In villainy, as in real estate and life, the secret to success is location, location, location (or at least one secret to success). So, Big Bad, where do you set up shop and scheme your dastardly schemes and execute your plans? The choice of lair, besides logistics and practicality, also reflects your flavor of villainy. Is your lair obvious and ornately decorated so as to tell the superheroes you believe you are untouchable? Is your lair hidden to yourself and only a few of your trusted lieutenants because you prefer a shroud of mystery (and lower insurance premiums)? Or perhaps you have more than one lair because you wish to confuse the superheroes and find it practical to always have a back-up lair. Any lair has advantages, disadvantages, and customization options. Why customization options? Because if you’re the Big Bad, you want your lair to say, “Today this is mine. Tomorrow the world will be mine.”
1) The Corporate Headquarters:
a) Advantages – If you are a corporate Big Bad, a corporate style headquarters has a lot of advantages. You are close to your place of business, both legitimate and illegitimate. You have all the modern comforts and technology of a modern city. You can choose to have a penthouse style apartment at your headquarters or you can find one a quick private helicopter jaunt away from your headquarters. Anything you want to steal can probably be found within the city limits. You’re also close to as many scummy lawyers, marketers, and recruit-able low-lifes and higher level minions as you could possibly want.
b) Disadvantages – High insurance premiums and overhead. Cities seem to have a rather high concentration of superheroes as well. Also, the police, district attorneys, and superheroes know where to find you and even if they can’t prove your culpability, they may get all huffy and charge into your office and vow vengeance or justice or something. On the other hand, you can get them thrown out by security, which is always humiliating. Still, if a big fight goes down in your corporate headquarters, you’re going to have all sorts of headaches and costs in trying to repair it. You simply can’t have this kind of lair be your secret headquarters if that’s what you’re going for.
c) Customization Options – If you get to build the building, you have as many customization options as the building codes and engineering requirements allow. However, when you get down to it, you’re still just going to have another shiny skyscraper in the middle of downtown. It can be impressive and unique, but probably not in a way the superheroes will appreciate unless they happen to be uber-wealthy corporate moguls themselves. And if you don’t get to build the building, then your customization options are limited to interior decorating, and those options are limited to what is appropriate in a corporate environment. If that’s the case, well, at least you can put your name on everything.
2) The Remote Fortress:
a) Advantages – Whether you’re in the jungle, the desert, one of the Poles, or somewhere else, your fortress is remote. That means you’re probably outside of any police jurisdiction to begin with and it’s hard for the superheroes to find, and if they do, they have a lot of territory to cover which should give you plenty of warning to set traps and plan for their arrival. The ominous atmosphere of such a place can demoralize the superheroes (it helps if you have a weather machine to cause lightning to strike your lair precisely as the superheroes spot it for the first time). Your remote fortress is also, well, fortified, which makes it hard for the superheroes to bust in. The strength of your defenses also buys you time to escape, if it comes to that, and any good remote fortress has plenty of hidden escape routes. This is probably the best kind of lair to be your secret headquarters, if that’s what you want.
b) Disadvantages – It’s remote. The comforts of modern life such as electricity and running water may be difficult to come by. You’ll probably have to invest in your own power generation and water and wastewater treatment systems. Being in the utility business, no matter how necessary, is neither enjoyable nor intimidating. Such limitations may make high-energy scientific experiments all but impossible. You may also have to ship food and other supplies and any ill-gotten gains in from quite a distance away. Also, the only difference between a hidden escape route and an accessible back door is who’s in the passage and which direction they’re going.
c) Customization Options – Building from the ground up gives you the most options, and there are a lot. Do you want a Medieval style castle? Do you want a South American pyramid? Do you want a science-fiction style structure that looks paradoxically futuristic and ancient? Do you want a ton of ornate decorations that make it obvious to even the most oblivious superhero that this is yours? Even if you don’t get to build from the ground up, you still can decide if you’re going to cover it with gargoyles or cobra heads or whatever really speaks to you. Pretty much no matter what kind of customization you go with, the remote fortress is going to be intimidating.
3) The Private Island Resort:
a) Advantages – Ultimate comfort. You live and work in a tropical paradise. It’s stressful being a Big Bad, and having a place of relaxation can help you keep your blood pressure down. You’ve also got modern technological comforts. And depending on the corruptibility of the government whom you’re leasing/bought the island from, you probably don’t have to worry about any law enforcement messing up your good time. In fact, a truly corrupt government would also make it difficult for any superheroes to come find you. This may serve as a secret headquarters as well, depending on how remote and/or secure your private island resort is.
b) Disadvantages – You may still have to be in the utility business depending on how remote the island is. And a government that can be bought by you can be bought again by the superheroes if necessary. Also, you may be more susceptible to natural disasters, which can be an expensive proposition. And how embarrassing would it be if the superheroes had to come save you because of a hurricane bearing right down on your island? Also, if you want a secret headquarters, this may not be remote enough, especially if you like your modern comforts.
c) Customization Options – You have as many options as Las Vegas as themed resorts. Do you want a take on Atlantis? Or perhaps Monte Carlo? Are you going to have a casino with slot machines with your symbol or even your face? Do you have a volcano on your island and can you work that into your theme? The one drawback is that no matter what you go with, except possibly the volcano option, a private island resort is probably not going to be very intimidating.
4) The Laboratory:
a) Advantages – Any headquarters that is primarily a laboratory is likely to be near a city due to the various utility requirements, which means close proximity to modern comforts. It also means close proximity to other scientific research labs that have items you wish to steal. The laboratory will have a ready supply of experimental weapons to use anytime the superheroes come calling. Defenses will, of course, be state-of-the-art. The laboratory will also have a steady supply of escape methods such as advanced vehicles, teleporters, or portals to other dimensions.
b) Disadvantages – The high electricity demand makes the laboratory a bit conspicuous, even in a populated city. While experiments drive the development of new weapons, experiments also can and probably will go wrong. Such accidents could be as minor as blowing a breaker or as major as blowing up the entire facility. Also, while you will have many weapons and escape routes at your disposal, not all of them may work exactly as planned, or a loss of power may render them useless. And of course a careless superhero could damage the high-energy physics experiment and potentially rip a hole in the space-time continuum, and that will definitely put many aspects of your operation in jeopardy (including you).
c) Customization Options – Options here are quite limited. The laboratory has certain practical functions that can’t really be customized. A clean room is a clean room. A particle accelerator is a particle accelerator. You may have to settle for putting your name and or symbol everywhere, or focus on having customizable uniforms of some sort.
5) The Run-down Whatever:
a) Advantages – The run-down whatever (warehouse, ice cream shop, theater, etc.), is located in the middle of a bad part of a city. Cops don’t like this area and generally avoid it. Those that are there can be fairly easily dispatched if necessary because hey, this is the bad part of town. You’re fairly anonymous here; perhaps this is your secret headquarters. You’ve got all your modern conveniences and lots of low-lifes to recruit. You’re close enough to things you want to steal, and the overhead is not nearly as expensive as other real estate in the city. And if part of it gets wrecked in a superhero fight, it’s fairly cheap to fix up.
d) Disadvantages – Something that is run-down probably needs repairs. That’s not to say those repairs are outside your budget, but you really don’t want the power to go out right when the security cameras have alerted you to the superhero’s presence. Also, a run-down building may not be suitable for high-energy experiments. A proper defense grid may be difficult to install due to the structural limitations. You may have a hard time recruiting higher level minions to your cause if their first impression of your organization is your run-down whatever.
c) Customization Options – Practically none. If the building isn’t outright abandoned then it is at least a fixer-upper. There are some possibilities to customize the outside, but you probably want the outside to look as inconspicuous as possible. Interior decorating is probably limited by practical considerations. For example, a warehouse with high ceilings and lots of empty space is probably not going to be very cozy. An abandoned factory may be littered with a lot of inoperable heavy machinery you can’t move out and just takes up space. Your best bet is to find a run-down whatever that already matches your signature style, although this can have disadvantage of narrowing down the places the superheroes will look to find you.
6) The Orbital HQ:
a) Advantages – Orbital weaponry! Unparalleled surveillance! Everything must by definition be state-of-the-art or this wouldn’t even exist. You are outside of all governmental jurisdiction and could definitely serve as a secret headquarters. Or you could proclaim your evil for all the world to fear due the aforementioned orbital weaponry.
b) Disadvantages – Control of your evil organization is by definition remote unless you don’t spend time on your orbital HQ. As long as the communication systems are good to go, so are you. But there are a lot of routes the superheroes can use to sabotage your operations. Once they find you or bring a fight to you, your escape options are limited. While one would hope the superheroes wouldn’t destroy an orbital HQ due to the potential death toll both on the station and on the planet below, well, some superheroes aren’t that careful. That’s a lot of risk. Also, orbital HQs are the most expensive option available. Any damage to the lair will not be easy, quick, or cheap to repair, if it’s even possible to repair the damage.
c) Customization Options – This, like the laboratory, is limited by structural constraints. There must be life-support equipment and something to generate gravity and a way to recycle water and air and supply food and so on. All of these things will take up a certain amount of space. You may get some artistic license, but when all that separates you from the cold vacuum of space is thin metal and someone else’s engineering calculations, functionality really should be your top priority. Anyway, you can always use a giant laser to carve your name on the moon or something.
As the Big Bad, you must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and of course keep your budget in mind. Not only do you have to maintain your lair, you have to make sure it’s adequately staffed. Staff that maintain an orbital HQ are probably much more expensive than those to maintain a run-down whatever. But as you are the Big Bad, you are certain to make the right decision.
Mrs. Bennet – I heard a rich young man is moving into that old mansion for the summer. I think I can get Jane married off this summer! She’s 22, after all, and the oldest, so we need to hurry up!
Mr. Bennet – What if Jane doesn’t like the young man?
Mrs. Bennet – I don’t understand. We have five daughters to marry off. He’s rich, and she’s available. What’s liking him have to do with it?
Mr. Bennet – *sigh* Apparently nothing, my dear.
Bingsley’s Swinging Party:
Jane – What if Mr. Bingsley doesn’t like me, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth – Jane, my dear sister, you’re nice and you’re pretty. If he doesn’t like you, he’s an idiot.
Bingsley – Darcy, my friend! Why aren’t you dancing or making the least amount of effort to enjoy yourself?
Darcy – You know the women here are only out for your money.
Bingsley – Now, Darcy, you don’t know that. The eldest Ms. Bennet seems quite charming and she’s pretty too, but you can’t have her. But her sister there, she’s also pretty. You should ask her to dance.
Darcy – Eh, she’s not that pretty.
Elizabeth – Hey! I’m standing right here!
Darcy – Yeah, I know. –saunters off–
Elizabeth – Jerk.
Mrs. Bennet – Jane sure hit it off with that rich Mr. Bingsley. Surely she’ll marry him! She’s spending so much quality time with him!
Elizabeth – Mom, she practically caught pneumonia and he was nice enough to put her up instead of sending her home in the rain and cold. She could have died! And being laid up with a cold doesn’t exactly highlight her best qualities to Mr. Bingsley.
Mrs. Bennet – Tsk, tsk, it’s all working out fine.
Elizabeth – I’m here to see my sister. Also, it’s really nice of you to let her stay here while she recovers.
Miss Bingsley (Mr. Bingsley’s sister) – You and your sister are low-class trash, and I think she’s just playing up this illness to get close to my brother and his money. If I had my way, I’d throw her out this instant and make sure you and your trashy family don’t so much as see my brother again.
Elizabeth – Wow, so money really can’t buy class.
Darcy – Ha! Good one.
Miss Bingsley – Hey!
Elizabeth – Who says I was just talking about Miss Bingsley here?
Darcy – Hey! What are you doing here anyway?
Elizabeth – Visiting my sister, who is really sick thanks to my idiot mother. Why are you here in this podunk, low-class town?
Darcy – I happen to be visiting my best bro, Bingsley.
Miss Bingsley – You mean, the Bingsleys, including me, right?
Darcy – Nooo, not really. So, Elizabeth, are you going to be around a lot?
Elizabeth – Until Jane gets better. So I really hope she gets better soon, both for her sake, and for mine so I don’t have to be around high-class snobs like you and Miss Congeniality over there.
Darcy – You should be nice to me. I’m rich and I’m totally hot.
Elizabeth – You’re a jerk. I’m going to spend some time around my sister, who despite hacking up her lungs is much better company than either of you.
Darcy – I don’t understand. I’m rich, and hot, and you’re not impressed? I’m pretty sure this has never happened to me.
Elizabeth – Whatever, I’m going to see Jane.
Miss Bingsley – Hey, low-class trash, you keep your low-class hands away from Darcy. He’s mine.
Elizabeth – He’s a jerk! You can have him, and if you actually convince him to marry you, then you two totally deserve each other.
Jane – You know, Elizabeth, I get the feeling Miss Bingsley doesn’t like me very much. I’ll just have to try harder so she will like me!
Elizabeth – Jane, you are sweet, but you are so clueless. Don’t worry about it. As long as Mr. Bingsley likes you, you’ll be fine.
–And then soldiers move into town, which makes Mrs. Bennet very happy at the prospects of marriage for her daughters.–
Wickham – Hey, you’re cute; what’s your name?
Elizabeth – I’m Elizabeth.
Wickham – Cool. You want to go out?
Elizabeth – Sure!
Lydia – Dang it! I want to land a soldier husband.
Kitty – Oh, yeah, me too!
Darcy – Hey, Elizabeth, are you still making a nuisance of yourself at Bingsley’s place? –sees Wickham– *chilly stare* Oh, it’s you.
Wickham – *chilly stare* Oh, it’s you.
Darcy – Well, I’ll be going now. –leaves–
Elizabeth – So what’s that all about?
Wickham – Let’s not going into that. Suffice to say, some wrongs were done, by which I’m implying he done me wrong.
Elizabeth – I could believe that.
Mrs. Bennet – Good news Elizabeth! Since it’s obvious Jane’s going to marry that rich Mr. Bingsley, we’ve decided to find you a husband! And look, your father’s cousin Mr. Collins is looking for a wife, so I think you two will be perfect, especially since he’ll inherit the estate after your father dies.
Elizabeth – … I’m going to Charlotte’s…
Elizabeth – Oh my God, Charlotte, you wouldn’t believe what’s going on. Jane and Bingsley are getting along great, but his sister is a total shrew! And my mother! She’s trying to marry me off to Mr. Collins, my father’s cousin who is a total loser with a capital LOSER. ARGH!
Charlotte – Then let’s agreed to never settle on some man just to please our parents. We’ll marry because we want to.
Elizabeth – Agreed! Now to just convince my mother to back the hell off.
Bennet Household, Later:
Elizabeth – Dad, please tell Mom I’m not marrying your cousin. He’s a loser and we both know it.
Mr. Bennet – Well, I can’t argue with that. I’ll talk your mother out of it, but she’s never going to stop until all five of you are married.
Elizabeth – Why did you marry Mom anyway?
Mr. Bennet – I was young and stupid and she was pretty and of the right social class. Turns out she’s absolutely flaky and I think Lydia’s going to be just as bad.
Elizabeth – That explains a lot. Well, hopefully things will work out with that nice Mr. Wickham.
Bennet Household, Even Later:
Collins – Well, I’m sorry you won’t marry me, Elizabeth, but your father explained to me you just weren’t ready, so all is forgiven.
Elizabeth – That’s…great…
Collins – And I’d like you to meet the future Mrs. Collins. Charlotte Lucas!
Elizabeth – What?!? I-I what?!? Charlotte, can we talk privately for a minute? –switch to place of privacy– What in the hell is this? You said, ‘don’t settle!’ You said, ‘marry a good match.’ He’s an idiot! We pinky swore!
Charlotte – I’m 27 years old! I am sooooo freakin’ old; I’m glad Collins is stupid enough to be talked into marrying me. I know he’s an idiot, but I don’t want to be a burden on my family because you know that’s all unmarried daughters are. I’ll figure something out. Hopefully you’ll be luckier than I am. Good luck, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth – This just sucks.
Bingsley Place, Swingin’ Party 2:
Elizabeth – Mom, don’t embarrass Jane.
Mrs. Bennet – Oh, no, of course I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass MY DAUGHTER who is going to MARRY that RICH Mr. Bingsley.
Elizabeth – *facepalm*
Mrs. Bennet – I am the BEST MOM in the WORLD. Also I have FOUR ELIGIBLE daughters if anyone else is interested! There’s Elizabeth, and Mary, and Catherine and Lydia, all ELIGIBLE.
Lydia – Ooo, me! ME! Any hot guys want to me MARRY ME?
Kitty – Oh, yeah, hey, any hot guys want to marry me?
–And the Bingsleys abruptly move back to London without so much as saying good-bye–
Elizabeth – Yeah, and no one saw that coming after that party. I wouldn’t be surprised if Darcy and that nasty Miss Bingsley were the ones behind this. Then again, that party was bad.
–Jane spends the entire winter writing to Mr. Bingsley but Miss Bingsley is the one that returns her letters and tells her Mr. Bingsley is not interested in continuing their relationship; Elizabeth’s concern for her sister cools the developing relationship with Wickham; Jane finally goes to London to try to see Mr. Bingsley–
London, Bingsley Place:
Jane – I know this is somewhat stalkerish and pathetic, but I thought we were getting along so well and I just don’t understand why Mr. Bingsley won’t even reply to my letters!
Miss Bingsley – You are low-class trash. Your mother is a flake and your two youngest sisters are no better. My brother never wants to see you again and I don’t like you either. Get out.
–Spring comes and Mr. Bennet insists Elizabeth get out of the house, especially since Mrs. Bennet and Lydia and Catherine are still moaning over the loss of Jane’s marriage prospects and the regiment moved out so there are no soldiers either; Elizabeth is happy to get out of the madhouse although she feels bad for Jane who is still stuck there–
The Collins’ Residence:
Elizabeth – So how’s married life, Charlotte?
Charlotte – Oh, he’s an idiot. He doesn’t even read. But Lady de Bourgh is good company, except for being a stuck-up snob. She’ll probably ask us to visit.
Collins – I know a person with a title! See?
Lady de Bourgh – It’s so nice to meet Mr. Collins’ family. You’re so quaint for being peasants.
Elizabeth – I’m beginning to think home is less obnoxious.
Lady de Bourgh – Oh, your from that little podunk village, right? My dear, sweet nephew spent some time down there last summer. Isn’t that right, Colonel Darcy?
Elizabeth – *spit take* D-Darcy?
Colonel Fitzwilliam – Oh, yes, indeed, that was Fitzwilliam. Good thing he was there, I daresay, pip pip wot wot. His friend Bingsley almost proposed to some low-class woman he’d met at a party. Oh, that would have been disastrous.
Elizabeth – Yes, how…fortunate…oh, hey, look at the time. I have to go somewhere else.
Lady de Bourgh – Where else?
Elizabeth – Anywhere else.
The Collins’ Residence:
Elizabeth – Can this visit get any worse?
Darcy – Elizabeth, I need to talk to you!
Elizabeth – Argh! You’re here too? Go away!
Darcy – I love you and I want to marry you!
Elizabeth – *blink* *blink blink* I’m sorry, what?
Darcy – The way you have been completely unimpressed by my vast wealth and good looks has endeared me to you. You also seem pretty smart, for a peasant, so I’ll overlook the fact that you’re from a much lower social class and your family is just awful on every level. So, marry me?
Elizabeth – *blink* *blink blink*
Darcy – You’re turning a very odd shade of red and your eye is kind of twitching. Do you need to lie down? I mean, I know such a confession is very shocking…
Elizabeth – You selfish, arrogant, insensitive, stuck-up @$$#*!%! You insult my family, okay fine, they are kind of terrible but still! Jane loved Bingsley and you broke them up, you treat Mr. Wickham like he’s garbage, you insulted me the day you met me, and you think you love me? And have the audacity to ask me to marry you?
Darcy – Um, so that’s a maybe?
Elizabeth – Get out of here and I never want to see you again!
Darcy – Um, okay, so this has been a bit of a shock. I’ll just give you some time, let you think it over… um, laters!
–Later, Darcy sends Elizabeth a letter explaining that Wickham had cheated him out of money and tried to marry his younger and frail sister for her fortune, and that he didn’t realize Jane loved Bingsley, and that Elizabeth’s family (except for Jane) are pretty terrible.–
Elizabeth – Worst apology ever. Still, asking me to marry him was kind of flattering. But he’s still a jerk and no one insults my family except me.
London (A Few Months Later), the Gardiner Residence:
Elizabeth – I’m so glad you let me visit. Jane’s still depressed about Bingsley, Mom’s going on and on about us never getting married, Mary’s telling everyone she told us so, Lydia and Kitty are acting all weird, and Dad mentally checked out weeks ago.
Aunt Gardiner – That sounds awful. Let’s go for a walk.
Elizabeth – Hey, isn’t this the Darcy estate? Won’t we get thrown out?
Aunt Gardiner – Oh, no, it’s fine. You’ll see. Maybe Mr. Darcy will even be home.
Elizabeth – Oh, that would be swell…
Aunt Gardiner – He really is a nice young man. You should give him a chance.
Elizabeth – Eh, what are the odds he’ll actually be around?
Darcy – Hello, everyone!
Elizabeth – Right, my fault for asking. So, aren’t you going to kick us off your estate or something?
Darcy – No. I’m friends with the Gardiners. Come on in, everyone. Elizabeth, you can meet my sister. I think she would like you.
Georgiana – My brother likes you, Elizabeth. He’s very nice. Some times he gets things wrong, but he really does try to put it right.
Elizabeth – Huh. What about Mr. Wickham?
Georgiana – I was young and stupid and thought I was in love.
Elizabeth – You were young? You’re only sixteen now.
Georgiana – I know. He was only out for my money, and Fitzwilliam helped me realize that before I actually married Wickham. You should give my brother a chance.
Elizabeth – Oh, all right.
–this goes pretty well until scandal erupts!!–
Aunt Gardiner – Oh, no! Elizabeth, I just heard Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham!
Elizabeth – Oh, no! This will really make the family look bad. We’ve got to find her before she does something even stupider! And here I was trying to start over again with Mr. Darcy and my stupid family gets in the way again!
–But all works out as Lydia does indeed turn up with Mr. Wickham and they are legally married! And as a bonus Bingsley calls up Jane, apologizes for ditching her, and they announce they’re getting married!–
Elizabeth – Well, I’m talking to myself because I’m the only sensible person in my house. Jane’s not depressed but Mom’s just freaking out over the wedding plans. The Gardiners must have paid off Wickham and now there’s no way we can repay that debt. I wonder if I can try to be friends with Mr. Darcy again.
Lady de Bourgh – Oh, hello, Elizabeth. I must speak to you about a most desperate matter.
Elizabeth – Um, okay.
Lady De Bourgh – I’m afraid my dear, sweet, misguided nephew might actually ask you to marry him!
Elizabeth – Yeah, about that…
Lady de Bourgh – And that would be perfectly awful! You’re quaint but such a peasant that I’m going to have to ask you to promise not to marry my nephew if he asks.
Elizabeth – With all due respect, you can stuff your request up your aristocrat!
Lady de Bourgh – Well, I never had any peasant talk to me like that! I have money, damn it!
Elizabeth – Yeah, I’m pretty sure I hate everyone now.
Darcy – Even me?
Elizabeth – Why should I not hate you?
Darcy – I told my bro Bingsley I was all wrong about Jane. He was pretty mad at me, but they got it worked out, right?
Elizabeth – Yes.
Darcy – And I was the one that found Lydia and Wickham and paid Wickham to marry Lydia.
Elizabeth – That would be a totally awful thing to do if my sister didn’t totally deserve a guy like that, and it saved my family. So, maybe you’re not such a bad guy.
Darcy – Great! Will you marry me?
Elizabeth – Um, I think your aunt will have a fit.
Darcy – Oh, yeah, she will, but so what? I think I love you, and she can stuff it up her aristocrat.
Elizabeth – Well, all things considered, I’m not sure if I can love a guy I don’t know very well, but hey, I’m willing to give it a try.
Darcy – So that’s a yes?
Elizabeth – That’s a yes, Fitzwilliam.
I know Austen’s writing is probably too subtle for most people. This story is as melodramatic as a soap opera but is written in a restrained manner so the melodrama is somewhat subdued. The love story is much more believable than “Romeo and Juliet.” However, I’ll grant that Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship is still fairly rushed. They spend a couple of months bickering while her primary concern is her ill sister, so that’s not exactly quality time. They don’t see each other for months and suddenly he’s confessing his love and desire to marry her. That’s not very believable. It’s important to note the story takes place more or less from Elizabeth’s point of view, so the narration isn’t entirely reliable. So she tells Darcy off, and he gets introspective and decides that good looks and wealth aren’t enough to make up for being a stuck-up jerk. Darcy’s transformation into someone tolerable was genuine, and Elizabeth learned that people can occasionally change for the better. Yes, everything does tie up perhaps too neatly, and perhaps Elizabeth rushed into marriage at the end, but she did have the lesson of her friend Charlotte as a warning. I think the template of “hate at first sight” is overdone based on the actual story, and I think too many romances make the male lead too much of a jerk to be forgiven.
This is an entry on comic books, movies, and television. I know I really harp a lot on the urge to make all things dark and edgy, even Batman. But then I see rumors that the “creative team” behind the Green Lantern movie think that it failed because it wasn’t dark and edgy enough, and I just want to bang my head against something hard until the pain stops. I saw that movie and a lack of darkness and edgy-ness are the least of the problems with it. I don’t necessary have a problem with dark and edgy when it’s applied to appropriate subject matter, but sometimes it seems that’s just an excuse to try to disguise lazy writing, and I really can’t stand lazy writing. The title of this entry will become clear hopefully by the end of this.
There’s a show on TV now called “Arrow.” It’s not bad, and by comparison to the other two subjects I discuss below, it’s actually good. Now, this is supposed to be a modern re-telling of Green Arrow. I don’t much about comic book Green Arrow. Oliver Queen is a wealthy playboy who takes up the mantle of Green Arrow to fight for justice. He comes across as kind of an archer-Batman, but with less angst (although not angst free). So perhaps Green Arrow was always something of a Batman rip-off; I’m not sure. However, this show is totally a Batman rip-off, but even darker. I think the development of this show went something like this:
Developer 1 – So, Chris Nolan’s “Batman” franchise was awesome. Let’s make that into a TV show.
Developer 2 – We can’t. DC is weird about how they license their characters and they want more Batman movies.
Developer 1 – Fine. Does DC have another wealthy playboy vigilante?
Developer 2 – There’s Green Arrow.
Developer 1 – There’s more than one? Hey, fine by me. You know what would be even cooler than Batman? Batman who kills people!
Developer 2 – *blink* *blink blink* Do you even understand who Batman is supposed to be?
Developer 1 – Nope. So anyway, let’s take this Green Arrow guy, lose the name, ugh, and give him a really traumatic backstory and have him kill bad guys too! Yeah, that would be awesomely dark and edgy!
The show doesn’t even call Ollie “Green Arrow.” A bad guy calls him that once, but he’s not even called “Arrow.” Everyone else refers to him as either “Hood” or “the Vigilante.” Also, just to show Ollie’s not all bad even though he kills people, they brought in Helena Bertinelli. Sooo, not Batman at all…
Like I said, I don’t know too much about Green Arrow. Most of my knowledge of the character comes from the various DC cartoons. He always struck me as more of a deadpan snarker than Batman. The guy has a boxing glove arrow for crying out loud. That’s whimsy, or possibly a relic of the Silver Age. Anyway, maybe this is a faithful modern re-telling of Green Arrow, but to me it just feels like a cheap Batman knock-off without Batman’s apparently boring moral code that prohibits killing.
Of all the heroes not to turn into Batman (or a darker and edgier Batman if such a thing is possible as shown above), it would be Superman. Honestly, I do think it’s difficult to relate to Superman because how does one relate to a god? Man of Steel‘s answer to this was invoke the “world of cardboard” trope and show how superpowers could potentially drive someone crazy. I don’t actually disagree with the theory, even if the execution was poor. There were parts of it that made me upset, such as when L’il Clark asked Jonathan Kent if he should have let people die to hide his powers and Jonathan Kent said, “Maybe.” Maybe? Maybe?! No, there is no maybe! Although to be fair, most of people in this movie are pretty terrible. Anyway, Superman is a hero. He will sacrifice everything to save the day and save everyone. That’s what he does – he saves everyone. And it was his upbringing in Midwest Smallville that made him the kind of hero who saves everyone (hell, “Smallville” had a much better modern update of Jonathan Kent who was afraid for his son but also encouraged him to be a hero). Everyone is his neighbor. Everyone matters. That’s Superman. This was not Superman. I’m 90% certain the development meeting went like this:
Developer 1 – Chris Nolan’s “Batman” movies made so much money! Let’s totally reboot the franchise and do it again!
Developer 2 – The raging fans will track you down on the internet, find out where you live, organize a battle plan, and hunt you down in the night and then tell you why you’re an idiot, one by one by one. You’ll be begging for the sweet release of death.
Developer 1 – … Good point. Hey, that “Avengers” movie made tons of money. We’ve got Batman and Green Lantern so let’s throw in a couple of more people and do a DC team of Avengers!
Developer 2 – You mean the Justice League?
Developer 1 – Maybe. That name needs work. Hey, Superman is due for a reboot. Let’s make a movie with him!
Developer 2 – Sure, we could try again. We’ll lose the kid angle, lighten up on the angst, and maybe go the “Captain America” route since that did pretty well…
Developer 1 – Whoa, whoa, what are you talking about? Just take the script for Batman Begins, cross out all the Batman-specific nouns and replace them with Superman-specific nouns, and add some stuff about aliens. Oh, and make sure Superman kills someone. It was so lame that Batman didn’t even kill that insane clown that totally killed his girlfriend.
Developer 2 – *blink* *blink blink* Do you even know who Superman is supposed to be?
Developer 1 – Don’t know, don’t care, just make sure Chris Nolan’s name is in big letters on the promo materials.
The movie did try to invoke some of the current mythos of Superman (at least pre-DCnU) in which he is the representative of Hope (Batman is Justice and Wonder Woman is Truth). Of course, the movie was so heavy-handed with “Superman is hope” as to turn him into Space Jesus. Argh! Seriously, I haven’t been hit with so much obvious religious symbolism since Daredevil.
Now, since the story of Jesus is one of sacrifice, redemption, and yes, hope, one might think this movie couldn’t be as dark and edgy as perhaps the “creative team” wanted, although not for lack of trying. To that end the movie was about as hopeless as any I’ve seen and the victory at the end was as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny. Superman technically saved the whole world, yes, but that’s not where it ends. He’s supposed to dig through the rubble and save survivors and clear the streets and clean up the mess he makes, because that’s what he’s supposed to do. But no. There was so much mindless destruction I thought the special effects team got confused and thought they were working on the Independence Day sequel. Boring CGI fight scene after boring CGI fight scene isn’t hopeful or frankly entertaining. And of course, Superman has to kill Zod. Granted, Zod as a space Nazi is a complete irredeemable monster, but that doesn’t mean the writers couldn’t have come up with something better. But they didn’t. They wanted dark. The result was a hopeless lazy mess that wasn’t much more splashy CGI battles and cliched dialogue. Ugh. I am not looking forward to the sequel. And frankly, the B-movie Iron Sky is a better movie about literal space Nazis.
And here’s unquestionably the worst result of trying to darken and edgy-ing everything. A few years ago there was a new Wonder Woman TV show in production. People were excited and scared, which seems to be the normal reaction to any news regarding development of Wonder Woman into a TV show or movie. Then it just went away. I had only seen the costume previews so I wasn’t particularly excited (but I was scared) to begin with. I then heard a pilot had actually been made but was so god-awful it was never aired. I wasn’t sure I cared, but one day I got bored and started searching the interwebs and danged if I didn’t find the thing. It wasn’t finished which leads to odd text instructions to the special effects team to fix certain things in post-production. For example, “pants to be darkened.” That was an actual instruction. So, was it that bad? Let me put it this way – I would rather watch the 1994 Fantastic Four movie than ever watch this thing again.
Wonder Woman is a brutal vigilante. I’ll pause a moment to let that sink in.
Wonder Woman is a brutal vigilante who uses her corporation to develop the crime-fighting technology she uses (but does not share) in her one-woman crusade for her version of justice. She breaks any law she wants (including those about killing people) but not a single person in the criminal justice system (not cops or federal attorneys) do anything to stop her. She’s this close to being the goddamn Wonder Woman.
The plot and dialogue aren’t very good, but that’s kind of beside the point of this rant. The plot is the head of an evil pharmaceutical corporation is using victims of human trafficking to perform illegal experiments to develop a super-soldier serum. She’s also bought a Senator to help her get her way on Capitol Hill. This doesn’t begin to bother me because this is exactly the behavior I expect from a comic book style villain. Hell, I’m pretty sure “Kidnap people and perform illegal experiments to develop a super-soldier serum” is Ulti-Roxxon’s entire business plan. But when I watch a movie where the “hero” behaves so badly I’m actually kind of siding with the bad guy, that’s a problem. Wonder Woman has no magic and I’m not sure she’s an Amazon, although she’s often referred to as not human. Her Lasso of Truth is just a catchy name and all she does is lasso people with it. Actually, the effect looks like Scorpion’s grapple move. When a “hero’s” heroic action reminds me of a hell ninja’s special move in a game called “Mortal Kombat,” that’s a problem. When a “hero” uses torture to get information from a bad guy, that’s a problem. When Frank Castle would look at this woman and say, “Hey, I think you’re overdoing it,” that’s a problem.
So, in short, everything that makes Wonder Woman, well, Wonder Woman, is ignored except for the outfit. She’s nothing more than a thug and the entire law enforcement system is thoroughly corrupt. And yet she’s applauded for breaking laws and trampling on basic human rights? Every aspect about Wonder Woman is absolutely wrong, even down to her “everywoman” secret identity falling into the trite lazy cliché of spending her nights alone with her cat watching chick flicks. She’s violent, she’s a hypocrite (leaving Steve so he wouldn’t get hurt but letting bad guys know her crime-fighting lair is actually her corporate headquarters that is full of people), and she’s a criminal. Even private investigators have to get licenses to work. But she’s above the law. She’s out for her version of justice. Nothing matters except satisfying her own version of justice and she will hurt or kill anyone who gets in her way.
And this actually brings me back to the title of this entry. There are so many problems with slathering all things with dark and edgy as highlighted above. Clearly the Wonder Woman pilot had editors, as evidenced by text instructions for post-production finishing. For example, the editors noted that Wonder Woman’s pants were too shiny needed to be darker to get the right look. But the fact she’s not, you know, Wonder Woman, was something so clearly overlooked the whole pilot got made and close to finished. Obviously someone realized the show had gone terribly wrong because the pilot didn’t even air. But I’m still startled at how much time and effort went into developing the pilot and show and it wasn’t until some horrified executive got to see the whole thing before post-production touch-ups that someone, anyone, spoke up and said, “No, this is wrong.” Whether or not this dark and edgy treatment is fair to Green Arrow, I don’t know, but I suspect Oliver Queen is being done a disservice. And Superman? The representative of hope in the DC universe is turned into the most depressing version of Jesus I have ever seen and wasn’t a very good Superman (which is why I referred to him as “Clark” in my parody).
And this is why the next Green Lantern movie is probably not going to be better than the first. The problem with Green Lantern wasn’t tone; it was a weak script, mediocre acting, and silly over-the-top special effects, some of which were very poorly done. Besides matters of taste, the Bad and Ugly prove that darkness and edgy-ness doesn’t negate lazy, trite, clichéd writing. Shiny pants isn’t the problem and “Pants to be darkened” isn’t the solution. Bad is bad, and ugly is ugly, and lazy is lazy. The tone of the media won’t hide the fundamental flaw of lazy storytelling.
It is indeed hard to be the Big Bad. It’s hard to get to the top, and being at the top is no picnic (especially since there were probably other avenues to infamy and fortune). And of course, good help is really hard to find. But once you’ve got good help, it’s important to manage those minions. Honestly, a lot of comic book villains (especially in comic book movies) are very poor at managing basic human resources.
I’ve already covered recruiting issues and creating superweapons, so I’ll talk mostly about the normal minions. Now, a lot of the rules of evil human resources depends on having a clear hierarchy of authority.
Evil Human Resources Rule #1 – Have a Clearly Defined Organizational Structure
If a Big Bad does not establish this hierarchy, dispensing disciplinary action would be uneven at best and arbitrary at worst. This is not to say Big Bads don’t have the right to be arbitrary, but any organization runs better if the minions understand their roles and the expectations of those roles.
Part and parcel of that rule is the next one:
Evil Human Resources Rule #2 – Match the Minion to the Task
The success of any mission depends on having the right people for the job. If Low-life Johnson is a stereotypical thug, sending him on the mission to steal the delicate and sensitive scientific equipment might result in him callously breaking the stuff. Likewise, timid Mad Scientist McGee might not be the best person to helm the getaway car for an armed robbery. This rule applies for the lowest level minions, as in the above examples, but also for higher level minions. Professor Psychopath should probably be in charge of scientific experiments and Cruelty Spike-Armor in charge of the extortion racket.
Evil Human Resources Rule #3 – Do not Comment Crimes off the Clock
When one hires minions for an evil organization, obviously one of the desired qualities is a certain level of immorality. Minions can have a strong sense of right and wrong as long as they consciously choose wrong, or minions can just have a rather fluid or mercenary sense of morality. While this is a necessity, it also brings along with it a host of potential problems. The minion that can commit crimes on the clock may not have many qualms about committing crimes off the clock.
The reason why you do not want this is very simple: you do not want any evidence that connects you to your criminal organization (i.e., plausible deniability). Now, perhaps your minions already have criminal records. That wouldn’t be too surprising, really. But those crimes are in the past and not related to your organization anyway. But if that minion is brought up on charges, even those not related to your organization, that’s a potential link to you that an eager young assistant District Attorney out to prove herself or the jaded cop just trying to make it to retirement might see. You don’t want that. Minions that commit crimes off the clock regardless of whether they engage in tax fraud or high-level felonies become liabilities, especially those with criminal backgrounds. Minions that commit crimes off the clock should be subject to disciplinary action if they aren’t caught by the police.
Evil Human Resoures Rule #4 – Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
But aren’t minions in police custody liabilities? Yes, I did just say that. So shouldn’t the Big Bad make every effort to keep them out of jail? Well, that greatly depends on several factors. A minion in police custody is indeed a liability, but how you as the Big Bad deal with that incorporates many factors. The first question to be asked is – where in your hierarchy does this minion fall?
3a) Low-level minions – these are recent recruits or those who show no capability for advancement. You probably use them for cannon fodder or evil experiments anyway. They are basic thugs and while you do send them in to steal advanced scientific equipment or military technology, they don’t know how this fits into your grand scheme (heck, they’re probably so ignorant they don’t even know what they stole besides, “big shiny valuable thing”). They simply aren’t important enough or trusted enough or smart enough to know anything about your grand schemes. In that case, if Low-Life Johnson mugs someone off the clock, let him go to jail. If Low-Life Johnson is stupid enough to get caught carrying out one of your crimes, let him go jail. What’s he going to really tell the police? Surely there are already rumors of you running your criminal organization anyway. While you may be paranoid Low-life will be taken seriously, take a deep breath and realize to the cops and detectives, he’s probably only repeating those unsubstantiated rumors in order to take the heat off of him.
- Do not, under any circumstances, bail this low-life out, even if he was committing a crime for you. When Low-Life Johnson is represented by Scummy Harvard-Lawyer III, whom he cannot possibly began to afford, that would make even the most oblivious, stereotypical, doughnut-eating beat cop think, “Hey, that’s suspicious.” Because it is. That makes the cops follow Low-life Johnson more closely, or worse, gets him tagged with a superhero stalker who’s convinced Low-life Johnson will lead the superhero right to you. And let’s be honest, Low-life Johnson might just be that stupid. So let him go to jail. He knows nothing to incriminate you, so don’t incriminate yourself by attempting to help this idiot. You can always find more low-level minions.
- Do not, under any circumstances, increase the severity of the crime. By that I mean that if you think you really need to protect Low-Life Johnson from going to jail to protect yourself, don’t give the cops any more reason to be suspicious. In this example, Low-life Johnson mugged someone. Don’t send in assassins to kill the victim with the assumption if the victim is dead, Low-life gets off. You’ve now increased the severity a simple mugging to murder and conspiracy to commit murder. While this may get Low-life off because there’s no witness, this only implicates Low-life in a more significant crime. Now he’s definitely going to be followed closely by the police or superheroes. Also, don’t kill Low-Life Johnson either. Again, while dead he certainly can’t incriminate you, but the circumstances of his death will cause cops and superheroes to look more closely at his past and recent activities and that may eventually lead them to you.
3b) Higher-level Minions – Here’s a bit of a conundrum. Higher-level minions are the ones who direct the raids on Star Labs or Roxxon to steal the equipment. They are probably smart enough to guess what you might want a particle accelerator for. They’ve been with the organization long enough to have been party to many crimes and may even be able to implicate you. Worse, they may be weak enough that a suitably tough cop or superhero could get them to crack under pressure and agree to turn state’s evidence on you. At this point, it may be appropriate to send in Scummy Harvard-Lawyer III to bail the Dragon out. If the Dragon is high-level enough, the cops and superheroes are already suspicious. Utilizing your resources to keep the Dragon out of jail may be the smartest thing to do at this point, although depending on why she was caught (crime off the clock or incompetence), she may be subject to further disciplinary action. Then again, her weakness may mean it’s time for her to be “taken care of” in which case an assassination may be appropriate. Is it suspicious? Hell yes. Does it further incriminate you? Possibly, but as the Big Bad you must perform the cost-benefit analysis on whether it’s worth it to keep the Dragon around. Good help really is hard to find, after all.
Evil Human Resources Rule #5 – Disciplinary Action is Applied Equally
Having a clearly explained hierarchy and set of expectations is only ones step for smooth minion management. Disciplinary action is vital but must be applied as described in the manual. For example, if Lt. Cruelty Spike-Armor deals with all failures with extremely painful deaths, while Lt. Dominatrix Minion follows the manual, this is going to create some friction within the organization. No minions will want to work for Cruelty Spike-Armor because they don’t want to be killed. This makes Cruelty Spike-Armor a less effective lieutenant, which also weakens the effectiveness of your organization. Even as the Big Bad, it is not recommended you apply disciplinary action in an arbitrary fashion. If Cruelty Spike-Armor kills seventeen low-level minions because one guy spilled coffee, and you let that go, but Dominatrix Minion kills a low-level minion for botching an easy job so badly a superhero ended up involved and you rant and rave and dock her pay for daring to deal out death without your permission, you can bet Dominatrix Minion is going to end up a much less trustworthy lieutenant. Again, this weakens your organization.
Evil Human Resources Rule #6 – Have Clearly Defined Rewards, Bonuses, and Benefits
Obviously you don’t want to pay out too much money, but it’s probably a good idea to reward a job well done with more than, “You get to keep your life.” You are the Big Bad, true, but ruling by fear is really exhausting. Ruling with efficiency is probably going to keep you and your organization on top for longer. I’m also not saying that killing minions for no good reason is something to avoid. You’re the Big Bad after all, and a hazard/perk that comes with working for an evil organization is killing lower-level minions. But still, it is to the benefit of the smooth operation of an organization that every member understands how likely their demise may be as well as the potential of upward mobility. Thus, a low-level minion may work hard to advance to avoid being killed. A high-level minion may do good work so they get a bonus. Such a bonus could be money, or a vacation, or an allowance to kill two extra minions the next fiscal year with no penalty. Letting your high-level minions go on vacation not only gives them a much needed break, but it also gives you a chance to see how vital they truly are to your organization. Does everything run smoothly without them? If yes, is that because they made sure of that, or is it because they don’t really contribute? Also remember that anyone who works just for money can always be bought off by someone with more money. You need to provide those less-quantative benefits such as healthcare, bonuses, and so on, in order to keep talent within your organization. Is it expensive? Yes. But is it worth it? Well, as the Big Bad, that is always for you to decide, but such a cost-benefit analysis is worth considering.
Remember, the point of effective management is to further your criminal goals. Anything that weakens the organization is not going to further your criminal goals. And while yes, human resources is boring bureaucracy, it is still important, just like having a stable of scummy lawyers. Well-defined human resources policies also allow you a toolbox to use to evaluate the worth of your minions. It’s not easy being the Big Bad, and really you should do everything to make sure you stay on top, and your organization stays on top.
or, “Space Jesus vs Space Nazis! Which is Actually More Boring Than the Premise Suggests”
or, “Is he Superman Yet? … Is he Superman Yet? … Is he Superman Yet?”
Krypton, El Household:
–Cal-El is born at home apparently in a room devoid of doctors of any kind; good thing there were no complications… And then sun rises and a bird flies by because this is the “Circle of Life…“–
Krypton, Seat of Government:
Jor-El – Krypton is going to explode.
VIP 1 – That’s crazy talk. Just because you are one of our foremost scientists and just because the planet has been shaking for two weeks doesn’t mean it’s going to explode or anything.
Jor-El – Yeah, yeah it is, and we need to get anyone we can off this planet before it does.
General Zod – –kills VIP 1– Which makes this a perfect time to stage a coup!
Jor-El – Seriously? We’re on the verge of the end of the world! There won’t even be a government in two weeks.
VIP 2 – I really think you’re exaggerating the danger.
Zod – Jor-El, these fools have done nothing while the planet dies. Let’s take all our genetic history and find a new world and establish a new Krypton with only the worthy bloodlines.
Jor-El – Wait a minute. You’re a space Nazi? Really? Three minutes into this movie and the bad guy is being established as a space Nazi. That’s…great…
Zod – Fine, if you won’t help me, I’ll destroy you too.
Jor-El – A space Nazi who speaks in clichés. That’s great. I’m sure after this little stunt you’ll pull the old, “I’ll have revenge” cliché too.
Zod – What stunt?
–The stunt in which Jor-El escapes custody of Zod and steals the Codex, which contains all the genetic history of Krypton and downloads it into the baby [seriously, I'm not kidding, and I guessed that's what was going on only to facepalm when the end of the movie confirmed my wild supposition was actually right] and producing a command key which serves as a red herring for the Codex and an incredibly convenient deus ex machina for the rest of the movie–
Krypton, El Household:
Lara-El – I’m having second thoughts about sending our baby into the depths of space to a strange new world with potentially hostile alien life. What if they hurt him?
Jor-El – I’ve selected a world with atmospheric conditions that will make my only begotten son into a god.
Lara-El – Oh, I guess that’s okay then.
Jor-El – Good. That whole “Mother can’t bear to part with her child even under dire circumstances” cliché is so overdone. Load him up into the rocket and let’s launch him!
–At this moment of course Zod busts in and Jor-El holds him off long enough for the world’s longest launch sequence to be completed, at which point Zod kills Jor-El; luckily the government stops the coup just in time to save the ship with Cal-El and Lara-El–
Krypton, Seat of Government:
VIP 2 – Zod, you and your traitors will be put in a ship capable of interstellar travel and sent into the Phantom Zone.
Zod – I will have revenge against Cal-El!
Krypton, El Household:
Lara-El – Huh, it looks like the planet is exploding. I kind of thought my husband was crazy like the rest of us. Too bad we have no technology to get us off this dying planet. Nope, there was no way to possibly save anyone else besides my son.
–Thus follows the Krypton-shattering kaboom–
Earth, The Deadliest Catch:
First mate – Hey, handsome bearded greenhorn, be careful or you’ll get yourself killed. Dumb-ass.
Captain – There’s a distress call. An oil rig is going up! Greenhorn, do something useful. Greenhorn?
Worker 1 – The hatch is stuck! There’s fire everywhere! We’re going to die!
Mysterious bearded man who is Clark Kent so I’m just going to call him ‘Clark’ – Come with me if you want to live.
Workers – *blink* *blink blink* Hey, whatever you say.
–Clark saves everyone including the helicopter and ends up floating in the deep blue frigid Arctic Ocean–
–We’re treated to the first of several flashbacks showing L’il Clark being traumatized by his superpowers and being called a freak; luckily Ma Kent talks L’il Clark down–
–Clark gets out of the ocean, steals some clothes, and then we’re treated to another flashback–
Earth, Smallville (Flashback):
Bully 1 – You’re a freak, Clark.
–The worst popped tire in the world sends a terrible bus driver over the world’s worst guard rail and whole danged bus into the river; luckily a slightly older L’il Clark saves everyone including the bully but he’s seen doing so–
Pa Kent – Clark, someone saw you save everyone. Now the government will come for you and do terrible things.
L’il Clark – Was I supposed to let everyone die?
Pa Kent – Maybe.
Audience – Who the hell are you and where is Jonathan Kent?!?
Pa Kent – I’m just a really cynical and jaded modern update of Jonathan Kent, okay? Anyway, son, let me show you a secret. –takes him out to the barn and shows him Clark’s baby rocket–
L’il Clark – What is going on with these lens flares? I can’t see a thing!
Pa Kent – Yeah, I know, it’s like the camera was aimed directly at a light. It’ll go away soon. Anyway, you’re an alien, and people will be afraid of you, but I’m sure you’re destined for greatness. You just need to wait for the right time and hide your powers until then.
Earth, Northern Canada (Not a Flashback):
Lois Lane – I’m a plucky don’t-take-no-for-an-answer reporter and you’re going to let me onto this international archeological dig thing whether you like it or not.
Colonel – I don’t like it.
Lois – That’s fair. So what is this?
Colonel – Well, we thought it was a Soviet sub but it’s buried in ice 20,000 years old, so we’ve got no clue, frankly. By the way, even though I don’t like you, don’t wander around at night. There’s a very real chance you could freeze to death.
Earth, Canada, Later:
–Clark investigates the object and Lois, who ignores the Colonel’s warning, goes out in the middle of the night to follow Clark, who manages to be completely oblivious to Lois following him around until she nearly gets killed by a security bot–
Lois – AUUUUGGGHHH!
Clark – Hold still, I can stabilize your wounds until I can get you medical care.
–Which Clark does by leaving Lois on a glacier all night to be found by chance by the rescue helicopter in the morning…wait, what? Clark has already proven he has super-speed when he ran from the Deadliest Catch boat to the oil rig. Why didn’t he pick her up and run her back to the base before powering up the archeological find (which is a Kryptonian ship of course)? Instead he takes off in the middle of the night and leaves her all alone and exposed to the elements while her body recovers from a grievous injury! She didn’t even have a ton-ton!! What the hell, hero?–
Earth, Undisclosed Location, Fortress of Solitude:
Clark – So this thing my dad gave me just happened to make this ship work. Can anyone provide a convenient exposition dump?
Jor-El ex Machina – I can do that for you. Your name is Cal-El, you are my only begotten son from a planet called Krypton. Once we explored space, which is where this scout ship came from, but then decided for reasons that are never explained to stop exploring space and making colonies so we all stayed home raising our genetically engineered children and ended up ruining our planet. General Zod thought that was a swell time for a coup, but it didn’t work. I have saved all the genetic history of our planet called the Codex and left it with you.
Clark – Um…
Jor-El ex Machina – I despise the fact all our children were genetically engineered and couldn’t choose their purpose, which is why you were a natural birth. And I sent you here for the purpose of being the savior of this human race and to give them hope that they can be more than they are. Apparently Kryptonians don’t understand irony.
Clark – Um…
Jor-El ex Machina – So if you’ll follow me you’ll see that I already made you a suit to wear to give hope to humanity. You have awesome superpowers and you should use them to save humanity. So do you have any questions?
Clark – Nope, that’s all very convenient.
–what follows is a montage of Clark donning the Superman outfit (sans underwear on the outside) and learning how to use his superpowers; there’s also another flashback in which a grown Clark tells a jerk trucker to leave a waitress alone but instead he’s the one that leaves the restaurant and to punish the jerk he ties up his truck in power poles like a vengeful super-dick–
Metropolis, The Daily Planet:
Perry White – Lois, you have a story about a flying saucer. I can’t print this!
Lois – I’ve won awards.
Perry – *icy stare*
Lois – Fine, fine, I’ll get something more solid. –leaves– But first I’ll get my story splashed all over the internet.
–Montage of Lois asking the right questions and narrating the process until she gets to Ma Kent’s house; it’s really not interesting.–
Lois – I figured if I asked enough questions you’d show up.
Clark – Please don’t reveal my secret.
Lois – Why not?
Clark – Let me answer with a flashback.
Earth, Smallville (Flashback):
Pa Kent – You have to be more careful about hiding your powers.
Teenaged Clark – You’re not my read dad! You can’t tell me what to do!
Pa Kent – *sigh* I guess if I speak mostly in foreboding platitudes, your allowed to speak in adolescent clichés.
Ma Kent – Oh no! An EF5 tornado just appeared out of nowhere! Because that totally happens!
Pa Kent – Everyone get to the overpass! –Serious note – do NOT do this–
–so what follows is one of the most contrived tragedies ever put to film in which the Kents are safe but Pa Kent has to go back to the tornado to save the dog who of course escapes but Pa Kent can’t get away in time and lets Clark know that it’s better for him to die that for Clark to reveal his powers in front of the bystanders to save his father and thus Pa Kent dies. Stupidly. No one cares.–
Perry – So, did paying for all those flights using the Planet’s money in this age of dying print media pay off?
Lois – Um, the leads didn’t pan out. So, um, no.
Perry – You’re lying.
Lois – Okay, yes, but I’m not giving up the story now.
Perry – Damn it!
Earth, Smallville, Kent Household:
Clark – So don’t worry about that reporter, Ma. Everything’s going to be okay now.
Zod (Transmission) – Surrender the one known as Cal-El to me within 24 hours. Or else.
Earth, Smallville, A Church:
Clark – Father, I have a bad feeling about this. Hey, that’s a really nice stained glass window you have of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. So, anyway, what should I do?
Priest – Do you trust Zod?
Clark – Um, no. He basically threatened the whole planet. Of course not.
Priest – Well, you’ll just have to do what you feel is right and have faith it will be the right choice.
Earth, A Military Base:
Lois – I am totally going to kill that internet guy that ratted me out to the military.
Clark – Hey, how are you doing?
Lois – What are you doing here? They’re going to turn you over to that guy who can’t be trusted!
Clark – Yeah, I know, and do you know you are the only person who realizes he can’t be trusted? Anyway, I have to help people. Also, military guys, the cuffs aren’t holding me and that tranquilizer isn’t going to do anything at all.
Scientist – Um, you might have germs or something. We need to protect ourselves.
Clark – I’ve been on Earth for 33 years.
–So Clark goes with Zod’s henchwoman but the henchwoman demands Lois go too for reasons that are never explained, so she does, and Clark quietly slips Lois the command key from his baby rocket.–
Zod – So, it’s time for exposition on how I was wrongly accused of being a criminal…
–Clark passes out due to being unacclimated to a Kryptonian atmosphere and the rest of this conversation apparently takes place telepathically? Sure, why not, I guess–
Clark – I know this, and the audience just saw this at the beginning of the movie. You’re a space Nazi. We get it.
Zod – Fine, fine. Well, it turned out after the planet blew up we escaped the Phantom Zone and managed to scavenge enough technology and supplies from our ruined old colonies to survive, which shows how idiotic everyone was about not leaving the dying planet in the first place! Anyway, that’s the past. I came here to make you turn over the Codex so I can restart Krypton.
Clark – I’m thinking it’s a bad idea to turn that kind of information over to a space Nazi.
Zod – Would it help if I told you I’m planning on killing all the humans and turning Earth into Krypton?
Clark – No! That just makes you more evil.
Zod – Okay, fine, I’ll just lock you up now that you’re weak and do what I want anyway. Also, I’ll be sure to throw the Earthling in a cell with a command interface.
–Lois in fact ends up in a cell with a command interface and just happens to plug the command key into the slot–
Jor-El ex Machina – I’m glad you did that for no good reason. Anyway, I’m downloading myself into this ship to take it over. I’ll help you save my son and tell you how to stop Zod for good.
Lois – Wow, that is incredibly convenient.
–It is indeed as the Jor-El ex Machina helps Lois and Clark escape the ship–
Jor-El ex Machina – Remember, son, you can save everyone. Now spread your arms out like a cross shape as you float beautifully towards the Earth.
–Clark does save Lois but then what follows is a really annoying fight sequence in Smallville that doesn’t establish much in the way of character for anyone involved but does show that wow Kryptonians can take a beating; Clark doesn’t so much as win as manage to give the evil Kryptonians a headache so bad they run back to their ship for some space aspirin.–
Lois – Clark! I forgot! Your dead space dad told me how we can save everyone!
Clark – Wow, exposition and solutions! It’s like my dead space dad is a deus ex machina or something! Or that Russell Crowe demanded more screen time because I think he’s had more lines of dialogue than I have.
Zod’s Ship, Later:
Zod – I hates him! I hates Els forever!!
Scientist – It turns out the Codex is actually in Cal-El’s blood.
Zod – So you’re saying that the last begotten son of Krypton must shed his blood to save his race?
Scientist – Um, sure, if you want to say it like that. The best part is he doesn’t have to be alive when I take the blood.
–So Zod sends out two ships on opposite sides of the world; his ship and a spare and they start terraforming Earth to be more like Krypton which causes huge waves of destruction; despite this, Clark doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry to you know, save the world–
Earth, Metropolis Probably:
Colonel – Oh, hey, I’m back. Okay, I’m really confused. If Zod has the ability to terraform a planet, why not pick one that doesn’t have a superpowered space god to defend it? I mean, they can travel through space pretty well. That guy must just be an irredeemable monster if he’s going to kill seven billion people when it makes no sense to do so. So anyway, what’s the plan?
Clark – You drop my baby rocket on Zod’s main ship and I’ll destroy the other ship and that should suck Zod’s ship into a black hole that will conveniently disappear rather than continue to expand and destroy the Earth anyway.
Lois – But you’ll get weaker the closer you are to that ship. It’s like your Kryptonite or something! You could die!
Clark – I am prepared to make that kind of sacrifice for humanity.
Colonel – Well could you get a move on? Thousands of people are dying.
–Clark of course busts up the small terraforming ship and nearly dies but the light of the sun brings him back from the (mostly) dead just in time to save Lois, who decided to go on the attack run which of course went very badly and in fact the luckiest thing to happen to her was to fall out of the plane to be saved by Clark instead of getting sucked into the black hole/Phantom Zone thing–
Clark – Well, I’m glad that’s all over. Yep, nothing else to do except kiss Lois and head on out. Nope, no reason to check all those burning and collapsed buildings for survivors or attempt to save as many people as possible. As the savior of humanity, my job is done.
Zod – Hey, I’m not dead yet!
Clark – Seriously? You want to keep fighting?
Zod – I’m going to kill every single person on this planet with my bare hands just to watch you suffer. So either I die or you die!
Clark – That is a horrible pair of choices. I’m morally opposed to killing.
–And what follows is an action sequence so overly long and destructive and boring I thought it had been directed by Michael Bay; eventually Clark pins down Zod in Grand Central Station, I mean, Metropolis Central Station; in yet another obviously contrived tragedy the only way Clark can save a family from Zod’s heat vision is by killing Zod; Clark is emotionally distraught.–
Clark – So that’s all over. I’m going to be Superman but I need a job where I can hear about all the bad things happening in the world. Or I could watch television and check the internet, but that’s not as good as a job in the newspaper business!
Perry – Everyone meet our new reporter, Clark Kent.
Lois – Nice glasses.
Clark – Thanks.
For a better ending, check this out.
Say that three times fast. Stan Lee would be proud of that kind of awesome alliteration.
In case you’re wondering why I’m back on comic books, it’s because I found a bunch of my old issues of Spider-man, and that got me to thinking. Whether this is good or bad is for you lovely readers to judge. Also, get comfy; this is kind of long. And probably whiny. But hopefully entertainingly so!
I love Spider-man. He is Marvel’s flagship character and possibly more well-known than even Wolverine (possibly). When he was fifteen years old, he became a superhero. And he had to go to school, and do chores, and try to win the girl. He was one of the first characters if not the first character to try to show how difficult a superhero’s life really would be, especially one with a secret identity. And he made mistakes, oh so many mistakes. But he did the best he could, and as a teenager, we the reading audience would cut him some slack.
His motto is “with great power comes great responsibility.” Those were the words of his dead uncle that he clings to when he finds himself conflicted between family and superheroing (i.e., his life). I’m sure other people have figured this out, but when I realized I had grown up, I also realized that Peter Parker is horribly irresponsible. He lies to his friends and family so they won’t find out his secret and tells himself that is for their own protection. Perhaps that is true; Matt Murdock had a hell of a time when Ben Urich outed him as Daredevil. But at some point lame excuses no longer ring true. A teenager breaking curfew is given more allowances than a grown man skipping out on rent again. At some point, great responsibility is not just part of a catchphrase; it needs to be part of the narrative reality. In short, Peter Parker needs to grow up.
And unlike Peter Pan, who stays a child because he wants to, Peter Parker is forced to remain an immature man-child by writers and editors and don’t want anything to change ever. I’ll add the caveat that this varies by writer and editorial staff. After all, Peter Parker did go to college and did move out of Aunt May’s house and did manage to barely scrape by on his own in one of the most expensive cities in the world on a freelance photographer’s salary and he did finally get married to Mary Jane Watson. By years and issues and slow, halting steps Peter Parker did start to grow up.
I liked JMS’s run on Amazing Spider-man for a lot of reasons. I already liked JMS’s writing (as I was a “Babylon 5” fan). There were certainly elements that were weird or didn’t quite work for me (and were virulently hated by other fans), but I could overlook those for the character development. JMS introduced a foil to Spider-man called Ezekiel. One day Spider-man explains to Ezekiel why he’s Spider-man, and Ezekiel asks (paraphrasing), “What does ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ mean? Responsibility to who? To do what?” And I had never thought of that before. That was also one of those things that made me realize how irresponsible Peter often was. Peter even realized how irresponsible he was when he thought he was dying and realized he never even bothered to buy basic life insurance. Under JMS, Aunt May found out Peter Parker was really Spider-man and it removed one more element keeping Pete stuck as a perpetual teenager constantly lying to protect his aunt. She was stunned, sure, and angry, but ultimately she was proud of him. Under JMS, Peter and MJ, who had been separated for very valid reasons, reconciled and appeared to be on the road to a healthy marriage. The characters were acting like the adults they were supposed to be.
And I, as an adult at this point, enjoyed this story/character arc. This was not anathema to me. This was not me saying, “Ewww, gross, cooties,” or “Ohhh, so boring…” I could relate. And I always thought that was the whole point of Peter Parker/Spider-man – he was the hero us ordinary fourth wall dwellers could relate to. Sure, he’s got awesome superpowers and has spectacular fights and is a font of witty banter. But at the end of the day, he also had a terrible boss, a tiny paycheck, a pile of bills, and an aunt who was disappointed he missed Sunday dinner again. To me, though, part of the reason Peter Parker always tried so hard as Spider-man was because of his family. He loved his aunt and his wife and thought it was important to make their world better in a way that only he, with his great power, could do. And yes, he neglected the bills to do this, but he had a good heart. Growing up and realizing neglecting the bills did not benefit them did not make him any less a hero. Behaving like an adult does not lessen the possibilities for drama.
But the worst editor-in-chief hated all this. He’s probably not the only one, quite frankly. There is a tendency with the comic book universes to make sure nothing changes ever, and I know Spider-man isn’t the only one, but I feel he’s been the most prominent victim. This may be because as a solo hero there isn’t a team dynamic to help disguise Peter Pan syndrome. Teams also are allowed to have new members, which makes it easier to have unattached swinging singles in their ranks that “creative teams” either seem to prefer to write for or seem to think are the only characters fans will care about (although I must point teams are not immune this “never grow up” attitude; one only has to look at how Jessica Jones and baby Danielle were rather rapidly written out of the New Avengers while Power Man chose the team over his wife and child! [all of that, by the by, from the same writer who was responsible for pairing off Jessica and Luke followed by the sudden arrival of baby Danielle so I'm not sure how all that character development and potential drama came to a screeching and sudden stop]).
Also, there are heroes, iconic ones at that, who are allowed to grow up (like Robin to Nightwing) which only highlights poor Peter’s persistent plight. Heck, even the Teen Titans are allowed to grow up. I recall an issue of “Young Justice” in which the teenage superheroes were talking about how different things would be once they grew up and the adult superheroes took them seriously. Superboy then told the group that he would never grow up; due to the cloning process that created him he would be a perpetual teenager. Even within the context of the world, the characters were horrified by this thought. They wanted to grow up!
The end result of the Peter Pan problem is lazy writing at best and terrible writing at worst (see “One More Day” and “One Moment in Time”).
Lazy – ‘Oh, Peter needs some more drama that isn’t Green Goblin kicking his face in. Hey, I know, how about he asks a girl out and totally bails on their date because he’s fighting Green Goblin and she’s all like, “you jerk,” and he’s all like, “I’m sorry,” and she’s all like, “Well, don’t screw up again,” and he totally does and then she dumps him and he’s sad again.’
Terrible – ‘Marriage bad! Making a deal with the devil is better than being tied down by marriage and, gods forbid, children!’
For all the reboots and retcons, if the “creative teams” really wanted Spider-man in particular to be a teenager again, why didn’t they just go for it? Harry Osborn was brought back to life in the aftermath of OMD and OMIT, so why not just go whole-hog and make everyone a teenager again? Hell, bring back Gwen Stacy. Bring them all back. If Peter Pan can’t grow up, don’t take him out of Neverland. The reason I think Marvel didn’t actually do that is because it would invite comparisons between 616-Spider-man and Ultimate Spider-man, who actually was still a teenager. Of course, I compared the two universes all along and was sad to realize Ultimate Spider-man (who, again, was only fifteen years old when the comic started), was a much more mature and responsible person than his “Amazing” and “adult” counterpart.
For a medium I do enjoy and want to enjoy, sometimes the “creative teams” make that so hard. I honestly don’t think younger fans will be so put off by heroes that deal with adult life as the head honchos seem to think. Younger fans do interact with adults, and watch television and movies which depict adult situations, after all. Would younger fans be put off by Peter discussing the household budget with MJ? Yes, probably, but I’d be bored by that too. But balancing adult drama with awesome superpowered battles is hard, and too many “creative teams” are too lazy to actually do that, or are headed up by a petty editor-in-chief with personal issues he’s going to take out on the world he purports to love (which is a supervillain origin story).
So, in short, perpetual childhood is entertaining in a classic children’s story but it is really, really obnoxious in a decades long comic book series. “Creative teams,” you need to grow the hell up so the characters you write/edit can grow the hell up too. And I, for one, would appreciate that.
Trying out something a little different today. Maybe this will be a trend and I’ll have to make a new category. Anyway, without further ado, I present “Romeo and Juliet,”
or, “Never was there a tale of more pointless woe than that of moron Juliet and her idiot Romeo.”
Crier – The story takes place in Verona, and the Capulets and Montagues hate each other. Okay, moving on now.
Nurse – Juliet, I really think you should marry that nice Count Paris. He’s rich, he’s nice, and he’s not old enough to be your father.
Juliet – Those are all good points in his favor, but I’m waiting for my true love.
Nurse – *sighs* Teenagers…
Benvolio – Dude, this is stupid! The Capulets hate us! We are so in trouble if we get caught crashing their party!
Romeo – But I must see my true love Rosaline!
Benvolio – Fine, she’s over there, now can we go? Romeo? Hey, what’s wrong with you?
Romeo – –staring at Juliet– I must see my true love!
Benvolio – That’s not Rosaline. That’s Juliet.
Romeo – Yes, my true love Juliet.
Benvolio – Dude, seriously? Fine, whatever. I am out of here.
The Balcony Scene:
Romeo – Juliet, you’re so hot and I love you!
Juliet – Strange men wandering around my bedroom is so sexy and no way stalkerish. Hey, aren’t you a Montague?
Romeo – Um, yes, but that doesn’t matter because I love you!
Juliet – So that means you’re a bad boy because you’re rebelling against your family, right?
Romeo – Um, yes?
Juliet – Good girls can’t resist bad boys. Come on up. But I can’t go all the way.
Romeo – Well, I’ll take what I can get.
Juliet – Hey, fornication is a sin, but consummation isn’t.
Romeo – Oh, okay, I see what you’re getting at. Well, even though I just met you and don’t know anything about you besides the fact you’re totally hot, I think I love you enough to ask you to marry me. Will you?
Juliet – Yes!
Benvolio – Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?
Romeo – I can never be with my true love.
Benvolio – Rosaline?
Romeo – Who’s Rosaline? I’m talking about Juliet.
Benvolio – That girl you met last night?
Romeo – *sigh*
Friar Laurence – You can tell me what’s making you so brooding and angsty, besides being fifteen of course.
Romeo – I’m in love with Juliet Capulet and she’s in love with me.
Laurence – Really? That’s great! I believe in the love of you krazy kids so much I’ll even secretly marry you two. Maybe this will finally bring your families together.
Romeo – And you’re supposed to be the mature adult in this play? That’s a stupid plan!
Laurence – Do you want the girl or not?
Romeo – Secret marriage it is.
–Friar Laurence marries them the next day–
The Mean Streets of Verona:
Tybalt – Hey, dirtbag!
Romeo – What?
Mercutio – I’m pretty sure he’s talking to you, genius. I think he figured out you crashed the Capulet ball.
Tybalt – Party nothing! That low-life was skulking around my cousin Juliet’s room!
Mercutio – How do you know that unless you were also skulking around your cousin’s room?
Tybalt – Shut up! That doesn’t matter! Anyway, I’m challenging Peeping Montague here to a duel!
Romeo – Er, listen, Tybalt, this really isn’t a good time. I mean, I know you think we’re enemies and all, but if it turned out we were actually kinsmen, then wouldn’t this be so embarrassing?
Tybalt/Mercutio – What the hell are you talking about?
Romeo – I’m just saying that maybe we aren’t so different and maybe a fight in the street isn’t going to turn out the way you think, that’s all.
Mercutio – What the hell is wrong with you? Tybalt, I’ll duel with you. Let’s get this over with!
Tybalt – Have at thee!
Romeo – Guys! Guuuyyys, break it up. Come on, guys, be nice…
–Romeo’s attempts to break up the fight allow Tybalt to fatally stab Mercutio–
Mercutio – Romeo you idiot.
Tybalt – Ha! Ha! I see you backing off there. I totally won!
Romeo – See, we didn’t need to fight.
Mercutio – Oh, I agree with that. Hey, Tybalt, before you do your victory dance, do you think maybe your sword has something on it?
Tybalt – What? Ohhh… is-is that… blood? I am so in trouble.
Mercutio – You? What about me?
Romeo – I am really confused.
Tybalt – I have a thing. I have to go. Laters! –runs away–
Romeo – See? All’s well that end’s well.
Mercutio – That’s a different play, you moron. –dies–
Romeo – Mercutio? Mercutio? He’s dead! Tybalt killed him! –chases down Tybalt– I will have revenge!
Tybalt – That’s not necessary!
Romeo – Dude, you started this! I didn’t want to fight!
Tybalt – So don’t!
Romeo – My name is Romeo Montague! You killed my friend! Prepare to die! –stabs him–
Prince of Verona – Enough of this! Romeo, you are banished from Verona and if you come back, you get killed! Got it?
Romeo – Sex or death, the age old question. And for a fifteen year old boy who just got married, there’s only one answer, right Juliet?
Juliet – Tee hee.
Romeo – Of course, now I must go into exile and can never see you again.
Juliet – Well, that just killed the mood.
Romeo – Sorry, babe.
Capulet Household, Later:
Papa Capulet – Juliet, I see you look so sad over your cousin’s death.
Juliet – What? Oh, yeah, that guy. Oh, woe is me. Boo hoo.
Papa Capulet – So what better way to cheer you up than marry you off to Count Paris immediately?
Juliet – Um, what? No. I mean, not right now. I mean, boo hoo.
Papa Capulet – You will marry that rich, important cousin of the Prince or so help me I will disown you young lady.
Juliet – Gee, thanks Dad. You’re a real model parent. Mom, come on, I don’t want to marry Paris. Can you at least put off the wedding? I mean, aren’t we still grieving over whats-his-name?
Mama Capulet – Nope, you’ll do what your father says.
Juliet – Friar Laurence, you’ve got to help me! My parents are marrying me off to Count Paris!
Laurence – Well, that’s to be expected, I’m afraid, but don’t panic. We’ve got at least a month while they put down the deposits and finalize the guest lists and of course give all the guests time to arrive…
Juliet – The wedding is in three days.
Laurence – What the hell? I mean, heck. Well, I guess a lack of time is the only logical explanation for this shoddy and ill-thought out plan I come up with. I’ll get you a drug so you can pretend you’re dead, assume your family will bury you within a day, and get a message to Romeo to come rescue you from the crypt before you actually die from lack of air or starvation.
Juliet – That’s a terrible plan! But I’m thirteen and out of options, except, you know, getting over that guy I’ve known for like a week and marrying the Count. I mean, you’re the only one who knows we got married so it should be easy to ignore it or annul it. But no, Romeo is my true love so I will go along with this stupid, stupid plan.
–Things go mostly according to plan in that Juliet takes the drug, is pronounced dead, and buried within the day; unfortunately, Laurence’s messenger never got the message to Romeo, who thinks Juliet is actually dead–
Romeo – Oh, woe! Woe woe! My true love is dead, and with this vial of poison I shall join her in eternity, instead of getting over this girl I’ve only known for like a week like I got over that last girl, whats-her-name…starts with an “R” maybe? Anyway, I will never love again!
Paris – Hey, you! What are you doing here?
Romeo – Um, nothing!
Paris – Vandal! Graverobber! Have at thee!
Romeo – What? No, damn it! –they fight and Romeo kills Paris– Well, if I hadn’t been exiled already, that would do it. Woe, I have nothing to live for. Bottoms up! –drinks poison and dies–
Juliet – Oh, what a headache… Hey, Romeo, you came for me! Why is Paris dead on the floor? Romeo? Romeo? Oh, no, he’s dead! He must not have gotten the message that I wasn’t actually dead! Life is not worth living without the man I love, and Paris is dead too so I have no back-up marriage plan. Damn, the poison is empty. Well, I guess I’ll just do this the painful way. –stabs herself and dies–
Prince of Verona – I told you Count Paris was mourning privately… –sees the carnage– What the hell happened?
Friar Laurence – I, um, can explain… –does so–
Prince of Verona – You idiot! You thundering idiot!
Papa Capulet – Our beloved children are dead because of our foolish fighting.
Prince of Verona – No they’re not! They’re dead because they’re stupid teenagers!
Papa Montague – Well, anyway, we’d like to stop the feud now.
Prince of Verona – Oh, well, great. That’s great. Good, I’m glad there’s a silver lining to this whole mess. Now, let’s get everyone buried in the correct crypt.
Obviously, I hate this story. I’ve made that clear before, but I thought this kind of synopsis would highlight the stupidity. Yes, I know, Romeo and Juliet were probably treated as full adults within their society, but if their behavior is barely excusable as two stupid kids, it is absolutely inexcusable as two fully mature adults. I find this story hard to take seriously because except for the deaths this is rom-com gold. Two krazy kids who love each other after knowing each for three minutes sneaking around their parents to see each other and it ends with this crazy “pretend we’re dead” scheme. That’s some wacky hijinks. In the rom-com version, no one would have died, obviously, and once the parents saw how true Romeo and Juliet’s love is, they’d be allowed to get married anyway, and then the movie would end with everyone having a good belly laugh as Friar Laurence explains they already are married. Frankly, I think I would like this story much better if it were actually a comedy. But it’s not. Everyone dies and I’m not the least bit sorry.