I am on record as absolutely loving “Scooby Doo.” I know, I know, the show was formulaic and cheaply animated. And yet I’ve loved almost every incarnation (I really liked “A Pup Named Scooby Doo” because it was a good parody of the rest of the franchise). So imagine how excited I was in 2001 when I saw trailers for a live-action “Scooby Doo” movie. Well, ‘excited’ probably wasn’t the right word. Intrigued, maybe, or worried. I thought how could Hollywood turn a 22 minute (or 44 minute if we’re talking about the “Scooby Doo Movies”) television show into a 90 minute full-length movie? But then again, several direct-to-DVD full-length animated movies had already been made, so how hard could it really be? I had watched a few and even enjoyed them, with several employing the twist that the supernatural was in fact real (to be fair, that ceased to be much of a twist pretty quickly).
You may wonder if I don’t like this movie why I’m not working on a “Storytelling Failures” for it. Well, it’s just not worth that kind of effort. This was mindless summer blockbuster entertainment fun. Yes, it could be argued that’s what Man of Steel was, but that movie was trying to tell a story if for no other reason than to get people back for the sequel. Scooby Doo was more like, well, Transformers. The movie was meant to capitalize on a successful TV franchise and nostalgia; it was meant to be disposable. Frankly, expecting a story that was anything but lazy and/or contrived was expecting too much.
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting too much. I was expecting, I think, a high-budget version of one of the animated movies. The casting choices seemed good. I figured with all the advances in CGI technology that a CG great dane would be a fairly easy creature to render. And I figured that since “Scooby Doo” was such a long-running franchise that adapting it to live-action couldn’t be that hard. Even knowing this movie was disposable, I did not actually expect it to be bad.
And I was wrong. So wrong. While the casting choices were fine, and some of the set design was really pretty good, most everything else was completely wrong. Here is all the movie required:
a) four friends and their talking dog stumble across something weird
b) they investigate by splitting up the group with Shaggy and Scooby (and sometimes Velma) inevitably finding the monster and Fred and Daphne (and sometimes Velma) not finding the monster
c) hijinks ensue, perhaps with a musical chase scene and a celebrity guest star
d) the monster is caught and the mystery solved
e) also, the CG dog should look like a dog
So instead I end up watching a movie that immediately splits up the group in a bout of spitefulness, doesn’t seem to have any idea what the show was about, or how the characters act, or what the hell foreshadowing means (seriously, if they’re going to get Fred and Daphne together, then why the hell was the whole movie practically spent with Fred and Velma hanging out) and to top it all off, the dog looks awful! Good grief, the toons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit were better integrated into the movie, and they were supposed to be toons! Also, Tim Curry declined to be the villain because of Scrappy Doo. While Rowan Atkinson did as good a job as could be expected, well, Tim Curry is just so perfect to be a Scooby Doo villain (and has lent his voice to an animated movie) I’m sorry that didn’t happen. Oh, Scrappy Doo, is there nothing you don’t ruin with your very existence?
There were scenes that certainly didn’t belong (like a flatulence contest between Shaggy and Scooby), but what really put the hurt on me was the spitefulness. Freddy thumps Scooby on the nose (even though in the shows no one really treated Scooby like a dog), Scooby punches Freddy in return, they all abandon Scrappy Doo by the side of the road, Shaggy suggests abandoning Fred and Velma to the monsters, and at the end Scooby smacks Scrappy into a wall. I hate Scrappy Doo. I really do. Scrappy Doo puts the hurt in my soul he’s so terrible. But Scooby was Scrappy’s uncle, and Scrappy was just a puppy. No one in the Mystery Machine gang was cruel enough to abandon Scrappy or cause him physical harm, no matter how annoying he was. And Scrappy is not so awful as to actually be a villain (seriously, though, how could they screw that joke up). Hell, I wouldn’t actually abandon Scrappy Doo by the side of the road and I feel nothing but loathing for that trope-naming hound. The gang’s behavior all around was spiteful and unnecessary, and just makes me sad.
I theorize that because this movie was meant to be disposable that no care was given to it. Zero [expletive]s were given about this movie, and it showed. Even disposable media should be watchable that first time, and this just wasn’t. Ultimately, there wasn’t much fun about this movie and some scenes were downright painful to watch. Really, what is Scooby Doo if not fun? In this rare case, the sequel is actually superior to the original. Is the sequel good? It’s passable, and more than that, it doesn’t hurt to watch.
I cancelled my subscription after the last run of the comic ended with the end of the world. As I discussed, I thought the writing was good but I wasn’t sold on the direction the story arcs. I wasn’t inclined to pick up the new series, but a friend of mine was feeling generous towards the writing team. He brought me over his issue of the new X-Factor #3 because, well, he thought I would find it something worth looking at. And why he brought me issue #3 and not the two earlier issues will hopefully be made clear as well. Also, this is a looooong rant, so I suggest getting comfy.
Let’s start with the cover. This is my first attempt to actually include a picture in my blog because I think it is so very important to show this cover. But I’ll also provide a link to a picture just in case my laggy connection screws up the upload.
Anyway, behold the cover in all its pastel purple glory (although oddly many images have the background color as yellow; it honestly doesn’t matter). And please, if you do not recognize the guy on the cover, please don’t look it up. I’ll tell you, I promise, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise… So, yes, this is an absolutely awful cover. The purpose of a cover is to be, well, eye-catching. That is, in a sea of covers, a comic must have something that truly stands out to catch the eye of a potential buyer. This doesn’t. This doesn’t stand out at all. This is lazy. This is unbelievably lazy. Did the publisher run out of time and send it off before the background got filled in? Hell, the background isn’t even all purple; there’s some white area behind the dude like he’s standing in an empty room that the painters didn’t quite finish up. This is just the title, issue number, a tagline, and a dude holding three cats on a purple background of nothingness. Listen, as much as I HATE “One More Day,” I will say that the mini-series had interesting and eye-catching covers. This is just sad. Depending on the shelving structure at the comic book store, maybe only a fraction of the cover would be visible. If only a third of this cover was visible, I’ll I’d see is the title, the tagline, and empty pastel purple. How is that going to attract my attention? Hell, if I was looking for X-Factor I’d probably overlook this on the first pass because it just doesn’t stand out.
Okay, fine, let’s assume I see the whole cover that features a dude I don’t recognize with three cats and no context at all. Let’s look at the tagline. “Let me go first, Lorna, I’m their freaking king.” Well, I know that “Lorna” is most likely referring to Polaris, who was in the last X-Factor comic and neither died nor ended up a god. I concluded that the new comic included Polaris. This sort of belies the claim “all-new” but I’m not against keeping some continuity from one story arc to the next. Presumably the dude on the cover is the person saying this to Lorna, although there is no crown, staff, scepter, or gold to indicate he’s some kind of royalty. But hey, this is issue #3 so perhaps this has been more fully explained in the previous two issues. On the other hand, if I am a potential new reader, I shouldn’t be expected to know that and therefore any association with this dude’s royalty should probably be made more evident on the cover if that’s supposed to be a reference to some kind of plot point. And if the tagline isn’t relevant to some kind of plot point, why is it there?
Next, the dude on the cover. He’s wearing some kind of uniform I don’t recognize and there’s nothing particularly distinctive about him. I didn’t recognize this person at all and first thought was that this was a new character made up for the new series. My second thought was that this could just be an X-character I wasn’t familiar with. The X-titles have a huge assemble and I don’t pretend to know all of them. Many of those have been afflicted with Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, although sometimes they come downstairs after all. I finally just concluded this was a character who one way or another was new to me.
As for the cats? Mostly I was just confused. The presence of the cats did not help me identify the dude as I couldn’t think of any X-character known for keeping cats, liking cats, or hell even having a pet at all. The cats aren’t really doing anything and the dude isn’t really doing anything with them except let them crawl on him and awkwardly hold one up. “Are the cats relevant to the story?” I thought. “Or are they irrelevant cover art?” Then I thought, “Do I really want a bunch of cats to relevant to the story?”
Finally, the bottom which contains the usual barcode, the “Marvel NOW” logo, notification of a digital edition, and the odd, “Sponsored by Serval Industries” with a logo of a cat. So does this tie into the cats the guy is holding? This really only confused me more. I kind of guessed this guy probably worked for the fictional corporation Serval Industries and maybe that dull orange and brown thing was their uniform. I’ve never heard of Serval Industries and I really don’t like crowding an already crowded universe with more antagonists that only show up in one specific book when in theory they should show up in a lot more (I find that to be a kind of fridge logic). Of course, I’m not much up on Marvel, so maybe Serval Industries is an integral part of the universe and not something made up strictly for this title (DC’s New 52 has a huge problem with totally secret semi-government agencies serving as antagonists that should overlap and conflict all the time but never seem to).
Overall, if my friend hadn’t handed this comic to me, there is no way I would have picked it up amongst the sea of covers in my local comic book store. It’s unlikely I would have even seen the whole cover, and if I had, my thoughts were basically, “Hm, dude I don’t know with cats for no reason and an artist that couldn’t be bothered with a background. Eh.” I wouldn’t have even opened the comic, much less purchased it. Again, maybe #1 was totally awesome. But #3 is hardly too late for a reader to come into a series. That would actually correspond with regular readers starting to give opinions on the series and maybe entice an ambivalent reader into seeking out. But if that were me, and I saw that lazy-ass cover, I’d pass it right on by.
And then it got worse. So much worse. For those of you waiting in breathless anticipation, I shall now reveal the identity of the gentleman on the cover.
Yeah, that’s supposed to be Gambit.
What. The. Hell? Listen, I know Gambit can’t wear the outfit that was made iconic in the ’90s cartoon his whole life (and proved bad-asses can wear pink), but there should be something about this cover art that makes me realize this is Gambit. The stupid glasses cover up his distinctive black and red eyes. The hairstyle is generically modern. The hair color is generic. And frankly so much bad art is out there I don’t think his facial structure is particularly identifiable either. Where’s the bowstaff? Where are the cards? That’s his schtick! How could the creative team let a cover go out that doesn’t even have a character’s iconic elements? There are way, way too many X-characters to put any of them in some new uniform and stick them on the cover with no context and expect someone to recognize them. And this is Gambit! I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to recognize him, right? I never cared for the guy (I would have tossed him out of the X-mansion on his first day because he’s a [Denis Leary] to say the least), but I understand he’s pretty popular. He got a cameo in Wolverine’s origin movie just to see if he could carry his own movie. Shouldn’t the presence of Gambit be a selling point?! Does Marvel not really want my $3.99??
Then I actually read the comic and concluded that no, Marvel really doesn’t want my money (although it does turn out the cats are in the story, albeit briefly, and Gambit actually says the tagline). I thought Peter David was a good writer, but I’m starting to wonder here. There are a couple of big problems, and one probably stems from me.
1) My problem – I’m genre savvy. I know how plotlines typically play out in comic books because I’ve read so many of them (tangentially, this is also a problem I’m having trying to get into Agents of SHIELD). This can cause me to not enjoy stories for two reasons. One, I can see where the plot is going and the twists aren’t really surprising. Two, I expect the characters to be somewhat genre savvy as well. The last X-Factor series even played around with this. For example, Siryn was not getting over her father’s death, and when the others told her hanging on to the hope he would come back was foolish, she retorted that she’d known a number of people who came back from the dead. The others honestly couldn’t debate that, and a few issues later Strong Guy was killed and brought back from the dead. No, it’s not fair to expect the characters to be genre savvy, but there are just some situations that come up so often in a comic book world that the characters should recognize them as bad, or at least, potentially bad.
So how does my problem ruin the comic? Serval Industries is so obviously evil their motto might as well be, “Obviously Evil.” They hire superhumans in direct defiance to the government, they use those superhumans to break the law (the fact they’re plundering A.I.M. doesn’t make their actions legal), confiscate a whole bunch of technology for their own nefarious ends, incarcerate the captured scientists (instead of turning them over to the authorities), they inject Polaris with nanobots so she can unwittingly film all the X-Factor missions for them, and they have workers who hang out wearing weird shapeless robes and masks. Despite that, Havoc’s Avengers’ connections can’t bring up dirt on the company. Right.
2) The second problem – so much comes across as contrivance, or at least huge lapses of logic. Perhaps the creative team is playing a very long game with their story line and I just have no patience. However, again, an individual issue is supposed to be good enough to make me want to finish the story. I have little to no patience with contrivances and lapses of logic like this.
a) While I can’t reasonably expect the characters to be as genre savvy as I am, I cannot begin to fathom why Quicksilver and Gambit, possibly two of the most paranoid characters ever to grace the X-titles, would be so remarkably blaise about the true motives of their employer, especially one that is so clearly asking them to act illegally. Especially an employer that would hire Gambit and Quicksilver in the first place!
b) There is no way in the current climate of the Marvel universe a corporation could hire a bunch of alpha level mutants/known terrorists as a public team without a hell of a lot of backlash from pretty much every quarter.
c) If Gambit is the King of Thieves, why the hell is he working for anyone? Shouldn’t he, you know, be king or something?
d) Quicksilver is working for humans?! Yeah, I know he was an Avenger, but reluctantly, and because of Captain America. But Quicksilver is working for the Man? What?
(Okay, I’ll admit maybe this is me again. Characters can obviously change in extreme [and I think uncharacteristic] ways in a short amount of time. Perhaps Quicksilver is one of them. But still, it’s quite a shock to me since I remember how Quicksilver used to be).
e) Polaris is insane. Utterly, completely, insane. This isn’t exactly a contrivance or a lapse in logic except I read the last X-Factor series and Siryn became a goddess partially to save Polaris and keep her out-of-control powers from killing everyone. My take-away from the scene was that Siryn-as-Morrigan healed Polaris’s insanity. But based on this, apparently Siryn-as-Morrigan just healed that one instance of Polaris’s insanity leaving the underlying insanity intact to again be a threat to everyone around her. So Siryn is a lousy goddess apparently.
f) Why did Serval inject the nanobots into the character with magnetic powers?! Shouldn’t the use of her powers destroy the nanobots? She’s fried electronics plenty of times before. Hell, even if nanobots are somehow protected, every time she uses her powers it’s going to interfere with whatever signal the nanobots are sending. All Serval is going to see of the battles is static.
g) Why does Gambit have pet cats?
h) Also, I think the uniforms look stupid, especially the “glasses” which are basically lenses magically stuck to their noses, and Quicksilver doesn’t wear them anyway.
Conclusion – The cover is bad and lazy. The story I read doesn’t make me want to pick up issues #1 and #2 to try to figure out what I missed. The story also doesn’t make me want to pick up issue #4 to see what happens or who the three remaining members of the team will be. The corporation is evil. The characters will eventually, albeit nearly too late, figure that out and just barely thwart Serval’s evil scheme. Polaris will go crazy and I’m putting even odds that she’ll take out her own nanobot infected eye (this has already been done before, by the way, just read up on Psylocke’s sad history). One or more characters will likely die, but probably not Quicksilver because the creative teams seem to really like [Denis Leary] characters. And my friend who brought this comic to me because he wanted to find out if I was having the same issues he was (and I am), is cancelling his subscription.
or, “Worst Batman Movie EVER!”
or, “Worst Adaptation EVER!”
[[Batman and Robin are suiting up in their anatomically correct rubber suits]]
Robin – Supposedly witty one-liner.
Batman – Supposedly witty retort.
Robin – Well, that’s your movie folks. If you don’t like it, get out now.
[[After Batman demonstrates his chiropteran fetish extends even to parking spaces, the duo head out to respond to a crime in progress where Mr. Freeze is making short work of incompetent cops to steal a ginormous diamond]]
Gotham Museum of Plot Convenience:
Batman – Freeze, Freeze!
Freeze – Wow, I really hope the audience likes puns, because that’s just the start!
Robin – [[busts in on the Robin-cycle which leaves a Robin-sign shaped hole in the wall]] Too much talking! Action!
[[So Freeze's goons skate in and Batman and Robin participate in the most ridiculous hockey game put to film to try to get the diamond; all the Bat-gadgets in the world and neither of them have a pocket?? Probably through some bad editing, Robin gets the diamond]]
Freeze – If you’re not going to play fair, I’m just going to turn my car into a rocketship and leave.
Robin – Wow, that’s really stupid. No one would do that.
[[Freeze does that and Batman follows to apprehend him but only gets captured; Robin goes after Batman anyway]]
Freeze – I’ll set this rocket to blow up and destroy half of Gotham while I jump out and safely glide down into the middle of Gotham…wait, what? Never mind. We’re five minutes into this thing and all logic and physics have already gone out the window, just like me! [[Jumps out]]
Robin – I’ll save you! [[Does so with a heat ray-gun that might possibly have been useful in the fight in the frozen museum... Also, where is he holding that diamond?]]
Batman – You stupid jerk! You’re supposed to secure the diamond while I get the bad guy!
Robin – We’ll you’re doing a bang-up job of that!
Batman – Whatever. We need to get out of here before we both die. I’ll just blow up this rocket so it doesn’t crash and destroy half of Gotham, which doesn’t make any sense anyway.
[[They snowboard out of the rocket, catch Freeze, and then land...somewhere... and run through some tunnels after Freeze?? The geography of Gotham City is very confused]]
Batman – We are assured victory as long as you don’t do something stupid.
Robin – Um, you mean like jump out in front of the ice gun and get myself frozen and allow Freeze to take the diamond from my outstretched hand?
Batman – Yeah, that would be something stupid.
[[Which Robin proceeds to do; incidentally, where was he holding that diamond on the trip down?]]
Freeze – I could kill you now, but I won’t, because that would end the movie too quickly.
[[The audience wouldn't actually mind, but alas that does not happen and Batman thaws Robin with a heat laser that probably would have been really useful in the fight against Freeze and his frozen goons...]]
Cartoonishly Evil South American Lab:
Ivy – Personal log of Pamela Isley. My efforts to breed hybrids of plants and animals isn’t working, possibly because that’s completely scientifically impossible, but I’m going to keep trying anyway! Also, my creepy boss keeps stealing my venom samples for some super-secret project that involves people screaming in pain. I think I’ll go find out what he’s doing!
[[So the door to the super-secret lab isn't even locked and the nerdy plant fanatic finds out her boss is creating super-soldiers and auctioning them off to the highest bidder; naturally when the experiment works and creates Bane, he busts up enough stuff to reveal Ivy's hiding place]]
Woodrue – I knew I should have locked that door! Pamela, join me and we’ll be rich!
Ivy – I have absolutely no intuition or sense of self-preservation, so I’m going to expose your little scheme and get you fired!
Woodrue – And I’m going to kill you. [[pushes her into a whole bunch of toxic chemicals, plants, and snakes; the chemicals eat into the floor because clearly "toxic" means exactly the same thing as "corrosive"]]
Cartoonishly Evil South American Lab (Later):
[[The ground opens up again and the new and improved Pamela Isley pops out like a daisy]]
Woodrue – Whoa! That attempt to kill you actually made you totally hot!
Ivy – Yes, I know. Kiss me, you fool. [[he does, because he is]] Oooh, so sad. It turns out I’m now poisonous! [[he dies]] I will now somehow get Bane to work for me and I will destroy all humanity to save my beloved plants! And I will start by burning down this lab and killing all my beloved plants in here! And possibly a bunch of surrounding plants, since I am in the middle of a jungle full of plants!
Batman – So I acquired this security footage from a local university science lab that identifies the thief as ‘Victor Fries.’ His wife acquired the rare MacGuffin syndrome and he was researching a cure before he was victim to a terrible accident that could have easily been avoided if his lab was OSHA compliant with handrails and didn’t have giant vats of cryogenic fluids out in the open like that. Anyway, he survived but must be kept at sub-zero temperatures or he’ll die. His suit’s laser cooling system is obviously powered by diamonds.
Alfred – Sorry, sir, I was quietly coughing in the corner, so did I miss the sensible part of that explanation?
Batman – … Moving on, Dick, that was stupid.
Robin – Whatever. Don’t you have some hot chick to completely ignore at a fancy party?
Gotham Observatory Statue:
[[Bruce Wayne is hosting a fancy party to raise interest in his donation of a huge telescope and completely ignoring the hot chick hanging on his arm.]]
Clearly Poison Ivy in a Nerdy Disguise – Hey, Mr. Wayne!
Bruce – Yes, odd person whom the four police officers can’t seem to detain for no good reason?
Ivy – I have written a plan for Wayne Industries to stop killing Mother Earth and to save the planet.
Bruce – Um, this would result in the deaths of millions of people.
Ivy – I fail to see the problem.
Bruce – And for some reason I’m going to try to argue with the crazy lady by showing her an invitation to my exclusive party to rent the family jewels for a night, which is a pun the movie actually didn’t use. Go figure that.
Ivy – And I will walk away narrating my evil plan out loud. Good thing those four cops just vanished or I might have been arrested or something.
Mr. Freeze’s Blatantly Obvious Secret Hide-out:
Freeze – You idiots can’t sing! What do I keep you around for?
Frosty – To provide relevant plot information after you get done pining for your frozen wife you keep in the totally-not-secret cooler?
Freeze – Oh, right. And remember, the first person who makes fun of my fuzzy bunny slippers dies!
The Turkish Baths:
Raver Gang Leader – Hey, plant lady, this here is our secret hide-out. Do you know how much money we spent on black lights?
Ivy – Don’t know, don’t care. Bane, throw them out. [[Bane does so]] And now to make my garden grow…
[[The doorbell rings and shockingly the aged Alfred doesn't hop to and get the door, leaving Dick to have to answer it, where he sees Cher from Clueless (which is a far, far better movie than this)]]
Bruce – Alfred, you didn’t get the door? What’s wrong with you?
Alfred – Pardon my ominous coughing sir.
Dick – Hey, you’re cute. Who are you?
Barbara Gordon – I’m like totally Alfred’s niece! I’m from London, which is totally obvious by my British accent. OMG, there’s Uncle Alfred!
Bruce – Um, why didn’t you tell me you had any family of any kind?
Alfred – It didn’t seem important. I didn’t know she was going to ever show up here. Is it alright if she stays? I promise she won’t get into any trouble.
Bruce – Just keep her out of the basement if you know what I mean.
Dick – So do you have any hobbies or anything you like to do that I can maybe do with you?
Barbara – No, I’m like totally boring and stuff. So you don’t have to like, worry about me or anything.
Gotham Observatory Statue:
[[So the guy who stole any pictures of him in the first movie is now doing public appearances in this one... Anyway, the whole auction is very weirdly staged and involves bidding on some women in flower-themed dresses that get to wear the diamonds or something; it's really not explained very well. Luckily Poison Ivy shows up and does a strip tease to make things interesting]]
Ivy – Pay no attention to the pink special effect dust I’m blowing into your faces.
Duped Duo – What? Your leotard is sparkly.
Ivy – I’m going to goad you two into fighting over me for reasons that aren’t adequately explained.
[[So they get into a bidding war that ends with, I kid you not, Batman pulling out a Bat-credit card]]
Audience – *facepalm*
[[Unfortunately for Ivy, Freeze decides to steal the diamond and busts up the party]]
Freeze – Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little worse!
[[Ivy's pink dust doesn't work on Freeze and he escapes but the determined duo chase after him; for some reason the city is full of giant statues that make traffic a nightmare]]
Freeze – I’ll just set my ice gun to the “instant metal fatigue” setting, and this will be smooth sailing. Assuming I can make that jump, of course.
Batman – Robin, you can’t make that jump.
Robin – Yes, I can!
Batman – It’s not safe! I’m shutting down the Robin-cycle! Even though that will leave you skidding out of control to the edge of this statue, which is surely much safer than letting you try that jump.
[[Eventually Freeze is captured by Batman although all we see of the fight is a wide-eyed, unmoving Freeze and Batman standing over him like a gymnast who just stuck the landing; in other news, Alfred is being cryptic and Barbara is sneaking out at night and stealing a motorcycle, which only Dick picks up on]]
Freeze – Allow me to say some dialogue that makes no sense except to shove in yet another pun and then attempt to kill you. [[This does not work]]
Guard 1 – Ha ha, loser! Only that blue spotlight shining down on the bed is cold enough to keep you from dying.
Guard 2 – Because physics totally works that way!
Dick – You suck! I hate you!
Bruce – I know better than you do, so deal with it.
Alfred – Pay no attention to me as I totter around and cough ominously.
Guard 1 – So, is it really a good idea for us to be in this cell with Mr. Freeze? I mean, I know he can’t get out of the blue spotlight, but why is it necessary for us to actually be inside with him?
Guard 2 – To guard the door, of course. I mean, the cell can totally be opened from the inside.
Guard 1 – That-that seems like a very poor design.
Ivy – Can I come in? I’m his sister.
Guard 2 – That sounds totally convincing to me. [[Lets her in]]
Ivy – You two are way too stupid to live, so I’ll just kill you. [[She does so]] Here’s the pitch: I’m springing you so we can destroy Batman and Robin and maybe take over Gotham City.
Freeze – Okay. So how do we get out?
Ivy – My brainless mook is stealing your cold suit and will bust in, give it to you, and then we bust out.
Freeze – Yes, how do we bust out? There are a lot of guards, you know. And we’re several stories up.
Ivy – Um.
Freeze – You didn’t have a plan to get out? This is some rescue!
Ivy – Hey, here comes Bane!
[[One more cold-related pun later and the painful punning pair plus one manage to escape the Tower of Sauron, I mean, Arkham Asylum]]
Mr. Freeze’s Blatantly Obvious Secret Hide-out:
Robin – Hey, there’s a totally not hidden door behind the cooler. [[They find Mrs. Freeze]]
Batman – According to this research conveniently lying around, it seems Mr. Freeze actually cured Stage 1 of MacGuffin’s syndrome. Unfortunately, his wife has Stage 4.
[[Freeze and Ivy watch from a grate that shouldn't even be in the floor]]
Freeze – Curses! How did Batman and Robin find my secret hide-out? No time to worry about that because I need to get my wife!
Ivy – You’re married? I didn’t know! How dare you not tell me! Because even though I’m supposed to be a femme fatale who only uses men, I am apparently jealous of some other woman. Anyway, you get the diamonds you need for your suit and I’ll get your wife!
Freeze – I’m sure that won’t backfire in any way.
[[Ivy blows more pink special effect dust at the dim-witted duo and gets them fighting again; this results in Robin getting dumped in a bunch of thick, slimy green goo and Ivy pulling the plug on Mrs. Freeze]]
Commissioner Gordon – How did the villains get away? Isn’t that your job? I mean, I suppose technically as the police we should do something, but this is still your fault.
Robin – This is all your fault! I’m breaking up the band and starting my solo career!
[[Well, Dick doesn't have anywhere else to live, but he does have time to spy on Barbara, who again sneaks out and steals a motorcycle; Dick follows her to the seedy underworld of off-track motorcycle racing]]
The Seedy Underworld of Off-Track Motorcycle Racing:
Barbara – Like, here’s your money. Let me in the race.
Coolio – Sure thing. Can you believe they got me to do a cameo in this movie and didn’t give me a part working for Mr. Freeze?
Random Evil Racer – I’m sick of you winning. I’m going to make sure you lose tonight.
Barbara – Wow, that like sounds totally threatening or something!
[[So the racers, representing such street gangs as the Ziggy Stardusts, the Kubricks, the Sweet Transvestites, and of course the Stereotypical Bikers, line up at the start line as well as Dick who apparently didn't have to pay anyone to get in; naturally the Random Evil Racer tries to kill Barbara and they all race heedlessly to an unfinished bridge for reasons that aren't explained but allow Dick to somehow save Barbara's life]]
Dick – So what was that all about?
Barbara – I’m like totally tired of seeing Uncle Alfred be like a servant to you. I mean, he’s totally old! So I’ve been doing this illegal street racing stuff to earn some money to help him like retire. You know, before he dies. Because he’s sick, not because he’s old. I mean, he’s old, but he’s sick too. So anyway, I’m helping! [[leaves]]
Dick – [[spots Bruce, who presumably overheard the conversation]] Is that true? Alfred’s dying of some mysterious illness?
Bruce – Yes. He has MacGuffin’s syndrome.
Dick – If you knew he was dying, why have you been such a jerk to him for not being up to his usual standard of, um, butlering?
Bruce – I’m kind of a dick, apparently.
Poison Ivy’s Secret Hide-out (formerly the Turkish Baths):
Freeze – Where’s my wife?
Ivy – Batman and Robin killed her. You should get revenge and take over the world!
Freeze – Of course!
Ivy – And once you’ve killed everyone with ice, I’ll cover the world with plants and no humans will ever trouble us again! But first, to finish off Batman and Robin!
Bruce – Dick, where are you going?
Robin – I actually got a Robin-signal in the sky! It’s Ivy. She totally loves me and I’m going to see her!
Bruce – You do realize all that pink special effect dust she’s been blowing into our faces is a kind of pheromone that makes us think we’re in love with her and that she’s in love with us.
Robin – That’s stupid. She’s totally in love with me, and not you.
Bruce – Will you just trust me?
Robin – Why? You haven’t trusted me once this whole movie.
Bruce – That is a really good point I’m going to ignore.
Barbara – I know Uncle Alfred told me to give this CD to his brother, but I’m like totally family too so I going to see what’s on it. Oh, it’s password protected. Well, after an unlimited number of tries I’ll just pick the most obvious password and see if that works. Hey, it does. Cool.
[[Barbara heads on down to the Batcave where Alfred Headroom tells her he's already got her very own anatomically correct suit waiting; which apparently Bruce was totally clueless about; Great Detective indeed]]
Poison Ivy’s Secret Hide-out:
Robin – Hi, honey, I’m home!
Ivy – Kiss me, you fool!
Robin – Wait, tell me the plan.
Ivy – Sure. Mr. Freeze is going to use the telescope at the observatory to somehow freeze Gotham City. He’s on his way there now. You’ll never stop him. Kiss me, you fool! [[he does, because he is]] Hahahahahaha!!! Now you will die!
Robin – Nope, I’m protected. I wore a rubber… pair of lips.
Ivy – Damn it! Well, then you can drown in my Lily Pond of Doom! [[The rather slim and fragile looking Ivy manages to shove the expert fighter and well-trained athlete into the pool]]
Batman – Not so fast!
Ivy – My vines of doom will take care of you!
[[And so the pathetic pair are foiled by foliage and bad editing until finally Batgirl makes her dynamic debut]]
Batgirl – Pick on someone your own gender who can actually hit back! And also say something damning that will come back to haunt you later!
Ivy – Bring it! And I was the one who killed Mrs. Freeze!
[[The fight isn't that interesting and finally ends when Batgirl kicks Ivy into her giant orchid which for some reason decides to eat her even though she was sitting comfortably in that very same orchid earlier in the scene; Batman finally cuts his through his vines with a Bat-buzzsaw cuff and Robin gets out of the water]]
Batman – Who the hell are you?
Batgirl – Barbara, duh.
Robin – Yeah, that’s pretty obvious. Well, we better go stop Mr. Freeze! And we should do so as quickly as possible.
Gotham Observatory Statue:
Batgirl – Um, why did we all go back to the Batcave to change into these new suits? Aren’t we in a hurry?
Batman – Just go with it.
[[In the meantime, Freeze has managed to turn the telescope into a freeze-ray gun because all the equipment fits together perfectly of course]]
Batman – Okay, here’s the plan! Get rid of Freeze and use technobabble to thaw the city before everyone dies.
Freeze – I object to that plan!
Bane – Rawr! <I also object to that plan although there is no reason given as to why I’m working with Mr. Freeze instead of Poison ivy.>
[[The tiresome trio manage to dispatch Freeze and Bane; Batgirl primarily uses the technobabble to save the day while the other two watch.]]
Batman – Freeze, I know you’re slowly warming up and dying and that this must be excruciatingly painful for you, but I know you cured Stage 1 of MacGuffin’s Syndrome. Can you please give me the cure so I can save someone?
Freeze – You killed my wife! No!
Batman – Actually, I have this damning footage of Poison Ivy confessing she killed your wife. And she didn’t actually kill her. We apparently saved her off-screen.
Freeze – Oh, okay then. I happen to keep the cure on me at all times. Insert one more lame pun here.
[[And Freeze is returned to Arkham Asylum this time with his suit and sharing a cell with Poison Ivy even though that makes no sense any level, even for this movie!]]
[And Bruce just gives Alfred the glowing blue stuff with no analysis or question but it does seem to work and Alfred is cured, although still very very old]]
Bruce – You go back to school young lady.
Barbara – No.
Bruce – Okay, it’s not like you need to graduate high school or college or anything like that. Now, one more awesome action shot to end the movie!
[[Action shot of the three running away from the Batsignal because it's awesome, apparently]]
Audience – AAAARGGGHH!!
This is actually a subset of media that creates a hole in my soul. This is reserved strictly for adaptations or re-interpretations (i.e., retcons and reboots), but the idea is that the adaptation/re-interpretation is so estranged from the source material as to barely resemble it and in fact is insulting to the source material. The Bat-credit card breaks fanbases and shuts down franchises. The Bat-credit card most often appears in bad disposable media.
This, obviously, is named after the infamous movie Batman and Robin. If you haven’t seen it, well, it’s like the Adam West Batman movie except not really enjoyable. The difference is that the 1960s movie was building on the camp audiences and comic book readers were familiar with. Batman and Robin was blatantly ignoring the gothic and dark Batman Tim Burton had started and turned the Dark Knight into the Corporate Sell-out. I can like the 1960s movie because I understand that it is a product of the times. Batman and Robin was nothing like the first two movies, much campier than the third (which was too campy to begin with) and nothing like the comics. Batman had not been that campy since the Silver Age, and no one wanted to see a revival of that incarnation.
Everyone has an amalgam of a character, but in a few rare cases, one amalgam becomes dominant and pretty much everyone agrees on the major defining traits of a character. In this case, Batman had become again the Dark Knight, not the Campy Crusader. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the closest I’ve seen to a revival of the Campy Crusader, and I think it’s not actually that campy; it is more light-hearted, but that’s not the same thing at all.
I will provide links to an Honest Trailer of the infamous movie and a link to everything wrong with it just as refreshers (or introductions for those who haven’t seen it). I may or may not post a fifteen-minute version of this movie because I’m honestly not sure I can make it any more ridiculous than it already is. I will say exactly one nice thing about this movie – anatomical correctness aside, the costumes were pretty good, especially Robin’s, and wow could Robin’s costume have been seriously problematic. The pointless silver versions? Not so much a fan. But pretty much everything else was bad. The acting was bad. The direction was bad. The plot was contrived and nonsensical (although I must note Mr. Freeze’s half of the “destroy the world” plot was taken from an episode of the “Animated Series” which shows even good series can have mediocre episodes). The dialogue was bad. The stunts were bad. The music was bad. The editing was bad. As I watched, I wondered if the crew was so crunched for time they were limited to only three takes and then had to move on to the next scene. How awful was this?
Worst Batman EVER:
- George Clooney could not convincingly play a millionaire bachelor playboy; I’m pretty sure that’s his real life!
- While I hate Christian Bale’s “Batman” voice at least he tried to make Bruce Wayne and Batman sound different; Clooney couldn’t be bothered to even try
Worst Villain EVER:
- Mr. Freeze was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers!
- Poison Ivy, the ultimate femme fatale, was almost pining for Mr. Freeze.
The Sidekicks (actually not the worst; go figure that):
- Barbara Gordon was Alfred’s niece, not Commissioner Gordon’s daughter
- And apparently Northern England is nothing like Southern California…
- And apparently no one told Chris O’Donnell to try to deliver his lines at a normal human talking speed
Worst Everything Else:
- Dialogue so stilted I could swear the script started with all the bad puns and the rest of the lines were added later.
- Poorly developed subplots (if the crew was going to use any “Batman: The Animated Series” episode as inspiration, why not the one that covered Mr. Freeze’s origin (“Heart of Ice”) that won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program?)
- A complete lack of logic or even the pretense of science.
- Music that sounds like it was scored for a Looney Tunes cartoon
- Except when it switches to ’90s electronica for no good reason
- Props and set design that are more cartoonish that those in actual DCAU shows.
- Editing so poor stuntmen are facing a different direction in sequential scenes, icicles are obviously made of rubber, and at one point the film is actually rewound and replayed!
And all of this I think I was done out of ignorance of the source material and because they were clearly rushing to get this movie in the can. The previous movie had been a commercial success so the crew continued in that vein. There was apparently no indication to the crew that the movie was going seriously awry. I actually don’t think this was meant to be insulting. But ignorance doesn’t make it any less awful. Kevin Conroy, the best Batman, wasn’t familiar with the character but good writing, good direction, and good voice acting made up for that lack of knowledge. And it’s not as though it was difficult to get an idea of who Batman was supposed to be. Just look back at Burton’s movies, or the Animated Series, or hell, ask a fan. Oddly, this movie credited Bob Kane as a consultant, but I can only assume they didn’t actually ask him anything or listen to his answers if they did.
Why call this the “Bat-credit card?” That, in a fraction of a minute, summarizes everything wrong with the movie. The Bat-credit card was the most ridiculous thing in a movie full of ridiculous things. Batman is crazy prepared, as we all know, but a Bat-credit card? WTF? That goes past making fun of crazy prepared and well into the territory of insulting. The whole movie was nothing but a WB corporate sell-out. Consequently, all that pesky brooding, angst, darkness, etc., was removed from the movie. This left a bland Batman, a whiny Robin, and a generic Batgirl. As for the villains, well, any depth was removed to make them as cartoony as possible. Plot, such as it is, was put aside for inane (and poorly executed) action sequences and terrible puns (and I like puns). For anyone over the age of six, it hurt to watch. And it killed the franchise for many, many years.
Bat-credit card – extraneous, ludicrous, insulting, and soul-searingly awful on every level.
Or, which came first, the superhero or the supervillain?
This has been a philosophical point of contention in comic books since, I don’t know, close to the beginning when fans sat down and thought about it. Namely, would supervillains be so dangerous if there were no superheroes to challenge them so? It’s a never-ending arms race and the question of “who started it” is often brought up. That also brings a related argument, which is whether or not a city is actually better off or not with a resident hero. While superheroes are a great asset to a city, it’s impossible to deny the amount of collateral damage caused by any super on super fight is pretty much the same as a natural disaster, if not sometimes worse.
The Flash comic, around issues 120-130 or so, had a good deconstruction of this idea. The mayor got it in his head that the Flash was bringing villains to Keystone City and eventually got him tossed out. So the Flash took the job of being the resident hero for another city. I’m not actually sure the writer made the point that the city was better with the Flash or not. A bunch of villains attacked while Flash was away but they probably would not have done so had he never been there.
For a while, Marvel had a group called “Damage Inc.” that was a construction company, with a bit of super-powered equipment, that was paid to fix up New York City after super fights. In the FF not so long ago, after the Baxter Building had been blown up yet again, the City sued Reed Richards for damages and he lost all of his money. Thankfully the Thing’s money was managed in a different account, so they got enough money back to continue to be the FF. However, Marvel never really answered the question of whether having superheroes was worth the trouble either.
Many heroes on their own do try to minimize collateral damage. Superman (before the wretched movie) in particular is careful about this considering if he sneezes he could accidentally knock down a building. His fights are incredibly destructive, even compared to super fights, and he does his best to get the fight out of populated areas. On the other hand, Reed Richards uses nanobots to rebuild his headquarters and says boo about it to the rest of the bashed city. What a guy. In the Marvel RPG, characters gain karma (to buy powers and stuff) by doing good things and lose karma by doing bad things, or failing to stop bad things, or by doing property damage. That means if my characters stops a villain by throwing someone’s car at him, I gain karma for defeating the villain but lose karma for wrecking someone else’s car. I might lose less karma for wrecking my own car, but damage is damage.
So where do I weigh in on this debate? Well, I think that the question itself is somewhat moot. Once there are superheroes and supervillains, who came first is not as relevant as stopping the villainy. But that’s not a fun debate at all. So here’s where I weigh in – humanity as a whole is capable of both good and evil. Good can exist without necessarily fighting evil; for example, someone who saves another person from a burning building is a hero and there’s no deliberate evil involved (assuming of course there’s no arson). But, in theory, evil can’t be stopped without good fighting it. Indeed good must actively fight evil, for as the saying goes, all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. So in a perfect world with no evil, goodness and heroism could certainly still exist. In that sense, heroes come before villains. But I would say it is the existence of evil, and therefore villainy, that would really drive the rise of heroes.
Does this mean a city is better off with a resident hero? I suppose it depends. If you live in the city of Townsville, which is near Monster Island, then you are definitely better off with a resident group of superheroes. That’s sort of like living in an earthquake zone; there will be a monster attack. But let’s take a generic example that’s less straightforward than the above. Assuming a city has a normal crime rate, a resident hero could be a great asset. A resident hero would definitely tip the scales to good and the villains would be more likely to go jail. I’ve always been surprised at the number of villains who are completely willing to go up against a hero that completely outclasses them, get their butts handed to them, and come back for more (many of the Flash’s villains fall into this category). If the villains were content to admit they were outclassed, then the city is better off with the resident hero. But if the villains feel they have something to prove, then they up their game and try again, and thus the damage escalates.
However, that’s a problem with the villain; clearly the villain is psychologically damaged in some way or else why would they continue to take such punishment? Did the hero damage them? Perhaps, but probably unintentionally. Does this mean the hero is responsible for the villain? No! People are responsible for their own actions. Sure, the hero may inspire fear and loathing in a lot of people, and odds are one or two may be powerful enough in their own right to turn to villainy, but they made that choice. If not inspired by the superhero to be a supervillain, I assume that the supervillain still would have been at least a villain. Again, the villain is making the choice to do wrong.
Sometimes I find the whole question of whether or not a city is better off with a hero or not to be as moot as which came first, the hero or the villain. To me, the hero is not to blame in a general sense for the collateral damage. Oh, sure, a careless hero shouldn’t be let off the hook, and a hero who is capable of cleaning up the damage should (that’s part of being a hero, Reed…), but the hero didn’t bring the villainy to a city. So that’s my answer – whether or not the city becomes worse is not dependent on the hero at all, but on how the villains react. A hero will be there to get cats out of trees and help little old ladies cross the street or whatnot, but it’s the presence of villainy that creates superheroes.
I am a writer and I one day dream of making a living as a writer. I criticize poor writing and praise good writing in whatever media it happens to be in – movie, novel, TV show, whatever. I lament the success of bad writing and I cheer on the success of good writing. But some writing I come across just hurts my writer’s soul. It makes no difference if the awful writing is from something successful or from something unsuccessful. Bad is bad all the same, although I do perhaps carry a bit more resentment for something bad and successful than something bad and unsuccessful. Important – this is not about media that is designed to provoke an emotional response. This is about something that’s supposed to be entertaining in some way, or perhaps even artistic, and ends up simply awful.
And actually, sometimes bad writing is not enough to make me weep. I’m on record as a fan of “so bad it’s good.” Sometimes the media that puts the hurt on my soul is just relentlessly mediocre, like a romantic comedy that’s so by-the-numbers you could predict the twists by looking at the running time instead of paying attention to the actual movie, or a sequel that is essentially beat for beat the same movie as the original except in a different city.
I think everyone has run across something like this, although it’s probably different for everyone. For example, one person’s hurt may come from seeing a beloved book badly adapted into a movie, but if their friend never read the original, they might quite enjoy the movie. Another person’s hurt may come from hearing the latest autotuned pop hit on every radio station while their friend really likes the bubbly beats. And yet someone else may revere “Romeo and Juliet” as the height of passionate, doomed young love while another person laughs at the so-called tragic ending. And finally, someone may be thrilled to see a childhood cartoon show finally make it to the big screen while another stares in horror at the travesty wrought upon the world under the guise of “summer blockbuster.”
The hurt in my soul can be variable. Sometimes I can just shake my head and dismiss the anger and rage as, “what did I expect from an adaptation of an ’80s cartoon” and just try to enjoy how bad it really is. Sometimes I can tell myself, “I just won’t watch any of the sequels.” Sometimes I go into media knowing that I probably won’t like it, although I seldom go in expecting soul-hurting awfulness.
But sometimes I can’t let things go. Some terrible media comes from a confluence of factors that to me renders it beyond the stage of “so bad it’s good.” Perhaps there’s an agenda, or perhaps a fundamental lack of understanding of the source material, or perhaps a complete lack of imagination, or utter incompetence in execution, or an inability to understand when enough is really enough, or maybe that the effect of the media is so prevalent as to be over-exposed. And I know that the people responsible for creating such media probably are pleased with what they’ve accomplished, if not downright proud of it. Or, at the very least, they can say, “I earned a paycheck.” As I’ve said, I don’t believe artists deliberately set out to make poor/terrible art.
My reaction can be, “Why?! Why do people like this?!” Or “Who?! Who thought this was a good idea?!” Or just, “ARGH!” Again, I also understand that other people may read/view/listen to the very same media and have completely different reactions. They may actually like this media that makes me want to forget I ever encountered this thing. This is a visceral reaction. Sometimes I can’t articulate why I hate what has been presented to me; I just do. When exposed to soul-hurting media, what I usually experience is a feeling similar to being hit in the head with a rock. I don’t exactly know what just happened; I don’t exactly know why; the only thing I’m really aware of is pain. This is the stuff that makes my mouth hang open and my eyes glaze over. This is like hearing a million artists’ voices cry out in terror and suddenly be silenced. This is the sort of thing I’d never willingly expose myself to again because there is just enough *facepalm.* There is not enough *headdesk.* There is not enough booze in the world.
I’m making light of this subject but this is the sort of thing, if enough people share the same opinion, that can break fanbases. This is the sort of thing that can cause a newcomer to swear off an artist or a genre forever. This is the stuff that can ruin careers, or at the very least put the final nail in the coffin of a career that’s already spiraling downward. This is the stuff that’s irredeemable.
So what puts the hurt in my soul? “One More Day,” obviously. I think I finally managed to explain why that mini-series/storyline is so awful for me. A lot of it is badly written, true, but there was also an agenda to accomplish something no one really wanted. “Ultimatum” was also soul-achingly painful. It was just so ugly and so pointlessly dark. “Romeo and Juliet” makes me want to bang my head against the wall not because it’s so bad in and of itself, but because of the pervasive effect this story has had on most of Western romance. I maintain true love doesn’t exist, but if it did, it wouldn’t be that stupid. Oh, and that 2011 “Wonder Woman” TV pilot. I just can’t even… I don’t even… ARGH! And the more I think about Man of Steel, the more it hurts (actually, if you want to watch a video that very much expresses a hole in the soul in reaction to media, check out this link on Man of Steel).
For contrast, while I did not like Amazing Spider-man, and while it did make me sad, I felt no soul-ache. I was disappointed, to be sure, but I understood the movie was going to take a long-establish character and make him darker and edgier. I went into the movie expecting to be disappointed. So, good job movie, you totally delivered on that. I’m waiting for the third installment of “The Hobbit” trilogy (a phrase that in and of itself gives me slight soul-pains) to find out if it will be one of those things that just makes me so sad that something I loved ended up pointlessly bloated and annoying. I’m not sure the third installment can save it, but hope springs eternal.
So there we go. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. Media that puts the hurt in the soul just gets so much wrong, to me, that I will never ever ever like it no matter how many people tell me it’s good or how many times I try to re-read/re-listen/re-watch the media and find the good in it. Sometimes, there is no good in something; it’s just painful.
This is not about porn. Not directly, anyway. This is about the difference between media that is disposable and media that is consumable. Sometimes these two overlap, but not always. Media (books, movies, TV, songs) are, to me, consumable. I can only read a book for the first time once; hence, consumable. But a book I only want to read once is disposable.
Disposable media, to me, has one particular purpose. That’s why I used the term “money shot.” The money shot is a term used in porn to denote the literal climax of a scene. The goal of the porn is to have lots of money shots because really no one is watching (or reading) the porn for the story. So everything in the story (such as it is) is really just a contrivance to get the characters from one steamy scene to the next steamy scene. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s not necessarily well written though. I could also call this entry “writing backwards” but I didn’t think that would be the same kind of attention grabber.
Sometimes media does have a particular purpose but isn’t disposable. Murder mysteries seem like a genre that should be disposable. And yet Agatha Christie is one of the world’s bestselling authors, if not the bestselling author. If murder mysteries are disposable, then how can her books sell so well? Because they are well-written and enjoyable to read even once the reader knows the identity of the killer. Sometimes it’s nice to go back and see the clues that were missed in the first read. A good story may be consumable, but it is not disposable.
However, I’d like to point out that I am perfectly capable of enjoying disposable media. Disposable media isn’t even necessarily bad; it’s just something that doesn’t stand up to a second reading/viewing. As long as the creative team behind the disposable media cares (at least somewhat) about what they produce, it’ll probably be watchable/readable. Will disposable media ever be good? Probably not. Probably the best that can be hoped for is the mindless fun of a summer blockbuster, which is awesome action sequences bound by the loosest and most clichéd contrivance of a story. A good example of this is the movie Pacific Rim. The point and purpose and goal of the “story” is so the audience can watch giant monsters right giant robots. I watched it with friends and at the necessary “small child’s family is killed but s/he survives” scene, one friend remarked, “It’s like they developed the action sequences first and then worked out the rest of the movie backwards from that point.” And she was right. The plot made no sense, the relationships were by the numbers clichéd (including the “the dog likes him so he must be good”), there were tons of plotholes, and it didn’t matter. You know why? Because Crimson Typhoon had three arms! Three!! Awesome!!!
Sorry, my inner nine year-old got the better of me there.
What I object to is purveyors of certain media not knowing the difference between disposable media and consumable media, or worse, treating all media as disposable and therefore something not worth caring about. This is related to a problem in comic books I called it the, “Wouldn’t it be cool if?” syndrome. The idea is really the same – the writer/film-maker/whatever has an idea for a particular scene or possibly series of scenes but no real idea how to connect those scenes in a coherent story or perhaps no desire to even try. Producing media with one awesome idea is the non-porn equivalent of the money shot. Trying to write a story around one scene (or a movie, or TV show, etc), isn’t likely to go very well. The end result is a contrived mess of a story with awesome action sequences or the Avengers and X-men fighting each other or giant robots fighting each other with a camera too shaky to actually see the damn action. I knew exactly what I was getting into with Pacific Rim. I wasn’t disappointed in the story, such as it was, because I didn’t expect any better.
I do understand the urge to try to work from something awesome. However, a good artist should realize when the awesome scene just isn’t going to work in whatever world they want to work in. Then again, such media are not about the art, but the profit margin. That still doesn’t mean media is necessarily disposable, and I think treating it so can lead to issues with the profit margin. And again, I do understand the purpose of disposable media and I don’t object to it as such. Just don’t pretend there’s a story if the sole purpose of the medium is some kind of money shot.