seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
So here’s my plan. After I get published and have a few novels under my belt, I come up with a bare-bones premise and outline for a story. I write some character descriptions, very broad stuff, nothing specific about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality. Like, uh—‘Love Interest A: The child of Villain B, a canny person with an interest in AI programming and an extremely literal sense of humor. Drawn to Sidekick C.’

Then I put what I’ve got online and let my fans vote on who the characters will be. So if you want the hero to be a gay Muslim paraplegic, you just vote for that. And when all the votes are tallied, I write the novel, having left the specifics entirely to the internet. If the Hero and the Love Interest are both male, it’s a gay love story. If the internet has voted that every character is a woman, then it has an all-female cast.

Then, whenever anyone asks why I don’t have, I don’t know, an Eskimo in my stories, I’ll just say “You should’ve voted for an Eskimo.”

Also, votes cost one dollar a piece.
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
An interesting, but not altogether successful effort. I’m conflicted over recommending it or not, given the (in my estimation) near-fatal decision to populate the storyline with TWO separate subplots that really have nothing to do with the main story, but are in place mainly to set up the season two storyline (also the focus of the last two episodes; by all rights, the season finale happens ten episodes in). So I’ll try to review this by plot.

1. Sonya/Marco – The chief plot, and probably what you would think of as the premise. An unknown man shuts down all surveillance on a bridge between the United States and Mexico, before leaving an apparent body right on the border line. It turns out to be two women—the torso is that of an American woman, while the lower body is that of a Mexican, thus forcing Sonya Cross (an El Paso detective) and Marco Ruiz (a Juarez detective) to work together to catch the killer. Later, the killer releases a mission statement: “Why is it that one dead white woman north of the border is more important than thousands of lives lost to the south?” And so begins pretty much a one-man war against the concept of a border.

Unfortunately, this intriguing premise pretty much goes nowhere; soon, it turns out that the whole border thing is a red herring and the killer is really carrying out an obscenely convoluted revenge plot against those who’ve wronged him, so the murder might as well have taken place on the border between Ohio and Indiana. It pretty much makes no sense. The killer puts so much effort into doing things that are only useful as a red herring, actually more effort than he puts into the guy who actually pissed him off, just to give himself away purposefully once the narrative is done playing coy.

Also, I’ll take issue with the character of Sonya Cross. She has Aspergers, so this is kinda my area of expertise, though obviously she’s on a different place on the spectrum than me. Now I appreciate that the show isn’t doing the defective detective thing; it’s not Monk or Hannibal. However, in those shows, they make a point of the main characters being so good at their job that it justifies their unsuitability in other areas. Both Will Graham and Adrian Monk aren’t actually allowed on the police force, they’re just used as consultants. Here, Sonya is just an unremarkable police detective who happens to have a neurological situation. It doesn’t make her any better at her job, she doesn’t have any superhuman insight or anything.

However, that itself is the problem. She’s only competent at her job to begin with, and then her neurological condition makes her borderline incompetent in a way the show keeps (unintentionally?) making a point of in a really broad, dumb sort of way. I guess apparently in Texas, there’s so little prejudice that a woman with a debilitating mental condition can ascend to the rank of homicide detective and be put on an extremely high-profile case without anyone being rude enough to say “hey, maybe the woman who needs emotions explained to her in words of two syllables shouldn’t be the one to interview a traumatized witness or inform a civilian about a loved one’s death.”

It’s less like she has Aspergers, or whatever, and more like she’s the Obligatory Sexy Star Trek Lady Who Doesn’t Understand Emotions, Nerds. Like, if the premise was “Seven of Nine is a cop now!”, I don’t think there’d have to be any rewrites. I’ll give you an example that hit me. It’s FX, so there’s one episode where Sonya finds herself getting horny, goes to a bar, finds the first good-looking guy, and after a kooky misunderstanding with him trying to buy her a drink (because how would someone with Aspergers ever know from pop culture that flirting men will buy women a drink?), she immediately says she wants to have sex and it’s back to her place for some spicy Diana-Kruger’s-bare-back action. Okay, sure.

Is this the first time the character of Sonya Cross has ever gotten horny? Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to have a fuckbuddy or two that she knows isn’t a potential psycho (something you’d think a policewoman would be really wary of) and doesn’t have any STDs already? And that would make the same point about her character, just in a less ‘edgy’ way. I don’t know, I like that they seem to be keeping the Cross&Ruiz partnership strictly platonic, for now at least. But this storyline just falls flat for me.

2. Daniel Frye

The story of a drug-addicted journalism and his lesbian sidekick who get drawn into the murder case. Okay, at least it’s relevant, even if Frye’s struggle with addiction seems (like a lot of this show’s subplots) to be a Cliff’s Notes version of storylines other prestige shows engage with more. Oh, and obviously Adriana Mendez doesn’t have a girlfriend or romance plot; her lesbianism is mainly important to her dealings with her intolerant mother. But fine, it gets a pass.

3. Charlotte Millwright

Ehhhh? This is one of the storylines that is almost entirely unrelated to the murder case. It seems to just be here because the writers wanted to do a Lifetime Network version of Breaking Bad’s ‘mild-mannered whosits becomes a crime lord” story. Only it doesn’t make any sense. Let me just sum it up for you.

Charlotte: My rich husband has just died and now I see he was getting paid off to house a tunnel to Mexico on his land! I’m closing this tunnel immediately!

Obligatory Female Cartel Boss: Keep the tunnel open or I’ll kill you.

Charlotte: Okay, the tunnel’s open. So this situation’s resolved and there’s no drama or conflict here unless someone does something unimaginably stupid. (beat) I should probably call up my obviously untrustworthy and incompetent ex-boyfriend to put him in charge of the strenuous task of accepting envelopes full of money.

Ray: Thanks, Charlotte, and also for the FX Network PG-13 lovemaking. Now allow me to fuck everything up, repeatedly.

Ray: *does*

Charlotte: I guess I have no choice but to become a crime boss. Season two!

The only way this storyline really makes sense to me is as a subtle indictment of racism. The obvious choice for Charlotte to put in charge of the tunnel operation is Caesar, her property’s foreman and someone who is already intimately familiar with the set-up. And she does make him a partner in the venture and split some profits with him (though he still ends up doing most of the manual labor). However, instead of promoting from within, despite Caesar’s clear respect for her and above-and-beyond competence, she brings in an obnoxiously ill-equipped white guy to order Caesar around, though it’s clear she thinks of herself as a good liberal (see the profit-sharing above). And that’s an interesting point to make. But do we really need The Asylum version of Breaking Bad to get to it?

4. Linder

Some white guy is smuggling abused Mexican women into Texas so they can find new lives at a compound of militant Christian fundamentals (OF COURSE). Whatever.
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

This movie is so damn weird, you guys. I mean, it's trying to be both a straightforward faithful adaptation of the book (the title is Bram Stoker's Dracula) and at the same time a revisionist take where Dracula is the good guy and the vampire hunters are big meanies who just aren't cooooool, maaan. This results in a plot that could best be described as "a man is in love with a woman who is way too young for him; wants to rape her but it's okay because she looks like his dead wife."

-It's been said before, but I'll say it again. Keanu Reeves is almost entirely terrible in this. I've heard he was forced on Coppola, but honestly, that should've been a dealbreaker. Unless he was trying to gimmick the love triangle by casting likable block of wood Reeves on one side and Even-Good-In-Call-of-Duty:-Black-Ops Gary Oldman on the other. That still doesn't explain Winona Ryder, though.

-At least this movie is memorable, though. It's not good, by any means, but the visuals are so eclectic, almost iconic, that it at least leaves an impression. Probably it's best contributions to pop culture are the parodies that resulted from it; a Mel Brooks movie with Leslie Nielsen as Drac *and* a Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror segment. And it only seems fitting: the bits where Dracula's shadow is miming strangling Jonathan while he's unaware, and all this supernatural shit is happening right in front of Harker's nose and he's reacting as... err... Keanu Reeves... it makes Sam Raimi look like The Mist. The ending of The Mist.

-On the other hand, and I'm mostly sure this was unintentional, you could read all of Harker's time in Dracula's castle as a date rape scenario. He's trying to play along with this eccentric foreigner and do his job while the guy is creeping on him, getting in his personal space, making weird comments... finally, he sees Dracula literally feed a baby to his brides. In I think Reeves' only good acting moment, he finally lets out all the frustration and fear he's been feeling, screaming his lungs out as Dracula laughs. And then the brides do rape him; even if it is later referred to by Van Helsing as "infidelities" (I'm not sure how much the movie wants us to take Van Helsing at his word and how much it wants us to disagree with him as a sort of unreliable narrator. More on this later). However, I fear this would require way more self-awareness than the script otherwise shows.

-The main problem with the movie, I'd say, is that it wants to make Dracula sympathetic and more of a complex character. This is fine, in moderation. But it does so at the expense of every other character. Lucy becomes a slut, Seward becomes a drug addict, Van Helsing... God, they have him humping Quincey's leg while talking about how Lucy is the Devil's Concubine AND, when Vampy Mina tries to seduce him, he goes for it! Van Helsing even says, towards the end, "we have all become God's madmen." Yeah, what a bunch of assholes you were, trying to stop a vampire from raping and murdering his way through London! Shame! Shame!

-I'm serious, Mina even calls Van Helsing a murderous bastard for killing Lucy when THEY CAUGHT HER in the process of drinking a toddler's blood.

-She also gets mad at Dracula for killing Lucy first--yeah, you'd think--but after we cut away for a minute, we go back to the same scene and she's all "I love you, Dracula, you're my life, Dracula!" I didn't know Jared's sold diamonds that big. (Sisters before misters, Mina).

-Really, the whole movie has this weird dudebro sensibility. It's like Coppola wanted to make an erotic thriller about Dracula, then tried to reedit it into a legitimate movie on a dare. Dracula's the cool rock star sex god guy, so he's always right and awesome and everyone who doesn't like him is bad. Lucy is a one-woman show of Sex In The City; I think ninety percent of her lines are about sex. She even has a lesbian kiss with Mina.

-So get this [/Sam Winchester]. Initially, Dracula turns into a wolfman to rape-bite Lucy upon arriving in London (yeah, that's much scarier than a ghost ship full of vampire victims running around *rolls eyes*). It's played as a rape scene; Dracula even uses his psychic powers to roofie Lucy and an interrupting Mina into forgetting, though Lucy is still clearly traumatized. Then the rest of Lucy's storyline is almost played for laughs. She lies in bed and has orgasms (you know what's sexier than anemia and acute blood loss? NOTHING!) while all the guys stand around like "WOT WOT, SEX? BUT WE'RE BRITISH!"

-Also, how am I supposed to take this "grand love story" between Dracula and Mina? He contrives to bump into her, starts in on his gentleman routine, she tells him that she's married and to piss off, so he stalks her until she gets upset with him. Then, when he acts contrite, she feels sorry for him and he guilts her into going to see a science expo with him (where a porno film is playing, because SEX. VAMPIRES. VICTORIAN TIMES. SUBTEXT.). Whereupon he drags her into a corner while she says "no, stop," and he tries to bite her before stopping at the last second. So, pretty much ninety nine percent date rape, but if you don't actually penetrate someone, doesn't count.

-Again, it's just so weird that I guess the movie is trying to criticize Victorian sexual mores (yes, I know, it's a courageous stand to take, saying that maybe the Victorians just didn't have a healthy attitude about sex), BUT AT THE SAME TIME, it's pretty much saying "you know what women like? Rape. Bitches love rape."

-Oh, and in the book, obviously there was a lot of focus on how Lucy is a victim and she doesn't want to be vamped and by staking her, they're freeing her soul and doing her a solid. In the movie, they have Van Helsing going on about how she's actually a 'willing discipline of Dracula' and such, so I guess she consented to sex with a wolfman and, later, Dracula turning into a wolf and bite-fucking her to death. So... I'm guessing they're trying to make this point where either Van Helsing is wrong and it's foolish for anyone to believe that someone would willing go in for Dracula's victimization (err, except for Mina, I guess), OR they're saying that Lucy chose to be a vampire and it's synonymous with... sexual liberation or something? In which case, feminist women eat babies? I don't know... man, this shit's confusing.

-Real dirty trick: they nod to Dracula being an epistolary novel by often having voiceover narration of people's diaries, letters, etc (usually with both Keanu Reeves or whoever saying "Dear Diary, it is the 27th of May" AND an onscreen caption reading "Jonathan Harker's diary, May 27". Yeah, got it, thanks). However, they don't use the lines from the book, but invent new ones about how Mina is SO IN LOVE WITH DRACULA, YOU GUYS. And what they do use from the book is often taken entirely out of context, like Van Helsing's "God's madmen" line. In the book, Mina at one point feels sorry for Dracula because, hey, he's like Lucy--he was turned into a vampire, he has no soul, and they need to release him from his suffering. In the movie, this is turned into her feeling sorry for him because he's "so hunted." Yes, for kILLING YOUR BEST FRIEND, IDIOT. REMEMBER HER? RAPED TO DEATH BY MONSTERS? But yeah, you're right, Dracula's cute, he should probably be allowed to do that.

-On a more pedantic note, they relate Renfield to Jonathan. A lot of Dracula movies do this; I think the Bela Lugosi one made it Renfield instead of Harker who went to Dracula's castle, but instead of escaping, he was driven insane, and so Jonathan is just Mina's boyfriend in that adaptation. Here, Renfield was the first solicitor Dracula had, but he went crazy, so now Jonathan has to finish the work. Except in the book, Dracula was really careful about hiding his true nature from Renfield/Jonathan and keeping him alive and intact long enough to finish the job so he could get to London, and Dracula could learn from him how to move through polite society undetected. Having him be so clumsy as to drive Renfield crazy and need a do-over on the solicitor diminishes Dracula a bit.

-I mean, I can see Dracula getting Jonathan alone and then so not giving a shit that he's just, yeah, I can climb walls, what are you gonna do about it, nerd? But it lacks in subtlety and it isn't really interesting. if Dracula is basically flinging scary shit in Jonathan's face every two minutes for no reason, there's no build-up, no tension. He might as well just bite the guy as soon as he comes through the door and have it over with.

-In case you were wondering where the one scary thing in American Horror Story--the music--came from, it's this movie.

-Another thing: In the book, there's a very brief scene where Dracula has some gypsies working for him, loading up cargo for his trip to London. Jonathan tries to sneak a letter to them, they show it to Dracula, that's it. It's not the most flattering portrayal, but okay, Dracula is paying some guys who happen to be Roma. In the movie, Dracula has full-on gypsy henchmen who get into a gunfight with the vampire hunters. It just seems weird, like saying... "Dr. Doom and his Jewish minions are here!" There doesn't seem like any reason they can't say "oh, Dracula has some random henchmen working for him, but they don't all belong to any particular ethnic group." And when the movie is making such a point of being critical of the source material, it makes it stand out a lot more when they let something else by.

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

So recently EA offered their old game Battlefield 3 up for free on their Steam rip-off service, and since pretty much the only way I'm going to get my games anywhere other than Steam, Amazon, or GOG is to be bribed to do it, I downloaded it. It's about what you'd expect from a military shooter--if you liked Call of Duty, it's pretty much the same thing. This is nothing new in entertainment of course; I can fully admit that a lot of comedies, superhero movies, zombie movies, slasher movies, are so alike that you really have to be a fan of the genre to appreciate the differences; otherwise, the only difference between Halloween 6 and Friday the 13th 6 is what mask the stuntman is wearing. I mean, ever since Bridesmaid, Melissa McCarthy has pretty much played the same character. She has her own subgenre of movies. They could've called The Heat 'When Megan Met Sandra Bullock.'

And I don't think people mind military shooters too much, so much as they mind the overwhelming prevalence of the genre in AAA-titles (and how many of the protags are white guys with stubble. I bet if the next Modern Warfare had a black woman running around carrying an AA-12, suddenly buying it would be giving a high-five to Joe Biden). But why are these games so prevalent? Some have said that it's a Nolan-y desire on the part of gamers to be taken seriously, but it's not like silly games like Portal, Saints' Row, Resident Evil, or Metal Gear Solid have had trouble finding an audience.

And as I was thinking up this review, I thought of one of the things I hated about this game--the melee attack doesn't seem to work for shit. Bad guys can knife me and kill me deader than a C-list superhero in a crossover, but if you're shooting down five terrorists, you run out of ammo on the fifth one, so you have to split-second run over there and knife him in the face before he shoots you--that doesn't work. And I love doing that! That's some action hero shit right there!

That got me thinking--these military shooters are pretty much action movies that give you more bang for the buck. There's been a lot of talk about how video games are supplanting movies, because a two-hour movie with snacks and friends is super-expensive--comparatively, sixty bucks (usually less) for a game, you can play about eight hours on single-player and just about forever on multiplayer. So these games are less really games then they are action movies you play through--scripted events, cutscenes, A-list voice talent. And these games are not trying to realistically depict combat; you fight through Iran while it's having an earthquake, you jump onto a helicopter as it's taking off, you jump onto a subway train to stop an over-the-top villain from blowing up New York with a nuke.

So I think that's why these military shooters are so prevalent. They're competing with action movies and they're doing something Hollywood really doesn't do anymore--hoo-rah Team America war movies where John Wayne smashes up the Axis of Evil.

I hope you won't think I'm some kind of Fox News correspond if I say that Hollywood is largely to the left of the political spectrum. They do make hoo-rah Team America war movies, but they're exclusively about evil aliens that, in the real world, can't be offended and can't be construed as supporting the War on Terror/Republicans (Battle: L.A., the Transformers movies, Battleship, Man of Steel). Just look at Captain America in the MCU. First movie, he patriotically bashes Nazis. Avengers, he patriotically bashes aliens. Winter Soldier, time to take on some terrorists--boom, there's a plot about the corrupt military-industrial complex, just like in Iron Man... and Iron Man 2... and Iron Man 3.

Now I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I'm sure a lot of you like the thought of Hollywood being (or trying to be) more thoughtful in their cinematic depiction of war. But that desire on the part of the audience to see Americans killing terrorists hasn't gone away, anymore than it did when Hollywood made movies about Americans killing Nazis or Americans killing the Reds. And if you want that kind of story these days, you either have to buy a book by Tom Clancy or play a video game. And why would the video game industry compete with Hollywood at the evil aliens racket when they have a lucrative field all to themselves?

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

From the Everybody Poops Philosophy Store: So let’s say DC gets their head on straight and Dick gets married to Babs (or Kory, they’re both great). I’m wondering… with the endgame and OTP being Dick/lady, how would people feel about Dick being bisexual?

Let me run the numbers real quick: I don’t think Dick would be likely to officially be paired with any of the male Bats; too incestuous, unless you want to ship him with, like—Orpheus or Batwing or someone. Yeah, guy’s bisexual, but I doubt most bisexuals are attracted to their adopted fathers/brothers.

But I could see him having a thing with Roy back in the day. You wouldn’t even have to worry about I guess sexualizing/erasing platonic relationships—Dick could be really good friends with Wally and Garth (same as he is with Donna as a straight man) and then something else with Roy. Makes sense.

My question is—does this really add anything on the reader’s end, Dick and Roy having had a relationship or a fling or a one-night stand, if he’s just going to end up with one of those girl redheads? Would it feel like a bit of a cruel taunt or pandering for there to be a same-sex relationship that only ends up on the ashheap of history like Lana Lang, or would that be good representation assuming he, say, thinks Green Lantern looks hot once in a while?

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

Seeing a lot of posts about The Mummy and George of the Jungle lately reminds me that Brendan Fraser was up for Superman Lives back in the day. Now that would’ve actually worked, I think. He looked good, he could do comedy, he had some action chops… it’s the 90s, let’s say Fraser as Supes, Sandra Bullock as Lois Lane, get Frank Darabont, Robert Zemeckis to direct—NO TIM BURTON. Just make a big, fun Superman movie with a bit of slapstick, some romance, a little darkness with Brainiac running amok and needing to get punched through a building or two… but mainly a funny, self-aware, slightly ironic family adventure.

I realize I’m sort of describing Dudley Do-Right, also with Fraser, but fuck it. That’s what I want from a Superman movie.

image

I SAID YES, DAMNIT!

Also, it’s the 90s… Tim Curry would still be young enough to play Lex Luthor. Or you could get Pete Postlethwaite!

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Imagine that motherfucker trying to kill Superman for a few movies.

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
*Not mine

-While putting the bronzed Paracelsus in his proper place, Myka inadvertently discovers that he’s become an Artifact that allows physical time-travel. This somehow leads to Myka and Helena having a threesome with the Warehouse 9 agent played by Rebecca Mader.

-An AU version of the penultimate episode, where Para-Valda is replaced by a Para-Helena. Naturally, the means of stopping her is much sexier.

-A crossover with OUAT: Shorlty after the finale, Myka and Pete go on a double-date with HG and Giselle, and ins short order come to realize that Pete and Myka aren’t menat to be together, Myka and HG are, and that Giselle is an OUAT version of the Amy Adams character from Enchanted who managed to leave Storybrooke somehow. One scene-transition later, the Warehouse crew arrives to investigate, shortly after the most recent season finale, with Regina mad at Emma’s inadvertently sabotaging her budding relationship with Robin. Naturally, HG and Myka realize that the actual cause of Emma and Regina’s spat is UST and set about getting rid of the U. Menawhile, Pete cuts an offscreen swathe through Storybrooke’s single ladies and Claudia and Hook, err, hook up, causing the latter to leave Storybrooke and become a Warehouse agent. Myka/Helena/Emma/Regina scene.

-A sequel to Warehouse 69. A crisis causes the regular team to call on their Pornverse counterparts out of a desperate need for reinforcements. But, once the crisis is over, Pete, Claudia, and her siblings are trapped in the pornverse, while the pornverse versions of Steve, Helena, and Myka’s sister Tracey are trapped in the regularverse. Story-arcs would address IMO, the final season’s second-biggest error in not even mentioning Josh in the Claire storyline; Myka dealing with having to share HG with Giselle; and Pete getting over the weirdness and enjoying his second stay in the pornverse. Myka/Tracey, Helena/Helena/Myka, and Claudia/Claudia.

-Pete and Myka have been whammied by an artifact that makes them think they’re in love. It’s one of those annoying artifacts that you need to do something to cure, in this case, have sex with someone they actually love. Myka/Helena, Pete/*insert one or more of his numerous exes*

-Abigail Cho has a bit of a mishap while shelving William Moulton Marston’s something-or-other, and acquires the strength of an Amazon…and a desire to show the Warehouse crew the joys of loving submission. Abigail/Myka, Abigail/Claudia, and/or Abigail/Pete
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

Man, it’s one thing to read a contemporary novel and then see a contemporary film based on it, but reading a historical novel after seeing a multitude of films ‘based’ on it—it’s a bit like seeing the original photo after countless Xeroxes of Xeroxes, only at some point, somebody drew a butterfly on one of the Xeroxes so you’re like “Where da fuck did that butterfly come from?”

And the biggest case of that is Lucy Westenra. In the book, she’s pretty indistinguishable from Mina—she’s a modest, innocent young Victorian woman and she spends most of her ‘screentime’ afflicted with Draculitis. So, since she’s introduced getting marriage proposals from three different men, it’s excusable that the ‘memetic’ version of her is the flirty girl to Mina’s more sensible and inexperienced characterization, even though the literary Lucy agrees to the first guy’s proposal, tells the other two as much, and feels sorry that she’s inadvertently caused them heartbreak. WHO-AH, WHAT A SLUT!

But what’s really interesting is how far the rabbit hole goes. Here’s an excerpt from the book.



She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there, the pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth—which it made one shudder to see—the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity.


So there are a few instances where Lucy, in becoming a vampire, tries to ‘kiss’ her fiance and when she’s fully a vampire, she makes a pretty implicitly sexual pass at him. But that’s her being a vampire, and it’s meant to contrast with her real personality. It’s the Victorian equivalent of the little girl in The Exorcist talking about dick-sucking. It’s scary because this isn’t supposed to happen. Your dead fiancee’s reanimated corpse should not be walking around, drinking blood from little kids and coming onto you. By making her super-sexy from the get-go, you’re missing the entire point.

What’s more, and I’m not sure where this started, but I think by the time of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, the Lucy/Mina relationship has become a full-on Madonna/Whore affair.

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Try and guess which one is gonna fuck a werewolf.

Meanwhile, ol’ Drac—the guy with three concubines who he fed a fucking baby to in the book—becomes more and more a romantic lead. And so, as if to make him unaccountable for the slow and systematic murder of a young woman, Lucy becomes a trollop who openly talks about giving beejs, as if the source material has somehow picked up an eighties slasher movie’s “sex equals death” morality. By the time of last year’s Dracula TV show, Dracula outright states that he’s killing and vampirizing Lucy for being such a slut.

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Killing multiple innocent women is one thing, but sleeping with someone’s boyfriend? You have offended Dracula’s morality, madam!

Anyway, just a hella weird thing I noticed, that in adapting a very, very old-fashioned literary work, there’s a ton of modern writers who think the best way to update it is to add sexism to it.

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And Keanu Reeves. So much Keanu Reeves.

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

Disney: Hey mofos, you ready for a story that replaces the childish black-and-white morality of the original Sleeping Beauty with moral ambiguity, shades of gray, and three-dimensional character work?

Audience: Yeah!

Disney: Well, once upon a time, there were two kingdoms, one of evil, violent humans and one of innocent, peace-loving fairies...

Audience: Oh boy...

Disney: Oh, what, you want Maleficent to just be utterly, one-dimensionally evil for no reason? This is the new millennium! Villains have to have sympathetic backstories and justifiable reasoning for even the most evil actions! Unless they're white men, of course.

Stefan: Hi there!

Audience: ...

Stefan: Man, I sure do love Maleficent.

Audience: ...

Narrator: But then Stefan got a taste of evil and decided it was great!

Stefan: I HATE MALEFICENT!

Audience: So, in forty years, is there going to be a movie where Stefan is the hero and, say, one of the Fairies is the villain...?

Read more... )

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
I probably shouldn’t try to rewrite the plot to Amazing Spider-Man 2, since it doesn’t really HAVE a plot, just stuff that happens. You could take Electro out of the movie entirely and it wouldn’t affect the story in any way whatsoever. Really. Try it. But anyway, I’ll give this the old college go. It’s like seeing a man have a heart attack in a crowded restaurant. You just want to do something, anything, to help the guy.

My big thought here is Harry Osborn. In the comics, he is of course defined by his toxic relationship with his father. In the movie, his father is Chris Cooper, Chris Cooper dies after forty seconds, and none of this really seems to have an impact on Harry other than putting him in charge of Oscorp. He doesn’t seem to have any childhood abuse or daddy issues, it’s all about him suddenly having this disease, because chronic illness makes you evil I guess.

So what are the three Ses? Simplify. Streamline. Smooth out. We’re making a movie for children, really. Let’s get rid of Electro altogether. We can keep the Rhino stuff as bookends, that—sorta works. Again, the problem here is that the first movie screwed up things so much that it’s like trying to save a date after you’ve vomited on your girlfriend. But hey, we’re in this together, you and I. With you believing in me, we can save this movie.

Tl;dr. )
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
So hey, you know how Amazing Spider-Man 2 teased that a vengeful Harry Osborn would be leading the Sinister Six in an attempt on Spider-Man’s life in ASM3? Well, I gonna be really sorry if that threequel turns out to suck, because I came up with that story four years ago.

Of course, I should note here that my idea was that you’d use the Spider-Man second stringers—the guys who really can’t carry a movie—and not any of the A-listers who could be the main guy. Let’s review who Sony maybe—maybe—has as their SS. Errr, S6. Yeah, let’s avoid the S double initials.

1. Harry Osborn Goblin (buh).
2. The Rhino
3. Doctor Octopus
4. The Vulture
5. Kraven The Hunter
6. Chameleon

That’s oh-kaaaaaay, I guesssssssss. Really contingent on Doctor Octopus being the mad scientist behind all the others’ powers and betraying Harry, taking control of the S6 for his own fiendish plots, being Spider-Man’s greatest enemy instead of just a spear-carrier, etc. I think I remarked on this once with the possibility of a Batman: Arkham Asylum type movie, but the good point of a reboot is that you can bring back characters who were Big Bads in the prior movies and the audience knows their deal already without needing a time-consuming introduction. So they could’ve done the Sandman and Venom, but apparently they’re doing Eddie Lethal Protector style. Fine—that’s the kind of change-up a reboot should indulge in.

My big thing—aside from the general poor storytelling quality of the reboot (what does Harry EVEN WANT REVENGE ON PETER FOR? “YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME YOUR BLOOD, I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND! ALSO, CHRIS COOPER IS MY DAD!”). Those are some major-league villains being burned off as henchmen. I could see Kraven being set up as a long-time Spider-Man rogue who comes back for Kraven’s Last Hunt, if the Spider-Man movies ever decide they want to be interesting. But why not use some villains who could never be a big deal?

Like the Shocker. He’s an iconic Spider-Man villain and I’m sure a lot of fans would love to see him on screen, but not as an Oscar winner with a newfound sympathetic backstory and personal connection to Spider-Man. Just as a joik who Spidey punches and makes quilt jokes about. That’s what I think the S6 should be pitched at. Not six Big Bads, because they can’t all fit into a movie together, but five superpowered henchmen for one driven supervillain.

Also, this would make the proposed Sinister Six movie a lot more palatable. With their leader—the real bad guy—dead and gone, you’ve just got five losers on the run from the law. They get a new member and it’s like The Usual Suspects/Reservoir Dogs with C-list supervillains. Because who’d be interested in a movie where the six ‘heroes’ are all-consumingly powerful without a greater threat because they are the greater threat? It’d be like an Avengers movie where everyone gets together to rob a Denny’s.

Anyway, here’s a list of guys I think are iconic/unique enough to show up on film, without being so powerful/interesting that they deserve the hotseat.

The Beetle
Boomerang
Chameleon and/or Mysterio
Hammerhead
Hydro-Man
Molten Man
The Spot (don’t laugh, he’s Portal: The Supervillain)
Tombstone

Also, these characters are pretty undefined by canon, so you can play around with them a little, make them a bit more diverse. It’s the Heimdall Principle: if you can’t distinguish the guy from two other Norse gods, you can’t rightfully get upset that he doesn’t look like he does in the comics. And c’mon, if you’re a hardcore enough fan to care that Hydro-Man is a white guy instead of, say, a Hispanic woman, what are you doing watching the Amazing Spider-Man series in the first place? You know these movies are not good Spider-Man. You know.
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
AWWWWWWW SHIT, it’s late at night, so I can say whatever shit I want about Amazing Spider-Man 2: We’re So Uncreative We Can’t Think Up A Subtitle, and nobody will know except for Australia. And what are you guys gonna do? You already sent Mel Gibson at America. If that’s the best you can do---

THE GOOD

-I liked the end credits song. I think it was by Pharrell Williams? I don’t listen to a lot of music, so I think the only songs I’ve heard of his are Blurred Lines and Happy, and both of those, the beat was kinda just too… radio jingle? It was like pure sugar, ya know, couldn’t get into it. But this song was really good. I’m probably gonna, uh… completely legally buy an MP3 of it. Thanks iPod!

-Okay, I used Google—because I’m not Spider-Man—and it turns out that song was by Kendrick Lamar and Alicia Keys. I hope you appreciate my attention to detail and the care I put into this work.

-The action sequences were pretty good. There were, like, three in a two hour and thirty minute movie and they were pretty short, too, but… anyway, they still don’t have a patch on Raimi. His action scenes told stories—Spider-Man has to save a bus full of kids, stop this train, save Mary Jane, save Aunt May, whatever. So there are goals, objectives, little victories and defeats. This is pretty much just Spider-Man and whoever he’s fighting dancing around until the budgets runs out, and it feels like there was not much of a budget. (We’re supposed to be worried about Green Goblin in Part 3 when Spider-Man beats him in, like, three minutes here?) But aside from the size of the portions, the meal was okay.

-There’s a good scene where Peter Parker is proactive and uses SCIENCE! to prepare for a rematch with Electro, even though Electro is apparently captured at the time. This moment of genre savvy from Parker ends up totally pointless, though.

-Stone and Garfield still have good chemistry, and there’s a rather nice scene where he uses physical comedy to help her get away from some goons. It makes you wish this was just a movie about two dating teenagers who happen to be tangled up with corporate espionage—which is probably a bad thing in a Spider-Man movie.

-I like the look of Electro, even if it is ridiculously derivative of Dr. Manhattan (although he has a set of leather Speedos that can apparently travel through power lines and such). But compared to how the Green Goblin or the Rhino look—fuck.

-There’s a bit where Spider-Man catches a cold that’s right out of the comics, even if they make a hacky joke of him sneezing in his mask. Thanks, movie.

-On my way home from the theater, a light was about to change red, so I sped up to make it and I passed by a cop. I was only doing, like, 47 in a 45 zone, so he didn’t pull me over.

THE BAD
Read more... )
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

So my chief criticism would be that Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for all its apocalyptic scene-setting, really doesn’t have much in the way of stakes or consequences.

Spoilers. )

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

-So the Gauntlet is about how Kraven's former lover, a powerful witch (no, not Calypso, he married this whole other magic-user and they have a daughter... go with it) sends a bunch of Spider-Man's rogues against him. Not by breaking them all out of prison at once. And not by hiring them all at once. Or by arranging them all to bother Spidey over a short period of time. It's just like, Spider-Man runs into Mysterio doing a thing, beats him, then runs into the Lizard doing a thing, beats him, runs into Sandman, beats him... apparently this is VERY UNUSUAL for Spider-Man and only explainable due to, ya know, voodoo, despite the fact that this would seem to be Spider-Man's daily routine since the Kennedy Administration.

-I haven't seen a lot of talk about the "Brain Trust" authorship of Amazing Spider-Man, where a circle of select writers are ALL writing ASM, which publishes I think three times a month now, and every story arc (they're generally two or three issues long) is done by a different writer. It's somewhat akin to the 'writer's room' philosophy of most TV shows, but there, you tend to have a showrunner like Bryan Fuller or Dan Harmon steering the boat with a strong authorial vision.

This seems more like writing by committee, and I really don't like how corporate and anti-auteur it plays. There's no real momentum in the storytelling, supporting cast members disappear for long stretches--the status quo in the stories I read have Harry Osborn alive and Spider-Man dating Black Cat, but they're barely in the stories. It's like if four networks made four competing TV shows about Jimmy Hoffa, and then they merged them into one show by showing an episode of Series A one week, then Series B the next week, and so on. I don't care for it.

-It seems to have shaken out that ALL the new cast members--Sexy Reporter Who Has Sex, Hateful Roommate Who Has Sex, Pretty Princess CSI: Miami--are hot chicks who are kinda into Peter, should the plot demand they hook up. This gives the comic the sleazy feeling of a four-color The Bachelor. The only male characters who show up with any regularity are J. Jonah Jameson (natch) and Harry Osborn, who is of course sniffing around MJ. Drama drama drama.

-Did we REALLY need a hoary old cliche like Peter, garsh, dating Black Cat in his Spider-Man persona but liking Carlie as Peter Parker? Unless you're going to do an issue where he has to quickly change in and out of his costume to go on dates with both Carlie AND Felicia, just let him be married. Because the only real "storytelling opportunity" I'm seeing here with a single Peter Parker is that when he and Black Cat make sex jokes, they're actually fucking instead of not fucking. Whoopededoo.

-Look, guys, I know you're all upset about Peter/MJ being broken up, but Marvel had to do it, see? Younger readers just can't relate to a Peter Parker that's married, and everything in Amazing Spider-Man, the flagship title that is your one-stop shopping for all the Spider-Man you need in the 616 universe, needs to be aimed at younger

-OH MY GOD!

-Is the front of that guy's chin split in two?

-JESUS CHRIST MY GOD!

-Fuck, why is Spider-Man on that? This shit you get Will Graham for!

-HIS FUCKING FACE IS IN PIECES JESUS!

-SHIT, SHIT, OKAY, SHIT.

-Okay, apparently that's the new Vulture, who literally eats people now. Because I guess the Vulture being a mean old person who Spider-Man hits because kids don't like mean old people just isn't, uh--

-FUCK, THAT GUY MAKES JONAH HEX LOOK LIKE ORLANDO BLOOM.

-WOULD YOU SHOW THAT TO A CHILD? WOULD YOU SHOW THAT TO A CHILD?

-YOU GUYS KNOW DAVID CRONENBERG FILMS ARE NOT FOR KIDS, RIGHT?

-JESUS WEPT!

-To reiterate. Above, children's comic book bad guy. Below, hard-R vampire movie monster from master of horror Guillermo del Toro.

-THERE SHOULD BE MORE OF A DIFFERENCE.

-Well, okay, so Spider-Man isn't for kids now. Fine. It's for grown-ups now, you expect mature, sophisticated writing like Breaking Bad, not dumb villains who make puns like they're in a Batman show from the sixties.

-"All I have left to give... is CURRENT."

-So I guess the target audience is people who can handle graphic gore and grisly violence, but are, you know... really stupid.

-I guess that's the problem with comics these days. Everyone's trying to recreate stories written for ten-year-olds to appeal to people who are forty-years-old. It's a bit like if there were a new Tiny Toons where Montana Max called Elmira a hooker. Who is this meant to appeal to beyond the people who write it?

-Man, it's a good thing there wasn't a story about a bunch of shapeshifters replacing people months, if not weeks ago in the Marvel universe, since otherwise people might find it suspicious that Aunt May is acting completely out of character due to Mr. Negative flicking her personality-switch to evil (totally plausible, by the way). But I guess she has to very clearly enunciate "Heil Hitler!" before noted genius and veteran crimefighter Peter Parker notices that maybe, just maybe, something is off with the woman he's known his entire life.

-BTW, that storyline on which a goodly amount of pages are spent? Aunt May ends up getting over it because she loves Peter a lot. So that was super-important.

-And the award for least genre-savvy person on the planet goes to the corporate executive who hired Curt Connors to research lizard shit, then browbeat him to get results whatever the cost, WHATEVER THE COST, YOU HEAR ME? Next up, he will move to Gotham City, and open up a funhouse on Twenty-Second Street which will double as a storehouse for his rare cat and bird-themed ancient artifact collection.

-Speaking of the Lizard, I don't think him being a one-armed man who turns into a giant reptile is realistic. Better make him a rapist, Marvel. It's just too implausible otherwise.

-I don't have a scan of the letters page where the fans thank Marvel en masse for finally, FINALLY addressing the elephant in the room of whether or not the Lizard would commit a sex crime if the opportunity presented itself, but trust me, it exists.

-I can't stress how much of a slog this thing is to get through. The Gauntlet itself really isn't much of a storyline--it's not like Peter is being worn down by fighting villains night and day, having to punch Mysterio in a costume that's still burnt from fighting Electro (something I bet owes to the rotating writers). The Kravinoffs are barely in it except for the VERY rare scene where we see a supervillain get recruited to their cause (Electro just ends up casting Lightning Bolt. So that was super-important). So it's not like an ACTUAL story where all the misery has a point. The only real plot here is that Spider-Man has a series of adventures where he does a shitty job and doesn't help, then a bunch of embarrassing take-offs on The Most Dangerous Game show up to yell about that mystical Spider-totem bullshit that everyone hates is a thing now, Kraven comes back to life because God forbid one horse in comic book canon gets off with less than being pulverized into dust by the Cleveland Browns. THAT'S IT.

-The Rhino has retired from his life of crime to spend time with his wife. She dies and he goes back to being a bad guy, worse than ever. Curt Connors becomes the Lizard forever and eats his son. Sandman has an adopted kid he's providing for. Peter beats him up and takes the kid to put in an abusive foster home (USE YOUR CONTACTS TO CHECK IN ON THE KID AND MAKE SURE SHE'S ALRIGHT, YOU FUCKING CRETIN). Peter gets fired from his job and collects unemployment benefits.

This storyline has no connective tissue except for how Peter Parker is a failure at everything he attempts. The only theme I can apply to this is that it's a cautionary tale about the foolishness of living a noble, unselfish life, because you will end up like Peter Parker: beaten, broken, and alone while your enemies suffer no real consequences and plot further atrocities against you.

-To save money, Sasha Kravinoff was given Black Cat's costume.

-If I remember my Swan Queen correctly, this means she and Felicia Hardy are fucking.

-AWESOME.

-HEY KIDS, CANNIBALISM! TWO-PAGE SPREAD!

-So, yes, this is a story about a man killing and possibly devouring his son (but not raping him. That only happens to women). But that subject matter is totally called for so that the Lizard can now look like a fucking idiot.

-Well, now we know what the Lizard would look like if he starred in a Final Fantasy game. Oh, and he talks now. Which he... couldn't... before... except for all the times he did? Anyway, this story has dead children AND rape, so you know it's good.

-Stupidest Moment of the Arc goes to Mark Waid, for writing that Electro (the deadly super-criminal who has participated in multiple terrorist attacks and helped orchestrate a break-out that allowed literally hundreds of supervillains to escape and wreck havoc) becomes a beloved public icon in New York merely by ranting about those corporate fat cats, man, and how they're all corporation-y. That's so stupid I don't even have to say anything about it.

-But I'm going to. Comic book writers: Please exercise the discipline of not writing the average citizen as being so amoral, stupid, and fecklessthat saving them seems like a heroic exercise on par with catering to a NAMBLA convention. I realize you like catering to nerd culture's persecution complex, but please realize that people do not dislike bronies because they are misunderstood while saving children from burning buildings.

They dislike bronies because they are bronies. In the real world, people who are charming, generous, noble, and selfless are actually well-liked and respected in most corners, while evil assholes are widely disliked. This is why a lot of people are angry at Woody Allen and very few are demanding a giant robot be built to hunt down Ellen.

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)

So I'm doing research on Sasha and Ana Kravinoff, which means reading an Amazing Spider-Man "event" called The Gauntlet, which is post-BND. So in case anyone ever criticizes my hatred of OMD/BND and its status quo by saying I didn't read it, I've now read like twenty issues of it. It's gone beyond smelling the rotten milk to know it's bad. I've drunken every goddamn glass of that thing and no, there's no good milk in that jug of rotten milk. It's spoiled all the way down.

And the main thing is that it's a lot of crusty old dudes who jerk it to the Silver Age wanting to redo the Spider-Man stories of their youth when that makes no sense for the characters or the world they live in. Like, imagine if the Star Trek reboot had been done by some really big Star Trek fanboys. And they were so set on recreating their Star Trek viewing experience that they didn't update the effects or writing at all--it's just a bunch of low-budget models and paper-mache rocks and gold-lame costumes and Klingons that just look like black guys with Fu Manchus.


This, but with Zachary Quinto.

That would be really dumb, right? Well, that's basically what Spider-Man is these days. "Get that CGI out of there, screw off with those professional make-up artists. We want to tell veiled stories about the Cold War! Bring back those guys who are half black and half white!"

Because I've read a few other comics, and Spider-Man's been a member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in recent years, right? Like, I think he's been an Avenger all the way through BND/OMD. With that in mind, WHAT FUCKING SENSE DOES IT MAKE that he has money problems or is hated by the public at large? Beyond the fact that Mark Waid and co want to write about Peter Parker having money problems and being hated by the public?

Seriously, this is not that complicated. Unless you want me to buy that the Avengers and Fantastic Four are a bunch of pricks that don't care about one of their own living below the poverty line, they should be doing something like

1. Give Peter Parker a fake job as research assistant to Tony Stark or Reed Richards. Put his name on a patent for anti-grav slinkies or whatever and set him up for life.

2. Use SHIELD to fake that he has a rich great-uncle who died and left him a couple million dollars.

3. Give him a cushy gig as the official photographer for the Avengers/Fantastic Four, pay him a ridiculously inflated salary. If Terry Richardson can make obscene amounts of money taking pictures of Blake Lively in black and white looking bored against a blank background, I'll believe that Peter Parker can make a six-figure salary taking the occasional photo of Steve Rogers in jeans and a T-shirt.

4. HE IS FRIENDS WITH CAPTAIN AMERICA AND IRON MAN HOW THE HELL CAN ALL OF NEW YORK HATE HIM? Could you imagine a bunch of people who watch Parks & Rec all loving the show but believing that Chris Pratt is a Nazi despite all their favs loving and getting along with him? No. That's ridiculous.

You cannot say that a character is best friends with Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, George Clooney, and Mark Zuckerberg, then have him complain about how poor he is all the time. You could still have Peter work at the Daily Bugle if he's NOT absolutely strapped for cash, just by saying that he genuinely enjoys working there. But you can't continue to tell stories about him being poor in his present circumstances anymore than you can tell stories about him studying for a big test in Chemistry or worrying about Flash Thompson sticking him in a locker.

And I know, I know, there's probably some issue where he says he doesn't want to accept charity. Well, if this is about Peter Parker being relatable, that's not relatable! There's a big difference between being broke and single because that's life, and being broke and single because you won't cash in a winning lottery ticket and turned down Natalie Dormer when she asked for a date. One is a person being normal and the other is a person being a dumbass.

I mean, fuck it, if your credo is that Peter Parker is going to be single and poor no matter what, have him join a monastery. Normal people do that. No normal person says "I'd rather collect unemployment and live with a Hispanic stereotype who hates me then ask one of the many friendly millionaires I know for help."

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
Okay, this is gonna focus mainly on the Peter Parker/Miles Morales transition, but having read a lot of the Ultimate Spider-Man books and actually having gotten into comic books as a result of the first Ult TPBs, I wanna touch on the series as a whole from Hippie!Uncle Ben to The Death of Spider-Man.

1.      My reaction to Bendis is sort of like Abed trying to comprehend Nic Cage in Community. He’s done some really good work, and he’s also done a lot of stuff that is objectively shitty and dumb (*cough* Ultimate Doomsday *cough cough* THREE separate miniseries that could’ve been told in six issues, tops *cough cough* Ultimate Reed Richards turning evil without any explanation in any of the TWELVE issues specifically about Reed Richards turning evil *cough cough cough*). And maybe it’s just that he became Marvel’s version of Geoff Johns and possibly got spread too thin, working on stuff he’s not necessarily passionate or well-suited for. I don’t think he’s such a singular talent that we need to see Brian Michael Bendis’s Moon Knight!!! just to see Bendis’s Moon Knight, absent a compelling story. But I think one of my pet peeves is that Bendis quite obviously writes for the trades, so every twenty-four pages he’s just obliged to pull out a cliffhanger that can be completely arbitrary aside from saying “this issue is done! Buy the next issue!” I’m thinking of a crossover with the X-Men where they fight Deadpool, pull off his mask to reveal it’s (shocker!) Charles Xavier, then the next issue they just say it was Deadpool using a disguise to mess with them. What’s the point?

2.      Alright, you might say that’s not so bad, but the hundredth issue brings back Peter’s father Richard, assumed dead, and he takes twenty pages to explain how he cheated death, what he’s been doing, and so on. Then it turns out that that was all lies and he’s just a clone. On a double-sized milestone issue, Bendis spent half the book on what might as well have been a dream sequence. That just offends me as a writer. I mean, fuck, maybe I write about three Doctor Who characters fisting each other, but it still counts. I don’t wrap it up by saying “nah, they were just implanted memories of fisting. Back to the status quo!” Sorry. Pisses me off.

3.      And yet on the other hand, I feel it’s a laudable goal to do a Spider-Man book that is basically a teen soap opera for teens, much as the first Spider-Man comics were. It isn’t a direction they had to go—the Amazing Spider-Man movies took a similar set-up and made it all about Peter’s epic struggle against evil, his destiny as the Chosen One, blah blah—Ult is far more concerned with Peter’s struggles at school and circle of friends, which is something the 616 universe simply can’t do now that Peter Parker is a fucking Avenger. So even as a glorified AU, I feel Ult is justified. It’s basically a long-form version of the same storytelling you get with the first few Harry Potter books: who’s dating who, what classes are what, and oh, we have to solve this mystery or fight this guy.

4.      In fact, I’d say the Ultimate universe as a whole is better if seen just through the prism of Ultimate Spider-Man. If you literally ignored all the other Ultimate books (as much fun as Ellis’s FF or Vaughn’s X-men were) and said to yourself that the Ultimates and Wolverine only existed as recurring characters in Spider-Man’s book, you’d think the Ultimate Universe was pretty damn great. My go-to example here is a storyline where it comes out that Liz Allen’s father was Blob of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Magneto, owing a debt to her father, comes to recruit her into the Brotherhood. The whole thing ends with a sweet scene where Magneto, in the past, discusses Blob’s child with him and says he’ll take care of her if anything happens to Blob.

5.      If you only know the characters from Spider-Man, it’s a very human, touching moment. But if you’ve read the Ultimates or X-Men, you know Blob will eventually kill Wasp by eating her and then be killed in the same way by Ant-Man, that Magneto is literally a genocidal maniac, etc. Likewise, Nick Fury and the Ultimates would seem to be reasonable if uninformed authority figures to Peter’s eyes, while in other titles they’re all a bunch of maniacs. I don’t think this discrepancy was intentional; Millar and Bendis are both writing these characters as heroic or villainous, Bendis is just able to pull it off without having anyone eat babies while having sex with more babies because it’s shocking.

6.      Another example: In Ultimate Spider-Man, the ‘Ultimatum Wave’ devastates New York, killing Daredevil and Dr. Strange as well as several civilians. If you just read Spider-Man, you can assume that this was all part of some vast, epic story that Spider-Man just wasn’t involved in. That’s realistic. But if you actually read it, you see that Spider-Man’s world is one in which the fate of mankind is partially determined by Quicksilver fucking his sister. It’s like if Veronica Mars were set in Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. You’d assume that these grandiose machines and vast collateral damage were part of some incredible story the author was just hinting at, perhaps solely for symbolic reasons. You’d see Veronica Mars investigating a murder at an Autobot battle site and wonder at what amazing events transpired there. Then you’d watch the movie and find out that it was a robot pterodactyl killing Ken Jeong for calling himself Deep Wang.

That I suppose should bring us to The Death of Spider-Man, which it won’t surprise you to find I don’t like. Some writing has turned me around on a death, like the Question’s in 52, but I always feel there’s some unpleasant subtext to all these stories where a minority character only gets the nod to become a legacy hero after their predecessor is brutally, ignominiously murdered. It seems designed to cast a pall on the new guy and invite unflattering comparisons, as Jaime Reyes et al only got the job through an old favorite being slaughtered. “Oh, you like this new minority character? Well, you have to like the fact that we took the old guy behind the barn and put him down like a lame horse too.” Wouldn’t it be less callous to give the old-timer a happy ending, wrap his story up on a positive note, and then start in on the shiny new hero?

Death of Spider-Man is no exception. I get the feeling a conversation like this took place.

Quesada: Hey, Bendis, my man! Heard about this new petition for Donald Glover to play Spider-Man?

Bendis: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting.

Quesada: What if we took advantage of that and made Spider-Man black? Really got people talking! Maybe even an article on Buzzfeed!

Bendis: That would actually work great. We hate writing Peter Parker as being an adult and married, so let’s just let him and Mary Jane ride off into the sunset and introduce a new, teenage, single Spider-Man who happens to be black?

Quesada: What? Shut the fuck up, Bendis, I’m not making the real Spider-Man black! Make Ultimate Spider-Man black. We don’t give a shit about the Ultimate universe. For God’s sake, we let Loeb write it.

Bendis: I care! I just started this plot about Spider-Man being trained by the Ultimates, and I have these long-standing plots about Ultimate Mysterio and Latveria and the Beetle…

Quesada: Fuck it. Just kill him off, say that a black kid got bitten by some other spider, there ya go.

Bendis: But I haven’t built up to it at all!

Quesada: We’ll just put “Prelude to the Death of Spider-Man” on the covers. That counts. And hey, have the Green Goblin do it. He’s Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis.

Bendis: But he’s dead. He died on-panel. There was a body and everything. I called the story “Death of a Goblin.” Wouldn’t it make more sense for Dr. Octopus to be the big villain, given that he’s been screwing with Peter’s life for the last fifty issues?

Quesada: Nah, Norman survived. And SHIELD put him in a holding facility.

Bendis: Like the one he broke out of last time? Why wouldn’t they just kill him?

Quesada: Because they wouldn’t! They need the obvious psychopath’s help with, you know, science stuff. There aren’t any scientists who aren’t also sociopathic monsters. This is the Ultimate universe.

Bendis: And then he breaks out? How?

Quesada: I don’t care! He just does, okay?

Bendis: Okay, but that makes SHIELD look like a bunch of idiots, having this one guy escape from them multiple times. Why would they even imprison him in the same city as a bunch of innocent civilians he’s sworn to kill?

Quesada: Because they do!

The story itself is adequately written, but it feels like what any high school fanfic writer would come up with if you asked them to kill off Spider-Man. The Sinister Six are after Spider-Man. Some of them get taken out by Spider-Man and some by Spider-Man’s supporting cast, because if you’re in a comic book for more than twenty issues you’re able to use a pistol against a supervillain more effectively than a gazillion SHIELD agents or cops, even though you’re literally a hundred-year-old woman and not a SHIELD agent or cop (requiem eternum, Electro). Then Spider-Man dies to accomplish nothing more than stopping a band of villains who—only wanted to kill him. And everyone feels bad and talks about how great he was in a six-issue miniseries, interspersed with ads for other great Ultimate Universe comics **thumbs up**

You could’ve plunked that plot down anywhere in Ultimate Spider-Man’s run and it would’ve worked just as well. And Peter Parker dying to take down Norman Osborn just does not work for me. That’s assuming he is dead and not just living life in a secret holding cell somewhere like he was last time. Norman isn’t the master villain of the 616 universe. Here, he’s just a loon who transforms into a big monster and roars about hating Spider-Man while Spider-Man tells him how crazy he is. This guy is a threat so huge he demands a heroic sacrifice to stop him? He’s the supervillain equivalent of a guy who goes into a mall with an AK-47 and opens up. Destructive and evil, sure, but killing him didn’t save the world, didn’t save the city—all it saved was Peter’s aunt and girlfriend. Noble, sure, but not the stuff of legends. And after all the talk of Peter’s grand journey and heroic destiny, it coming down to him stopping six cheap thugs with nasty powers seems like a cruel joke.

I’m not saying that Peter Parker should’ve been Spider-Man forever. And I get how hard it would be to end his story when he’s committed to being Spider-Man for the rest of his life. But if you have a reputation as one of the comic book industry’s top writers and you’ve been doing this passion project since the turn of the millennium, don’t you owe your readers an ending more creative and more satisfying than “he died with his boots on. NOW CHECK OUT THE BRAND-NEW SPIDER-MAN! HE’S BLACK!”?

I say this not because I don’t like Miles Morales as a character, but because the circumstances of Peter’s death should make his heroism COMPLETELY UNTENABLE.

Nick Fury: Peter’s death was my fault. All of SHIELD and the Ultimates are to blame. We didn’t give him the help, the support, or the training that he needed. And we will just have to carry that staggering guilt with us for the rest of our damned lives.

Miles Morales: Hey, I have spider-powers too—turning invisible and giving people electric shocks, much like a spider would—and I’m gonna be the new Spider-Man!

Nick Fury: Coo’, here’s a costume and some webshooters, k bai.

Captain America: We gonna do anything about him not, ya know, dying in agony?

Nick Fury: Eh, he can handle it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Captain America: Dying. In agony. Like the last Spider-Man.

Nick Fury: …I look like Samuel L. Jackson with an eyepatch.

You see how that strikes me as being complete bullshit? 
seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
Not to be that fan, but I've been thinking about how the comic book canon's been rewritten so that Oscorp is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the Lizard, Electro, Green Goblin, the Rhino, Spider-Man himself, and apparently the entire Sinister Six. Now there's nothing in canon that precludes this from being the case, but it's still a bad idea.

Why? Simply because Spider-Man has never been about some crusade on Peter's part to bring down Oscorp. That's not the logline. It just isn't. Spider-Man is not about an epic struggle between good and evil, it's about Peter's interactions with Gwen, Mary Jane, Flash, Jameson, Robbie, Betty Brant, etc. The soap opera, the humor, the love affairs, the humanity.

And yet this "Norman Osborn killed my parents!" plotline is getting so much screentime that we won't get to the Daily Bugle in two movies (the Spider-Slayer dude is in ASM before J. Jonah Jameson), that Mary Jane Watson has been cut out of Amazing Spider-Man 2, that Harry Osborn is becoming a supervillain in the SAME MOVIE he's introduced as Peter's bestest friend--and functionally, it's no different than if the villains had been created by random accidents like in Raimi's movies.

I mean, is Peter's final confrontation with Norman Osborn going to be even more epic because Norman has killed his parents AND killed his girlfriend AND created over a half-dozen supervillains to terrorize New York? At some point, Peter just cannot possibly hate Norman more than he already does. Think about Adolf Hitler. Would you dislike Adolf Hitler anymore if it came out that he kicked a puppy once?

And yet, we're getting two Spider-Man movies devoted to Adolf Hitler kicking puppies. One of them doesn't even have Spider-Adolf in it! It just says "oh, man, Adolf is coming, and when he gets here, he's gonna kick the crap out of some puppies! Boo! Hiss!"

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