erik lundegaard

Superheroes posts

Thursday February 20, 2014

Fantastic Four Reboot: The World's Youngest Superheroes

The cast for the Fantastic Four reboot was announced yesterday, and, looking at the picture below, it took me a while to piece together who was who.

Sure, Sue Storm. But initially I thought Jamie Bell, with the ears, was Mr. Fantastic. Maybe because he looks older? And if Kate Mara is Sue Storm and Michael B. Jordan is Johnny Storm, one of them has to be adopted, n'est-ce pas? Unless Mr. or Mrs. Storm remarried. Or we're all colorblind like Stephen Colbert.

the new fantastic four

Reed, Sue, Ben, Johnny.

But my main thought was everyone's main thought: Wow, they're young.

I know. It's Ultimate Fantastic Four, in which our heroes are young.

Even so, they're young. Kate Mara, at 31, is the oldest. She was was born in February 1983. Jamie Bell came three years later, in March 1986. Both Jordan and Miles Teller were born in 1987: Feb 9 and Feb. 20, respectively. Which means Mr. Fantastic is actually the youngest of the Fantastic Four. No gray temples for you, buddy. It also means we have another British actor, Bell, playing a quintessential American superhero, Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. Wotta revoltin' development.

But at least they're all good actors. And it's directed by Josh Trank (b. 1985), who didn't do poorly with “Chronicle.”

Besides, it couldn't be worse than the previous “Fantastic Four” movies, could it? Could it, Fox Studios?

Posted at 10:26 AM on Feb 20, 2014 in category Superheroes
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Thursday December 05, 2013

What's a Nice Jewish Girl Like You Doing with a Magic Lasso? Gal Gadot Cast as Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot, Miss Israel 2004, and an actress best-known in the states for playing Gisele in the three most recent “Fast & Furious” movies, has been cast as Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder's upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” movie—the belated attempt by Warner Bros. and DC Comics to replicate the huge box-office success of “The Avengers” movie.

Better get those bullet-proof bracelets up, bubelah. It didn't take long before fanboys were taking potshots. These are simply comments on IMDb.com. Can't imagine what it's like over at YouTube:

  • a skinny chick with not the hint of muscle tone... good choice
  • i prefer megan fox to be the wonder woman
  • was still hoping Gina Carano might get cast
  • an Amazon Princess shouldn't look like she's starving to death...
  • Crap choice ... and isn't that girl to [sic] skinny?

I believe “skinny” is code for something.

But this may be the best response:

  • The problem is that Zack Snyder is still going to direct it

āmēn.

Gal Gadot

Gal pal, Amazonian princess.

Posted at 08:59 AM on Dec 05, 2013 in category Superheroes
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Thursday August 15, 2013

Where Alyssa Rosenberg Goes Wrong on Superhero Sexism

The female Avengers

The female Avengers via FanArtExhibit. Missing: Black Widow as a man.

This article by Alyssa Rosenberg, “Legendary Comics Creators Dismiss Sexism Critiques,” in which she confronted comic book creators Michael Kantor, Todd McFarlane, Len Wein and Gerry Conway about sexism in the industry, made the rounds among geeks last week.

Here's McFarlane's response to the charge of sexism within comic books:

As much as we stereotype the women, we do it with the guys. The guys are all good looking, not too many ugly superheroes. They’ve all got their hair gelled back. They have got perfect pecs on them. They have no hair on their chest. I mean, they are Ryan Gosling on steroids. Right? They are all beautiful. So we actually stereotype and do it to both sexes. We just happen to show a little more skin when we get to the ladies.

Here's Rosenberg's written response to that response:

It’s an ancient canard that male heroes are as idealized as women, an idea that ignores their costumes, the difference between a fantasy of power you want to inhabit and sexual ability you want to take advantage of, and the contrast between admiring what someone can do with their body, and what you can do to theirs.

It's a smart-enough response if a bit dismissive of the effect comic books and superheroes have on boys. Plus it's neither a canard nor ancient.

It also ignores the way power tends to be conveyed in our culture. For men, it's still about what you do; for women it's still about how you look. This has been changing during my lifetime, and unfortunately toward greater shallowness for both genders. The 1970s feminist critique of the objectification of women hasn't led to women being less objectified, but it has created more objectification of men in terms of their looks. (The idea that men were never objectified is incorrect. They were objectified by what they did, and how much they earned. That hasn't gone away.)

What's the endgame in the argument? That's what I'm curious about. Is Rosenberg suggesting that better female superheroes will create greater female readership? Or will empower that female readership? As it's done all these years with boys? Except, right, it hasn't empowered shit, has it? There's no correlation between reading fantasies of superhuman powers and being empowered in the real world. Judging from a typical comic convention, you might say it's the opposite. You might even say girls are better off without this particular superpowered fantasy to contend with.

You want empowerment? Here. Figuring out what's missing in a particular medium is, yes, a sign that there's something wrong with that medium. But if the medium is thriving, and has the attention of the marketplace, it's also a glorious opportunity.

Further reading on the subject: a review of the documentary “Women Women! The Untold Story of American Heroines.”

Posted at 03:26 PM on Aug 15, 2013 in category Superheroes
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Thursday August 01, 2013

Woody Allen's 'Wolverine'

My friend Claudine alerted me to this: “Wolverine” as envisioned by Woody Allen. It gets better after the first 50 seconds. My favorite is the stuff with Cyclops in the Tony Roberts role:

My opening monologue for this movie:

There's an old joke. Two mutants are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says: “Boy, the food at this place is terrible.” And the other one says, “We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter,” and incinerates the place.

Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and, you know, incineration. Plus bad food.

The other important joke for me is one that's, uh, usually attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think it appears originally in Freud's “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious.” And it goes like this. I'm paraphrasing: “I would never join a club that would have someone like me for a member.”

That's the key joke of my adult life in terms of my relationships with women. Not to mention the X-Men.

You know, lately the strangest things have been going through my mind, because I just turned 170, and I guess I'm going through a “I’m never gonna die” crisis or something. I, uh ... and I'm not worried about aging. I'm not one of those characters, you know. I mean, I know I’m not going to be one of those balding virile types in the wheelchair, or the distinguished grey who can bend metal with his mind, or even one of those guys who wanders into a cafeteria with a tongue like a toad raving about socialism.

(Sighs)

Jean Grey and I broke up. OK, I killed her, but only because she was becoming so powerful she was destroying the fabric of the universe. But I keep sifting the pieces of the relationship through my mind and examining my life and trying to figure out where did the screw-up come. I mean, a year ago we were ... in love.

Posted at 02:20 PM on Aug 01, 2013 in category Superheroes
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Tuesday July 23, 2013

Why It Took Forever to Make Good Superhero Movies

Here's why “Superman: The Movie” and “Batman” were the only decent superhero movies until the year 2000. The scene takes place in 1986:

But once again, [Stan Lee] would learn, Marvel's fate lay in the hands of people who knew nothing about comic books. Out in Los Angeles, as soon as the sale was made, [New World Pictures' Robert] Rehme had summoned his vice president of marketing and proudly told him, “We just bought Superman!”

The vice president was perplexed. Warner Bros. was selling DC Comics?

“No, no, no—we bought Marvel!” said Rehme.

“No, Bob,” the vice president corrected him. “We bought Spider-Man.”

Rehme raced out of his office. “Holy shit,” he said. “We gotta stop this. Cannon has the Spider-Man movie!”

-- from Sean Howe's book, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” pg. 295.

I suppose we should be grateful that Cannon Films, which produced “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” and the 1992 “Captain America” movie, as well as “Death Wish II,” “III” and “IV” and “Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo,” never did make that Spider-Man movie. Although, per below, they were obviously doing more than thinking about it.

On the other hand, just imagine what a disaster it could have been. Such a gloriously awful disaster.

The Spider-Man movie that was never made, produced by Cannon Film

Disaster averted. Photo courtesy of Original Vid Junkie blogspot.

Don't forget to rank your favorite (and least-favorite) superhero movies.

Posted at 06:19 AM on Jul 23, 2013 in category Superheroes
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