Archive for the ‘All’ Category

The Wonder Woman movie was great, and it brought scores of new fans to the character. However, DC failed to capitalize on this movement by promoting a pretty generic DC Super Hero Girls comic instead of a real Wonder Woman story.

The Wonder Woman movie had Diana dealing with her high principals in a murky world, kicking the asses of Nazis and gods and tanks (if tanks have asses). There were kids – boys and girls – posing with the 3D posters at the theater.

Unfortunately, there’s none of that kick-ass strong woman in the kids marketing for DC. For a long time, it seemed that any comic book marketed to kids had to have almost no violence, and of course no sexuality, and no complex storyline.

The DC Super Hero Girls described Wonder Woman this way: “the Amazon warrior and princess who has never left her home on Paradise Island until now! In order to be the best Super Hero she can be, Wonder Woman has to juggle classes, new friendships, and seeing a boy for the first time – at the most elite school in the galaxy.”

I’m not kidding. Here’s the picture:

Ares isn’t the villain. He shows up and they hug or something.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to devalue the hard work of the people who put this comic together. It’s not a terrible book. It’s a breezy read, and the art is fun. But if you leave the theater expecting more of the same, you will be highly disappointed.

Wonder Woman was the first super hero movie my 10-year-old daughter had ever seen. She only wanted to see it because there was a girl kicking butt. So, she read this comic and was OK with it and moved on. She read it once and it really didn’t jive with her.

Instead, I loaned her this:

 Buy it here:
JLA Vol. 5 (Jla (Justice League of America))
This is a great story, and told perfectly. Wonder Woman has to share some screen time with her teammates, but she’s definitely more like the character that is in the movie.

In this one, a hapless mortal accidentally unleashes the Queen of Fables into the real world. Being a creature of fiction, her power is fed by imagination. She is fueled by fairy tales and horror movies and anything else writers can think of (and writers can think of some pretty messed up stuff). She mistakes Diana for her nemesis, Snow White, and casts a curse on her. The League has to travel into the world of myth, where Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth has great power.

Add to this, the fact that the team is hobbled by a lack of trust after Batman betrayed them with ways to defeat to them all. This lack of trust got worse as they faced off against Destiny and eventually, their alter egos and super hero personas got split and took on lives of their own.

During Mark Waid’s run on JLA, it felt like there was something cool happening on every page. And Bryan Hitch was able to make it happen.

My daughter eagerly read this graphic novel and loved it. It was more of the kick-butt girl she wanted.

This mistake isn’t new. When the very first X-Men movie came out, all the heroes from the movie were on different teams and Magneto was dead. I was working at a comic book store at the time. People came in looking for something like the movie for their kid, and I had trouble recommending something. Mostly because every issue of every comic back then was part 7 of a 14-issue story arc.

Comic companies have to remember the time decades ago when comics were all ages and reached a variety of fans. There’s a way to write so that kids can have that “gosh wow” feeling of cool action, and older readers can dig into the more sophisticated backstories.

Advertisements

Mild Fantastic Beasts spoilers

la-et-hc-first-look-harry-potter-prequel-fantastic-beasts-20151104

Both franchises, Harry Potter and Star Wars, recently launched new films that explore more of their respective universes. But there’s a right way to do this and a wrong way.

The right way is “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This movie introduced all new characters that fit snugly into the Harry Potter world. It felt right, while still being its own movie.

Characters apparate, and the movie doesn’t have to explain to you what’s happening. If you’re here, you already know. There are recognizable names and creatures and spells, and that makes you feel comfortable.

But, there are enough new things that keep it from being more of the same. Yes, we see yet more of muggle vs. magic…again…but we also see what happens to young wizards who are told that their power is evil, and that they should be ashamed of it. We see what happens when power is bottled up, with no healthy outlet. And we see the real world problem of child abuse in a fantasy world.

In short, it gave fans what they wanted, and things they didn’t know they wanted.

Star Wars Episode 7 was two hours of fan service. It didn’t really bring anything new to the saga. There wasn’t a feeling like it was breaking any new ground. It was too safe.

“Rogue One” tells the story of how the plans for the Death Star were found. It’s kind of like a Star Wars Tales comic, where they would tell one-shot stories about some obscure characters or side quests. Again, it might be too safe. You pretty much know how it will begin and how it will end.

Star Wars needs to step outside of its safe zone, and take some chances. If they are committed to making a new one every few years, the creators can’t be afraid of one of them only making $1.5 billion instead of $2 billion.

We don’t need to see a prequel that just tells you how Han Solo got his clothes. (I’m sure they’re going to tell us anyway.) We need to explore these worlds.

Of course, Fantastic Beasts had J.K. Rowling writing the story. She has already mapped out the marriages and children of most of the students at Hogwarts even though we (might) never see these stories. George Lucas seems to be out of the loop on the creative end, and that might make a difference. Some people say a good change, some say a bad change.

Other Worlds cover

Here there be spoilers…

Halfway through the fun cosmic adventure that is Dr. Strange, I realized that the movie followed the same structure as the failed Green Lantern movie:

In the first 15 minutes, we are introduced to the charming but deeply flawed hero. Whereas Green Lantern gave us a likable actor in Ryan Reynolds, Dr. Strange gave us a likable Benedict Cumberbatch. But Dr. Strange gave us something that Green Lantern never did: A reason why the protagonist decided to “protag.” Like the comic book creators say in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, “The question is why.” For Stephen Strange, his why is the same as Tony Stark and Thor Odinson: hubris. We never really get the “why” in Green Lantern. He just found a lantern and figured he’d become a super hero.

 

benedict_cumberbatch_as_doctor_strange

After the intro, both heroes are indoctrinated into a universe that is greater than the Earth they know. The GL Guardians can easily be substituted with the Ancient One and the rest of the sorcerers. They are a police force that protects Earth from otherworldly threats that the average person is completely unaware of.

They teach the hero how to bend reality to his imagination. They even give him a ring at one point. The hero goes through the stages of adventure, from denial to acceptance, and is soon kicking butt better than those who have trained for years. He faces off against the bad guy, who is just an appetizer for the cosmic, shapeless true evil. And his mentor turns bad.

Despite the parallels, Dr. Strange was a stronger movie. It wasn’t stuffed with characters, just enough to get through. There was only one computer-rendered character, and it was the end villain. Everything was grounded in an internal logic that explained why magic was OK. (And thank you, Marvel, for just saying it was magic, and not science or midi-chlorians or whatever.)

And finally, the fight scenes were unique to the movie. What I mean to say is that the action sequences could have only happened in this movie. In particular, the scene with mystic monks fighting while time is going backward was something I had never seen before and could only be done in this kind of movie.

What I learned: When people say that you can’t do something if it happened in another movie, you still can, if you do it better.

Other Worlds cover

I’ve been a reporter for more than a dozen years now. I am OK with the fact that people don’t believe everything they read. But I don’t understand how people think politicians are more believable than the media that covers them.

Politicians lie. That’s all there is to it. Every single one of them. I don’t care how wonderful your candidate is, they are a liar. They have lots of reasons to get you to believe what they’re telling you. It all has to do with money and power. And occasionally mistresses. That’s really all they want.

What Lies

This short satirical video explains it all.

And yet journalists are condemned as biased whenever they point out these shortcomings. In my admittedly short tenure, I have met some reporters who were biased against certain politicians. Some had a David complex, looking for a Goliath to slay. But most of the reporters I know don’t care who is in office as long as they give a good quote. They don’t have a horse in the race. If they are on anybody’s side at all, it’s the taxpayer.

Journalists make mistakes. I have made my share. But one mistake will make people condemn a news source, while politicians can make all the mistakes in the world and be untouchable. Maybe it’s because politicians have more charisma than most journalists. Maybe people just believe what they want to believe. No matter what, I’ll never understand why journalists are trusted less than the politicians they report on.

The Year of Batman Doing Things Batman Wouldn’t Do

(mild spoilers)

People complain that the theaters are filled with super hero movies. Well, 2016 had three theatrical releases with the same super hero: Batman.

Batman Vs. Superman

The Killing Joke

Suicide Squad

Most people didn’t care. The Killing Joke had such a limited theatrical release that it didn’t blip on too many people’s radar screens, and the people it did were happy to have more Bat for their bucks. Suicide Squad wasn’t technically a Batman film. And, finally, he had to share the first one with the big blue boy scout.

However, in each of these three movies, Batman did things that were very un-Batmanlike.

Much has been written about Batman’s murderish thuggery in BvS. In Killing Joke, he crossed the line with Barbara Gordon. In Suicide Squad, he kissed Harley the way someone using roofies would. He also endangered a child when bringing in Deadshot. (Although, it could be argued that he was scaring his daughter to make sure she grows up right.)

Other Worlds cover

It’s true that comic book characters get trapped into never changing for decades. Sometimes, radical changes are forced upon them. But some things are just a part of them. Sure, there are articles showing a bunch of times that Batman used guns. And sure, he killed people even in his first appearance. But after 80 years, with multiple appearances every month during the last few decades, if you can only count on a handful of times that he did those things, then those are the anomalies, not the true character. They were probably lapses in writing, or times when the character hadn’t been fully developed yet.

Heroes should make mistakes. However, these were mistakes Batman wouldn’t make. It makes you wonder who at DC approved these parts of the scripts.

The problem with humor is that you have to be quick about it. The news cycle goes quickly. Before you realize it, people are talking about the next big thing. In order to have great comedic timing, you have to say something no one else has said, and you have to say it quickly.

FBI: Hillary Stupid, Not A Crook

So I tried something. I have a YouTube channel where I spoof the news. I made a satire video about the FBI investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke the law by using a private e-mail server. I uploaded this video for two reasons: 1. A lot of the news articles I was seeing was missing the point that the investigation was just to see if she was treasonous (in other words if she did it on purpose). And 2: To see if people would click on my video over a week after the news broke.

The Hillary e-mail thing is kind of old news. However, it is proving to have a bit of an evergreen appeal, as people continue to talk about it. Considering it takes a long time for people to actually find my videos, anything I publish is old news.

Katy Perry Firework

Someone told me that 85 million gun owners didn’t shoot anyone yesterday. I don’t find that a particularly reassuring statistic. What about the day before?

And maybe they were just not trying hard enough. So I made a t-shirt and bumper sticker. I hope you enjoy:

http://www.zazzle.com/85_million_gun_owners_have_terrible_aim_tshirt-235101380489441678

http://www.zazzle.com/gun_owners_must_have_bad_aim_bumper_sticker-128687226493356228

When Eastman and Laird created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they gave them a ridiculous origin: They were turtles that were touched by some kind of mutagen that turned them somewhat humanoid. Then a giant rat named them and raised them. It was a goofy beginning (and a Daredevil parody) that became a serious comic and then a goofy cartoon.

The mutagen in question is just some random thing: a story starter. It could have been magic. It could have been aliens. It could have been anything, because the heroes were nothing before this.

It’s not like you’re making Bruce Wayne be bitten by a radioactive bat. Or make Peter Parker’s parents spies (grumble grumble grumble).

That said, how are they going to be named after Renaissance artists? This movie will have the problems that “Wolverine” did: They’re going to have to come up with all new reasons for everything.

I’m not the biggest TMNT fan, but Michael Bay’s announcement bodes poorly for the movie. If this is different, what else will be?

I am the biggest Transfan, but I finally said “enough” and refused to see Transformers 3. I’m sure this didn’t hurt the movie’s bottom line one bit. But if 100,000 fanboys don’t watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and don’t take their 2 kids to see it, that’s $3 million in revenue. Still, maybe not enough to make a dent in a $100+ million payday, but refuse to buy the merchandise and maybe you’ll send a message.

Of course, that also hurts two creators who were fortunate enough to make a living doing what they love on a property that took off as a pop culture touchstone.

I’m happy for Eastman and Laird, but sad for storytelling in general.

This article pretty much sums it up:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/michael-bay-signs-50m-deal-to-fuck-up-thundercats,2702/

Wandering through Target with my daughter, she stopped me for the new Lego line “Friends.” It’s a pack of cute, Lego-sized dolls where you built them and their play sets. Brilliantly simple idea and a fine execution.

She asked me to read the descriptions of the four girls on display. What took me by surprise was that they actually had negative sides of their personalities. One of them loves to plan parties, but she can be bossy. One of them loves to perform, but is a bit of a drama queen.

This, I thought, was fantastic. Most of the times, personalities for kids’ toys are very straight and narrow. They never have a bad side to them. “This one loves animals and the color pink!” That’s about as much as you’ll get from some of them.

It’s so bad that the “books” that are put out to support the toys (or do the toys support the books?) just pick a toy as the main character and put words in her mouth. The characters are that interchangeable that it just doesn’t matter who says or does anything.

So I was pleasantly surprised that, in just a few short sentences, the Lego Friends were well described and set up enough things for them to do.
What I Learned: For a story to happen, there has to be conflict. The best conflict comes from between characters. But they have to be different enough for that to happen.

Lego Friends Mia HeartLake Vet