Saturday, August 02, 2014


Comic Art


As I write, I am quite worried. It is early December 2013. "Thor: The Dark World" is concluding its theatrical run and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is in the future. By the time this publishes Cap 2 will be a 5 month old memory, but I thought I would write of my trepidation now so we could see if my worry was real.

The latest Thor installment was enjoyable popcorn stuff, but it lacked any real connection with the heart or the characters. In the comics The Winter Solder saga is one of those things that just tugs the heart in a thousand directions. You see, it brings back to life one of those characters that you thought was really and truly dead - Bucky Barnes.

Taking a page from the Jason Todd story (the second Robin in the Batman universe) we see a sidekick killed in action come back to life. Cap, like Bats, is deeply moved, guilt ridden and motivated by losing a young companion and partner. In both cases they return as enemy, corrupted. This creates a situation where our hero cannot merely defeat the enemy, they MUST redeem them.

This is complex story telling. It is the kind of story where the characters need time to think, reflect, ponder and do other things that do not necessarily involve explosions, shields, high wire acts, or the other stuff that drives action movies forward. Pacing is everything in action films, so who knows if there can be sufficient breaks in the action allow for what is really needed.

To date, "Avengers" is a great film because it restores the heroic ideal. The original Thor had established this theme as a part of the development of the character. The barely acceptable Iron Man 3 shows Tony Stark in deep doubt about himself in comparison the heroism he exhibited in Avengers. "Thor: The Dark World" just doesn't bother with such things. If "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" follows the downward trends in the IM and Thor franchises, I will be very sad. This Cap movie could be the best yet, but the trend is not a good one.

Bad movies are bad movies, but the sales on these movies are outrageously good and they reflect what is happening in our culture. If our heroes stop being heroic and simply start being action figures we have a problem. Every culture has epic heroes that serve to define and uphold what is good in people. It has long been my contention that the comic heroes are the epic heroes of our culture. I know these things cycle in the movies, so only time will tell. But in the meantime, I worry.


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