League of Exploited Eentlemen

The superheroes of the Marvel comic-book universe are just like any other guys when it comes time to decompress after a hard day at work. Well, except that, instead of meeting at the local watering hole to bitch about life over their favorite brews, they gather at Four Freedoms Plaza — the headquarters of the Fantastic Four — to play some cards and shoot the shit.

Today, the topic of discussion is how their employer, Marvel Comics, is exploiting them for nothing but a quick buck. Companies have always taken advantage of their employees, but some of those present — Logan (Wolverine) and Bruce Banner (Hulk) — are becoming increasingly agitated, especially given the imminent release of Marvel’s Ghost Rider, and, since one will go on a frenzy at the slightest provocation and the other will turn into a giant green smashing machine, the others at the table — Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Matt Murdock (Daredevil), and Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) — are doing their best not to, you know, provoke them. The quiet guy in the corner, Frank Castle (the Punisher), remains an enigma.


Peter: Gee, Mr. Logan, maybe Ghost Rider won’t be so bad. I’ve met the guy Nic Cage plays, Johnny Blaze, a few times now. Sure, he’s creepy, but he’s got stories worth telling. We all do.

Logan: Listen up, bub, your movies raked in more dough than most African countries make in a year. You don’t know what it’s like to be turned into a dumpfest by CEOs out to plate their toilet seats in gold.

Johnny: Yo, Logan, chill out, bro. And put the stogie out. There’s no smoking in here, you know that.

Logan: Yo, Storm, take your own advice. Your head is on fire.

Johnny: Point taken.

Peter: You act like your movies bombed, Mr. Logan.

Logan: Nah, they were all huge. But did you see the third one? Marvel intentionally hired one of the worst directors working in Hollywood to ruin Bryan Singer’s work with the X-Men brand. I should’ve stuck Brett Ratner in the gizzard for what he did to us.

Peter: It wasn’t so bad, was it?

Logan: Ratner deserves worse than a poke to the gizzard.

Peter: Oh.

Bruce: Can you guys keep it down? You’re making me uncomfortable.

Logan: Blow it out your green craphole, Banner.

Matt (in a calming voice): Ghost Rider is, as Logan points out, yet another example of Marvel using the popularity of super-hero movies to turn a profit with second-rate characters at what was once a non-profitable corporate body. There is no more glaring example than the 2005 television movie Man-Thing, which was an insult to comic-book fans everywhere. But you can add my movie Daredevil to that list, Johnny’s mov—

Johnny: Hey.

Matt: Sorry, Johnny.

Peter: He’s right. Fantastic Four did suck.

Johnny: The sequel is going to rock, trust me.

Matt: I’ll believe it when I see it.

Johnny: But you’re blind.

Matt: It was a joke, Johnny. But let’s not forget Frank’s movie, either. The Punisher was nothing but a shameless vehicle for John Travolta to once again show the world that he can indeed destroy any movie he touches. I blame the producers, though. Whoever decided to move his story from New York to Miami —

Frank: — deserves to be shot. (Removes uzi from his hip and turns off the safety.)

Johnny: If my sister sees that gun, she’ll flip.

Frank: I’m just saying, a few well-aimed bullets could solve this whole problem.

Peter: You have a movie coming out this year, Mr. Castle, just like Johnny and me. That’s something to look forward to.

Matt: I looked forward to my movie, too.

Logan: Hmph, that was a mistake, bub.

Bruce: They’re putting me in another movie, even after how badly they ruined the first one. It’s making me angry.

Logan: Yeah, and we wouldn’t like you when you’re angry. Boo-friggin’-hoo, Banner. Grow some balls already.

Matt: Have you seen Marvel’s slate for 2008? Bruce has a point. Luke Cage is getting a movie, Nick Fury, Iron Fist, Ant-Man, and Deathlok, too. None of these guys could maintain their own comic titles without being cancelled, and now they’re going to be movie stars? It seems Marvel will turn anything into a movie if it might make them money.

Peter: No one knew who Blade was, and those movies turned out OK. Well, the first two.

Matt: Point.

Johnny: And Iron Man is coming up, too. They got Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark, and Gwyneth Paltrow is in it, too.

Bruce (shaking): Gwyneth Paltrow makes me angry.

Johnny: Even Logan here is getting a movie in 2008, a solo Wolverine project.

Logan: And don’t think I’m happy about it, either.

Bruce (turning green): Gwyneth Paltrow makes me angry!

Logan: Oh crap, here he goes again.


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