General and somewhat random story things

Archive for the tag “marvel”

DC shouldn’t try to make Marvel films.

DC shouldn’t try to make Marvel Films. They should make their own, and find their own voice. DC is trying to do this of course. They’re trying to find their own flavor. It’s just, if you were to ask around, you’d find that folks think DC is failing at this.

And those folks would be right.

I mean, it feels like they are trying too hard to be different, while at the same time trying real hard to play catch up with Marvel. They want to be all edgy and dark and humorless to be really the opposite of Marvel, but they are also trying to quickly build a DC Movie Universe, and connect everything. What DC needs to do is slow down, and lighten up. I’ve been told they’re going to at least do the second bit.

Over a decade ago, Marvel brought out Iron Man. It also began concept that was unheard of before this, and that was a full integration of ALL the Marvel films. It seems like common sense now, but it was mind blowing to even think of a company running its movies like it ran its books. It was brilliant because it meant that when Marvel finally DID get to the Avengers, we didn’t need to waste half the movie introducing the characters. They could just get on with it.

All the Marvel films since have been a mix of action and drama and a solid bit of humor. More in some films than others (I’m looking at you, Ant Man), but still it’s there. AND? I’m not so much a Marvel fan that I’d say each film is flawless, because heck darn are they not, but they are enjoyable on most levels, and feel like they’re written to please the nerds among us, while still being enjoyable by all.

But, we’re here to discuss DC.

Now, I could list all my individual grievances with the DC films, but there’s plenty, and you’ve heard them all before, and really they’d serve no point other than me bitching. No, I’m going to talk general here.

First and foremost, DC shouldn’t feel they need to catch up with Marvel. They don’t need to make the same films, and in fact you should feel that when you’ve gone to see a DC film, it’s not just a Marvel Movie with a different cast. DC in the comics has always been a different beast. Marvel is often an ‘Great Power, Great Responsibility’ sort of thing, where DC was always ‘Gods amongst men’.

The recent DC movies instead seemed to be an attempt to have super-humans in a super real human world, which doesn’t fit the DC ‘verse at all. It could have been great seeing Superman wrestle with his wants to be human vs his unbelievable powers, but that really failed to come through. It might have been interesting to see the wreckage that a real hero/villain fight would make, and the casualties that follow, but that’s not really a Superman story at all.

No, I’m not about to bring up the Zod thing. I promise.

DC also really tried at the grim-dark angle for its films, which is simply not fun. A comic book movie doesn’t have to be laughs a minute, but there should be some fun involved. I mean, it’s about a bunch of folks in spandex punching some other folks in spandex. It’s wrestling with super powers. And DC is just starting to recognize this again in its comics, but in short, the brooding grim violence of the nineties STAYED in the nineties for a reason.

And in all of this, it doesn’t feel like the DC films were made by anyone that WANTED to be making a super hero film. They feel more like they’re written by a production company using the summer blockbuster playbook. Worse though, it felt like an obligation project, like WB was embarrassed to be making hero movies, but felt they had to.

So, yeah. DC needs its own direction. It shouldn’t be the same direction as Marvel, but it shouldn’t be the direction DC has been going either. Reports on the upcoming Justice League film suggest at least that someone on production gets this. Letting Affleck write a Batman film is nice too, since he seems to really love the character, and might put some of that forward. I don’t think its too late, because fans these days are willing to forgive if the current film is good. I just hope that they continue to recognize that they don’t have to be completely devoid of fun just to be different than Marvel.


Eighties X-Men

I loved the X-Men during Claremont’s run, but haven’t really gotten into them so much in recent years. It’s always felt like something was missing, and I think I’ve finally put my mind around it.

I’m going to put it together in an analogy. It involves a cat, a burning building, and you, the reader. See, here’s the deal. That burning building? You’re in it. Running for your life, you pass a cat. Unlike you, the cat’s not trying to get out, because it’s a cat, and not fully aware of the danger. You do the right thing, scoop the cat up, and run.

Now, if you’re anyone else in the Marvel Universe, things are pretty ok. If you’re an Avenger, for example, the cat holds tight as you both dash to freedom. It licks you playfully, and you both stop for a photo op. Then it, I don’t know, goes on a date with Tigra. Everyone’s happy, and you’re a hero.

But if you’re a member of the eighties X-Men, things are much different. You stoop down to grab that cat, and it scratches at you. You try to pick it up, and I swear to God, that cats tries to kill you. And the smart thing to do is just leave the cat to its own fate, and save yourself. You don’t because you’re an X-Man. Despite the cat trying its best to kill you, you take it with you as you get out of the building. And once you put it down, that cat just goes right back into the fire. And you go back in after it and save it again.

The cat is a thinly veiled analogy for humanity, in case you’re not following. And in the eighties, everything the X-Men dealt with was a thinly veiled analogy for racism.

See, to me that’s what’s missing. The X-Men constantly saved a world that didn’t want them. I know that’s still kinda the catch phrase, but back in the day you felt it. It was in everything the X-Men did. Heck it was even in the ads between pages of the comic.

Exhibit A

And you know what? The X-Men would still save everyone. That was what made it so great. The X-Men were hated, but they’d still save everyone. They didn’t deal with the same brightly colored spandex enemies, because they were too busy dealing with the fact that humanity hated them.

The absolute culmination of this, btw, was the Days of Futures Past storyline: possibly the best thing ever out of Claremont’s pen. It was a story of a future where sentinels had decided that the only way to fufill their prime directive of destroying all mutants was to take over the whole of the USA, and kill or imprison all mutants. There were concentration camps, and (suggested) sterilisations, and open death in the streets. It was hell.

It was also what cemented the direction the X-Men would go for the next ten years. Mutant registration was the big enemy. Not Magneto, not Juggernaught, not, well any one person. The enemy was a concept. An opposition to Xavier’s big dream.

And somehow, the idea that a concept could be scary became lost over the years. The idea that humanity could be horrible was replaced with bigger and bigger brightly colored spandex villains. In short, the X-Men just became another hero book.

The one that really got me was during a revisit to Days of Future Past, Marvel introduced Ahab. It wasn’t enough that humans were forcing mutants to hunt mutants in their dystopian future (Rachel Summers, Hounds, ect). They had to add a big cyborg guy with pouches and guns and a harpoon that could kill anyone it touched, or else I guess no one would understand what the X-Men were afraid of? The subtlety had been lost, replaced by a splash page.

During the Civil War, Tony Stark argues that the X-Men should back his hero registration because the 198 remaining mutants were already registered. Just like that. Mutant registration, the big fear happened off panel. Ignore the fact that at the time Xavier mansion was surrounded by sentinels (well intentioned sentinels, but still) and had become a camp for all the remaining mutants. Concentrated in one spot. You get the picture.

Either way, the X-Men didn’t flinch. Heck, there are two separate times where female members of the team run a burlesque show for the sentinels. No, I’m dead serious. I should mention that the sentinels have pilots at this point, or else this whole paragraph sounds off.

And, since there are humans in the sentinels, I question why they are using them. I mean, what exactly are giant robots going to do that a camp ground of mutants can’t do for themselves. You are aware that the X-Men live here, right? Surrounding the mansion with sentinels is a dick move, no matter how hard you work to make them look like Gundams.

Anyways, the whole of Decimation got me excited at the time. I thought maybe we’d see a jump back to a world where mutants were openly hated, and you know, punk X-Men. No such luck. Mind you, Peter David did touch on it a bit with X-Factor. Damn that was a fine series. You should all read it.

Anyways, not griping. Just sharing what the X-Men used to be whilst I read my old books. It was a hell of a time.

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