Monday, December 22, 2008

Nerd Movies vs. Comic Books (and Mary Marvel's Underwear)


This month as been somewhat disappointing for me as a nerd, given that I’m inclined to skip three films aimed squarely at my demographic:

Punisher: War Zone (I’ve been burned before with this character’s mindless machine-gunnery, and this sounds like the third, yes, third, failed attempt to make him interesting on screen)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (it apparently replaces the ominous tone and Cold War metaphor of the original with lots of now-familiar CGI disaster effects and an environmental doomsday message — not to mention replacing Michael Rennie with the Gort-like stiffness of Keanu Reeves)

The Spirit (it may be good, but it just looks like too much Frank Miller and not enough Will Eisner, which makes me sad).

By contrast, there are interesting things afoot in comics next year — including, for good or ill (and here’s the Month of Feminism angle), the continuation of the depiction of Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel’s young sidekick, as a black-clad, libidinous (and I believe underage) vixen-villain, a reminder that many of my fellow male nerds ended up with some sort of “brat-tomboy” fetish (that I don’t quite share), perhaps because brat-tomboys seem at once to be (a) as dangerous as fear-inducing girls seemed back in high school and (b) as approachable and familiar as (male) gun or car enthusiasts. (Not that I’m knocking any of that, and I may have one ex who qualifies, now that I think about it.)

As fans have noted, Mary’s turn to the dark side has also been strongly correlated with an increase in the frequency with which we see glimpses of her underwear, a pattern apparently alluded to in a rather tasteful and witty fashion by an ever so small glimpse of said super-garments on the nicely-painted Alex Ross cover of an upcoming Justice Society of America issue, meaning Mary may be in imminent danger of being remembered for covert cheesecake artistry in much the same way that Power Girl is known partly for artist Wally Wood’s continual enhancement of her breast size.

In any case, though I’m only reading the first of the following comics things, as a long-delayed finale to my decades of comics-reading, I have to admit they all sound pretty exciting. DC Comics’ 2009 will bring:

•the climax of the “Final Crisis” (with the villain Time Trapper getting the final word, which pleases me even more than seeing the villain Darkseid done right)

•a series of one-shots depicting the world through other villains’ eyes

•an overdue controntation between the good and evil Marvel Families (you know, the ones who say “Shazam!” to gain their powers, like Mary above)

Batman’s allies and former sidekicks scrambling to deal with his sudden absence

Wonder Woman having to reassert her place in the divine order after being ousted by the Olympian (and by male gods)

Flash reborn

•a Titans/Teen Titans crossover

•a second Justice League launching, with a talking gorilla as a member

•the end of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman’s struggle against the villain Krona, the pivotal reality-altering menace I mentioned in one of the comics stories I wrote

Green Lantern facing war between multiple Lantern armies, including the zombie Lantern Corps prophecied as “the Blackest Night”

•Earth swarming with newfound Kryptonians as Superman heads into space…

•and retells his origin

•and helps found the Legion of Super-Heroes (not long after their current series’ end and in time for the new Adventure series to start).

That’s more than one major event per month by my count, so I predict a successful year for DC, much of it the doing of unapologetic nostalgia-geeks Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, and Kurt Busiek. The villains can do their worst — but the nerds have already won.

And amidst such plenty, I wouldn’t even mind if they said (once more) that nothing prior to this year should be regarded as canonical. The future is rich enough, with or without a multiverse. (See, nerds don’t always just grouse.)

Oh, and one consoling bit of movie news for 2010, noted on DarkHorizons: not only has Tim Robbins been cast to play Stark’s father in a flashback that ties together Iron Man and Captain America, but the Iron Man sequel (continuing the emphasis on relatively realistic superbeings and international intrigue) will reportedly feature Hawkeye and Black Widow — meaning that potential Avengers roster keeps growing, as in my six-year-old self’s dreams in the late 70s.

P.S. You know, Johnny Depp is supposed to play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Wonderland.

Think how confused people would be if he “reprised” the role by playing the villain Mad Hatter in a Batman sequel.

(Alternatively, of course, they could — and indeed, should — use Tom Petty as the Batman villain. And I think that’s one of DC Comics editor Scott Nybakken’s favorite videos, as it happens.)

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