Yes, when it comes to comic books, I’m a super geeky fan with deep knowledge of the “lore” behind the characters. That’s not the case with everyone though. There are plenty of “casual” fans out there. They’ve seen some movies, maybe a cartoon, or played the odd video game. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all a casual fan of something. You could just about fill the Grand Canyon with everything I don’t know or understand about anime. So, this is for the casual comic book fans out there. I’ve noticed that certain characters tend to confuse and frustrate the casuals when presented with things that don’t match what they’ve seen in a movie, cartoon, video game, or whatever. Well, let this geek elite untangle the riddle of these puzzling characters.
1. CAPTAIN MARVEL
Captain Marvel? I thought his name was Shazam. I thought Captain Marvel was a woman. Of course Captain Marvel is a MARVEL character! Duh! No, Captain Marvel belongs to DC Comics! Confused yet? Those are just a few of the things I hear among casual fans when the name “Captain Marvel” is brought up. Let me clear things up.
This guy is the original Captain Marvel:
He first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 way back in 1940, and he didn’t belong to either Marvel or DC Comics at the time. He belonged to another comic book company called Whiz Comics. Oh, and he was popular. REALLY popular. I guess kids really connected with the idea of a child named Billy Batson being able to shout a magic word (Shazam!) and transforming into the heroic Captain Marvel (Yes, Captain Marvel was his name. Shazam was the magic word he shouted.) Captain Marvel was pretty much the only character of the World War II era that gave DC Comics’s Superman a run for his money in those days. So much so, that DC Comics eventually sued Whiz Comics, claiming that Captain Marvel was perhaps a little too similar to their boy Superman. Time passed, legal pressures mounted, and Whiz Comics eventually folded. Ironically, DC Comics ended up purchasing and becoming the owner of Captain Marvel, a character they had worked long and hard to shut down.
Now here’s where things get weird. Because of all the legal shenanigans, the copyright for the NAME Captain Marvel had lapsed. And guess who snatched it up? That’s right! MARVEL Comics! And it didn’t take Marvel long to create their very own Captain Marvel.
Marvel’s Captain Marvel debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 in 1967. He was an alien space warrior named Mar-Vell. So, what happened to the other Captain Marvel? Well, DC Comics could still use the character and they could even still call him Captain Marvel, but they couldn’t market and promote the character using that name because Marvel Comics now owned it, so they had to find creative ways to do so. As a result, the magic word “Shazam” began to appear in some form on comic book covers and merchandise packaging to the point that Shazam became synonymous with DC’s Captain Marvel.
Meanwhile Marvel’s Captain Marvel was successful enough that Marvel spun off a female version of the character in 1977 when U.S. Air Force officer Carol Danvers gained superpowers and became Ms. Marvel.
Then in 1982, Marvel Comics up and killed their Captain Marvel leaving Ms. Marvel to carry on his legacy.
In 2012, Carol Danvers finally dropped the name Ms. Marvel and officially took up the title of Captain Marvel. Around the same time, DC Comics decided to drop the name Captain Marvel altogether and now it simply calls its guy Shazam seeing as how that’s what a lot of casual fans thought of him as anyway.
Both of these characters will be starring in their own respective movies in 2019 with Brie Larson cast as the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel for Marvel Studios and Zachary Levi taking on the role of Shazam for DC Films.
2. NICK FURY
When casual fans see the guy pictured above referred to as Nick Fury this is often followed by some serious head scratching and even sometimes outrage. Isn’t Nick Fury a black guy!? Samuel L. Jackson plays him in all those movies! First off all, yes, the guy above IS Nick Fury. He’s the original Nick Fury who has been appearing in Marvel Comics since 1963.
He even had a TV movie starring David Hasselhoff in 1998.
But here’s the thing. Comic books have long played with the concept of the “Multiverse.” The idea being that there are other universes separate and apart from the main one. On those other universes are other versions of characters who are similar in some ways and different in others.
In the Marvel “Multiverse,” one of those other universes is called the “Ultimate Universe.” When the Ultimate Universe debuted its version of Nick Fury in 2001 they made him a black man. They even purposefully made him to look like a certain Hollywood actor.
Yes, several years BEFORE the movies Ultimate Universe Nick Fury was designed to look like actor Samuel L. Jackson.
When Marvel Studios made a live action movie version of Nick Fury a few years later, that was the version they went with. Surprise, surprise, they naturally cast Samuel L. Jackson for the role.
With the huge success of the movies, Marvel Comics has even readjusted their original universe to more closely resemble the movie one. The original Nick Fury has moved on to a more cosmic level role leaving his mixed-race son Nick Fury, Jr. to take his place. Not surprisingly, his son looks a lot like Samuel L. Jackson and even managed to lose an eye just like dear old dad.
3. GREEN LANTERN
When the Green Lantern movie dropped in 2011, a number of casual fans were surprised to see Ryan Reynolds (a white dude) in the role. For some reason they were under the impression that Green Lantern was a black guy.
The reason for that is that for casual fans of a certain age their first real exposure to Green Lantern came from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons that were on TV from 2001-2006 which featured John Stewart, an African-American former U.S. Marine, in the role of Green Lantern.
Here’s the thing about Green Lantern. There are A LOT of them. An entire Green Lantern Corps in fact. There are literally thousands of Green Lanterns all across the universe from a wide variety of alien species. A few of them have even been human. The first human to be made a member of the Green Lantern Corps was Hal Jordan who first appeared in comics in 1959. That’s the one Ryan Reynolds played in the movie. In 1971, John Stewart was tapped to be a back-up Green Lantern to Hal Jordan. John is the Green Lantern who appeared in the cartoon. Both Hal Jordan and John Stewart have long and distinguished histories as Green Lanterns in the comics, and they aren’t even the only humans to bear the name, but they are the most recognized. The word is that we will get a new Green Lantern movie in 2020 that will feature BOTH Hal Jordan and John Stewart as partners in kind of a buddy space cop type movie. Hopefully, that will clear up much of the confusion surrounding the question of Green Lantern’s identity.
4. IRON FIST
Until recently, I doubt your average casual fan knew much of anything about Iron Fist beyond maybe his name, what he looked like, and that he is some kind of martial artist even though he has been around since 1974. If you look at him in full costume, you can’t really tell much about who he is beneath the yellow mask.
Then in 2017, Marvel and Netflix launched the Iron Fist series. Suddenly, the Internet became flooded with stuff about making Iron Fist Asian. Why? Well, different reasons were given: diversity, inclusion, cultural appropriation, and probably the worst reason of all having something to do with well, if the guy knows kung fu, he must be Asian, right? Anyway, long story short. Iron Fist isn’t Asian, and he never was. Iron Fist is Danny Rand. Danny was a white kid who survived a plane crash in the Himalayas that killed both his parents. Danny then stumbled upon a mystical hidden city called K’un-Lun where he was raised and taught martial arts. Danny eventually arose to be the city’s champion and gained mystical powers by defeating a dragon. So what’s the problem with Danny being a white guy in the show then? Well, I think because there was a movement to change Iron Fist to Asian for the show, some casual fans came under the mistaken impression that Iron Fist was Asian in the comics, which meant that they were changing him into a white guy in the show.
It’s also possible that casual fans were mixing up Iron Fist with an entirely different Marvel character who is Asian.
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu is Asian and one of Marvel Comics’s foremost martial arts based characters. He would also be a welcome addition to Iron Fist season two. Are you listening Marvel and Netflix?
It was recently announced by Marvel Comics that Colossus and Shadowcat, one of the X-Men’s most beloved couples will be getting married in the pages of an X-Men comic in 2018. If you read the comments section of just about any website that posted this news, you would have seen that numerous comments or questions all had something to do with Colossus being gay.
First of all, Colossus (Peter Rasputin) has been a mainstay of X-Men comics since 1975. He has only ever been depicted as a straight man with Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) being his primary love interest. Now, remember that stuff about the “Multiverse” that we talked about with Nick Fury? Well, that same separate universe where Nick Fury looked like Samuel L. Jackson also had its own version of Colossus. In that universe’s version, the writers chose to make Colossus a homosexual man. That decision, however, had no affect on the original Colossus in the main Marvel Universe. He is still the same character he has always been and will soon be tying the knot with Ms. Kitty Pryde. So, why the confusion? Probably somewhere along the way, casual fans saw or read something about Colossus being gay because that kind of thing usually makes headlines. Then when it was announced that Colossus was marrying a woman, confusion followed. Hopefully this clears things up.
Are there other characters that confuse and bug you? Mention them in the comments, and maybe we can clear those up too!
Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, and each will wrestle for the mastery there.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
We often learn more about our heroes, by the villains they fight. By the opposing force, we see where the lines are drawn, what monster they, or we, might become if we don’t take heed.
What if I told you, in my best Morpheus impersonation, that those heroes are just fighting themselves. Their outer struggle is often a metaphor for the torments they hold inside, and we relate to these characters because they are often a reflection of the very real, but unseen, onslaughts we’ve had to endure within our own states of mental health.
Spiderman has to wrestle with his selfish desires, his Venom, but even if he saves the day, he often lets down Mary Jane, Aunt May, or anyone else he loves. This is his gift, his curse, and no, it’s not for the faint of heart. There are negative consequences to even heroic actions.
That’s my role, isn’t it? To be the unrelenting failure. ”
-Morbius, the Living Vampire
Morbius, another Spidey villain, represents addiction, and the continuing struggle many go through with it. What if, in fighting Venom and Morbius, he was really just a guy dealing with his own selfish desires and addictions, and in doing so, even if he won, failed to be there for his loved ones anyway? It takes great strength to defeat those monsters, but what if they were invisible. For much of the time, Aunt May and his love interests don’t know he’s Spiderman. For all intents and purposes, he’s just flaking, and it’s this type of judging that people go through in real life every day when they fight their unseen foes.
Even The Flash has to fight The Reverse of himself.
The Reverse Flash actually leaves negativity in his wake. If that’s not symbolic of self-consciousness, I don’t know what is. The Flash, also, had to literally fight himself. Who wins that fight, really? But again, people do it every day, and they lose. Sometimes, winning one battle means being defeated by another. Clark Kent came to that realization via his own psyche in the form of Jonathan Kent in Batman v Superman. He saved the farm when he was a boy, but at what cost? This was something to ponder indeed, considering he then had to deal with Batman, who couldn’t move on until he dealt with his mother issues.
And, while we’re on the subject of people who are a little batty…
Of course, Batman represents order and fighting for justice so that others won’t have to go through what he did, but Batman is also fighting someone who went through a “bad day” and now has the desire to make sure that others hurt in the same way, to teach them a lesson about life. Yes, that’s right, it is himself.
We all want to be Batman or Superman, but with powers, it’s likely most of us would be Deadpool, on a really good day. The Joker represents chaos, sure, but he also represents giving up on humanity with a “screw it all’ attitude, but with laughter. Yes, THIS is the character that I’m probably the biggest fan of. Scary thought, right?
So, if you lose when you win, then how do you win without losing? It’s simple. You make friends with your enemy.
There are positive ways to direct negatives. There are strengths to be found in weaknesses. Just as Arrow in the CW’s DCU made friends with his enemy, Deathstroke, so can we make friends with our faults and find positive ways to direct them. Addicts are persistent, goal oriented, often creative, and tend to have empathy toward people going through their own struggles because they know what it’s like. Morbius feels like a failure. Sometimes it’s a good thing to let your restraint fail, to let your Hulk smash, in certain situations. Sometimes, it’s good to be selfish or give up with a “screw it all” attitude, especially, if you’re in an abusive relationship.
Until then let that side of yourself out by playing video games, writing, or I don’t know, maybe dressing up like them and acting them out on a stage.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will; -Friar Lawrence
Whoever you are, your feelings about this movie are valid.
Some people like Kevin Smith (and myself) cry happy tears at the emotional impact this movie had on us. Others had more negative things like this to say in the comments thread of Podcast Now, “I buried ALL my Star Wars memorabilia and held a funeral with my wife and two daughters. Yes, I cried like a baby but because the Star Wars that we all grew up on is DEAD!”
And, we thought the DC movies were divisive.
No franchise has as much sway on people’s very soul as Star Wars, and many a fanboy (self-included) and fangirl have their list of expectations of what a Star Wars film should be like. As director, Rian Johnson points out in an interview by Business Insider, “You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.” What’s important here, is that it’s okay if you didn’t like the movie. It’s okay if you hated it or loved it. None of these things make you stupid, a moron, an idiot, or any other vitriolic comment by a poster that we probably shouldn’t say on this blog.
Here are some elements of the film that people either loved or hated and why it’s perfectly valid to do so, either way.
1. The whole movie was a series of gotchas.
According to Podcast Now, there were too many times when the movie implied one thing and gave us another.
It’s okay to hate this, because you may feel like it’s too predictable in that it was trying too hard to be unpredictable. I know many felt like this was a giant middle finger to the original movies or even previous directors. Some felt like this was an “up yours” to them as fans. It’s certainly possible. High fan expectation has been evident for decades, even before social media really took off. Since it has, these expectations have certainly been known by the producers, writers, and directors, so it’s not unlikely that it was symbolically addressed in the subtext here, so yes, you have the right to hate this. The main contention is that the jump in first, save the day, and head home attitude of Luke and Han is proving to be just the thing that fails. Poe ignored orders and completed the mission, but, gotcha, he ended up getting a number of The Resistance killed off in the process. Finn and Rose are going to save the day, but gotcha, they’re really going to fail and get even more people killed. Hear more gotcha’s on Podcast Now’s video. Although, I really don’t think it was intended as a F*** YOU to the fans or past creators.
It’s okay to love this because maybe you like to be surprised. You may also see this possible dig at fans’ ribs as an, “Okay, we gotcha, and here’s a new wondrous journey we hope you enjoy.” Mystery is a large part of the magic for a lot of us.
The issue is on how much is just right for you, as is with a lot of elements.
2. The humor and pacing were jarring.
This was mentioned to me by a friend of mine, author Lesley Woodral (whose books are available on Amazon), BessY discussed this in depth in their Youtube vid. Geek Versus discussed this, and a myriad of other things, in their nearly 2-hour review of the flick, which is also a fun time that you should check out.
It’s okay to hate this, because a drastic change of pace and mood is not unlike going home after a long hard day of work and flipping on the sleep spa to relax, only to have the heard of elephants stomps made by neighbors or loved ones thump around in your head until a migraine makes you want to join the sith. You also, don’t like it when you’re ready to party, but some pooper wants you to be quiet. Poe Dameron pretends to not hear General Hux right before executing a “your mom” joke. Luke is all serious, then he throws the relic of his father’s lightsaber behind him and trudges off. The list goes on.
It’s okay to love this, because, well, I have ADHD, and this is how my mind is most of the time, jarring. Plus, you might very well have strapped yourself in for a rollercoaster ride and were pleased to get it. Humor IS the reason why the Marvel movies get less hate than the DC movies, but did TLJ not take enough time with the serious moments? I think they did, but then, I loved it.
The issue is subjectivity because humor doesn’t transcend everything, as Mathew R. Wilson tells us in his Ted Talk segment on humor. It’s divisive. I hated Knocked Up but loved This is the End. For others, it’s vice versa. Go figure.
3. It’s Leia Poppins, ya’ll.
This one is all over the internet, yet I don’t think I’ve seen anyone defend it with meaningful detail, so I will do that in a minute.
It’s okay to hate this, because it would have been a great moment for Carrie Fischer to have gone out on, and they wouldn’t have to reshoot much to make that her final curtain. Also, it is too much like a flying superhero, which makes this moment not feel like Star Wars, and Star Wars matters. #SWM
It’s okay to love this moment, because contrary to popular belief, it is scientifically possible if you include the supernatural element of The Force. It can be used to move and manipulate matter. If it can do that, it can pull in the released air around her, containing thermal energy, so she won’t freeze or suffocate to death, at least for the short time she needs to get to safety. It can also be used to Force pull the clothes she’s wearing, and therefore her, to the ship, if you don’t believe that she can force pull her organic body, that is). This would take very little energy, since there is no gravity to slow her down, especially in a life or death survival situation. Even without The Force, Anna Gosline, of Scientific American says, “In reality, however, animal experiments and human accidents have shown that people can likely survive exposure to vacuum conditions for at least a couple of minutes.” Why don’t other Jedi just fly, then? Maybe, it takes entirely too much effort to maintain levitation or flight when gravity is a factor, which is why they only use it in short bursts to jump higher or sprint, and Leia only needed one small push in an anti-gravity situation, to achieve her goal. Also, in Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey, dying and coming back to life is an important stage, even if it’s only a metaphorical death. This is a hearty demonstration of Leia using of The Force, and there is no reason she shouldn’t. Darth Vader is her father, and Luke had plenty of time to teach her a lesson or two. Even then, she went into a coma shortly afterward from all the trauma.
The issue here is whether or not this provides an aesthetic so different that it doesn’t feel like traditional Star Wars, and if it does, whether or not it matters to you.
4. It’s PC.
James Moore’s last column for The Independent illustrates a few examples of people complaining that creators forced diversity at the expense of storyline.
It’s okay to hate this, because reverse racism is still racism, and there are some that claim this is what happened with this movie. If you also, hated the Finn/Rose mission or the mutiny storyline, this may have been a factor for you, as Moore’s article suggests. Even if you were color blind like I was while watching the movie, it is also very politically preachy about the have’s and have not’s of the real world. A lot of people were wanting a ride that took them far far away from reality, not one that reminds them of it. I know I stopped watching American Horror Story: Cult, because it was hitting way too close to home for me.
It’s okay to love this, especially if you felt the positive message, about hope and overcoming oppression, grab at your heartstrings. You can be a Haysian mechanic (Rose is from Hays Minor, and she’s played by an Asian.) or an orphan girl with terrible parents and be a hero. Race, gender, and social standing do not matter, and it shouldn’t matter, and if you loved the storylines, then you likely loved the inclusiveness.
The issue here is if you felt some parts of the storyline that were minority-heavy or partisan driven were just a waste of time, you might have felt like Disney was just shoving overly PC culture down your throat for no other reason than to provide diversity solely for the sake of diversity. If you liked those plots, then you probably adored the choices and themes it presented. It’s important to note, that holding either opinion doesn’t mean you are a bigot, unless, of course, you actually hate it solely, because minorities and women are main characters, which is, thankfully, a minority opinion itself, as the comments section of Moore’s article vehemently highlights.
5. It’s a different Luke.
Den of Geek reported that even Mark Hamill had concerns about Luke’s story arc and motivations, to the point that he had to basically think of this older character as Jake Skywalker rather than the farm boy we all know from A New Hope and the internet is rampant with #NotMyLuke and #MyLuke in response to that. Let’s dive in.
It’s okay to hate this, because traditionally, Luke has been a character who would risk his life and very soul to save the 2nd most evil man in the galaxy, because he believed there was still good in him. The #NotMyLukers didn’t want to see this hero now abandon everyone after giving up on his own nephew, so much so, that he almost decided to kill him, and then go off to hide like a coward in the far reaches of the galaxy, but then leave behind fragments of a map, in different locations to find him, as an attention grab, like a 15 Tweet tirade on why you’re leaving Twitter. Plus, drinking the green tit juice from a beach cow was just gross, and it would have made more sense for him to have found a way to go to Crait in person, rather than kill himself by Force projecting himself.
It’s okay to love this Luke who has struggled with a new father-like role that takes on a lot more responsibility. As a hero, he risked only himself to try to save his friends. As a Jedi Master, he took on the responsibility for the actions of a group of young people, and in one worried moment when he helicopter-Jedied inside Kylo’s soul, he found a budding Adolf Hitler. Even heroes would certainly have the urge to kill a pre-Fuhrer but would be conflicted about it with either decision. In the end, Luke chose not to do it, but by just creepily standing over a sleeping Ben with a sparked light saber was enough for him to lose all trust in the Light Side of The Force. This is a very heavy burden for Luke who feels solely liable for his padawans’ actions, the others (The Knights of Ren) of which, we will likely hear about in the next installment. Luke, feeling like he might have created another dark side using despot, feels as if he is bad for the galaxy, so he hid in an uncharted sector and cut himself off from The Force entirely. He didn’t leave an actual map, but it was believed that he was looking for the first Jedi temple, so when they put it together and some stranger shows up asking him to do the very thing he failed so hard at that he created another Darth Vader, he wanted no part of it. Of course, he threw his father’s lightsaber behind him, told her to go away, and went on about his daily routine, which involved a funny gross-out of drinking green milk. After she showed that she was going to learn whatever and wherever she could, he trained her, but ONLY to show her why The Jedi need to end. Then she, like he did in Empire, left to save her friends, and he went to burn down the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Jedi Hubris, just before ghost Yoda beat him to it and gave him some good old fashioned and much-needed guidance, “The greatest teacher failure is.” He even called him Young Skywalker. *tear* Now that Luke’s re-connected to The Force, he can likely see that The Resistance is all going to die, and he knows he’s not powerful enough to take on all that firepower in person, AND still save enough of The Resistance. For him to redeem himself AND keep the spark of hope alive for the galaxy, he Force projects himself there. This is too much for his physical body to handle, and he becomes one with the force, symbolic of the ancient ascended masters of ancient Buddhism and Taoism, which is awesome for mythology nerds like me. He went the way of Oogway in Kung Fu Panda, and the binary sunset, calling back to the very first Star Wars movie ever, when he contemplated who he was and where his place was in the Universe, and the fact that despite his mistakes in the father role, he not only absolved himself, he became worthy to become one with The Force. It was so beautiful, I cried.
The issue is whether or not you wanted to see a flawed hero dealing with moral dilemmas and regret for past mistakes. This was a major factor of the divisiveness of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman. If you aren’t a mythology nerd, and/or you wanted to see Luke go out, with a REAL lightsaber a-blazin’, you would have been disappointed in the peaceful fade.
6. The mutiny plot could have been resolved with a 30-second sidebar.
It’s okay to hate this, because this entire conflict could have been resolved with a “30-second conversation” between Holdo and Dameron. If you hated this, you might have thought this was an attempt to jam in feminism at the expense of good writing, such as was mentioned above in number 4. Telling Poe about the plan would have prevented Finn and Rose from risking their lives needlessly for a mission that failed anyway, which was made worse by DJ hearing Poe tell Finn that Holdo was fueling up the transport ships. When DJ sold them out to the First Order, all of those lives blown up on transport ships were on Holdo, because she was too headstrong.
It’s okay to love this, because the character motivations were clear and believable. Poe was too Dam(eron) stubborn about “jumping into an X-Wing and blowing things up.” He had a lot of leadership potential, but his jump in head first attitude got too many people killed, at the risk of obsessing over a mission. He was demoted, as a result, and for good reason. Holdo had a mission to complete, as well, and the details were on a need to know basis, in case there was a mole. Poe further reinforces the fact that he can’t be trusted to do the right thing, when he starts a mutiny and blabs the half of what he figured out to Finn and Rose, and therefore, DJ, and therefore The First Order. Poe learns his lesson and one of the major themes of the movie, failure is the greatest teacher. His character arch goes from charging in at all costs, to saving lives and choosing his battles, especially when he decides to follow the foxes out of the caverns.
The issue is whether or not you buy that people really are that stubborn, and even if you do, whether you expect such flaws from your heroes in a fantasy setting far far away from here.
It’s okay to hate this, because we like to see our heroes win. Setbacks are okay, but not when it costs several lives to an already dwindling Resistance. If we didn’t have the #6 problem, we wouldn’t have had this failure of a plot thread that dragged, with a “Jumanji” style stampede and a preach about class warfare. Why was DJ just waiting for others to get arrested to escape, anyway? Their mission failed, and it doesn’t make sense for Rose to fall in love with Finn in less than a day. They could have had a better reason to get Phasma into the movie, and for a much longer time, and her death was disappointing, so was Finn not dying.
It’s okay to love this, because, as Geek Versus says, “Rocky gotta get beat down first.” This subplot didn’t drag, if you believed in the themes presented in it, and the giant horse race getaway was fun for the kid in me. I liked the mention about how rich weapons manufacturers get richer off both sides of a war. This is something people need to take a long hard look at today. They made the mistake of parking illegally for the sake of time and got arrested, so they never got to meet up with the person they intended to. DJ (played amazingly by Benicio Del Toro), having already been arrested, was likely using the opportunity to take a nap, before escaping, when he saw an opportunity in them to make money. Trusting him was another mistake. People are flawed and complex, and so should our art imitate that. Rose adored Finn before she even met him. Finn didn’t want to be the person who did the wrong thing, but he didn’t see himself as the hero that she saw, which is why she met him trying to desert a second group. He eventually learned to do the heroic thing, but he hasn’t learned to choose his battles, something Poe had to learn the hard way a few times in this movie. Phasma’s appearance was full circle for Finn to prove that he is not where he came from, another great theme in this film, and the battle was a good bit of side-action. It’s also very likely that we’ll see “Chrome Dome” in the next film with an eye patch or something. The trip to Canto Bight was a good idea to bring in Finn and a new character. It made sense for them to make the trip, and it wasn’t a loss completely, because their heroism, helps keep the spark of hope alive, as seen in the force sensitive boy with the Rebel ring, who helped them escape by letting all the horse things out. Rose’s line is very powerful, “That’s how we’re gonna win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” Yes, that sometimes involves fighting what you hate, but this is a very important approach to life’s battles, and yes, I teared up.
The issue here is whether or not you like flawed heroes that fail, and whether you believe a fangirl can fall in love with her hero, even though she met him running away. The proselytizing on class warfare and choosing your battles is another factor that separates a lot of fans.
8. There were a lot of scenes and lines that were a lot like the original trilogy.
This was another major point of contention for Lesley Woodral and EC Henry predicted some of the themes of the movie in his Youtube video before it even premiered.
It’s okay to hate this, because it’s too much like the original trilogy, even the lines. Changing the color of the throne room doesn’t help. Both Rey and Luke leave their training early to save their friends and confront their rival. They both said to their adversary, “I can feel the conflict within you,” and they had conflict in themselves, too. They were both shown their friends dying through a window by a cantankerous and overly-condescending jerk, who later tortured them. Their adversary eventually killed their evil master. There’s a moment where they’re on a Hoth-looking planet. Having some guy shove bits of the ground in his mouth to tell us, “It’s salt,” doesn’t change that the suped-up ATAT’s don’t look that much different than they did in Empire.
It’s okay to love this, because it helps us understand that this is the same Universe, and in mythology and The Heroes Journey, stories happen in cycles. This cycle is decidedly different. We have a different Luke and very different twists on somewhat similar setups. Just as EC predicted, this is different, with some similarities, and this new theme is expanding the Universe and giving us much more complex characters than ever before, providing a stronger message. Henry points this out in another video. Yes, there are some similar lines and visuals, but the outcomes take us on a, dare I say it, trek that is not like we’ve seen before, and similar narrative structures are a part of any classic storytelling anyway. This isn’t a love letter to the original trilogy, but it does pay it its due homage.
The issue is, again, how much is too much in similarity. There is plenty of similarity, and plenty of variety to choose from.
9. Snoke is a nobody and Rey is a nobody.
Geek Versus had a conversation about this, and many a fan theory was crushed as evidenced by many irate posts.
It’s okay to hate this, because almost any sort of backstory about Snoke would have sufficed, even if it didn’t fit with fan theories. Rey’s lineage was built up very strongly by ber compelling pull to Anakin’s (yes, Anakin’s) lightsaber, as well as, the memory of her parents taking off without her, and blacking out everything else before that. They built it up for a big reveal. Rey has such ability and power with ZERO training and even more with a couple of lessons. Why is this? Shouldn’t there be a reason for this? Nothing was just a letdown, and there was no real character development.
It’s okay to love this, because sometimes, people don’t have a special lineage. Sometimes parents are just awful, and it is a potent message that The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It was meaningful for us to have that build up, just like most orphans hope about their real parents. We saw the let down through her own eyes and felt the disappointment right along with her. This was her development. This was why she was almost tempted to join The Dark Side. She was let down, and now she has even more questions about what she’s supposed to be. She had to choose her own path, which is even more significant, because, that this means heroes can come from anywhere. Villains like Negan from The Walking Dead can have been ex-Teacher/Coaches. We didn’t know much about Palpatine, either, until the prequels. Also, it’s likely that Kylo is just guessing, and this may not be the truth, but honestly, I hope it is. This is a let down, fitting the failure motif in the learning experience of this movie. Granted, this isn’t her failure exactly, but it took the wind out of her sails about who she is and what she is “supposed to do.” She then has to realize that it’s up to her to decide. This gives strength to so many battling their pasts to overcome and move beyond them. The Force doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s inside all of us, and we are the masters of our destiny. Where we come from is irrelevant. I love this message, and I want more of it.
The issue here is if you wanted your epic story to have important reveals about lineage and backstory, or whether you enjoyed that the mundane and sometimes terrible pasts can motivate to be more, to be saviors in our own right.
This movie is not exactly escapism, which is a let down for some who wanted it. It’s highly symbolic, of not only the common threads of classical mythology, but also classic storytelling. So, just as Friar Lawrence remarks in Act 2 Scene 3 in Romeo and Juliet about the similarities of flowers that heal us by smelling them, but kill us by eating them, there is both good and bad within human beings, and sometimes we need to use a little bad to get some good done. Will we see our heroes tame the Darkside within them to be assertive when necessary? I hope so, but keeping the Jungian shadow inside us in check is the crux. Dr. Who is a good man, but beware when this good man goes to war.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still. In man as well as herbs grace and rude will. And where the worser is predominant. Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. -Friar Lawrence
Movies are great. I love movies, but in some cases, television just does it better. Certain stories, characters, and properties lend themselves well to the long format approach that television offers. It allows for more in depth stories, character exploration, and large casts of characters that movies can be thin at presenting. The opportunities that television offers has benefited properties like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher). Some of those have tried the movie route with mixed success while others like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones could not have become the smashing successes they are as merely a two hour movie. There are several properties that Hollywood have tried and failed to make into movies, but I believe could have been successful as television series. Then there are those that have yet to be attempted in any form, but again I feel that TV is the way to go. Here are my top 5:
5. G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO
For people of older generations, G.I. Joe might conjure up images of a large soldier doll that was kind of marketed as a boys’ Barbie. That all changed in the early 1980s when G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero hit toy shelves with a variety of smaller action figures featuring a diverse line of characters complete with distinct stories and backgrounds that made every character unique. This spawned an equally successful Saturday morning cartoon and one of the best-selling Marvel comics of the 1980s. Hollywood has tried twice with varying results to bring these characters to life on the big screen. First was the 2009’s mediocre G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra followed by a slightly better G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013. Neither seemed to capture audiences’ imaginations like those cartoons and comics of the ’80s. Reportedly, a third attempt is now on the horizon.
I say to forget it. Make a live action G.I. Joe television series. Set it during the 1980s Cold War and give us the characters as they worked best. A television series would allow the opportunity to explore the very large and diverse cast of characters that comprise the G.I. Joe franchise. Like with The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, characters could weave in and out of the story. Some characters can die while new ones replace them. G.I. Joe is large enough to accomplish this. It would also allow more in depth character studies of both the Joes and their Cobra enemies in a way that the movies likely never could.
4. THE WHEEL OF TIME
Taking inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune and debuting several years before George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones orJ.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel hit bookshelves, there was author Robert Jordan’s #1 best-selling epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Comprised of 14 novels (several of them at over a thousand pages) and beloved by legions of fans, there is simply no way that a movie or even a series of movies could do justice to these intricate novels with dozens of major and minor characters. A television series is the only way I can imagine the grand tale of the Dragon Reborn being brought to life.
3. NEIL GAIMAN’S SANDMAN
Written by Neil Gaiman, Sandman was the groundbreaking comic book series published by DC Comics’s adults only Vertigo line from 1989 to 1993. Sandman has the distinction of being the only comic book to ever win the World Fantasy Award, an honor generally reserved for only “serious” fantasy and science-fiction literature. Sandman is one of those comic books that comic readers tend to recommend to people who have never read comic books or tend to look down on them as “low brow” or “kid stuff.” Gaiman’s tale of Morpheus, the personification of sleep and dreams, remains one of the most seminal comic book series of all time. Rumors of a Sandman movie has been floating for years, but I believe that there are simply too many nuances and quiet introspective moments that explore the human condition for a two hour action packed comic movie blockbuster to really explore. Sandman is not that kind of comic book. It would make more sense as a television series comparable to something like HBO’s Westworld.
2. MARVEL COMICS’S HORROR CHARACTERS
We all know Marvel Studios as the unstoppable entertainment juggernaut that has brought us fun blockbuster movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as darker gritty Netflix series like Daredevil and The Punisher. So, where do Marvel’s horror themed characters fall into the mix? With the exception of the car driving Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider having an extended guest starring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this remains a largely unexplored corner of the Marvel Universe. I think these characters fall firmly into the camp of the dark and gritty. As such, original television series on Netflix is where these characters would best fit. Follow the Netflix formula used with the street heroes who make up The Defenders teamup series. Give Blade the vampire hunter, the motorcycle riding Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, the schizophrenic vigilante Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, etc. their own individual series and then team them up in a Nightstalkers series named after the Marvel horror team comic of the same name.
1. STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER
Stephen King’s seven volume magnum opus is the prolific horror writer’s longest work as well as the glue that connects nearly everything else he has written. It is a masterful work that blends multiple genres, most notably the high fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western. Yes, The Dark Tower did receive the Hollywood treatment in 2017 in a less than two hour film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey that bombed at the box office. While many of the elements and surface details were there, the film was simply a weak, watered down, and highly compressed attempt at adapting one of King’s most beloved works. Television is the ideal medium to properly translate this vast work that King continued to revisit over the course of more than 30 years of his writing career. When the man in black flees across the desert, and the gunslinger follows, Dark Tower fans want to see the journey from beginning to end and back again in all its wondrous detail rather than the highly abridged version that the movie gave them.
The dream of many a geek came true recently when it was announced that Disney had purchased a significant portion of the holdings of 20th Century Fox, including the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. This means that these two key pieces of the Marvel Comics Universe can now join their Marvel brethren on the big screen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe(MCU) which includes the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, and numerous other characters. But how exactly is this going to work? The Marvel Cinematic Universe is well established as is Fox’s X-Men universe. Here I offer my suggestions on how to make this happen as smoothly as possible.
First things first. The previous Fox produced Fantastic Four and X-Men films and TV series? Gone. That’s right. Let them all go. Logan was a well received and critically acclaimed farewell to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. The upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix , The New Mutants, and Deadpool 2 can be the final installments for this franchise. The less said about the three Fantastic Four films the better. It’s time to start afresh. New continuity, new stories, and new actors. Yes, that includes recasting Wolverine. Hugh Jackman wielded the claws with honor for nearly two decades, but Wolverine is bigger than any single actor.
Okay, I’ll make one exception. Ryan Reynolds can continue as Deadpool. The unique nature of the Deadpool character makes him self aware of the fact that he is a comic book and movie character. In Deadpool, the “merc’ with the mouth” was aware of his previous timeline from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Deadpool being aware of his transfer from Fox to Disney is fertile ground for 4th wall breaking jokes and bits in future movies.
So, how do we suddenly introduce mutants into the well established Marvel Cinematic Universe? A number of suggestions have been offered by fans, but the solution I would go for is simply this: MUTANTS WERE ALWAYS HERE. So, what happened? The concept is that for a time, mutants were a part of the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe until the day that Professor Charles Xavier decided that the best way to protect mutants from a world that fears and even hates them was to use his incredible psychic powers combined with his power enhancing Cerebro devise to make the entire world forget that mutants ever existed. Think about it. You’re a part of the MCU, and up until a certain point, mutants were there. Imagine the scene in Captain America: The First Avenger when Cap returns from rescuing Bucky and the other soldiers and you see Wolverine in the crowd or a shot of mutants marching with MLK for civil rights. It was all there until Charles Xavier made it disappear from our minds.
But what happens when Magneto or some other mutant causes a scene? How do you cover that up? Well, that’s where the X-Men come in. Think of the X-Men kind of like the Men in Black. They show up, contain a situation, erase the memories of any witnesses, and suddenly everyone is talking about a gas leak or natural disaster rather than some big mutant battle. You find some old newspaper article about mutants from decades ago? Your mind just blocks it out because Xavier’s mental suggestion is so deeply implanted. The world has been “X-ed” by the X-Men (a new layer of meaning!) Get on the Internet and you’ll find bizarre and outlandish conspiracy theories about the mysterious “X-Men,” because no cover-up is perfect, right?
Eventually of course you have to let the cat out of the bag and reveal to the world the existence of mutants. Now, at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, enhanced individuals with powers like those of the Avengers are well known, accepted, and even viewed as heroes. So, where does the fear and hatred of mutants come from? How about from the fact that they have taken it upon themselves to mess with people’s minds and alter their perception of the history of the world. Imagine that you’re Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. Are you going to automatically trust and be OK with these powerful people who have manipulated you and the rest of the world even if they thought it was for the best? What gives them the right? This scenario sets up conflict between the X-Men and the Avengers and between mutants and the entire world that makes sense in a world where people with powers are already a thing.
Then there is the Fantastic Four. Where does Marvel’s “first family,” the franchise that essentially launched Marvel Comics as we know it, fit into the tapestry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
“The New Frontier is here whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space,” – John F. Kennedy
I see those words spoken by John F. Kennedy in 1960 as the impetus for the Fantastic Four. Let’s run with that. Initially, the Fantastic Four would be set in the Cold War era of the early 1960s with the whole space race between the United States and the Soviet Union just as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did it in 1961 in the original Fantastic Four comic book. Dr. Reed Richards could have easily been a brilliant contemporary of Howard Stark (Iron Man’s father) and Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man). Reed’s theories about space travel would’ve been revolutionary, controversial, and largely misunderstood and unaccepted by most of the scientific community. With or without official government approval, Reed was determined to launch his own prototype spacecraft. Along with Ben Grimm, Sue Storm, and Johnny Storm, they launch…and are lost.
Or so it is believed.
The reality is that these four intrepid explorers found themselves hurtled into the far reaches of space and have spent the last few years exploring and discovering alien worlds, technologies, and dimensions far beyond human understanding. Of course during all of this exploring the primary mission has been to find their way back home. Eventually they do, but it is only to discover that while it has only been a few years for them, decades have passed on Earth. To complicate matters even more, upon their arrival on Earth, Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny are bombarded with strange cosmic rays which transform them into those familiar characters we know as Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, the Invisible Woman, and the Human Torch…THE FANTASTIC FOUR! The Fantastic Four’s return and transformation turn them into instant celebrities.
Of course this fame and notoriety brings from the shadows a man who has walked the earth for nearly a century, kept young by studying abominable practices of mixing science and sorcery. He was once a friend of Reed Richards, now an enemy consumed with petty jealousy, old grudges, and a desire for revenge and power. He was once the heir to the throne of the small and insignificant Eastern European country of Latveria (renamed Sokovia when his aristocratic family was ousted from power–see what I did there, MCU fans?). He is Victor Von Doom, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon tremble before this man dubbed DOCTOR DOOM!
My father passed away a few weeks before the release of the first Star Trek reboot. I said I would get a ticket for him anyway (My friend, Wesley Williams, actually paid for it.) and leave the seat open for him. At the opening sequence, when George Samuel Kirk, Sr., sacrificed his life, so that his wife and child and the rest of 800 lives could live…
I’m crying now as I write this.
Movies resonate with me, and I see I am not alone. I love that our world is filling with so much art that we can look at it, all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly truth (Yes, that movie title pun was intentional.), and learn from it. We are spoiled for choice in this age of geek fandoms, and I am loving it. We can talk about what we like, what we love, and even what we hate. Either way, films are affecting the masses in a powerful way.
A lot of these stories use similar formulas to the extent that my wife can’t help but point out the number of times she hears the words, “My father,” in an episode of Arrow.
These tales touch our hearts so much, because it’s about growing up, and we have to make the decision to do it every day, even if we keep our hearts young and full of wonder in the process. I talk a lot about Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (sometimes called The Hero’s Journey), because director’s are, and have been, using this with the fantasies that we love. It’s all about coming of age and making the hard choices that have to be made. We all have our comfort zones we start in, and then we have the decision to either go out on our own or refuse. We inevitably have to go at some point, otherwise we can’t really “adult.” Our adventure has to begin. This is why we identify so strongly with conflicted heroes fighting larger than life problems.
That’s how we feel about our own lives.
We need that inspiration sometimes to keep fighting the good fight, go into the belly of the beast, finally reach an atonement with the father, and eventually let one old part of our lives die, so that another can be born. We do this whether we’re finding true love, getting a new job, losing an old job, raising a child, or just moving out of the house for the first time.
So, I watch Clark Kent’s dads sacrifice themselves for their son, and I cry (Especially, when my son said, “He reminds me of your dad.”). I watch Wonder Woman march across an impossible battlefield, as a symbol of strength that my daughter can look up to, and the overcoming of the ordeal of that part in some of our darkest history, and I cry. I watch a group of people from different races fight together in space, and learn the true meaning of family in each other, and that even though dads can screw up, they can also redeem themselves like Mary Poppins, ya’ll, and I cry. I watch an older Luke Skywalker struggle with being in a new role after making mistakes, as master, as a teacher, as a father, and I watch him fight to not only redeem himself, but to save others, and I cry.
I’m a son and a father, after all. I struggle with both roles.
Movies are more than just something that flashes in front of us for amusement. They inspire us to live life. They are a work created by people inspired by other art, and their own real life experiences, and I believe that grabs hold of people. It changes them for the good, at least for the most part. Despite the copycat murderers mimicking something they watched, many find the strength to not take their own lives, to strive to make the world a better place…to DO better.
I watch that 2009 reboot of Star Trek every year on January 12th, my father’s birthday.
“Your father was captain of a star ship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.”