Saturday, May 9, 2015

Not Too Fast: We Can Handle Two Quicksilvers

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Evan Peters both in 2010s Kick Ass
A myriad of movie news websites, blogs. vlogs and billboards sport headlines that offer to explain end-credit scenes, easter eggs, cinematic universe connections and comic references in the ever-present, ever-expanding world of superhero movies. One such  element is the simultaneous roles of Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron and Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past as the Marvel speedster Quicksilver. Both actors play different versions of the character in the two very separate movie franchises based on Marvel comics, and many internet sources continue to frame the situation as though it were one that might cause great levels of confusion to the casual movie goer or Marvel movie fan.

I think this disrespects those fans to a certain degree. The two characters are clearly different, with distinct origins in their respective films along with the very distinct styles of special effects to show off their super-speed. The characters are not even dressed in a similar way, set in specific cultures and decades based on the plots of their movies. The only confusion I could potentially see would be for overly-excited fanboys who might hope that the character's doubling performances could indicate a coming crossover between the Disney-owned MCU and Fox's Marvel film series. Heck, the movies hardly even call either character 'Quicksilver,' so please, give movie goers more credit that thinking this one thing could be even a bit confusing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stop Wondering: We're Ready for Female Superheroes

Ask anybody paying attention to trends in Hollywood and they'll point to the rising wave of inter-connected film universes (distinct somehow from film series, the definition is a bit ambiguous). Chief among these is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the many series contributing to the abundance of Superhero movies that have come to take over all blockbuster competitions and grown to infect a wide range of television and streaming services, leaving many to wonder how much longer caped-crusaders can remain a hot commodity before audience fatigue sets in.

In the midst of this conversation lie questions concerning representation of heroes who are female, especially following the announcements of the upcoming Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel films. Some question the viability of a female-led superhero film, wondering at possible audiences or box-office bankability of a superhero without a Y chromosome. It's possible to consistently point to past examples of female-led superhero films, such as ElektraCatwoman, and Supergirl, wondering if these critical failures point to the doomed prospects of any such project. Such comparisons though are inappropriate; just because there have been very bad female-led superhero movies made does not mean that such films cannot be good. All we're waiting for is a good female led superhero film, just like we're receptive to good films helmed by male characters. Hunger Games films works, so why can't Black Widow?

We're ready for them, so let's change the conversation and stop wondering whether it'll work or not, instead actively and excitedly anticipating when the studios finally decide to deliver.

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.