349. Who’s the best superhero? (with Paul Langton)

BOOM! POW! BANG! SMASH! Well then! Yesterday I posted an episode called “Can I have a quick word?” and basically in that little episode I expressed my concerns that I was posting too much content and that people would stop listening because they couldn’t keep up. Sometimes I worry too much and since I do this alone I do let these concerns bounce around in my head too much. Clearly I underestimated the devotion and motivation of the LEPsters (just a brief lapse of judgement I assure you) because  I immediately got loads of positive and encouraging responses for listeners. My phone has been going crazy with notifications of comments on my website because people have been writing to reassure me that everything’s fine. The general message from people is  essentially “No Luke, don’t worry – you can’t post too much stuff, we love it! There’s no need to be worried about posting. Just post all the episodes you have – we’ll either gobble them up like hungry dolphins or we’ll save them for later like squirrels. Yes, we will stock them up like Squirrels hoarding nuts before winter. Except in this case the squirrels are learners of English and the nuts are episodes of my podcast.”

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Well, alllllrighty then, that makes me feel much better about myself and thank you for the vote of confidence. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised – you’re my people, right? My podcast people!

Another thing that I noticed from the comments is that a lot of people are keen to listen to me talking about Brexit. I do have Brexit episodes coming soon, but first let’s finish this little series about movies – and we continue with that theme in this episode and the next one too.

Just before we start here, let me just remind you of my podcast sponsor and that’s italki – I’ve had some positive reports from listeners who are using it and finding it to be a professional and effective service with some friendly and efficient teachers – remember that you can get a discount with italki when you visit through my website. Click an italki logo on my page to get started and the path to fluency in English will open up before your eyes, like a… like a path I suppose. www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk

Paul Langton – Ex-Nerd, Former Fanboy,

The whole time I was recording the last episode of this podcast about the new Marvel film, I was thinking – “I should talk to someone who really knows about this subject. I should speak to a geek. I need a nerd. I know, I’ll talk to my mate Paul Langton.” That’s Paul Langton – not Paul Taylor. You might remember Paul from previous episodes such as The Brighton Comedy Festival episodes, Friday Night Banter (aka The Drunk Episode) and On a Boat (aka The Drunk episode 2). These days Paul is a proper grown-up man and everything. He’s married and runs marathons and things like that, but before that he used to be a big time Marvel fanboy and comic book collector.

Basically, he was a nerd up until he met his girlfriend (now wife), because I imagine that she’s not into that sort of thing (she’s a normal grown-up, then) So, he’s an ex-nerd (that’s an ex-nerd not an X-Man – no, he’s not an x-man – he is still a man – he hasn’t had a sex change, he’s not an ‘ex-man’ (hilarious joke).

He’s an ex-nerd, a reformed geek, a former fanboy, but he still knows pretty much everything a person could or indeed should know about Marvel superheroes. So, what better person for me to talk about this subject with? Except Stan Lee maybe. But I couldn’t get Stan Lee – so Paul Langton will suffice.

Obviously, if you’re a Marvel movie fan – you’re probably going to like this. But also, if you are a learner of English who likes a challenge – this is definitely for you too…

…because this is a pretty fast conversation I reckon. My teacher-sense (it’s like spider-sense) is tingling. That’s a kind of 6th sense I have as an English teacher. It tingles when I think something might be difficult for learners of English. My spider sense is tingling a bit with this episode.

The conversation contains a lot of references to comic book culture and Paul speaks quite fast. Two things there which could be barriers to you bathing freely in a lovely warm bath of pure English pleasure during this episode (did you know that’s what I aim to give you in every episode? The sensation of bathing freely in a lovely warm pool of pure English pleasure? Well, it is). So, it might be a bit geeky and fast.

Another challenging aspect of this is that the sound quality is not perfect. It’s no worse than the average dodgy Skype call, but there are a few times where the signal drops out and Paul’s voice isn’t perfectly clear. You could watch out for the language I use to deal with bad connections during a phone call.

What about the way Paul speaks?

Paul is known for being a bit of a motormouth. That means that he talks a lot and he talks quickly. Perhaps it’s his Irish background, because the Irish are known for being big talkers.

Paul’s Mum was Irish I think, but Paul himself was born and raised in central London, so he’s a genuine Londoner with a London accent. He’s not a cockney because cockneys have to be born in the East End of London. Paul was brought up in central London, so he’s not a cockney but he does sound a bit similar to one.

So, you’re going to hear Paul speaking pretty quickly, in a London accent, over a dodgy Skype connection, talking about a specific subject. All these things might make this conversation difficult for you to follow, and that’s why my spider-sense – sorry, teacher-sense is tingling a bit.

By the way, I don’t mean to patronise you of course, I’m sure lots of you won’t have problems understanding this. I just reckon it might be a bit tricky for some of you. So…

Here is a suggested approach for how to listen to this episode.

1. When you understand something in this conversation, you should feel really good and happy with your English. With every single thing that you understand and every phrase that you identify – you should give yourself a good slap on the back, and with every slap on your back (even if you don’t do it) you should feel an ever-increasing sense of warm satisfaction and achievement. Well done you – you understood it and you’re very good at this. No seriously, as you understand more and more, you’ll find that you feel more and more confident and happy with your English and that’s very healthy.

2. But if there are parts that you don’t understand – don’t let it stop you.
This is important to remember because we know that if you only listen to things you understand perfectly, and you give up when things gets difficult – frankly – you won’t make progress.

Challenging yourself with more complex things will help you make more progress. You have to push yourself, even if you feel resistance. I know a lot of you know this because you sometimes tell me things like this “Luke, I understand you perfectly but not other people I hear.” Well, you need practice! You are familiar with my voice and I do speak clearly (but not slowly in my opinion). So, you need to do plenty of practice of listening to other people and you can do that with episodes like this.

So, understand what Paul is saying and when the episode is over you can feel good about yourself. Feel good about the things you understand, and don’t be bothered by the bits you miss as you listen to the whole thing.

So, with those comments in mind, let’s now dive into this conversation with my friend Paul Langton the official LEP comic book consultant and Marvel expert.

Oh, and here’s a quick task for you

Can you guess which character Paul thinks is the strongest? Who’s the strongest character in the Marvel universe according to Paul? Who’s the best superhero? To find out, you’ll have to listen until the end.

Another thing to look out for is the specific language Paul uses to efficiently describe these characters. There’s lots of descriptive vocabulary in this episode for you to pick up.

I will talk to you again briefly on the other side of this chat.

But now, let’s listen to this conversation with Paul Langton…

*Conversation begins*

Some questions I asked Paul during the interview

Hello Paul, how was your day?
What do you do?
How do we know each other?
Have you been on this podcast before?
You created my superhero alter-ego: Luke Johnson. (He hasn’t appeared on the podcast for quite a while, but perhaps he’ll be re-awakened by your presence)

Let’s not get bogged down in too much comic-book lore, but I’d like you to give your comments and knowledge as we explore super heroes in more detail, and ultimately fight them against each other in order to see who is the most powerful.

First of all…
What are your credentials as my nerd consultant / comic book expert?
Have you seen Captain America: Civil War?
What about the other films in the MCU? Quick thoughts?
What do you think of the MCU, as a comic book fan?

Tell me about the main characters in the Marvel universe.
Tell me about their origins, their true identities, their motivations, their abilities/powers, their weaknesses.
Let’s start with The Avengers – the characters which have been revealed in the MCU so far.
By the way – we can’t cover everyone, so some have just been missed out. Sorry fans!

Definition of a superhero: These are enhanced people. They’re mostly human, some are gods, some are aliens, some are robots or in some cases computer programs.

They’re enhanced by one or more of these things: super abilities, tech, special training.

For example, Captain America has super abilities from the special serum he was exposed to when he became a super-soldier, he is armed with tech – a shield made from vibranium, and he has received special training as a soldier – he’s learned to fight using a combination of fighting styles.

They have origin stories which affect their motivations. They sometimes have to hide their identities from the public.
Despite being enhanced superheroes, most of them have weaknesses of some kind which mean they are not completely flawless.

So, let’s talk about the characters with these things in mind:
their origins
their true identities
their motivations
their abilities/powers
their weaknesses

(some of these might be considered side-characters rather than genuine superheroes)
Captain America (Steve Rogers)
The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)
Falcon (Sam Wilson)
Iron Man (Tony Stark)
War Machine (James Rhodes)
Thor
Loki
Nick Fury
Black Widow (Natasha Romanov)
Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
Hulk (David Banner)
The Guardians of the Galaxy
Thanos
Ant Man (Scott Lang)
Black Panther
Spiderman
Ultron
Vision
Scarlet Witch
Quicksilver

Marvel characters in other films:
Wolverine
other X-Men

Who’s the best?
Listen to hear what Paul thinks.

*Conversation ends*

Hello again – So, you listened to the whole thing – NICE ONE!

One thing I’d like to say right now is that conversation was very rich with vocabulary. I think Paul did a very good job of being extremely succinct in his descriptions of each superhero and he did it with some very nicely chosen bits of vocabulary. It would be worth listening to that again and it would be good if I did a vocabulary review episode based on that. In fact I’d like to do vocabulary or language reviews of many of these episodes and it’s something I’m considering doing, perhaps as part of a paid area of my website where I could offer you specially designed learning materials based on episodes of the podcast. I could call it the learning zone and it would be available to super-hero LEPsters and dedicated language learners who would be happy to pay a few pounds lots of extra content. Just an idea at this stage…

I hope you got to know all those superheroes even better after listening to this conversation, because not only have you just improved your English a bit, you’ve also improved your knowledge of popular culture. I think the more you know about these Marvel films, the more you can enjoy them.

If you haven’t seen the latest Captain America film – go out and see it. It’s a lot of fun.

So, in the end you heard that Paul thinks _________________ is the strongest superhero. But what do you think? Do you agree? Who’s the best superhero in your opinion?

Who do you think would win in a fight between these characters?
The Hulk vs Superman
Iron Man vs Batman
Captain America vs Spiderman
or any other combination of characters. You decide.

___________?_____________ vs ___________?_____________

It could be fun to talk about those situations on the podcast, but there’s no time left in this episode. So, you can carry on the discussion in the comment section. Just find the page for this episode on teacherluke.co.uk and do some writing – who’s the best superhero and why?

Now, there’s one more superhero episode in this mini comic-book series. Yes, the season is going to continue because there is now another film in the cinemas and that’s the latest X-Men film, “X-Men: Apocalypse”. I saw it a few days ago and as soon as I got home I recorded an improvised review of it. You’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out what I think, but I’ll give you a clue – I thought it was pants.

That’s the end of this episode. Speak to you soon. Bye!

Luke

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  • Andrii

    Well, I’d strongly disagree with Paul’s choice!
    IMO superheroes with telepathic powers are the most powerful ones. While some heroes are immune to telepathy (Magneto’s helm, Hulk’s multiple personalities), you still can manipulate others to attack immune ones.
    It’s funny to argue about the fictional stuff, but still an opinion.

  • Ptholome

    I watched the Darkman movie with Liam Neeson and it seems people don’t like a hero looking so terrifying. So I don’t think they did another sequel…

    See you.

  • Ivan

    Hi Luke,

    Awesome episode as always! While I was already familiar with the more popular heroes like Iron Man and Cap, I didn’t really know much about the obscure/mid-carder ones, so you and Paul just saved me a trip to wikipedia! :D

  • Naomi

    Hi Luke! Wow,Paul’s knowledge about this subject is fascinating! I didn’t know anything at all about Marvel, superhero and the like.But I enjoyed so much this episode.Every your friend who appeared on LEP are nice! You have many nice friends, don’t you?

  • Paquan

    Hello Luke, I really enjoy listening to this episode even though superheroes, Marvel, comic books and stuff are not my kind of thing. Now I know a lot more about them. And as you’ve said, Paul’s explanation is very rich in vocabulary and expression. I got loads of interesting vocabs and all that full on my note paper. Some of them I kind of used to know. They sound familiar but I don’t quite remember their meanings, so I just gave myself a half slap on my back. :D

    And yeah, it would be great if you could do a vocabulary review from this episode. Anyway, I love this and I will definitely listen to it again.
    Thank you Luke. Thank you Paul. :)

  • Ptholome

    Today I was walking while listening this podcast when, all of a sudden, I was overtaken by my wife… I was surprised because usually I am always waiting for her each km… Why are you walking so slowly asked her? In fact, it was because I couldn’t understand very well Paul’s speaking and I was so focused on the listening that even my wife was faster than me. Even your speaking was faster than usual Luke, :)

    Also, I was thinking: I hope our LEP transcription group will not choose this episode… :(

    What I like the most about your cinema podcasts is that it motivates me to look for the movie on internet and to watch them… See you and Thanks.

  • Fulvio

    I wonder what is more ridiculous, Bruce Wayne who changes his voice when is Batman or Superman who puts on his glasses and nobody knows he is Superman!

    And what about Hawkeye, he could not be an Avenger, I mean He just has a good aim. It isn’t enough. It drives me crazy. The other Avengers have incredible powers but he just has a good aim e nothing more. :-)

    Nice Episode!

    Thanks Luke

  • Piotrek

    Bloody hell! Poor Paul, he used to had a passion for superheroes, but his wife destroy everything! This always happen when man is getting married. :( Anyway great episode :)

    • Paul still has a passion for computer games and I doubt that he would agree that his wife has destroyed anything, quite the opposite! :)

    • Ptholome

      I learned a lot from my wife. She inspired and motivated me. Finally, I became better than I was because her. We are together since 1975… She is the best person I have had in my life.

  • Superman is the best of all super heros, he could have killed batman in 1 second but he didn’t want to, but that’s the problem he is so good that he will never fight at 100% of his strength. Maybe some red Kryptonite ;)

    Nice episode, I’m not that into the stories of every super hero but I love to listen to them by geek people that know them :P