LinkedIn; The Good, The Bad, and The Annoying

Since the beginning of September, there have been not one, but two articles published that slammed LinkedIn. Is the professional network site that bad?

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Since the beginning of September, there have been not one, but two articles published that slammed LinkedIn. Both authors write their own columns on technology and business, and both seem to be fed up with the social media platform. LinkedIn is supposed to be the “professional” social network. A place where professionals and their professional persona’s, gather and expand their networks, talk shop, recruit new talent, and increase their influence. These two posts, however, have ardently stated that LinkedIn is anything but that. The mission statement of LinkedIn—To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful—has been missed. At least, according to these two authors. Has it?

LinkedIn as it Should Be

LinkedInAt first, LinkedIn looked like just one of the many knockoffs of Facebook. At least, it looked that way to me. But over time I’ve come to see it as a helpful place to expand my network. I’ve also come to hate it as well. This isn’t about me hating or liking the site. Because, after all, you didn’t read this far to hear my opinion and my opinion alone. LinkedIn’s purpose was to enhance everyone’s professional experience and career in a way that only a social media platform could. Look at it this way; LinkedIn is the virtual equivalent of a networking event. You’re supposed to show up and get to know other people. If you can help someone, then fine. If you can’t, then that’s okay too. The main argument here is that this virtual networking event has devolved into a clutter of spammy sales pitches and pushy people who call themselves influencers. Has it? Some may argue “no.” And others will argue, emphatically, “yes.” I find myself stuck in the middle. Because there is no one reason to call LinkedIn completely “bad.” Conversely, there’s no one reason to call it completely “good.” Then we should look at both the good and the bad. In between both is the annoying. Before we get to that, I have to do my job and mention that you can use LinkedIn anytime you want. So long as you’re using the best internet deals in your area. There, let’s move on.

The Bad

Let’s start with the “bad,” and get that out of the way first. LinkedIn was meant to be a place where professionals go to network and find contacts. It wasn’t meant to be a place where people are constantly bombarded with sales pitches. Unfortunately, there are plenty of spammy sellers out there. One such example; When I was hired as Content Writer, I went on LinkedIn and changed my status to reflect that. Within a week I got a connection request and a message. LinkedIn gives you the option to send a note with each connection request. Part of the reason is to introduce yourself. Make an impression. Another reason is to ensure it’s not just some spambot trying to connect with people willy-nilly. This connection came with a note. It said something to the effect of “I think we can help each other out, let’s set up a call.” I didn’t want to say yes, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to have another connection. Well, the phone call turned out to be a waste of my time as this person had obviously not done their research. They’d seen “content” and assumed they could sell me some service related to content. The content marketing goals of my job, clearly stated on my profile, didn’t match up with theirs. While this is common, the next story is even worse. Living in San Antonio, we’re home to the greatest basketball team that’s ever played the game- The San Antonio Spurs. As you’d expect, there are always deals on season-ticket packages. And there are sales associates who sell those packages. These sales associates are on LinkedIn. One such associate requested a connection. And with the connection came a message. This one stated that I could get a season ticket package to give out to potential clients, or to members of my team to boost morale, or as an incentive. Again, if this person had done their research, they’d learn that I wasn’t in charge of anybody at the time. I was also not directly meeting with clients. As much as I wanted to mess with the guy, my conscience won out and I told he’d be better off trying to sell to someone else. This is the most common issue with LinkedIn- people who see a title or someone who might have some cash, and they pitch them their service. A little bit of time spent looking into my profile would have saved them this time. They could have then focused it on someone who might actually need, and be inclined to buy, their services.

The Annoying

LinkedInAs much as I hate people connecting with me on LinkedIn to pitch me, I’ve resolved not to be that person. After all, what I do, and how I do it, is not something that I can wrap up into a tidy little package and hand off to anybody. This is grandstanding, it’s a fact of my job. I write, and it takes a lot of time to do it. Because I’m constantly creating content every day, I need to fill the creativity well. That involves interviewing people. Without LinkedIn, I would have to dig through websites and make a lot of phone calls to get to a specific person. LinkedIn can help cut through all that by giving me a direct line to the desired connection. That rarely happens. Sigh. There have been several people that I could directly help if they would just agree to a twenty-minute interview. But they either don’t monitor their LinkedIn profile directly, or they have someone else do it for them. As a result, getting in touch with them is impossible. What should have been an easy way to network with valuable business contact turns out to be another dead end. And so, it’s back to the long way. I have to call their company and try to talk my way through a couple dozen layers before I get in touch with the right person. Or maybe I’m just going about it the wrong way?

The Good

Let’s end this on a high note, shall we? There are some good things about LinkedIn. First of all, I use LinkedIn to check the pulse of my industry. As a content writer and someone who works in the publishing industry, I can’t afford to ignore what other people are doing. I do check other news sources for my information though. I would be remiss, however, not to keep a direct eye on my target audience. It also helps to know what’s going on in my industry. Secondly, despite all the spammers and connections who ignore me, I have made good connections. I’ve met a couple clients through LinkedIn and the experiences have been positive. They recognize my skillset and how it can compliment them in their professional endeavors. Another will always ask me for insider advice on publishing, which I’m happy to give. The fact that he keeps coming back and asking leads me to believe he needs more than just advice though. But that’s for another post. Thanks to LinkedIn, however, my professional career has been made easier. It’s no walk in the park, but a social network that makes networking easier is much appreciated. I can’t imagine growing my personal network through just face-to-face meetings. As confident as I appear to be on LinkedIn, in person, I’m awkward and socially inept. So that’s where LinkedIn helps me out. Which is nice. But they’re not the “magic bullet” to making my career take off. I still have to put in the work to make that happen. Sigh.

Why isn’t LinkedIn like LinkedIn?

LinkedIn, for all of its flaws, still has advantages. And those who are aware and know how to leverage them, LinkedIn is great. But LinkedIn has missed the mission of its mission statement— To connect the world’s professional to make them more productive and successful. I would say I’m marginally more productive and only slightly more successful. Part of that is my fault. I pick and choose how to use the platform instead of going all in. The other part is on everyone else on LinkedIn.LinkedIn Look at it this way; a lawnmower is meant to mow lawns. It’s not meant for cross-country driving. Although there are stories of people who have succeeded on such a journey with a lawnmower, it’s not commonplace. LinkedIn was meant to be used as just a networking site. It’s for professionals to talk shop and share knowledge. Instead, there are way too many sales people trying to use it to make their next sale. And they’re not even doing a good job of that. LinkedIn has benefits, but it will only reach its full potential if everyone uses it the right way.

3 Things to Know about Rise Broadband

There's the big players in the ISP industry with their usual technology. Then there's Rise Broadband; gaining ground doing it at a fraction of the cost.

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The technology and methodology used in the ISP industry (Internet Service Providers) is dominated by fiber, cable, DSL, and satellite. But there’s another one that’s gaining ground- fixed wireless. And the champion of fixed wireless is Rise Broadband. It hasn’t been easy for them, however.Rise Broadband The ISP industry has some big players- AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon, to name a few. And these big players have control of all the major metropolitan areas. There are some areas that are still “free,” but for the most part, it’s the big guys and not anyone else. For a new company to enter the space it would take a lot of money and a head-on type of tactic. But Rise Broadband isn’t doing that. And yet they’re succeeding. What else should we know about Rise Broadband?

Island Hopping

To understand how Rise can contend with the big players and carve out their own niche, let’s look back into history. World War II to be precise. While the Nazi’s expanded and sought to hold onto Europe, another conflict was raging in the Pacific. Here the Allies had to contend with the Empire of Japan. General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific, had a problem. The Japanese Empire, a much bigger and well-equipped force, had advanced throughout the Southwest Pacific, taking and fortifying islands all over the area. With this many fortified islands over such a large space, a head-on attack by the Allies would be costly and time-consuming. MacArthur opted for a different tactic, Island Hopping. As far back as the late 1800s, the idea of “Island Hopping” was proposed and even used in limited capacities; instead of a full-frontal assault, resources would be focused on only key islands. They could cut off other islands and isolate more dangerous threats this way. MacArthur used island hopping in a more expansive capacity. And it worked. It also saved time. As MacArthur found success with the tactic, the Allies were able to take strategic positions across the Southeast Pacific at a satisfying pace. Japan reacted by withdrawing and consolidating their forces. This allowed the Allies to retake more islands with little resistance. And they continued to use the tactic in their assault on Japanese forces until they reached the island nation itself. Rise Broadband, though it’s not fighting a world war, is doing something similar. Instead of trying to get into the metro and urban markets, they’re instead selling internet to rural areas. But they’re not selling the “usual” methods of delivering internet.

Fixed Wireless

Fixed wireless is relatively new in the ISP industry, but not unheard of. It’s no “best-kept secret.” If you haven’t heard of it yet it’s probably because of all the marketing of the other ISPs. That’s changing though. Fixed Wireless uses line-of-sight to transmit their signal from a tower to a receiver. There’s no need to install cables out to the home or business. What’s needed is a receiver installed on the property, and from there, Wi-Fi can be used to provide internet within range of the receiver itself. But that’s all that you need to know about Rise Broadband and fixed wireless.

It’s Cost Efficient

Instead of taking the time to dig and bury wires out to a structure, or install an unobstructed dish, Rise Broadband can install the receiver and related equipment quickly. There’s no need for cables to be pre-installed. All that is required is a power source. From there, Rise installs a receiver on the structure and ensures there’s a clear line-of-sight to the transmitter. If there’s no transmitter in the area they can build a tower there to install one. Or better yet, attached a transmitter to something tall. If there’s another tower nearby, or a grain elevator or just a tall structure will do.Rise Broadband Time is saved and the customer gets internet access much faster. This is how Rise is so competitive; their equipment costs a fraction of what the larger providers use. Installation is relatively quick, and they can bring the internet to areas largely underserved. With these lower equipment costs, Rise can use that money for other endeavors, like maintenance, customer service, and marketing. In a sense, they’re island hopping around the big players as opposed to taking them on directly.

It’s an Alternative

Rise BroadbandFixed wireless, specifically Rise Broadband, offers rural customers another alternative. For the longest time satellite was thought to be the only option available for those in rural areas. As Rise Broadband continues to expand, they’re finding a customer base eager to take advantage of something new. Rise also offers fixed wireless in urban and suburban areas as well. Even though Rise has been focusing on rural over urban, residents everywhere are open to a different delivery method for their internet. Especially when 50 Mbps download speeds are available!

They’re Leading the Way

As the largest fixed wireless internet provider in the US, Rise Broadband is setting the course for how these types of companies operate. Back to the island-hopping metaphor; Rise Broadband didn’t waste time and money trying to break into major urban areas first. This may have been the “logical” first step. Yet, they didn’t take it. Showing ingenuity, they opted instead to go after rural customers first. This worked well for them. Many of the normal internet delivery systems are often too expensive to install when terrain and distance get involved. They may not be the first ones to do it, but they’re the first ones to have significant success with it. And when something works, other people are likely to copy and improve upon that formula. There’s also the fact that many of the big players didn’t see a pressing need to speed up installation. When urban areas are growing and there’s a healthy customer base, taking care of the rural customers falls by the wayside. With fixed wireless, Rise Broadband had a way to deliver reliable internet and at a lower cost. And they could do it quickly. This doesn’t mean they’re without competition entirely. Many rural customers use satellite internet. Despite what many say, it’s a reliable means of internet delivery, and there are endeavors to strengthen it as well as improve latency issues. But Rise has a better option available now. As a result, many customers are willing to take it. This is how they’re building a loyal customer base.

Moving Up

Rise Broadband is still considered a “small” ISP. It is, however, the largest fixed wireless provider. By continuing with their “island hopping” like strategy, they’ll be able to maneuver around major urban areas and continue to increase how many customers they serve. Much like MacArthur himself, Rise is moving quickly to isolate and cut off a much larger force. Within the coming months and years, it may not be surprising to hear more and more about Rise Broadband. As of this writing, there’s no news of any change in their strategy. They’ll continue to expand as they’ve been expanding. Are you curious to see if they’re in your area? Check out Rise Broadband internet deals to see if they’re available. For those not familiar with history, MacArthur and the rest of the Allies did win over the Empire of Japan. Thanks to island hopping, many more lives were spared than if they’d gone for a full-frontal assault. While Rise is not seeking world domination, they’ve established their presence in the ISP industry and are showing no signs of slowing down.

3 Reasons Hulu is Helping Disney

Hulu is going to be owned by Disney soon. Good news for Disney, if they're okay with losing $1 billion. Yet, Hulu is actually helping them. Here's how...

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Hulu, one of the big three streaming services, is going to be owned by Disney soon. Well, 60% of it will be owned by Disney. And this will happen after Disney completes its purchase of Fox Entertainments assets. Good news for Disney. Except when Hulu costs them about 1.3 to 1.6 billion in losses. Yet, this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe not at first. Disney, like any company, wants to make money on its assets and not have those assets lose them money. Especially when that amount starts with a ‘b.’ The positive here is that Disney is going to be enjoying the returns on Hulu’s efforts. Sure, in the short term, Disney is going to lose some money. Some. It’s a big amount, no doubt about it. I’ve never owned $1 billion. I doubt I will ever be worth that much in my lifetime. Disney, on the other hand, is dealing in multiple assets and properties across the globe. A billion here, a billion there is an acceptable loss for them. At least, it is from my perspective. They’ll most likely earn that $1 billion back in a month from all the merchandise they sell. What’s really happening here is a training or an upgrade montage.

The Upgrade Montage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBGGEZSAfyY Nearly every action movie has a training or an upgrade montage. Sometimes both. This montage is a series of clips of the hero, or team of heroes (as in the case of the Big Hero 6 clip above), get some new trinket, ability, or skill. Then they figure out how to use it and use it well. If Big Hero 6 isn’t your type of movie, then check out others on the streaming service of your choice. Or on cable. But first, save yourself some time and money by checking out the best internet deals and packages. Now go watch an action movie right up to when the hero gets the upgrade. Then stop. It’s not enough to get the upgrade, the hero(es) in question must use it and in the right way. Time is at a premium when it comes to movies, however. Audiences are not going to sit and watch hours upon hours of training, mistakes, learning, mistakes, frustration, mistakes, more frustration, learning, mistakes, and on and on. That’s real life. People who are training themselves want a break from the monotony of training. They don’t want to watch it in a movie. To get around this issue, producers put all that training and upgrading into a quick montage. Little scenes with quick action, one-liners, some slapstick comedy, and then show the little wins. Once the little wins are established, they show bigger and bigger wins. By the end of the montage, the hero(es) are proficient in said new skill/ability/talent/technology. A big part of the training montage is the song. Sometimes it’s an instrumental piece, written to highlight the difficulty of the training and/or upgrading. As the montage progresses the keys change to a higher key, signaling an emotional uplift. This comes right as there’s a small win. The music then builds as there are bigger and bigger wins. Once the hero(es) manage to reach a predetermined level of aptitude, the music crescendos, and the montage is over. Case in point; Fallout Boy’s “Immortals” is edited down to fit the montage for Big Hero 6. The key changes are kept in to signify when there’s a small win, and on and on until all six members of Big Hero 6 reach the appropriate level of aptitude. Fallout Boy was a good choice for the film, playing to the younger audiences and the hip feel of the movie. If they went with a different band or sound, it would have taken away from the overall feel of the movie. In real life, unfortunately, there are no training montages. It’s a day-in, day-out grind to train and keep training. As people work towards a goal, there’s no background music. If there was an option to have a full orchestra playing while I worked, I think I would take it. Nothing like hearing music firsthand to really stoke the creative fires. For Hulu, they’re in the middle of their training montage. There’s no music, no short clips. But we are past the hard part.

Small Win

The Handmaid’s Tale won Golden Globes and Emmy’s this year, making it Hulu’s first original content to take home such honors. To capitalize on this, Hulu has begun to put money and effort into more and more original content. Endeavors such as these take time and money to pull off. About $1.3 to 1.6 billion in money to be exact. But it’s not a bad thing for Disney.

Long-Term Gains Over Short-Term Revenue Goals

Any new endeavor takes time. The Handmaid’s Tale is a signifier that Hulu is onto something that works. It may not be perfect, but it’s successful. And successful is better than perfect. What the drama has done is show Hulu what to do, how to do it, and where to improve the formula. Sure, Disney has their revenue goals, as all companies do. But to enjoy bigger revenues in the future, maybe taking a $1 billion loss will be worth it? From the lowly perspective of a content manager, that makes sense. Of course, we’re talking about large sums of money in the abstract. I can’t begin to understand how the accountants involved in dealing with the real money feel right now.

Better Strategy

Making money for the sake of making money is a bad strategy. I’ve taken jobs before simply for the money. Sometimes it was because I had to. There were bills to pay and children to feed. So I took a job I hated because it meant my children wouldn’t starve. Then there were the jobs that I took because I thought “Hey, more money, should be fun, right?” But I was wrong. So, very, wrong. This “more money” type of job came with a boss who had unrealistic expectations of me, not to mention he wasn’t completely honest with the requirements of the job. It also didn’t help that other people within the company were incompetent and that just made more work for me too. But I’d be making more money, right? That didn’t matter. After all the time I spent on the job, I barely had time, or energy, to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So I quit. Hulu is doing it differently. They’re focusing on what works and improving that than just focusing on what makes money. This comes back around for them. By focusing on what works, they will be making more money. And more efficiently too.

Calculated Risk

Everybody must take risks in life. Otherwise, life would be very boring. Companies must take risks too. Yet, companies need to be wise in the risks that they are taking. For now, Hulu is risking billions of dollars in losses for Disney to fill out it’s stable of original programming. They aren’t doing this recklessly though. As stated before, they know what works and they’re using that as a guide for further endeavors.

Montage Ends

Hulu has their small wins and as they continue to duplicate them, there’ll be more mistakes. It’s easy to say, “mistakes will happen, learn from them.” But for those who make mistakes, and must pick up the pieces afterward, it’s not so easy. Mistakes can be demoralizing. Learning from them isn’t always fun either. Hulu is doing just that, making their mistakes, picking themselves up, learning from them, and trying again. Maybe when it’s all over they can make their own movie about it and have their own upgrade montage to show the process. Should be interesting.

3 Reasons Walmart is NOT the Little Shop Around the Corner

Walmart is ramping up its arsenal against Amazon by launching an eBook store. Walmart, and its partners, are proving they're big contenders.

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Walmart is continuing to ramp up its arsenal against Amazon. The most recent advance in this ongoing contest is Walmart’s partnership with Kobo. By partnering with Rakuten, and it’s e-reader brand Kobo, Walmart has launched its own online bookstore. While Amazon is the reigning power in that space, Walmart isn’t exactly a small contender either.

The Little Shop Around the Corner

In 1998, just as the internet was exploding, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan stared in a cute remake of “Little Shop Around the Corner.” Titled “You’ve Got Mail” this took the basic premise of the 1940 film and reworked for a more contemporary setting. This time, instead of pen-pals, Hanks and Ryan were the instant messaging each other. Trust me, instant messaging was a big thing back in the day.Little And the alert was the pre-recorded “You’ve Got Mail.” Hence, the title of the movie. In the original “Little Shop Around the Corner,” the setting was a gift shop. For the 1998 version, Hanks is the corporate executive who’s in charge of development for a behemoth book chain store. Kind of like Amazon is today. Ryan is the owner of a small-time bookshop that’s a neighborhood institution. Ryan’s “Little Shop Around the Corner” can’t compete with Hanks “Fox Books.” And she knows it. When the newest location opens down the street from her store, the days of “Little Shop Around the Corner” are numbered. Though she attempts to fight it, Ryan’s little bookshop goes out of business. Let’s reimagine the story this way. Hanks, and by extension Fox Books, is Amazon. They’re established, they’ve run out the little stores, and things are going well. Fox Books, AKA Amazon, accounts for about 80% of all digital eBook readers and eReading apps. Ryan steps onto the scene. But not with a Little Shop Around the Corner. This time she’s Walmart. She may be entering a tough field, but she’s no newbie. And here’s why.

Walmart is a Retail Giant

Walmart has over 5,000 locations nationwide. These brick and mortar stores have been promising “always low prices” and discounts for decades. Walk into any Walmart and you’ll find clothes, food, automotive products, and much, much more. Where they’re lacking is the digital sphere. They do have online ordering, but it’s a far cry from Amazon’s presence. Amazon, however, got its start with books. And books are still a major part of Amazon’s annual revenue. They have eReader apps and the Kindle. They’ve built up a digital empire, and even their books and eReading platforms are an empire in and of themselves. It makes sense for Walmart to go after the book market. While Amazon does have a strong presence there, they haven’t been working to develop and adapt.

Large and Dedicated Client Base

LittleThe reason Walmart is a retail giant is thanks to its large and dedicated client base. On the book front, part of the reason Walmart may be losing customers is that they don’t have viable options for them. Now, by partnering with Rakuten and selling Kobo products in the store, they will. As easy as it is for someone to buy something off Amazon, buying it in a store has a much stronger appeal. Getting to hold and test out a product is an advantage. Those who test out a product are more likely to buy it. They get a chance to see themselves using it, thus, they can see themselves owning it. This is a similar phenomenon with books and telling stories, but we’ll get to that later. For Walmart to sell the Kobo Aura in its stores, it’ll be a huge plus for them. Not to mention Walmart is also rolling out an audiobook service. While Amazon already has Audible, Walmart is going to make theirs more affordable. And Walmart’s biggest draw has always been its prices. For a monthly Audible subscription, it’s $14.99. Walmart’s will be only $9.99 per month. Those shoppers who are always looking for a cheaper price, they’ll eagerly switch from Audible to Walmart eBooks.

A Physical Means to Buy Digital Products

With Kobo Aura’s on sale in the store, Walmart is making it easier for their customers to get their hands on it. Sure, you can order it online and have it sent to you. But you’re gambling that way. Reviews of a product can only provide so much insight. Walmart will also “sell” digital books in its stores as well.Little This is accomplished by provided cards. Like a gift card, customers can pick up a card that will allow them to buy the digital book they want. Maybe it’s Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”, or Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects”. The customer will take the card to the register and pay for it there. Then they’ll activate the book by inputting the code found on the card. Personally, I’d like that experience. I know it sounds weird, but something about picking up a book and thumbing through it is so appealing to me. Then again, I love reading. Thus, a card that acts as a placeholder for the book is intriguing to me. It won’t take the place of a book. It will, however, fell more involved than just clicking “buy now” online.

Would It Have Been Different?

Little“You’ve Got Mail” was one of a series of romantic comedies that starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The two had chemistry on screen and worked well together. They didn’t get together in real life, but that’s okay. Tom Hanks has Rita Wilson and they’re perfect for each other. Don’t know what’s going on with Meg Ryan though. Anyway, had Meg Ryan’s character gotten the help of Walmart to take on Fox Books, the movie would have had a completely different ending. For one, Ryan’s “Little Shop Around the Corner” wouldn’t have been shuttered. She would have had a large inventory to work from. Her little bookshop would have been put into a much bigger network and supply chain. Fox Books would have had a harder time forcing her out. For another, Fox Books was really more like Barnes and Noble. And while they had their heyday, shutting down the poor independent bookstores, they’re now dealing with the consequences of not establishing an online presence. They’re fighting Amazon as well. Lastly, had Ryan had the support of a Walmart, then the story wouldn’t have ended with Hanks and Ryan falling in love. They would have fought bitterly for dominance in their region. Marketing teams would have been called in. At one point in the movie, Ryan is advised to “go to the mattresses.” With an army of marketers behind her, she would have gone a much better job this time. The Little Shop Around the Corner would have gone toe-to-toe with Fox Books, and most likely won. It wouldn’t have been a very romantic movie. Oh well.

Find a Book

Romances, mysteries, action, now you can find a book you like through Walmart. To download the title onto your favorite eReader or eBook app, make sure you’ve got the best Spectrum internet deals. This way you’ll save more money. And with all that money you’ve saved, you can go out and buy more books. And really, that’s what’s most important here.

3 Superheroes Missing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Who hasn’t seen the latest Avenger’s Film? After ten years, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is getting a shakeup. But Marvel is missing a few superheroes still.

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Who hasn’t seen the latest Avenger’s Film? Not only does it mark ten years of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it’s meant to shake it up. There is nothing wrong with the MCU that it needs a shake-up. To keep fans interested, however, things do need to change. This is a wise choice for Marvel, as things could get stagnant if they keep doing things the way they’ve always done them. It’s also a signifier of something else; getting too big. Marvel originally made comic books. The X-Men, Captain America, Spider-Man, Deadpool, and on and on. These series started out simple enough. As the stories progressed, it became more and more difficult for new readers to jump on and understand the depth of the story. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is having the same problem. Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor. These were the first four movies. If someone wanted to catch up on the entire MCU, it was only four movies. Then five movies. Another show here, another show there. But events in this show predate events in that movie. Who’s that person again? Now Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is big and unwieldy. Just like the comic books they were based on. Ironic, isn’t it? Yet, in this massive and expanding universe, there are a few things missing.

Alpha Flight

Our great neighbor to the north is also home to a mutant superhero team- Alpha Flight. This government-sanctioned group of costumed adventurers fought the biggest and baddest threats to Canada. Be they foreign, domestic, or other-worldly, Alpha Flight was there on the front lines to defend the good citizens of Canada. Since they were mutants, a lot of the Alpha Flight stories were tied to The X-Men. Given Wolverine was a Canadian, he was a prominent guest star. They also expanded beyond just him, which was nice to see. But characters like him, like Wild Child and Wyre, shared a common origin with him. There were also other “creations” of the Weapon X program were either allies or villains Alpha Flight had to face. Alpha Flight enjoyed a long run from 1982 to 1994. This was their best series as it had the most time to develop characters and arcs. Due to dropping subscriptions, Alpha Flight was canceled and didn’t see another ongoing series until 1997, 2004, and 2011. These series, though well written and beautifully illustrated, only last a short time. The third series made it two years while the latter series only lasted less than a year each. Given their involvement in dealing with the evil Weapon X program, it’s odd that they were not leveraged as much as they were for the films. And since Fox enjoyed using Wolverine so much for their horrible renditions of The X-Men, it’s a wonder they didn’t dig deeper and find someone from Alpha Flight to inject popularity into. All I’m saying is Canada is a popular filming location already. Why not give Alpha Flight its own movie?

The Incredible Hulk

He’s big, he’s green, he’s always angry.Marvel But when he’s not big, green, or angry, Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner. While Universal couldn’t keep Edward Norton as Bruce, I find it odd that they’d only do one standalone movie about him. Mark Ruffalo is a great actor too. To be relegated to some side character is a waste of his talent. There is also the waste of a good character. It’s easy to assume that all Hulk is good for is smashing things. That was not the heart of the character though. Stan Lee’s inspiration for the Incredible Hulk was mixing the stories of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Frankenstein’s monster, though hideous and grotesque, was still a human being. Stan Lee argued that the only reason he was painted as bad was due to those ignorant villagers would get scared of him. When they’d get scared, they’d grab pitchforks and torches and chase him. Frankenstein’s monster was only defending himself. Then there was Dr. Jekyll. This brilliant scientist wanted to see if human nature could be divided. This might make it easier to be “good.” Of course, as these things go, the experiment backfired and we got two people in the same body. There was the mild-mannered and even-tempered Dr. Jekyll. Also fighting for control was the vengeful and manipulative Mr. Hyde. By combining these elements, we get the Incredible Hulk; a brilliant scientist who wanted to increase his own potential, instead creates a monster out of his anger that he must now find a way to control. The Incredible Hulk had so much potential to show a common ailment all people face- the anger within us that we want to give into. But when we do, all we cause is more destruction. This theme was explored in the comic books, but oddly enough, never touched on in the movies. And he’s still just “that big green guy” who pops in and out of other Avenger’s movies. What a waste.

Cyclops

Speaking of wasted characters, there’s the original team-leader of The X-Men, Cyclops. Many a novice would assume that it was Wolverine who was in charge, and they’d be wrong. Cyclops was the first team leader. And he was always the best. An original X-Men, Cyclops was there when Marvel started. In the movies, he was first portrayed by the amazingly gifted James Marsden. And even his skills were wasted too as they turned Cyclops into this stodgy character. It gets worse too. While he’s relegated to third string behind much weaker characters, he’s also turned into a simple caricature. Cyclops was so much more than that. He was a leader who felt the burden of ensuring the safety of everyone. Balancing that against the mission, and Cyclops was always having to make tough choices on the fly. Not to mention he was more powerful than most mutants. All he had to do was open his eyes to level an entire mountain. With this insane power, Cyclops had to learn restraint. As a result, he was forever worried about hurting people. You add that to leading a team into dangerous circumstances and it’s no surprise that he was always conflicted. To cope with this, Cyclops became a master tactician. He knew that better he was in the field, the better his team would be. The better the team, the better the odds everyone got to go home. This brief, and abridged, description of Cyclops is overflowing with story potential. And yet, I keep seeing movies about Wolverine. Or movies that have Cyclops in the background. Again, more waste.

Could There Be Hope?

Recently, Disney bought out most of Fox Entertainment's Assets. Will they right these wrongs? We may finally get to see Alpha Flight get their big screen debut. The Avengers model could be repurposed here. Each team member develops in their own arc. And every four years have a crossover movie with everyone showing up. Cyclops may get his chance in the limelight too. With other, lesser, superheroes getting their own movies, it should be Cyclops turn. Some of them good, some of them bad. The good ones have proven there is a right way to do it. Until that happens, I’ll make do by watching other films. Other heroes that I’m not so emotionally attached to. I get to do this by checking the best internet deals so I can stream them right to my living room. What superhero films are you waiting to see? Which superheroes aren’t getting their chance to shine?