Category: Marvel


A Late Review of Black Panther

Mea Culpa

Black Panther has been out for weeks now, so all the worthwhile reviews have already been posted and read. I can’t imagine I’m adding anything new to the mix, but I’m going to do it anyway, just because. In my defense, I was busy with a lot of stuff outside of movie-going. I do admit I was a bit worried going into the theatre about how I’d feel about the film. I had heard it was good, but the hype was building so fast I was worried I’d be let down. Sometimes I’ll just skip watching a film based on hype. Either I’ll have too high an expectation going in, or, as was the case with the Ghostbusters remake, the level of polarization on the film will be enough to drive me off. In the case of Black Panther, though, I was very pleasantly surprised. I really do think it’s one of the best movies Marvel has put out.

Overall Impressions

The cinematography is beautiful. I never once got the impression I was viewing a green screen backdrop. The film was incredibly colorful and I felt like I really had stepped into a world that was simultaneously urban and rural, technological and traditional. It was clear a lot of careful thought had been put into the world of the film.

Set designs were likewise impressive. I especially liked Shuri’s lab. One of the interesting things about portraying a technologically advanced lab is the use of a visually sterile set (as if tech mean medical-grade cleanliness). Another stereotypical portrayal is the messy lab with lots of tubes and pipes and gadgets lying around in a general mess. What was great about Shuri’s lab was that it went with fashionable look. It was clear immediately that this was her domain because of all the painted walls. It was kind of hip and cool and artsy. Kind of like how a lot of Silicon Valley startups like to portray themselves. I liked this because it showed how the filmmakers didn’t want to rely on convention, even in the smaller details.

The acting was top notch. There were some great talents brought to the film and it showed. Just one example is the relationship between T’Challa and Shuri. It’s established as soon as Shuri appears onscreen and felt very authentic and unforced. I enjoyed watching them interact with each other and I feel it’s a good representation of all the acting in the film. These were pros who knew how to pull the authenticity out of the text in the script.

This authenticity helped a great deal with events in the film. In the fight between T’Challa and his rival M’Baku, I logically knew it was too early for T’Challa to be dealt a serious blow. The film still had to establish his character. Despite this, however, I really found myself concerned about T’Challa’s fate. It did feel like he was going to lose his kingdom to M’Baku. When he did not, I felt relief. Of course, when Killmonger challenged T’Challa, that earlier victory made it clear he was going to lose, which in turn set up anticipation in the rest of the film. In addition to this, I was really invested in the scene between Killmonger and his father. This was a scene that would be easy to cut out in other films, but is so critical to showing how Killmonger has lost his way and the failure of his father. Mostly what struck me was the quiet emotion. This could easily have been a scene-chewing moment, but the script, the director and the actors correctly went for a subdued interpretation that spoke to the emotional struggle of the moment.

Quibbles

As much as I liked the film overall, there were a few minor points that broke me out of the film. For one thing, the final fight sequence was relatively hard to be invested in. The primary culprit was the fact that I could tell very easily that I was watching a CGI battle. When W’kabi runs through his opponents in a giant rhino, I could see very clearly that this was a digital effect. The smoothness of motion, the speed, the blur to hide any artifacts, it was all very clear what was happening. In addition, the battle between T’Challa and Killmonger screamed CGI, especially as they fell down into the underground subway system. Again, it was all about the motion, the smoothness and the attempts to provide a cool shot. All this did was make me think “Huh, CGI” and wait for it to be over.

Speaking of the subway, I’d like to point out a small logical error. Earlier in the film, Shuri explains that sonic generators are used to weaken or neutralize vibranium. If that’s true, then both T’Challa and Killmonger would have become permamently deaf. If the sonic generators are strong enough to visibly warp light around them (there were visible ripples whenever they turned on) the they were more than powerful enough to blow out eardrums. The fact that T’Chall and Killmonger were both enhanced by the heart-shaped herb is meaningless. At the end of the fight it’s clear that either can be harmed by bladed weapons. It stands to reason that sensitive organs like eardrums would be just a susceptible to damage. So, basically, T’Challa should be deaf right about now. Thank movie magic for that one.

One final quibble. I really didn’t believe that the CIA operative, Everett Ross, was in any trouble in the final battle. I just didn’t believe that the enemy aircraft was going to shoot through the windows in time to stop him. That meant his decision to stay in the simulator to remote-fly his aircraft felt hollow. The whole moment really just felt forced. It might have been better to just let him fly the simulator without anything attacking him as he did so.

Themes

There were a variety of themes in this movie, all of them worthy of discussion. For the sake of time, however, I would like to point out one interesting theme of inherited guilt. Just prior to watching the film I had been reading up on articles analysing H.P. Lovecraft. These articles pointed out that one of the themes of Lovecraft’s works is the concept of inherited guilt. That is, disaster coming to one through the sins of ancestors. This must have influenced how I saw the film, because I noticed similar lines of thought as the story wore on. The first notable instance was when Killmonger raided the museum, pointedly blaming the museum artifact expert for the sins of British imperialism that resulted in slavery and exploitation of natives on the African continent. Killmonger shows another aspect of inherited guilt in his battle with T’Challa at the waterfall. He points out his desire for revenge because T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka killed Killmonger’s father N’Jobu. In other words, T’Challa is receiving punishment for the sins of his father. Outside of Killmonger, we see this in Shuri as she refers to Everett Ross as “colonist”. It’s a casual reference, and not necessarily meant as a profanity, but it carries a history of guilt with it nonetheless. Finally, we see M’Baku air his grievances at T’Challa over an ancestral rivalry. This rivalry is based on the feeling of being snubbed by the ruling clans of Wakanda, which in turn caused M’Baku’s tribe be antagonistic towards T’Challa’s clan, thus creating a cycle of retribution.

Apart from the general “good guy/bad guy” dichotomy, it’s really this cycle of retribution that separates T’Challa from Killmonger. Killmonger is heavily tied to this cycle, mostly because he feels he can end it with enough violence and bloodshed. If he can kill enough people, he can suppress resistance and create a new world order. T’Challa goes the other way. In a critical scene M’Baku points out that for hundreds of years, no ruler of Wakanda has ever come to visit M’Baku’s tribe. T’Challa acknowleges this, but also points out that he is not his ancestors. One of the last scenes showing M’Baku among T’Challa’s circle of advisors completes the message; we all have guilt in our ancestry, but we are not our ancestors. Every generation has the chance to forge a new path. Furthermore, acknowledging the past while forging a new future leads to a more peaceful society. Killmonger’s way results in in near indiscriminate destruction. He instantly tears apart a stable political hierarchy and destroys the respository of the heart-shaped herb. This is an act that not only destroys an artifact of religious and cultural significance, but also serves the dual purpose of reinforcing Killmonger as the undefeatable leader of Wakanda and cutting off Wakandans from their heritage, thus making them easier to manipulate as a society. Killmonger isn’t interested in improving the world in any way. He just wants war and revenge, something that is destructive to all parties, not just a select few.

Wakanda as an influence on world politics

At the end of the film, T’Challa decides to unveil Wakanda to the world. Although there was a carefully constructed narrative of Wakanda as a poor country, T’Challa decides to throw this away in an attempt to lead by example. Since this is a movie, T’Challa’s decision is clearly scene as upbeat and positive. That said, and I know I’m doing more quibbling with this, I wonder just how effective T’Challa would be. I would argue that Wakanda, if anything, would become just another player in the great game of International Politics.

First of all, let’s broach the question of exactly how Wakanda would interact with the outside world. It can’t possibly be through any form of immigration. Wakanda has spent centuries as a highly insular country and would therefore not have the social, political, or logistical infrastructure to handle immigrants. There is evidence to suggest the population in general would resist this. W’Kabi, for example, early in the film states that immigrants bring their problems with them. I can’t believe he would be alone in thinking this.

So, Wakanda can’t build bridges through immigration. That part is out. The only other option is through outreach. This is in fact what happens. T’Challa, at the end of the film, points out that he’s purchased numerous buildings in order to build a Wakandan outreach center. But what effect will this have? First, let’s remember that it is stated early on that Wakanda has spies in every country. As long as Wakanda was thought of as a poor country, no politician would suspect espionage. Now that T’Challa has unveiled Wakanda as the most technologically advanced society on the planet, espionage must be at the top of everyone’s mind. The outreach centers just add to the problems. When the British landed in Africa, India, the Americas and Canada, they were the most advanced technological society of their time. We all know how that panned out for the natives. Wakanda will, in effect, be very susceptible to accusations of cultural imperialism.

Claims of cultural imperialism won’t just be used as general utterings of paranoia. These claims will be used as leverage for access to Wakandan technology. For all of Shuri’s brilliance, it’s absurd to think that Wakandan tech couldn’t be reverse engineered given enough time, enough resources and enough hardware to study. At the very least Wakanda and any representative will be the subject of hacking attempts, theft attempts, or other methods to obtain Wakandan technology, knowledge and resources. A couple things are inevitable from this. First, Wakandan representatives would demand a halt to the activities and, when it is clear nothing will stop, would probably start demanding concessions in the form of trade, treaties and so forth to offset the loss of Wakandan property. Second, the Wakandan tech would inevitably be used to harm others. This would give other countries the leveage they need to demand international regulations on Wakanda and possibly an opening of Wakandan society to outsiders.

This kind of behavior would put incredible pressure on the Wakandan leadership due to both internal and external pressures. On top of that, T’Challa is a superhero and is spending significant time saving the world. T’Challa might bow to pressure to close off Wakanda from the world again, but this would be a mistake. China already witnessed first-hand the results of being exposed to the outside world. In centuries past, the British wanted to trade with the Chinese who in turn just wanted the British to go away. Because of this, the British engaged in something called “Gunboat Diplomacy”. That is, “trade with us or we’ll attack you”. Wakanda would engage in devastating damage on its attackers, but no one country can stand against all the others forever. This means that Wakanda’s only option is to stay open and play the game of International Politics. Wakanda doesn’t become a leader of the world so much as one of the crowd. There isn’t enough vibranium in the universe to solve that problem.

Summary

Keep in mind, of course, that all this is pure conjecture. It’s just something fun to do after watching a good movie. In all, Black Panther really was a good movie. It was well-acted, had excellent visuals and it was clear that a lot of thought and care went into the story and the world the story inhabited. As I mentioned earlier, one of the top level Marvel films. For the Marvel films that focus on individual characters, I hope they keep it up. Infinity War is coming out this weekend, but that might be a different type of creature what with all the characters that have been crammed into it. We’ll see!

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 »

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.

X-Men Days of Future Past – A new trailer

A new trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past has appeared on YouTube. Check out here:

Looks good. They obviously have tinkered with the original comic book story, but it might just work. What do you think? Let us know!

Captain America is being customized for audiences

Marvel is being pretty savvy with the new Captain America film. In it, Steve Rogers is trying to catch up with the modern world by making a list of things to check out. The savvy part is that the list shown in the film is customized to show a different list depending on where the audience is located. Check out the pic below. It shows a different list for US audiences and UK audiences.

captain america customized list

Captain America’s to-do list, customized for US and UK audiences

View full article »