Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ant-Man's Hank Pym: Abuse Free

Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in Marvel's upcoming Ant-Man
      The complicated and contrived history of comic-book characters through their multiple iterations and issues makes for an interesting process when those characters are adapted for films. There seems to be an attitude toward big cinematic events that treats those adaptations to the big screen as the sort of definitive version of those stories and characters, a somewhat disturbing and thoughtless attitude when applied to Biblical adaptations, even when those, like comic-book adaptations, come in multiple retellings. When adapting a title like Ant-Man, a character like Hank Pym is an interesting one. Due to the comic-book medium, there are several versions of Pym, some more memorable than others. Ant-Man comes from a form of story-telling that achieves success from continually selling serialized issues, and so comic books tell and retell versions of the same stories, killing off and bringing back the same characters, over and over. This has carried over to the films, draining some expected suspense for future films, but as far as the source material goes, it really means that there is no definitive source for the character. Ant-Man is also less definable than main-stream heroes such as Spider-Man or Superman whose brand-recognition brings certain plot-expectations.
      One of Hank Pym's more memorable moments comes from a story-line that involves Pym abusing his wife Janet, slapping her across the face during an argument; the gravity of the subject matter presented in such colorful panels makes it hardly a forgettable episode. Domestic violence is an obviously serious and sensitive subject, which is why it's no surprise that the producers at Marvel decided to not include that facet of Hank Pym's character in the film version. The Marvel films' enjoy a wide age-range in their audience that could be tempered by such an inclusion, so it's easy to assume they wouldn't want to impact box-office numbers by limiting the film's palatability. It's also simply easier to tell a story without that complication because it's easier to tell the good guys from bad if the good guys don't beat their families. Domestic violence and spousal abuse would (and should) make the story harder to tell. The exclusion of that particular plot is totally understandable, but it makes me wonder what the film could do if it did include it. Could a film tell the story of a brilliantly helpful character like Hank Pym who also does horrendous things? I would not want any sort of story that would validate or glorify abusive conduct in any way, but I wonder if it is possible to show a character that is sympathetic and also so fundamentally flawed. It's important to say that inclusion of elements such as an abusive protagonist would not mean sanctioning or endorsing that protagonist's abusive conduct; it could just mean that someone is willing to explore what it means to start talking about the realities of how domestic violence and other difficult subjects impact people. That is a story I'd be interested in seeing, especially in a medium like superhero movies where so much already feels overdone.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: First Trailer

Somehow, this all fits into the world of The Avengers...somehow. Welcome to the weird side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pacific Rim: Gipsy Danger's Sword

Everyone knows that Pacific Rim was a bit over the top. Less plot-driven than it was giant-freaking-robot driven, the film is a bit more spectacle than substance. Still, that spectacle was something to behold, and Guillermo del Toro certainly delivered on how awesome a giant robot movie could look. Compared to, say, Transformers.

When examining the film, many viewers noted a number of plot holes, not the least of which was Gipsy's sword arm which wasn't utilized until near the end of the film. It seems like a major oversight that the operators of the Earth-saving robot would forget they had the sword until the climactic battle required a plot-saving device.
I however think that it's not as big a plot hole as people think it is. Mind you, it is a plot hole, but I thought of an explanation that makes it a smaller one. If the sword was an addition to Gipsy after it was moved to Hong Kong, and was part of repairs/upgrades that might have been done while preparing the older robot for fighting, then the sword would have not been there in the first half of the film and also, Charlie Hunnam's character wouldn't have known to use it.
Just a thought I had, not that it was at all hinted at in the movie or that it fixes any of the other ridiculousness the movie had. Just a thought.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Disney Marvel's at Star Wars Properties; Dark Horse Out of Race

Disney and Lucasfilm announced yesterday that starting in 2015, Dark Horse Comics will no longer publish Star Wars titles, a property they have held since the early 90's. I hope this doesn't lead to a decrease in quality or quantity of the title that Dark Horse had been handling very well. THR broke down the implications of this seemingly inevitable change:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man

The comic-book-movie news side of the internet was abuzz (pun intended, sorry) with news that actor Paul Rudd has reportedly been cast to play Hank Pym in Marvel Sudios' upcoming movie Ant-Man, due out July 2015. The film would kick-off the third phase of Marvel movies following Avengers: Age of Ultron. Rumors have Rashida Jones, known for her roles on Parks and Recreation and The Office, slated to play the role of Pym's on and off lover and fellow Avenger, the Wasp, although those rumors are far from confirmed. Rudd can currently be seen reprising his role of Brain Fantana in Anchorman 2.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#SherlockLives and that's definitely a good thing

Sherlock season three is due to broadcast in the US starting in January on PBS.


Go Catch that Fire: Hunger Games 2

The second addition to the film series adaptation of Susan Collins' Hunger Games trilogy was well executed and worth watching on the big screen. Stronger than the first installment, the film was bolstered by more mature acting, better directing and a bigger budget. All around it was a good film, but it is the middle chapter of a book trilogy (although they are making two films out of the third book- should that be called 'Pottering' because of Deathly Hallows or 'Hobbiting' because of the egregious expansion that book went through in coming to the screen in three parts?) so the ending does not provide much closure to the broader narrative. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a great performance along with the rest of the cast. I'm excited to see more from this series.
On a scale of muffins to Monkeys, A-.

On a related note, if you missed Ms. Lawrence on The Daily Show, it's also worth seeing. Jon Stewart makes a great point about Ms. Lawrence's acting ability and depth and about how her talent and many projects have helped her form a career not defined by the Hunger Games series. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence is a joy to see doing pretty much anything, so you should watch the interview.