Monday, July 23, 2012

Batman and Bombs (such as the underrated “Speed Racer”)

With every deck of 52 comes a Joker – but heroes will be our focus this Wednesday (8pm) at the DIONYSIUM at Muchmore’s, as we discuss Batman and Spider-Man.  For some, it may be a chance to renew the spirit of fun dampened by news of the mass-killing on Friday.  We can’t let that stop us. 

I also hope the killings won’t cause DC Comics to do anything crazy like yanking any Batman-related books from the shelves.  In two months, for instance, they’re scheduled to number their fifty-two ongoing series with issue #0 for each, presenting an origin story, flashback, or other beginning-point especially friendly to new readers – and for the series Batman: The Dark Knight that happens to mean taking an unprecedentedly detailed look at the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were gunned down at a movie theatre.  [UPDATE: My favorite comics writer, Grant Morrison, takes the fall: Tomorrow’s Batman Incorporated issue #3 has been bumped to late August due to content that might be deemed insensitive after the shootings.  Morrison has also announced his intention to leave monthly superhero comics altogether after his 2013 Multiversity and Wonder Woman projects.]

And – though I do not pretend for a moment that this is as important an issue as the recovery of the shooting survivors, obviously – I do hope Dark Knight Rises won’t have its box office haul too badly dented by people’s association of it with horrific events.  (Whether it will be dented by what one friend claims are Prometheus-sized plotholes is another question.)

I just saw a list of the ten biggest box office bombs, gauged by amount of money spent vs. taken in, and I was sad to see, by that (reasonable) standard, that 13th Warrior and Speed Racer were on the list.  Heck, I was so impressed by the way the Wachowskis turned anime tropes (including blurry speedlines and everything) into live action that I saw Speed Racer twice in the theatre – and just recently bought the DVD in a drug store.  The woman with me the second time I saw it had a seizure from the flashing credits, surely high praise for any film. 

(I see that many critics compared the villainous industrialist in the film – played by the same actor who was the arrogant TV pundit in V for Vendetta – to Christopher Hitchens, which casting directors should keep in mind in the event of a biopic.)

The Wachowskis aren’t perfect, but every nerd should be proud of the way they have combined genre-geekery with real artistic ambition and innovation.  I’m sure their meta-fictional Cloud Atlas movie this year and Jupiter Rising sci-fi opus a year or two after that will be interesting and bold even if they turn out to be completely bizarre.  The Wachowskis were at one point planning a complex-sounding “gay sci-fi Iraqi soldiers romance” movie, but maybe that one being put on hold isn’t such a terrible loss.

Speaking of the Middle (and Near) East, I was reading about Gobekli Tepe and Tell Aswad being among the oldest (sophisticated) architectural sites in the world (located in Turkey and Syria, respectively).  As a result, I think if I do a film that is a meta-fictional, multi-era history of humanity combined with political commentary on current military conflicts and sexual politics, it shall begin with the ringing words: “YES – TELL ASWAD!!”  I think like an artist, really.

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