alike.

Like most Pokémon, Mewtwo is rarely given the opportunity to speak, but in many of his appearances across side-games and adaptations he is generally given voice by Masachika Ichimura. Other actors to voice Mewtwo in projects and dubs include Philip Bartlett, Dan Green, Fujiko Takimoto, Shotaro Morikubo, Marton Fulop, and Reiko Takashima.


 Kenny McCormick was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their 1992 student animation "Jesus Vs. Frosty", though he would not be named until the 1995 Video Christmas Card "The Spirit of Christmas" which lead to the 1997 debut of "South Park."

True to the franchise's style of childlike, jerky construction-paper cutouts, Kenny was designed as simple geometric shapes and primary colors. Kenny's original inspiration was Parker and Stone's observations that most groups of middle-class children tend to have "that one poor kid" who hangs out with them. While his muffled speech allows him to be far more profane and risqué, there's usually what Parker describes as "an underlying sweetness" to the character.

Kenny received the bulk of his recognition and popularity for the running gag of him dying violently in each episode and reappearing unharmed at the beginning of the next with no explanation. This was one of the show's most notable fratures for the first five seasons, until Parker and Stone killed him off for real and played completely straight in the Season 5 finale "Kenny Dies." He stayed dead until the last minute of the Season 6 finale, and the gag has been mostly retired (being reprised, referenced, and/or subverted about once per season since).

Kenny is voiced by Matt Stone, who performs with his hand over his mouth which is then pitch-shifted in post-production to a childlike timbre. Since Stone's voice for Kenny is exactly the same as his voice for Kyle, the rare appearences of Kenny without his muffling hood has required additional voices to be brought in. In Kenny's first appearance unhooded in 1999's "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut", his single line of dialogue was voiced by Mike Judge. In subsequent episodes of the show, unhooded Kenny is voiced by co-producer Eric Stough.


MATCH 2: House of M


Maleficent was created by Marc Davis for the 1959 Walt Disney animated film "Sleeping Beauty." Like many Disney characters, she was an original expansion on the antagonist from the original Brothers Grimm/Charles Perrault fairy tale.

Maleficent (which means "doing evil or harm") was designed as the antithisis of the evil old hag, being sinister and beautiful while still having the aesthetic "like a giant vampire bat to create a feeling of menace." Her transformation into a dragon for the film's climax was modeled by animator Eric Cleworth on rattlesnakes with "powerful muscles moving a bulky body over the rocky terrain."

Maleficent is remembered as one of Disney's most enduring and sinister animated villains, and will often lead other villains in company-wide crossovers. Maleficent was voiced by Elenor Audley, and Susane Blakeslee provides her voice in most current official material. In the 2014 self-titled film, Maleficent was played by Angelina Jolie as a more sympathetic character. In other official appearances, Maleficent has been played by Linda Gary, Lois Nettleton, Kristin Bauer van Straten, and Kristin Chenowith.


Marv was created by Frank Miller for his 1991 neo-noir comic series "Sin City." He was the protagonist of the original self-titled story (rechristened "The Hard Goodbye" in later reprints and the 2005 film) and has made many notable appearances since.

Marv was inspired by Miller's two biggest influences: film noir and medival low-fantasy. Miller described the resulting juxtaposition as "Conan in a trench coat." While Marv was originally illustrated relatively realistically, he quickly devolved into the famous angular profile that is not only the character's trademark but the best distillation of Miller's overall style.

In spite of Miller's decline in popularity due to some questionable themes seeping into his work in the past few decades, Marv and his debut story remain one of the more well-received and well-remembered in comics history and is arguably considered Miller's magnum opus (only "The Dark Knight Returns" and Miller's memorable run on "Daredevil" are considered contenders). In the 2005 and 2014 film adaptations of the series, Marv was memorably played by Mickey Rourke. Rourke was director Robert Rodrieguez's first choice, but Miller only remembered Rouke's early career and was reluctant until Rourke walked into the metting room and Miller could only note "He IS Marv!"


Final Verdict
This is such an odd matchup in all respects, except that all the contenders are notoriously hard to kill (at least permanently). It's up to all of you to see who walks away from this.

As always, make sure you're viewing the WEB version of the site and vote in the polls (remember, there are two now) on the right-hand side of the screen. Polls close Friday at 5:00 p.m., and results posted on Saturday. Feel free to discuss your picks in the comments below.

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