Category: Super Hero


Wolverine and Shakespearean Tragedy

Still from the movie Logan

Logan has been out for a while now, and all the reviews have been posted, so I’m very late to the party on this one. I actually saw the film opening weekend, but was too busy to get around to putting my thoughts down until now. While many reviewers enjoyed the story, the action and Hugh Jackman’s last hurrah as the titular character, I noted something a little different. Wolverine is actually a Shakespearean tragedy. Or, at least, very close.

Just as a quick warning to those who haven’t seen it: there are going to be spoilers.

The Shakespearean Tragedy

First, let’s go over the basic plot points of a Shakespearean tragedy. In essence (and I’m glossing over a lot, here), the Shakespearean tragedy involves a character of major social importance. In Shakespeare’s time, this would be a king or a prince. The character has a fall from grace, usually through a personal flaw. This character then undergoes a kind of tortured reformation or redemption that sets the wrong things right, but also kills the character in the end.

Logan fits this almost to a T. It’s established early on that Wolverine’s reputation has survived the death of mutantkind. Even one of the antagonists, Donald Pierce, turns to Logan with a smile and says “I’m a big fan!”. The filmmakers were, in fact, relying on Wolverine’s history not only in the films but in the comics as well. This was a film for fans of both worlds. The audience was expected to come in knowing something about the character.

The fall from grace is slightly more nuanced. In Logan the days of the legendary Wolverine are long gone. Logan has no pride or hope left and is reduced to driving people around while drinking his pain away and buying drugs in back alleys. Logan’s personal flaw, if one can even call it that, is that he’s exhausted. A lifetime of warfare and age in general has reduced his healing factor. The adamantium that made him invulnerable is now poisoning him. There hasn’t been a new mutant born in over twenty years and Professor Xavier, who is now suffering from a neuro-degenerative disorder and generates uncontrolled psychic bursts that need medication to stop. It’s strongly implied that Xavier inadvertently killed the X-Men during one such episode. Logan has lost hope, which means he’s no longer a fighter or a survior; he’s just trying to keep his head above water.

The rest of the film takes Logan on his tortured path to redemption, ultimately killing him as the plot recipe demands. The discovery of Laura (or X-23 to comic book fans) builds to a late-blooming realization that there is something worth fighting for. Broken, beaten and with nothing to lose, he sacrifices his life to set things right just one more time.

The only real deviation here is the ending. In Shakespeare’s works, the character that takes control of the kingdom in the end of the play is the one who truly restores order to the universe. There is no such character in Logan, although spiritually, Laura is his successor. Imbued with the same powers and adamantium skeleton, she is just a younger female version of Logan. Further, in the comics she dons a similar outfit and is declared the new Wolverine. If a sequel to the film were to follow this line, then Laura is destined, one way or another, bring order back to the world she lives in. As it is, she merely survives to become her own person rather than a living weapon.

Logan and King Lear

In addition to its general overall bleakness, one very notable aspect of King Lear is the use of the Fool. In King Lear, Lear’s arrogance and perhaps mental instability result in his daughters throwing him out of the castle. Destitute and driven to insanity, Lear’s only companion is the court jester.

The Fool is important in King Lear because without the Fool, the play would descend in self-indulgent misery. The Fool challenges Lear to pull himself out of his madness and become again the man he was. Professor Xavier is no different in this regard. In Logan he is the Fool both metaphorically and literally. Suffering from his disease, he has episodes that range from absurdity to intense danger. In his lucid moments, however, the old Xavier comes back. Like King Lear’s Fool, Professor Xavier is the truth-teller that Logan needs to drive him forward into a better state of being. He operates as Logan’s conscience, convincing him to help Laura in her desperate moments, but also as a guide, reminding Logan that there is still a path to peace and love if he would just take the time to recognize it. Unlike Lear’s Fool, however, Xavier does not surive to the end. His passing makes way for a darker force that Logan must face.

Logan and Hamlet

Hamlet demonstrated one of the critical tools in Shakespeare’s literary arsenal; the use of multiple characters all of whom mirror each other’s traits. This is most obvious in Hamlet. First, there is Hamlet himself. Hamlet’s father, the former King, was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, now the current king of Denmark. Second, there is Laertes, Hamlet’s friend. Laertes’ father was killed by Hamlet who, once he kills the newly crowned Claudius, will become the king of Denmark. Finally, there is Fortinbras, a prince of Norway. Fortinbras’ father, the king of Norway, was killed prior to the start of the play by King Hamlet, Hamlet’s father. All three swear revenge on those who murdered their kin.

The comparison goes beyond this, however. Their flaws can be compared against each other as well. Hamlet, throughout the play, would rather wax poetic than actually kill his uncle. Laertes, however, seems to act without thinking at all. The moment he’s told that Hamlet has killed his father he accepts the information without further inquiry. He also reveals he purchased poison while travelling abroad even though there is no reason given why he should want to do it or why the audience should think there would be a logical reason to have it. He just kind of does things. Finally there is Fortinbras. Fortinbras swears revenge on his father’s murderer (Hamlet’s father), raises an army, invades Poland at some point and from there moves into Denmark just after Hamlet has finally killed his father’s murderer. Fortinbras is established as a balance between Hamlet and Laertes. He both thinks and acts while the other two are extremes.

Logan fits this model quite well. Laura, Logan and X-24 (Logan’s weaponized clone) are all products of the Weapon X super soldier program. All three sport enhanced senses, a healing factor and an adamantium-laced skeleton complete with razor sharp claws. Just like in Hamlet, the three mutants can also be compared by their differences. Age is the obvious starting point. Laura is just a child. X-24 is a grown adult and Logan himself is centuries old. The differences continue, however. Logan talks throughout the film, mostly in an effort to drive people away. Laura speaks only when it is most important to do so. X-24 doesn’t speak at all. He just grunts, growls and roars. Laura has an active plan that she is seeking to implement while Logan seems to be running mostly off of improvisation and desperation. X-24 doesn’t appear to think or plan at all; he just does whatever he’s told to do. Finally, Laura represents a life almost untouched by the Weapon X program, while X-24 is completed controlled by it. Logan is the uncomfortable balance in between, having to deal with trauma of the program while at the same time having escaped it.

The End

As with Hamlet and Laertes, Logan and X-24 fight and as with Hamlet and Laertes, both die in the process, leaving Laura, who might go on to be the hero of the next generation. As mentioned above, the similarities between Logan and Shakespearean tragedy end here because Laura heads off towards a hopeful but uncertain future. Overall, however, I think adhering this form of storytelling really elevated the film above standard superhero fare. There wasn’t action for the sake of action and the emotional stakes resonated quite well. Not every superhero film can be like this, of course. The film was far too grim to be regular superhero fare, but its adherence to such a classic storytelling structure made it quite a refreshing change. It would be a good thing to see more films like this in the future.

Iron Man, Gimmickry and Code Words

Wherein I ponder the a strange intersection of prejudicial code words and reasonable criticism. View full article »

Doctor Strange and International Politics

Recently, Comic Book Resources broke a story about how Chinese concerns are what led to Tilda Swinton being cast as The Ancient One. The Ancient One, for those not familiar with Doctor Strange mythology, was a male Tibetan monk of ancient knowledge and power who teach Stephen Strange to be come the Sorcerer Supreme (the magical guardian of Earth). For the film, however, a white female (Swinton) was cast. Why? Read on for more View full article »

The reviews have all been written on Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so it’s almost pointless to go over the film itself. That said, however, the film is a phenomenon. It is a landmark in the making of film. I don’t mean any of that in a good way.

The reason it is such a moment in film history is because Batman Vs Superman is a colossal statement on what happens when a studio doesn’t have a cohesive plan and hands total creative control to someone who doesn’t understand the subject matter or possibly know what he is doing. Also, a word to the wise: spoilers ahead. View full article »

Deadpool Movie Review: Only Deadpool Could Have Done It

There’s a scene close to the middle of Deadpool where Wade Wilson (a.k.a. Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth) has a flashback. He breaks the fourth wall, conversing directly the audience before having a flashback within the original flashback, where he breaks the fourth wall again, insisting that he’s broken the fourth wall twice, which must equate to about 16 walls (4 times 4, see?) View full article »

The Death of Superman Lives!

Director Jon Schnepp is interviewed at the World Premiere of The Death of Superman Lives

Director Jon Schnepp is interviewed at the World Premiere of The Death of Superman Lives

According to director Jon Schnepp, the debacle surrounding Superman Lives could only have happened to a well-known direct or on a high-profile project. He also noted that this story was also the story of how modern fans are too quick to attack before seeing the final product.

To illustrate that last point, early in the film there is a moment where someone tells a story about Brian Singer, director of Superman Returns starring Brandon Routh. The story goes that Singer had a folder with pictures of Nicolas Cage in a Superman outfit. Whenever the executives at Warner Brothers started applying pressure to Singer, he would pull out one of those photos, show it to them and say “You see this? You see this? You guys nearly MADE this!” After that, they would leave him alone, chastened into silence. And yet… that picture doesn’t come close to telling the whole story.

The real story of Superman Lives starts with Kevin Smith who jumped on the opportunity to write the script. It’s probably better to let him describe the experience:

Jon Schnepp and Tim Burton after their interview about the film Superman Lives

Jon Schnepp and Tim Burton after their interview about the film Superman Lives

When asked about a director for the film, he immediately suggested Tim Burton. Even though Batman represented darkness and Superman represented light, Burton’s work on Batman ignited the franchise before Joel Shumacher came along and killed it. Unfortunately, Burton didn’t like Smith’s screenplay and that left Smith to move on to other projects.

Burton was reluctant to work on the film, mostly due to executive producer Jon Peters. During their time together on Batman, Peters would switch between coddling Burton or outright bullying him. Yet, Burton was drawn to an idea of stretching himself. He was fascinated with tackling a project involving Superman. The character required color choices that just didn’t appear in most Tim Burton films; bright, hopeful, positive.

Tim Burton’s stories have always revolved around people who are unusual and feel the pressure to hide that nature. Superman, in his vision, was almost reversed. Clark Kent was actually a bigger freak than Superman himself. Clark Kent fumbled, tried to look good but failed, was not confident and constantly aware of his rejection by society, but Superman was the opposite, completely owning his alien nature.

The Death of Superman Lives shows video of Nicolas Cage talking to Tim Burton as Cage tries on his Superman and Clark Kent outfits. The rapport between them is obvious and free-flowing. They were trying for a radical redefinition of Clark Kent. Someone so oddball and out-of-place that no one realized he was Superman because no one wanted to look at him. As Cage tries discusses his character, he begins to fidget and wander around as he imagines Clark Kent wandering around Metropolis. Burton enthusiastically voices his agreement throughout the video.

Rejuvenation suit prototype for the film Superman Lives

Rejuvenation suit prototype for the film Superman Lives

The differences weren’t just in character. In Burton’s vision, Superman was to meet Doomsday, a character created in the comics almost explicitly to kill him. Fans erupted with rage when they saw the glittering and transparent armor that Superman was to wear in the film, but they had no idea that this was a rejuvenation suit, not his actual costume. In fact, there were going to be several costumes, starting with the traditional outfit, moving to the rejuvenation suit and then, radically, a powered armor. This was provided by K, a machine sent with Kal-El as a child to be his guardian. As the adult Kal-El recovers in his rejuvenation suit, K envelops him as a protective armor and acts as a replacement for his natural powers. Following his recovery, Superman reappears in a black and silver suit that he ends the film with.

It was a radical story arc, but almost immediately there was trouble, with one concept artist calling the experience a descent into Hell. Jon Peters, who boasts throughout the documentary of his past as a streetfighter, would enter the offices of the concept artists and get one of them in a headlock. While he did this his children would come in and approve or reject artwork that the artists were working on. Peters also seemed uninterested in the dramatic aspects of the story preferring to have as much action as possible. At one point he demanded that the film feature a spaceship shaped like a gigantic skull, filled with aliens from different species that Superman would have to fight. Some of the artists interviewed for the documentary expressed confusion at exactly what the story was they were providing art for. It just kept changing.

The death blow came from Warner Bros. Previously, it was assumed that Burton had a blank check from the company. After all, he had delivered on Batman. Still, everyone knew he was making odd choices and Warner had just suffered a string of serious flops. Finally, someone ran the numbers on what the film would cost and that was it. Cuts had to be made and the script had to be rewritten. Burton was forced to fire long-time collaborators and the story started shifting. Finally, the project was shelved entirely as an embarrassing mistake.

Concept art for Superman's final suit for the film Superman Lives

Concept art for Superman’s final suit for the film Superman Lives

The pictures of the pre-production efforts just added insult to injury. When Jon Schnepp decided to make his documentary of the experience, some of the people who worked on the film outright refused to talk to him. Of the most prominent was Nicolas Cage himself. A lifelong comics fan, he even named his son Kalel after Superman himself. Following the firestorm from the fans, he is speculated to have just shut down, preferring to forget the experience rather than open himself to more criticism.

Other reactions range from disappointment to longing. Peters himself stated in the documentary that the film would have either been laughed out of the theaters or hailed as a landmark. For Burton, the film represented a stylistic departure he hasn’t tried before or since. Towards the end of the film, he mentions still holding on to the idea of making his vision of Superman come to life.

The legacy of the film seems to last beyond the human element. Man of Steel, for example, carried a noticeably more intense theme than previous renditions. The use of Keelix, a robotic assistant to Jor-El is, if nothing else, a spiritual echo of K, the robotic companion from Superman Lives. Even the traditional Superman outfit was altered to fit the film’s heavier feel. Maybe Burton and his team were just ahead of their time. Maybe they embarked on a fool’s journey. Truthfully, we’ll never know.

The Death of Superman Lives is a fascinating look into the process of a complete project meltdown despite the best of intentions. Director Jon Schnepp is right. This could not have happened to a lesser director or a project with a lower budget. This is a look into the dynamics of big budget filmmaking and it should be seen. If you’re at San Diego Comicon 2015, you’ll get a chance to see it yourself. You should.

Hackers-A Superhero Movie for Geeks


Hackers came out in 1996 and was notable as one of the early roles of Angelina Jolie. It was also one of the first films to deal with hacker culture and made several references to it in the film.

I personally didn’t see the film when it first came out. I saw the poster and decided it was too much flash. I had also recently seen a sneak preview of Sandra Bullock’s The Net and felt this was going to be something of a copycat film. The public seemed share my reluctance as Hackers failed at the box office. What I didn’t know, however, is that the film became something of an underground cult hit.

Hackers Like Hackers?

When the film showed up at the local midnight movie venue (NuArt Theater! Hello!) I couldn’t resist taking a look. Midnight movies at the NuArt are always fun, and I like to support indie film venues. I expected the regular crowd of irregulars to show up, of course, which is always fun. What surprised me, however, was that the first people in line were actual bonafide hackers!

These guys couldn’t fit the stereotype more. All male, out of shape. One looked like he modeled himself after Richard Stallman; long stringy hair with a bushy beard and mustache combo. They had the stereotypical awkward laugh and joked with each other over programming languages like Clojure while another detailed his use of Perl to modify Java headers. I couldn’t figure out why they were there. Hackers are notorious for their belief of being misrepresented by mainstream media. What made this film different?

If only the 90s were really like this…

The film was introduced by Witney Seibold, who also ran the NuArt, and William Bibbiani of the B-Movies Podcast. William in particular was a crazed maniac who insisted everyone tell people the 90s were exactly like what the film protrayed. They clearly thought the film didn’t get the chance to shine that it deserved, and after the film started, I could see why. It’s very stylish and, sometimes, almost an abstract work. More importantly, it’s clearly a superhero film for computer geeks.

A Superhero Movie for the Geek Crowd

The plot of the film is fairly basic. A brilliant group of misunderstood teens discover a plan to commit the crime of the century and must band together to stop the bad guys. Along the way they must contend with authorities who don’t understand and fear them, but ultimately they prevail. All that, however, is not what makes the film so interesting. What makes the film interesting is that it’s basically a 90s superhero flick. Consider the following points:

  • Superhero names and hacker names
  • Superhero teams and hacker teams
  • Societal outcasts with “special gifts”
  • Mandatory superhero computer graphics effects

Superheros must have cool names

With names like Zero Cool, Crash Override, Acid Burn and The Plague, it’s not hard to take a small step to Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. In both storylines, the name is everything. The only difference is general purpose. In the world of Hackers, these names are something to build a reputation off of. In the world of The Avengers, the names are call signs that describe the purpose of the person they are assigned to. This is a small difference, however, especially when you consider The Plague, a name held by the villain of the film.

Team up! (But fight first…)

There’s a classic trope when it comes to superhero teams. First they fight, then they join, then they stay together. The same is true in Hackers. Here, one hacker finds himself alone, but becomes embroiled in a war against another hacker for escalating bragging rights. Others join in and soon they find themselves putting their differences aside as they face off against another hacker who is all too happy to step on them and others for his own schemes.

The most obvious comparison is The Avengers. Captain American has recently been thawed out of a frozen brick and is tasked to become the leader of a group of highly special individuals, almost none of whom get along with each other. When the Norse god Loki, himself a special individual even among his own kind, leads an invasion to Earth, the superheros must band together for the greater good. There are obvious differences, of course, but clearly parallels as well. It’s a classic trope for superhero team-up origin stories.

Trapped in a world they never made

Anyone who knows about the X-Men understands the premise. A group of mutants, appearing as human but graced with incredible abilities, must protect a world that fears and despises them for being different. Sound familiar? In the world of Hakers, the main characters are trapped in a world that could be their playground, were it not for overzealous FBI agents and civilians who either struggle to understand or view what the hackers do as a kind of black magic. In addition, the hackers possess powers and abilities beyond that of a regular person. Armed with social engineering tactics, photographic memories, tech savvy and above all intelligence, the hackers do their best to blend into society while also knowing they aren’t a part of it. Classic X-Men motif.

CG Effects, Baby!

When I first saw the way the filmmakers were showing the hackers doing their thing, my first thought was Miami Vice. Miami Vice was literally pitched with two words on a napkin: “MTV Cops”. Michael Mann came in to direct the pilot, which was part TV show and part music video, and the rest was history. As the scenes of hackers working began to repeat, I began to think of something else: Iron Man. Although they’re otherwise nothing alike, the graphics of symbools and code floating around the heads of each hacker reminded me of Tony Stark’s heads-up display as he pilots the Iron Man armor. In a sense, it’s a similar visual device. This is how the hackers see their world.

This isn’t to say that I think the filmmakers were ahead of their time; I really don’t think they were sure what they were doing. Even with the existence of Wargames the concept of hacking was still not widely understood or known. The filmmakers were clearly trying to portray the idea of what they were doing without losing the audience with details. By doing so, they accidentally predicted ideas that would come to fruition ten years later.

Conclusions

In retrospect, it shouldn’t have surprised me to see those real life hackers standing in line to see this movie. Hackers is a superhero movie for computer geeks. It’s a story about a special few who are feared and misunderstood pooling their abilities together to stop an villain that only they can face. Everyone likes to see their subculture lionized somehow. Hacker culture is no different. And with hacker culture in the forefront of the public consciousness like never before, this film seems more prescient than dated. Not too bad for a film that bombed at the box office.

Create your own Iron Man Suit with Arduino

Watching the Iron Man movies, or any near-future science fiction movie is great fun. It’s partly because of the action and fantasy, but also, for any sci-fi geek, fun because it feels like it’s something that could happen soon. The technology behind Iron Man requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but there is already research into powered armor for both civilian and military use. 

A good case in point is TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit. The armor has layers of fabric and non-newtonian liquid. That is, liquid that hardens when pressured, making the suit lightweight but difficult to breach. The suit monitors soldier health and can even warm the soldier if the enviroment is too cold. Here’s a report on the subject:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/rBcM8161ihE]

Naturally, this is a little outside what the modern DIY maker is capable of, but it’s proof the future is getting closer every day. In particular a huge amount of creativity has developed around the Arduino, a single board computer that is about the size of a credit card and can be programmed and extended to almost anything you might want. Including, of course, an Iron Man suit

The Arduino

If the Arduino didn’t create the Maker Movement, it certainly pushed it forward. The tiny computer can be had for around $30 and has a whole industry built around it to provide sensors, motors, lights, speakers and virtually anything else a hardware hacker might want. People new to the Arduino will need to learn some programming in order to tell the board how to handle the sensors and motors attached to it. And, truthfully, there will probably be some math involved, such as Ohm’s Law, when dealing with wires, power, and so forth.

Still, the effort is worth it for anyone who wants to build their own Iron Man suit with Arduino. Check out the video below:

The Iron Man Suit

[youtube=http://youtu.be/tAB3Zj8DCG0]

According to the maker, the suit is controlled by 4 Arduino boards, 20 servo motors, a digital sound board for sound effects and the controls are handled by Radio Frequency ID tags mounted in the gloves. This is an ambitious project, but one that is exciting. Of course, it might be a bit much for a beginner, so if you’re interested in getting your feet wet, it might be worthwhile to start out with Make Magazine’s Weekend Projects video series. Here’s one on building a basic robot:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzFCA-xUc8w]

Once you get comfortable with putting electronics together you can graduate to the Arduino. After playing around for a bit and getting to know how the board works perhaps you too will build an Iron Man suit with Arduino (or a portable weapons system. Who knows, right?)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Comics, Movies and a new Cosmology

Guardians of the Galaxy Title Card

By now most everyone has seen Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s grossed over 400 million worldwide and deservedly so. It’s an excellent film with a great cast that entertains on its own while at the same time setting up future installments. Reviews are readily available all over the web, but not many have touched on an interesting aspect of the film; how Guardians of the Galaxy sets the foundation of a pseudo cosmology and the combined role that comics and film have played in it.

Spoilers

In order to discuss the ideas in the article, it’s necessary to go over characters and events in the film. Because of this, we hope you’ve seen the film, don’t intend on seeing the film, or don’t care if you’ve read spoilers prior to seeing the film. You have been warned! Now, let’s begin…

[divider]

Parallels to Ancient Myth

It’s not clear if the filmmakers knew what they were doing or not, but anyone with more than a passing knowledge of mythology will be able to see archetypes in the film’s characters linking them to the mythologies of past cultures. The parallels are crude, but they are there.

Rocket Raccoon in CuffsRocket, for example, roughly mirrors the Greek god Hephaestus. Hephaestus was a brilliant diety, responsible for many (if not all) of the inventions of the Greek gods. Despite this, however, he was a cripple, and was ridiculed widely by the very deities whom he invented for. Rocket Raccoon parallels this. Although he is not crippled physically, he is looked down upon because he is an “inferior lifeform” and suffers massive emotional damage due to repeated trauma from experimentation. Yet, despite this he is a technological genius, able to construct any weapon or device provided he has enough junk lying around to play with. It is because of his brilliance that the other protagonists must rely on just to move the story forward.

Peter Quill in JailRocket’s compatriot, Peter Quill, also has crude parallels to Greek mythology. A common theme in Greek myth is the hero who is cast out into the world as a child and is rescued by some family. The hero is then raised without true knowledge of who he is and where he comes from. In Quill’s case, he is abducted by a group of mercenaries called the Ravagers. Although they have been paid to deliver Quill from his home on Earth to his true father among the stars, they decide to keep him and raise him as one of their own. Like Perseus of Greek myth, however, Quill is more than what he seems, being only half human. Unknown to anyone until a critical moment, Peter Quill has qualities that enable him to do things that only he would be capable of doing. This corresponds nicely with Perseus, whose mother was a human, but whose father was Zeus, king of the Greek gods.

KnowhereThe similarities extend beyond just the main characters. In the film the Guardians find themselves traveling to Knowhere, a planet-sized rotting decapitated head of a Celestial. Here, in this massive skull, people work to pull out valuable materials to sell on the black market. This bears a loose similarity to Gaia from Greek myth or perhaps Uke Mochi, the Japanese goddess of food. When visited by the god Tsukuyomi, she prepared a meal by spitting out fish, vomiting out a forest with wild game and finally coughin up a bowl of rice. Disgusted, Tsukuyomi killed Uke Mochi, but her body continued to produce food in the form of millet, rice and beans. It’s also worth noting that, as the decapitated head of Celestial, Knowhere is loosely connected to Judeo-Christian myth as well. The Celestials are a race of “Space Gods”; gigantic armored humanoids who tinker with the genetics of lesser life forms. They are responsible for almost all the humanoid species in the Marvel Comics universe, which matches well to Creation mythology.

Epic Stories from Comics to Film

Thanos on his throneWriting superhero stories on Earth can be problematic and restricting. It’s largely a problem of real-world issues occurring and the need to explain them away in the comic universe. Could the Kennedy assassination have been stopped? What about the 9/11 disaster? What about nuclear proliferation or world hunger? On and on it goes. Space operas become alluring for this reason. After all, no alien race is going to land on Earth in real life and accuse humans of misrepresenting them. This gives room for unrealistic, bombastic and wildly entertaining stories that, over the course of decades, have built up into a nearly complete mythology spanning creation, existence and may ultimately cover end-times as well. In it we see Thanos, the Mad Titan who worships Death, Galactus, the embodiment of evolution who devours those worlds that cannot drive him away. We see the Celestials, who tinker with civilizations and the Watchers who have gone to war to stop them. At the top of the hierarchy is Eternity and Death, cooperative siblings that represent the totality of the Universe and absence of it, respectively. In the midst of this are the humans, Xandarians, the Kree, the Skrull, and a myriad of other mortal civilizations more or less trying to do their thing while these insane deities and demigods rip reality to shreds around them.

In the world of Marvel, this cosmological structure took decades to build by multiple creative teams that came and went over time. What’s more, storytelling standards change between teams. Some will view a comic book story as massive exposition highlighted by images. Some will view it as images with the barest explanation of story. Some will try to create a visual novel. All of this is delivered piecemeal at one issue per month. Reader drop-off can be a big problem. In order to get readers the full story, issues are usually compiled into one volume for easy reading. This is where film comes in.

Marvel has tried over the years to inject their universe into film and television, usually with poor results. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that film versions of the characters really took off, and that was mostly due to the filmmakers themselves. With the acquisition of Marvel by Disney, the formula for a cohesive, complete universe finally took shape. In a way, it might be said that the comics of previous years provided the vision, and the films of today provide the realization. Through the use of film, the stories and characters of the Marvel universe can be refined into one complete cosmology, each story arc or chapter told in a visceral way that comics cannot match. Thus we come to a complete pseudo-cosmology starting from the vision of comics to the completion of modern movies. If Marvel and Disney are able to keep this up, we’ll have a complete detailed universe where gods and demigods battle for control while humans and half-humans battle for survival. Just like the myths and legends of ancient civilizations, but with Celestials, Titans and Infinity Gems instead. It should make for a hell of a ride.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

Justice League movie is on its way

Zack Snyder will direct a Justice League movie right after Batman Vs. Superman

Zack Snyder will direct a Justice League movie right after Batman Vs. Superman

DC Comics is not messing around. Hot on the heels of Man of Steel and the Batman franchise, DC and its parent company Warner Bros. is going to come out with Batman vs. Superman, followed up by Justice League. View full article »