Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lets Talk: Superman

Welcome geeks to my next installment of Let’s Talk. Today I’m going to be talking about Superman. If you don’t know who Superman is, well I’m wondering how you’re getting internet underneath that rock you call home.
Now I am going to be 100% truthful with you. I HATE SUPERMAN. There is absolutely no other superhero I despise more than Superman. I’m sorry to any Superman fans out there but you have to admit that over the years Superman has evolved into one of the greatest plot resolvers for DC. “Oh no, what will we ever do to stop the dam from breaking” (Lets have Superman use his heat vision to seal up the cracks) “Oh no, an alien invasion is taking over the planet” (Lets send Superman to collect all of them, break their weapons, send them back to their planet, while at the same time, have him saving every kitten from a tree, helping Grandmothers cross the street, stopping all crime, and doing his own laundry) “Oh no, Lex Luthor has released 2 missiles that could destroy everything” (Clearly the only solution is to have Superman move so fast that he causes the Earth to spin backwards and reverse time so that he can catch both bombs that he wasn’t fast enough to catch in the first place) “Oh no, the Sun is dying what will we…..oh f**k it, just send Superman to go FIX THE SUN”
Are you getting my point? Anyways let’s get talking about Superman.
Nope, I really shouldn’t have to tell you any back story for Superman. There are just some superheroes that have very iconic origins. As I stated earlier if you don’t know about the Last Son of Krypton, I’m wondering how you have electricity.
The only thing you need to realize about Superman’s history is that DC has rebooted it multiple times. You will never get the same explanation of Superman’s origin other than the over simplified statement of Last Son of Krypton.
The Character
Let’s talk about Clark Kent for a moment. Clark Kent is Superman’s persona in order to hide among his friends and regular people. Superman is Clark Kent’s persona in order to appear to the public as the ultimate force for truth, justice, and the American way (I’ll get into this one later). Then there is Clark Kent as Superman. This is the actual person behind all the capes and glasses. This is the person he shares with Ma and Pa Kent and with Lois depending on whether or not he is currently married to her (multiple reboot headaches). Clark Kent as Superman is when we get to see him at his most vulnerable. This is when Clark is openly seeking advice from his loved ones and actually seems like a person. In the 90s animated series this is when he would ask his foster parents about what kind of problems and moral dilemmas he was going through at the time
This is the true version of Clark Kent that not even many other superheroes get to see. It’s also the version of the character that writers tend to forget about. A problem that befalls most big name superheroes is that the writers just plain forget to include the secret identity. I half think people just expect Clark Kent to disappear from work for days but when he does come back he has somehow managed to get the scoop on Superman’s latest adventure to an alternate dimension (or Bruce Wayne not appearing at any board meetings but Batman suddenly has their latest tech {quote within quote, who is Wayne Enterprises selling to anyways, I like how we all just assume that Batman has a bucket of gold on him at all times, but trust me I will get into Batman later} or that Bruce Banner never existed and its only the dumb Hulk they have to deal with {another quote within a quote, where does Banner always get a new science coat and glasses after changing back, the man has got to have absolutely no money left}).
I’m ready to be surprised on this one. Go ahead name one of Superman’s villains besides Lex Luthor, General Zod, or Brainiac. The problem with Superman’s villains isn’t the same problem with Daredevil’s villains. The problem with Superman’s villains is that DC simply refuses to depict them in movies. Come on, how awesome would it be to have a live action Superman movie that had Brainiac as the main villain, or Darkseid, or even Toy Man (maybe not Toy Man but the first 2 sound awesome don’t they?). Having these villains wouldn’t be that difficult either. Brainiac would be insanely easy, all you would have to do is the version depicted in the 90s animated series. The character tied into his origins and posed a threat like no other villain in that series

Supporting Cast

More along the lines of ‘the people he likes and tends to save more often than others’. In all seriousness these are the people that Clark likes to hang out most with. It’s the sole reason why he shows up to the Daily Planet at all. The really interesting thing is how much these people mean to Superman. Look up any future storyline where Lois Lane has died or somebody else and Superman has taken a turn for the worse. Usually this has him teaming up with Lex Luthor or just not caring about the world anymore.
Superman doesn’t take loss well and it shows. My only other problem is (and this is a problem that Marvel is facing too) having the supporting cast of Superman basically be the entire Justice League. It is so easy to depict Superman up in the Watchtower interacting with all the other Justice League members acting like their all one big family. It is really cool to see all these heroes working together, but it also falls along the same lines as forgetting their secret identities. Superman has his own supporting cast, villains, and life away from the Justice League and the DC universe as a whole. Writers like to go back to basics by rebooting characters storylines, but this only happens after storylines and characters have grown too big and too convoluted. People like the simple storylines sometimes. The same problem can be said for Marvel. Sure it’s cool to see Spiderman apart of the Avengers but whatever happened to some of his original supporting cast heroes like The Prowler, Molten Man, or Black Cat (they have a tendency to be forgotten in big hero cast lineups).
What Doesn’t Work
This is a low blow, but it is a problem with the story. The most invincible superhero ever created can be stopped by a green rock. This isn’t to say that Superman is pathetic (aside from the one time where he freaked out over a rock that was painted green) it’s just that it’s a bad idea to make a character have a one true weakness. In any other situation Superman just has to be a little more invincible to win the fight (the reason they made the villain Doomsday was solely to make a villain that had the ability to kill him off just so they could write storylines about a world without Superman). The 90s series sort of got around this problem by making him not as invincible and giving villains an actual chance at fighting him. The other problem that comes with Kryptonite is that it comes in multiple colors which have varying affects on Superman. My particular favorite was the Pink Kryptonite which turned him temporarily flamboyantly gay.
Oh DC, Know you no bounds? My final problem with Superman has to be the Kryptonians. How many of them actually survived? Way too many.
I can accept a small amount surviving (like Supergirl or Krypto) but when you have characters like Beppo the Supermonkey or Comet the Superhorse you have gone too far. If I remember correctly 2 entire cities from Krypton actually survived the destruction. It really takes away from the whole Last Son of Krypton, doesn’t it?
What Can Be Done
What DC is currently doing with Superman is wrong. Let’s have Superman give up his US citizenship so that he can go save the world. I don’t exactly remember him having a problem in helping other countries in the first place. In fact, I don’t think spitting on the US government like this is the best way to make friends. The only reason DC is making this change to Superman is because they want him global like Batman is in the new Batman Inc. (which is also a bad idea, but I’m sure I will talk about Batman at some point later). The problem with this is that Superman was already helping as many people as he already could. Just because he goes to help some small village somewhere doesn’t mean Metropolis is being attacked by Metallo.
He is just one guy; he can’t be everywhere at once. It is my personal belief that the best take on Superman was the 90s animated series. It had good stories, quality animation that still holds up today, and it was just plain iconic (this isn’t to say that the Justice League series was also a good appearance of Superman, I am only talking about the actual Superman series). More versions of Superman similar to this would be greatly welcomed. A good storyline of Superman would tackle what he is doing on Earth as preposterous. Of all the surviving Kryptonians why did they all become superheroes? Most depictions of them show the as being a scientific culture or a philosophical culture.
It would be interesting to see one of these scientist come to Earth and just question what has become of his culture. This would radically expand on the culture of the Kryptonians, you could even have him be a friend of Jor-El. The important thing would be to get across that they were a people and not the servants of justice.
In Closing
How do you fix what many people consider unbroken.  Superman is a classic, iconic character. These are but a few suggestions to change up the man who has everything. With these changes to his character, Superman could probably become even more popular and be thrust back into today’s society again. That isn’t to say he isn’t already. Simply put Superman is no longer at the front of the line anymore. He needs change.
Thanks for reading
-Headshot Bunny

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lets Review: Thor

Hello geeks and welcome to my first Lets Review. I’m going to talk about the new Thor movie so if you don’t want any spoilers now is the time to stop reading, go see it, then come back. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here by the time you get back. In any case Lets Review Thor.

The Negative
I really don’t have that many complaints with this film as I do with other superhero movies. I personally feel like this was a well accomplished stab at a character that is really hard to grasp. That being said, this film could have used about a half hour more of exposition. We leap into the story fairly quickly and we really don’t slow down from there. Odin gives us a very brief explanation about who the Asgardians are and what went down with the war with the Frost Giants. Being a fan of Thor comics, I easily understood what was going on but I couldn’t imagine how other audience members were wrapping their heads around the brief scraps of information we were given. The same could be said for the major plot points of Odin Sleep and The Destroyer Armor which never get any real explanations. Odin slips into a coma randomly and were not given a clear reason why. Being a Thor fan I knew that this was Odin going into Odin Sleep in order to recharge his almighty god powers, but I had to later explain this concept to my parents after watching it with them.
As another problem I really didn’t believe that Thor had a life changing moment because of falling in love with Natalie Portman. Thor barely spends anytime at all with her onscreen and it just doesn’t seem like this would be why he changes. For me the big life changing moment was when Loki slipped into Thor’s prison room and told him that Odin was dead and that Thor was forever banished in the hopes of maintaining a piece with the Frost Giants. You can clearly see the guilt across Thor’s face at this moment and how he is truly ashamed of his actions. This is the moment that seemed to teach Thor his much needed humility that he was lacking. Even more ironic is that this moment was brought about by Loki who was only using it as a ploy to get Thor to fall into a depression. I would easily ignore Natalie Portman and accept the prison scene as the explanation for his change but it is made blatantly clear during the final fight that she was his reason.
My final problem with the movie is that for a film about the God of Thunder, there was a severe lack of power behind it. That is to, I didn’t really get to see Thor cut loose with his powers. He uses his lightning powers maybe twice in the film. I don’t know about you, but I distinctly remember lightning being Thor’s main attack of choice. Sure it was really cool how Thor fought with the Frost Giants by spinning Mjolnir like he does in the comics, but I would have really preferred to have seen him setting the skies alight with massive bursts of lightning. It’s kind of like going to a Superman movie and finding out the only powers he uses are flight and super strength. You want to see Superman cut loose and use heat vision or super breath at some point in the movie. That’s why this came off more as a disappointment as I felt like I hadn’t really gotten a good scale of how powerful Thor really is based on what the movie gave me.

The Positive
I was a big fan of the supporting cast in this one. I really liked how all the Asgardians were portrayed, especially Heimdall who was just freakin awesome in every one of his appearances. Asgard was beautifully designed and really came off as a futuristic haven for the gods. Overall I really liked the entire film, except for those three complaints. I felt like for a film about a Thunder God from another dimensions it was easy to get into it and enjoy. Thor, Loki, and Odin were all amazingly well portrayed and I look forward to how a sequel will continue to play on this broken family dynamic. Of course one of the gems of the film is the after credits scene which promotes the Avengers. Like I said at the beginning if you haven’t seen Thor yet this will be a spoiler. We find out that Shield has the Cosmic Cube and is pulling one of Natalie Portman’s coworkers into find out how to tap into its unlimited resources. We then find out that Loki is secretly controlling this coworker and urges him to start working on it. That was a freaking awesome preview of the Avengers. If you don’t know what the Cosmic Cube is…..look it up somewhere else because I am not about to explain to you one of Marvel’s greatest pieces of fictional lore in a movie review (aka: I’m too lazy to write about it now, maybe later). If you have been keeping up with the rumors going around the Captain American film, you should know that the Cosmic Cube is what the main villain, The Red Skull, is going after in the movie. This is how Captain American and Thor are going to tie into each other. I can only guess how Nick Fury got his hands on the Cosmic Cube, but it looks like we’ll find out more in the Captain America film. Having Loki be the one who gets to look at the Cosmic Cube definitely sets him up for being one of the major players in the Avengers movie, but that is of course a year away.

Overall, I really look forward to seeing a Thor sequel and how this film will tie into the Avengers movie. The ending comes very suddenly and I wish it gave a bit more story explanation for the audience’s sake but I still feel like it accomplished what it set out to do. I would say that it could easily stand next to Iron Man as a prime example of how superhero movies should be made. The problem with that statement is that Marvel shouldn't be trying to compare how to make Thor grounded within the same world as Iron Man, but instead take on the fantasy epic that is his story. I give Thor a 3.8 out of 5.

Thanks for reading
-Headshot Bunny