Friday, May 31, 2013

Superman: Unbound

Superman: Unbound

Brainiac: “I am everything. You are nothing but fists.”

Superman: (Punches Brainiac) “When I need to be.”

   For some reason, I don’t like this one very much. It opens with a terrorist attack. Then Supergirl shows up and saves Lois, and then Superman shows up, finishes the job and basically tells the girls to go home. Superman/Kent is sort of rude in this. For starters, he’s overprotective of Lois and Lois says that it feels like she’s dating a stalker. Why do you need to add this element? Oh, yes; to teach another  “Superman can’t control everything lesson”; but in this case it’s the women he cares about.

     Well, it’s not funny and in fact it’s kind of creepy. The original moral of the comic which this is based on (Superman: Brainiac) is simply that knowledge does not equal life experience. That’s what makes life worth saving. The point of life is life itself. That was fine. I have to be believe most of this “Superman learns restraint” stuff is just the result of Batmanmania, mainly caused by The Dark Knight. In the comic, he discovers Brainiac, learns about it from Supergirl, and is genuinely concerned for his loved ones once he hears about Brainiac’s destruction on Krypton. Here, just he tells the women to stay put, so we can get another forced moral.

   There are subtle differences in tone from comic-to-movie, I feel. In the movie, Supergirl rightfully feels the need to rebel against Superman because he tells her to stay away. So, she beats up thugs in North Korea, simply because she wants to make a difference. In no way does Superman explain to her Truth, Justice, and The American Way; I think almost starting a nuclear war would pretty much NOT be representative of any of those values.

    Also, when Superman is fighting Brainiac in the comic he says that he usually has a problem with resorting to violence…usually. Then, he punches Brainiac across the room. That’s funny! It just reminds me that he only fights when necessary, and maybe doesn’t know his own strength. In the movie, the similar line (see above.) makes it sound like he’s just a bully provoked to anger. Superman doesn’t let him know that he’s crossed a line, and is thus acting in defense. This animated version makes it seem rather like a pre-emptive strike, done in the name of a bruised ego.

    I mean, the animation is good, although Superman has sort of a weirdly shaped head, and something about Brainiac’s ship in this version reminds me of Skeletor. But, it’s got that weird other moral about Superman learning not to control everything. Scenes are included to shoehorn in this moral. Including the Supergirl attacks North Korea scene, the terrorist plot scene, and the scene where Lois Lane gives Brainiac “The Bird”; which is sort of forcedly funny, but more cringe-worthy. The tone is just all over the place and makes Superman look kind of like a jerk.

      However, I will say, the showdown with Brainiac does keep the original moral. (That Brainiac has knowledge but knows nothing of life’s value.) The graphic novel by Geoff Johns is amazing, and here it’s loyally re-created. I enjoyed the animation, and it’s certainly worth a watch, but I feel like something is a bit off with Superman Unbound. It seems like they’ve sacrificed Superman’s integrity to make him more like Batman, in my opinion. Is there hope for Truth and Justice? Or are all the superheroes becoming mere action movie stars? I’m all for good action, but I want to see a Superman that gives me hope in Mankind. My final judgment: one thumb up, 2 stars, C+. Good if you like an almost 80s-style cartoon animation mixed with CGI, but not memorable like its graphic novel counterpart.

Thursday, May 30, 2013



“The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, is like... it's like a promise you 

- The 11th Doctor

Just watched the season finale of Dr. Who 3 days ago. Holy crap was it a good cliffhanger! I’ve generally been disappointed by this season because Clara is so boring, but I feel like they put her to good use here. Also, you wanted an anniversary episode with some Doctors? How about ALL the Doctors. Oh, it’s only for brief moments…but they’re all there!

   So, the main plot is that The Great Intelligence convinces The Doctor to fight him in what will be his final resting place. During this time (Long story short!) he almost gets him to reveal his name, and he gains access to The Doctor’s time-stream. I’m trying to hard not to give spoilers, but man…it means T.G.I can erase The Doctor from history.

     Clara is sent in to repair The Doctor’s timeline, which hopefully means we won’t see much more of her, and resolves how she is able to be everywhere in The Doctor’s history. (I.e.: as a Dalek and such!) So, I think that was good. Goodbye, Clara!

    When in the Doctor’s time stream, she is surrounded by all his previous forms. However, there is one form that apparently The Doctor fears, and he keeps claiming that that man is not The Doctor; even though everyone there is The Doctor. Apparently, this one might be somewhat evil, maybe? He claims to use The Doctor’s real name, and The 11th Doctor further clarifies that he didn’t do these things in the name of The Doctor. Still, we don’t know who he is.

    Then the man turns around to reveal (spoilers!): JOHN HURT? MINDBLOWN! So, let’s end this with a nice Whovian debate. Who do you think John Hurt really is? The 12th Doctor? The Valeyard? Some other evil version of himself? I’d love to hear some fan theories in the comments section. Especially from those in the UK, since I’m American, and may be a bit behind on Doctor Who lore than those in The Doctor‘s home turf! Also, I’m really hoping this whole time stream repair plot means some old Doctors will re-unite! Allons-y, I say!

   A good episode, all in all! I think it was misleading, since we still don’t know The Doctor’s name, but what a cliffhanger! I even got to see some old Doctors, AND (possibly) Clara’s gone! So, whatever comes next should be action-packed and thrilling, with big reveals, and maybe some Doctor team-ups! Who knows? Doctor Who knows! Let me know what you know in the comments section!

                                                          (Episode poster!)

A digital William Hartnell makes an appearance! (1st Doctor!)

(Clara makes a sacrifice to save The Doctor throughout time!)

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The Flash: Flashpoint

I’m not sure why everyone seems divided on this one. Probably because it introduces DC’s New 52, which is still something I have yet to touch. Flash wakes up in an alternate reality where Superman and The Justice League don’t exist, and Wonder Woman and Aquaman have started World War III, and his mother, not father is still alive. Sounds cool enough for me! In an effort to understand what went wrong he zooms off to contact this alternate reality’s Batman.

However, this reality’s Batman is Thomas Wayne, and Bruce got shot in the alley. So, when Flash calls him Bruce, he is freaked out and attacks him. He stops when Flash deduces that he is Thomas. Thomas is intrigued that his son lived in another reality and agrees to help Flash get back to his world. However, when he opens his Flash ring, the suit that flies out is the Reverse Flash. Okay, I can see why this is a little annoying, since it’s just everything happening in opposite style, but there’s a cool war angle, and eventually Flash learns to stop saying “This isn’t real.” He says this isn’t his world, but it’s the only world he’s got. Flash rescues this world’s version of Superman, being held captive in a government lab, and unites the world’s heroes into a sort of Justice League.

    Themes of responsibility, physics (my favorite part of any Flash graphic novel!) and psychology are always in play. Memories of the other reality keep colliding with his old memories due to him temporarily existing in both time streams. Fortunately, Thomas Wayne invents a serum and tells Flash. “Remember my son. Don’t forget my son.” Flash and Thomas Wayne visit war-torn Europe. Western Europe is drowned by Atlantis, and the UK is occupied by Amazons! Meanwhile, Cyborg is back in the USA, which is on the verge of defeat.

   In Europe, after duking it out with the villains Aquaman and Wonder Woman with his allies, The Flash encounters The Reverse Flash! He tells him that in this reality, he’s the villain. Since, if he would’ve let The Reverse Flash kill his mom his world, this one wouldn’t exist. Now, I know, it’s a little cheesy to link mass genocide to Flash’s mommy issues, but the interplay of memories between the two realities recalls Flash’s origin in mythology: Hermes, messenger of The Gods. As well as including theoretical physics and string theory. After taking a letter from Thomas, Flash destroys himself by convincing himself not to save his mother, and returns to the normal timeline, letter in tact via Batman serum.

    At the end of the act, we have a teary-eyed Bruce Wayne reading his dad’s letter, and telling Flash “You’re one hell of a messenger.” Also, in the end, there are Flash Facts about how mirrors work by refracting light (Thanks to Mirror Master!), and how the ancient Romans believed mirrors could trap souls. Via Captain Boomerang, we receive a lesson in boomerang physics and friction! The friction pushes back on the curved ends to send it back to the thrower! But, anyway, why am I talking about Flashpoint?

      Because it will become the basis for DC’s newest animated film The Flashpoint Paradox! I’m most eager to see Kevin Conroy return and do Batman! But, perhaps most interesting for me is Carey Elwes will be voicing Aquaman! The dread pirate Aquaman leaves no survivors! While the comics may be controversial for setting up The New 52, the voice cast has me pumped enough to believe it will be well worth a watch! Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox will be available June 20th this year!
(The Flashpoint Paradox)

(Flash and Batman confront Reverse Flash!)

    (I can't resist: "Have fun stormin' the castle, Aquaman!")

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

   I honestly don’t know what to say about this one. The last Star Trek reboot (2009) started off strong with the story primarily setting new grounds where anything can happen, and Spock embraces emotion a little; Kirk becomes  a little more a captain. It was good. It had originality, it took risks. This one has none of that but some good “tributes” to The Original Series. (By which I mean lines and entire scenes lifted from other episodes.)

 You know how Kirk isn’t the captain yet in the first one? Guess what? He’s demoted again! And we get that same bar scene from the last movie about how Captain Pike still believes in him. Then, he’s called to a meeting about a terrorist who bombed London. Should I say spoilers…? I don’t care. This movie spoils itself. So, the terrorist attacks the meeting Captain Pike (not in a wheelchair.) dies and the Enterprise is given back to Kirk…what? Why demote him then for 10 minutes?

    Kirk is ordered to hunt down this terrorist “John Harrison”. “John Harrison” beams over to the Klingon homeworld where he thinks the Federation can’t touch him. This WOULD be interesting if the movie didn’t drop the legality plot point in favor of Kirk blasting the Klingons in a firefight, in which our terrorist comes to help.

I don’t know. Are the Klingons stupid? Why do they decide not to retaliate against this illegal Federation invasion? It’s a point the movie ITSELF raises! And they drop it! Sure, Uhura tries to talk Klingon with the warriors and appeal to their honor to hand over this Earth criminal, but guess what? The Klingon responds by freaking choking her!

 So, after John Harrison surrenders, what does Kirk do? He punches the guy anyway, and hurts his hand! No glib remark, no authorative stride. Heck, no…moralizing monologue…just punching. There’s no wonder and compassion  to this Kirk: no Shatner charm, I have to say. Look, I’m sure Star Trek 2009 proved that these guys can do good impressions of their characters. Simon Pegg can, yes, speak with a brogue; but he’s just impersonating. But, there wasn’t even an attempt by Kirk to be suave. He was just rude. For Pete’s sake, Kirk was daring yes, but his oratory skills are practically what makes him a good captain.

Kirk doesn't even attempt to communicate. “Risk is our business.” “There are no unknowns.” “Our emotions are part of who we are.” There’s none of that Old Kirk compassion here. There is however a monologue about how much he wants to kill Khan. Watching this movie is like watching Trek with someone who has no idea of what Star Trek is; "HEY! Remember that guy who did the THING AND SAID THE WORDS?" That's this movie. It’s a hodgepodge of context-free Trek references, with all meaningful dialogue replaced by action and jokes. Zachary Quinto as Spock does a good job with what he’s given; but, oh man…it’s not much.
So…Surprise! The main villain reveals himself to be Khan once he’s onboard the Enterprise. His backstory seems cool at first, but then he completes a sentence. He was unfrozen from the Eugenics Wars by Admiral Marcus (Also, Carol Marcus is abroad from Wrath of Khan.)   in the event of WAR WITH THE KLINGONS. Argh…so, let’s recap: Kirk invades the Klingon homeworld and then it’s revealed that the man who sent him on a manhunt to get Khan…wanted war in the first place. The Klingons don’t retaliate because…? They forgot? So…why wouldn’t Kirk now be a Federation criminal as well? It’s never explained, and it gets worse. Hang on.

Khan reveals that he put his cryogenetically sealed crew in some emptied out photon torpedoes. I should add that these are the torpedoes Kirk fires Scotty for objecting to earlier in the film. Geez, these new Enterprise crewmembers cannot handle an argument without someone being demoted, fired, or reassigned. Of course, he comes back on the crew and KHAN AND KIRK go after Admiral Marcus, as if Kirk doesn’t know Khan already wants to kill him. Long story short, they beat up Marcus, Khan takes over the U.S.S  Vengeance formerly commanded by Marcus. Khan fires on the Enterprise. I just can’t bring myself to write the next paragraph, but…here goes.

    There’s a warp core malfunction. Spock can’t get away. So after Kirk is menacingly beamed down to die with his ship, Kirk realizes the only thing to do is to…repair the warp core manually. Sigh. But, it’s radiated…and then Scotty calls Spock down to engineering quickly. No, no…they didn’t. Did they just RIP OFF THE MOST POWERFUL SCENE IN WRATH OF KHAN for a lame switcheroo? Just…no! You can’t just make your movie out of other movies! You can borrow elements, but think of your own movie! And to make matters worse…at the end of that scene, where in the original the usually-confident Captain Kirk utters a single hushed “No…” As Spock dies on the other side of the glass…that was powerful. But, what does Spock say now on the other side?


Okay, the “tributes” have gone beyond cute. Now, it’s just offensive. Really. I wish I were making this up. I’m not. Spock yells “KHAAANNN!!!” Okay…I think that’s the worst of it. Phew. Oh, one more. Spock calls old Spock and asks “What did you do?” to defeat Khan. So, they load up some photon torpedoes and convince Khan that they contain his crewmates. He beams them abroad and they detonate. So…Dr. McCoy took a blood sample of Khan’s beforehand and injected it into a freaking tribble while figuring out how they work. McCoy revives Kirk with this superhuman-tribble blood. Is this a Star Trek mad lib?  Of this film I can only say this…of all the tropes I have known…these were the most…humorless.

All this film does is remind me how original Star Trek was. And how unoriginal this is. Oh, the effects were good, but it has no story. Literally. Go see the original Wrath of Khan. I’m going to try to Vulcan mind-meld this out of my brain. Such a good setup with Star Trek 2009 and then it boldly went and ripped off Skyfall and Wrath of Khan. So disappointing! I repeat…watch the original…do not watch this movie if you respect Star Trek!

Friday, May 17, 2013



  Giant robots, high school, and alien attacks! Neon Genesis Evangelion is a 26-episode 80s anime that’s like if Power Rangers was conceived in the middle of a Freshman Philosophy course and turned suddenly into dark adult content. First of all, the art and detail are good: It’s set in the futuristic year 2015 and there’s always an electronic buzz in the background someone and cars whirring. The school kind of looks isolated if not for the giant robots underground.

(Remember it was the 80s in Japan; but the English version was conceived in this is still apocalyptic.) The series revolves around students, mainly a young boy named Shinji Ikari who do battle with giant aliens called Angels while piloting huge robots called Evangelions or EVAs. Every episode is seemingly divided into one of the character’s psychological problems, then a huge robot fight to help them confront it.

 And yes, multiple times the issues involve girls or Shinji’s female pilots/students. Most of the “fan service” however is done in the name of comedic relief. Occasionally, it addresses cultural, psychological, or philosophical issues. For example, one of the pilots is a German-Japanese girl dealing with fitting into post-apocalyptic Japanese society. Another girl seems completely detached from human relationships, for reasons that are later revealed, and also make her the best pilot. Shinji’s father issues also play in in the form of he’s the boss of NERV, which is the organization behind defending Tokyo and killing the Angels. Every episode has a bit of gossip and a big robot battle at the end.

  The EVAs and their pilots minds are connected, in a bit of man-machine symbiosis. Without spoiling anything, eventually the angels figure this out, and the series turns dark. Between battling with giant machine guns and lasers and knifes, now they must also shield themselves from mental attacks. Shinji begins to question the war: “Angels are envoys of God. Why are we fighting envoys of God?” (To which stubborn Asuka replies: “Are you stupid or something? They attacked us, Dummkopf!” So the action takes place on three fronts. Man vs. Society (Their base in Tokyo-3.) Man vs. Man, and Man vs. Angel. I wish I could discuss Rei’s dilemma, but no spoilers.

     Of course watching the battles is spectacularly fast-paced and over the top. When the drama gets too heavy they usually go back to their dorms, and then you see some funny stuff like Shinji trying to hide his nakedness from his commander, Misatu or Asuka Langley Sohryu being stubborn and adapting to Japanese ways. She’s usually scolded for being too stubborn and ambitious: “Asuka! The Japanese way is to consider others before yourself!” says Misatu.  Eventually, I don’t think I’m spoiling when I say that when confronting her battle trauma (Caused by a blast of German Opera music from an Angel!) you learn the real reason she identifies with her mother’s side in Germany.

    There’s always a battle going on; first the pilots are attacked individually, and you learn their bios, then NERV is attacked, and then the pilots’ minds when the episodes get darker and darker. The last few episodes take place almost exclusively inside the pilots’ tortured minds. I can’t imagine how this change in tone might have affected Japanese boys in the 80s, but it took me by surprise and added a lot of plot twists and suspense! There’s even some romance; yes, romance! Not just fan service. The big surprise though comes when the final form of the Angels is revealed, and they attack their young minds through the EVAs!

Overall, it’s a good show if you like extremes! Extreme action! Extreme fan service! Robots! EXTREME PSYCHOANALYSIS AND INTERCULTURAL CONFLICT! Oh, yes…and they all share a pet penguin! But don’t take my word for it: This stuff has to be seen to be believed! And when you're done with that I think there are Evangelion movies! PS: Sorry I couldn't find the English subs for the theme, but it's called "The Cruel Angel's Thesis"!


     PEN PEN!

                                               ASUKA LANGLEY SOHRYU ON HER EVA



Wednesday, May 15, 2013



Taking a break from comic book fights for a minute, I wanted to talk about great moms to disabled characters in honor of this past mother’s day. My first exposure to a disabled character was Forrest Gump, and from the moment Forrest’s mom has her son’s mental condition described to her, she adopts a strong can-do attitude and just takes to explaining things so her son can understand them. It is through her that he learns the witticism: “Life is a box of chocolates…” and he learns how to focus on what he’s got instead of what he doesn’t.
Invariably, this helps him on his trek through American history, running across the U.S. (Along with Jenny’s “Run Forrest, run!” we have “Momma said they was my magic shoes.”) and his experiences in ‘Nam, in love, and generally just preferring to explain things in ways he can understand. “…and that’s all I have to say about that!” I remember seeing this as a kid, and thinking how cool it was that the main character was disabled, and they didn’t try to change it! Beneath his simple storytelling was wisdom. (Arguably from his mother’s early attempt at communication.) And he was the hero, in a sense.

    My only other exposure to disabled characters up to that point were characters like Professor X, Tiny Tim, and the kid from The Secret Garden, which is even now to me, one of the worst movies I have ever seen, both for the story and the moral. But, here was no attempt to “cure” the character’s disability. Instead Forrest’s mom raised him so that he understood that he simply has a different way of explaining things. I am empowered by such attempts at understanding.

    Now, I know some out there will say that Tom Hanks promoted a bad moral for ex: “You should just look at things simply, and not be critical.” Maybe even some would say that since Hanks is able-bodied, he can’t play a disabled character. Well, I’ve never bought that and never have.  I don’t see “simplicity”  as the point, from the prospective of Hanks’s character. True, Forrest’s mom was tough and no-nonsense, but I see it as she was preparing him for the negativity that he would eventually face because of his condition, not because she herself was simple. She even says that he needs to do the best with what God gave him. That’s all I have to say about that.

   My point is, that as a boy I had so few role models to look up to that had disabilities. For every Forrest Gump, which argues for understanding disability as a different cultural setting/life point of view there was Secret Garden and The Christmas Carol. Both of which I hated, and should probably review at some point in this blog. Look, I understand the Christmas spirit, and Tiny Tim is there to gain sympathy; but that’s just it. He serves no other purpose. The story would’ve been equally as cheery without him. But, those were my early exposures to two schools of thought with disability. One that says “God bless us, everyone!” after being miraculously given a feast by a rich man, and one with a tough woman who said: “Do with what God gave you.” (And of course Professor X’s “We’re not dangerous [Moira], we’re different.”; but that’s another post.)

     Watching Forrest Gump’s mom was like watching my own mother who in those days told me not to focus on what I couldn’t do. But then, I knew I had a public voice. A decision to make in how to view my disability. And it still wages on in the media today…(Particularly in X-Men, I must say!) Cure us, or understand us. Sympathize with us or empower yourself with us; the choice is ours, whoever we are. And I know where I stand. Forrest’s mom inadvertently taught me how to watch movies for positive portrayals of disability, rather than outwardly pathetic ones. And it is through my own mother that I’ve felt empowered from my early days! Next time you watch A Beautiful Mind or My Left Foot, or Million Dollar baby…pay attention to how disability is treated! Happy late Mother’s Day! Love you, Mom!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Quick Cultural Critique of Man of Steel

A Quick Cultural Critique of Man of Steel:

Hey Viewers!

Enjoyed talking Iron Man with you last time! Now, this is just something I need to get off my chest. As you may or may not know, I'm not a big fan of the dark re-boot aesthetic for Superman. But, mainly, here's why. The thing about Superman is he represents coming from two different cultures. And for the most part, stands up for what's good about his adopted culture, but he doesn't even particularly need to DO much. The environments, the soundtracks, HIS actions, fill you with hope. But, contrary to Iron Man, he's completely modest. All he needs to do falling building, "Just doing my job, ma'am!" fly off...cue Superman theme! Isn't multiculturalism nifty? Sure am glad Superman flew down to save us...

The mind fills in the rest. This isn't the sense I get from Man of Steel. There's gonna be a lot of exposition. In Superman: New Krypton the graphic novel, we're told that the "S" is actually the Kryptonian crest of House El. As in "Kal-El" and "Jor-El". I like that explanation. It makes sense. His parents sent him with a momento of Krypton. Nope. Not in Man of Steel. In Man of Steel, it just means "Hope". Do we really need to be told Superman is hope? Anyway...I hope they base it on good comics, but yeah, essentially this seems to be a Dark Knight re-skin. I'll admit I was excited at first, but really Superman is about modesty and multiculturalism; when I see Henry Cavill in the preview explaining that the S means hope; I DUNNO....YA DON'T SAY???

Additionally, the soundtrack seems to be off. When I hear the new theme, I get the impression of a man burdened with responsibility, but still no hope, no rising notes. There are no rising notes to signify the "flight" of Superman which is optimistic because he's above the world he's saving; but he just sees it as his job. "This looks like a job for SUPERMAN." Ever since 1941, there have been these sort of three rising notes that (to me.) seemingly sing SU-PER-MAN, and symbolize his flight. Especially after the "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!" bit. Heck, even Lois & Clark played around those notes. As did John Williams, and the '96 Superman: The Animated Series (Which I was watching when I opened up the N64. Epic Nintendo reveal!)

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the Superman leitmotif and character, I leave you with a sample of selected Superman anthems, and Captain Picard playing around with notes (Because it's what Superman's themes do, too! (With the three rising hopeful notes.) It's never the same theme, but it's played around. The new theme does not, and is flat. Plus to demonstrate the effectiveness of Superman's modesty, consider the opening scene of Lois and Clark. It was a cheesy 90s drama, I know! But consider  Dean Cain's first scene as Clark Kent.That's perfect! He stops a bus with his hand, and just walks it off. Modesty! All of Superman's traditional portrayals are essentially mild-mannered.

When I hear Russell Crowe as Jor-El say "He'll be a god to them." in the trailers...I cringe a little. Superman wouldn't want that; Jor-El wouldn't want that. That's what I have against all these "Superman learns not to be a god" plots. He just wouldn't want to be. He's just doing his job, and doesn't want to hurt innocents. It amounts to a humiliation of Superman to try to portray him as a god. But nonetheless, Injustice needs its villain...and Batman is popular right now.

You can make the argument that Superman's creators were Jewish, yes. But, to me, nothing about Superman is a religious experience. He's for America, and for everyone who's ever felt different. TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. It's about honoring that Jewish background, maybe, but there is no evidence that he is exclusively tied to it: he represents intercultural discourse. WITH HIS FISTS and a Boy Scout morality. Oh, sorry I went all Colbert on you there.

Like to me, Superman represents the feeling of me being in German class, almost. When speaking German, I don't worry about my disability. I'm able to focus on what I can do..speak. I have a sense of being judged by the good I can do, not restrained by physical limits. And indeed independent living has been an alien world for me, that I'm still in culture shock about. But see, with Superman...the less said the better. Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman said it best: "Gods get their strength from us believing in them. Superman gets his strength because he believes in us." Superman can never be a god, and wouldn't want to be.

Maybe the film will clear it up later. "Secret Origin" was good as a comic, but I kinda lost hope when Superman was explaining to Lois that the "S" means "HOPE" and General Zod was all: "I WILL FIND HIM!" and blowing stuff up. In the comic, Luthor just manipulates the military's paranoia about alien threats, which they will no doubt do here, but differently. It all comes down to identity, not who Kal-El is, not who Clark Kent is, but as that comic later shows, who SUPERMAN is. I guess I just worry that when I see Henry Cavill strutting around is that armor over a gloomy orchestra...they're setting him up to be a god, and something much less human. Just my two cents. Enjoy the links, and see if you agree with my analysis!

                                        Now let's learn about playing around themes with Picard!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3 Review

   Iron Man 3 Review:

Iron Man 3 is like combining Die Hard 1, T2: Judgment Day, and Iron Man! I was right that Extremis would be involved, but I’m not giving spoilers. There’s some good action and nice character development (Everyone knows its after the events in Avengers.) We learn a lot about how Tony Stark regains his faith in others, how he relates to his suits, and how he deals with threats around him. The threat this time is threefold.  No spoilers, but lets just say it’s the three big ones: Mandarin, a rival industrialist, and a former associate.

   The biggest obstacle though is Tony Stark himself, a little stressed (Shall we say…) from the events in Avengers. He comes to the realization early on that he can’t deal with every threat, and theUS government doesn’t think he can either.  So, not only is everything he loves at stake, but also his confidence. Major themes here include trust, man vs. machine, man vs. self, and of course…in plenty of explosions and fights, man vs. man. There’s plenty of that Tony Stark humor too, that makes me proud to identify (probably most.) with Iron Man aside from his dependence on technology.

    Oh! And I was right about another thing! There’s betrayal…but it wasn’t who I expected the movie to pick. People who have read Extremis should see it right away. That’s the only hint I’m giving! Needless to say though, Iron Man…well, Iron Man is Iron Man! His machines are part of who he is, which also play a role in how he sees himself, grows, and deals with terrorists/bad guys. If you take it all away, he’s still Iron Man. He can’t be everywhere physically at once, or deal with every threat at once, but he has connections anyway! Some really good comments on the nature of terrorism and its inherent relationship to the media. It essentially does what Die Hard 4 failed to do which is: make a good action movie about modern threats to society/digital crime/terrorism, and do it with style. With Tony Stark! Move over John McClane!

    But, at its core for me was the theme of man vs. machine. Will machines exist to serve us, or take away our humanity in the interests of particularly “modern evil”? (Terrorism, media, corporate greed etc…) I don’t know…I think as a disabled man, I pick up fairly easy on the man/machine symbiosis! Sounds heavy but, the movie put it all on the line and eventually Stark himself reveals the answer! A fun movie that definitely raises the stakes. In my view, it might even influence modern action movies outside of the superhero/sci-fi genre. It really plays with the psyche of the character and in the end we come full circle. No doubt he’ll be ready for Avengers 2 as cocky and high-tech as ever! Highly recommended and fun!  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013



Marvel Comics has a new deaf superhero…The Blue Ear!

Well, Marvel has a new disabled hero! He has a super hearing aide! Did you read the linked article? It’s interesting to me how the artist picked up the West Coast Avengers #1 and pointed out that Hawkeye lost his hearing and had to wear a hearing device. In my opinion, Marvel has always been more disability-friendly because of their focus on how ordinary people make the best of what they’re given. They already have Professor X and Daredevil as visibly disabled heroes, and now the Blue Ear shows us a hero for the deaf community, and Anthony Smith himself!
The artist recalls that even Anthony’s name sounded like a superhero name: “The Blue Ear”. As it says in the article, Anthony’s mom even said that her suggestion would probably not make it past the spam filters. Everyone wants to be a hero these days.

   But, I think all that I can really say is growing up as a 90s kid and watching the X-men cartoon, I was certainly inspired by Professor X. When you see someone acting as a hero who has your disability (or uses your assistive device, anyway.) That person becomes someone to look up to. This was certainly one smart mom to go and contact Marvel to give her son a hero. I think as a disabled person, for me personally, I often feel like I have to try extra-hard to perform at the super-level. It’s nice to know that Professor X is there, in my struggles, as is the Blue Ear for the Deaf community.

I think the reason for Marvel’s success with disability themes is that, aside from a diverse roster of heroes like Professor X and Daredevil, who are visibly disabled; most of the Marvel origin stories are about accidents from which the superhero gains powers. That's a constant Marvel theme: Spider-Man bit by a spider, Wolverine's skeleton replaced with adamantium steel, the X-men are all mutants who face discrimination. They teach us to cope, and how to turn apparent tragedies into strengths. A character like the Blue Ear would already have friends around who could relate to him; including Anthony, who will no doubt look up to him as a role model to go beyond his limits and be a hero. Marvel has always had a better track record with disabled characters, I will say, as opposed to DC. But, by no means is this meant to turn into a Marvel vs. DC thing. I’ve seen a quadriplegic hero in an independent comic called The Silver Scorpion. The superhero landscape is changing, and it appears to include disabled heroes too, as well.

    When I as a kid saw Professor X fighting for mutant civil rights, in my mind, he was also fighting for disability rights. His disability honed his superpower that much more. I can’t think of a better role model than The Blue Ear! Also, after you’ve checked out the above article, be sure to check out some old articles I made exploring disabilities in Marvel animated movies! They were published in the VSA Cleveland Newsletter in Fall of 2012, so you know they’re good! Well, excelsior, Blue Ear! Welcome to the Marvel Universe!

AVENGERS (2006):