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i don’t pretend to play overwatch at a high level, as mechanically i’ve always kind of struggled with shooters. that’s why i gravitate toward splash damage weapons in games, like pharah, or any rocket launcher, or spinfusor, or whatever i can control my enemy with using clever placement. but as a longtime player of games like dota 2 it’s engraven in my blood to think about your hero draft, team synergy, and counterpicks. as a result i dont really like how overwatch’s class system works.

we as players are presented with 4 kinds of heroes, which can Attack, Defend, Tank, or Support. except, the issue is, without Attack heroes while you defend, you won’t have the damage to win fights. without Defense heroes while you attack, it’s hard to control your opponent’s damage dealers. none of the Tanks are particularly tanky, with the sole exception of Reinhardt, and as a result are played like either flankers or what in other games we would call an initiator. start the fights, jump on the back line as fast as you can, team follows. some are awful on attack, others are useless when defending. then your Supports are all healers (except Symmetra) or buff up your team offensively in some way, with speed or damage increase (except Symmetra). the idea seems to have been

Attack – good fighters

Defense – good at holding the line

Tank – lots of HP i guess?

Support – heals and buffs and Symmetra

the way that i’ve started to kind of think about the game reclassifies this system.

Duelists

my Duelist class wants to, and can, 1v1 you at close range, pretty much no matter who you are. mobility is secondary to their sheer ability to just out fight you. they may have some mobility skill, because most overwatch heroes do, but they only serve to help the fight. once more heroes are added to who you’re fighting, whether you have help or not, a Duelist falls off.

Flankers

these have primarily the movement skill as their defining play characteristic. they specialize in getting around you and surprising you, pouring out the damage, and then either just running away or simply controlling you if they don’t get the kill quickly. they ambush you in fights and use your distraction to their advantage, or peel you off the fight while their team wins it without you. Duelists help themselves; Flankers help the fight.

Teamfighters

these are heroes who excel with a group of friends, but are easily dealt with on their own. they have damage, sustain, and control all to some degree but lack the movement abilities to really make it happen as a flanker.

Sustain

this may surprise you but they heal and sustain their team.

Ranged DPS

this is where i think of both stationary defenders and snipers. from afar you are in trouble, but get up close to them and you should be in good shape.

so looking at the above, the only distinction it’s hard to make is between some duelists and flankers. even Symmetra fits neatly into Sustain. so i think this is better and more useful, and the current needs of the game much more easily guide your hero selection both  between and within classes. so here’s where I put heroes and why.

Duelists

McCree‘s flash-hammer-roll-hammer combo can kill off anybody and his ultimate is impossible to live through without diving behind a barrier. the ultimate 1v1.

Reaper wants to hug you. he should be able to output damage faster than most of his opponents, and while he does rely on his teleport and wraith form, these are to set up solo assassinations and escape, not to disrupt a backline for his team. i mean, they do accomplish similar ends, but Reaper wants to kill you, charging his ultimate, then dive into the fight and insist everyone dies, as opposed to like a Winston who wants to disrupt during said fight.

Tracer really doesn’t want anything to do with your friends. she isn’t interested in your buddies. she only wants to confuse YOU, zip around you, empty shots into you, zip some more, leave, return, do it again, and whittle you down til you die. the bomb gives her some utility against tanks (and plays of the game) and the recall gets her out of trouble.

Flankers

D.Va is at her best when she jumps out in advance of her team and neutralizes some threat before they arrive, by shoving a sniper, pinning a poor Mercy, or throwing her defense matrix on a turret or Bastion. a Duelist will crush her 1v1 and in a proper fight her damage is lackluster.

Genji wants to get the drop on your snipers and supports. a Teamfight hero can control up and neutralize him, but if they do that during a fight, Genji’s team will go full murderface on you. he also will struggle against a true 1v1er.

Pharah on the ground is a shit Pharah. she is so reliant on her aerial advantage that her best playstyle involves coming at you from an unexpected angle while you are not paying attention to her. her need to move around to do the most work pushes her into the Flanker category over Ranged DPS but she’s only effective in teamfights because of the her ability to move in a third dimension.

Winston loves to jump on squishies when his team is right behind him. oh hi there Mercy buffing Hanzo, who think they are safe behind Reinhardt and Soldier and McCree. let me just make you no longer behind them *hop* zap zap! (if he then looks back at the McCree killing him and slowly a tear falls as he says “……team?” you understand why he is a Flanker, disrupting, rather than driving, the teamfight.)

Teamfight

Mei is the the game’s control specialist. she sets up her team to make kills happen. she lacks the mobility to dive a backline but can sustain herself in a long fight with her ice block heal and stop the backline from contributing with an ice wall. her ultimate, when you let it gooooo, controls EVERYONE. easy Teamfight selection.

Reinhardt is another easy inclusion into Teamfight, because his shield makes that fight go in one direction, and he doesn’t want to charge in and get punchy until the fight has already broken out so he can control up and neutralize that Mercy he just saw.

Roadhog can be effective as a Flanker, but it’s too easy for most heroes to then get away from him and just charge their ults on his giant hitbox. he needs back up. the hook and the ultimate give him plenty of control, his shotgun damage is good, and he can sustain himself with his heal.

Soldier 76 can out duel many heroes, his gun range is decent and his helix rockets strong from afar, but his ability to sustain himself & his ultimate ability to aimbot your whole team helps us identify how he’s meant to be used.

Zarya is here to use the damage she and her friends take during the fight to get stronger as the fight goes on. and then use her BLACK HOOOOOOOLE to stop that fight right now.

Zenyatta is a healer,  yes, but he’s a crap one until he gets his ultimate charged. harmony orb is too slow for how close he needs to be to the person benefiting. he is much, much more effective at debuffing his enemies with discord orb and helping his friends then blow them to hell with the increased damage. he is way too squishy to go it alone, and his actual successful sustain, the ult, lasts way too briefly to actually sustain through the fight, but rather just to turn it in your favor.

Sustain

Lucio doesn’t have good enough damage or control to contribute offensively to a fight very much, even though a 6-man engagement allows him to be at his best. he is a teamfighting hero without a doubt but his role in that fight is to sustain his team.

Mercy obviously.

Symmetra makes it in here because the teleporter is specifically designed to sustain your front lines and the shield buff is just enough to keep that Widowmaker from landing body shot instagibs on your Tracer. her sentry turrets are very unique in their function and range, but mainly they serve the purpose of charging her teleporter anyway, apart from some area denial, which if you reeeeally stretch the logic, sustains your back line against flankers?

Ranged DPS

Bastion can pour on the HURT, but doesn’t particularly like you to know where he is ahead of time or get close to you. he isn’t mobile enough to teamfight until he ults & needs help and distractions to remain effective.

Hanzo as a sniper fits here very easily. his scattershot makes him not useless in tight, but you’d better do work with that one shot you get or you’re the deadest.

Junkrat can own you from around corners, can drop mines on you, and can blow up a tire from across the map. but his second skill is a trap specifically because he sucks if you get in close to him. if he couldn’t hold you still he’d be food for any duelist or flanker unless the Junkrat were godly.

Torbjorn fits here because of his turret. he offers some sustain from his armor packs, and his ult is a killer teamfight ability, but primarily he exists to shoot at his enemies across the objective.

Widowmaker obviously.

So yeah. that’s how i’ve started thinking about hero classes in overwatch and i wanted to kind of write it out to help organize the thoughts and clarify to myself what it means. maybe it can help you think about team selection differently too. we can’t push the payload? why? maybe our teamfight doesn’t have enough damage -> Soldier 76. maybe we keep getting shot to hell -> Reinhardt. maybe we can’t push up this sight line, so some sniping is in order from afar. etc. the only thing is, Symmetra doesn’t REALLY fit that well still, she is still kind of shoehorned. with more heroes like her she could be reclassified, but as for now, it’s really true that the Overwatch classes remain Attack, Defense, Tank, Support, and Symmetra.

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i’ve played over 500 hours of Rocket League since i bought it last summer. lots of you guys play it too, so i thought i might be able to share some things about the only game i’m actually above-average at.

when i got a little more serious about RL and started trying to rise up the ranked ladder (i refuse to call it competitive, since most games reserve that moniker for actual organized teamplay, be it amateur or pro) i picked up new things along the way almost daily. i still do, really often, the most recent one being kind of what inspired me to write this little deal. but the game doesn’t tell you much, and videos and guides from excellent players sometimes either start at the very basic level (no help to a challenger) or kind of forget what it’s like for someone who’s brand new and sucks out loud. the rocket league pros mostly played supersonic acrobatic rocket powered battle cars as well as the RL alpha so its been thousands of gameplay hours since they were like you or me.

so what follows is, well, what the title said. a brief list of things nobody told me, or that i only found in passing.

you don’t need to dodge roll into everything.

ever miss a shot or worse, a save, because you dodge rolled too soon? probably you didn’t need to dodge roll anyway. just jump/fly into the ball sometimes. i made a horrible habit of rolling into every ball for MAXIMUM POWA and it’s tough to shake it now. this is the #1 thing i would go back and tell <50 hours Steph. stop dodge rolling into everything and you will have more control over your accuracy and miss less.

communicate on kickoffs. always.

if you plan to go hit the ball say Up-Up (or 11) for I got it. If not, tell us to take the shot. lots of headaches saved right there.

speaking of kickoffs, someone should be contesting them and someone should be cheating.

in 3s, someone is I got it! and they contest, someone is Take the shot! and ideally they cheat (i.e. get close to the kickoff so they can take the second touch), and someone is Defending… and they STAY IN THE NET THEY DO NOT GET GREEDY FOR BOOST. in 2s, it’s obvious who should take the shot, and the other person should half-cheat, but if you start equally close to the ball someone should call it and the other should immediately make for the net just in case. if your teammate is always going for it (or not) no matter what, just let them & cover for them because you aren’t changing their mind.

car choice matters. individualize your pick.

we’re told each car is basically equal when we ask which is best to use, but that implies they drive and hit the same which is just not true. and you see most pros using octane, so many people think it’s the best, but it’s really just the car they’ve used since sarpbc. it’s comfort. the way you want to play the game absolutely should inform your choice of car, and you can kind of get a decent idea what the car can do by looking at it. they have rectangular hitboxes that mostly mimic the shape of the car, so think about what you want to do, and select a car that gives you the best chance to do it. if you are playing solo and dribbling a lot, you want something that suits a ground game. octane is an awesome choice because its height makes dribs easy, but so is the ultralow batmobile because you can carry the ball on its long and wide roof effortlessly and block well with its length. octane and i think it was zippy have a pretty good hitbox for hard shots in that width X height is solid, but it’s a short little dude, so for defending you want something with more surface area. batmobile is a decent choice but its powerslide turning radius is terrible. dominus becomes a great option here, but if you don’t have that dlc breakout is good too. basically, with a little bit of thought, and not bothering with which car is OP (none of them), you can pick any car you like best that appears to suit your needs.then stick with it because they DO handle differently and you’ll be adjusting.

except merc. never merc.

the trainings are very useful.

you should start by mastering striker up to pro, goalie as far as you can manage, and aerial up to pro after those two. i used to warm up by playing all 10 balls of every trainer. (now i just play hoops for warmups lol.) goalie and striker trainings give you practice with balls you see in every game. hit a goal from your own corner, watch the players shower you with praise, and think to yourself “really? that’s just a ball from all star striker.” the muscle memory will kick in and you will get better. all star striker is nice to keep working on forever, but you really should try to get good at all star goalie first i think. all star aerial is nice for warming up your air control and practicing hitting balls where you want, but they aren’t very good game examples honestly.

a thing i learned from watching kuxir97’s stream was that you don’t have to sit in the post-game lobby while you queue for the next one. between games, after you start your search, bounce back to the menu and do a goalie training til the next game launches. go to free play and work on those jukes. go into an exhibition map and work on kickoffs – that’s important, by the way, the free play ball is slightly elevated so it isn’t exactly real kickoff practice. what kux was doing was freestyling in all star aerial and scoring 100%. wtf. speaking of,

start flying immediately.

when you’re trying to add a new element to your game, play normals, not ranked, and just try to do it a LOT. the titular aerial balls make a good example. go queue for unranked 3v3 and try to hit balls in the air. you will whiff. oh lord will you whiff. i still whiff now. (the difference is, when you connect, and it gets even close, your chat will say Wow! Nice shot! whereas if i whiff i get Whoops… and OMG! and the other kind of Wow!) then focus on aerial trainings between matches. rookie helps you get an idea of hitting balls off the ground without making you fly to them all. pro gets you pumping your jets, and finally you find yourself doing what i used to do, which was trying each all star ball until i hit it in the GENERAL DIRECTION of the net, congratulating myself and moving on to the next one. then moving on when it goes in by any means. then moving on when it goes in directly. then only moving on if it flies in, lands in the box and one-hops, or you redirect it off the wall. …you get there.

i did the same with wallhits. just went into normals and tried to hit every ball on the wall i possibly could. its hella hard but man is it important as a defensive/midfield oriented player. between games i’d go into free play and ride on the wall, jump off the wall, roll the ball up the wall and try to hit it, and where i’m at now, accuracy is kind of the goal but it’s not easy to practice that. you can do the same with dribbles or carroms or anything else you want to get better at. just go to normals and DO it, man.

eyes on the prize.

i watched a really important video the other day from good player and good guy amoney. he streams all the time and is worth checking out because he’s super chill all the time no matter what. but this video was basically his guide to not tilting. the secret, it turns out, is turning your attention away from whether you won or lost That Game, and instead focusing on whether you’re getting better. to paraphrase, Forget the rating. It’s meaningless. It’s a title. Who cares. You’ll get where you want to be anyway–as long as you’re playing the game to get better, you’re doing it right. Your end game should be consistency, whether winning or losing games. and since i adopted that attitude i’m playing much better, having more fun again, and it feels like there’s hope to get out of the rising star trench i’ve been stuck in after all. (i’ve been shooting star in solo 3s twice, only to drop out immediately both times because, surprise, i was hyperfocused on the rating.)

that said let me end with a quick story of the human bucket of toxins i ran into today. i only played a handful of games of rocket league tonight, and i was doing great too, i played doubles today and went from rising star III to rising star V, but i quit even though the prospect of promotion was right there in front of me because of this… peach.

so i queue into a game of 2s, both teams are solo players, cool, equal footing. i’d won games earlier in the night with both of my opponents and i know they’re both a tier above mine (although i had just hit div 5). this asshole goes in for the kickoff and it carroms off to the side, like it does, and i go to challenge it because i can beat the opposing second guy to it. i miss. sharp angle bounces are so hard to judge when you’re close to them. naturally their player had the easier line to the ball, coming from farther away, and did not miss. 0-1. mr. sarcoma fills chat with Wow!s until his spam filter kicks in then adds the BM forfeit vote for good measure. really dude? so i team chat, maybe this was where I screwed up, i just team chat “lol fuck off” during the replay after he forfeit voted. we should be done there. i hear you, but you’re being dick, defused, right? he’s so busy typing a flame back at me because i misspelled one of those words that he doesn’t contest the faceoff, which our opponent picks into a top corner over me. of course, slimeball over here starts with the aggressive What a save! spam. friends, don’t do this. when your teammates do it (to teammates) mute them immediately. especially don’t do it when the shot itself is CLEARLY YOUR FAULT. the forfeit clock hadn’t run out yet so i just voted myself and got the hell out of that game. told him to fuck off again and got greeted with racist, homophobic slurs. cool. of course the game wasn’t over yet, it was like :10 in, but it was not worth the frustration to continue with that dude. let’s go find a new game to get better.

but he wasn’t done. oh no. all four of us queued into each other again, shuffled, with king anthrax now against me. you talk about wanting to win a game. man. he fed me 2 easy goals with duffed clearances, was toxic to his new teammate, became toxic in allchat, kept referring to “scoreboard” to tell his teammate he had more points (i think it was 50 points and their stat line was the same), and in post game continued to flame all of us and call his teammate (who was logical and levelheaded) “mad cuz bad” for some reason.

friends, these people get to me. they make me think about proving them wrong, or worse, not proving them right, instead of about playing rocket league. it’s a feeling i don’t shake easily. so i stopped playing. no need to risk queueing into turdjoy again. that’s my last tip no one ever taught me. if you’re about to tilt and amoney’s advice doesn’t apply, do something else immediately. you WILL play worse and life’s too short anyway.

the overwatch open beta is on now and you should be playing it, then buying the game, because it’s legitimately great.

unfortunately there’s also 21 heroes in the game. i’ve seen em all, and i’ve played em all (except mercy), so obviously i am now qualified to write this guide on how to counter each hero. getting stomped by one single opponent? this is what you do vs:

bastion – stop running in front of him, idiot. get a genji to deflect kill him, get a widowmaker to snipe him, get a pharah to blow him up, or failing all that, just wait for him to ult and get his “because obviously” play of the game.

d.va – if a dva is owning you i really don’t know what to tell you. shoot at her, she feeds ulti charge bad. when you see the defense matrix turn on dont shoot at her. when the screen yells at you FUCK OFF SOMETHIND BAD IS GOING DOWN do as it says and you won’t get nuked. if you think a dva is the problem theres a good chance you’re wrong and need to see who else is with her.

genji – he’s only that mobile to a certain degree. try to avoid being on your own, or if you’re a sniper, use your traps/vision abilities more selfishly to know when he is coming. he can only zip in or out – not both unless he’s super good with his dash.

a good genji – cry.

hanzo – never stand still. never run through the choke he’s spamming his infinite arrows through. never stay in one place for long because he’s probably got his wallhack on you. never run in a straight line so he can’t scattergib you. when he starts screaming get ready to make 90 degree angles from the dragon of doom. so what CAN you do? apart from switching to widowmaker or reaper, i will refer you to blitz’s advice about techies. you have to pretend overwatch glitched and deleted your hero, or you will tilt.

junkrat – haha. if this guy is grenading you, get higher than him. if he is still grenading you, jump a lot and avoid walls. if you are a pharah who just shifted and he grenades you just applaud, man. also when you hear the tire, start shooting at the ground around you. either you will kill the tirebomb or someone else will kill you before it does, which is way less embarassing.

lucio – this guy is slippery and bizarrely tanky, like it feels like he is a lot harder to kill than other 200HP heroes. control him or use something with an aoe. try to pick him off first so his friends are easier to shoot and die faster when you hit them. if he shields them up, uh, welp, its a good thing you’re right in the middle of all of them right? don’t you get a shield too? RIP

mccree – ok. two rules with mccree. no jokes, completely straight. 1) keep your distance. he can still shoot you but the right click hurts real bad up close. 2) please make sure you can hear game audio so when he goes ITS HAHHHH NOON you can hide in the nearest trash barrel. when the kill feed shows his kills (do turn that on btw) you can come out again.

mei – you do not counter mei because mei is bae. mei is love, mei is life. whatever she is trying to do you should allow.

it’s weird, it’s like they can’t die. it’s always someone different every time   GODDAMN MERCY/ZENYATTA. SHOOT THIS FUCKER ON SIGHT. mercy can’t heal herself, only the turds she follows around. zenyatta is slow and made of paper.

pharah – pick up a widowmaker or a boring: 76 and pluck her out of the sky when she hovers. or, alternately, watch the killcam in awe as you try to figure out why your pharah ults are never that goddamn lucky.

reaper – don’t be alone. don’t allchat about what a dick reaper players are. abuse vision abilities so you know where he’s coming from and drop him from distance. when he starts insisting you all DIE, DIE, DIE, i mean my best advice is just to go with it. it seems important to him and you’ll respawn anyway right?

reinhardt – switch to mei. wait for him to put up his barrier and lead his friends to you. put a sideways ice wall under him. watch the panic ensue.

roadhog – shoot at him until your ulti is full and then use ulti. repeat.

soldier: 76 – remind the soldier: 76 picker in all chat that he is a boring bastard who was presented the men in black weapons closet and chose an uzi. hopefully he’ll become so ashamed he switches to a pharah, at which point you switch to soldier: 76 yourself and own him repeatedly.

symmetra – first, die to her turrets in order to find them, then go back, die to them again trying to kill them, go back again, die to ganji trying to kill them, go back again and finally blow them up. works for me.

torbjorn – i am a dick to torbjorn. if he is building a turret blow it up. don’t move – don’t fucking move. watch that torbjorn til he builds another turret. blow up that turret. you’ll probably kill him in the process eventually, and that is when it becomes someone else’s turn to play Tickle Torbjorn.

tracer – in most situations the counter to tracer is to shoot her. she dies in a flash, or if she doesn’t she gets scared and recalls away because she dies in a flash. but if a tracer keeps stopping you leaving your base the only counter is the good ol leave match button.

widowmaker – run someplace else, moron. if you suspect she’s gone wallhacks just hug your nearest reinhardt. if he’s on your team you’re safe. if he isn’t you won’t die to the widowmaker.

winston – his barrier isn’t good. blow through it and then shoot him until your ult is full and then ult him and take the control point. gg. if he ulted and dove on you you shall be avenged.

zarya – for the love of god do not let zarya accomplish anything. if she actually does stuff she can use her get-fucked ultimate and your whole idiot team will clump together for it and OH ON THREE! THEY’RE ALL DEAD

the following is spoiler free and i will tell you when that stops being the case.

i didn’t expect too much from captain america civil war. by the time it finally came out i, as someone with no experience with the source material, was pretty braced for it to suck. now, that doesn’t mean i’m going to go in and make it suck inside my head. i’m more than willing to be proven wrong, which the captain america franchise has done before. (winter soldier is my favorite MCU film and it’s not really close, despite me not liking the cap character much and thinking cap 1 was reasonably terrible.) so, did civil war bring me to its side?

no. it did not.

tony stark’s motivations are at the plot’s whimsy. i guess that makes a little sense if this is A Captain America Movie, but come on, iron man has had 3 of his own films and 2 avengers films. he’s his own character. i had this same issue with batman in BvS  but it isn’t THAT severe here in civil war.

the film kind of suffers from tonal problems in that the big dramatic moments are always accompanied by quipping. stop quipping. the marvel universe has always been a little goofy, a little prone to jokes and one-liners, but when you make every line a joke during a dramatic climax it’s very jarring in that bad way.

the characters make really stupid decisions. again, i’m not familiar with the source material, but at multiple points during this movie i would ask a different character, wtf are you doing?

martin freeman is in this movie for 4 minutes with an american accent and that is just wrong.

ok if you’ve made it this far without having seen the movie yet the spoilers are going to begin. this isn’t a “it’s so bad you should skip it” kind of movie, so despite my having a problem with it i still would recommend MCU fans give it a watch, unlike for example thor 2 or iron man 3 which are shocking, boring, or both at times.

i enjoyed the black panther and this likely isn’t unrelated to his disdain for the movie’s quipping ways. it was a little weird that the just-a-prince-yesterday king is also some sort of ninja, but he was pretty awesome and his character actually developed in this movie. you can’t really say that about anyone else. when hawkeye tries to introduce himself on the tarmac at the airport and panther just says “i don’t care” and starts to fight, he cemented himself as my favorite character in the movie 100%. that scene had at least 20 one-liners in a row.

oh yeah lets talk about spiderman. see?? SEE, MOVIE EXECS???? you brought in a popular superhero without wasting a movie on his origin story. was that so goddamn hard? unfortunately, that was spiderman, the most annoying superhero there is by a mile. i was really hoping in the trailer when they revealed spiderman, we were seeing an unfinished graphic, but no. that was what he actually looked like. cartoony and poorly textured. i’m fine with his animation being subpar because how do you motion capture a spider-man, but at least make his suit look like it was textured in 2016. also unfortunately, spidey had one of my two favorite lines in the movie, when he shot web at cap’s feet and *ergh* quipped “tony said to go for your legs!”

IT’S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE WENT FOR CAP’S LEGS WHEN HE PUTS THE SHIELD UP. JESUS MERCY. i nearly applauded. naturally he then went for his arms immediately after that and lost his mark so.

how come cap and sam didn’t at least try asking tony to get the avengers to help? when tony saw the evidence through bullshit and asked sam about it he wanted to help. show him the evidence. tell him the story. don’t just assume you’re on your own, cap, and nobody has to fight at the airport, rhoades can still walk, spider-man isn’t back on my movie screen, and you can probably bring in the psychologist dude easily. make decisions better.

the movie has kind of a tragic arc to it. the presumably protagonists are manipulated against each other. it ends with cap crippling tony’s iron man suit. it’s shot to look like he’s about to decapitate him, and it feels kind of like he lightweight did. rhoades is paralyzed. he should be 100% dead because he fell like half a mile, but still. and in the biggest fight moment of the film, everyone vs everyone else, you have them spewing one liners like they’re happily trouncing their first fight of a lighthearted movie? if that one big fight scene on the tarmac has maybe 2/3 of its dialogue cut entirely, the whole movie would be a lot better for it imo. very good friends are fighting each other hard. if it wasn’t something they really really cared about, they wouldn’t be. it’s a huge moment for all of them. and here they are cracking jokes like it’s an afternoon coffee break. i don’t know, maybe you guys won’t read the movie that way, but it pissed me off beyond just being painful, unfunny lines.

wanda and the vision fall really short imo. if civil war were overwatch, every game would be 3 scarlet witches and 3 visions vs 3 scarlet witches and 3 visions. they are OP as FUCK, yo. the vision can fly, shoot a death laser, move through things, and basically seems indestructible. scarlet witch can pretty much manipulate anything she wants with her mind. sure, if she panics and just flings a dude before he explodes she may not do it accurately, but she’s just as broken as vision is. their impact on the fights they take part in? totally minimal. they spend most of the movie quarantining each other, then they both fuck up a lot. neither in Ultron nor in Civil War have we gotten any explanation of their powers or limitations, which leads me to expect a lot of them and be disappointed in the nothing they do. i don’t get it. if you can throw cars at iron man with your mind why can’t you just hold iron man in place with your mind? hello?? if you can catch a falling watch tower with your mind why can’t you catch rhoades and keep him from not-dying???

steph of ni: gg witch afk

finally lets talk about the ending. and this is where tony stark is revealed as nothing more than a pawn of the plot’s whimsy.

problem: we need tony and cap to fight each other.
solution: make tony take up a more bureaucratic role and support international oversight.
problem: the same tony who was JUST fighting with the avengers, and who thought his plan to defend the world was all anyone needed? how does his character develop that way?
solution: hm let’s pretend those things aren’t things
problem: wat

problem: cap got away from tony but we need those two and bucky isolated
solution: tell tony where cap is going
problem: how?
solution: i don’t know use bullshit
problem: why wouldn’t he send all the avengers chasing the bullshit with him?
solution: i don’t know make him friends with cap again so its secret
problem: what? i thought they were fighting
solution: hm yes that is true but remember there was bullshit

problem: we’ve reached the final act now and tony and cap are friends
solution: make them not be friends again
problem: does tony have borderline personality disorder, or
solution: nono the whole plot has been a ruse to get tony and cap and bucky together and show tony that bucky killed his parents and cap knew
problem: it me the audience and i feel deceived by all this build up
solution: oh yeah well distinct wanking motion. how do you think iron man feels

the way the plot treats its characters is parallel to how the film treats you. watch 90 minutes that don’t matter before the final climax, in which tony and cap punch each other a lot and bucky loses an arm, but then cap reaches out to make nice with tony later anyway so nothing of value is really lost.

at least the black panther has a character arc. he wants to avenge his father, so he pursues the winter soldier to literally the ends of the earth, discovers bucky isn’t the winter soldier he is looking for and the psychologist orchestrated it, sees what obsession with vengeance did to said psychologist, and says you know what, i don’t want this for myself. no other character changes in this movie. sometimes they may switch allegiances but that doesn’t mean they aren’t flat. and then panther is rewarded with the other top-2 line in the movie: “The living aren’t done with you yet.” fucking badass line right there. hell yeah.

but mainly i’m just bitter by how badly the film wasted martin freeman. assholes.

typical spoiler warning.

so i went into batman v superman having read no reviews and generally avoided all detailed conversations regarding the movie. i knew people were by and large disappointed, but by what, or why, any sort of specifics i went in not knowing. i still haven’t read anything so if i rehash something from someone else’s thoughts it’s an error of ignorance.

there were things going on in this movie that i liked a lot. superman’s motivations always made sense, and the fight with batman was actually so organic to me that when they stopped fighting it was jarring. of course, there’s also the “how” that played a role there, hashtag martha, but it was difficult to see how they could ever see eye to eye, the way things had played out. especially with some of batman’s motivations coming directly from the events of man of steel, which i appreciated. i liked the introduction of wonder woman being gradual, so you expect her to show up in the final fight, rather than her being some ex machina like the trailers had implied. the final boss tipped its hat to king kong more than once and i thought that was cool. batfleck actually worked. and i liked the portrayal of lex luthor, which is a big first sign that something is amiss.

i am not a superman fan. i find the character unappealing and his conflicts unarresting. over the years writers have had to step the stakes up so high, and supes’s powers to match so he can win, that he’s just become this immortal godman and that’s boring. there’s no stakes. i’m similarly not a fan of the batman character because he’s a fascist bully, but he gives rise to an incredible cast of villains that keeps me engaged and the concept of failing, either his city or himself, real. the joker is probably my favorite villain out there. superman’s villains don’t grab me at all. their motivations are generally so irrational i don’t care. so when i find lex luthor compelling i have to ask myself why, and here’s my conclusion, reached when he gives the senator a jar of something and blows up the dude in the wheelchair (and his assistant in the process for no reason. just tell her and she can not sit down):

i’m not convinced zack snyder knows lex luthor and the joker are different characters.

batman steals lex’s kryptonite rock, and lex says “okay, batman wants superman stopped too, i can work with this,” kidnaps lois lane to get superman’s attention, so he can tell her he’s also kidnapped (and kinda denegrated) his mother, and his mother dies if superman doesn’t kill the bat. THAT’S A JOKER SCHEME. LEX LUTHOR IS THE JOKER IN THIS MOVIE and then things kind of stop making sense and then BATMAN VISITS HIM IN JAIL LIKE HES THE JOKER IN ARKHAM. this movie has Mrs and i pretty convinced jesse eisenberg could play a killer joker. so i kind of think it’s a miscast, but the story also pushes that home.

this is a 150 minute movie that does not respect your time.

a brief list of things the movie wastes time on while being egregiously long:

  • rehashing batman’s origin story at least twice in slow-mo, while counting on the audience to just accept the existence of Batwing. if we aren’t going to EY ANGONASECOND over batman having a tiny jet, we don’t need his damn origin story coming up over and over.
  • a dream sequence that bruce visits his parents’ tomb. you can remind us her name was martha without wasting that much run time on a jump scare that was both out of place and completely unearned by the movie.
  • ANOTHER DREAM SEQUENCE that first made me think i’d passed out and missed a scene, then quickly recognized as a dream when batman shot multiple people (cool action though), which then proceeded to KEEP GOING for SO LONG for no reason.
  • THE OL WAKE UP FROM A DREAM INTO ANOTHER DREAM SWITCHAROO FUCK YOU MOVIE. i walked out at that point to take an angry piss. whatever the end result of bruce decrypting data from lex luthor was, i didn’t care. that was bullshit and i needed a break.
  • exposition delivered by CNN. thanks, i can see what’s going on with my eyeballs.
  • probably 5 minutes spent trying to convince you superman is dead when we all know he’s not.

i could probably go on but this was where i stopped immediately having bullet points to add. the point is i shouldn’t be able to rattle off a ton of places where a long as hell movie was wasting my time.

batman is a plot device in this movie.

you cannot take a headline character in his own right, make him want to fight your headline character because the plot needs him to, only to then make him decide to help your headline character also because the plot needs him to. and not give him any character development at all. so what, i can just go up to bruce wayne, and convince him someone named martha is in trouble, and he’ll do whatever i want? even if he’s actively trying to kill me? even if he’s spent literally weeks preparing to do that? just one name and we’re best buds? you fucking wot? “oh your mom’s name is martha too? wow only good guys have martha moms. i know this because i too am a martha mom haver but she died. wow i hope yours doesnt. sorry about the whole trying to stab you with your only poison thing how can i help a fellow martha mom haver?”

you want to convince batman superman isn’t to blame for the destruction in man of steel? i mean for one you could just introduce him to zack snyder, who’s kinda turning into nerd michael bay, but maybe try letting superman tell him what happened. maybe try letting them fight until lex’s orc king kong emerges. the latter especially would band them together, show them that lex joker was always the common enemy, convince batman he needs superman (because he can’t kill that thing, not even with wonder woman), see? pay me, hollywood. also he totally smoked a couple fools when he shot at them from the batmobile. batman isn’t meant to kill, ass.

i did respect this movie’s willingness to show bruce wayne the detective, rather than just batman the jackbooted thug, in a couple of scenes. we don’t often see that apart from batgrinding batdata in the batcave.

the movie really would like you to catch all of its themes.

i wish i could be in writer’s rooms sometimes. you know, kind of like the sports fantasy of “pay me $200k a year to say ‘dont do that’ twice and it will save you 10x that salary” only with movie dialogue.

SUPERMAN “No one can stay good in this world” or w/e it was.
STEPHHOUSE “no… dont say that. pls dont make him say that.”

LEX “If man cannot kill god… then the devil will do it!”
STEPHHOUSE “no see that isn’t dialogue. that’s a theme. your character is supposed to DO it, not SAY it.”

so because i work in mental health and this is how we are wired to think, i’ll close with a good thing, and that’s that i loved batman’s solo fight scenes, both real and dream. it seemed to me like someone from the camera crew got together with someone from choreography, played about 30 hours of arkham asylum and arkham city, and said, what if these fights were like that only quick? hell, bats even batclaws a dude, pulls him toward himself, and clotheslines him on arrival. i do that on every enemy near a gun in those games. that all felt really right and good.

oh and another good thing. in fact i’d say the best thing. that attached lego batman movie trailer. rofl.