Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Supergirl is a Popular character

This is my third post on the subject of Supergirl and her upcoming show.  In related news a comment of mine was read on the SupergirlRadio Podcast.  I'm MithrandirOlorin.

The title of this post probably seems to most people like stating the obvious.  But Supergirl has her haters out there, and I've been reminded lately of arguments I had years ago on IMDB with one annoying hater who was really attached the original Post-Crisis no other Kryptonians rule.  I love the Crisis to Crisis era Superman, but my biggest problem with that era is how it screwed over Kara.

These arguments were had back when the Leob Supergirl was just starting in 2006-7.  This person insisted Supergirl, particularly the Kara Zor-El version, was not a popular character in-spite of the endless number of women who cosplay as her and create fansites for her, and cited as his proof that all of her own solo comics were canceled relatively shortly, the Linda Danvers version of the Matrix Supergirl (one who was not a Kryptonian) lasted the longest.

His logic failure was that a character doesn't get their own solo comic until they've already proven themselves popular.  Even Superman and Batman proved themselves in Action Comics and Detective Comics first, yes they were always the main selling point/cover feature but they were still anthologies and so hypothetically you could hate them and still like something else.

Spin Offs can fail because some characters don't work on their own as well as they do as supporting characters. But other times the creative team decides to change everything when giving one their own comic rather then naturally and organically continuing the stories that were already working.  Supergirl started collage twice during the Bronze Age, things like that created hurdles every time she had a new start, but still her solo adventures did do well.

Supergirl first got her own comic in the 70s, but before that her own solo adventures had already been the chief selling point of Adventure Comics since the late 60s, and she'd been the cover feature on a number of Action Comics also.

That first series "cancellation" was really it being merged with the Jimmy and Lois Lane comics to create The Superman Family.  The Superman Family had Jimmy Olsen's numbering because his numbering was the largest, and back then many newsstands weren't really interested in trying to sell low numbered comics.  The vast majority of the Superman Family comics had Supergirl and her adventure in that issue as the most prominently featured on the cover.  It was the Lois and Jimmy style stories DC wanted to fade out with the merger, because since Comic readers had gotten older and it wasn't the Silver Age anymore those kinds of stories were becoming out of fashion.

Supergirl's second solo comic came in the 80s, it lasted 4 years or so till the Crisis came.  DC constantly cancels comics in-spite of their popularity when one of these revamping events comes along, it happened to Gotham Central and the Cassandra Cain Batgirl after Infinite Crisis, and it happened to the Stephanie Brown Batgirl after Flashpoint. DC makes a lot of bad decisions when time to revamp comes along.  In 86 they made some good decisions too, but the more recent ones have just been all bad.

Kara was gotten rid of because they decided to throw out the Baby with the Bathwater, yes other people somehow surviving Krytpon's destruction had gotten out of hand, but Kara stood on her own merits and they should have realized having a last Daughter of Krypton didn't undo Superman being The Last Son.

The Linda Danvers series from the 90s and early 2000s did better then the other non Kara Supergirls (including other versions of the Matrix) and to some people at least better then many of the Post-Crisis Karas because she was given the Secret Identity (Linda Danvers) and other aspects of the Pre-Crisis Supergirl.

The reason why acceptance of all the modern takes on Kara Zor-El have been mixed at best is because they never give her anything about the Original Pre-Crisis Kara besides being blond and Superman's Cousin.  I want Supergirl to be modernized like Superman is, but you can do that while also keeping the Danvers and Midvale, and Dick Malverne and Lena Thorul and Jerro and her villains and so on.   Superman's modernizations bring the supporting cast with, but Supergirl's don't.  Sadly it looks like the new TV show is more of the same here, they are using the Danvers name but that's it, they're instead surrounding Supergirl with the left over Superman characters that Zach Snyder isn't using.

There are plenty of things I like about the new 2005 and up takes on Kara, Superman Unbound especially. but all their failings I feel revolve around refusing to surround her with updated versions of her Pre-Crisis supporting cast and civilian life.  I would include those, and maybe throw in some characters created for the 90s Linda Danvers also.

Critics of my premise may say that Supergirl's supporting cast was basically just Superman's or Superboy's gender flipped.  I respond, Only to the extent that every Superhero's supporting cast uses Superman's as the template, we just notice it more for other S shield wearing characters. So many Superhero love interests are reporters that in the 90s the DCU had a View stand in made up entirely out of them. The Daily Bugle is basically the Daily Planet if Jimmy Olsen was the Superhero and Perry White was against the Superhero.

The cast for the new Supergirl show looks like Superman's gender flipped way more then that cast of Pre-Crisis characters I mentioned above.  They're simply promoting Cat to Perry and Jimmy to Lois.

Many people don't realize how many interesting villains Pre-Crisis Kara had, here is a short list.

1- Lesla Lar: an evil Kryptonian from Kandor that looks just like Kara, tried to replace Kara as both 'Kara' and Supergirl.

2- June Moone The Enchantress: magical witch.  This character has become popular outside of Supergirl, she'll be in the upcoming Suicide Squad film.

3- Black Flame (Zora Vi-Lar): an associate of Lesla Lar.

4- Brains: leader of "The Gang" who fought Supergirl in the 80s.

5. Tor-An: a Phantom Zone villain who seduced Kara while posing as her High School teacher.

6. Kryotonite Kid: a kid made of Kryptonite.

And my favorite
7. Nasthalthia Luthor: a female relative of Lex Luthor. I suspect the Alex character will turn out to be her.

The two from Kandor could easily be reinterpreted into Phantom Zone villains, if you want to avoid the Kandor absurdities.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The real test of the new Star Wars films is if they bring in new fans

Among people who are already SW fans the reaction is bound to be divided.  But I suspect that there is no way they'll receive the kind of hatedom the Prequels did from a loud minority of fans.  The landscape is simply different.

Some of the people who hated the Prequels will be impossible to please, but I will not accuse the majority of Prequels haters of having been impossible to please, I think mostly they wanted a film driven chiefly by Nostalgia, like the people who loved Superman Returns.

As for the Prequel fans, some may indeed become Sequel haters, but I don't think most will.  I think most even if they dislike the new films will not be haters.  You can dislike a film, even strongly dislike it without being a hater.  I used to be a Superman Returns hater, I'm not anymore, my opinion of the film hasn't changed, but I don't wander the net telling SR fans their opinions are now meaningless.

How the people who are already in the club feel about the new movies matter, if something appeals to none of it's built in audience then it isn't likely to appeal to anyone new either.  But those of us who already love SW will eventually grow old and die.  Whether Star Wars will still be a phenomenon a generation from now or will begin to fade away like Star Trek sadly has, depends on how well The Force Awakens and it's follow ups can bring in new fans.

Maybe some SW fans are so arrogant they don't think there is anyone new to bring in, maybe they are still in denial that the Prequels brought in new fans.  Well they did, and I'm one of them, and I'm not alone, in fact I'm on the older end of the spectrum of people who were brought in by the Prequels.

Star Wars has plenty of untapped potential to grow.  I seem to be the only follower of the BrosWatchPLLToo podcast who's crossed over and started following their Star Wars podcast.  Franchises like Star Wars need to start trying harder to appeal to young women with women leads, that's mainly where I'm hopefull for TFA, since it seems likely Daisy not one of the dudes is the Skywalker, and Felicity Jones is the lead for the spin off.  But that could backfire if they aren't written well, and sometimes the people trying hardest to to be feminist in their writering screw up the most.

But also younger people in general, some could discover and fall in love in SW through the already existing films, but usually what defines what a person loves throughout their life is what's new while they're young.

The way TFA is being promoted has me very worried in this area.  The first Teaser I liked a lot, in an odd-way it focused on what's new about this new film as much as it did what's old.  But mostly it did that by focusing on the new leads rather then the returning ones, thing is the new leads there all seemed to be based on what came before, one is piloting an Ex-Wing, one is dressed like Leia was in part of ROTJ and one is a Storm Trooper.  Meanwhile we also got a planet we thought was Tatooine, Tie Fighters, more Storm Troopers, a Lightsaber and the climax was the Falcone.  All stuff we figured the film would have.

The second Teaser however, does arguably show plenty of new stuff.  But it seems like all the praise that was trending is all about how Nostalgia tingling it was.  But since it's all OT based Nostalgia, it did nothing for me as a Prequel recruit.

Compare that to The Phantom Menace Teaser, the Music alone was sufficient to communicate that it was a Star Wars film and get the built in fan-base curious. But it mostly showed off how different that movie was from the others, how it does things they couldn't.  And that's why I as a young 13 year old kid who saw the OT but wasn't impressed by them became intrigued and really wanted to see it.  I even remember I became just as excited for it as everyone who already loved the prior films.  And I wasn't disappointed, the film delivered on what it promised me, only to be hated by those who wanted what it never promised.

The Prequels stayed true to the spirit of SW but expanded what SW was and what it meant.  And as I re-watched the OT with the Prequels in mind I grew to love and appreciate them in ways I couldn't before.  So I'm very glad they exist and made the movies I fell in love with possible.

Maybe there are youngsters not yet SW fans intrigued by these TFA teasers, I hope so for the sake of SW, because however I personally feel about these movies I want SW to keep being relevant.

Abrams is not openly Prequel bashing, but he's subliminally appealing to those attitudes every-time he talks about how important it was he use "Practical" effects and film on real sets and locations.  Reinforcing the meme that the Prequels were all Green Screen which isn't true.  For myself, as a Prequel fan it's fine, I never desired more films, I was fine with SW just being the saga of Anakin Skywalker, so I don't want Abrams to pander to me.

But what they don't realize is everything they're saying for the purpose of "winning back" the people who didn't like the Prequels makes this movie sound like it's deliberately using outdated methods. Like the old days when some older people had trouble accepting sound and color in films.  Which isn't entirely an accurate perception because the film will have CGi.

Right now, we have a whole generation of young people for whom Guardians of The Galaxy was the first space opera they saw on the Big Screen.  That movie like the Prequels and the original SW films was flawed but did things that hadn't been and couldn't be done before.  This December those kids are probably gonna watch their parents gush over how TFA was sooooo much like films they saw 30 years ago.  And I'm concerned that it will leave a bad impression on them about what Star Wars was all about.  Like teenagers being embarrassed by their Kiss obsessed parents.

I hope my fears are unfounded.

The Avengers did NOT actually need those prior films in order to work

You may be thinking I'm contradicting an earlier post of mine here.  There I was talking about how Marvel needed to make the public consider Iron Man, Thor and Captain America to be big deals so that their being in a film together could be a huge deal.  DC doesn't need to do that, just as the new Spiderman doesn't need a solo film for him being in Civil War to be a big deal.  Audiences will care about Spiderman being in a film with the MCU heroes regardless of it not being the same Spiderman they already know.

Here I'm talking about story, if the story and/or plot of Avengers had needed you to have seen those prior films to get what's going on it would have been a bad film, if that's how you write connected stories you should be writing a TV show, not blockbuster motion pictures.  Whedon had already directed both and understood the difference.

Rarely you can make 2 or 3 films that feel like one big film, like LOTR or The Hobbit though I feel they overdid it with The Hobbit,  But those are very special cases, and LOTR was already like that in The Books, it was 1 giant book published as 3, why I disagree with those who feel it should have been 6 movies based on the 6 books the books are divided into, none of those would have felt like a satisfying movie to me.

The trend of splitting the last films of these YA Novel based franchises in two I feel hurts those films.

The Avengers drew on events that came before, but it also tells us in that film everything we need to know.  We don't have a movie depicting the events with the "Mad King" referenced back to constantly on Game of Thrones, if the prior MCU films hadn't existed, those references would be the same as that.

Having seen the other films adds to Avengers enjoyment like reading The Hobbit and The Silmarilion adds to Lord of The Rings, but you do not actually need to know those stories to follow LOTR, you don't even actually need the information from the Appendices, they're just a fun bonus.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope actually was a sequel made without the prior films, and we followed it just fine, the Prequels existence now adds depth to the OT films allowing me to enjoy them more as a Prequel fan then I ever did before.  But they worked on their own.  If The Force Awakens is written in a way where you won't understand it if you hadn't seen the prior films, even just the OT, it will fail.

So when people act like Batman V Superman or Justice League can't work without establishing the characters first, my thought is, no you're an idiot.  Whether or not the characters were established first, if you need to have seen other films to follow those films or get who the characters in them are, or why they're doing what they're doing, they would be poorly made films.

You do not need to have seen Batman Begins to understand The Dark Knight, in fact TDK doesn't even really draw on the events of Begins at all.  Rises does draw on the events of both prior films, but it still tells us on it's own everything we need to know.

A number of animated Justice League and Superman/Batman films have worked without any shared continuity to solo adventures.  And they have less screen-time to work with.  Some but not all recycle voice actors already affiliated with those characters.  That however is a superficial connection that could have gone either way.  That is also how I refute the "too many characters" nonsense.

BvS and JLA better be the same way, or else I will dislike them regardless of whether or not the films explaining what I don't understand exist.  Same goes for future MCU films, they better not get carried away with what a shared universe means.

Even in the Comics themselves, many hate on Infinite Crisis for how it feels like you need to read 20 other story-lines to know what's going on.  I love Infinite Crisis but I feel it's dependence on the other story-lines is overstated (I've only read not even half of it's tie ins and understand it just fine), plus comics are by nature a more blatantly serialized medium then film, like TV shows are.  But still that complaint exists, and I wouldn't want a film version of Infinite Crisis to be done the same way.  Civil War was in many ways Marvel's Infinite Crisis, as is Infinity War, so they better be careful.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The perception that DC are the ones who are rushing

Neither of Marvel's 2016 films have started filming yet, for DC one is done the other recently started filming.  Civil War will be out before Suicide Squad, and has a grander scale, yet it is much later to start filming.

Plus Wonder Woman starts filming this November even though it won't be out till 2017.

So far DC is putting more time into each individual film then Marvel is.  Plus Disney is gonna rush the traditional SW film schedule to give us 3 (2 main series) movies in less then a year and a half.

It looks like it's Disney/Marvel that doesn't want to take their time.

Marvel and DC characters who share the same code name

I find it amusing how no matter what whichever character linked to that name in the Comics came first will be the last to appear in their respective Cinematic Universe.

The DC owned character affiliated with the name Captain Marvel came way before, being a Golden Age character.  He no longer goes by that name now thanks to complicated trademark BS but he will always be Captain Marvel to me.  Marvel's Captain Marvel will be getting her film before Shazam (but still not before Wonder Woman,  DC is beating Marvel to getting a Female lead film out even though Marvel had a huge head-start).

With the characters known as 'The Enchantress" it's the opposite.  Thor's nemesis/love interest Amora came first in the comics, but DC's June Moone will be appearing in Suicide Squad in 2016.  Amora isn't likely to appear any sooner then the next Thor solo film now slated for November 2017, and there is no confirmation on that even.  Marvel has no excuse for this, she should have been in the Thor franchise by at least the second film.  If she's not in Ragnorock I'll be pissed, I may even not see it over that, by then I'll be having more then two Marvel and one DC films a year to hold me over, so I probably will start opting out of some Marvel ones.

If Amora is in Ragnarok they'll probably never call her Enchantress.  June probably will be, the code names are likely part of how Task Force X operates.

So the chances of audience confusion are pretty low.  Still, I find it amusing that this is how things are playing out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I like Prequels

A lot of people hate on Prequels in concept because "We know what's gonna happen", ya know what, that's what I like. they are denied the option of doing the most shocking thing possible just because it's shocking.

A lot of films have great surprises/twists to them, and they're very good, but that's not the be-all/end-all of film making.  There are a lot of people out there who feel being "predictable" is the worst criticism a story can have leveled against it, and to me that is a stupid way of thinking.  Too many mysteries are ruined because they cared more about the reveal being unpredictable then about it making sense.

Knowing what's going to happen doesn't hurt historical films, or faithful novel adaptations, there is no reason why a fictional prequel which often has more innate wiggle room then those should be a problem.

Being predictable does not have to hurt your story.  Let's take unmAsked, the second season finale of Pretty Little Liars for an example.  Lots of people complained at the time, because there are always some complainers, that Mona being -A was to predictable, even those who hadn't read the books had heard Mona was the first -A in them.

I predicted it would be Mona, and all through that sequence of Spencer and her in the lair I knew what was coming.  But the actual reveal still had a huge impact on me, My heart was racing, it was tense as hell.  Because being predictable doesn't mean a damn thing if it's well dome.

I have grown to love PLL even more since then, I consider it the Greatest show in the history of Television.  I loved the latest 5th Season finale, but I still feel cheated that they changed the nature of the Twin issue just because everyone was expecting it.  It'd have been much better if they'd simply followed unmAsked's lead.  I'll keep watching PLL till the end, but the more I've digested Dollhouse the more I've come to consider it the most disappointing season finale.

So I think there is a great virtue in knowing where the story is going, with the question merely being how.  So let's return to the subject of actual Prequels.  I liked watching the Star Wars Prequels knowing they didn't have the option of randomly killing Obi-Won or Anakin, or Yoda or the Droids or Chewie or even Organa just so it'll be unexpected.  Really my only criticism of ROTS is that Padme dying does create continuity issues with what Leia told Luke.  But it wasn't to be shocking Lucas did it, he wrote himself into a corner with the theme of Anakin's weakness being not handling loss, for that reason I can forgive it.

If The Force Awakens kills off OT survivors (besides the Droids) that wouldn't be shocking, that would fit the pattern of how the SW legend has worked so far, Luke is now in the role of Qui-Gon in Episode I and Obi-Won in Episode IV.  But if one of the 3 new leads is killed off, that would be a cheap ploy, (Also the Droids shouldn't be killed off because they should be the ones who see the whole story, I went off on that already).

I am not familiar enough with Abrams to guess how likely he is to pull a ploy like that.  But with the Prequels I didn't have to worry.

That of course does lead us to the issue of Quasi-Prequels, like Gotham on Fox.  It's a Prequel in format, major Batman characters before they become who they'll become, though a few pretty much are there already.  But it's not in continuity with any specific future Batman adventures we've seen, the Batman mythos are subject to change, and that's good I want different takes to be different, but, certain things should be unshakable.

A recent statement from the producers of the show said that "Not everyone from Batman canon will survive the series".  They want the option to kill off characters that viewers are assuming are safe because they appear in Batman comics and movies.

I fear what this means for the end of Season 1 with their generic serial killer who kills women because of his mommy issues story-line is probably that they're gonna Fridge either Barbara or Leslie Tompkins.  Either of those options will tick me off for no other reason then my annoyance with Fridgeing in general.

In terms of how that breaks with Canon, Tompkins is like the character she's named for in name only, and is a character I never liked really anyway (even before War Games and War Crimes).  But if they kill off the mother of one of the DCU's most important and iconic characters before she has that child, I will be pissed and will likely quit the show simply for that.  And that is independent of my personal wish of wanting Barbara to become Batwoman.

Smallville was in a similar place to Gotham, during their good years they never did anything like that.

But in Season 8 when they killed Jimmy Olsen only to then reveal that was never really Jimmy Olsen.  I was pissed, and was unable to keep consistently following the show, I checked every now and then, and saw how it ended, which I had very mixed feelings about.

This comes back to my issues with how TV shows are made now days in general.  Anything with a Genre element to it they feel they need to kill off at least one Main or significant Recurring character every season to to keep a sense of danger.  The Vampire Diaries which I loved watching for awhile, was from very early on  one of the worst offenders of this, they killed someone off every few weeks.

Gotham is about the Batman universe, one defined by it's darkness and Pulp/Film Noir roots.  So you may feel "certainly a Batman show ought to be killing people".  But Gotham has done a great job of showing this is a violent and dangerous world without needing to kill any major characters.  We see Penguin and other villains killing people constantly.  We don't need to butcher canon in order to keep a sense of danger, and dying isn't the only bad thing that can happen to a character.

Deaths should happen, but they have no impact if they happen all the time, like on Game of Thrones or True Blood.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer never killed off an important character until 3 quarters of the way through Season 2.  That did have an impact.  And then they didn't kill off anyone in Season 3, or 4, there wasn't another death till 5.  During the last season and a half the deaths increased to help show how things had escalated.

That's how Gotham should be, we're not in the world of Batman yet, there is nothing to escalate to if already the lead's love interests are being killed off for season ending shockers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015