Monthly Archives: March 2013

Where’s That X-Men Rant I Promised? Here It Is

I am honestly torn about the X-Men film franchise. On the one hand, I really enjoyed X-Men and X-Men United, disliked Last Stand, was warned off of Origins: Wolverine (by my brother), and loved First Class. And I have strong feelings of trepidation for Days of Future Past. Why this uneven record? Why my mixed response?

Well, I honestly think the X-Men Films are poorly planned. Maybe not badly written (save, I’m told, Wolverine), but certainly poorly planned. What do I mean?

Well, wasn’t First Class supposed to be a reboot of the original series? But now it is being treated more as a prequel.And doesn’t Wolverine violate continuity for both the earlier trilogy as well as First Class? There are two Emma Frosts, aren’t there? And the conflicting depictions of Sabertooth? Maybe the whole franchise should be rebooted with a stronger coherence of continuity. 

The characters themselves also have grown to bug me. The franchise relies too heavily, I think, on Wolverine and Magneto. Mind you, Wolverine could star in his own franchise while playing more of a supporting role in the main franchise (with the focus being on other characters like Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey, etc.). But my real annoyance is the near exclusive usage of Magneto as the main antagonist. The X-Men have a great cast of villains, but Magneto eclipses the others. Can’t Mr. Sinister or Apocalypse have any screen time? Or Arcade? 

The fact that the films have, at worst, become a series of cameos from various characters don’t improve things. 

Personally, I do want the X-Men series to be rebooted with stronger planning and Wolverine to be spun off into his own series. But I want them to have no relationship with the current franchise. 

I want to see Magneto be the main antagonist of at least the first film with other villains stepping in for sequels. How about Arcade for the second, Sinister for the third, and Apocalypse for the final film? That would be awesome, I think. 

But I’ll leave the actual planning and writing to the writers and producers hired to do it. (Though I may have a blog post playing with how I’d write things, If I could).

Here ends my rant. Hopefully, the X-Men series doesn’t fall back into mediocrity like it did with Last Stand and Wolverine


What Corrupts? Superman: The Black Ring Considered

It has been about a year or more since I read the first half of “The Black Ring” arc of Action Comics written by Paul Cornell for the first time. And now I’ve finally read the second half. In the aftermath of the destruction of New Krypton, Action Comics briefly starred Lex Luthor as the main protagonist as he pursued the power of the Black Lanterns. 

That ambition, that quest, becomes ever greater as Luthor reaches for the powers of a god. But, rather than being corrupted by this immense power, Luthor himself is the corruption.

Normally in fiction, especially fantasy fiction, power is usually depicted as corrupting. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as it were. Jean Grey is corrupted by the power of the Phoenix (plus Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magick). Saruman is corrupted by the promise of the power that the One Ring represents (as is Galadriel for a brief moment). I could go on. 

Yet is it really power that is corrupting or is it the individuals pursuing power who are already corrupt?

This is where Lex Luthor and his pursuit of a power ring/ godhood come in. Luthor is a brilliant scientist and ruthless businessman. He is already corrupt. But that does not mean that he is completely evil. 

He does have his moments of heroism. He sees himself as a hero. He wants to be Superman. But his hatred for the Last Son of Krypton, as well as his disregard for individuals, continually corrupts his latent heroism. 

At the conclusion of “The Black Ring,” Luthor confronts an entity of great power and, to save the universe, merges with it. This event grants him immense power, which he immediately uses to torture and attempt to kill Superman. However, Luthor has another option. 

After discovering that he is limited by his negative emotions, he gains absolute power by letting go. And changes the universe for the better. No more strife. All bliss. The price? Luthor cannot kill Superman. So what does Lex do? He tries to kill Superman. And is stripped of his powers. 

So, at the end of the day, it is Luthor’s own corruption that informs his brief existence as a god, not the power itself. 

And I think the reason why Luthor cannot keep his power is revealed in his final (?) confrontation with the Man of Steel. Superman feels. He feels the death of Krypton, the tragic destruction of New Krypton, the death of Jonathan Kent, etc. Superman, despite Luthor’s protests, has empathy. But Luthor doesn’t. 

Lex Luthor is a sociopath. He doesn’t care for individuals. His ordered hit on a callously fired employee, his nonchalance at the death of his employees, etc. shows that it is he, not Superman, who fakes empathy and sorrow. So, I wonder, how much of what Luthor ascribes to Superman is really a projection rooted in Luthor’s own character?

“The Black Ring” is an awesome and fun read, though the “Young Luthor” interlude does slow the narrative (should have been flashbacks rather than backups or a two part standalone). 


Post Blog Script:

I’m working on ideas for April’s posts. I’m working on using writing as a theme. I’ll try to have more concrete plans later. And I’m working on a rant dealing with the X-Men film franchise. 

Until then. 

Movie Night with Conan

I recently checked out Conan the Barbarian (2011) from my local library, and I have had Conan the Barbarian (1982) languishing in my TIVO for months now. So, last night, I decided to make a movie night of the two films. And this time, I made the right choice in watching the most recent (and worse) film first. While watching the two films, I noticed something. Many things, in fact. (To differentiate the two films, I’ll be using their dates)

The first thing I noticed is how similar the plot of 2011 is to both 1982 and Conan the Destroyer. Destroyed village (with parent killed before young Conan)? Check. Murderer a warlord? Check. Has a mountain like fortress? Check. Has strange paternal relationship to Conan? Check. Seeks to sacrifice young woman to summon an ancient evil? Check. 

So, you see, Khalar Zym is a depowered and more megalomaniacal Thulsa Doom, and Marique is Taramis without being the big bad. 

Another thing I noticed are the themes of the two Barbarians. Both deal with the relationships of parents to children. In 1982, the death of both of Conan’s parents lead his pursuit of vengeance. Meanwhile in 2011, it is only the death of Conan’s father that drives him (as his mother died in childbirth on a battlefield).

But, for 2011, the theme of fathers’ relationships with their children is mirrored. Conan and his father contrast with Marique and Khalar Zym. Of course, while Conan’s relationship with his father is wholesome (well, as wholesome as a warrior culture can get), Marique’s relationship with her father is not wholesome (classic Electra complex). So, does this mean girls cannot (or should not) have strong relationships with their fathers? Or could it be that the child, while honoring the father, should seek their independence? Perhaps both?

The theme of family and vengeance in 1982 is depicted as inherently more tragic. Indeed, this film has all the hallmarks of a classic revenge tragedy (save for the protagonist’s death). Thulsa Doom murders Conan’s family, Conan kills Thulsa’s snake (and robs his temple), Conan is crucified, Conan and co. kidnap the princess and kill many servants, Thulsa shoots a snake and kills Valeria, Conan wipes out the bulk of Thulsa’s force, and finally Conan kills Thulsa Doom himself during a mass rally. But in the end, Conan is left empty. His revenge only sowing more sorrow as the price is the loss of Valeria.

Finally, this got me thinking why Conan the Barbarian (2011) failed at the box office. Personally, I think a lot of the problem with the film itself is the shaky and disappointing plot. The movie jumps too much. I would also like to point out the ridiculousness and monstrous nature of the antagonists. 

I could rehash what is wrong with Conan as a film property. Al Harron and many other bloggers have done a far better job of it than I can. 

I would like, though, to reiterate my argument that a film franchise might not be the right way to go. Why not attempt to film the original stories in a way similar to Poirot? That could be awesome. Hell, I may think more on this and blog about it later. 

Damian Wayne, Farewell (For Now?)

During “Death of the Family,” speculation was rampant that a member of the Bat Family would be killed by the resurgent Joker. That does not happen. Joker kills no one, save metaphorically. But . . . 

Damian Wayne, the current Robin, is killed in Batman Inc. #8. Damian’s death comes about because of the war between his parents. And his artificially aged clone. 

I won’t pretend that I follow Batman Inc. (or really much of the Batman family of comics). But I have some thoughts on Damian.

My Robin is Tim Drake. I grew up with him. But as Tim outgrew the role, I came to accept Damian as a worthy replacement.

You see, I find Damian to be a trip. His run as Robin with Dick Grayson as Batman in the pages of Batman & Robin is a hoot to read.He’s snarky, dark, and plays a great straight man to Grayson’s humor. 

I’ve come to really like Damian. And I’m sad to see him go. 

But I think that he got a great send off, and I feel that his death will reverberate for some time to come (barring a quick return). 

So long Damian. You had a good run. But is this the end of his story?