Tagged: Man Of Steel

“The rumor about Wonder Woman’s movie debut” is, well…

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” – attributed to Mark Twain

There are times when the internet overreacts to things.  In most cases, the overreaction is unjustified.  Even if it is against a legitimately unpleasant act, like racism or other acts of cruelty, usually the reaction is wildly overblown, one that can often have a blowback effect and make the target seem like the one that has been wronged.

But this one…

Now, in reading the original article, one sees that this is not even a rumor, but the writer’s own Clever Theory.  It’s a pure ass-pull by the writer of what he thinks MAY happen.  But as soon as the article passes through one round of Chinese Whispers, it’s turned into a “rumor”, and I’m sure within a couple more, it’ll pop up with script samples and more “proof”.  We live in a world where the Worst Case Scenario is often the first case considered.

The articles that have sprouted from this have all circled around the idea of “I knew it!” and other such resigned aspirations. People are calling back quotes from WB executives who have described the character of Wonder Woman as being “complicated”.  So the idea of “dumbing down” the origin, or shit-canning it entirely, seems a perfectly logical response from a Hollywood executive.  So we have no problem believing such flummery as, maybe not the emis, but at least possible enough to break out the pitchforks.

There is a lesson here, perhaps two.

For the readers…scroll back up the chain a bit.  Don’t just read the story you found, but the one the writer links to, and if necessary, back to the original story, if indeed such a story exists.  Remember that much of what’s written on the Internet is written with a goal of drawing eyes to the story, over and above all else.  And so, if a fact or two is left behind, or trampled in haste, well, it all works out in the end, eh?  There are times I think some websites should be published on a yellow background, if you know what I mean.

For the executives at the WB – look carefully on how quick, vehement and virulent the reaction to this story has been, and it’s completely vaporous.  Imagine how bad the reaction is going to be if they hit one with a kernel of truth.  There are a LOT of people who have invested a great deal of hope and emotion into this upcoming appearance.  You should be greatly cautios in your actions with her.

There’s a bit of American History that applies here. A hoax news story was circulated that President Abraham Lincoln was planning to draft an additional 400,000 soldiers to fight in the War of Northern Aggression Civil War.  The reaction was…let’s go with “strong”.  There was a great hue and cry, and more interestingly, the price of gold went up, which was the ulterior motive of the men who planted the story in the first place.

Here’s where the story leans into, fittingly, rumor. The story goes that Mr. Lincoln had originally planned to conscript even MORE than 400,000 men.  But when he saw the reaction to a lesser number, amended his plans accordingly.

Please note, and emulate, the great wisdom of this great man.

Marc Alan Fishman: How To Succeed In Comics Without Really Trying

fishman-art-131221-150x43-3070732Consider this a free lesson in becoming a rich and successful writer, be it in Hollywood, comic books, TV, movies… whatever. Yes kiddos, you too can be a mega-player in the game if you follow my patent-pending advice. And since there’s no use to wasting time, let me get to them write now. Get it?

Copy someone better than you. See, I’m already gonna copy legendary John Ostrander, who in his article this very week gave out five tips to aspiring writers as well. But as you’ll learn, babe, it’s not about who did it first… just who does it next. I recall, fondly, that one of my professors at college had his intro to screenwriting class begin the year by dissecting their favorite romantic comedy for structure, and then literally rewrite it according to the corresponding skeleton etched out. Nifty, eh? So when the chips are down and your screen is blank, just boot up Netflix, and get prepared to appropriate your masterpiece.

Retcon it, reboot it, or make a prequel/sequel! Why waste your time creating an original piece of work when you can start where someone else started? As a natural next-step of copying someone who is better than you, you can get oodles of dollars by simply refraining from even considering originality as an option. DC Comics may have canceled a Batman series recently, but you best believe that someone else will fill in the slot the second they see an uptick in BatSales. It’s their New52 M.O.: when sales spike, it’s time to expand! Justice League look good? Make it dark! Make it American! Make it StormWatch! Err… Simply put, if you want to be a resource to those folks who sign the big checks? Then be prepared to take on the franchise when the original creator is off doing whatever it is “artists” do. Remember, you want to be writer… not an artist.

When the editor says “Jump”, already be in the air. When you’re in the air? Be screaming “Is this high enough?!” You see, in today’s market, the writer is just another tool in the box. One need not be “good” as much as “serviceable.” When he-who-signs-the-paychecks demands you kill a character off, or refrain from being “too gay,” you salute them, thank them for their bold choices, and immediately write exactly what they’re looking for. If they’re vague? See tips #1 and #2 above. You can never go wrong by pitching to them that which they already know. At the end of the day, they want money. The market proves to us day in and day out that one need not break barriers, blow minds, or explore new territory with our creative fiction. What sells today is what sold yesterday… with a shiny new coating.

Kill off as many characters as needed to feel edgy. Look kids: sex and death sell. Nothing in fiction is off limits. Hell, they killed a major character on Family Guy not even a month ago, and boom, he’s back. Captain America? Time bullet. Batman? Time warp. Thor? Ragnorak. The X-Men? Time vortex. Get violent if you need to. Hell, Man of Steel and The Avengers leveled near entire cities to make their point. Better yet, they gave away the secret to how you end things afterwards. Want your audience to leave with a knowing smirk on their face? Have your heroes be a bit witty amidst the wanton destruction, and maybe let them get a sandwich. Need your audience to feel remorse for all the devastation? Have your hero scream in agony, and then end on the witty retort. Boom. Roll the credits, and whatever you do… Do not forget the stinger. Thanks to Mickey, we have to end everything, and then end it again. Or, pull a Jackson: end your piece, and then end it eight more times. Each time make it gayer and more emotionally despondent. People eat that crap up like McRibs.

Remember that the critics, fans, et al don’t matter anymore. In the age of the Internet, everyone is a critic. Thanks to news sites, blogs, somehow-still-alive newspapers, social media, et cetera, every new release is covered by hundreds of would-be pundits. No matter your score, trust me, you’re fine. If you deliver an atrocity? You’ll pop up on everybody’s Worst Of lists, and your sales will spike as rubber-neckers come to guffaw. Get a middle of the road review? Just head to the comment section, and accuse yourself (anonymously) of being gay, racist, or a gay-racist. Then, as yourself, open up an Instagram account, and post angst-riddled notes of how depressing your life is. Soon enough, they’ll forget if your work was any good anyways. Hell, go apeshit and you could end up like Charlie Sheen. He went AWOL, and nabbed a 20/90 backend multi-season pickup for a show so by-the-book, most scripts are handled via an AOL mad-lib generator.

As far as fans go, just know that you’re safe. When you do an acceptable job writing up the expectable (it is a word now.), only elitist Onion readers will get up in arms. Do you really care if a horn-rimmed glasses wearing, curly mustachioed, corduroy and bow-tie bedazzled Arcade Fire fan thinks your work is shallow and pedantic? Do you mind that I just lifted a line straight off The Simpsons? Of course you don’t! At the end of the day, you want a paycheck and a fluffy credit. I want a yes-man. It’s a win-win situation.

The key to this all is simple. The world is going to end eventually. You’re either going to be frozen is actual carbonite (rich people have the technology – for real) or buried in a pine box right off the highway. It’s your call. Live and eat well by doing what they tell you to do, or have a backbone and visible ribs. The choice is yours. Your foolproof plan is laid out above.

When you’re famous, do me a solid and link back to this article. I’m cold, and extra readers keeps my furnace running.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


Saturday Morning Cartoons: Man Of Steel: The Animated Series!

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Man Of Steel: The Animated Series!

With the release of Man Of Steel on DVD/BluRay/digital/brain implant this week, we thought it would be time to show you the next step in the merchandising blitz. (No, not the Superman/Batman movie.) Fresh off his gritty reboot, Superman returns to animated form with all-new powers! Come along and watch Man Of Steel: The Animated Series!

Created & Directed by Andy Signore – http://twitter.com/andysignore
Written by Andy Signore and Spencer Gilbert
Characters & Animation by Low Brow Studios
Edited by Dan Murrell
Original Music by Sean Motley

Lex Luthor / Jimmy Olsen – Piotr Michael – http://www.youtube.com/user/pokedachef
Superman – Andy Signore – http://twitter.com/andysignore

Martha Thomases: My Take On Affleck

Thomases Art 130830Gold Art 130828Like my colleagues on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have been confounded by the negative energy directed at Ben Affleck after the announcement by Warner Bros. that he would play Batman in the next Superman film.

The Internets almost always hate every announcement from Hollywood that has anything to do with nerd culture. I remember the howls when Christian Bale was announced to play Batman in the Nolan movies, and how Heidi McDonald ran photo number eight from this slideshow in her defense of the casting. Worked for me.

The objections seem to stem from fans’ displeasure with some of Affleck’s earlier work. They especially cite Daredevil, which I kind of liked, even though it’s overwrought, and Gigli, which I haven’t seen. And don’t intend to ever see.

I love Ben Affleck. I have loved him at least since Mallrats and definitely Chasing Amy. When I had a chance to talk to Kevin Smith at some industry event, I told him I thought Affleck would be a great Superman. He agreed. He even said Warner Bros. wanted Ben for the part. That was more than 15 years ago.

Which brings me to the reason I believe.

I can only imagine that the Internet complainers never saw Hollywoodland. It’s the story of a private detective investigating the death of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the original television series. Affleck plays Reeves in a performance that, in my opinion, should have earned him an Academy Award nomination. He not only creates a layered, believable portrayal of George Reeves, the man, but he vividly recreates the Reeves we knew from television. The way he holds his body changes when he is on-camera and when he is off.

This performance alone should tell us that Ben can be both The Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne. I’m not the only fan of the character who thinks so. The actor previously rumored to be the next Batman agrees with me.

So does Patton Oswalt, whom I love very dearly (and chastely, from afar). He said:

“A Batman portrayed by someone who’s tasted humiliation and a reversal of all personal valences — kind of like Grant Morrison’s “Zen warrior” version of Batman, post-Arkham Asylum, who was, in the words of Superman, “…the most dangerous man on the planet”? Think for a second and admit that Ben Affleck is closer to that top-shelf iteration of The Dark Knight than pretty much anyone in Hollywood right now.”

That quote should establish Oswalt’s geek credentials pretty well. And make his point.

Like Denny O’Neil, I have my qualms about a movie that features both Superman and Batman. It could be fun, but I’m not sure that Zack Snyder, the director of Man of Steel, is the person to direct it. He has cited Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns as his inspiration, and that’s not my favorite interpretation of the characters. I like it when Batman and Superman are friends, when Superman’s optimism lightens Batman, and Batman’s realism ground Superman.

I’m less happy when they fight. Especially if they aren’t going to team up and save the world together at the end.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


John Ostrander: The Essence

Ostrander Art 130804A week or so ago I was talking about how in the Man of Steel movie they had Superman kill someone. No spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s your own damn fault. It did violate one of the traditional tenets that marked Superman as Superman – he doesn’t kill. Lots of innocent bystanders must have also died during his battle with Kryptonians in Smallville and Metropolis but hey – collateral damage.

I did note, however, that characters that have been around a lot need an updating to keep them relevant to the times in which they are being read/watched. The question to me is – how much change is acceptable before you’ve altered the character so much that they are no longer really that character. What defines each character? What are the essentials?

I read in a recent Entertainment Weekly that Andrew Garfield, the current movie Peter Parker/Spider-Man, suggested that the next Mary Jane actually be a guy. Have Peter explore his sexuality with a guy. Even the director, Marc Webb, when asked if he had heard Garfield’s idea, seemed to do an eye roll.

That idea certainly isn’t traditional Peter Parker and got some discussion, but is it that far off? I’m not saying I endorse the idea but wouldn’t it make Peter more contemporary, something to which younger readers/viewers might relate? Would a bi-sexual Peter Parker be any less Spider-Man? Would a Peter Parker in a lip lock with a guy be more shocking than a Superman who kills?

The comics’ Spider-Man has taken it further. In the book, Spider-Man’s old foe Doctor Octopus has taken over Peter’s body and life and identity of Spider-Man with Peter looking real dead and gone. Otto Octavius is now Spider-Man. WTF?

The powers are the same, but the character sure isn’t. Is it the powers that define who Spider-Man is or is it the man behind the mask? If the latter, is this really Spider-Man?

This isn’t the only character to which this has happened. Iron Man has had people other than Tony Stark in the armor. Batman has had a couple of people under the cowl. And let’s not start on Robin. Or Batgirl.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes have also lent themselves to numerous interpretations. There are currently two TV series that put Holmes into modern day. I only really know the BBC series, Sherlock, but despite changing the era it feels so Holmesian to me. It feels like they got the essentials right.

I did it myself with my own character GrimJack. First I killed off the main character, John Gaunt, then I brought his soul back into a clone of himself and then, eventually, I had him reborn into another person, James Edgar Twilley, although again, it was the same soul. Munden’s Bar remained but the supporting cast was different and I had bounced the whole thing down the time line a hundred years or so and the setting of Cynosure was also changed.

I knew why I did it at the time. I felt my writing was getting stale and the character was as well. We hadn’t been around all that long but I felt we were getting tripped up on our own continuity. Sales were eroding. My editor asked me to come up with some way of making the book dangerous again.  That’s how I chose to do it.

Was it still GrimJack? Yes, I felt it was – in its essentials. An alienated and violent loner in a strange city living by his own code. Same soul, two lives. It still felt like GrimJack.

I’m willing to bet that most re-examinations of a given character or concept stems from that – to look at it all with fresh eyes, to make the reader/viewer do the same. To me, that’s trying to get to the essentials.

Maybe we aren’t all agreed as to what the essentials are in any given character or concept. That may vary from person o person, fan to fan. I think that’s why there are quibbles right now about Man of Steel; if Superman not killing is essential to the character, there’s a problem with the newest version. On the other hand, if “do not kill” rule is just like wearing red trunks, then it’s not essential. Is the Man of Steel Superman?

That comes down to you.




John Ostrander: Man of Steel, Man of the Hour

Ostrander Art 130721The new Superman movie has been out for some time now and most folks who want to see it probably have and those who want to comment on it probably have. I shied away from Man of Steel as a topic simply because everyone has had their opinion but the questions I want to pose here are at somewhat an odd angle. If you know me, you’re not surprised. Still, there will be spoilers so, if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to be spoiled, avoid the rest of the column.

I’ve written here and there that the character of Superman needs to be re-examined and re-invented every so often if it is to remain relevant to it time. I think I read the director (Zack Snyder) and/or its writer (David S. Goyer) and/or its producer (Christopher Nolan) say something to the effect that this was their intention. This wasn’t going to be a “comic book” Superman but examine him as if the character was new. Actually, I’m fine with that as an idea. I think any version of Superman still needs to be recognizable as Superman. I would have preferred they kept the red trunks but that’s not necessary to be true to the character.

If Superman is being invented for this time, what does this version of the Man of Steel say about our time?

It is, by design, a dark film. Superman’s costume itself runs dark – the blue could almost be black, the red “S” in his chest shield is more of a crimson. Not only does Superman not have red trunks, there is nothing yellow or gold in the costume. Nothing bright. And yet Superman claims that the sigil on his chest actually means “hope” in Kryptonian. Is this a hopeful film?

Pa Kent, as played by Kevin Costner, is morally ambivalent. He’s afraid that if normal humans know what Clark can do, they’ll reject him. When a young Clark saves a bus full of fellow students from drowning after the bus goes off a bridge, Pa Kent reprimands Clark who asks, “Was I just supposed to let them die?” Pa Kent’s reply is “Maybe.”

Pa later dies, not of a heart attack, but in a twister. Clark could have saved him but that would have meant revealing his true nature. Pa silently and sternly forbids it. And dies. The difference from previous versions is that then Pa dies of a heart attack; there’s nothing Clark could have done. In the Richard Donner film he says, “I have all this power and I couldn’t save him.” In Man of Steel, Clark could have and didn’t. I think that’s significant. The Donner version brings out the humanity in the superhuman and shows his limitations. In MoS, the fact that Clark obeys his father and lets him die when he could have saved him says to me that he has accepted his father’s paranoia. Ultimately, Jonathan Kent is wrong; Superman is accepted by humans, but only after killing a fellow Kryptonian.

That’s perhaps the most controversial element of the new movie. Superman winds up killing General Zod. Snaps his neck. Zod had said he wouldn’t stop killing humans and was in fact about to incinerate a small group of them with his heat vision. Superman begs him to stop but he won’t. So Kal-El kills Zod.

Are we supposed to view this as a no-win situation, to say Superman had no other choice? Does that make it acceptable? Superman immediately feels horrible but was there really no other way? Are meant to agree, to empathize, in this era of “acceptable collateral damage”? Or should Superman be better than that? He was in the past; does this make Superman more realistic? Is that what we want? Is that what we need? Is that who we are?

I was talking recently with Mary’s friend Sherry (a lovely person) and her ten year old grandson, Gavin Simpson. He had seen Man of Steel and I was curious about his reaction; ten years old is the prime time for becoming a Superman fan.

Gavin has seen the other Superman films and knows about the comics but this would be his Superman – the one he sees on the big screen when it first comes out. He liked it but he didn’t love it; he said that the fight scenes at the end went on too long (I agree). He also felt that Henry Cavill, the guy playing Kal-El, didn’t project enough of Superman’s essential goodness. That’s an interesting point.

Most tellingly, when I asked Gavin about Superman killing Zod, he didn’t care for it. When I asked him why, he was clear and firm: “Superheroes don’t kill.”

These days, evidently they do, including the first, brightest, and the most iconic. It makes everything more realistic. It makes Man of Steel the Superman for our time, according to those who made the film.

Does it?




John Ostrander’s Got Nothin’

This is what a deadline looks like on writer’s block.

Ostrander Art 130630

Nothin’. I got nothin’. Lots of stuff has happened this week, lots of stuff happened in the pop arts, there are sure to be lots of topics from which to choose, something must interest me enough to blather about for the length of a column aaaaaaand

. . .nope. Brain’s not interested in any of them.

I finally went to see Man of Steel. There’s sure to be a column in that. What I thought of it, good bad or indifferent. Except that everyone has commented on it. Martha Thomases has commented twice and done it well both times. I’ve been lapped in Superman commentary by Martha Thomases. The film dropped 60% in attendees between the first and second weekends. Everyone who wants to see it already has and have their own opinions. A review on Man of Steel at this point is lame. Superman is dead. Even my brain doesn’t want to go there.

I got nothin’.

Hey, I’m a professional writer. I’ve encountered brain freeze and deadlines before. I know tricks and ways around writer’s block. One is to stop staring at the blank screen and go do something else.

Okay. Did something else. Aaaaaand. . .more nothing.

Distract yourself, John. Go on Facebook. Read what other people are saying, doing with their lives. Share funny things on your wall. Go do that.

Did that. FB bores me. It’s fifteen minutes later and I still have plenty of nothin’. And I’m slipping past deadline now.

I’m tired. That’s what it is. Go take a nap. That’ll do it.

No, it didn’t. A half hour shot and . . .

AAAAARGH! I can’t write I never could write why did I decide to be a writer?! The screen is still blank. Hungry. Demanding. Intimidating. Whatever made me think I could be a writer?

Oh, that’s right. Mike Gold offered me money. Curse you, money, you evil temptress! Why couldn’t I have remained as I was – an unemployed professional actor working part-time straight jobs to cover the rent? I was happier then.

No, I wasn’t. I’ve obviously gone around the bend. I’m hallucinating about the “good ol’ days” that were never really that good.

I’ll distract myself. Go play with the cats. Here, kitty kitty kitty.

Two minutes later. They’re bored and abandon me to my deadlines. Wretched felines. Can cats smell loser on you?

Play a game online. I often do that to cleanse my mental palate, get my concentration up and the brain cells energized. At least, that’s always been my justification. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Go play a game.

Did that, just came back,  and. . .I got nothin’. It’s just later in the day.

I went and washed dishes. That’s how desperate I am. It might work. Put my mind in zen mode and something will come out.

It didn’t work.

Stupid Computer! You know how I write! Why can’t I bring up an app or something and you write my column?!

Wait. There’s an idea. When musicians reach a certain age and don’t have anything new to do, they put out a Greatest Hits collection. Maybe I could do that. Just go back over some of my past columns and pull out random lines and string them together and see what happens.

Godfather II deepened and expanded on the first film; Godfather III – not so much. Any list of faves, yours, mine, or the guy down the street, says something about us. What I want is something new. As I said, Pamela Lee Anderson starred in the movie and I lingered, waiting to see if she would take off her clothes which is the main reason for any guy to watch a Pamela Lee Anderson movie. Mitt Romney wants to deep fry Big Bird.

Okay, that’s not going to work, either. Maybe interesting as a paragraph but a whole column of that? I don’t think so.

Maaaaybe I could write a column on what it’s like having to write a column when you have writer’s block and the deadline is upon you.

I wonder if I could get away with that?





How Jon Peters Could Earn $15 Million on ‘Man of Steel’ for Doing Nothing

Martha Thomases: Man of Steel, Man of Skulls

Thomases Art 130628Forgive me, but I have to write about Man of Steel some more. Or, more specifically, the current marketing of Superman.

Last week, I wrote about how disappointed I was in the apparent shame felt by comics fans and Warner Bros. about Superman’s optimism.

But it’s not just that this kind of grim’n’gritty Superman is disturbing. There is also the character’s complete disregard for the welfare of the people of Earth. As a New Yorker who lives within a mile of the World Trade Center, I tend to get upset by such images of destruction. I don’t expect filmmakers to contort themselves to my memories. In fact, I can appreciate the opportunity for catharsis.

However, I would like to see some acknowledgement that there were humans living in a city that is ravaged by superhuman destruction, and these humans were affected by the smashing skyscrapers. Joss Whedon managed to do this very well in The Avengers. I am disappointed that we don’t see at least as much in Man of Steel.

New this week is DC choosing to emphasize the worst aspects of the Man of Steel Superman with this San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, a sculpture of Kal-El standing on top of a pile of skulls.

This image exists in the movie, in a nightmare. That’s the most I can say for it.

If you don’t like hopeful characters, then Superman is not for you. Don’t try to mutate Superman into something he is not, just to fit the fashion.

I’m not the only person who thought so, as you can see here and here. Even movie stars are questioning certain entertainment choices (although, for the record, I really enjoy Kick-Ass in all its iterations, and most of what Mark Millar does. YMMV).

Believe me, I understand. There is a time in the lives of most of us, usually when we are around 12 or so, when we understand that there is more to life than toys and candy, that death and destruction exist, and we strive to be mature adults who embrace reality. For me, this state lasted through college. Then, when I lived on my own and began to experience my personal share of tragedy, I grasped the value of balancing realism with optimism. I loved Jonathan Richman not only for his talent and charm, but for his fierce defense of joy.

So, if I needed to have a ceramic expression of my own aesthetic, I’d buy this instead of a Superman on skulls. There has been enough death in my life . It needs more joy.

Joy is worth fighting for. That’s why I love Superman.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil: Roy and Supes

Dennis O’Neil: Roy and Supes

O'Neil Art 130627Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s….

…the third consecutive week that the Geezer, also known as me, used that hokey lead. Pathetic? You decide.

But as long as we’re here…what’s the Man of Steel doing this time? Looks like he’s holding his ears. That must mean that he’s somewhere near the end of his hit movie, at the climactic battle, before a kind of lengthy denouement. Because that was one noisy climax. But first, a geezerly digression.

When I was young – and we’re talking really young, like six or seven – I much enjoyed the “cowboy pictures” I saw at the neighborhood theater on Friday nights. The dime Mom gave me bought a cartoon, maybe a Three Stooges feature and two cowboy pictures with real good guys: Hopalong Cassidy, Sunset Carson, Tim Holt, Red Ryder, and once in a while even – o joyous epiphany in the popcorn-scented darkness! – Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys! Somewhere in those innocent years, I imagined what I would think would be a really neat cowboy picture. It would have a long time, minutes and minutes, of non-stop gunshooting. Just bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang. Because, see, the parts of the pictures that had gunshooting were the most exciting parts.

You have to admit that there’s a certain logic here, and I wonder if some vastly mutated iteration of this logic isn’t operating up there on the screen with Superman. And not only Superman – with other cinematic superheroes, too. The fights are big and noisy and go on and on and on…and before the final biff is powed, I’m out in the auditorium getting just a bit antsy. Not bored, just, maybe, wishing that the screen combatants would end it, like my preadolescent self wished that the mushy parts of the pictures would end, the parts that usually involved a girl. (And, in those day, I didn’t have long to wait.)

I understand that spectacular physicality is the lingua franca of superheroes, as essential to their genre as Roy’s horse Trigger was to his. But can’t less be more? Let the tension and suspense get bigger and bigger, let it build and build and then give the folks in the seats a final burst of action that solves the hero’s problems and vanquishes the villain and allows for a quiet and satisfying ending. Don’t serve me a protracted bunch of noisy clashes with essentially faceless pawns before the finale. Define the geometry and conditions of the combat and let us see it clearly and don’t put in anything that doesn’t somehow bear directly on the spine of the story. Such would be my advice.

And such is my quibble, for quibble it is. Almost half way through my eightieth decade, I can enjoy the fantasy melodrama I see as much as the grade-school me enjoyed the cowboy pictures. Okay, except for the ones with Roy Rogers – nothing can be as good as them.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases