Leonidas I

300: Rise of an Empire. 1The second character seen in 300: Rise of an Empire trailer is nobody else than the first movie’s protagonist: King Leonidas, always portrayed by Gerard Butler. In the trailer, he’s not very much in shape…actually, he’s lying dead among his men, after the events of 300, and is beheaded without too many compliments by Xerxes, who uses his severed head as a warning for all his future enemies. In the first movie, we saw him heroically fighting the infinite army of Xerxes with just a bunch of loyal warriors, managing to buy time for the rest of Greece to gather their forces and prepare for the real war, while he was sacrificing his life (he wouldn’t have had to, if not for a traytor in his ranks). Now, let’s see together who is the man who was remembered as King Leonidas the Brave.

Leonidas was the son of Anaxandridas II, the king of Sparta. When the king thought he couldn’t have any son from his first wife, he married a second woman, who gave birth to Cleomenes, the elder son and the future king. From his first wife, however, Anaxandridas later had other three sons: Dorieus, Leonidas and Cleombrotus. Prince Leonidas was raised without privileges, leonidascomics1among his own people, as a normal boy, since he wasn’t the heir to the throne. He underwent the agogè, the Spartan public school, a harsh training to become a full citizen and a true man, according to Sparta’s standards. He received a hard military training, as he was left alone to survive on the snowy mountain of Taygetus during winter. During his test, Leonidas was among the few who made it, and took back home the skin of a great grey wolf he killed with a pointy stick. His strength and military skills became evident when he was still a young man, and he had gained the respect of all his city much before his father died. At Anaxandridas’ death, Cleomenes was chosen as his successor, and Dorieus, enraged, chose exile for himself, and retired in Sicily, where he died. Leonidas stayed, and followed his king as a simple soldier. He married Cleomenes’ daughter, his half-niece Gorgo, a strong woman who compensated with her cunning intelligence the impulsive nature of her husband. Leonidas lived his life as a common, even if extraordinary, man, until Cleomenes went mad and was deposed. As his younger brother, and the elder among his peers after Dorieus’ death, he was chosen by the people as the new king.

Strong but simple, Leonidas was more a military leader than a political one. When the former king Demaratus warned Sparta that Xerxes, king of Persia, was about to move war to the entire Greece, Leonidas immediately refused submission to the enemy, killing Xerxes’ ambassador and breking the international rules of that time. He seeked advice from the Oracle of Delphi, a sacred leonidascomics2priestess who was said to speak with Apollo‘s voice, but the response wasn’t favourable to a war, since the priests had been bribed. In order to buy time for his reticent allies to organize their forces, Leonidas chose to try and stop the immense Persian army at the narrow pass of Thermopylae, accompanied by his personal guard only: 300 chosen soldiers from the Spartan army. The task was desperate, but the nature of the territory and the superior military proficiency of the Spartans went against all odds, and the mighty Xerxes found himself unable to pass through a bunch of men who prevented him to set foot in Greece. Unfortunately, Ephialtes, a deformed man who Leonidas himself had sharply expelled from his army, feeling betrayed by the king, sold his peers revealing a secret way through the Thermopylae. Leonidas and his men were attacked by the rear, and annihilated in a matter of hours, after a week of strenuous resistance. Leonidas’ corpse was beheaded by Xerxes, and his body crucified as a warning to whoever dared challenge the Persian king. Leonidas’ sacrifice, however, had inflamed the spirit of the Greek cities, who were now ready to fight and defeat Xerxes and his army.

King Leonidas is a strong and determined man, hardened by a harsh education and used to the most difficult tasks. As all Spartans who underwent the agogè, he’s extremely proficient in both armed and unarmed combat, especially with sword and spear. He’s also a tactician born, and a charismatic leader, whose speeches convinced 300 men (almost 5000 in real history) to die with him to protect Greece from Persia’s expansionism. A hard man for hard times, Leonidas is the embodiment of the militaristic values of Sparta.

Gorgo

gorgofilmNew trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire, and other two characters from Frank Miller‘s original graphic novel appear. The first one is Queen Gorgo, portrayed by Lena Headey. In the trailer, she’s seen mourning her husband’s death, but she seems quite ready to take her revenge, allying herself with Athens in order to stop Xerxes‘ army once and for all. In the first movie, her role was quite expanded from the cameo she had in the comics, as she faces an attempt from Theron, a slimy and corrupt politician, to make the Spartan government bow to Xerxes. In the comics, her role is much smaller, but since she’s based on the historical character of the same name, there’s plenty to say about her nevertheless.

Gorgo was born the only daughter of King Cleomenes, the ruler of the Greek city of Sparta. She was raised as a Spartan princess, that is without the slightest privilege. She trained with boys in the gym, tought to read and count and write, to ride charriots, to dance and sing, and, since she was also a member of the royal family, she was instructed in the ways of politics. She gorgocomics1gave a good example of being a gifted queen-to-be when the tyrant of MiletusAristagoras, came to Sparta to ask Cleomenes support for his rebellions against the Persians. Gorgo, stil a child of nine years old, studied the stranger, despising his weak attitude (when she saw a slave tying his sandals, she harshly commented: “This man has no hands!”), and advised her father not to listen to him, warning of severe consequences. The king followed his daughter’s advice. Unfortunately, Cleomenes slowly went mad, and, after being deposed, he tried to lead an army against Sparta itself, only to commit suicide the moment he was utterly defeated. Gorgo’s future didn’t seem so bright, but she was still a strong and determined young woman: when a foreigner tried to court her, she surprised him when she made fun of him, saying he wouldn’t have been suitable even for a female role in the theatre (it wasn’t common for a woman to speak freely to a man at that time). In her intention, she would have only been married to a true Spartan: no other man in the world could rightfully call himself a man.

At Cleomenes’ death, his half-brother Leonidas became the new king, and in him Gorgo finally found a man worthy of her. She married him, becoming his queen, an eighteen years old girl bride to a fifty years old man. The two had a son, Pleistarchus, the new heir to the throne. She proved to possess a bright and swift intelligence when Sparta received a wax tablet from Demaratus, gorgocomics2who was king of Sparta before Cleomenes, at that time exiled in Persia. Nobody could guess what the gift meant, until Gorgo ordered it to be put on the fire. When the wax melted, it revealed a stone tablet underneath, in which a warning message was written: King Xerxes was moving war to all Greece. Leonidas moved to intercept the enemies’ army with only 300 soldiers, in order to buy some time for the rest of the poleis to prepare for the real war. Gorgo said farewell to her husband with the usual words for Spartan warriors: “come back with your shield, or above it”, victorious or dead. Leonidas, knowing he wouldn’t have come back, told his wife to marry a good man and to have children with him. When Leonidas died, she helped her brother-in-law, now regent, Cleombrotus, to rule over Sparta, and she did the same with Pausanias, his son and new regent when the first died. Eventually, the throne fell upon Pleistarchus, and what happened of Gorgo, whether she followed her husband’s last advice or not, remains unknown.

Queen Gorgo is a strong-willed, intelligent and self-confident woman, who’s been tried since she was a child in the art of government. A capable queen, she’s at par with her king, and she rules with an authority coming from her abilities and skills, not from her blood right. An artist and a warrior, a politician and a lover, a cultured woman and an athlete, Gorgo is the apotheosis of the Spartan education, a woman who is inferior to no man.

Linda Jasmine Park

Linda ParkA new character from Arrow, and this is an unexpected one. In the mid-season finale Three Ghosts, when Barry Allen turns the TV on to hear about the particle accelerator in Central City, there’s a reporter the comicbooks’ readers know quite well covering the news: it’s Linda Park, portrayed by Olivia Cheng. The character already appeared in The Flash tv series, just in the pilot, portrayed by Mariko Tse. She had a minor role, interviewing the major about the new wave of criminality in Central City, and never appeared again in the show. Now, let’s see together who this journalist is in the comics.

Linda Jasmine Park was the daughter of John and Lisa Park. She was raised in ChicagoIllinois, when her parents moved from Iowa, and she grew up in a safe and regular environment. She completed her studies, and she moved to New York in order to become a TV journalist…something that she actually did. She was hired as a reporter for Channel 2 News, but she got some lindaparkcomics1problems with her colleagues and the public: since she was of Korean lineage, she was repetedly accused of being far too sympathetic towards Korean immigrants, sacrificing her professionality to her heritage. The accuses weren’t true at all, but Linda had to move to another branch since her name risked to be sullied. She moved to Central City, where she continued with her job. She also met Rick Shavers, a chemist working for Royal Industries. She fell in love with him and, driven by her juvenile enthusiasm, she married him. This proved to be one of the worst decisions of her life, and her marriage lasted two weeks. She promised herself she would have never acted so rashly again, and she focused on her job. She started receiving more and more important assignments, and she became one of the best investigative reporters in the city.

Once, she was sent in SwainsvilleNew Mexico, to cover a story involving the Porcupine Man. During her investigations, she met The Flash, a superhero she immediately disliked, considering him an immature, arrogant and uncaring man in search of glory. She kind of haunted him trying to make him pay for the damage he caused in the battle with the Porcupine Man (things were a little bit more complicated, since the Porcupine Man was actually Flash), starting a true enmity between the two. Linda met Flash again in New York, when she was investigating the serial killer known as the Comforter, but things didn’t go better, as Flash accused her of being just a jackal in search of a good scoop, without caring about the homeless people who had been killed. The situation repeated when, in Keystone City, they met again in a case involving the Joker. After some time, however, Flash started flirting with her, lindaparkcomics2and Linda suprisingly found herself liking the game. He went to the point of unmasking for her, and Linda met Wally West, the man behind the third Flash’ mask. When Wally moved permanently to Keystone, however, Linda decided to leave him, since there was nothing keeping her there, and things with her hero never really started. However, Wally outran her train to Midway City, and asked her to stay. When a man challenges a train for you, you just can’t ignore him, and Linda decided to stay. She left Channel 2 and joined WKEY Channel 4 News, keeping her job, and staying with the man of her life. Linda eventually married Wally, and the two had two children, twins Jai and Iris. Starting as a hater of the hero, she had become at the end the wife of the Flash.

Linda Park is a brilliant and determined woman, an intelligent reporter who uses her remarkable investigative skills to uncover misteries many powerful people would rather keep buried. Her commitment to her job is second only to the one to her family: a career girl, a wife and a mother, Linda manages to keep an enviable balance between the various aspects of her life.

Daniel Leone (Pilate)

Father Daniel LeoneAlmost at the end of the characters from Man of Steel: today, another one who had just a cameo in the movie, but has a little bit more relevant backstory in the comics. When Clark Kent is looking for a meaning to his life, at a certain point he meets a priest: he’s Father Daniel Leone, portrayed by Coburn Goss. In the film, he just gives some advices about a necessary leap of faith, when Clark seeks a voice of wisdom in order to decide if he’s supposed to accept General Zod‘s requests or not. In the comics, Leone acts as an advisor and a friend to the Man of Steel, until a somewhat tragic ending. Let’s see together.

Daniel Leone was born and raised in Metropolis, just a regular guy who looked for his place in the world. When he was still young, he met a girl, Lupé Teresa Leocadio-Escudero, a hot-head who he fell in love with. The two started a passionate relationship, but things weren’t meant for lasting. At a certain point in his life, Daniel felt like he wasn’t in the right place, and fatherleonecomics1wasn’t leading his life as he was supposed to. A religious man, he started interrogating himself, until he realized God asked him something else than a family life. Answering to the call, he left Teresa, entered seminary, and became a priest. In Metropolis, he became pastor of the Sacred Heart Church, and established a good friendship with Teresa, who had in the meanwhile entered police, in Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. It was shortly after he became a priest that Father Leone was diagnosed a terminal, incurable cancer. Now a man of faith, he accepted this as a test from God, even if he struggled with his own mortality, like anyone else would have done.

Father Leone made the least expectable meeting when Superman, distraught over The Vanishing, a strange phenomenon during which millions of people (including his wife Lois Lane) had disappeared, came to him to seek advice. Superman felt guilty, since when the mass-disappearance occured he was in space to save Green Lanter Kyle Rayner, and felt like he abandoned Earth in the moment of need. Daniel helped him face his own humanity, his limits, and to accept that he couldn’t possibly save everyone. The two met once again, when Superman informed the priest he had tracked the Vanishing back to a small country in the Middle East, where he had fought General Nox, a deranged military leader in possession of the Vanishing Device, and his cyborg minion Equus. The fight led to a second Vanishing, that Nox and Equus used to escape, and Leone travelled to the Fortress of Solitude with fatherleonecomics2Superman to try and find where they had gone. While Superman reached the disappeared people on Metropia (a world he himself had created and then exiled in the Phantom Zone, and from which an alternate General Zod had kidnapped all the people), Leone was contacted by Elias Orr, a mysterious man that told him he had a cure for his cancer. Overwhelmed by doubt, Leone agreed to the cure, but he was transformed into a monstrous, enhanced version of Equus, called Pilate. When Superman came back, Leone, horrified for what he had become, asked his friend to kill him, but the hero refused. At that point, they were both attacked by Equus, who thought to have an ally in Pilate; the latter, however, defended Superman and fought with the cyborg, and both of them fell to the Phantom Zone, continuing their fight on an island of Metropia.

Daniel Leone is a man of tried honesty and reliability, a wise pastor who uses his own faith to help people around him clarifying their doubts and fears. His faith is often put to the test, especially after he learnt of his cancer, but he never ceases to trust God and his will, proving a strength that many wouldn’t have. As Pilate, Daniel possesses many superhuman abilities, such as enhanced strength, stamina, durability, reflexes and speed, retractable claws and maybe other weapons implanted in his body; as a cyborg, he’s immune to any illness, thus also his cancer has disappeared, but part of his humanity is gone too. Now struggling to keep whatever remains of his old self, Pilate has to live with the consequences of his choices.

Car-Vex

Car-VexLet’s keep speaking about the characters I missed in Man of Steel. Today we have the last Kryptonian (if I didn’t miss anybody else) composing General Zod‘s army: Car-Vex, portrayed by Samantha Jo. In the movie, she never leaves the ship like most of her peers, and acts as a prison guard to Lois Lane, only to be subdued with embarassing ease. She’s likely killed with all the others when the Black Zero is crushed inside the Phantom Zone. In the comics she doesn’t have such a big role, and she’s been introduced recently, but there’s something to say about her nevertheless. Let’s see together.

Little is known about Car-Vex’ life on Krypton, except that at a certain point she became a wanted criminal. She was hunted down and arrested by the Kryptonian police, and, after a short trial, she was sentenced to the Phantom Zone, an eternal punishment in a dimensional prison. Without a physical body, unable to do anything but to harbor her grudge, Car-Vex resigned herself to spend a time she couldn’t even feel in the desertic dimension. On the other side of the Phantom Zone, however, things had changed quite a lot. Krypton had been destroyed, and its last son, Kal-El, had arrived on a small planet, Earth, becoming the hero Superman thanks to the powers granted him by Earth’s yellow sun. Kal-El, however, wasn’t the only relic of Krypton still around: the alien cyborg known as Brainiac had shrinked and stolen the city Kandor, which was later saved by Superman and kept literally in a bottle in his Fortress of Solitude. It was during a battle between Superman and Brainiac that Kandor, after years of miniaturization, carvexcomics1finally regained its original size, and its inhabitants with it. Soon, it became clear that peaceful cohabitation between Kryptonians and terrestrials was impossible, and Superman provided to move the entire city on a small planet on the other side of the sun. Here, the city and the population grew, becoming New Krypton. As a sign of benevolence, the ruler Alura pardoned General Zod and his followes, and restored their roles in the Military Guild. Despite acting as a wise and capable leader, Zod secretely prepared a plan to invade Earth, getting his revenge on Superman in the meanwhile, and he assigned Ursa with a delicate task.

Ursa was ordered to recruit some Phantom Zone prisoners and to enlist them in a special operation involving the preparation of the war with Earth. Car-Vex was among the criminals called back, and her “breakout” became part of an intricate plan to discredit Earth at Kryptonians’ eyes. She was ordered to go to Earth and to act as a sleeper agent, in order to learn everything she could of Earth’s defenses, tactics, strategies, and to weaken their resistance forseeing the arrival of the Kryptonian army. While on New Krypton General Zod fooled Kal-El making him believed he had redeemed himself, to the point of befriending the hero, on Earth Car-Vex infiltrated Science Police, the high-tech task force of Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. She adopted the identity of Officer Romundi, a slighlty frustrated policewoman who shortly became nenowned for her professionality and her heroic deeds (easy to risk a bullet if you’re a carvexcomics2bulletproof alien). Her fame brought her at the side of General Sam Lane, considered by many a paranoid military officer, but actually the head of Project 7734, a secret operation created along with Lex Luthor‘s scientific genius to build any kind of weaponry to resist an eventual alien threat. As Officer Romundi, Car-Vex did her best to gain Lane’s trust, and arrived to the point of exposing (and killing) another sleeper agent, saving the General’s life. When she finally became a trusted member of Project 7734, she did her best to put Lane against Flamebird and Nightwing, two Kryptonian superheroes who were hunting down the sleeper agents, making both sides lose time while Zod prepared invasion. She also destroyed the Science Police central with a solar bomb, crippling the Project and, thus, also Earth’s anti-extraterrestrial defenses. War was finally ready.

Cunning, deceiving, cold-hearted and sarcastic, Car-Vex is a criminal who found an easy and profitable way to make use of her skills and her violence. As all Kryptonians under a yellow sun, she possesses extraordinary abilities (superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, senses and reflexes; x-ray and heat vision; freezing breath; flight; etc.), plus a remarkable military training that makes her quite a threat. Loyal to Zod and Ursa only, Car-Vex is ready to follow them at the best of her possibilities, annihilating whatever enemy she is pointed…even an entire planet.

Richard Laurence Parker

richardparkerfilmSecond character seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is Richard Parker, the deceased father of Peter. In the movie, he’ll be portrayed by Campbell Scott like in the first one, where he’s seen leaving young Peter with his brother’s family and leaving with his wife for an unknown reason. He’s a scientist like his Ultimate counterpart, and his death is still shrouded into mystery, but Norman Osborn seems to be pretty much involved. In the second movie, he’s seen appearing on a monitor, in something like a last will, declaring he knows Oscorp‘s dark secrets, so it’s likely we’ll learn something about his death too. Anyway, let’s see together who Peter Parker’s father is in the comics.

Little is known about Richard Parker’s early life. When he was still a kid, his elderly parents often left him with his much older brother Ben, who acted more as a father than as a big brother to him. He was taken care of even when Ben started dating May Reilly, and the presence of a kid during their dates led Ben and May to the decision of never have children of their own. Anyway, Richard grew up, completed high school, and got interested in military career. He enlisted United States Army Special Forces, and he proved to be quite a skilled and richardparkercomics1talented recruit. When on field, he acted heroically more than once, gaining the attention of his superiors. He was soon promoted to the grade of Captain, being still extremely young for that rank. Finall, he was noticed by Nick Fury, who was at the time working for CIA, and enlisted in the counter-espionage. As a field agent, Parker met a CIA analyst, Mary Fitzpatrick, and fell in love with her. The two started dating on the sly, fearing their superiors would have impeded their relation, and their skills as spies surely proved useful. Eventually, they decided they didn’t want to hide anymore, and got married. Their new status as a married couple made them the perfect undercover agents, and, with Mary promoted to field agent, they were often assigned dangerous missions, tasks they always completed perfectly.

At a certain point, the Parkers were assigned with the mission of saving a Canadian spy, Agent Ten, from the clutches of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, a HYDRA leader, and Baroness Adelicia von Krupp, a rich widow who was financing the Baron. The Parkers faced the two Barons, and while von Strucker escaped, they managed to arrest von richardparkercomics2Krupp after a plane pursuit, and to free her prisoner, Agent Ten, aka the Canadian mutant Logan. During the mission, however, they discovered Mary was pregnant (with Logan mocking Richard since, for being such a tough agent, he had turned pale very quickly at the news): despite their peculiar job, they decided to keep the baby, and, when he was born, they named him Peter. When they were out on a mission, they left Peter with Ben and May, something they gladly accepted. Eventually, Richard and Mary were assigned a new, dangerous mission: they would have infiltrated a criminal organization in Algeria, led by Albert Malik, the third Red Skull. They pretended to have betrayed their country and their association, and joined the Skull to destroy his organization from the inside, but they ended up being discovered despite their best efforts. As soon as he realized their cover had blown up, Richard took Mary on their airplane to come back to the States, but the Finisher, a killer hired by the Skull, had mined the plane: Richard and Mary were killed in action, dying while their country believed them to be traitors, and their son was raised by Ben and May.

Despite his carefree and fancy attitude, Richard Parker is a serious and responsible man, truly committed to his duties as a husband and as a patriot. Being trained by the Special Forces, first, and by CIA, later (plus and extra S.H.I.E.L.D. training), Richard is an extremely proficient hand-to-hand and armed combatant, and a remarkable spy. Despite first thinking only of glory and career, he radically changed his perspective the moment he met Mary and conceived Peter: now, his priorities have changed, and his responsibilities take him where he would have never thought to be.

May Reilly

auntmayfilmIn the meanwhile, also the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been released, and we get our first look at two other characters, both of them old acquaintances. Let’s start with the oldest one: Aunt May, portrayed by Sally Field in the youngest version of the character so far. She first appeared in the 1977 pilot film portrayed by Jeff Donnell, and again during the series played by Irene Tedrow. She was also a major character in Sam Raimi‘s trilogy, portrayed by Rosemary Harris; during the three films, she shows to know more than she pretends to about her nephew’s double life. Anyway, in the new movie series she’s portrayed as the keeper of many secrets belonging to Peter Parker‘s parents, and maybe this time she’ll reveal something of what she knows. Let’s see together who one of the sweetest old ladies of the Marvel Universe is in the comics.

May Reilly was born in a middle-class family in BrooklynNew York City. Her parents weren’t exactly a balanced couple, and they quarreled every day, for every single reason, often violently. May spent her childhood trying to act as a mediator between her parents, only to be scolded in turn by each one of them. Eventually, her father left home, and May thought (feeling guilty because of auntmaycomics1it) that her life would have been better. She couldn’t have been more wrong: her mother felt abandoned, and blamed May for her husband’s “escape”. May’s adolescence was even worse than her childhood, with her mother opening a true psychological war against her; the only thing she could think of was to break free of that life, swearing not to entrust her happiness to anybody but herself ever again. As a young woman, she met two men she fell in love with: Ben Parker, a honest salesman from Coney Island, and the beautiful and mysterious Johnny Jerome, a gambler who seduced her treating her like a princess. Despite her promises to herself, May, feeling loved and apreciated for the first time, felt for Johnny, and accepted his proposal to escape together. Ben, however, truly loved May, and did some researches on his rival, exposing him as a robber and a killer. May, informed, broke up with Jerome just in time, and finally accepted Ben’s proposal.

During their betrothal, Ben’s parents often entrusted the man’s younger brother, Richard, to them, leading them to dislike the presence of young children, since it spoiled their relation. When May and Ben finally got married, they decided not to have kids, and to live one for the other only. When also Richard got married with a girl named Mary, they had a son, Peter; since they were often outside the country for work (unkowingly to Ben and May, they were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents), they often entrusted Peter to his uncles. May and Ben had got old in auntmaycomics2the meanwhile and they had realized how big a mistake they had done deciding not to have children of their own; Peter was felt like a blessing to them, and they welcomed him with open arms and heart. May was approached by Mary, once, as she asked the woman to take care of Peter if anything ever happened to them: May fully understood the responsibility it required, but she promised anyway. When Richard and Mary got killed by the Red Skull, May and Ben decided to adopt Peter, and to raise him as he was their son. In her husband and her nephew, May finally found the family she wanted, loving and being loved unconditionally and without any kind of violence. The three of them grew up together, with May and Ben learning to open themselves and Peter becoming a teenager. When Ben was killed by a burglar, May committed herself to Peter’s care, and promised to her dead husband she would have been a mother for him that he could have been proud of.

May Reilly-Parker is a strong woman, forged by years of family abuses and home violence. She is deeply bonded to her husband, Ben Parker, who she loves with all herself, and even more to Peter, her nephew and adoptive son, who she has devoted all her life as a middle-aged and then elderly woman to. Despite appearing as a frail old lady, May is stronger than what most people, even Peter, think, and can endure everything in the name of her beloved ones.