A Bit More on Mythology:
I realize I cut my own argument short and may not have expressed myself well. I understand that the New 52 was trying to modernize the Greek pantheon and I think the creative team seriously missed that mark. Since the gods are major players in Wonder Woman’s stories, misinterpreting them further undermines Wonder Woman. So, yes, I realize Ares isn’t handsome; he’s been reimagined as a weary veteran who’s seen too much (hence the empty eyes) and done too much. However, Ares (especially with the conspicuous absence of Athena) ends up portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character in that horror of war seems inevitable. This change results in Wonder Woman’s greatest enemy becoming her mentor.
However, I don’t dislike the reinterpretation of Ares as much as I do most of the other gods. First of all, I don’t think the portrayal of the gods as a mafia-esque family in a “Game of Thrones” like power play is very true to the source material. The Greek gods were very much about the order of the world which is why the greatest mortal sin was hubris. The Greek gods were also severe on mortals who showed disloyalty to their families. I’m not going to argue the Greek gods were “good” in any human sense, but I disagree with this reinterpretation that presents them as almost evil. Since I’m nitpicking, I’d also like to point out that while the gods were sometimes called by what they represent (i.e., “the Moon,” “the Sun,” “the Messenger,” “Hell”) this is conflating some Olympians with the Primordials. Hades is not Hell; Tartarus is Hell. Hermes is a messenger, but Iris was a messenger as well. Persephone, by the by, wasn’t some wilting flower of a goddess either. Her entire purpose is to die and be reborn and die again (the pomegranate is a symbol of marriage and life [and incidentally one of Hera’s traditional symbols]). And can someone please tell me what is up with some of the re-designs? Why is Apollo purple? Why is Poseidon a giant frog-monster? And why oh why is Hades a physically stunted man with a head like a melting candle?
Anyway, this gross misunderstanding of Greek mythology is only one of the reasons to bring back the original Wonder Woman. Here are some more.
A Discussion of Narrative Bias and Forced Diversity:
I’ve gone over this is a bit in my various “narrative choices” critiques, but I’m going to expand and focus this discussion. Psychologists have known for a long time that people are immediately attracted to that which is like themselves and that this starts at a surprisingly young age. For example, a father hacked Donkey Kong for his three year-old daughter so she could play as Pauline instead of Mario; as Mario she liked the game but as Pauline she loved the game and all because the pixels were supposed to be a girl rather than a boy. Most people default to what they already are and anything else is “other.” There’s nothing wrong with this but it does mean we need to force ourselves to be aware that our perception is not the only one. We need to force ourselves to think outside the box of our own biases.
But this isn’t easy to do and often isn’t done and this isn’t necessarily out of malice but just a lack of understanding (“I don’t understand it, so it doesn’t matter”). So many, many comic book characters are unintentionally created for straight white males because they were created by straight white males. Women and minorities are too often marginalized, but again, I believe that’s more of a lack of defaulting to what is familiar than any malice (although sometimes there is clearly malice involved). In a perfect world forced diversity wouldn’t be necessary. But this isn’t a perfect world so sometimes (often) people need to be pushed out of the default and try to be more inclusive. Sometimes this doesn’t go well, but sometimes it does. In general, I’m not a fan of gendered marketing because too often it reinforces harmful gender stereotypes. But on the other hand, sometimes having anything is better than nothing. And sometimes the people heading up the marketing actually do get right.
Enter William Moulton Marston. He was a psychologist who was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, and his lover Olive. He already had ties to the growing feminist movement. As the machine of war geared up again in the ’40s, and comic books were under fire for “corrupting the children,” Marston was approached by what would be DC Comics to create more educational comics to provide positive role-models for children. He decided to create a superhero who won with the day with love rather than violence. Some accounts say Elizabeth told him to make this superhero a woman; even if that’s not true Wonder Woman is clearly modeled off Elizabeth and Olive who were pretty amazing women in their own right. Wonder Woman was meant to be the physical equal of Superman but a “good and beautiful” woman who would serve as a role-model for little girls and teach little boys that women were worthy of power and respect (and submission; although this aspect was played down after his death). In a sea of white, male superheroes created by white males and for white males, Wonder Woman was created for little (white) girls; she was a push against the default (sadly minorities would have to wait a while to get this same consideration [and in many ways are still waiting]) to diversify the comic book universe.
Construction of a Feminist Icon:
While the current husband and wife writing/drawing team of Wonder Woman shy away from calling Wonder Woman a feminist, I don’t. Wonder Woman was absolutely created to be a feminist icon. Marston himself wasn’t exactly a feminist because feminism is technically the belief that men and women deserve equal rights. Marston actually believed women were superior, but I don’t know what that word is. However, he understood that presenting Wonder Woman as an equal was going to be controversial enough. Oh, how right he was, and that was over 70 years ago.
Consider the Bechdel Test which was created to highlight how in media women are almost exclusively defined by their relationships to men (although decidedly non-feminist works can pass this test it’s depressing to realize how many don’t). Wonder Woman is uniquely defined by her relationships to women. The Amazons of Paradise Island, like the Amazons of myth, were a society exclusively of women. The patron goddesses of Paradise Island were Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera. The origin of Wonder Woman was a twist on the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea; Hippolyta wanted a daughter so badly she sculpted one out of clay and Aphrodite brought the little girl to life. She was named “Diana” after the virgin (Roman) goddess of the hunt. There is a slight divergence from mythology in that the Amazons from any source were noted warriors but the Amazons of Paradise Island were peaceful. They had been in bondage and escaped (symbolized by the vambraces) and lived in peace away from the male-dominated society that had caused them so much pain; they’d also advanced their society through a combination of technology and magic. Wonder Woman fought for the right to return Steve Trevor to Man’s World and once there she stayed to bring her message of peace and equality. She took the Lasso of Truth, which not only compels anyone tied up with it to speak the truth but breaks illusions, enchantment, and brainwashing, the Girdle of Venus, and NO weapon. This is very important; she was a trained warrior (the Amazons played “bullets and bracelets” for funsies) but she did not carry a traditional weapon. No sword, no shield, just her strength, compassion, and dedication to the truth. Her greatest enemy was Ares, whom Marston saw as the natural enemy to love (especially as Wonder Woman was created during World War II), and who was portrayed as was most common depiction in Greek mythology (a bloodthirsty brute).
Post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” changed up this origin a wee bit and pulled her roots from World War II. She was granted powers by the various Greek gods, this time including Hermes, so her origin wasn’t quite as free from a male influence. However, pretty much everything else remained the same, and the new team introduced racial diversity to the Amazons, which was also good.
And that’s enough for now. More later!
“and the power your possess…”
I’ve tried to write this entry a few times now. The thesis I want to present has several potential angles of approach and I’ve been having trouble settling any one of them. At the risk of sounding totally incoherent, I think I’m going to present all of them (broken up into small pieces for easier digestion). I think that may help illustrate my thesis (and if not, at least there are a few hopefully entertaining rants to come out of it).
And my thesis is this – Wonder Woman needs to be returned to her feminist roots and iconography as the Spirit of Truth. A lot of people don’t seem to understand why this is important, and I’m going to attempt to illustrate why it is important.
Who is Wonder Woman?
Donna Troy (Wonder Girl, Troia, etc.) was created by accident and then subjected to a series of conflicting, confusing, and contradictory origin stories as subsequent writers tried to explain her existence within the universe. One of the storylines was titled, “Who is Donna Troy?” That was never really answered, and for a brief version, I present this link to “Comics Everybody!”
But now I think there’s a lot of confusion on who is Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Any character that’s been around for 75+ years is going to undergo some changes, retcons, and reboots. This is the nature of comic books and certainly Wonder Woman isn’t the only character to undergo some significant and occasionally odd changes. ComicsAlliance has a pretty good synopsis of Wonder Woman stories by decade, including the ’60s arc in which she was an Emma Peel knock-off (although in and of themselves, the stories were not too bad). Wonder Woman was returned to the star-spangled Amazon after noted feminist Gloria Steinem explained why that was preferable to expy Emma Peel.
Unfortunately, more confusion as to who is Wonder Woman was introduced in the ’90s when the comics were passed through too many writers. Also in 1996 there was a seminal Elseworlds comic called “Kingdom Come,” which presented a bad future with fallen superheroes (this was new and interesting at that time instead of DC’s go-to obligatory crossover event). The fallen Wonder Woman had donned armor and carried a sword and lost much of her compassion and love. Somehow the sword and armor stayed and was carried through into terrible stories like “Amazons Attack” and this kind of culminated (to me) in Wonder Woman slaying Max Lord. That became a defining point of the character and not in a good way. Finally, Wonder Woman was completely defined in the New 52 with a new origin, new villains, new mythology, and new attitude. This has carried over into “Convergence” (i.e., “Crisis on Infinite Earths 7.0″ [or whatever]) which is symbolized by the vambraces in her new-new costume having blades.
Wonder Woman is not Xena:
I’d also like to state that when I started writing this, I assumed there were vast differences in the characters, and there are, but I realized that in too many ways, Xena was a better representation of was Wonder Woman is supposed to be than the current Wonder Woman. This really makes me sad.
But I’d better back up a bit. Xena: Warrior Princess was a spin-off of the oddly successful and quirky Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, in which incredibly buff and beautiful people beat up poorly rendered CG monsters in ancient Greece (that looks remarkably like New Zealand). I don’t begin to know how either show was conceived (although I could look it up), but both were fun (until the incredibly depressing last two seasons or so) and introduced me to the work of Sam Raimi and the incomparable Bruce Campbell. So anyway Hercules first runs into Xena who is a rampaging warlord (not actually a princess) and favored of Ares. He beats her in battle and gives her a version of the “great power, great responsibility” speech and convinces her to reform. Ares is seriously ticked off and a lot of conflict revolves around Ares trying to convert Xena back to her rampaging ways. For all the cheesiness of the series, the depictions of the Greek gods were actually pretty good. Ares was too handsome for the classic Greek depiction, but he was a bully who loved slaughter. Xena also avoided killing people as often as she could and tried her damnedest to keep her sidekick Gabrielle from ever killing someone because she didn’t want Gabrielle to lose that innocence.
The new Wonder Woman in the new “Batman grudgingly featuring Superman” movie has a costume that looks very much like Xena’s. But Wonder Woman isn’t supposed to be a rampaging warrior. She’s not even supposed to be a reformed rampaging warrior. She’s supposed to be a compassionate warrior.
It’s Not Greek to Me:
I’m not an expert on Greek mythology, but I’m not exaggerating when I said I read a translation of The Iliad at age ten. Greek mythology has always played a huge roll in the world of Wonder Woman. The New 52 seemed to want to reconnect Wonder Woman to Greek mythology but in a way that misunderstands both Wonder Woman and Greek mythology. The first thing to point out is that Greek mythology is not the creation of one single group of people. There were several Greek city-states with their own slight twists on the myth, and the stories and perception of the stories changed as society changed, so what is generally regarded as Greek mythology is actually an amalgam of several sources over a period of time. I’m presenting the most typical amalgam.
Now, I will grant that Zeus was an unapologetic womanizer and Hera was known for her jealous fits. However (and this is a really big however), Hera was also the goddess of women, marriage and childbirth. She was so upset at Zeus because he didn’t respect the institution which was her purview. Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera, and he is the god of war, but in Greek mythology Ares was generally presented as ugly (for a god), and a brute. This is because the various Greek societies in general did not see violent bloodshed as a good thing. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare, was respected because she represented the tactical side of warfare. Athena was the general who would plan the attack, and Ares was the brute who would rush in for the joy of the slaughter. While the Roman god Mars is based on Ares, Mars was handsome and respected because the Romans viewed warfare as a good thing. They elevated the god of war to a good and important figure.
Also, most depictions of the Amazons and scant historical record do not indicate that they raped and killed sailors to perpetuate their society. Depending on the sources, they either kept a few men around for mating, or went to regular villages to mate and then go back home. They weren’t nice, granted, and the fate of baby boys is possibly pretty bad, but the New 52 made the Amazons far worse than the record suggests.
Overall, the New 52 (and carry-over post-Crisis-7.0 [whatever]) doesn’t represent Greek mythology very well (poor, poor Hades is always cast as a bad guy). “Hercules” and “Xena” were better representations of Greek mythology.
More thoughts later.
Or, “more of my rambling thoughts on how certain editorial decisions came to pass.” I’m not saying any of these conversations took place. I really have no idea how decisions are made but sometimes I wonder. So I imagine how things might have happened; sometimes I am apparently closer to the truth than I would have suspected. And the more upset I am by the decision, the harsher the implied criticism of the imaginary conversations. And in this case, I’m really upset by a lot of decisions, so this could get kind of ugly.
DC Studios, the Boardroom Level (pre Nu52):
Editor-in-Chief – Okay, everyone, so sales are lagging and I know what we need to get them up again – a reboot!
Big Name Writers/Editors/Sensible Intern – What, again?
Chief – Yeah, duh. Look, I love comics right, or I wouldn’t be running a company, but one thing that really sucks about comics is all those years of back story. Like, Batman and Superman and Green Arrow have over seventy years of history! How can we expect customers to remember all that? I mean, it’s not as though there’s a vast, free repository of knowledge that can now be almost instantly accessed from pretty much anywhere in the world we sell our comics. That would be like some kind of “information superhighway.” Ha! What crazy talk! That’s like something out of Batman.
Big Name Writers/Editors – Yeah, you’re right!
Sensible Intern – Um, what?
Chief – So anyway, let’s just reboot the universe. Heck, it should be a policy to reboot it every five years. Then no one has to like, learn any history on the characters and the whole universe will be less intimidating to new customers.
Sensible Intern – Won’t that get really annoying to current fans?
Chief – Pffff. What do they know? Reboot!
Big Name Writers/Editors – Yeah, let’s do it!
Chief – And you know what else really sucks about comics? How out of touch they are with modern society. I mean, Batman’s awesome of course, but he’s really the only one. He’s all dark and gritty and stuff. But Superman? I mean, what does that guy do, save the day? Dude, you can’t always save the day! That’s lame. We need more anti-heroes! We need more Batman!
Big Name Writers/Editors – Yay, Batman!
Chief – Anyway, I’m thinking we’ll basically reboot the universe in a post-9/11 world and have superheroes appeared like, five years ago, so no one in the world trusts them. Everyone’s all paranoid about their motivations and hate and fear them. That’s never been done!
Sensible Intern – Um, wait, isn’t that the Marvel universe?
Chief – No, that’s totally not like Marvel… That’s like modern society. So yeah, we’ll have to reduce the number of heroes and decide who’s going to be in the new universe. I mean, four Green Lanterns and three Blue Beetles and two Atoms and two Flashes. It’s all just too confusing. And no one’s going to believe there’s just that many heroes in only five years anyway.
Big Name Writer – What about Robin?
Chief – What do you mean?
Big Name Writer – Well, if Batman’s only been Batman for five years, is there a Robin? Or all the Robins?
Chief – Oh, well, yeah, Batman will have Robin of course. Because Batman!
Big Name Writer – Which Robin? Because if you include all of them, then Batman’s had at least four sidekicks over five years.
Chief – We’ll figure that out later.
Big Name Writer – And that doesn’t even include the Batgirls…
Chief – There’s only one Batgirl and that’s Barbara Gordon, you got that?
Sensible Intern – She hasn’t been Batgirl in over 20 years! Now there’s Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown…
Chief – You shut the hell up! There is only one Batgirl and that’s Barbara Gordon! She was my Batgirl so she’s the only Batgirl. And while we’re reducing the number of heroes, I want Hal Jordan to be Green Lantern and Barry Allen is the Flash. Oh, and Ray Palmer is the only Atom. Yes, that will fix the universe…just the way I want it…just the way it used to be… Bwhahahahahaha!!!
Big Name Writer 1 – Um, he’s supposed to be goody-goody.
Chief – That’s totally lame. Hey, I know, let’s make him a brooding emo kid with barely controlled rage issues. Kids these days will totally relate to that!
Sensible Intern – So you want to give a man with the powers of a god the personality of an [expletive]?
Chief – Pffff, no. He’s just more like an anti-hero, see?
Sensible Intern – Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what I just said.
Chief – So you get it! Now get me some more coffee!
Big Name Writer 2 – What about his actual origin? I mean, ‘alien from another planet’ doesn’t exactly fit in with your idea of a dark and gritty post-9/11 world.
Chief – Yeah, that’s kind of a tough one. But you know, he’s had that origin for seventy years. We can’t just change it just like that. We’ll just give him a totally different personality and maybe new customers won’t care about the silly origin story.
Big Name Writer 2 – You are brilliant!
Chief – Yeah, I know.
Big Name Writer 1 – And Wonder Woman?
Chief – Yeah, that whole made by the gods thing is totally stupid. And Paradise Island? What the hell is that about? Like some sort of utopian society of immortals could actually exist? That’s a stupid, unrealistic fantasy!
Sensible Intern – Can Superman still shoot laser beams out of his eyes?
Chief – Yeah, duh, why?
Sensible Intern – So an alien who can shoot laser beams out of his eyes is a perfectly reasonable fantasy?
Chief – Yeah.
Sensible Intern – But a utopian society of immortals is a stupid fantasy?
Chief – Um, yeah. Really, kid, you should pay more attention. So let’s make her the daughter of Zeus because that’s so much more relatable and realistic, and oh, make the Amazons a dystopian society who kidnap, rape, and kill men to perpetuate their society because immortality is stupid. Oh, and kill the baby boys or sell them into slavery or something.
Sensible Intern – What the @#$@ are you thinking! That’s terrible! Not only are you giving Wonder Woman Wonder Girl’s origin, you are completely destroying the basis for her character!!!
Chief – Hey, make a note of that: Wonder Girl needs a new origin.
Sensible Intern – What about Wonder Woman? She’s had approximately the same origin for seventy years too – made by the gods or brought to life by the gods. How come you’ll change hers but not Superman’s?
Chief – Because… of… reasons. Anyway, there’s historical evidence that the Amazons weren’t very nice, if they existed. So it’s all fine.
Sensible Intern – Can she still fly? Is she still super-strong?
Chief – Well, yeah.
Sensible Intern – *facepalm*
I’m gearing up for “Age of Ultron” but have been bombarded with advertisements for DC movies. Apparently the data tracking cookies lump all comic books into one category. I actually had no intention of watching the new teaser-trailer for “Batman v. Superman” because 1) the movie doesn’t even come out for a year and 2) I saw Man of Steel and was less than impressed, to put it mildly. But a friend of mine did watch the trailer and told me, “It reminds me of ‘Alien vs. Predator.’ That is not a compliment.” That was pretty much the opposite of a ringing endorsement, but my enjoyment of bad movies was well-known to my friend (and to my regular readers) and I watched the trailer as well. This, combined with the other teaser-trailers and articles I’ve read on the WB/DC plan for their movie universe leads me to the titular question.
Who put Lex Luthor in charge of making superhero movies over at WB/DC?
I should probably take a few steps back and explain my logic (although I can’t guarantee my explanation will be entirely coherent). This question is based on my amalgam of Lex Luthor. As DC wasn’t my first comic universe I won’t claim my amalgam is going to match many others, but I think I’m probably not too far off-base (although if I am, I’m certain someone will let me know). My amalgam also has nothing to do with the New 52. Anyway, Lex Luthor is rich, brilliant, ruthless, power-hungry, a hardcore xenophobe, and briefly a member of the Orange Lantern Corps (orange is “greed” on the emotional spectrum). He hates Superman with the fiery passion of a thousand exploding planets. There are a few reasons for this:
And the trailer has the line (paraphrasing), “They look up to him as a false savior,” in reference to Superman. In two short years since Man of Steel, Superman has both been risen up as a new savior and condemned as a false god (as an aside, that strikes as more of the Marvel universe populous reaction). Apparently this situation is so dire that Ben Affleck’s chin comes out of retirement to take on the alien menace. He also decides the proper way to greet the aforementioned super-powerful alien being is to ask, “Do you bleed?” And somewhere in there Wonder Woman is running around brandishing a sword and Conan the Atlantian is looking all brooding.
This is what Lex Luthor thinks of Superman. This is what Lex Luthor thinks of superheroes in general. They’re self-righteous, reckless, lawless, and will inevitably become corrupted by their own power. Superheroes are a threat and must be contained and if possible. Only Batman is tolerable because he’s obviously an ordinary, unpowered human who used technology to augment himself to stand up against gods. Unfortunately, I can’t say that this comes out of nowhere for “BvS.” An environment of fear, contempt, and disdain of superheroes was well-established by Man of Steel. And I predict the end result will be a live-action version (in spirit anyway) of Justice League: War. In case you haven’t seen that movie, or read the first run of the JLA in the New 52, the spirit of that team-up is, “I hate you and team-ups are lame; don’t call me unless the world will actually end if we don’t team up.”
So here I am wondering who put Lex Luthor in charge of making superhero movies and feeling damned depressed about it. I really want to be as excited to see DC’s characters on the big screen as I am Marvel’s. But thus far I am not only not excited, I’m actually sad. I feel sorry for Lex Luthor (to an extent, of course); I don’t want to think like him, and I don’t want to watch his cynical take on superheroes on the big screen.
Still not talking about Destiny, by the way. Not sure at Marvel who thought “Irene Adler” was a good name to give to a mutant who could see the future. Anyway, I have some more thoughts on Irene Adler Syndrome and when a bad adaptation is not, in fact, Irene Adler Syndrome.
For a female character to be a victim of this syndrome, she must be in an adaptation that is by and large done in good faith for all other characters/situations except for female characters. Now, I will grant you in too many adaptations, Dr. Watson isn’t adapted particularly well and my first memory of seeing the character on television was a middle-aged obese gentleman with a white, bushy mustache. I have since learned better, and for the many flaws in the recent “Sherlock Holmes” movies, the portrayal of Dr. Watson was not one of them. But Dr. Watson doesn’t fall victim to this syndrome because I have never seen his character seriously mangled (as in, not Sherlock’s partner, or not a doctor, or something serious like that; not a man of action, that bothers me yes, but it’s not a deal-breaker [at least to me]).
So what’s a good example of a female character that’s been badly adapted but not in a case of Irene Adler Syndrome? Katara from The Last Airbender. That movie failed on pretty much every level so hard that it put a hole in my soul. The original series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was amazing. The animation was gorgeous, the story complex, the world rich, and the characters complex. Katara was the heart of the team who was courageous and compassionate and occasionally frightening. In the movie, she was kind of whiny and I can’t recall anything she really did. But in the show, Sokka was courageous and funny, and in the movie, he was a dour buzzkill who also didn’t really do anything. Aang was free-spirited in the show, and in the movie he was a pouty little kid. Zuko was an angry teenager with both internal and external battle scars in the show, and in the movie he was kind of sad. Everyone and everything pretty much sucked. Everything wrong with this movie is essentially the movie. I’m so grateful the movie did so badly to prevent any kind of sequel. I would hate to see what was done to all the characters introduced in Book 2.
And this is opposed to A Series of Unfortunate Events. It wasn’t a very good movie either, but the general adaptation wasn’t too terrible for taking three separate stories and trying to make one coherent movie. However, having read the three books the movie was based on, Violet was sadly downgraded. In the books, Violet is basically MacGuyver. For those who don’t know who that is, get NetFlix and watch it. Anyway, Violet can take a bunch of junk and make something spectacularly useful out of it. Her brother, Klaus, reads a lot. He doesn’t make things. He knows things. Her sister, Sunny, is a baby who apparently has the power “bite” on her character sheet. As a baby, Sunny does not do anything unusual except bite things babies shouldn’t bite. Violet is the girl of action in these stories. Klaus’s encyclopaedic knowledge is useful, of course, and so are Sunny’s freaky-strong animal teeth, but Violet is the leader. She was the one who saved herself from marrying the horrible Count Olaf by cleverly exploiting a loophole Klaus had told her about. But in the movie? Klaus saved the day while Violet passively stood by hoping her brother could work a miracle. Blargh.
Anyway, there’s a brief compare and contrast for Irene Adler Syndrome versus a generally bad on all levels adaptation.
Daredevil – I’ve only watched the first episode is promising. Of course, for most fans of the character, anything better than the 2003 movie or the backdoor pilot made for TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, would probably be embraced. If you haven’t seen these movies, this is a low standard. So I’m going to watch the others and hopefully this will be good enough to keep me watching the other “Defenders” series.
Wolfcop – so based on the terrible movies I watch, Netflix suggested I might like this movie, which is about an alcoholic cop who ends up a werewolf and deciding to fight crime. Now, I didn’t actually watch this on my own. My friends, who often subject me to bad movies, had this suggested to them by their Netflix account. Long-time readers should not be surprised. Anyway, this low-budget movie had some serious tonal whiplash. On the one hand, the movie wasn’t subtle (the lead character’s last name is “Garou”) or serious (he pimps out a cop car and the resulting vehicle can only be described as the “Wolfmobile), but it also gets pretty gross (he changes into a werewolf by ripping through his human skin; while Van Helsing choose to CGI whitewash that change, Wolfcop goes full-tilt gore). The end promises, or threatens (depending on your point of view), a sequel. Did I mention the alcohol makes him a stronger-than-normal werewolf? Yeah.
Weird Al – I had to give a presentation (which I hate doing) so I decided to try to liven it up by asking the audience who was the artist that sang “Word Crimes” and which album it was on. A few people guessed Weird Al but only one person got “Mandatory Fun.” I was reminded of how much of a nerd I apparently am, even amongst people who might also be considered nerds. But “Word Crimes” is really good.
Sailor Moon Crystal – I really need to pick this back up again before it finishes.
Comic Book Adaptations – Okay, I love comics, but does every single comic book need its own TV series? Or could at least more of them go with the Netflix “on demand” route instead of taking up every available slot on network? If I’m getting a bit burned out, I can only imagine how less fanatical fans are starting to feel.
Comic Books – So both Marvel and DC are crashing their continuity, again, but in roughly the same way and at the same time. This may be the most unintentional meta-event of the two universes merging into one… But based on Superman’s and Wonder Woman’s new, new costumes, I don’t have a lot of hope for the New-Nu-52 (or whatever the hell it’s going to be called). You comic book companies have one job. One! Damn it, just tell a story!
So let’s say that you want to watch a movie and either your choices are limited or your mental facilities are somewhat lessened for any of a dozen myriad reasons. I’m not judging, just setting the up the scene. And you stumble across a pair of movies that could provide you with a few hours of mild entertainment and/or significant riffing. But which movie should you choose? Perhaps I can help.
First up, you’ve got a hankering to watch a video game adaptation. Again, I’m not judging. I don’t know what evil lurks in the hearts of men (or women). You want to watch a fighting game adapted to the big screen, and you’re a fan of old-school arcade games. You have very specific tastes, my hypothetical movie-watcher. So it comes down to these two movies, as it came down to these two games in the arcade as well – Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat. Fight!
This is not a question of which is better, but which one you would enjoy more.
Character Matches –
Round 1 – Shang Tsung vs M. Bison
In defense of both movies, the villain leads were having a lot of fun with their parts. Poor Raul Julia was dying, and he was making the most of the time he had left as M. Bison. Sure, he didn’t look like he could fight, say, a fluffy bunny (because he really couldn’t), but he chewed the scenery with the best of them. And Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa has a pretty fine career of being a thug, villain, mook, or otherwise bad guy. In fact, I once saw him on a ST:TNG episode as a blue-shirt helping out Crusher and I was so used to him being a bad guy (even though at the time I didn’t know his name), I was frankly surprised when he didn’t betray the crew to the bad guys. He didn’t even die. He just helped out like a normal extra. It was weird… But M. Bison’s fantastic megalomania gives him the win.
Winner – M. Bison. Hammy Victory!
Round 2 – Lead vs Lead
This is a bit tricky because the lead in Mortal Kombat was Liu Kang; however, Johnny Cage was also present and that character was actually based on Jean-Claude Van Damme, who turned down the role to play Guile. So while Guile vs Liu Kang is technically the lead, Van Damme would have been cast as Johnny Cage. Let’s just look at both.
Liu Kang vs. Guile
Well, Van Damme was trying to act. Robin Shou just looked confused for most of the movie. However, his accent was much less pronounced than Van Damme’s.
Winner – Liu Kang. Stoic Victory!
Guile vs Johnny Cage
What could have been… So Linden Ashby was trying to act as well, and did a better job than Van Damme, not that the bar is set too high. Also, he had no accent to contend with at all. And he was the butt of a few mildly humorous jokes.
Winner – Johnny Cage. Technical Victory!
Round 3 – Sonya Blade vs Chun-Li
I paired these because they are the most prominent female characters. Each had a story arc concerning revenge. Sonya finished her arc and killed the target of her vengeful quest, but Chun-Li did not, although not for lack of trying. Also, while Chun-Li got captured by the Big Bad, she busted out and proceeded to kick ass while Sonya had to be rescued. In fact, had the guys not gone into rescue Chun-Li, she probably would have beaten M. Bison by herself. And Ming-Na Wen did a better job than Bridgette Wilson in her role.
Winner – Chun-Li. Kick-ass Victory! Near Fatality!
That’s it for character rounds. I’m not really sure where to fit Raiden in since there wasn’t a mentor-type person in Street Fighter to counter him against. Kitana and Cammy, two secondary female characters, barely did anything at all. Street Fighter had so many extra characters I’m not sure who I’d face Ken and Ryu or Balrog and Honda against. Maybe Sub-zero and Scorpion? But considering Sub-zero and Scorpion had powers (albeit died like a chump and badly animated powers, respectively), there’s no way either of the Street Fighter characters could win. I also think that Sub-zero and Scorpion’s lack of dialogue was probably a bonus.
Technical Matches –
Round 1 – Soundtrack vs Soundtrack
This isn’t even a fight.
Winner – Mortal Kombat. Flawless Victory!
Round 2 – Plot vs Plot
Oh, this is a sorry showing indeed for both. The plot is pretty thin but then again, what else was it going to be? Mortal Kombat held more true to its plot, as such, in that it concerned a fighting tournament and the characters’ back stories weren’t altered. Not so for Street Fighter, which made many changes for reasons that don’t make sense (why did Chun-Li go from an Interpol agent to Plucky Girl Reporter again?). Also, there wasn’t any street fighting in Street Fighter and probably less fighting than there was in Mortal Kombat. And there was at least an approximation of some of the special powers in Mortal Kombat.
Winner – Mortal Kombat. Mediocre Victory!
Round 3 – Riff vs Riff
Oh, there’s so much to riff on for both movies. The poor special effects, the bad acting, the subpar plot, and so on and so on. I think Mortal Kombat technically held together just a little bit better, but since Street Fighter does have a better villain it deals the final blow.
Winner – Street Fighter. Snarky Victory!
Overall winner – Mortal Kombat. Pyrrhic Victory!