I’ve been a Marvel fan over DC since I started reading comics—the first single issues I ever bought were the starts of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel run and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. Marvel continues to put out some amazing, progressive, and inclusive stories from its B-list characters, but at the same time it’s also putting out some of the most tone-deaf unpleasantness I’ve ever seen from a major media company in its flagship titles. What’s most frustrating in this whole complex fiasco is that, in making these terrible writing choices, Marvel is not just being problematic and offensive, but is actually dramatically undermining the entire history of the characters they’re messing with.
We’re going a little deeper into the archives of science fiction this week, to pull out the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The black-and-white visuals and Cold War imagery give the movie a dated effect, but I’m realizing how distressingly relevant the underlying message still is.
At the top level, the movie is a satire of mutually assured destruction and nuclear war. A rogue American general named Jack D. Ripper, consumed with paranoia, orders an unprovoked nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, and a fleet of bombers take to the air.
When news of the strike reaches President Merkin Muffley, he descends to the underground War Room, joined by the maniacal General Buck Turgidson, the Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, and the title character, a nuclear scientist from Nazi Germany now serving the United States. De Sadeski reveals the existence of a Soviet Doomsday Device, which will automatically destroy all life on Earth with a cloud of radioactive gas if an atomic strike on the USSR is detected. The Americans and the Russians work together to recall the bombers, but one, piloted by Major T.J. “King” Kong, has been damaged and cannot receive the radio signal, and prepares to deliver its payload.
Earth’s last hope is the failure of Kong’s bomb, spray-painted with the name “Hi There!”—which jams in the bay. But the dedicated pilot climbs on top of it, and jumps up and down on it until it deploys. Kong rides the bomb to the end of the world, gleefully whooping and waving a cowboy hat in the film’s most famous scene.
The Americans pause for a moment of silence, before planning to resume the Cold War after the apocalypse when they emerge from their bunkers. The credits roll with a montage of mushroom clouds set to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”.
Oh Miss Carter, it’s been entirely too long.
Something funny happened about a week ago: I was half-watching a playoff football game on ESPN when I suddenly heard the voice of Hayley Atwell. Looking up, I discovered that they had finally decided to leverage the mighty power of the Disney corporation (owner of ESPN, Marvel, and ABC) in order to promote the best part of the MCU. Yes, friends, ESPN was airing an Agent Carter commercial during its highest-rated broadcast of the year.
With a dynamite premiere, hopefully the show is going to be able to keep some of those new eyes focused on Agent Carter, and earn us all a Season 3.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally back, and I was surprised to find myself eager to tune in. Would the series take a step forward from its jumpy and awkward first season and reach its potential? I very much hoped so. Unfortunately, while we have made some progress, the show still seems to be stuck in a rut.
Spoilers below the jump.
Well, this was going to be a Once Upon A Time review, but I’m still not caught up in that, so I’m turning my tender attentions to the polarizing first season of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first foray into television: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was so hyped by fans and Marvel alike that, in retrospect, I’m not surprised we were initially disappointed. Coming off the success of both The Avengers and Iron Man 3, I suppose we were in a place where the MCU delivering a terrible story seemed even less likely than DC casting a Wonder Woman. Oh, how times have changed.
Now that I’ve watched the whole season, I wouldn’t consider it irredeemably bad, although I was certainly tempted to drop it several times midseason. I just wish it had been shorter and tighter, and had gotten more interesting more quickly.
Basically, I’m not mad, S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m just disappointed.
This movie, oh, this movie. Where to even begin? Captain America is not a comic book character that I actively follow, so all I really know about him comes from the cinematic universe and the cartoons. His stories are not normally my kind of thing. I’m more into something like Thor, because of the magic and mythology—yet it seems that every time a Captain America movie will come out, I’m probably going to end up loving it even more than I love Thor. And I don’t know why.
Massive spoilers ahead.
When I first heard about the movie, I admit I was worried. I wasn’t worried that the movie wouldn’t be good, though I was concerned about Chris Evans’s ability to play Steve Rogers. What I was really concerned about was the fact that Captain America was scheduled only a week after Harry Potter. What were they thinking? The last Harry Potter movie was the movie of the summer. A whole generation around the world waited to see Harry. What chance did our star-spangled veteran have against publicity like that?
I’m sorry, Cap! I lost faith. I never should have doubted you. After all, Captain American punched out Hitler 200 times… he could handle Harry Potter. Though Harry Potter still broke records, Captain America actually beat Harry Potter its opening week, which no one expected, but Cap’s always been good with impossible situations.
So how did Captain America beat the movie of the summer…? At least for that weekend anyway. By simply being a good movie.