No, that’s not all one topic (though it sounds like it would make an interesting discussion). I’m just giving you an update on some things over at my other site that you might be interested in. Continue reading
Tag Archive: Marvel Comics
In my review of Ant-Man, I mentioned how the movie couldn’t make up its mind as to whether it was a caper film or a superhero origin story. I laid out the reasons why those two types of stories are, if not incompatible, then at least problematic to mix together. I also mentioned I might do a post on how I might have adjusted the movie if, for some strange reason, they came asking for my advice.
So how would I have done the movie differently?
This is actually a more dangerous question than it might appear. I’m a prose editor. I’m a pretty good one. I’m also pretty good at analysis, developmental/structural rewriting, and closing plot holes. None of that means that I’m good at scriptwriting. Visual media is a very different ballgame. I know just enough about the differences to talk about them, and not enough to actually put them into practice. I’m a professional editor, but I’m an armchair amateur when it comes to script-doctoring. I know my limits and I’m not going to pretend that expertise in one form of fiction extends to another.
So, disclaimers aside, here’s my armchair amateur opinion about what I’d have done if I’d been asked to give a developmental edit (also called structural editing) on the film.
Was there any doubt that Avengers: Age of Ultron would be a fun movie? Was there any doubt that the existing fanbase would love it? Was there any doubt that the movie would be a hit success? No, indeed. The only doubt was how good it would be on a scale of 6 to 11.
Rest your doubts. It’s at least a 10.9.
Note: This is not a spoiler-free review. However, unless you’ve been avoiding the trailers, you’re safe until you come to the big spoiler graphic. After that, you’ve been warned.
Superhero stories have traditionally been plot-driven. Things happen in a particular way to have a particular end, and that’s the only important thing. We all know how annoying that can be. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s horrible. However, the MCU has mostly stayed true to character-driven stories. There have certainly been ones where plot mattered more (Thor: The Dark World and Agents of SHIELD season one come to mind), and others where character and plot intertwined to the point where you don’t care that a story had to go this way to set up something later, because the characters still had their day (Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
Of course, character-driven stories aren’t automatically better, because character without consistent plot is unsatisfying. Think of Iron Man 3, which was a fantastic movie from the perspective of Tony Stark’s character development, and rather sucky for the rest.
The first Avengers movie remained a shining example of a character-driven story, as Ross explained earlier this week. My biggest worry about Age of Ultron was that it might not live up to that standard. In point of fact, I think Age of Ultron actually exceeds its predecessor in that regard. While the movie actually lacks a little of the stand-up-and-cheer of the first, Age of Ultron is now a new go-to example for true character-driven stories. Continue reading
Avengers 2 comes out this weekend. Well, Thursday, in many places . . . which means you might wind up with a lot of geeks missing work on Friday. Me? Ha! I get paid for this stuff!
Well, no, I actually don’t. This blog is a 100% free resource, and I can’t get paid for reviewing Age of Ultron. I can, however, potentially get paid for talking about superheroes in general. (Mind you, I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the development of a multi-author shared-world superhero setting. Hush, now. I don’t know how these rumors get started.)
Superheroes have, arguably, been around as long as science fiction or fantasy, at least as separate genres with somewhat dedicated followings. They’ve always seemed a bit separate, however, because they use what I call the fourth medium of print: visual art. (The other three are prose, poetry, and script.) Superheroes have rarely done well outside of comic books, in large part because the visuals have dominated the storytelling so completely that it’s difficult to have the same effect in pure prose. It’s only been recently that film technology has advanced to the point that the big screen can live up to the promise of hand-drawn art.
That, however, is a stylistic difference that more people are accepting these days, and it is entirely because of indie publishing. Continue reading
Agents of SHIELD has always had the potential to be the little show that connected the big things. Now, with Marvel getting more little things (that is, TV shows), we have even more opportunities to see the backdrop of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the eyes of Coulson and his team.
Of course, the problem with that has been that Agents has, well, supremely sucked at doing that.
There are a few other factors, though, even if the writing on the show continues to improve. For one, Agents and Agent Carter (if the later ever gets renewed) are ABC properties. If the Netflix shows pan out the way Daredevil did (I really need to write up my review/analysis of that show!), then that “network,” so to speak, will wind up being stronger, which means ABC might not want to share. On the other hand, Marvel TV contracts reportedly all include the possibility of cinema appearances, while the reverse (cinema to TV) is not true.
What I hope is that Spider-Man will help bridge that gap. In the comics, he’s done plenty of team-ups with Daredevil, as well as the other coming Netflix characters. I’d like to see him show up in both Netflix and ABC shows. Problem is, I don’t know if Sony would think that’s a great idea.
For now, it’s hard to judge where Agents of SHIELD is going after this season. Which brings us inevitably to the Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in, where reportedly we have multiple characters from the show popping up. Back when I first heard about it, I wasn’t impressed. Now, though . . . heck, even the supremely-boring Skye, of all people, has become interesting. I’ve gone from “How can they do an Agents cameo and make it look anything other than forced?” to “How can they do an Agents cameo and do the show justice?”
My, how things change.
For the rest, though, I need to get into some spoilers for the current season.
Agents of SHIELD has always been able to get me talking about writing. It’s nice that I still get that, and actual good TV now.
On the most recent episode, we finally find out why May is called “the Cavalry,” why the story is so garbled among SHIELD agents, and especially why May absolutely hates that term. As with many things in the show’s run, this didn’t need to wait so long. Half of the episodes between the premiere and the mid-season finale in December could have been cut or truncated. However, that doesn’t mean that the writers didn’t pick an excellent time to tell the story. That’s an important factor to consider when dishing out backstory.
Spoilers ahead. Continue reading
In case you hadn’t already marked your calendar, the new Netflix original Daredevil TV show is now live.
Yes, I’ll be reviewing it, but not for a little while unless I wind up reviewing chunks rather than the whole thirteen-episode season. (Yes, Netflix released them all at once. What did you expect? It’s Netflix. Binge-watching is encouraged.) While I’m down with particularly severe fibromyalgia symptoms for the third day in a row, which would make for a perfect time to binge-watch, I’m scheduled to watch it with someone else after work tonight. We probably won’t finish it this weekend.
But for those of you who are still sticking around and not clicking that oh-so-shiny link, let’s talk Daredevil for a bit. Continue reading
What’s this? I haven’t done a dedicated blog post on The Flash yet? Well, after the latest episode, I think it’s time to fix that.
For me, despite the significant lack of Felicity Smoak (beauty, brains, and geeky quirky humor — yup), The Flash has been better than Arrow. That’s not because Arrow is grimdark, but more because teamwork and character interaction on that show is just slightly too soap opera for my taste, at least when there’s an alternative like Flash around. Flash is serious when appropriate, but its true strength is in how quickly it built a team for people to care about. Arrow is built around a loner, and that’s used as a source of conflict just a little too much.
(I also enjoy how the police are actually useful in Flash stories, which isn’t something you normally get in superhero fiction. My brother is a cop, so that’s something that stands out to me.)
The one major thing I don’t really like about the show is that, frankly, I don’t like Iris. From day one, she’s just not struck me as someone good for Barry. Plus, there’s the whole foster sister thing. That’s a bit of a squick factor for me. That meant I was really glad when Linda Park showed up. I knew they were just going to use her as a means to get Iris jealous (and bingo, I was right), but they work together far better than Barry and Iris. I don’t know how much of that is the actors, but Barry and Linda have been meshing so well, and think so much alike, that I was really hoping we’d just go for that rather than the comic book continuity.
Of course, before Linda showed up, I was rooting for Barry and Caitlin. Okay, I admit it. I have a thing for geek women. Shocker!
Mind you, I have to admit that Iris was feeling a little bit more natural in the most recent episode, “Out of Time.” Which brings me to the spoiler part of this post, so if you don’t want any, leave now. Continue reading
Last night’s episode was a blast. For the first time since the first episode, I found myself actually interested in what was going to happen. And, spoiler-free, here’s what I thought.
I can trace it to two things. First, and most obviously, the writing has improved. The show looks like it’s finally getting away from Marvel Studios patting it on the head and saying “good job, now run and play and let the adults do adult stuff.”
The second is that I have to admit that Skye is finally a real person. Continue reading