Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good Marvel, Bad Marvel

No more entries on the complexities of DC Comics continuity (I already did two and my Month of the Nerd is only on its fourth day).  Indeed, if one too deeply contemplates DC continuity problems, one will end up like Batman in this disturbing video clip (akin in some ways to the classic “Insanity Test” video clip).

Let us instead reflect upon Marvel Comics today — this is the opening weekend of their Iron Man movie, after all — both the good and the bad.

I think Marvel’s virtues (basically, as I see it, a certain real-world, hard-sci-fi feel as compared to fanciful, old-fashioned DC) have been summed up quite well by the wonderful town of Austin, TX with the Alamo Drafthouse theatre’s excellent decision to have guys using real jet packs at the Austin premiere of Iron Man.

That’s the same alcohol-serving movie theatre where I drank sangria with my free-market-loving pals Scott Nybakken, Christine Caldwell Ames, and LB Deyo while watching Team America, preceded by a screening of an episode of Thunderbirds, the sci-fi marionette show that was my favorite thing in the world at age four and the inspiration for Team America — probably the best overall movie-watching experience of my life, in other words.  The Drafthouse is also the site of’s annual Butt-Numb-athon nerd-film festival and is where LB and I got to do live movie voiceovers as part of one of Buzz Moran’s infamous “Foleyvision” soundless screenings of crappy films, in this case the appalling Witches of Bali, about a cursed (and surprisingly unattractive) German journalist touring Bali whose head detaches and flies around at night killing people (I voiced an old wizard).  Finally, the Drafthouse is where LB got to emcee the appearance of real-life car-crushing robotic dinosaur Robosaurus at the Drafthouse premiere of Transformers.  Awesome.

But to get back to Marvel: the company also has its drawbacks, such as X-Men characters who are redundant or self-parodic (note the heavy-handed political metaphors and restrained complaints about continuity problems in this Wikipedia entry about the character the Isolationist) and X-Men characters who are cool but (since they are not simple and iconic in the fashion of most DC characters) are so complicated and burdened by backstory that it’s virtually impossible to tell what the main “point” of the character is (try reading this entry on Psylocke — even, or perhaps especially, if you think you know the character — and then try summing up the character for a non-comics-fan in one sentence).


T.A.B. said...

She’s a telepath ninja.

There. Easy.

LB said...

She’s a Leeack witch!

Todd Seavey said...

I believe it was Buzz who expressed the full horror of _Witches of Bali_ by saying “This may be almost as bad as ‘Turkish Star Wars’.”