My Captain Marvel

This weekend Marvel’s Captain Marvel film opened. That’s this Captain Marvel.

Not this Captain Marvel appearing in Shazam! (long story, copyright but if you want to dive into the rabbit hole start here) which is the original Captain Marvel.

There’s no sign of new Marvelman/Miracleman comics let alone a film, but I’m sure his day will come.

It thankfully isn’t this Captain Marvel.

The Captain Marvel film isn’t even the first Captain Marvel that Marvel Comics produced.

This Captain Marvel had his own series which struggled hard for 16 issues before enjoying a revamp but even though he had a better costume the series struggled.

It wasn’t til Jim Starlin took over with #25 bringing in a more cosmic flavour, while bringing in characters like Drax and Thanos to tell a story which today would have been a major crossover, with its own series and everything but the 1970’s were cheaper times so readers could pick up issues cheaply as they came out. Well, readers in America that is. Over here many of the issues either weren’t distributed or had suck a low distribution they may as well not come over from the States. So to read this story which dived from one title to another (Captain Marvel to Avengers to Warlock to Marvel Two in One) involved some serious work.

This was my Captain Marvel that I grew up on. There were other Captain Marvel’s (at least two) after this one, not including the one currently packing cinemas but that run by Jim Starlin that ended with Captain Marvel dying not because of Thanos, but because of cancer, is among the best run of SF/superhero comics you’ll ever find.

There’s now pretty cheap trades collecting all these stories so when you’ve enjoyed the Carol Danvers version, go back to the comics for the best run of Captain Marvel done so far. You won’t regret it.

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Morons of Fandom: The anti Captain Marvel crowd

Captain Marvel is the next film from Marvel’s sausage factory of film production starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel which is out in a few weeks. It will make Marvel/Disney gazillions and looks to be as much fun as your average Marvel film.

In terms of a character in the comics, Carol Danvers has, well, a complex history which I’ll skim over as it’s’ distracting, often horrible and anyhow, the writer Chris Claremont redeemed her by making her one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe way back in Uncanny X Men #164 and now she’s one of Marvel’s main characters with Thor, Spidey, Iron Man or the Hulk.

But there’s a big film coming out and it FEATURES A WOMAN! So the Comicsgate crowd peels themselves like one vast interconnected slug to try to sabotage the film by throwing up fake negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which they tried with Black Panther last year. As a reminder Black Panther was one of the best films of 2018, made several gazillions and was nominated for actual awards in the Oscars outwith of the usual things like special effects. So that shows you how dim these folk are as the tactic which didn’t work last year, won’t this year, and will probably be done again when a superhero film not starring a white male is released.

Now I won’t link to videos or pages spouting this pish as after all, it’s easily done but there’s only one reason this is being done and that’s good old-fashioned sexism of the kind designed to keep women in their place away from billion dollar film franchises unless they fulfil whatever arbitrary set of rules they pull out their arse. It is intolerable  that women have to put up with this shit all the time, and one has to think the men doing this would be be spending a better life  if they actually spoke to women instead of hating them.

But that’s too hard it seems.

 

Avengers: Endgame goes all Scandinavian…

The Superbowl has come and went, and for those of us who give zero fucks about the game get to pick apart the trailers for forthcoming films, which this year includes the latest 30 seconds or so of footage from Avengers: Endgame. The footage is dark, as in BBC 4 Scandi crime drama dark as the films looks as if it’ll deal with the results of Thanos’s snap which wiped out half the life in the universe.

It’s a pity Marvel have toned down the Thanos of Jim Starlin, who did the same thing because he essentially wanted to fuck Death so like any lovestruck bloke, he did something massive to impress her. The film Thanos has a rationale which from a certain point of view makes sense, but just keeps Thanos at the level of being a psychopath as opposed to a psycho-sexual tyrannical lunatic who wants his old purple chap in the actual physical representation of death. I admit that’d be hard to sell toys off the back of such a concept but still…

Anyhow, I’m glad Marvel aren’t going to brush over the effects of the Snap but at the same time I’m sure they won’t spend the entire film dwelling on it as this is the culmination of a decade of world-building while setting up the next decade of Marvel’s film and TV production. We also know from announcements that the dead will return and the trailer for the new Spider-Man film suggests the world isn’t affected with the snap, so clearly there’s a Big Red Button reset coming which is exactly what’s happened in the comics so, so many times.

Still, we only need wait til April.

The real effects of toxic fan culture

Twenty years ago there was a new Star Wars film; the first for 15 years. The Phantom Menace was eagerly anticipated, as you may well imagine and indeed, news programmes at the time focused on how much people were looking forward to it.

In the film was a character completely animated by computer based off the performance of Ahmed Best. Jar Jar Binks was going to be the character to bring in a generation of younger fans, as well as being the main provider of the film’s comic relief. It was at the time an amazing break.

Then the internet kicked in.

In 1999 the internet wasn’t as it was now. It was still in the Wild West phase as it was growing but still somewhat regulated as social media was years away so most people were either blogging, or posting on forums to give the world their opinions. There was also Angelfire sites, but we’ll move on swiftly from those.

The backlash against Jar Jar wasn’t instant from  what I remember. It was a slow burn as fans realised that actually, the film was pretty poor and a mess. It was more of a slow rumble as fans turned on Jar Jar, with some turning on Best himself as if it was his responsibility that George Lucas cocked it up. By the end of 99 as we entered a new millennium, Jar Jar, and Best, were figures of fun and mockery of a scale and ferocity all too asimilar to the fan outrages that happen almost daily today. Thing is there’s a real world consequence of this as Best makes clear in the following video.

That’s right, a man nearly killed himself because he acted in a film and fans (A section of them at least) tore him down bit by bit for shits and giggles. There’s a section of fans who could not give a fuck about the human consequences because the backlash became more than just a laugh as it turned into institutionalised bullying.

Fast forward to 2019. This sort of this is happening daily. on a scale that we couldn’t imagine in 1999 and we’re seeing it get worse as Comics/Gamergate types target people in order to destroy their careers, even lives. Words have real world consequences and perhaps in order to create a better, kinder world we should learn the lesson of Ahmed Best and try to make things better than worse?

A word of appreciation for Absolute Beginners

Back in 1986 the director Julien Temple directed the film adaptation of Absolute Beginners; originally a book about life in London one summer in 1958.  It helped bankrupt one British studio, Goldcrest, and was instantly declared such a bomb that it’s rarely spoken about apart from ‘5 worst films ever’ type clickbait articles online., however the theme song by David Bowie is the only thing to really survive.

Part of the hate the film produced was the decision to turn the book into a musical, not to mention the charisma-free relationship between the two miscast leads (Patsy Kensit and Eddie O’Connell) and the fact the book was toned down. The film also has little sense of pace & the tone flits from weird British comedy to intense racial politics on a penny, plus those musical numbers stop the film dead even if some (like the Ray Davis one) are actually superb.

In short it deserves the reputation for being a mess and in places it is pretty awful, but, there’s one of the best opening shots you’ll see in a film as Temple guides the camera in one shot giving us a guided tour of the recreation of 50’s Soho.  There’s the production design which stands up as being part faithful, part idealised and of course some of the musical numbers are great. When the film clicks, I get what the filmmakers were trying to do and sure, the sometimes clunking acting, or the black hole of the central relationship comes back to punch you in the face in regards the bad side but something comes along shortly after to make you pine as to what it could have been, especially at the end during the Notting Hill race riots.

As a film it doesn’t deserve the hate its built up as there’s clearly far, far worse out there, but certain films become punching bags and Absolute Beginners is one of them. The film’s one big positive legacy though remains the theme song which is one of the greatest themes a film could have, which seeing as it came at a time in the 80’s when David Bowie wasn’t exactly at the top of his game (to say the least) for him to pull out a song which seriously gets better every time it’s heard is nothing short of genius.

When I saw Bowie perform the song at Glastonbury in 2000, it was nothing short of perfect. Standing there in a crowd of people transfixed hearing and seeing people moved by a song from a film that’s a third shit, a third weird genius and third all over the place and is now mainly forgotten is not an experience ever to be forgot.

So give the film another chance, or if you’ve never seen it watch it for what it is which is an ambitious, weird oddity with a brilliant opening, some great moments and one of the best songs of all time.

Have a look…

What I thought of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

A day ago Netflix announced a new Black Mirror film called Bandersnatch with zero previous publicity. A Bandersnatch comes from the works of Lewis Carroll and that knowledge should provide a clue as to what this new bit of Black Mirror is all about, and if you’ve played a ‘choose your own adventure’ type game back in the day either with a book or work like The Hobbit for the ZX Spectrum.

See this is a story set in the mid 80’s and as a period piece is almost perfect. I especially liked the old shit-brown livery of the W.H Smith branch Stefan (the main character) goes into at one point, as well as a perfect reconstruction of the stock it had in it. Stefan is a programmer working on adapting a ‘choose your own adventure’ book, Bandersnatch, into a computer game.So far this is prime Charlie Brooker, and the scenes in the game company office seem ripped from his days as a games journalist.

The thing is the version of Bandersnatch I watched will be different to the version you watch as it too is a ‘choose your own adventure’ story but the difference here is that Stefan as well as Colin, his idol in the games world, are aware they live in a story but have no control over their own destinies. but in thinking you as a viewer have power, you suddenly realise you’re being manipulated by the programme makers in making certain choices. Essentially this is a giant work of meta-fiction influenced by the likes of Philip K. Dick, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock and especially Grant Morrison’s work on Animal Man. Issue five’s The Coyote Gospel especially with it sort of being referenced into the film itself.

Does it work? On the whole yes but at times it does fall into itself as it shows off how clever it’s being, with one ending (there’s five main endings and loads of other lead-ins) that references Netflix itself and the technical prowess needed to make such a film, which to be honest, is just distracting wankery.  The story is what’s important and although well acted and directed (the vastly underrated David Slade directs) it suffers from being stilted at times, plus if you opt out of the end the first time, you lose the sense of being trapped in a never-ending hell.

As an experiment and episode of Black Mirror, it works fine. The performances are good, the script is fine and the direction is excellent and while all the meta-textual stuff is good, there’s always this feeling with Brooker that he’s sharing an in-joke but that this time the viewer is the object of that joke which is of course, the entire point. We’re the victims of modern technology and we’re not in control of it.

Avengers: Endgame is the blandest title ever!

After months of building up tension and excitement the new Avengers film has a trailer and title, and behold the name is AVENGERS! er, Endgame?!

Really?

Marvel have been good in using the comics for titles, which apparently has been nice for ageing creators who’ve ended up with a nice cheque and indeed, the name Annihilation was being thrown around and it’s a good, final, dramatic name.

But nah, we get Endgame, which sounds so bland it should be the name of a cheap margarine rather than a film which will make billions of squillions because it’s following Infinity War and is the end of the first decade of Marvel’s rise from risk taker (and in 2018 it is forgotten how much 2008’s Iron Man was a massive risk) to being a money-making colossus that’s helped rewrite popular culture across the world.

So we get a name probably dreamed up by marketing men playing things safe, but it is now a thing and we have to live with this thing.

And all this is about a trailer that’s gloriously bleak and downbeat. Enjoy…