Tag Archives: The Avengers

Marvels of Marvel: The Avengers

the-avengers-7a

Bam! Crash! Pow! It’s time to gather all our scattered comic book heroes into the most heroic and comic booky instalments to the franchise yet. Vastly different to the solo superhero movies and more about the way the team knits together, clashes, and in the end saves the world, the Avengers movies are a feast for the sensations. Fittingly enough, they can leave you in the cinematic equivalent of a food coma, so it’s probably good that they only Assemble every few years.

The trouble with these movies is there’s just so much going on. They’re an endless parade of light and colour and snapshot character development and one-liners (it felt like Age of Ultron’s entire script was composed of one-liners. How did anyone have a conversation?) and things exploding. It’s delirious fun of course because we can’t forget that these are blockbusters—and the Avengers instalments are what bring the franchise’s threads together into the biggest most blockbusting spectacular. That’s what they promise, anyway, and most of the time so far they’ve delivered. I’ve come out of the cinema with my head full after watching both movies, and it took me about a week each time to digest everything that had happened as well as get the theme music out of my brain. Continue reading

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Filed under Alex Watches

Killing Your Darlings: On Main Character Deaths, Or Not

"People die if they are killed"

Except when they don’t

Hush little audience don’t you cry, you knew your favourite character was going to die…

Well, that’s an unnerving little lullaby isn’t it? The fact is, the author giveth and the author taketh away, and the characters and worlds creative professionals breathe life into are often at risk of having that life sucked right back out of it. Yes, friends and loved ones, I’m talking about character deaths again. An excessive amount, or a lack thereof, both of which seem to be trending across popular TV series at current, and both of which have some iffy implications.

Game of Thrones, for example, has by now a stellar reputation for sticking an axe into everyone you love, or, in less weepy terms, its writer assigning no contractual immortality to the ‘good guys’. One of the most popular anime series at the moment, Attack on Titan, runs a similar operation, as does the Fate franchise which has spent the better part of this year putting my heart through a pepper grinder. Supernatural is not much better. In the sphere of YA The Hunger Games and Harry Potter are well worthy of note, with fans everywhere lamenting the loss of their favourites in whatever context. Suzanne, George, J.K. and their kind have earned their place in the hearts of many as the harbingers of doom.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Steven Moffat, who, as much discussed in the wake of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special, has a general aversion to actually killing characters off. Which is fine, on one level, since not every series has to contain a warzone’s worth of death if it’s not actually set in a warzone. But what our champ the Moff does is fake out deaths; kill Rory and bring him back so many times it becomes a running joke, displace people in time so they pass away quietly off-screen, or just smack the literal giant reset button and make everything okay again. As a side note, there is an actual website where you can press a ‘make everything okay’ button, which is really cute, but as a writing technique it’s… rather dicey.

The many deaths of Rory Williams-Pond

There he goes again

At one end of the tightrope, you have Game of Thrones watchers joking that they’re hesitant to get attached to new characters since they’ll probably just get killed off, at the other, all tension and sense of fear for the Doctor and his crew is pretty much evaporated due to their writers’ discomfort with the idea of killing anyone permanently. Neither of these is really a position your show wants to be in. Continue reading

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Filed under Things We Need to Stop Doing

Optimism vs. Cynicism: The Great Heroic Debate

Batman in The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s talk about utopias, giant robots and pop culture.

There’s been much talk surrounding the recent hit Pacific Rim, and how, in all its giant-alien-clobbering awesomeness it was very quick to be dismissed as a shallow creation by critics. Fair enough, I suppose, Pacific Rim isn’t exactly an award winning struggle with the Great Themes and overall the movie was pretty simple, especially in terms of its black and white morality (humans = good guys, giant poisonous aliens = not so much). It’s a lot of fun, plain old monster fighting fun, not exactly gritty, dark or deep. But here is the question: must it be, in order to be accredited any artistic merit?

Apart from, of course, the awesome characters, worldbuilding and immensely creative design of the whole thing, you could argue that one of the big appeals of Pacific Rim is that it’s an optimistic science fiction, where humans and their inventions and relationships actually end up saving the world instead of trashing it. Raleigh and Mako, the main Jaeger team, could be given the title of the heroes of the movie and could convincingly hold onto it, being heroes in the regular sense of wanting to save people, do good and being genuinely likeable characters along the way.

They aren’t twisted or cynical or even snarky, and they don’t have fathoms of shadowy depth and inner turmoil. Neither of them is Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne in terms of dark, brooding complexity, but rather than making them immediately seem shallow and boring it made them part of the overall enjoyability of the movie. Perhaps, if nothing else, it’s because they stood out of the crowd. Continue reading

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Filed under Archetypes and Genre

The Age of Heroes

The Avengers

Iron Man 3 – May 2013

Man of Steel – June 2013

Thor 2 – November 2013

Captain America 2 – 2014

The Avengers 2 – Speculated 2015

What a program! We sure are going to be remembered as the Golden Age of Superhero Movies.

No, really. In the last few years we’ve seen two different Spiderman incarnations, a revamped trilogy for Batman, a Superman movie, a trio and prequel for the X-Men, a film for both the Green Hornet and the Green Lantern, not to be confused, and an adventure each (and more!) for each of Marvel’s Avengers crew: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk (more than once); the first three with parades of sequels lining up behind the release of the blockbuster The Avengers, which featured the whole damn crew and tied together all the individual films.

Never to be outdone, their competitor DC Comics is setting up a parallel set of movies for the Justice League, starting with Man of Steel starring the big S-Man himself. But Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy defies the canon of the DC Universe with its tone and lack of supernatural/overtly sci-fi elements, so they won’t really fit into a combo set like The Avengers did… guess someone will just have to redo the Batman franchise then…

To utilise the official scientific measurement, that is a crapload of superhero movies. Continue reading

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Everyone Loves a Villain

There’s just something infinitely interesting about evil.

Heroes are all well and good, but let’s face it, if they are merely heroes (and not anti-heroes existing in a story of skewed morality or reformed villains themselves) their one layer of goodie goodness can appear a bit flat. They may be the most lovable, honourable character to ever set foot upon a page, but that doesn’t make them intriguing. Also, the story will often be told either from their own perspective or centring around their workings. The bad guy looms on the edge as a menacing shadow. They’re a mystery.

And people love mysteries.

Like, why is this guy such an asshole? Was he/she made this way by some trauma of their childhood? Or is he/she merely inherently evil? What inspired them to want to take over the universe and/or cause the general unhappiness of other people? Or are they just an unthinking agent of chaos? Or perhaps an Eldritch Abomination?

WTF is That? By HP Lovecraft

Continue reading

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Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings