When the Audience is Bored of A-Listers, The B-Listers Will Inherit the Superhero Movies.

For an indeterminate amount of time, comic book fans have been ranking their heroes (and villains) like celebrities with  “A” through “D” rating.

In DC Comics Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have always been A-List heroes. However, characters like Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman have fluctuated, falling to B-Listers in the 90’s, then rising again to A-listers in the mid-oughts.

Marvel is a bit stranger. In the early oughts, Brian Michael Bendis disassembled the Avengers for a good reason. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America struggled as B-Listers in the late 90’s. Thor had been killed off, Iron Man was turned into an alcoholic and then a teengager  and Captain American in general seemed directionless. The rest of the Avengers just didn’t have the popularity of their other franches.  Marvel spent years building the Avengers back up to A-List characters, and thanks the  X-Men and Spider-Man being licensed to other film companies they had no choice but to build a movie universe on the back of the Avengers.

If they had owned the licenses for those two powerhouse franchises, Iron Man would not have been the first cinematic universe film under their own film company. They took a character, Iron Man, which the mainstream audience did not know and turned him into one of the biggest characters they currently have. They did it again with Guardians of the Galaxy, which people knew even less than Iron Man. Likewise, 2003’s Daredevil was an embarassment as far as movies go but Marvel took the franchise and turned it into the most watched and highest rated show on Netflix.

By regaining, rebooting, and revitalizing the Spider-Man franchise they’re also pushing back the inevitable. Marvel knows this, that’s why movies like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel were merely pushed back rather than replaced by Spider-Man movies. Then, with the rest of the Defenders series on Netflix they’ll turn Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist into characters people know essentially raising their ranks from B and C-Listers into A-Listers. They took a character like The Vision and made him the most standout character of Avengers: Age of Ultron. They took a character like Ant-Man and made a entertaining and successful movie about him, which some people found laughable when announced.

On DC’s side it is a bit more worrisome, as far as movies go. Thanks to the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. believes the grim and gritty approach is the way to go as far as their own cinematic universe goes as evidenced by their dark approach to Superman in Man of Steel, the trailer for Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad. This may work at first, but the novelty of it will end quickly. What makes The Flash television series so refreshing is how far away from the Batman tone it is. It’s optimistic, funny, light hearted, and colorful. No dreary colors, no over serious faces, and 90% less angst.

The novelty of Suicide Squad, and Batman v. Superman has a problem. If it wasn’t for Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman the appeal of these movies is what they’re doing differently with Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, and Jared Leto’s version of the Joker. This’ll only last so long. They need movies with different tones with different characters. If they try to Batmanify characters like Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman (which is what it looks like they’re doing anyway) people will become fatigued. Marvel realizes an Iron Man movie should not have the same tone as a Captain America movie, but does Warner Bros. realize that?

The B-Listers will eventually inherit the Marvel movies but if Warner Bros. relies too much on the success of Batman to see what is unique about their other characters they’ll be doomed to fail before they even begin.

You Should Read: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes & Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe (A double.)

This is a double You Should Read, a feature that is mostly in my drafts folder more than actually published in my blog. A lot of the time it’s because I’m not sure what I want to say about a book besides “This story blew my mind / was awesome / was cool / so good that I wish I could write like this!” and that doesn’t make much for a blog post.

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Love “Game of Thrones?” Thank “unfashionable” Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who went against the grain and conquered pop culture (via Instapaper.)

“The Inklings were different. They clung by their fingernails to the past, to old languages and old books and old-school habits and values. They could be cranky geezers — beer drinkers who wore tweed, refused to admit women to their ranks and recited Anglo-Saxon poetry for fun. They expected to be ever-more marginalized and sneered at, although they did fight like hell to keep Oxford from updating its syllabus to included such new-fangled entertainments as Victorian novels. Still, they assumed that they’d lose eventually. They were so unfashionable! So how did they end up taking over popular culture?”

“Yet Tolkien, and to a lesser degree Lewis, arguably have a bigger foothold in the early 21st-century imagination than Carroll, Wilde or some fictional police inspector. Why should that be? Surely one of the best explanations so far has been advanced by the academic and Tolkien scholar T.A. Shippey, who believes that Tolkien drew forth the long-submerged mythic past of the Anglophone world by means of his deep, historical knowledge of the English language.”

“The standard sophisticated take on this fantasy is that it’s childish and escapist, that it posits a past that never existed. And that’s true — Tolkien, who regarded the modern, industrialized world as a hellscape ravened by soulless machines (he hated cars), happily copped to the escapism bit. “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home?” he retorted.”

“Is it any wonder, then, that it isn’t the modernists, those poets of disintegration and speed and fleeting solitary experience, that readers keep returning to, but these fusty holdouts and abstainers, the guys who said, “We’d prefer not to”? Being Christian was just one of their ways of putting on the brakes, and it’s far from obligatory — let alone the central secret to their appeal. None of us gets to live in the Shire, but we haven’t lost our appetite for the kind to stories that are told there. Those stories are still the ones that feel the most like home.”

Love “Game of Thrones?” Thank “unfashionable” Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who went against the grain and conquered pop culture

May 31, 2015 at 04:08PM

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My Introduction to Lore: The Legend of Zelda.

Recently I read this article by Phil Owen on io9 titled I Care About Star Wars Because It Introduced Me To ‘Lore.’  In it he says:

“For me and many other fans, Star Wars is not a series of movies but a setting, a place. And Star Wars was the first property I enjoyed growing up where should I want more stories in its settings I could always have them. And it wasn’t a case of, as it is in many game franchises praised for having lots of lore, characters in a book telling us about past events or info in a codex — nearly all the lore was in books or comics somewhere.”

And I thought, “yeah, Star Wars was definitely the first time I cared about the world of a property beyond its main storyline. That was until I received this in the mail:

Master Sword, yo.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Graphic Novel by Shotaro Ishinomori.

This is a graphic novel, a reprint of a comic that was both printed in Nintendo Power then collected into a paperback in the 90’s. I found the paperback version shortly before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out.

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G. Willow Wilson’s Fantastic Observation on Genre Fiction and Tropes.

“Genre–whether it’s action/adventure, romance, scifi, fantasy, or superheroes–largely differentiates itself from “mainstream literature” by its heavy reliance on tropes. The lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The reluctant paladin called to defend his or her homeland. The white knight. The savior-sacrifice, who must pay the ultimate price to keep the darkness at bay. Good genre books and films succeed because the authors or artists have manipulated these tropes in a particularly skillful way, either by subverting them or unpacking them or, occasionally, pointing right at them. Some of the most stunning works of SF/F produced in the past couple of decades–those that have shifted the cultural conversation–have been those that rely the most heavily on tropes, on what we think we know about a certain genre, and which then proceed to show us, almost by slight-of-hand, what we have overlooked. The Walking Dead. Gravity. District 9. The superb Children of Men. What is masterful about each of these is that the creators exhibited no embarrassment whatsoever about their pulpy source material–instead, they dug deep into the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ and used tropes we might have considered all played out (the astronaut in trouble, the zombie apocalypse) to illustrate profoundly heartbreaking things about the human condition. That is, perhaps, genre in a nutshell: it is cliche turned on its head.”

Dr. Lepore’s Lament

May 14, 2015 at 03:03PM

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