Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a Broadway musical featuring music by U2′s Bono and the Edge had its preview night this week, and it was riddled with mistakes.
The project has a $65 million budget, and will have a $1 million per week operating cost. It’s going to have to have a very long, very successful run on Broadway to break even.
Spider-Man is a great character who I’ve grown sick of. It’s tough to tell a Spidey story that hasn’t been told ten different ways.
I also find Bono utterly contemptible.
That being said, I’ll probably go see it anyway.
Iron Man was a surprise smash two years ago. No one seemed to have any expectations for the original, and upon discovering that it was great, they loved.
Iron Man 2 had expectation, and according to the reviews, it didn’t live up to them.
I thought the acting was really solid, the story was intelligent, and the effects were excellent.
Robert Downey Jr. continued to play a superb Tony Stark.
Don Cheadle was great as Rhodey. He was the right balance of persistent, level-headed, and bad-ass.
Samuel L. Jackson was perfect as Nick Fury, but he was literally the man that the modern incarnation of the character was based on in both look and tone. The role was made for him.
Mickey Rourke was an excellent villain conglomeration of the comic book versions of Whiplash, Crimson Dynamo, and Titanium Man. I even liked the stuff with his pet bird.
Scarlett Johansson really sold the Black Widow. I didn’t think she could pull it off, but damn it, she did.
This wasn’t really an action movie, it was very character-centered. I think that’s a good thing.
They also introduced Black Widow in a way that she was sexual, and certainly enticing for Stark, but never ventured into the cliche love triangle territory a la Spider-Man 3.
The Not So Good
The action was a little bit too light; especially in the final battle. I would have liked to see Whiplash duke it out longer with Iron Man and War Machine.
Nothing stood out as outrageously bad to me.
I haven’t read any reviews of the movie, I’ve just looked at the scores (I don’t read reviews of movies that I intend to review myself until I am done with my review), but I don’t understand the low scores. I didn’t see any obvious or glaring weakness.
I really enjoyed Iron Man 2 and wholeheartedly recommend it.
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Look away if you haven’t seen Iron Man 2 yet. This spoiler is about the last battle of the film.
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Iron Man and War Machine actually “crossed the streams” to defeat Whiplash. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed that, but it made me crack-up.
If you don’t understand the reference, please do yourself a favor and go watch Ghostbusters.
Comic book fans, and fighting gamers had a collective nerdgasm this morning when Capcom officially announced Marvel s. Capcom 3.
Due out in Spring 2011, fans of the old MvC2 have been praying for this game for a decade… So it better not suck.
The graphics in the trailer look very comic booky and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.
There are a lot of unknowns, such as:
- Will there be two or three characters on a team?
- Who will be playable?
- How many characters will be playable (somewhere around 30)?
- How will the tag-team interactions work?
But there are a few things that are certain:
- New sound track! No more “take you for a ride” shit.
- Six characters are confirmed: Wolverine, Iron Man, Hulk, Morrigan, Ryu, and Chris Redfield of Resident Evil
- It will be 2.5D like Street Fighter IV (good news there)
- “A boss character that Marvel says fans will appreciate” (IGN)
- IGN is speculating that Felicia from Dark Stalkers, Frank West from Dead Rising, Charlie from Street Fighter, Namor, Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Magneto, Captain America and Chun-Li will be in the game based on the silhouettes in the trailer’s intro
- You can also take Spider-Man to the bank
- My guess on the final boss: The Sentry and the Void
Last month, Marvel killed off Ultimate Peter Parker/ Spider-Man (There are multiple Peter Parkers/ Spider-Men in a number of different continuities. This is not the real Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, however it is the one I have found most interesting over the past decade).
I just got around to writing about it because I had been behind on my comics. School, the thesis, graduating, vacation, this blog and finding a job got in the way of reading my comics.
A few months ago I wrote about Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and it’s impending reboot -
The reboot is happening by way of an event story called Ultimatum. In no small terms, Ultimatum sucks. It has no redeeming qualities and I am only reading it because I have read every single Ultimate story that has come before it. I am disappointed in writer Jeph Loeb and Marvel for pushing this steaming pile of poo on the general public at $4.00 an issue.
But wait, there’s more!
Event stories are never self-contained. They spill-over into the regular monthly titles, and usually bring them down in the process.
As a result of Ultimatum, Brian Michael Bendis has killed off Ultimate Spider-Man. After nearly a decade of consistently good and interesting super hero stories (a feat in and of itself) Ultimate Spidey bit the big on in an issue devoid of dialog.
If you are unfamiliar with the title, it was famous for its dialog; it was the best part.
To artist Stuart Immonen’s credit, the story is very easy to follow visually.
However, looking at the pages I am fairly certain that there is no dialog because putting words in the characters’ mouths would underscore how stupid this turn of events was. I can’t see how Bendis could have made the dialog anything but trite.
The Ultimate line was created so that Marvel could do things with the character that they couldn’t get away with using the “real”/ original versions. With that in mind, I will give them a little bit of wiggle room and hope that the reboot breathes new life into the Ultimate line.
That being said, the only Ultimate title that didn’t need improvement was Spider-Man.
I hope the folks at Marvel know what they are doing. If they screw this up, they will lose my readership on the entire line of comics… a reboot is a good place for new readers to jump on, but it is also a great spot for old ones to hop off.
FAIL Blog is pretty simple. Users submit photos or video of stupid or awkward things and they Photoshop the word “FAIL” or when warranted “Epic FAIL.”
Here are some geeky and not as geeky examples:
FAIL Blog usually updated a few times a day and is usually good for a quick chuckle.
FAIL Blog = WIN
Welcome to the first edition of Cinema Autopsy. In this new column (if you will) I will examine where popular sci-fi / superhero movies have gone wrong.
First on the slab is Spider-Man (2002).
Just because Spider-Man made a boatload of money doesn’t mean it wasn’t flawed.
What was the problem with Spider-Man?
It’s not what you think. Dafoe is an awesome actor; one of my favorites. Hell, he’s even my favorite actor in Spider-Man. He is an excellent Norman Osborn. Dafoe’s Osborn is scary, intense, brilliant, and evil.
The problem is that the Green Goblin isn’t scary, intense, brilliant or evil. He’s just kind of a joke. A Power Rangers reject.
Dafoe is way scarier without the mask.
That is why Spider-Man fails.
In the immortal words of the Jackson Beck’s introduction to the Superman Radio Show, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” (Daniels, 54)! Superman is an international icon of strength, justice, and freedom. As figures in popular culture frequently do, Superman reveals a tremendous amount of information about American history.
Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created Superman as the perfect male. Superman was strong, fast, intelligent, and unstoppable. Siegel and Shuster were just about everything that Superman was not. The children of Jewish immigrants in Cleveland, the two became close friends in high school. Both of them were among the earliest nerds. They spent most of their time living in the fantasy worlds of science fiction; which was a new genre in the 1930’s. Siegel and Shuster were not athletic, wore glasses, and were shy, especially around girls (Daniels, 12 – 18).
This familiar origin story has been retold thousands of times in comic books, radio dramas, television shows, movies, books, and video games. The commonly known back-story is familiar to people of all ages, races, religions, and ethnicities all around the world. Superman’s insignia is one of the most easily recognizable icons in popular culture. There has been a Superman for every generation since his stories first hit newsstands on June 1, 1938. He has been altered and tweaked, but his origin always remains the same. Superman, the last son of Krypton, is sent to Earth where he develops superpowers from exposure to Earth’s Yellow Sun. As he grows up in rural America, Superman takes on the alter ego, Clark Kent – The story unfolds from there.
In spite of the common origin that Superman always has, there were a number of critical differences between the original 1938 Superman and all of the subsequent versions of the character that would follow. First, and most noticeably, Superman could not fly. Instead, he could “leap tall buildings with a single bound;” he could jump really high. Second, he did not have x-ray vision or superhearing. Third, he was more like a circus strongman, than a god when he was originally created. All of these powers were added in 1939, not by Siegel and Shuster, but by the creators of the Superman radio drama. Along with his new powers, Superman was also given a more robust supporting cast, his now longtime archenemy, Lex Luthor, and his weakness to shards of his annihilated home world of Krypton; Kryptonite (Jones 173). Later additions to Superman’s ever-expanding list of powers were heat vision and freezing breath along with other lesser-known and less significant powers.
Earlier, I stated that Clark Kent was Superman’s alter ego, not the other way around; this was no error. Most superheroes are normal people who put on a costume and take on their super-heroic identity; for example, Peter Parker becomes Spider-man. Parker was born a normal person and later gained powers. Superman, on the other hand, was always Superman (A distinction that was astutely noted by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill Vol. 2). He had to invent Clark Kent to attempt to live a normal life. While Superman can lift a car, run along power lines, and jump over buildings, Clark Kent was feeble, clumsy, and slow, both physically, and socially, but not intellectually. Superman was heroic and good-looking, Clark Kent was cowardly, shuffling around with poor posture and glasses.
In both cases, whether Superman is portraying Superman or Clark Kent, he is written to portray the character in accordance with very typical personality stereotypes. Siegel and Shuster wrote Superman with the intent of combining all of the strongest personality traits they could think of. Superman is always right, he is sure of himself, he has the ability and he knows how to use it. In many ways, he is the antithesis of his creators.
When Superman changes to become Clark Kent, he slouches forward, puts on glasses, and acts in a manner that is in complete opposition to his true nature. The notion that no one has ever figured out that Clark Kent is Superman because he puts on a pair of glasses has become a big joke in popular culture. However, it’s not the glasses that makes the characters around Clark Kent unaware of his true identity, it’s the way he acts altogether. He portrays himself as a weak, bumbling, aloof, coward that no one notices; the poor posture and glasses are just additional physical signs of social weakness that add a visual aspect to Clark Kent’s inadequacies.
Siegel and Shuster probably never realized they created Superman from self-reflexive thought, but in many ways, he sheds light on who they were. Superman, at his core, is an adolescent power fantasy. It’s obvious that Superman represents what the two nerds wished they were. In this regard, Clark Kent is frequently more interesting than Superman. Kent actually represents what Siegel and Shuster were and how they felt living in the world that they lived in. This is most vivid when Kent is in the presence of Lois Lane.
Lois Lane was one of Kent’s coworkers at the newspaper, The Daily Star; in the early incarnations of Superman, he did not work for The Daily Planet. Lois was an abnormally strong female character in 1938, when she was created. She was so strong and abrasive that she became utterly unlikable. She never had anything nice to say about anyone but Superman. Kent was in love with Lane, in spite of the fact that she never displays any affection towards him, perhaps another insight into the way that Siegel and Shuster viewed women. However, she was infatuated with Superman and completely ignorant of Kent’s true identity. Lane called Kent a coward in almost all of the early issues and was generally mean to him in every scene they appear in together, but Kent still wanted to have a relationship with her. I have yet to encounter a truly romantic scene that was written by Siegel (Which was never the case with Stan Lee). It can be inferred that this was how he viewed women, or at least, himself with women.
Clark Kent & Superman the Immigrant
Ultimately, Clark Kent was the culmination of human weakness. This was how the strongest man in the world attempted to hide his identity. By displaying all of the unwanted and unattractive characteristics he could, Superman concealed his identity without ever changing his appearance in any significant way. No one suspected that Clark Kent was Superman because they were so dissimilar from each other that it was completely unthinkable.
Superman’s tale, at its core, was that of an immigrant, and more specifically, that of a Jewish immigrant. Author Michael Chabon put it best when he said, “Coming over from the old country changing his name like that. Clark Kent, only a Jew would pick a name like that for himself” (Weinstein 21). Superman’s birth name was Kal-L (later changed to Kal-el), but like many Jewish immigrants, he took on a more American name. The vast majority of the early comic creators, writers, and artists alike were Jewish and many of them adopted more Americanized names, some just as pen names, some to sound more American. The greats Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were born Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg. Lee adopted the pen name because he did not want his real name attached to comic books when he became a “real writer” (he later legally changed his name to Stan Lee after his tremendous success and achievement of legendary status within the comic industry). Kirby legally adopted the name Jack Kirby early in his career. All of his friends called him Kirby, but frequently teased him for taking on the name saying things such as, “[You are] looking more Irish already.” Even his wife had a hard time taking the name seriously (Jones 197).
Kal-L’s story was an extreme form of the assimilation experience that many Jewish immigrants, and immigrants in general, faced. He was a stranger in a strange land, but unlike the Jews who immigrated to America and frequently stayed in close-knit communities, he had absolutely no one else like him. Not only was he alone, he was thrust into the heartland of America; Smallville, Kansas. You do not get much more American than that. He was different from those around him, and he knew it, but he went out of his way to hide those differences. He was just trying to fit in and make his way in an unfamiliar, unfriendly, new world. In addition, like the Jewish immigrants of the late 1930’s, Kal-L’s homeland Krypton was destroyed. There would be no return home for him, much like the war torn Central Europe that so many Jews emigrated from.
A Badass Crusader for Common Folk
Superheroes are only interesting when they have a villain to fight. More often than not, a hero’s villains are the most critical plot device in the development of a character. Superman’s initial villains were bizarre by today’s standards. There were no mad scientists or evil space monsters in Superman’s rogue’s gallery. Instead, he fought the kinds of villains that actually existed in the average community in 1938. He fought street hooligans, greedy fat-cats, everyday criminals, corrupt politicians, lobbyists, and police officials. He was a hero for the common depression era citizen (Wright 10-11). He was a hero for the little guy. Superman was also a lighthearted prankster who would torment the criminals he caught, as depicted below.
It was also common for to see the police shoot at Superman. However, this was a drastically different Superman than most people ever encounter because he was written so atypically when he was first created.
Mark Waid wrote in the Forward of the Action Comics Archive:
Within these pages, I met a head-bashing Superman who took no prisoners, who made his own law and enforced it with his fists, who gleefully intimidated his foes with a wicked grin and a baleful glare. A Superman who reveled in his strength, who clearly enjoyed raising a little hell and who didn’t care who got in his way as he bounced through Metropolis meting out his own brand of justice. Was I surprised? When I see bullets bouncing off Superman’s chest, I don’t expect them to be coming from the guns of policemen. Whoever this was in the red cape, he was no super-cop. He was a super-anarchist. How could he have started out that different (Action Comics Archive 5-6)?
The answer to this question was that Superman, like most comic book characters and popular culture icons in general, fought whatever was relevant to the writer and the reader at the time they were written. This holds true for two reasons. First, if the battle the hero was fighting was not relevant to the writer, he/she never would have even thought of the conflict to begin with. Second, if the readers were not connecting with the character and his/her struggles, sales would not takeoff. During the Depression, Superman fought Depression era threats. As the Depression neared it’s end, new threats arose to take their place; World War II.
World War II
As war broke out across Europe, American superheroes began going to war. Prior to Pearl Harbor, Superman was battling “prominent isolationists and pacifists as spies working for a hostile foreign power.” Comics, in general, tended to portray isolationists in a negative light (Wright 44). In the words of Stan Lee, “We [the comic industry] were fighting the Nazis before our government was” (Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked)! At roughly the same time, American comic sales began to spike in Europe. In response, Hitler banned comic books and deplored Superman as a feeble Jew (Jones 162). Ironically, the only changes that were required to morph Superman into a Nazi icon would be to make his hair blonde; his eyes blue; and change that “S” on his chest to a swastika.
Once America declared war after Pearl Harbor, comic books became intensely nationalistic. The vast majority of superheroes were fighting the Germans and Japanese either overseas or battling spies in America. However, Superman was conspicuously absent from the battlefield. Siegel and Shuster realized that Superman “could fly to Berlin and Tokyo and promptly bring the war to an end on his own, they did not wish to minimize the daunting task faced by the nation and its fighting forces” (Wright 43). To keep Superman nationalistic, while also keeping him out of the war, an enthusiastic Clark Kent enlisted but was labeled 4-F and rejected after failing his eye test. Accidentally, Kent used his x-ray vision and read the eye chart in the next room instead of the one in his own (Suspend your disbelief!). The doctors concluded that Kent was blind and he left in disappointment. As per usual, Lois Lane was utterly sickened by Kent’s rejection. “Superman shrugs off the disappointment, resolving to serve the American war effort by policing America’s home front and declaring that ‘the United States army, Navy, and Marines are capable of smashing their foes without the aid of Superman’” (Wright 43)! However, the US armed forces would receive some support from Superman in a different way.
The comics themselves became a part of the war effort. According to the New York Times, 25% of all magazines shipped to American troops in Europe and the Pacific were comic books. “At least 35,000 copies of Superman alone went to servicemen each month.” Comics became a considerable part of GI culture during the war. On the other hand, the overabundance of comics in the hands of GIs did not help the overarching European belief that Americans were juvenile and unrefined (Wright 31).
In addition to comic stories being nationalistic and comic books being shipped overseas, many of the writers and artists themselves enlisted. Jerry Siegel (Superman), Will Eisner (The Spirit), and Jack Kirby (Captain America) all left home to battle the villains that their characters had been fighting (Wright 33).
I may be alone on this, but I would love to see DC do a current Superman miniseries where the characters are all written in the spirit of the original Seigel/ Shuster stories, a badass Superman solving real world issues would be a real sight in modern comics.
Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked. The History Channel. A&E Televison Networks, 2005.
Daniels, Les. Superman The Complete History: The Life and Times of the Man of Steel. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1998.
Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
Siegel, Jerry and Joe Shuster. Superman the Action Comics: Archive Volume 1. New York: DC Comics, 1997.
Wright, Bradford W. Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2003.