Friday, July 25, 2014

Post Batman Day Manifesto

Now, that Batman Day is over, and we're all cleaning up from opening our Batman Day presents and hoarse from singing Batman Carols, I feel I can talk about Batman Day.  Particularly now that I've seen what was and was not covered about it online.

The blogosphere (such as it is nowadays) mostly ignored it because, as has been observed, in the blogosphere every day is Batman Day. 

January = Meth Lab Month
February = :Flout the FAA Month
March = Play Hard to Get Month
April = Youth Endangerment Month
May = Throwing Dangerous Objects Month
June = Paparazzi Month
July = Young Swingers  Month
August = Flout the DMV Month
September = Modesty Month
October = Always Dress for a Date Month
November = Fat People are Fed Up Month
December = Hanging Out With Successful Older Men Month

In the mainstream media, the gist of Batman Day articles was mostly, 'Hey, Batman's still around and currently cool!".  In the geek media, the gist was mostly, "Hey, look how the normals are observing Batman Day and maybe we can get some swag out of it!"

But I don't think I heard anyone express the sentiment I wanted to hear, mostly because Batman is SO much a part of our current culture and has been for so long.  Specifically...

Batman is most important fictional character created in the 20th century.

I defy you to name a more important one. All your private detectives and starship captains and temporary television characters and cartoon figures--is any one of them better known, better respected, better entrenched culturally across all media? No.

I could sit here and MAKE my case. But, frankly, I think popular culture and the media have made it for me over the last 75 years.  Who are you going to challenge it with?

Superman? I don't think so. Certainly he is popular and well known and as the first (well known) superhero,  he is template for all that follows.  But while Superman is someone we can idolize he is not someone we can truly relate to.  In fact, I have read estimates that Batman is twice as popular as Superman, and he certainly is more consistently so.  There's a reason that sales of Batman comics are the yardstick by which other comic sales are measured.  Movies, comics, television--Batman leads Superman, hands down, in all of them.

Mickey Mouse?  Mickey Mouse hasn't been a 'character' for decades.  With the exception of some one-offs over the last 20 years, almost all Mickey Mouse cartoons were released between 1928 and 1953.  "The Mouse" is now merely an icon, more a corporate logo than anything.  Well known, yes, but he has zero literary impact.  Ask anyone what "Mickey Mouse" stands for and you won't get any answer other than "Disney" or "profit".

I don't think there ARE even any other reasonable candidates to oppose Batman at the most important fictional character created in the 20th century, and I defy anyone to assert otherwise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In which I admire Marvel and damn DC

DC asks the question, "Is this character sufficiently popular and iconic to sustain a film?"
Marvel asks the question: "Is this character sufficiently unknown that we can use a film to make them iconic?"

DC is cowed by their trusteeship of important cultural icons and afraid to misstep.  Anything they do can only damage the character's reputation, they feel.
Marvel is content to keep throwing liver at the wall to see what sticks.  "Oh, THAT"s what will make Hulk work...!"  Anything they can do to put their characters before more people improves their reputation, they feel.

DC is afraid to make a Legion movie because the Legion is such a notoriously niche-y property.  I mean, how well can a movie do that's gotten nothing but teenagers in it? With superpowers.  And ethnic diversity. Who live in space in the future.  With lots of relationship drama and sexual tension.  Whose every financial need is taken care of, and live in one giant awesome house with space cruisers.  Who fight crime and galactic-scale villainy.  Yeah, there's no way to sell that.

Marvel looks at Guardians of the Galaxy and says, "A talking racoon! Voiced by an Oscar nominee! The kids'll love it!"

DC inherits a universe that was originally separate characters in their own separate worlds, interacting sparingly.  As a result, each character that's old enough has a grand legacy around them, but they don't fit well together in the same space.  DC inherited characters and then had to try to form a continuous world around them, something they still can't get right, which causes them to reboot every few years, in an ongoing attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable..

Marvel created a universe and start populating it with characters, who therefore all fit in it quite nicely.  Their interaction was their selling point, and while, as a result, none of them stand out too far apart from any of the others, Marvel has a very easy time selling its entire universe in the medium of cinema.  No one seems ridiculous or off-the-table because they are all of a piece.

DC is terrified people will laugh at Aquaman.
Marvel intends to sell people on Ant-Man.

DC is terrified any movie it creates won't satisfy existing die-hard fans.
Marvel is focused on making sure their movies satisfy everyone else.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Greatest Gift is Love

My final gift at my riotous birthday party yesterday was a very special and thoughtful one, carefully schemed by a coterie of my closest friends.

As long time readers will know, one of the (many) things for which I am internet-famous is my richly insightful analysis of the classic Green Lantern story by George Kashdan for Filmation, "Sirena, Empress of Evil", which contains more lunacy in a mere seven minutes than all the rooms in Arkham.

The high point of the tale is when Sirena hits Hal in the head with a brain-wave guided space owl.

Which looks like this, in case you've forgotten.

So when my dragon brother Josh was thinking what to get me for my birthday he hit upon the idea of a customer Heroclix figure commemorating this moment.  With the collusion of Romulan cousin Nick, who doped out the right dial, Josh crafted the powers and power names of the figure, while using Judge Price's assistance to commission Master Modder Dale to create the figure itself.

It was truly the most wonderful surprise gift I have ever received when I opened THIS at my party:

This would have been Kairo's view of it, by the way.

I was uncharacteristically speechless:

That's my happy face, believe it or not.

And the character card was a masterpiece all its own:

I think that henceforth Josh should be allowed to name the powers on ALL Hal Jordan figures.

That's the YGO-054 dial ("Red-Eyes B. Dragon"). A friggin' CHASE, in case you were wondering.
The real fun will be in outwitting that defense and then pelting him in the head with light objects until he's kayoed.

The true gift, of course, is the underlying love that motivated this INSANE effort.  Thank you, gentlemen, for my best birthday gift ever!