Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Registration Act was inevitable.

[Posterity note: Not really sure why I wrote this. I think someone asked me to sum up Marvel's M-Day and Civil War arcs, and why they were both big deals. Sidenote to old self: Professor X gets killed by Cyclops, Bishop becomes a deranged time-travelling homicidal maniac, and Dazzler, Dazzler becomes a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.



Keep in mind, the idea of a "registration act," whether for mutants or costumed heroes was not new, to the day that it was enacted. Due to the efforts of folks like Captain America, Beast, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Professor-X and others, it was largely through legitimate lobbying that it was never made a reality until the Stamford Incident.

Think about it. Every future forecasted in nearly every Marvel line consisted of some form of segregation, governmental regulation, identification or control of the mutant population. Usually involved those loveable, big purple robots. It was going to happen. The question was always of when, how, and is it preventable? Recent issues of X-Factor still hint at the same (or similar) hopeless future Bishop time-traveled from, back in the 90's. But for reasons mentioned later, mutants face an even greater threat of genocide, from an extinction due to a failure to reproduce mutant children, a product of M-Day, described later.

The X-Men were never in any rush to "fight the future," or to proactively prevent the future Bishop foresaw (let alone the Age of Apocalypse.) They had too many imminent threats to deal with. Proteus is back. The Black Queen is rising the dead. People are dying. Right now. So, the most that ever came of the distant threat of a totalitarian future was of Xavier and Beast stressing the importance of maintaining an open dialogue with world leaders. Fair enough. Worked for a time. But after the Stamford Incident, any amount of goodwill earned on the part of mutants was thrown out the window.

Before I continue on with what lead to the Registration Act and Dark Reign, I'll briefly describe a few choice events that happened prior to the Act:



I'm not going to bother explaining the entire House of M arc. All you have to know is that M-Day/Decimation resulted in 99% of all mutants around the world losing their powers. That meant some became normal humans. Some died, because their powers were so intertwined with their physiology that their bodies couldn't sustain themselves. The remaining ~1% found themselves being hunted by anti-mutant groups. Think of those groups from the X-Men Animated Series that ran around calling people "mutie" and chasing the Morlocks around with bats. Except far more organized. And after the Stamford Incident (described below) absolutely no one has any sympathy for mutants anymore. Many of the remaining mutants, particularly younger mutants and those less able to fend for themselves or 198, to be precise, took shelter at the X-Mansion to later establish Utopia, a mutant island nation built on the remnants of Asteroid M, Magneto's former stronghold.

If you want to learn more about that business, look up "The 198" and "Nation-X" arcs in Wikipedia. In any case, all you need to retain from this, is that the mutant population went from growing to dwindling in one arc. Mutants are now in a different political reality, where once, the world was forced to accept them, now, they're forced to protect themselves and their interests from the rest of the world.

Stamford Incident

The New Warriors (who?) get into a rumble with b-list villain Nitro (and some other b-listers) in a battle in Stamford, CT. Nitro's primary ability is to self-detonate (and subsequently re-form himself.) During the battle, Namorita throws Nitro into a school bus, followed by some taunting. He explodes, except this time, he kills all of the New Warriors (except Speedball, and later discovered, Night Thrasher) and all of his villain cohorts ... and another 600 (or-so) unfortunate citizens, including 60 children at a nearby school. OOPS! Fun fact: The New Warriors were filming a reality TV show while this happened. How embarrassing!


So, as I started out saying, the idea and impetus for a registration act was always in the wings. But the two caveats were always that 1) trying to somehow "cattle" 30 million mutants would be pretty difficult, big purple robots aside and 2) superheroes were just that --- the few mistakes they made in the past were largely made up for by the hundreds of thousands of lives saved. Those caveats were decimated (HA!) as soon as 1) the mutant population became 1% of what it once was, and 2) 600+ people died as a result of a superhero battle, and in the public eye, as a result of "superheroes."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Critique: Chef Boyardee travelin' can commercial

[Posterity note: I am pleased to announce my comma addiction has been cured since this was written. And I still hate this commercial.]

Love this commercial for Chef Boyardee. Little girl and her mother at the grocery store. Little girl hands her mother a can of Chef Boyardee [Processed Noodle and Beefs flavor]. Mom, whose face remains off screen (and, as you can surmise, is probably one of those awkward off screen dubs) tells her, dismissively, “no, honey, you've had Chef every week this week” or something similar and equally nauseating. Seriously. There might have been a time when I could eat canned noodles every day. That time has passed. Anyway, saddened, she puts the can back and continues to follow her mother through the grocery store. A whistle erupts! Similar to one you’d use to get your dog to come and see the TPS reports it ripped apart while you were asleep. But it’s not a dog that comes, no, but that can, that very can the little girl wanted for dinner, a modest request indeed, falls from the shelf, and embarks on a cross-country journey to find that little girl, dammit. And at the end of the journey, and coincidentally, the end of the voiceover blurb about how great canned pasta is, the can practically rolls into the little girl’s lap, just as her mother yells from the kitchen (and by kitchen, I mean a recording studio because it’s dubbed over, again) “what do you want for dinner?” The girl gives a smile, with her freshly-returned dinner treasure.

A couple of things. First, can we follow the “natural” path this story will take? Little girl hands her mother the can and…? “Where did you get that?” Little girl shrugs. “I asked you a question young lady, where did you get this can!?” Little girl, feeling like an ambushed little mouse, “I don’t knooooow! It rolled into my lap while I was watching tv!” Mother amps it up, “DID YOU TAKE THIS CAN FROM THE STORE? I WANT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW!” Child begins to bawl. And…scene.

Secondly, you let your slightly pre-toddler daughter eat Chef Boyardee EVERY DAY? That shit will kill you, don’t you know? Might as well put ketchup on Styrofoam.

Third and lastly, what is the message, here? You've made the poor kid eat the damn can for, apparently most of that week. Heaven forbid the kid’s mother wants to give her something different for dinner. No, no. Yield to your child. Feed them canned noodles. Continue to do so until scurvy and rickets set in. Because frankly, the Chef already owns your kid, and now the Chef owns you. Thankyougoodnight.

We can do better, people.

Have a field day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wolverine was a disappointment.

[Posterity note: Is it hackneyed to use the word "hackneyed" twice in a single post? No? Boffo.]

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a disappointment. I don't want to say too much more than that, because I want others to form their own opinions without prejudice. That being said, I feel some need to prepare others for what awaits them.

I'll start with some of the brighter sides. Jackman still plays a great Wolverine. His Wolverine is probably the best, and possibly only redeeming quality of the entire film. He maintains the qualities and personality that make the character great.

Schreiber does a good job as Sabertooth, though his motivations throughout the movie are somewhat inconsistent. The movie starts with a montage of Wolvie and Sabertooth as half-siblings and eventually brothers-in-arms (which, at least as of yet, never happened in the Origin comics) before joining Team X. And this is fair enough. A couple of things happen, Wolvie and Sabertooth have a falling out and Wolvie leaves, and then, for whatever reason, Sabertooth starts killing off former Team X members. And this is supposedly due to Wolvie breaking his bromance with Sabertooth. Whatever.

Will.i.am as Wraith was fine, I guess. As were Dominic Monaghan as...some guy who can control electronics (who was never part of Team X in the comics), and Agent Zero.

The Blob. Why was the Blob in this movie? You will soon as yourself the same question. He was never in any of Wolverine's origin stories, nor was he ever involved in Team X, Department H, or anything remotely relevant. Okay, fine, turning off fanboy mode. Was he an asset to the film? No. And his fight scene with Wolverine was just awful. And pointless. You'll see.

Gambit. I like the guy who played Gambit. I guess. People made a BFD about him finally being in an X-Men film. And I'll point out that, like the Blob, Gambit has absolutely nothing to do with Wolverine's origin story. I guess it took the studio three X-Men films to realize people wanted Gambit involved, so they decided to throw him in the next project, whatever the hell it'd end up being.

*Origin story about Magneto?
Throw Gambit in there.
*No? Storm's origin?
Sure, maybe Storm goes to a restaurant and Gambit is the chef, or something. Cookin' up dat' hot gumbo.
*Naah, the studio is going with Wolverine, guys.
Okay, maybe he'll be at a casino playing cards or something, and Wolverine comes to roust him for information.
*Cheers! Excelsior!

Too bad he's only in it for about 10 minutes. No, he doesn't die or anything like that. He's just not in it as much as the commercials would lead you to believe.

Deadpool. Poor Deadpool. Okay, I can't say too much about Deadpool without spoiling, but what I will say is, for what little it is worth, Ryan Renyolds does a good job portraying the merc with a mouth during the first 15 minutes. But what they do to his character, I believe the word "bastardized" is appropriate.

Which leads me to the main plot. If the film were an accurate or even approximate translation of Wolverine's origin story, I'd excuse the hackneyed plot. And to be honest, for the first 2/3rds of the film, it really came very close. The film then falls into the oh-so-familiar ---

Wolverine - I'm looking for X! Tell me where he is!
Random mutant you'll only see on screen for a total of 8 minutes - No!
Wolverine - I'm gonna fight you!
Random mutant - Okay you win! I don't know where X is, but here is a similarly useful, though comparatively deficient piece of information to help you continue your search!
Wolverine - Boffo.

And ultimately, when you do find out the ultimate goal of the villanous William Stryker, you sir, you, fine, fine sir, will realize how it feels to pay someone 10 dollars to take two hours of your precious life away.

At this point, I really, really, REALLY want to tell you what his goal is. Because it is so insultingly hackneyed.

But aside from that, I think my biggest complaint is that I feel they were so bent on fitting in as many mutants into the film as possible, that each mutant's presence is reduced to little more than a glorified cameo. If they had stuck with the core characters (e.g. sans Blob, Gambit, electric guy) there may have been more time and opportunity to develop the characters of some of the lesser known (but accurate) members of Team X, such as Wraith and Agent Zero (who is Asian in the film but unmistakably German in the comics, but whatever.)

There could have even been time to develop a less-hackneyed plot!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Movie rating comparisons (from Rotten Tomatoes)

[Posterity note: Definitely doing more of these.]

Zombie Strippers (40%) fared better than The Happening (11%).

Look out, M. Night! Here comes . . . Jay Lee? Well, to be fair, Lee was a "Location Manager" for a CBS Schoolbreak Special.