Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Rise of the Guardians and Easter

(image via kidzworld)

Happy Easter everyone! By the time you read this, I will probably be done with church and knee deep in vegan chocolate. I admit that I struggled a lot with today’s post, because there aren’t exactly many things about Easter in pop culture. I think that’s because Easter is either viewed as silly (bunnies delivering eggs) or “too religious” by our secular culture. But other than resurrection motifs, which we have already talked about, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we have also already talked about, there really isn’t much about Easter in our pop culture. However, one movie does discuss Easter to some extent, and that is Rise of the Guardians. While no reference to Jesus is made in the movie, it still discusses the important religious elements of hope and belief.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Rise of the Guardians Comic

I love Rise of the Guardians and have adored the story since I first saw it in theaters the day it came out. Until that movie, I had never been a big fan of certain childhood idols like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, or Sandman—in fact, they used to terrify me—but William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series and works based on them have managed to capture my heart all the same. As such, it didn’t take me long to discover a fan comic series based on the movie.

Rufftoon JackRufftoon, also known as Johane Matte, works as both a story board artist for Dreamworks Animation and as a comic book illustrator. Not only did she work on Rise of the Guardians, she also did work on Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as a few others series. So when I first stumbled upon her comic series on deviantART, I naturally fell in love almost immediately.

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Fanfiction Fridays: No Words Left by RedSkittleQueen

rise-of-the-guardians-4No Words Left is yet another amazing character study story done by RedSkittleQueen on AO3 (Queen of the Red Skittle on FF.net) for the Rise of the Guardians universe. Inside the Wallpaper, which I reviewed last year, was the first story I read by her, and I was blown away. It was dark, heart-wrenching, and at its core, it had some damn good writing and characterization. RedSkittleQueen isn’t my favorite author—her fics are sometimes a little wordy, to name one problem I have with them—but her take on the RotG characters is always spot on. She puts them into tough situations with no easy way out, raises some interesting questions on morality, and the characters are forced to learn and grow from their experiences. That is especially true of No Words Left.

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You Should Read The Guardians: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

North Rise of the GuardiansIt’s been a few years since Rise of the Guardians came out, and I’m still in love with the story. Unfortunately, though there’s been occasional talk of a sequel, I think it might be wise to not get our hopes up. As such, wanting to know more about the mythology behind the movie, I finally sat down to read the book series the movie’s based on.

Nicholas St. North chronicles how North went from a Cossack outlaw into the man we know as Santa Claus. As this is a book series, it naturally has a lot more mythology and characters than we see in the movie. And at 228 pages with large font, it’s a very easy read; I blew through the first novel in just a couple hours. Nicholas St. North is a simple, engaging read, and I loved almost every moment of it.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Inside the Wallpaper by Queen of the Red Skittle

640px-Jack_and_jamie_hugInside the Wallpaper is probably my favorite fanfiction for Rise of the Guardians. Written by Queen of the Red Skittle—a very talented author—Inside the Wallpaper follows Jack, who’s coming to terms with the recent murder of Jamie Bennett. Due to the trauma of losing his first true believer and friend, and even feeling guilty about it, Jack becomes very cold and vengeful, forgets who he truly is—the Guardian of fun—and loses his powers. It’s not until he comes to terms with the emptiness inside him and finally lets his guard down and grieves for his friend that Jack regains his abilities.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Epic

You know, I thought that this looked like a good movie until I found out that, like Rise of the Guardians, Epic is based on a children’s book by William Joyce.

I now think that this looks like a great movie. Yeah, I’ll admit that I have a lot of problems with RotG, but they were all forgivable and can be easily overlooked in light of the bigger picture that the story tells. They’re annoying, but they don’t ruin the experience. And that gives me hope for Epic.

The summary for the movie from Wikipedia is as follows:

A young girl named Mary Katherine lives in a cabin in the woods with her father and dog. Her father, Professor Bomba, has long studied a group of warriors who live in the forest and protect it as guardians of good. He often will go into the forest and survey them.

One day, the professor does not return from a hike in the forest, so Mary Katharine sets out to look for him. Hours later, she comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken down. In her miniscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Prof. Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leafmen. Soon she is forced to assist them in a war against forces of evil known as the Boggans and their villianious leader Mandrake, while trying to find out how to return home.

Awesome! So this is going to be like FernGully, except with a gender reversal. Well, that’s not too bad. Avatar was a rip off of FernGully among others, and it was okay, I suppose. But think of it like this: RotG was about Jack Frost teaming up with Santa Claus to defeat the Boogeyman. And that’s still a good movie.

What I love about William Joyce’s works, from what little I have read of them, is his ability to take stories that everyone already knows on some level and put a unique twist on it. Little-forest-people stories have been told before to varying degrees of success. Normally, we call little forest people ‘faeries’. But as I said, this comes from William Joyce. And though I’m not familiar with as many of his works as I’d like to be, I know enough about them that I’m more than willing to give Epic a chance. And hey, it’s going to have a female lead, and we don’t get too many of those.

I do still harbor some concerns though. I mean, Epic is about little forest people.

Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Manny (Man in Moon)

0So Manny, sometimes referred to as Man in Moon or even just MiM, is the God figure in the Rise of the Guardians universe. Just to be clear, I have only read the first half of North’s book in the Guardians of Childhood series, so while some of what I say will come from that, most of this is based on the movie, since that is what I know.

Manny became the very first Guardian many years ago, around the time the Earth got a moon. It is Manny who chooses who to make into spirits for children to believe in and it is Manny who chooses which of those spirits will become Guardians. He watches over the children of the world through both the Guardians and his moonbeams, which act to him as angels might to God.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Light and Shadow by rufftoon

So today’s fanfiction is for Rise of the Guardians, but it is a little different from the norm. It’s actually a fan comic series that I found on deviantART. It chronicles Pitch’s time during the Dark Ages, and it talks about the things he fears, relationship with children, and why the Guardians first fought him and removed him from power.

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Ace and Saika watch Rise of the Guardians

Spoiler Alert!

So the other day, I forced Saika to take me both to the movies and to pay for my ticket. Naturally, we went to see Rise of the Gaurdians, which was a pleasant break from the sword fight the two of us failed to properly have beforehand—more accurately, we swung wooden sticks at each other and it was very awkward—and I have to say that this movie did not reach my expectations. It’s plenty enjoyable—I’ve seen it a few times already—and it’s a good story. But it is nowhere near as epic as everyone made it out to be.

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Fanfiction Fridays: The Houseguests by MaybeIfI

So since Rise of the Guardians just came out, I figured we’d give you a Rise of the Guardians fanfic to help end the week (and also because fanfiction for this story creeps Saika out, and she’s the one who will be editing this post). Though, for anyone else who might be concerned, the fic I’m about to talk about is entirely platonic and does not feature a romance between a giant rabbit and an underaged three-hundred-year-old boy.

No, this is actually a cute, family-oriented fic that takes place after the movie, and involves Jack finding a home among the other guardians, when beforehand he hadn’t been accepted by them. This fic is also something of a sequel to a one shot about North having a son and the mistakes he made in raising him, mistakes that he’s concerned he’ll repeat with Jack if Jack decides to move in and live with him.

So the story starts with Jack heading back to the North Pole and raiding all the cookie dough from Santa’s kitchen. And after he does this for two days straight, he naturally develops a bit of stomachache, which makes North freak out and think he’s dying. North, not knowing what to do and still fearing that what happened to his son will happen to Jack, calls Bunnymund and Tooth to come over and help him deal with this catastrophe.

Following that, Bunnymund finds himself having to explain to North that making toys for children is very different than having one, and that North will need to learn the difference between the two.

The Houseguests actually came out before the movie release, which leads me to believe that MaybeIfI probably definitely read the book series. While I didn’t read it and cannot say for certain how well the movie follows it, The Houseguests is very much in line with the cinematic production. Not only that, I love how well done the characterization is. Just take a look at this conversation North and Bunnymund have about Jack’s harmless stomachache:

North glared at him. “Don’t you have any medicine or something?”

Bunnymund shrugged. “Besides chocolate? I don’t think he needs more candy after all that cookie dough. It’s a stomach ache. Children get those when they eat too many sweets.”

“He didn’t have any cookie dough-”

“How do you know?”

“Because he told me!”

“Well, that’s one mystery solved. He lied,” Bunnymund kicked his paws out lazily.

And though it’s North’s guilt and overreaction about Jack becoming ill that gets the story going, the main characters are Bunnymund and Tooth, and they’re written perfectly as well. Tooth is twittering and awkward with words because she always has to focus on millions of fairies collecting teeth everywhere all the time and Bunnymund is his grumpy and sarcastic self. Mostly, what I like about Bunnymund is that he recognizes North’s plight about Jack and how that reminds North of his original son.

“I don’t think of Jack as Nightlight’s replacement,” North mumbled reproachfully. “It’s very different. That’s why I’m trying to do better this time.”

Are things going to be done better? Well, I don’t know. Jack, Tooth, and Bunnymund all end the night by drinking hot chocolate and falling asleep in the guest bedroom.

Unfortunately, the story is very short, and the author seems to have a habit of writing one shots and not multi-chaptered stories, but that’s not really a probably. MaybeIfI is great, and everyone should go check out this fic.