Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category


The Neverending Story…

In Comics on June 16, 2016 by thebetweenthoughts

As a lifelong comic book fan, I’m still a little bit in shock at how popular the comic book “genre” has become in film and television.  After years of horrible adaptations (I’m looking at you Punisher), we’re in the “Golden Age” of comic book movies.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has produced nearly 20 movies to date.  And DC is trying their hardest to replicate that success with their own universe.  The Netflix universe is growing strong (and actually has the stronger offerings) and the CW DC universe continues to expand.

But after watching Captain America: Civil War, I have to wonder if this is ever going to end.  Non-spoiler spoiler alert: Civil War was an enjoyable and entertaining movie…but it literally didn’t have an ending.  One common trait within the MCU is the lack of any closure in movies.  Every movie is a lead-in to the next…a small piece of the grander puzzle that they’re trying to build.  The post-credits scenes present in all of the movies are the literal manifestation of this concept as the end of the movie is never truly the end of the movie.  While Marvel filmmakers should be applauded for their ability to plan and build a whole new universe…I wonder if this is a universe we want to be engaged with 10 or 20 years from now.  While this is only a rumor, the projected MCU slate will run to at least 2023.  That’s another seven years of Marvel movies…another seven years of the same characters…another seven years of the same basic movie formulas…another seven years of the same styles and themes.

Is this what we really want?

Comics books, by their nature, are neverending stories.  Much like professional wrestling, the hero’s journey is never complete.  Each completed quest leads into another challenge…another villain to vanquish…another damsel (gender neutral) to rescue.  Does this type of narrative structure work for movies though?  I enter a movie expecting a beginning, middle, and end.  The purpose is to entertain and to stimulate my senses for the 1.5 to 2 hours I’m sitting in the theater.  A movie isn’t supposed to be a trailer for the next movie.  (Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice was horrible in this regard…it really didn’t even try to hide the fact that its sole purpose was to set up the DC Cinematic Universe.)

Maybe I’m just getting too old to appreciate “open stories” – I need some closure.  My comic book habits have trended towards self-contained stories…stories that ultimately have a stronger viewpoint, message, themes, style, etc…because the writer knows that he won’t be able to expand on his points the next month.  An “end” focuses you as a writer…it makes you cut out the fat of your stories and  emphasize the aspects you want to leave behind in the reader’s mind.

As long as the Marvel movies continue to be blockbusters at the box office, Marvel will continue churning out these movies.  While it does seem like they’ve mined a good chunk of their intellectual property, in reality they’ve only scratched the surface of the 80 years of comic book ideas they’ve created.  We could be watching Marvel movies until the concept and technology of movies become obsolete.  I’m not saying that Marvel movies will cause the end of the movie industry…but they’re probably going to be the only movies left standing at the end.

But I’ll be there…standing in line with you…for Avengers 10: The Korvac Saga (featuring Cap-Wolf!).




The problem with comic books…

In Comics on January 21, 2014 by thebetweenthoughts Tagged: ,

(So, I’m just going to skip my normal prattling about not blogging consistently…that’s a rant for another time.)

FANFOUR2012001_FF2012001VARIANTLet me start out by saying that I love comic books.  They’ve been a part of my literary life since the beginning and they serve as a constant source of entertainment and insight.  That being said, a central problem with the medium recently came to light after reading the most recent incarnation of the Fantastic Four (by Matt Fraction)…comics don’t change.  I was a big fan of Jonathan Hickman’s work on the Fantastic Four and thought that his version of Marvel’s founding family was faithful to the past, while at the same time an evolution of the concept.  I was disappointed to read Fraction’s version and see the same old FF tropes tossed onto the team.  (Sidenote: I did enjoy his version of FF – where he’s able to work with minor characters and put his own spin on their personalities.)

For the classic and foundational characters in a comic book universe (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in DC; the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Spider-Man in Marvel), the characterizations never really change.  The situations these characters are tossed in become more complex and dire, yet their reactions never deviate from the boundaries placed on them since their creation.  Batman will always be Batman…he’ll never use a gun…he’ll never kill.  And if a writer decides to add some nuance to his character by violating these tenets, he’ll be destroyed by the fans and be criticized for not understanding and honoring the character.  I never realized how difficult it was for a comic book writer to write a “classic character”.   You constantly have to balance honoring the legacy of your character, while at the same time creating something new and interesting.  It’s safer (and easier) to err on the side of “legacy”.  Instead of forcing the character to question their decisions and morals, we’d much rather see a writer create another deathtrap or space villain.  (Maybe that’s why my comic book tastes have veered away from the “mainstream” comics and towards stories that feature bit players and one-shot wonders.  These comics are able to take the medium to the next level and to explore the evolution of character without fear of fan backlash.)

Some of these characters have existed for nearly 80 years…will they be the same 80 years from now?  Is it possible to use our modern myths to create something new and interesting?  Or does a medium that relies so much on legacy forever forced to restrict their characters within the outlines from which they were created?

I love comic books…but I love a good story and good characters even more.  I’m not sure how much this realization will affect my enjoyment of the medium…but it’s something that will forever be in the back of my mind as I read the “new” adventures of a “revamped” Human Torch or Hulk or Green Lantern.  It’s a medium that’s frozen in time…just like Captain America was.



Scratch Pad!

In Business School,Comics,Life,Politics,Stand Up Comedy on March 22, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

Introducing the Between Thoughts Scratch Pad!

This will be an online memo pad to scribble down the short bursts of inspiration that arise throughout the day.  Some of them will turn into longer blog postings, but some will probably stay misshapen thoughts.

Please join in!  Brainstorming was never easier…


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