Well…it wasn’t by some miracle of Walmart or Target that I finally came into possession of these 2 cars…no, I searched and waited long enough and decided that I was tired of it and so I broke down and ordered them. They came a few days ago, and one of my biggest sources of excitement was the included pamphlet since these are the first new vehicles to be released since the previous pamphlet was completed. I guess I should break the news now – there’s no one new. It shuffled some stuff around, knocked off the Guardians of the Galaxy, and added a Black Panther section with, you guessed it, an entry for Black Panther and Erik Killmonger.
Black Panther is a nice looking car overall. I talked about this some when I went over the Flip Fighters where Black Panther’s redesign first appears. The glossy black is accented with a deep, dark blue that works well. The car doesn’t look all that weird like some Character Cars, though I suppose it has an overall more feline look than the original, bulky, all-terrain thingy from before.
Next up is Erik Killmonger, the film’s antagonist. The card gloriously labels this as First Appearance which I guess is kinda true in a certain way. The big chunky mofo that was Black Panther back in the days of Civil War now has an updated paint job and has been rechristened Erik Killmonger. Now I ain’t the biggest fan of reusing designs, but if you are gonna do it, here’s at least a lesson in doing it right. It’s still black, but it’s got a matte finish. I haven’t seen Black Panther yet but I have seen the toys, and Killmonger appears to have a very similar costume (to Black Panther) set apart primarily by its golden-colored accoutrements. The vehicle is decked out with these “golden” (more like a sort of dull yellow-brown…god I can’t think of a name for this color and I’m always trying to be that guy who knows exactly what color to call shit…) graphics. Tribal-y design stuff and other defining lines are generously used to give Killmonger his own unique appearance and I’ll admit it works out pretty well in the end…at least better than the sort of “quickie” treatment Black Panther got back it the Civil War era.
And it looks like that’s all we’ll be getting from the latest MCU installment. I don’t want to be too harsh since I don’t really know anything about Black Panther just yet though we had a ton of shit missing from the last several DC and Marvel flicks: Hela from Ragnarok, Homecoming’s Shocker, both Steppenwolf and the Parademons from Justice League, Steve Trevor from Wonder Woman, and even Ego – possibly Taserface and Ayesha – from Guardians 2. I get that not all of these characters will be remembered equally, but it’s this day and age where even the brief extras are being noticed and indeed sought after. This is an age where fans are obsessed with detail and other facets of the toy industry reflect this aspect as well…just not Hot Wheels. I love love love these Character Cars but it really bugs me how one-sided it feels 50% – 75% of the time. We got so many cars between the 2 Guardians of the Galaxy movies (Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Rocket (Vol. 2), Rocket (Battle Damage), Groot, Go-Kart Groot, “Green” Go-Kark Groot, Mantis, Nebula, Yondu (2 versions, probably unintentional), and the gigantic Groot Hauler) and not a single damn antagonist. Where is the reasoning in not at least giving us Ronan and Ego? What about Justice League? Wonder Woman remained unchanged from her BvS appearance, but we got a new Aquaman (on top of another new-ish Aquaman!), a new Batman plus Tactical Suit Batman plus an exclusive Batman with the Flying Fox set, new Flash, a new exclusive Cyborg (from the 5-pack)…I mean damn why no Steppenwolf!? And fucking seriously, don’t even get me started on how we made it all the way through Civil War without a goddamn Scarlet Witch car…we had 2 factions, 12 characters, 6 on each side. To be fair we were missing a few but I very clearly remember there in the span of a few weeks we were hit with Black Panther, Vision, and Winter Soldier. She wasn’t (isn’t) even a damn villain!
Alright alright, enough flying off the handle, but it does bother me. Anyone out there got Hot Wheels’ ear…? Like please…just gimme one villain per film, can you do that…? One bad dude per Marvel and DC flick and I promise I will stop bitching about Parademons and Shocker and Steve Trevor.
I guess Infinity War is the next big thing coming up, right? I saw the trailer for it and man it looks like the MCU really has thrown it all in the pot. From what I can tell it has the 6 original/core Avengers minus Hawkeye (maybe he was in there, but I didn’t see him) plus some of the newer crew like Vision, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, and Black Panther. Don’t remember seeing Ant-Man though. Dr. Strange was quite prevalent in the trailer and the latest iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy minus Yondu. This shit will be way too big for Hot Wheels to ignore, but then again I can’t quite fathom gettin’ all hyped up over more Spidey’s, Iron Mans and Caps for vehicles. Perhaps we can count on a truly memorable Thanos car though.
I don’t know how much influence Marvel (or the MCU specifically) has on who Hot Wheels does and doesn’t transmute into a Character Car, or if there’s some sort of collaborative research to determine who will sell best, but I do find it somewhat interesting that Marvel in particular has always been kinda vocal about downplaying the villains in their films and letting the heroes’ humanity shine through. I guess I kinda get it, but by relegating the villains to a representation of an abstraction the film loses some of its immersive feel and becomes more of a fable. I obviously have no problem with the Marvel villains behaving more “human” and less like cookie-cutter versions of “evil shit.” This is why we don’t remember shit like Abomination or Whiplash or who the hell the villain in Iron Man 3 was. Villains matter, Marvel! I get that you want to explore the heroes as actual people, but why does this come at the cost of dismissing the villains as interchangable abstractions of conflict? Who am I to criticize their formula at this point…? Absolutely no one. But I think I definitely speak for a good number of comic fans when I say that in many cases it’s the rivalry that props these narratives up and keeps them interesting. Toss in a throwaway villain for the origin story, that’s fine, but once you hit film #2 it’s time to start building the lore.
I’m rambling at this point but you know what I really wanna see? X-Men Character Cars! Those built-in delineations like Blue Team, Gold Team, X-Force, X-Factor, and Excalibur. I don’t know what the hell those teams look like now but they could easily shift back to when the series was at its cultural heyday in the early and mid 90’s. I know I know, we already got Wolverine – 2 versions in fact – but I think (I could be mistaken) that he’s the only direct link to the X-Men (maybe Deadpool…?) in the whole lot of the Character Cars. There are so many great characters to mine from the series, both heroes and villains: Cyclops, Colossus, Jean Grey / Phoenix, Storm, Beast, Angel / Archangel, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee, Magneto, the Sentinels, Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, White Queen, Mojo, Sabretooth, Omega Red, Stryfe…so much cool stuff to work through!
Ok ok I’m gonna stop! I almost started going to town on how I want to see meticulously chosen collections from the rogue’s galleries of Batman and Spider-Man (I mean really what fan doesn’t want to see a well-curated collection of Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, Hugo Strange, Professor Pyg, and Man-Bat…or Hobgoblin, Jackal, Scorpion, Kingpin, Tombstone, Beetle, and Mysterio…) but I’ma cap it off here. Any thoughts on the new cars? Have you seen them anywhere (like, physically)? And how do you think Hot Wheels will (or should) handle the bonkersishness of Infinity War!? Give me Thanos…and Scarlet Witch, and maybe I’ll hold my tongue and smile and nod!