Well, everybody else here is talking about Wonder Woman, so I guess it’s my turn. Caution: there may be S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S ahead! (Especially my sixth bullet, below.)
It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again. Gal Gadot is to WW as Christopher Reeve was to Superman. Her portrayal of the Amazon leaves an indelible print upon the character; it’s as if Zeus did indeed exhale, not upon a figure of clay, but upon a two-dimensional comic book form drawn of pen and ink, allowing her to step off the flat page and into the three-dimensional world, granting her life and all the depth and breadth of humanity.
Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is not some ineffectual weenie who somehow got through basic training, nor is he some steroid-enhanced muscle-bound moose. Nor is he the male version of a 1950s Lois Lane, mooning after love. Nor is he the callous male hunk in love with his own reflection. And though he opens Diana’s eyes to what is going on “out in the world,” his piercing blue eyes are not the reason she leaves Paradise Island.
Etta Candy got short shrift, but it’s clear that she’s not some Woo-Wooing sidekick. Yes, she’s a secretary, but she’s no slave; secretaries do get paid, y’know. To even be a working woman in 1918 was pretty daring, and to work in military intelligence means that she’s no slouch when it comes ability. World War I was the start of a new social order in England, as those of you who watched Downton Abbey know, and I’m pretty sure Etta votes Labor and has marched for woman’s suffrage.
I loved the portrayal of Themiscrya. Of course I immediately thought of George (Pérez) as I looked upon the architecture and facades of the city; and I also thought of my own work and remembered how, as I wrote, I would picture Diana’s home in my head. (I also thought of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, another book that also features a mystical island of women.) But it wasn’t just George or my own work or Bradley’s; it was also a callback to my childhood, when I would look at the clouds piling up on the horizon as the sun set, and see castles and waterfalls and NeverNever Land and magic.
The battle against Ares: eh. Not so much. Almost anti-climatic in my book. The battle of the Amazons against the Germans invading Themiscrya? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Diana’s realization that killing Ares did not stop the war, did not stop the violence and destruction was like watching a child who is told numerous times to stay away from the oven because it’s hot, but still reaches out when Mommy’s not looking to touch it, and…wow, it hurts! I guess, sometimes, you just have to let the kid learn for herself.
What was with the woman in The Phantom of the Opera mask? No back story, nothing. Who was she? We understand why the Queen gives the poison apple to Snow White; we get why Maleficent put the curse on Sleeping Beauty. I thought that perhaps she was an Amazon who had left Themiscrya because she was “bored now,” or something; but nope. Nada. Unless she shows up in some future sequel – maybe she’s Circe?
Referencing Mike Gold’s columnof July 7: Are you fucking kidding me? Fox News will do and say anything these days as their ratings sink and their Orange Führer sinks even lower.
Gal Gadot is Israeli and Jewish. (There are Israeli Christians and Muslims, y’know.) Apparently this bothers some people:
Washington Post: How the Jewish Identity of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Star is Causing a Stir
Comicbook.com: There IS a Person of Color in the Lead Role
The (Jewish) Forward: ‘Wonder Woman’ Sparks Debate About Jewish Identity
Slate.com: Why So Many People Care Wonder Woman Is Israeli
Do these people know that Jesus Christ was Jewish? Do they realize that the odds of a Middle Eastern man born approximately 2,017 years ago on being blonde and blue-eyed and white are considerably less than the odds of winning the Powerball lottery?
And, sure, Cleopatra looked like Elizabeth Taylor – who converted to Judaism, by the way. Liz, I mean.
Fucking assholes… Welcome to the Age of Trump, people.
It seems like incredibly faint praise but I should get it out at the beginning: Wonder Woman is the best film of the DC Extended Universe era. That only means that it’s a coherent film with proper pacing and character work that doesn’t feel completely at odds with 80 years of published material. It’s honestly hard to believe that the same studio was working on this gem at the same time they were shoveling Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman out the door. Wonder Woman is a triumph for DC and the kind of shining beacon for the future that I’m sure they will ignore for a grey and smokey Justice League later in the year.
The action beats in Wonder Woman are stellar. The sequence where she ditches her outerwear and uses her sword and shield to come over the top of a bunker and traverse the no man’s land is maybe the best action beat I’ve seen all year. I’ll even give them bonus points for not underlining the potential word play. The training montages on Themyscira are crowded without being cluttered. They gesture to a frenetic martial lifestyle that I would love to see more of in a sequel. The mass action sequences are done so well that it’s a little disappointing to have the final battle be a kind of inscrutable one-on-one fight but that’s how these movies end. I would be in to the superhero movie where things are solved in an institutional manner or with one hero fighting an entire army, but it’s seemingly never been done and this was probably not the time to start.
Gal Gadot is perfect in the role of Diana Prince. She’s so good that it’s easy to forget all the times another actress seemed perfect for the part and DC squandered the opportunity by not making a movie out of this property in the last 25 years. Her facial expressions are on point and she deftly handles the switch from a steely warriors gaze to befuddlement at the world outside her island. I think “oh, I don’t understand this modern thing” might be a little overused here but it’s one of their only avenues for comedy and you wouldn’t want it to be just a movie about how terrible World War One is, we’ve had those movies and I personally don’t find them very interesting. The rest of the cast is fine, I suppose. Chris Pine is punching a little above his weight here, or he’s criminally underused in the Star Trek movies. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen are great as Antiope and Hippolyta respectively, but with such vanishingly small amounts of screen time.
I struggled a bit with World War I as a setting. In the comics Wonder Woman has all the Hitler-punching bonafides as Captain America does, and moving to a war with a less certain, less reviled, adversary takes some of that oomph out of things. It’s easy for Diana to hate Nazis and slightly harder for her to hate too many convoluted political alliances. It serves the story (the suspicion of Ares’ involvement might seem too overt in WWII) but I spent a lot of time wondering when things might get turned up a little. I’m here to see Diana smash tanks and fight against unstoppable odds (present in this film for sure) and less here for her infiltrating a ball or shopping in a very standard version of London (also unfortunately present).
I enjoyed Wonder Woman a great deal, but that’s not really what’s most important here. I have watched my Facebook feed fill up all weekend with raves from women I know thrilled to see a superhero movie that speaks to them. I have to believe them that this movie is something special above and beyond my appreciation of it on a surface level. That people feel heard and represented by a movie is more important than any quibbles I might have over the depth of the supporting cast or how uninteresting I find World War I as a setting. I thought Wonder Woman was good, all these people thought it was real, and given the circumstances I’m going to go with them on this one.
“Be careful of mankind, Diana. They do not deserve you.” —Queen Hippolyta
Will the Amazonian be the woman who finally breaks the Hollywood glass ceiling?
Wonder Woman, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Princess Diana of Themiscrya, premieres on June 2, just 12 days away, and the fate of all the superwomen and their eponymous movies who would follow her lies in the ability of her sword-wielding, shield-bearing, gold lassoing hands and her armor-plated breast to vanquish the biggest and baddest super-villain of them all: Box Office.
I’ve watched every trailer and clip that Warner Bros. has released, and though they were all great, the very best of all of them, im-not-so-ho, was Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Every time Ms. Gadot showed up, whether it was in her guise as Diana Prince or as Wonder Woman, the movie morphed from an overbearing, weighted down slog through mud into a wonderama gliding with the agility and talent of an Olympian figure skater. Her Diana Prince was a woman of intriguing mystery and integrity, and her Amazon alter-ego was a wonder of heroic strength and bravery. She is possessed with incredible beauty and stature, the natural grace of a gazelle, and quiet yet undeniable assurance. The camera loved her; so did I, and I walked out of the theater knowing that Ms. Gadot is a worthy inheritor to the role that made Lynda Carter a star and icon for girls and young women coming of age during the 1970’s.
I know that I have previously said that I thought placing the movie during WW I might be a mistake. But after watching (again) all the Wonder Woman clips and previews and that bit from BvS—in which Bruce Wayne discovers the picture of a “meta-human” captioned “Belgium, November, 1918” and starts putting “1 + 1”—I have what I think is a pretty good idea as to why the movie is set when it’s set. (Of course, I will have to wait to see if I’m right…and I’ll let you know if I was, okay?)
Meantime, the Twitter universe has lit up with early reviews, released on Thursday, May 18; here are some examples:
Indiewire’s Kate Eerbland:
WONDER WOMAN: Easily my favorite DCEU film. Has the humor and heart the franchise so desperately needs. Gadot and Pine are charming as hell.
Every tweet I read reflected what I felt and saw on the screen in BvS. Gal Gadot is to Wonder Woman what Christopher Reeve was to Superman. And it may just be that the answer to the question posed up above will be a resounding yes.
Only the gods and goddesses know.
We all have mothers. I had a mother of a cold last week, and since Sunday was Mom’s day, I thought I would take a moment to honor all those women who have taken on the absolutely hardest job in the multi-verse, even though it’s 24 hours late.
I think the best known mother in the four-color universe is the farmer’s wife from Smallville who, with her husband, found and raised the “strange visitor from another planet” who would grow up to become the one and only Superman. Although I’ve always known that farmer’s wife as Martha Clark Kent, her name varied for quite a while; she was known as Mary Kent in Superman #1 (1939), but in George F. Lowther’s 1942 novel, The Adventures of Superman, and on the radio program for which Mr. Lowther was a writer, Mrs. Kent’s first name was Sarah, which also followed her to the George Reeves television series of the same name. (The Adventures of Superman, Episode 1, “Superman on Earth,” written by Richard Fielding) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster finally settled on “Martha” sometime in the 1950’s, and since then, every variation of Superman’s mom on the page and on television and in the movies has been known by that name.
Several actresses have played Ma Kent on the big and small screens. Virginia Carroll was the first to play her in the 1948 movie serial that starred Kirk Alyn as the Man of Steel, in which her name was Martha. Francis Morris played Sarah Kent in the aforementioned The Adventures of Superman. Phyllis Thaxter was the perfect Martha to Chris Reeve’s Superman in the one and only Richard Donner film—and if you haven’t seen Donner’s version of Superman II, get on it, guys!!!!! The venerable actress Eva Marie Saint played her in Superman Returns, and Diane Lane is the most recent Martha, doing an admirable job in Man of Steel, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and is about to return as Martha Kent in Justice League.
Television Marthas have been portrayed as younger and hipper. K Callan’s version, in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures, was a sixties-something woman whom you could easily imagine having burned her bra and marched with Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and other women during the social upheaval of the ‘60’s. And I have a special fondness for Annette O’Toole, who played Martha on Smallville for the show’s entire run. (This was Ms. O’Toole’s second time around in the DC universe; she played Lana Lang in Superman III,) I think her Martha was innately every bit a feminist as K Callan’s, but, im-not-so-ho, I don’t think she ever needed her consciousness “raised”—she just instinctively understood that she was as equal and capable as her husband and any other man, and her choice to be a “stay-at-home” mom was just that—her choice. In later seasons, Senator Martha Kent went to Washington, representing the state of Kansas, although her political party was never stated; my own political leanings make her a Democrat, although in reality I think she would most likely be what in today’s political climate is called a RINO, which is pronounced like the animal and stands for Republican In Name Only—a pejorative for someone who is not considered conservative enough in their beliefs.
I also want to take some space here to give a shout-out to two very important moms in my life: Loretta Yontef Newell, my mom, and her granddaughter (and my daughter), Alixandra.
I haven’t all that often talked about my mom here—I’m really not sure why. She and my late dad were married for 69 years—they almost made it to 70 years, as their anniversary is coming up this June—and I know she was the linchpin for their relationship, for my dad adored her. I remember when we celebrated their 60th year of marriage; I said, “y’know, I gotta tell ya, there were times I was sure you two were headed towards divorce.” My father scoffed and said, “You’re nuts!,”; my mother wouldn’t even deign to answer.
She was a woman who was “feminist” in the same way that Annette O’Toole’s Martha was—raised to be able to stand on her own two feet in a time when most women were raised to become wives only, she first worked as a telephone operator before entering the U.S. Army Nurse Cadet Corps during WW II, and was stationed in Washington, D.C. as the war drew to a close. After the war she worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital—she commuted every day from Bayonne, taking bus, ferry, and subways!—where, she told me, she and her friends, after a long night delivering babies, went to the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn to see a certain young singer from Hoboken whose first name was Frank and whose last name was Sinatra. (I could never get her to admit to being one of the “bobby-soxers” who screamed his name earlier in the decade.) She was also a school nurse, a medical-surgical nurse, one of the very first nurses to work with dialysis patients back in the day when the dialysis machines looked like giant rotors with a netting strung across their innards, and worked for the U.S. Public Health Service at a hospital on Staten Island, where one of her jobs was to ride a jetty out to the ships moored in Lower New York Harbor and give physicals to the merchant marine crewmen, clearing them for entrance into the States. She was a school nurse, a sleep-away camp nurse, and an ER nurse. And she did all this while being an involved wife and mother. My dad was always proud of his wife being a professional woman; and she was, for the longest time, the only one of their circle of friends who worked “outside the home.”
She made time for the kids (me and my brother), too. She encouraged us to read—leading her own two plus their reprobate friends to the public library—and took us into New York City to Broadway shows and museums. I think our elementary school teachers were afraid of her, because if she thought one of us had been treated unfairly, she didn’t sit on her hands.
When I was in second grade I went to my school’s library and wanted to take out “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley. The librarian would not allow it, saying that it was a book for the older grades. When my mother heard about this, she went up to the school and demanded that I be allowed to read whatever I wanted to read. Of course, I wasn’t present for this showdown, but I can only imagine what my mom said, because from then on I never had a problem.
Another time, I think I was in third grade, the class was assigned to read a biography and then write a book report about the subject. My mom took me to the public library, and I chose the story of Y.A. Tittle, the N.Y. Giants quarterback. When I handed in my report, the teacher gave it back to me, saying, “Little girls do not read biographies about football players.” Up went my mother, back to P.S. 29. Again, I don’t know what she said to the teacher, but I got an A+ on that book report—I’ve always wondered whether it was because it was an early example of my writing ability or because, simply put, the teacher was scared shit of my mother.
My mother never told me what she said, and now it is too late—right before my dad died, maybe two weeks prior, my mom had a stroke, and though she is not physically disabled, her cognitive abilities are, to put it sadly and simply, pretty much shot to hell. She now lives in the same nursing home, and on the same floor, where my father spent the last years of his life. Sometimes she is more “cognitive” than at other times—sometimes when I speak to her on the phone, she is almost my mother; and other times, most times, she simply cries and says she wants to go “home.”
The other mom I want to talk about is my daughter, Alixandra. She and her wonderful husband Jeffrey, my son-in-law the Doctor—he is a PhD. and a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey—have a son, named after both grandfathers: Meyer Manuel. He is loving and beautiful and the light of my life. He is also autistic.
When Meyer was definitively diagnosed at 18 months—the earliest age at which autism can be, well, definitively diagnosed—Alix was working full-time and applying for a second Master’s program in Public Health and Policy at New York University. She didn’t quit her job; she didn’t quit her educational plans, only delayed her entry into the program for a semester; she started researching autism and the education of autistic children, and found Meyer the best school in her area, Caldwell University, enrolling her son in the Applied Behavior Analysis program there. It was incredibly expensive, and when the insurance company lagged in its responsibilities, she fought them. She has never, ever ceased fighting for her child, has never ceased to put him first; they sold their beloved first home and moved to a town with better, and more progressive, educational policies towards special needs kids, choosing to rent and investing the monies from the sale of their home in Meyer’s future. And meanwhile, she did go back to school for that second Masters and continues to work full-time, commuting to New York City and always bringing work home with her.
At the San Diego Comic Con, the United States Post Office announced that, in honor of her 75th anniversary, it was issuing a series of Wonder Woman stamps. This makes me very happy, since I just ran out of Batman stamps.
Also at SDCC, Warner Bros. released the first trailer for the Wonder Woman movie, due out in February. There were other trailers from Warners and other studios, but Wonder Woman is what everybody was talking about, at least on my feed.
While Supergirl was the first super heroine I loved, I also always adored Wonder Woman. When I first read her stories, they were as silly as many other comics with guest stars who included mermen and bird men. I didn’t know about her kinky origin, but I did notice that every story involved someone getting tied up. That didn’t bother child-me because I was too enthralled with her daring escapes and triumphs.
There is a lot that is wonderful about this trailer. Gal Godot looks fantastic, in costume and in civilian clothes. Her training in the Israeli army is obvious in the way she moves, and I completely believe she has the skills to be a super-powered warrior princess. I like the armor. It looks like it moves in battle, which is what armor is supposed to do.
Robin Wright is appropriately regal as Hippolyte. Chris Pine manages to convey Steve Trevor without undue camp.
On the minus side, there is also a lot of slow-motion fighting, which makes it look, to me, like Zack Snyder might have had too much influence. I remember thinking the Batman vs. Superman trailer didn’t look horrible, and then it broke my heart. Please don’t let that happen this time.
Still, I have hope. There is a scene where Steve Trevor is trying to stop Wonder Woman from going to a fight, and she says, “What I do is not up to you.”
That’s my Wonder Woman…
…Which brings me to the Democratic National Convention.
There were women who spoke at last week’s Republican convention, and I’m not questioning their sincerity nor their passion for public service. To me, however, their words defending their party were belied by the platform it approved. And the women who got the featured time slots in network broadcast were, for the most part, relatives of the candidate.
As I write this, the Democrats are just starting. Michelle Obama, wife of the president, had a prime time slot. But so did Sarah Silverman and Elizabeth Warren and non-famous women who spoke about their own, unique realities. The schedule for the rest of the week includes Bill and Chelsea, who are Clinton family members, but also many other women with professions and missions that show their personal commitment to this country, and to their candidate.
And then, later in the week as I write this but last Tuesday as this gets posted, Hillary will be nominated. She doesn’t have her husband’s charm as a speaker but she is intelligent and determined and she does her homework. I expect to be quite moved as she is/was the first woman to be nominated for president by one of our major political parties.
Bones: We could be mauled to death by an interstellar monster!
Kirk: That’s the spirit, Bones.
Considering today is Monday the 25th and Star Trek: Beyond came out only three days ago, how much can I tell you about it without doing the dreaded HERE THERE BE SPOILERS dance? Hmmm…let’s see….
Did I like it?
Did I luvvvvvvvv it?
Well, that’s hard to say. If you had asked me that last night as I was walking out of the theatre, I would have said, “No, I didn’t luvvvvvvvv it.”
Meaning that I didn’t want to turn around and immediately buy another ticket, ‘cause I’m too honest to just stay in my seat and wait for the next show, and besides, with my luck, I would have gotten caught by that one guy or gal in the whole wide world who has the thankless job of cleaning up after all us movie slobs between showings and who takes his or her job seriously enough to throw me out or hand me over to the theater manager. The way I wanted to do when I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark or the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back or, come to think about it, the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot back in 2009.
However, as I was talking about the movie while playing and cavorting in the pool this afternoon with grandson Meyer, daughter Alix, and son-in-law Jeff, I realized that while I didn’t luvvvvvvvv this third entry of the rebooted Trek universe, I definitely do want to see it again, because:
1) Chris Pine is simply becoming more and more handsome. In fact, before sitting down to write this I watched the Wonder Woman trailer – the one unveiled at this year’s San Diego Comic Con – just to feast my eyes on those amazing blue eyes.
Ahem No, not really. Let me try that again.
1) Chris Pine is inhabiting the character of James Tiberius Kirk more thoroughly with each film, allowing us to follow and appreciate the growing maturity of the young(est) captain who sits in the command chair of the Federation’s premier starship, all while never losing the charm of the boy inside;
2) Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban, as Spock and Leonard “Bones” McCoy respectively, still frankly fucking amaze me with their dead-on interpretations of the First Officer and the Chief Medical Officer of the starship Enterprise as we knew and loved them in the “before” time. It’s not only in their acting skills that totally get the quirks and mannerisms of the Vulcan-Terran hybrid and the “old country doctor,” but also in their spoken intonations and, yes, the very sound and timbre of their voices. How do they do that?
3) Speaking of the Euclidian – or is that Isosceles? – triangle that is Kirk, Spock, and McCoy…it’s all there. The wrangling, the bemusement, the annoyance, the loyalty, the friendship.
4) And with regards to that triangle… two sides, Spock and McCoy, are more cantankerously and crabbily thrown together than ever before, giving us the chance to revel in their ornery, and yet loving relationship.
5) Yes! Finally! Hurray!!!! The women of Star Trek get their due!!!!! Communications Officer Lt. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has more screen time than ever, and she kicks ass, not only physically but also emotionally and with smarts. Not to mention Melissa Roxburgh as Ensign Syl. Yeah, she may be a “red shirt,” but she’s not simply disposable. And then there is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, the woman who becomes the crew’s ally. Yeah, she kicks ass, too. But here’s a word that I haven’t seen in any of the media review. She’s adorable. As in, I adored her relationship with “Montgomery Scotty,” which lead me to…
6) Simon Pegg, as the Chief Engineer, is once again simply wonderful. (And by the way, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Beyond with his writing partner, Doug Jung, ably Robert Orci, Patrick McKay, and John D. Payne.)
7) Although I do have to say that John Cho, as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, does get a bit shortchanged this time around, in what I thought was a great addition to the character (not to mention to the franchise), it’s established that not only is Sulu gay but that he and his beloved are parents to a little girl. I also think it’s an absolutely wonderful tribute to George Takei, who has been in the forefront of gay rights since he first came out; Mr. Takei was one of the first to marry his partner when California finally voted in the legality of same-sex marriage. The funny thing is, Mr. Takei objected to this “change” in Sulu’s character. That seems odd to me…
As for the reasons I didn’t luvvvvvvvv STB, well it comes down to…
1) Idris Elba.
No. Not the actor. He was, as usual, pretty damn fantastic, especially – nope, not gonna go there. Not going to get all SPOILERY.
In fact, I can’t really get into why Mr. Elba, or, rather, and more specifically, his character, bothered me without getting all SPOILERY.
So I’m just going to have to drop it for now, until (I assume) Art Tebbel and/or Vinnie Bartilucci or someone here at ComicMix gives a more, uh, thorough review.
Until then, live long and prosper.
One thing I did truly luvvvvvvvv, immediately luvvvvvvvved: The honor and respect and love given to Leonard Nimoy, both within the movie itself and in the credits. And the saddest thing about Star Trek: Beyond is the passing of Anton Yelchin. Stay for the credits. You’ll see what I mean, and you’ll “hate” it, too.
Blow out the torches and put the pitchforks back in the barn, kiddos. Any longtime fan of ole’ Marc Alan Fishman knows well that he isn’t much for the lightsabers and midichlorians. I’m not here necessarily to slight a multi-billion dollar franchise that helped spawn a legion of fanboys that in-turn became the heroes of my youth. Instead, I’m here to explain calmly and coolly why I’m skittish that the hype machine that will churn out the next Star Wars will not be the second coming all the wookies and rogues are awaiting with baited breath.
J.J. Isn’t the Messiah
J.J. Abrams is a talented director and writer. But he’s not a miracle worker. While his track record and profit margins have never been snickered at, I look over his IMDb resume and nothing strikes me. Yes, he created cult (and successfully syndicated) hits like Alias, Lost, and Fringe. Yes, he helmed Cloverfield – lauded for its original take on a typically tropey concept. And yes, he successfully brought the Enterprise into our modern cineplexes.
But I specifically look to his Star Trek movies when I attempt to envision an Abrams’ Star Wars joint. And it has me fretting for the future set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Abrams’ Trek was clean to the point of stringency. His lens-flared Apple-esque vision held with it no lasting memories beyond the tepid jokes. While he crammed every spare inch of celluloid with today’s troop of tasteful thespians, can anyone here denote a single performance that was anything more than brilliant pastiche? I love Simon Pegg. I tolerate Karl Urban. Hell, I’ve pined for Chris Pine. But cast as living ret-cons, they all floated on the “close by not quite” vibe for their namesake roles.
“You incredulous Dewback!”, you chortle, “J.J.’s Star Wars is using the original cast and veritable no-names for the new roles!” Too true. And if it’s one small saving grace as to why I think the new movie will be reasonably entertaining and not the new testament, it’s largely because I think Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher have plenty more to pump into their historic roles. But I digress.
J.J. Abrams has the chops to make a palatable port of the seminal series. But, to date, he’s done nothing that screams to me that he was/is/will be the end-all be-all director that will remove the taste of the prequels from my memory. Which leads me to reason two:
Episodes I, II, and III happened.
Preach to me all you want. Rebels, countless in-canon comics penned by incomparable scribes such as our very own John Ostrander, and a litany of extended universe novels may all showcase how amazing the Star Wars universe can be. But in all those aforementioned examples, the target market clearly was always the hardcore Star Wars fan. Not John Q. Averageguy.
The fact is this: Episodes I, II, and III did make it to movie theaters. And sure, they banked considerable cash. But find me someone who walked out of any of those flicks, declaring that they trumped the original trilogy in any way (and “CGI” sure as a Sarlacc don’t count) and you’ve found the village idiot. The prequels were bloated, underwritten, over-produced crap-fests that proved to an entire generation that George Lucas’s original vision had forever been tarnished by the very commercialization that originally made him his fortune. And I’m being nice – we know there’s plenty of people who didn’t walk out of Return of the Jedi singing ole’ Georgie’s praises. The fact remains: the prequels happened, and they’re not going away. Episode VII may end up amazing… but it’s still sitting on a foundation of midichlorians… and of wooden acting.
Hype is a dish best served virally.
I’m wracking my brain to find the last thing in this world that lived up the hype built up over countless marketing ploys. The Dark Knight comes to mind. That’s about it. The fact is Star Wars is a globally recognized juggernaut franchise. When it comes to hitting the multiplex, Lucas and Disney will spare no expense ensuring the world at large knows of the impending Episode VII. Count the coverage of the teaser trailer alone, and then multiply it exponentially as we march closer and closer to the midnight premiere.
Do you remember Episode I? The tent cities that dotted the movie theaters, coated in cosplayers? Do you remember the aisles of every toy store choked with every non-chaser action figure of every background character that would be in the upcoming film? Or how about the happy meal tie-ins. Or the Hostess snack-cake collectible mini-comics. Or the 7-11 collector cups. Or the Pizza Hut Jabba the Hut slice-n-dicer. OK, I made up a few of them, but don’t deny the past (and the inevitable): nothing will stop Mickey and George’s empire from marketing en masse come this December. Santa doesn’t stand a chance.
And if you think Episode VII will be that good enough to forget the sins of the past, and the sins to come… well, I’ll see you at the North Pole.