The Luke Cage stories of 1972 Marvel comics are not what you see in the new Netflix series. The new writers deliver a more mature story than their source material, Sam Knowles says, in many ways.
One clear improvement is apparent to anyone who happens to see cover art from the old comics. Luke was known as a ‘hero for hire.’ He used his abilities as a way to earn a living, which in the real world makes some sense, but what other superhero does this? The mercenaries are usually the bad guys. The good guys are heroes for the sake of justice. Knowles states,
Luke’s identity as a self-proclaimed ‘hero for hire’ sets him up in opposition to white superheroes, whose racial privilege enables the narrative of ‘superhero-ness’ to be about altruism. As a result, others look down on Luke’s attitude–most obviously Dr Noah Burstein [the scientist who gave Luke his power]: “I’ve heard how you’ve helped neighborhood merchants against Syndicate protection men. For a fee / Bit disillusioning from a so-called hero, isn’t it?”
The Netflix story explicitly drops this idea early on. In the beginning, Luke doesn’t want to get involved at all. His father figure, ‘Pop’ Hunter, urges him to use his gifts to help others and later suggests he hire himself out, but Luke refuses. Though he struggles with whether his efforts to help amount to kicking the criminal hornets’ nest, he continues to help those he can because it’s the right thing to do. He loves the people of Harlem. Continue reading Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016→
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.”
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.”