Archive for Comic Books
I feel like one of the strangest and unfair portrayals of Aunt May throughout the history of Spider-Man was that of the woman scared of Spider-Man.
For a long time, in the world of comics, Aunt May was one of the people who thought Spider-Man was scary and or untrustworthy. This really seemed to last a long time. It would either come up or be ignored until needed for a story point.
It was only after Aunt May made a shocking discovery that she became a fan of Spidey…
Yeah, once she knew Spidey was Peter…all was good. The story where she writes a letter to the editor expressing her change of heart is actually a wonderful story. But May functioned solely to be a plot point for Peter. There were many reasons that she was fearful and could not know…but it always came down to how frail and generally weak she was.
And I just find the portrayal hard to believe. Aunt May raised her nephew for years, she and Ben were perfectly capable and loving stand ins for Peter’s parents. Peter is the man he is because of the influence of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Yes, it is Uncle Ben’s words at the heart that drives Peter…but it was both Ben and May that taught Peter right and wrong.
And I find it hard to believe such a weak, fearful and frail person could have managed to raise someone who puts their life on the line for strangers. This is one of those areas where Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Clark Kent/Superman meet. They are the product of their environments. They are who they are because of their parents. Not in spite of that parenting.
It would have been nice if May got to be shown as a source of Peter’s strength from day one, instead of an impediment for it. Spider-Man exists in part because of her…the idea that she would be frightened of Spider-Man is silly. I noticed in the Sam Raimi movies, May gets over her concerns about masked vigilantes quickly, becoming the voice of Peter’s conscience. It is May who speaks to the importance of Spider-Man in the second film. May recognizes heroism in those movies and has no fear of it.
Raimi gave us the Aunt May we should have had the whole time.
I always loved the characters Mister Miracle and Big Barda. My first real introduction to them was in the pages of Justice League in the eighties. I knew they were part of Kirby’s Fourth World characters. But it was in the Justice League International books that I was hooked.
Mister Miracle-Scott Free-was a super-hero and escape artist. His wife was a warrior hero. But the truth is, they were born of the worlds of Apokolips and New Genesis. Son of the good High FatherIzaya, Scott Free was traded to Darkseid as part of a truce. Orion, son of Darkseid was raised on New Genesis and Scott was raised on Apokolips by Darkseid and his minions. Scott grew up, unaware of who he was, always feeling out of place. He joined underground opposition, where he met Barda, who was trained to be a Female Fury by Granny Goodness. They fell in love. They escaped to earth where Scott was trained as an escape artist. His manager Oberon knew of their past and was ultimately a cohort in their adventures.
What stood out to me about Scott and Barda is that they sought domestic life. They did not want to lead lives of action if possible. But their strengths were constantly at odds with the attempts at living a domesticated lifestyle. Barda and Scott wanted to do normal and mundane things, even if their skill set was not necessarily cooking and house cleaning.
It made them such charming characters. Scott and Barda depend on each other…support each other. They find strength in they other. Barda is a skilled and superior warrior. She does not need Scott to rescue her. She wants to be with him-not because she cannot get by on her own-but because she is drawn to his noble and heroic qualities…qualities that compliment her. Scott is devoted to Barda not because he needs to protect her. But rather, he is drawn to her forceful nature-her desire to do right. It is a beautiful portrayal of marriage. Plus, I have these images in my head of Barda using things like a vacuum cleaner as a weapon. Maybe it never happened…but if it has not? I want to see it.
So far, the Nu52 has avoided the fourth world characters for the most part. Have they appeared outside of the first Justice League story arc? The Nu52 has been mostly a combination of disappointment and crushing disappointment. Fans have rightly expressed frustration with choices regarding Superman, Lois and Wonder Woman (Superman and Wonder Woman are an item not, according to DC? IT’S AWESOME!!! But people who like Clark Kent and Lois Lane are…less pleased). So, maybe we are lucky Scott and Barda Free are not around.
No doubt, the fan favorite of of the X-Men films was the comics fan favorite Wolverine. Hugh Jackman held his own with some top talent in those first two films… a solo Wolverine film was kind of a no-brainer. And putting it in the hands of the director of the stunning Tsotsi, Gavin Hood seemed like a terrific idea. Then casting started to leak… Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool (what a good choice), Liev Schreiber as Sabertooth-wait…what? In the first X-Men Movie, Sabertooth was played by wrestler Tyler Mane. Now, the change in actors is no big deal, It happens. But the first movie played off the characters as unfamiliar with each other. Wolverine’s memory loss is his easy defense…Sabertooth’s? Don’t know.
The film begins in the 1800′s with a sickly young boy. Sitting with him is a slightly older boy who is whittling with his fingernails. The sick boy’s father steps in to tend to his on when there is a sudden commotion downstairs. The father leaves, and there is some yelling followed by a shotgun blast. The boys rush downstairs…the sick boy sees his dead father and the shooter, who tries to tell the boy something, but the young man (who we learn is named James) is enrage…he realizes there is something happening with his hands…he becomes horrified as claws of bone protrude from his hands…the rage returns and he lunges at his father’s shooter-killing him. In the shooter’s dying breath, he says he is James’ true father. The young boys run.
This leads into a really nice montage of the young men growing to adult hood as soldiers in a series of wars, world war one, two and so on…finally settling on Vietnam …Jame’s brother Victor goes ballistic and kills civilians, as James tries to stop him…they end up being court marshaled. They are recruited by Stryker (Danny Huston) who is putting together a special ops team comprised of mutants. After a mission snafu, James, now called Wolverine walks.
Wolverine hides out in the wilds of Canada where he meets a beautiful young woman named Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). They fall in love and live in a cabin. After she is killed (as super-hero girlfriends are prone to do) by Sabertooth, Wolverine seeks revenge. After Sabertooth trounces him, Wolverine is approached by Stryker with an offer to make him stronger. Agreeing Wolverine is subjected to a painful experiment, giving him the famed adamantium skeleton. Then they try and double cross Wolverine.
He escapes and meets up with surviving members of Stryker’s crew, discovering that Stryker has a secret plan to build the ultimate mutant soldier that he can control. Wolverine finds out that Stryker is kidnapping young mutants and using his brother to do the deed. Wolverine runs off to the secret base with the help of Gambit (who doesn’t do much beyond fly Wolverine there and wish him luck.
A final confrontation results in Wolverine and Sabertooth fight Deadpool to the kind of death, Wolverine losing his memory via a magic Adamantium bullet and Kayla’s death-but not before sending Stryker for a long walk, and a digital Professor X who needs no chair.
The truth is, this film is what you call a major mess. By setting it in a vague “the 70′s” you start forcing the films into a specific timeline. The first three X-Men films all took place in the near future. The film features a high school age Psyclops. Making him in his mid to late 40s. Actor James Marsten was about 27 at the release of the first X-Men. And there are the confusing aspects of why nobody seems to remember this moment of history. It is hard to believe that Professor X new where to pick up all those kids and yet is oblivious to Wolverine.
The real positives of the films are the strong casting choices (Lost’s Kevin Durant is great as the Blob…Danny Huston, Liev Schreiber and Ryan Reynolds are strokes of genius). Jackman shows why he owns the character on screen again. The performances are mostly good…but they are in a story that seems overly convoluted and needlessly confusing-even by comic book standards. It has a nice beginning, but it falls apart quickly. It has some very goofy action set pieces and some legit humor going for it.
Third times the charm! While I enjoyed the second shot at the Punisher starring Thomas Jane, it appears a lot of people did not agree. The Punisher is one of those tough characters. He is brutally violent and that is where his entertainment comes from…how far will he go to take out the underworld? So, for the next attempt at the Punisher, much like the Hulk, they tossed aside the prior film. They dumped Director Jonathan Hensleigh and lead Thomas Jane. They replaced them with Director Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans) and the new Punisher Ray Stevenson (Rome).
Like the Jane version, they draw from a variety of eras of the Punisher. While the plot feels very Garth Ennis, the choice of villain is a character he never used. That being the Len Wein/Ross Andru creation Jigsaw (Dominic West, 300 and the Wire). But they do borrower characters he brought to the series, like the Punisher Task Force-Detective Martin Soap (Dash Mihok, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the Day After Tomorrow) and Paul Budiansky (Colin Salmon, Resident Evil & Strikeback).
The film opens with Punisher playing with some adorable kittens…just kidding.
Watch one (or both) of these trailers (they are pretty much the same with different voiceovers).
People have hit on all sorts of problems with it, such as no women appear. Truthfully? I get why they do not have shots of Lois Lane or other female cast…it is mostly a montage of images meant to evoke a nostalgic feeling. There is not really a lot of room for other cast in the teaser (no Jimmy Olson or Perry White-so I do not think it was a conscious excising of women).
The real problem here? The teasers are generic and dull. It is trying so hard to look meaningful, it forgets that it is about a guy who can bend steel, fly into space, shoot lasers from his eyes and pound mountains into dust.
A superman teaser should build anticipation…it should swell to a smashing crescendo of amazing clips that let us see the hero…being heroic. It should make us want to see the film and become absorbed it the characters and the adventure. These trailer, instead, feel like they are for some ponderous World War II film. Truthfully, it feels like they are rehashing the Dark Knight trilogy, exploring the Hero as symbol and an ideal to inspire. Because that is what we need…a Superman movie where Superman is played by Christopher Nolan’s Batman…he even has a super scruffy beard.
Truthfully, I would have rather seen a teaser with Pa Kent working in the barn…fixing something. Talking with his young son. He could be saying similar things to the trailer. The camera could close in on young Clark and then pull back revealing gown Clark Kent with Lois and Jimmy (or something) in a crowd…swiftly we see they are witnessing some tragedy, maybe a construction problem-somebody falls from a great height…suddenly Lois and Jimmy are wondering where Clark is-Superman swoops in and saves te person with only seconds to spare. Maybe Superman makes some friendly light jest about flying. Then we get a rapid shot of superman saving people/everting disasters…solid action shots that do not reveal to much…maybe a brief glimpse of of the villain from behind…something mysterious…then a short jump back to the barn, with Pa Kent hunched down, looking his young son in the eyes and making some allusion to the man he hopes his son to be. Final shot? That one shot at the end of the trailer with Superman in flight. Logo and cut.
The Jor-El version could have shown Jor-El watching his infant son on Krypton, saying similar things to Pa Kent-then use the same middle, then jump back to Krypton, where Jor-El could make some comment about his hope for the man Kal-El will become, and maybe even a comment regretting that he will not get to witness it. And same closing shot of superman in flight, go to logo and cut.
Maybe those would suck to…but they would be less boring. What would you have hoped for in a Superman teaser trailer?
(of course, I just remembered there is no Jimmy Olson in this film. Make it Perry White or some unknown reporter from the Planet.)
So, Rush Limbaugh and his crack research team have discovered the latest Liberal Hollywood Anti-Republican Attack:
“The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time,” he said. “Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?”
He added, “This movie, the audience is going to be huge, lot of people are going to see the movie. And it’s a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop-culture crowd. And they’re going to hear ‘Bane’ in the movie, and they are going to associate Bain. And the thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie —’Oh yeah, I know who that is.’ There are some people who think it will work…Others think — “You’re really underestimating the American people who think that will work.”
Of course it is not accidental that the character (who does not breath fire or have four eyes that I am aware of) is names Bane, Rush. He was intentionally named Bane because that is the name of the character who debuted in the comics in 1993. As created by a conservative!
Limbaugh’s logic (not to mention the assumption that only the supposed brain dead, entertainment, the pop-culture crowd-whatever the hell that means*) is that kind of base logic that fuels most wacky conspiracies. It takes a loose connection and runs with it.
The truth is, Bane is a character nearing 20 years old. The movie was announced-along with it’s villain, long before Mitt was running for the nomination or anyone brought up the issue of Bain Capital as a controversy for him. People are not going to suddenly think Bain is bad because of character in a Batman movie, Rush. They might think Bain is bad from your defense of Romney though. I mean, who would trust a candidate that Rush Limbaugh endorses? Afterall, Rush and his crack research team cannot even do a quick search on Wikipedia, a place where you can learn all about Batman villains like Bane.
(Rush walked this back a bit…he claims he was not saying that the filmmakers were intentionally trying to make that connection…except he is pretty clear that he thought the name was not an accident or coincidence)
*For people who love America and complain about dividing America, Conservatives sure love to divide America. I know a lot of pop-culture, entertainment types…none are brain dead…some liberal, some conservative…the majority far exceeding Rush’s brain power.
So, we get to the first Marvel film to have it’s entire series with the singular vision of a specific director. Raimi did a good job with the first one and a spectacular job with the second film. It still stands as a high watermark for the superhero film genre. Three is a bit more…complicated. There is a Spider-Man comic for Marvel to publish. The Complicated Spider-Man.
We open with Peter telling us just how awesome his life is. He has a hot girlfriend who is successfully performing plays, school is going excellently, he has money. It is here where we get our introduction to Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is apparently doing pretty well in school herself. Peter runs into Harry at MJ’s play. Peter is contemplating proposal, especially after a night of star watching with MJ. It is a fun use of powers in the scene as they lie next to each other in a giant web. Unknown to Peter, a meteor crashes near by and a black goo crawls out…it appears to have some sentience, as it leaps onto Peter’s scooter.
We get introduced to Flint Marko, played by the talented Thomas Haden Church. He has escaped prison and snuck into his home. In a nice bit of back-story, he has a daughter whom he loves very much, and the crimes he committed were to try and help her. Raimi was very good at finding human connections for the villains in all three films. You could sympathize with their motivations. On the other hand, There is Harry Osbourne…who is becoming a cartoonish revenged obsessed guy. I get that they want us to see him as a tragic figure…becoming his father, whom he always wanted to please. But it seems he is suddenly a technology genius he never was in the previous films.