I’ll save my thoughts about the place of nostalgia in sci-fi for tonight’s exciting Debate at Lolita Bar (preceded at 6pm by Richard Ryan’s nerd-themed birthday party there), and I’ll save my reaction to the Watchmen movie for my upcoming Reason review of it.
But like Churchill anticipating the Cold War while World War II was still in progress, I find my thoughts now turning to the roughly half-dozen other major nerd movies coming our way in 2009. Let us leave aside G.I. Joe and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, both of which I think I’ll skip (some things are so franchisey you feel like you’ve already seen them) — and ignore the Wachowski-produced, Straczynski-written Ninja Assassin, which doesn’t seem to have a definite release date (possibly a bad sign), as well as the comics-based Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, since I don’t fully trust Ritchie. That leaves us, by my count, with six essential nerd films for the year after Watchmen.
They are: (1) Wolverine, (2) Star Trek, and (3) Terminator Salvation (all hitting in May), then (4) Harry Potter 6 in July, (5) Whiteout (a comics-based Antarctic crime thriller) on September 11, and (6) James Cameron’s 3D sci-fi epic Avatar in December, starring his old colleague Sigourney Weaver. (A comparable batch are due in 2010 as well, but one thing at a time.)
Seeing a few years in a row of good Marvel and DC Comics characters on the screen makes me think that if tonight’s nerd turnout for the debate is big enough, maybe sometime we should debate the really divisive issue within nerddom: Marvel or DC?
Nerd friends and I have said in different ways that the Marvel Universe sometimes seems more real than the DCU (though I’ve been mainly a DC guy for years now after being a Marvel loyalist in my youth and will soon be neither). Marvel uses real cities, for instance, and I’ve always said that I feel as if Marvel’s use of government institutions and even alien races seems to be more convincing, with causal reverberations that go on for years — instead of things getting rebooted or swept aside the way they are with greater frequency at DC (much as I love the big rebooting crises themselves). DC, by contrast, has more enduring and iconic characters: fascinating precisely because they are larger than life (like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) but a bit inhuman and immutable at the same time. As in all areas of life, there are tradeoffs. But we can always discuss this tonight at Lolita.