Because… well, you’ll see.
Tagged: Wonder Woman
Somewhere around the mid-point of one of the chaotic action sequences in Justice League, a thought echoed in my head. “Avengers was better. I know it was. But why?” Put a pin in that.
And while we’re at it, consider this the blanket SPOILER ALERT. I’m not going to be holding back on plot points and such.
Justice League was a solid effort to continue DC’s course correction. Full stop. The flick tries hard to shake itself of its sullen feeder-films – save for Wonder Woman, which wasn’t downtrodden at all – and ultimately sticks the landing by final credit roll. Over the course of two hours (and change), Zach Snyder, Joss Whedon, and Chris Terrio assemble their (kinda) Lanternless league efficiently. The threat is worthy of the big bangers of the DC(E)U. The quips and sardonic looks feel well-worn and dare I say earned.
So why did the entire movie leave me feeling an uneasy mélange of contentedness balanced equally with ennui? I mean, Rao-be-damned, the movie just made me use the word ennui!
When I noted the efficient assemblage of the titular superteam, it comes couched with a cacophony of caveats. Our introduction to Barry Allen / The Flash seems to speed through his origin in a manner sans-irony given his power set. While he’d been on the fringes of Batman v Superman, we’ve been granted no real anchor to his character by the time he’s donning his car-wreck of a costume. It’s all flashes of awkward Big Bang Theory Sheldonisms smashed on top of tearful angst over the incarceration of Henry Allen. Late in the film, he shares a moment (one of the better exchanges, I should add) with Victor Stone / Cyborg, declaring they are the accidents. But because it comes so late – during the predictable recuperation of the nearly-defeated team scene (that all superhero team movies need, I guess) – it just feels like a tacked-on bon mot, instead of a necessary moment of respite.
And what of the aforementioned Mr. Stone? He’s Deus Ex Machina – ironically, figuratively, and literally. He’s given what might best be described as the affirmative action gift of the longest origin of the group, but never are we invited in the mind of the part-man-part-machine. Stone is stone-faced essentially for the length of Justice League, removing every ounce of characterization Khary Payton has been investing into Cyborg since 2003. When Cyborg of Justice League mutters a soft-spoken Booyah, it comes with the tenacity of a wet fart – meant only as lip-service, not fan-service.
And then we have Aquaman by way of the Abercrombie shirtless collection. WWE’s Roman Reigns, err, Jason Momoa exists as multiverse variant of Arthur Curry so devoid of the traits I’d long associated with the character, I all but abandoned any known factoids of the comic book original minutes into his first scene opposite Bruce Wayne – who himself was enjoying his take on the Fall Hugo Boss collection. Their shared scene, the one you no doubt saw in the trailers and commercials, sets us up for the League’s water-based warrior. He’s a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, surfer-lone-wolf with a pitchfork and a chip on his shoulder. His origin isn’t really told so much as it is scribbled, child-like, on a bar wall, and then half-dialogue-vomited in an appropriately confusing underwater scene. Verily.
Reading through my last few paragraphs may make you believe I utterly loathed Justice League. But you’d be wrong. For every dour note I left the theater with, came an equal smirk of joy overseeing the goodness that Snyder actually captured. Superman, after two incredibly dark films finally is presented the way we want him to be. Full of hope, love, and swagger. Wonder Woman continues to be the best female protagonist in comic book films by several levels of magnitude. And Batman? He’s rich. He’s funny when he wants to be. Believably human. And hilariously voice-modulated. All that, and we didn’t get any meaningless self-sacrifices, or fighting a giant blue sky-beam. Heck, the stinger at the end of the film even got me to clap.
So, why then, did I inevitably wind up in an Avengers conundrum? It stands to note that there’s no way to ignore that Marvel assembled their uber-team successfully a full five-years ago. And by the time it made its way to the movieplex, had given the general teeming masses of newly minted fanboys (and girls) time to live with the main members of their cast (Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor primarily). Because the feeder films (Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor) had all been well-received, there was a feeling of earned glee when the Avengers coalesced to punch mindless CGI aliens for forty minutes. In contrast, Justice League carries with it the weight of mismanaged and darkly derided prequels (minus Wonder Woman), and oozes desperation from its pores. It’s cut-to-shreds-by-committee, and feels as such. Avengers was lived in. Justice League came across like a wrongly-coined #MeToo.
But perhaps, there exists a silver lining amidst my kvetching. Justice League did leave me excited for what was to come. And it’s that feeling above any others that leaves my eyes on the horizon for the pantheon of DC superheroes… rather than the floor in collective shame.
By now, everyone has heard (or should have heard) about the sexual depredations of film producer Harvey Weinstein (and James Toback, Kevin Spacey and others of their ilk). This follows revelations of the sexual depredations of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly (seriously, what can you do that commands a $32 million settlement?). And everyone in all the other walks of life who have been playing predator.
The constant refrain that has been heard is that this kind of stuff has been going on out in Hollywood since there has been a Hollywood. Among the reasons that there have been so few direct accusations is that all the predators have been powerful men who could really exact retribution. And the fact that the women speaking out would be shamed, discounted, and not believed. And they would literally never work in that town again.
That’s changed. Women are coming out in droves, speaking up, making themselves heard. Makes no mistake – Weinstein, Ailes, and O’Reilly were extremely powerful individuals. The women have spoken up anyway and it’s the men who have, justifiably, suffered.
Why now? What makes this era different than eras in the past?
We have seen recently the rise of the strong woman hero or lead. Witness two Star Wars movies, both Episode 7 and the stand alone, Rogue One. Episode 7 not only centered around Rey but Princess Leia is now General Leia, a full and equal commander of the Resistance. And, behind the scenes, you have Kathleen Kennedy, who is head honcho of the whole Lucasfilm legacy.
Rogue One centers on Jyn Erso, the daughter of one of the principal designers of the Death Star and the main person responsible for obtaining the plans to the battle station that will enable the good guys to destroy it and save the galaxy.
And we have also had this year an amazing Wonder Woman, not only played to perfection by Gal Gadot but directed by Patty Jenkins. lt’s unheard that a woman would get the opportunity to helm such a big ticket film and Ms. Jenkins really delivered. Thank Hera both are returning for the sequel!
It extends these days to TV as well with Supergirl who not only gives us a Maid of Steel who may be stronger than her cousin, the Man of Steel, but shows women in so many different roles, including a very strong and positive lesbian couple.
My point is this: seeing positive and strong heroes who look like you is important and they need to be seen on a regular basis. Will and Grace had gay characters in it and, because of the show’s popularity, they are invited into peoples’ living rooms every week. It normalizes meeting LGBTQ folk for straight people who may never have knowingly met one.
In the same way, movies and shows such as Wonder Woman or Star Wars or Supergirl gives us the image of women heroes who are strong, brave, resourceful and are examples to other women and to men as well. You need to see what you want to be, something the black community knows very well.
I’m not claiming that the pop culture examples I’ve given are the main reason that women now are speaking up against the Weinsteins of this world. However, I think they are a contributing factor. No single film or TV show alone but all taken together they contribute to the change. Make no mistake; “pop culture” is a potent force in our society. It entertains and bypasses our brain to reach the heart – and that’s where real change comes from.
One of the joys of having returned to the comics convention scene this fall was seeing old friends and industry comrades again after too many goddamn years – Walter and Louise Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Fabian Nicieza, Timothy Truman, Jim Salicrup, Dave Gibbons, Cat Staggs, and Jill Thompson, to name just a few – and to have a chance, at last, to meet, face-to-face for the very first time, a woman whom I’ve wanted to meet for a very long time, a woman of immense talent and of immense class…
The first time Gail and I communicated it was through Facebook, by which she reached out to me to apologize for all the press she was getting about her assignment to write Wonder Woman, i.e., “Wonder Woman Gets First Female Writer” and so forth, and that she wanted me to know that she kept trying to correct the press.
I said something like this: “But, Gail, if they print that, if they call you the second ongoing Wonder Woman writer, there’s no story.”
Anyway, that led to Gail asking me to participate in her “Five Questions with…” site. Check it out. I just reread it – it’s one hell of an interview!
Gail and I continued to communicate via social media, but we still remained only “Facebook friends” until…
At this year’s NYCC, knowing Gail was there, I walked up and down the aisles until I finally found her booth. She was off at a panel, but I was determined to make time to at last meet one-on-one. So at timely intervals I kept walking over to her table – it was about the fourth time that I knew that she was back because the crowd and line around it snaked up and down the aisle. I stood off a little bit watching her talk to fans and sign her work until there was a (very) momentary break – I slid in, with apologies to the fans at the front of the line (“Just want to say hello for a quick second”) – and felt like a complete idiot. I finally had a chance to meet Gail, and I was tongue-tied.
It felt like an eternity; but it was probably a maximum of three seconds, until I said, “Hi, Gail, it’s Mindy Newell.” (Like I was on the phone or something.) I think I stuck out my hand for a shake and said, “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
She just stared at me. I thought I had done something wrong, so I think I said, “Well, I don’t want to hold anybody up,” and left.
21 hrs ·
It was lovely to meet the legendary Mindy Newell briefly at my table at NYCC.
(something I get routinely, but incorrectly, credited as being).
She’s a huge inspiration and a lovely person, and when she came to meet me at my table I was too overwhelmed to do much more than just gasp out a hello.
But she’s a legend and I adore her!
Honestly, guys, the last thing I think of myself as is “legendary.” Legends in the comic books industry, to me, are people like Stan Lee, or Jack Kirby, or Steve Ditko. Or Neil Gaiman, or Marv Wolfman. Or George Pérez, or Alan Moore, or Karen Berger. (And yes, you, too, Mike Gold, as I kiss up to my editor here at ComicMix *smile*.) To me, it is absolutely incredible that I even know these people. Or worked with some of them. Or can call so many of them, and others, friends. Or that I knew and worked with Julie Schwartz, whom my daughter still remembers giving her pink sucking candies from the jar on his file cabinet in his office. Or Len Wein, who actually invited me to a poker game where sat around the table people who had only been names on a splash page before. Or Mark Gruenwald, who always made me laugh and actually hired me to work at Marvel.
I’ll tell you a secret.
Sometimes I feel like a fake. A fool. An illusionist.
Someone who didn’t try hard enough. Someone who gave up too easily.
Yeah, it’s easy to say, “I suffered, and still do, from chronic depression syndrome.” It’s easy to say, “I had a daughter to raise.” It’s easy to say, “I needed a job with benefits and a regular paycheck.” It’s easy to say, “I didn’t have any support.”
That’s not what legends say.
That’s what cowards say.
That would be Gail Simone.
Strap yourself in. We’re on another bumpy ride to my time-share condo on Memory Lane.
Time was, there were no “big-box” toy stores, or “big-box” stores at all. Toys R Us started (as such) in 1957 and before that, all we had was Woolworth’s – a large chain of small, wood-floored three-aisle neighborhood stores where you could buy just about anything, except at certain locations if you were a black person in need of lunch. The back half of one aisle was devoted to toys. That wasn’t a lot of space compared to Target and Costco and contemporary outlets. But, hey, I was a little kid. By my standards, that half-aisle was huge.
(An aside. Sometime around the Depression Woolworth’s started building two-story stores in the downtown districts of many big cities, and they lasted until shopping malls made downtown shopping redundant. The chain went blooie in 1997 and the owners converted a lot of them to Foot Lockers. Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection last month … and most shopping malls aren’t looking too good either.)
So, back in those thrilling days of yesteryear when Halloween came around our parents took us to Woolworth’s to get swathed in gaudy costuming. The unlucky kids were taken to the arts and crafts area where they could get material for some sort of home-made illusion. The lucky kids got to buy “professional” stuff made by one of a number of different companies, usually focusing on monster imagery that was in the public domain. But the lucky comic book fan kids got costumes made under license from the Ben Cooper company.
There wasn’t a lot of comics merchandising in those days. Actually, there was hardly any you could count on – some cheaply made tchotchkes masquerading as toys, some licensed food products… and Ben Cooper. That company had the licenses to Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Archie. Later, they also acquired the licenses to Spider-Man, The Hulk, and other Marvel characters. So, in a way, the first DC/Marvel crossover happened at Woolworth’s.
Parents liked ‘em, probably because they sold for a buck and a half a piece. Kids loved ‘em, even though the costumes really didn’t look all that much like the real thing. That didn’t matter to us. We were starved for comics product. A few parents were concerned that these cheaply made costumes might burst into flames, which might be why we didn’t see anything with the Human Torch. Remember, back then most parents smoked cigarettes – as well as some kids – and the idea that a wayward roll-up could ignite your child was merely a risk taken on with your addictive behavior.
There really was a Ben Cooper, and he did know a thing or two about the business. He had designed costumes and sets for the Ziegfeld Follies and for the Cotton Club back in the day, and he was smart enough to sign on when Disney did its first big merchandising push in the mid-30s. Over time, Cooper acquired the rights to such “characters” as Davy Crockett, Zorro, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, C3PO and The Simpsons.
When I did my first run at DC Comics in 1976, I learned four of the top five merchandised characters were Batman, Superman, Robin and Wonder Woman. Why Wonder Woman, I wondered alliteratively? Simple. Male kids wanted the various male characters, and female kids wanted the one and only female character – not counting generic princesses, witches, and Jackie K. Through its Licensing Corporation of America subsidiary, DC was able to sandwich WW in with Superman and Batman despite the fact that they were having a very hard time selling the Wonder Woman comic book. That licensing revenue went a long way towards paying the Marston family their annual dues, and it certainly kept the comic book alive.
This year the top Halloween character is Wonder Woman, and the second is Harley Quinn. We’re not just talking about kids anymore, but, still, I think it’s pretty cool that this year of all years the women are ruling the roost.
Oh, yeah. You might see a few Donald Trump doppelgängers next week, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a compliment. I’m also uncertain who sells the merchandising rights to that character.
Riddle me that: The difference between dressing up in a Halloween costume and doing cosplay at a comic con is… candy. And a somewhat reduced likelihood of harassment.
Bill Maher, noted iconoclastic and increasingly misanthropic host of Real Time on HBO, announced about ten days ago that he was taking July off because, after six months of President Trump, he really needed it. I sympathize. Not before he took what I regard as some ill-informed and gratuitous swipes at comics, comic book movies, sci-fi/fantasy books, movies and TV and anything else I assume that he considers intellectually lowbrow.
Among his gripes that the stupid summer movies were increasingly infiltrating into fall, the time for more serious, adult movies. His biggest gripe is that they make us, the unwashed public, stupider because it makes us want a savior, someone who will descend from on high and rescue us instead of getting off our duffs and doing what needs to be done (i.e. deal with Trump) ourselves.
Except they’re not.
What bothers me about Maher’s criticisms is that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I have severe doubts Mr. Maher has seen any of the superhero films, let alone read a comic book. It reminds me of the people who used to criticize Harry Potter films and books (which Maher also dislikes) as Satanic without ever having seen a film or read a word of the books. Somebody told them they were Satanic and that’s all they needed.
I can’t entirely blame Maher for thinking that films such as Man of Steel present the superhero as a godlike being descending to save the masses. The director, Zack Snyder, appeared to make the same mistake, presenting Supes in various Jesus like images. However, Superman is more like Moses than Jesus. Moses comes as a baby in a basket floating down the Nile to the Egyptian princess; baby Kal-El comes to Earth in a small rocket to the Kents in Kansas. Moses grows up as an Egyptian; Kal-El grows up as part of the Midwestern farming community.
However, Superman is neither. One of the key moments in the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie is the first time he takes off his glasses and opens his shirt to reveal the iconic S.
Not only does he become Superman: we become Superman.
That’s one of the big keys to the success of Superman over the decades. It’s part of the myth. Yes, we may seem meek and mild-mannered like Clark Kent but, if we took off our glasses and opened our shirts, people would see we were Superman.
It’s the same thing in the Wonder Woman movie, the first time Princess Diana shows up in the Wonder Woman regalia. [SPOILER ALERT!] It’s a great moment as she climbs out of the trench and starts determinedly to stride across No-Man’s Land. She deflects the murderous gunfire of the Germans. She has been outraged by the suffering of innocents and she’s going to do something about it. The Allied troops, inspired, join her and drive the Germans from the suffering village.
At that moment, Wonder Woman is us. Male and female, we identify with her. We become her. That’s the power, not only of the movies but of the story in general. We identify with that hero. They can inspire us to become our best selves.
That is what Bill Maher doesn’t get.
I don’t dislike Maher. He speaks up on topics and takes positions with which I agree – such as climate change. In doing that, he speaks for many people. It’s why I listen; to hear what I think and feel put into words. That’s why it’s frustrating to hear Maher denigrate the field in which I work and that so many worldwide really enjoy. The global revenues on these films are greater than the U.S. take. This suggests that the films speak to people outside our shores and, I suspect, for much the same reasons. It’s not simply the special effects; it’s how they make us feel.
It does make me question. If Maher is so blind on this, how much else is he blind about and that I ignore because they fall into my own prejudices and beliefs.
I hope Maher comes back from his time off refreshed and ready to do battle again. I don’t expect him to backtrack from his previous statements. I’d just like to see him leave comics alone.
Because, Bill, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Summer is hot. Literally. We are very aware of our bodies, and the bodies of those around us. We wear lighter clothes. We wear sunglasses and/or glamorous hats.
Love is in the air, or at least lust.
Naturally, I asked myself, “What do superheroes do about this?”
I mean, skin-tight costumes are hot. Literally. And while certain superpowers like invulnerability might make it easier to wear synthetic fabrics or leather, that still doesn’t explain how a Batman can get through a humid Gotham summer.
I guess he’s had his mind on other things. Last month, he proposed to Catwoman Selina Kyle, on a rooftop, both dressed in their superhero outfits.
Neither one of them appeared to be sweating. Although it’s raining, so maybe that made a difference.
I like the Batman/Catwoman romance. I liked it in the old comics I read as a kid, and I liked it in The Dark Knight Rises. I loved it. I loved the Alan Brennert story, The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne, where they got married the first time.
I’m not sure I love this Batman and this Catwoman together.
There are a lot of iconic relationships in comics. Because some characters have been in existence for more than 75 years, these relationships have gone through a lot of ups and downs. If you’re a continuity geek (and sometimes I am, but not about this), you can make yourself crazy with the seeming contradictions over the years. Is Lois Lane a jealous snoop, or an independent professional dedicated to her craft? Is Carol Ferris a stuck-up heiress or a lonely little rich girl? Is Iris West a busybody nagging busybody or simply a person who doesn’t like to be lied to? Is Steve Trevor a macho man or a wimp?
Instead, I choose to see these relationships as reflections of both their times and the people (usually men) who write them. This is especially obvious in stories from the 1970s and 1980s when the modern day feminist movement achieved its first successes. You can tell that the writers (and, probably, editors) know something is happening, but they aren’t sure what they are supposed to do about it. So you get a lot of female characters proclaiming themselves “women’s libbers” while wearing hot pants.
(Note: I’m not saying no feminist ever wore hot pants, or that wearing hot pants is anti-feminist. I’m just saying it wasn’t as common in real life as it was in say, Metropolis.)
Today, with movies and television as well as comics, we have a lot of different versions of the same relationships from which to choose. I enjoy Lois and Clark in the Superman comics, who are comfortable being married and being parents. I enjoy Barry Allen and Iris West on the television Flash, mostly because Candice Patton is so refreshingly straightforward. I thought the Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor dynamic in the new Wonder Woman was totally believable, way more than it has been in the comics for decades.
I’m not so sure about the current versions of Batman and Catwoman. Bruce Wayne has been through even more trauma than usual lately, what with losing Tim Drake and everything. If I were his shrink, I would advise him to wait at least a year before making any life-changing decisions. I know he’s hurting, but divorce would hurt even more.
At least until the next ret-con.
Tip of the hat to ComicMix’s Adriane Nash for introducing me to the term via her always well-observed, vitriolic Facebook posts where she often denotes an active war being fought against stupidity – not just against meninists, but idiots from all genders and persuasions. And a polite nod to my comic book compatriot Danny Limor for the inspiration this week.
Is there something in the water these days? With DC finally enjoying both fan praise and box office dollars with the release of Wonder Woman, there’s been a definitive rise in the empowerment of women – if not in actual practice certainly at least via mentions and discussions on all the social feeds I frequent. And everyone is rightfully justified in the celebration of women. Wonder Woman was a phenomenal accomplishment – not because it is a well-written movie that is helmed stem to stern by a woman, but because it was finally a DC release that didn’t rely solely on gritty destruction and seething angst. It was a celebration of compassion and love – two concepts missing from anything else produced by the studio to date.
In our post-modern world, what is loved must also be reviled by the counter-masses. Hence the coined term at the beginning of this article. My feed has been popped here and there with “WTF” posts linking to articles that complain about Gal Gadot’s minuscule paycheck, screeds that posit Warner Bros installed some kind of glass ceiling to prevent the movie from succeeding, to backlash for having the utter gall to offer a presser of the movie to just women. It’s enough to drive me to carve out my Y chromosome in disgust.
Wonder Woman aside, the meninist agenda even crept its way into professional wrestling. At the Money In the Bank pay-per-view not a week back, a history-making titular ladder match specifically booked with just female performers was won by a man. The goal, clearly, to elicit heel heat – unabashed anger against the villains – but transparent enough to be unaccepted by smart fans. It was evident from the finish of the match that Vince McMahon’s creative team sought to be protective of their female talent, but in doing so missed the very point they celebrated with a video package pre-match! To have specifically called out that this was the first time the Money In the Bank Ladder match would have all female participants… only to cause the victor (The Queen of Staten Island, Carmella) to claim her prize by way of a male manager, reduces history to something fans will pray for retconning.
For those following along, the WWE heard the backlash loud and clear and stripped their superstar of her newly-acquired briefcase of doom. But much like the butthurt bloggers denied access to the all-lady Wonder Woman screening, it comes as too little, too late.
So, what gives? For every victory, there is defeat. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but seemingly everyone these days feels compelled to take a side – creating these now more vocal outliers who decry things that need no opposition. Wonder Woman was fantastic. The WWE’s female divisions – that’s right they have enough talent to field no fewer than three decent rosters full of femmes fatale – have literally never been more capable and captivating. To see a group of men who actively shun these things puts a knot in my stomach right next to the one formed by Trump supporters.
Women writ-large face a tougher time garnering the same riches (be it fame, fortune, or good old-fashioned respect). It’s a proven fact. One so well documented, I need not even provide you with an errant Google link’s worth of response. It doesn’t matter to a select few idiots, who thanks to the internet whose voice now carries louder and larger than ever necessary.
To proclaim the victories of women as an unbalancing is as absurd as electing a four-time bankruptee to the highest position of governing…
Nevermind. This is why we can’t have nice things, my fellow nerds.
Of arms and the man I sing • Virgil
If high-flyin’ kick-ass jelly is your pleasure, sir or madam, and you haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman, well, skedaddle. Plenty of action there and you can still see it on the big screen, the way god – Zeus? – intended it to be seen. The USA Today movie maven wrote that during the last battle, the CGI seams were showing. Maybe, but I didn’t see them.
But there’s more to the film than excellent mayhem, seamless or otherwise. Melded into the reinvented mythology that constitutes a lot of WW’s backstory is an advocacy for peace. It doesn’t take much screen time and it’s played gently – this isn’t the kind of story that grabs you by the lapels, shakes you and snarls listen to me! But the message is there and it’s one that seldom encountered in mega-entertainments. War is not glorious. Violence is a last resort.
In the movie, WW’s sister warriors learn combat skills only to be able to protect themselves and their home from invasion. World War I is raging in Europe and we see enough of it to demonstrate that the Amazons’ fears are justified. WW is horrified at the carnage – the slaughter of innocents – and that’s why she gets involved. But we are given no reason to believe that she enjoys any of it.
I don’t know if WW’s pacific sentiments are registering with the popcorn crowd.
It’s not an easy sell, this peace stuff, not in a country whose president crows that we must win more wars if America is to be great. (The president adds “again” to the end of the previous sentence, but I’d rather not do that.) Not that we must strive to end the monstrous cruelty that’s war by deploying troops if absolutely necessary and recalling them as soon as possible. No, our Mr. T wants to win more wars which presumably requires starting new wars.
Let’s be fair. War and its glorification is as old as civilization (older if you count the skirmishes that must have occurred among hunter-gatherers.) It’s that ole debbil evolution again. Our ancestors developed an aptitude for savagery because that enabled them to deal with the perils of their world and, incidentally, allowed their descendants to become big cheeses. (Take a bow, you and I.) And much of our earliest narrative art deals with soldiers: you know – Odysseus, Achilles, Aeneas. That crowd.
So here we are and that which enabled us to survive now threatens to destroy us. And judging by the news media, nobody seems interested in even acknowledging the existence of options other than creating shiny new hells for our children to enjoy. Maybe someone will think of a way to make peace seem as desirable as war.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Wonder Woman.
So all hail, Princess Diana! For the second week in a row, she has conquered the all mighty Box Office!
You commerce-and-finance majors might consider declaring a holiday. Liberal arts dweebs like me will be satisfied with being grateful for a genuinely satisfying movie-going experience.
There’s a lot to be said for the film and no doubt a lot of it is already being said, with, again no doubt, more to come. It’s the kind of flick that prompts après theater discussion, which is kind of rare these days, especially among those of us who have logged a load of birthdays. We were so happy with the afternoon’s entertainment that we didn’t mind not remembering where we left the car.
I’d like to focus on only one aspect of it and maybe get in some opinions about superhero movies in general. And it affords a chance to blather about something that’s been bothering me for years.
Somewhere in the mists, when I was first creeping into the writing dodge, someone must have told me about the storytelling virtues of clarity. In order for the story, whether you’re experiencing it on a page or on a screen or by hearing it on a recording device, to be fully effective you must know what’s going on: who’s doing what to whom and if we’re pushing our luck, why. Where are the characters? How did they get there? Where are they in relation to one another? How did they get whatever props they’re using? How did they get the information they’re acting on?
I’m particularly annoyed at lame fights. Surely, way out west, the movie crowd is aware that there’s entertainment value in well-choreographed kickass. If there’s any doubt, let them unspool some Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, the patron saint of cinematic brawling. Many modern action movies – or maybe most of them – render action in quick cuts, blurs, blaring sound effects. Not my idea of amusement, at least not in mega-doses.
Back to Wonder Woman (and maybe we can, please, have an end to complaining?) None of what I’ve bitched about applies to WW. While in the darkness, I never found myself wondering what was happening on the screen. This, the director was kind enough to show me and thus allow me to relax into her work.
A word about the lead actress Gal Gadot: she’s extraordinarily beautiful (duh!), but her face is not only gorgeous, it is expressive – it seemed to change from shot to shot. And that quality is a blessing for a performer.
So, yeah, all hail to Wonder Woman, I don’t expect to see a better movie this year.