Marvel’s creator Stan Lee says the people behind the Marvel cinematic universe want to make successful movies. If that means they think an ultimate fan-fic mashup like Star Wars and Avengers together will make a great movie, well . . .
“I created the Avengers by taking many of our characters and making a team out of them,” Lee tells The Big Issue. “We can have as many characters join the Avengers as we want to for future movies. That might be fun, all of a sudden Luke Skywalker is an Avenger!”
I was a big fan of the “Daredevil” series that released last year on Netflix. It was more brutal than I’m used to, but the story ran deep. Tying up the series with Kingpin paraphrasing part of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is the kind of deep water I hope to find in most shows I watch. So when the next installment of this street-level view on the Marvel universe came out with “Jessica Jones,” I hoped to see something similar. But no. (The spoiler flag is on the field.)
“Jessica Jones” is not the story of a moral crusader. It’s the story of a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse. Granted, she’s a unique survivor of a unique type of abuse. Jessica (portrayed by Kristen Ritter) has super strength, endurance, and the ability to fly—brought on through a chemical exposure a bit like the first step Matt Murdock (Daredevil) took in his origin story. Her abuser is not only a master manipulator, like at least two other characters in the show, but a man who can control people’s minds for several hours at a time. Continue reading Jessica Jones: Don’t Fight Your Demons Alone→
Super Science Friends! is a developing animated series from Tinman Creative Studios, which boasts “just the right amount of smart, just the right amount of stupid.” In it, Winston Churchill has assembled a team of scientific greats, Telsa, Curie, Darwin, Einstein, and Freud and a few others to combat scientific evils and well as those who would use them for their own ends. Unfortunately, it’s not for kids. Which is odd.
A genre known as gong’an began in the Song dynasty (960 to 1279): the term means a magistrate’s desk, and the modern equivalent would be police procedural. Stories would be narrated by wandering storytellers or in puppet shows, and usually told of upright officials exposing corruption and cover-ups. No examples of these stories have survived, however. The oldest gong’an tales come from the next dynasty, the Yuan (1279 to 1368).
Turn another page. For a limited time, BBC Radio 4 is airing a production of an unfinished work by Alfred Hitchcock, The Blind Man. “The world premiere of Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman’s unfinished screenplay, the follow-up to North by Northwest, now completed by Mark Gatiss” stars Hugh Laurie and Kelly Burke.
“Set in 1961, a famous blind jazz pianist, Larry Keating [Laurie], agrees to a radical new medical procedure – an eye transplant. The operation is a success but his new eyes are those of a murdered man, and captured on their retina is the image of his murderer. Larry and his new nurse, Jenny [Burke], begin a quest to track him down – before someone else dies.”
Today is Batman Day. The Bat-Man, as he was once called, is 75 years old today, and DC Comics wants everyone to celebrate. Ignoring rumors that one-year-old prince George is being groomed to take on the Dark Knight’s mantle (don’t call him Robin), Jim Lee talks about the future of the character with Entertainment Weekly. He mentions strong fan-boy love for Batman ’66 on Blu-ray. I guess the cheese is never too far from Gotham City.
Apparently there’s one part of Batman’s history the publishers have never quite settled: who actually created him? Today they are giving out special edition reprints Detective Comics #27 (1939), in which The Bat-Man first appears. The cover of this issue states it was “illustrated by creator Bob Kane and written by Bill Finger.” The official word from DC Entertainment is that Bill Finger was a great guy who helped write many things, but Bob Kane was the first to imagine the hero.
[Steve] Korté, a 20-year DC Comics veteran, explains the sequence of events that lead to the creation and development of Batman. “After Superman debuted in 1938 and became an instant hit, DC editor Vince Sullivan asked Bob Kane to come up with a superhero, which he did with Batman,” he adds. “During that process, he went to a friend, Bill Finger, who gave him some tips on costume adjustments. For example, Bob initially drew bat wings on Batman. Bill suggested a scalloped cape. After Batman became a hit in May, 1939, Bob brought in more people throughout the year.”
Both men are dead now, but Finger’s granddaughter is rally fans to give Bill the credit she believes he deserves.
On Twitter, FlannelJedi observes, “By my count, a woman has wielded the power of Thor 3 times so far- in official & What If? scenarios. Storm, Black Widow & Thora (Earth X).” The NY Daily News spells out Marvel’s other offerings, “In recent months, new titles have focused on veteran heroines Black Widow, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and Elektra, as well as introducing series around a new Ms. Marvel character, whose secret identity is a Muslim American teenager from Jersey City. Marvel also launched an all-female “X-Men” title last year.“
Alan Jacobs is laying out the facts on Twitter right now.
“Noteworthy: the real problem with YA fiction (much of it is bad) is the same as the problem with superhero movies (most of them are bad).”
“If you think there is something *intrinsically* juvenile about stories that concern beings with superhuman powers, then you’re committed to saying that the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, etc. etc. are juvenile. Which is manifest nonsense.”
“So the problem is not that we have too many superhero movies, but that those movies are unimaginatively conceived and incompetently written.”
“Much dislike of YA fiction & superhero movies is grounded in two things:19c pref. for realism & Modernist pref. for ‘difficult beauty.’ But if you go pre-c19 you can find plenty of aesthetic models that don’t privilege either realism or difficulty. The Modernist preference for difficulty was consolidated by the professiorate: we need difficult texts to justify our jobs.”
“But some of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read are perfectly clear and call for little or no professional interpretative assistance.”
And Alex Knapp chips in: “Clarity doesn’t mean simplicity and difficulty doesn’t mean complexity. But oh how critics love to assume that this is the case.”
Perhaps Captain America offers the best depiction of what makes for a good hero: being a good person in the first place. … Like others of his generation, Steve’s character was tempered in the forge of the Great Depression as well as the shadow of world war. Next year’s Avengers movie will throw this Greatest Generation warrior into the mix with the Tony Stark generation. What will that show us about ourselves and the world we live in? I’m almost afraid to find out.
I think about this kind of thing too much. I can’t think of favorite moments from superhero movies or even the comics I used to read. I do love the part where Larryboy is careening toward the city water tower, out of control, and shouts accenting each word, “I am going to die!” And I like the scene where Darkwing Duck tells Megavolt he is not a well person, to which Megavolt responds, “What? And you’re normal? ‘I am the cold sore that stings your lips!’ We are definitely talking demented.”
But I can’t think of much else. Here are two lists of best scenes from superhero movies.