Marvel Miss

With the head honcho of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) giving a bunch of interviews lately in support of the upcoming movie Ant-Man (which I’m definitely going to go see) there’s been a lot of excitement in my life as I think about the upcoming slate of superhero movies. My eyes and ears in eager anticipation.

Being a consumer of this fine entertainment is quite exciting. But I sort of think that being the creators of said entertainment might be even more exhilarating. That’s why in the middle of all this activity I’m quite disappointed to know that Marvel Universe characters won’t be attending the San Diego Comic Con.

If you’re not familiar with the SDCC, saying that Marvel superheros won’t be attending is like saying that the Pope won’t be going to church on Easter Sunday.

Oh, they’ll have panels with writers, executives, animators and such. I think the Agents of Shield (t.v. show) cast is due to appear. But none of the characters from the movies will be in attendance as they’ve been in the past.

I understand scheduling conflicts, sure. Celebrities are busy and can’t make it to everything they’re invited to, but Marvel’s choice to forego the mecca of comic book geekdom is on par with a rock band that doesn’t put on concerts. Even though spokespeople for Marvel have said it’s not a sign of disrespect, I feel like not sending someone is thumbing the nose at us fans. Well, not me personally since I can’t even begin to afford a ticket, but I’d still like to know that I could see Loki’s smile in person if I did have the expendable income to go.

In this article, the writer says this about Marvel’s decision:

Also it came down to money as well. The studios spend thousands of dollars to go and there was no need to force the issue if there wasn’t an immediate benefit according to one executive.”

Marvel’s nickel and diming us? Really? They have to worry about paying their water bill? Marvel has more money than Scrooge McDuck. “Thousands of dollars” to them is like laundry change for us.

Marvel, if you’re listening, do the right thing. Put Robert Downey Jr. in one of your Iron Man suits and fly his butt down to sunny San Diego for 36 hours. Too big of a star? I’d be happy with a Mark Ruffalo, too. Or Star-Lord. Or Captain America. Or any number of heroes you happen to have around. It’s not as if you have a shortage.

Although seriously. Just send Tom Hiddleston. Given his past Comic Con performance, Loki would do it for us all.

No-One Likes a Tease

As an adult I like to think that I’ve gotten a good grasp on handling expectations. I can sleep the night before Christmas just fine. I can await both my birthday and Easter (ahhh the candy!) without getting too out of breath.

But with the advent of all these new avenues in social media and the massive marketing efforts that are constantly trying to trump each other, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep a level head about waiting for the things I want when they’re a certain amount of time away.

Take the upcoming Deadpool movie as a perfect example. I use the word “upcoming” with a grain of salt and that’s exactly the point. I love Deadpool. Plain and simple. He’s a misunderstood anti-hero who’s got a very rich, complex backstory, all things that I love in a character. He’s also super snarky and routinely talks smack to the audience.

The problem is that the movie isn’t coming out until 2016 and there’s already teases being put out there on the interwebs. First there was test footage leaked which whetted all of our appetites. Then Ryan Reynolds, who is playing the titular character, posted a picture of the chair he sits in on set – the word “Deadpool” splashed across the back in flecks of gore (a really cool touch!). Of course the director had to tweet out a picture of a costume test that showed what his armor might look like.  Now there’s the below photo that’s just to die for – showing Deadpool in all his glory posing for the camera in the “official suit.”

If the movie was three months away I’d be fine. Four months even. That’s what I feel is an appropriate amount of time to get people psyched up. But a year? That’s just mean.

And that’s not even the worst of it. A few months ago Zack Snyder, the director of the next Batman v Superman movie, teased a picture of the new Batmobile and Batsuit on his Twitter account. That movie isn’t coming out until May 2016. He’s already showing us things we really want to see – a year and a half before they’re going to release it.

Imagine if you were a kid and in July your parents come into your bedroom with a big box wrapped in glossy paper adorned with Santa’s face and elves with a big green bow on top. They tell you it’s all yours…in December, then put it away. How cruel would that be?

The Ant-Man movie released an “ant-sized” trailer months ago. What exactly does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like. They released a tease of the movie that, when viewed on your computer, was the actual size of an ant so it was impossible to make out any actual details. Again, mean!

How much more ridiculous is this going to get? Hell, we already know the exact day that the Avengers storyline is going to be done. Don’t worry about getting a ticket yet, you’ve got plenty of time. It’s in 2019.

Then you have teasers of teasers. As if the teaser trailer itself wasn’t bad enough, now movie studios are releasing 30 second teasers of the teaser of the trailer of the movie. Just rocking the boat well before the storm is even close to hitting.

Not to get dramatic, but it just rips me apart. There’s something to that old saying “Ignorance is bliss.” I like knowing something I want is coming, but don’t make it torturous by dangling the carrot so early that I’m not even sure I’m going to have good eyesight anymore when it finally does come out.

 

"Eat your heart out Burt Reynolds.   Photo Credit: Deadpool Movie  (click photo to go to link)

“Eat your heart out Burt Reynolds.”
Photo Credit: Deadpool Movie
(click photo to go to link)

 

Bad Guys?

Marvel Studios has been getting it right lately. I don’t know if you’re following this expanding and intricate universe they’ve been creating in phases over the years (including Iron Man 1/2/3, Captain America 1 & 2, Thor 1 &2, Avengers, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) but the quality and care that has gone into the franchise has been great — not just for other superhero movies to take note of and try to emulate so we, as an audience, get better crafted stories, but they’re at such a high-caliber that even non-superhero movies could possibly learn a thing or two as well.

For instance, the creation of a believable villain. I’ve said in the past that I fawn over the villains that have a twisted view of reality that was a slow evolution of injustices and misfortunes that accumulated over the course of their life. I hate the villains that just do evil because they want to be bad. That makes no sense. I don’t believe anyone wakes up thinking “Gosh, I would love to be a horrible person and do things that are terrible to others.” Maybe there are some people like that, but in movies I just can’t buy into it. It’s infinitely better when the backstory of the villain is laid out so you can see how they got to the murderous path they set upon.

The Thor films have done it exceptionally well with Loki. While I obviously don’t condone anything he does in that movie (cough, cough),  I can understand why he might think what he’s doing is right. That’s the important ingredient: the empathy. Marvel Studios has done it again with the latest Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier.

Sidenote: If you have not seen the movie yet, stop reading. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

The “bad guy” that Cap, Black Widow, and their team has to take down seems amazingly sinister in the beginning. Just a brutal force with no stop button on the terror he wreaks. No small talk, no petting a white cat as he demands money from the UN via Skype from his secret lair, no MWAHAHAHA laughing, no grandstanding. He just destroys things, silently and quickly. Pretty standard badass stuff. And also pretty forgettable. But as the movie unfolds and his backstory is slowly revealed, the character gets depth and intrigue and you start to see how he got to be this unstoppable storm of homicidal rage. He was given a chance to be empathized with as we saw how his tormentors brainwashed away his humanity and turned him into a dehumanized zombie. It was just awful to watch (in a good way). I felt so bad for him. Yes, the villain. I felt so bad for what he had to go through. And once again I find myself on the side of the “bad guy.”

That’s the type of villain I think movies (or stories in general) should always aspire to. A story that can be viewed from all sides, rather than just the lens of the hero, makes a much more compelling plot and really engages me as a fan. Bravo, Marvel! Your ability to make the villain “not so bad” has been getting stronger as time goes on. It’s getting harder and harder to really hate the villain anymore since they’re not all born with black hearts. They’ve just had some horrible experiences that really messed up their heads and I’m glad the movie studio is taking the time to put that much thought into the “bad guys” now.

captain america

 

Good vs. Evil (Or, Ode to Loki)

On paper it all seems so simple. The good guy wins. The bad guy loses. That’s the way it’s supposed to go, right? I think there’s nothing wrong with that if you buy into the premise of a villain that only exists to be a malevolent force, which is pretty silly when you think about it. I think that everyone believes they are a good person and what they’re doing is for the betterment of society/earth/family/etc. People aren’t just born and decide “I know what I’m doing is wrong but I really want to bring about destruction just for the sake of destruction.” This just doesn’t hold true. At least, not with characters who are fleshed out.

Take Loki for example. On the outside he’s a terrible deceiver, a trickster, a plague to all the citizens of Asgard, a poison to contain and destroy. Okay, okay I realize that’s harsh and personally I just don’t see it but this is what we’re supposed to believe. Anyway, once you look at his motivations it becomes clear that in his warped view of the world, the terrible things he does are either responses to injustices he’s already faced or ways to correct what he perceives to be already misaligned.

Although he has some obvious anger issues that a little family therapy would probably help to work out, just take a look at what he has gone through (and all in one fell swoop mind you): His father betrayed him, he found out he’s not a true heir, his brother is heavily favored (adding fire to the sibling rivalry), and in an ultimate act of punishment he was denied access to his mother, the one person he loved the most. All he wants is to be accepted but that’s the last thing anyone is willing to give to him. How does this not create a pretty pissed off person looking to change things in their image?

Often times, in well-crafted stories at least, villains are just misunderstood and are rarely given the tools to properly deal with the plight they were placed in. I’m not advocating for evil to reign over us all, just making a plea to try to see things through their eyes.

Of course it helps when you have the perfect person playing the part. I mean, the actor can easily make you love or hate a character. It’s very likely that the entirety of the above well thought out, deep and philosophical rhetoric would be moot if someone other than Tom Hiddleston was playing Loki. Yes, I know, it should hold the same regardless….but come on….we all know that just isn’t true.

Yes, yes, I realize that when Loki lays waste to Asgard and takes the throne, we’re supposed to be appalled and dismayed, and morally we should call for his downfall. He’s the villain after all. However, all of that falls to the wayside with Tom Hiddleston’s mischievous grin and we instead find ourselves rooting for his success.

Loki