Monday, July 20, 2015

I respond to a review of The Winter Solider, and it's website in general

The Fanboy Perspective is a website I've been following for awhile.  I agree with much of what is said there, but he's one of those internet bloggers who can't handle dissenting things being said in comments, so I got blocked from leaving comments.

Like him I consider The Dark Knight the best Comic Book Superhero movie, and love all 3 of Nolan's Batman movies.  And like him I love Man of Steel and am excited for DC's upcoming movies.  And like me he defends Sucker Punch and points out why it's better then Inception.

On The Dark Knight I go further probably in saying it's my favorite movie period.

But I can't agree with how much he hates on the MCU films (though I am also getting a little fatigued with their approach).  And he's one of those people who worships the R rating and has no respect for how what you don't see can be more impactful then what you do see.

To him Watchmen is the second best Superhero movie.  While I love that movie, it fails at capturing what it could have from the Comics way to often for me to truly praise it on a level remotely worthy of being along side the Nolan Batman or MCU films.  And compared to other Snyder films, I like MOS and Sucker Punch both far more, and probably feel even 300 was handled better, but 300's premise has limited appeal to me to start with so it's not a movie I watch as often.

The Dark Knight is perceived as being "legitimate artistic cinema" in ways other Superhero movies never have been.  To Fanboy Perspective that is all the more reason to look down on other Superhero movies when they are "shallow" and mere "Popcorn movies".  To me The Dark Knight should be viewed as vindicating the less "Respectable" Superhero stories, as proof they were never worthy of being looked down on in the first place.

I want to remind everyone of one of my favorite Paul Feval quotes
"That insignificant literature sometimes has higher aspiration, but it never declares them, and that is the secret of its power."
See I disagree with this attitude of looking down on what seems like less "legitimate" and "respectable" literature to begin with.  To me it is far more rewarding to find the deeper thought provoking material in what seems like superficial shallow popcorn action films like Guardians of The Galaxy, or soapy teen girl dramas like Pretty Little Liars, then it is to notice it in a pretentious art-house film that is doing everything it can to make sure you don't miss it, yet still thinks it can qualify as subtle just because it didn't have a narrator spell it out to the viewer.  As much as I love The Dark Knight, it usually leans towards the latter.

What prompted me to finally address him here is his recent Winter Soldier Editorial.

He makes a lot of valid points, yes Winter Solider is simplistic in a lot of ways, but still far less simplistic then the original Star Wars Trilogy (The Prequels are hated on by certain morons for being more complex and ambiguous).

But his suggestion that it would have improved the film to fridge Peggy Carter, the MCU's only truly strong female character, is offensive to me.

And I disagree with calling Munich an Action film in any way, Munich is an example of what happens when a director is trying as hard as he can not to make an action film even though the plot requires action to happen.

Here is the thing, one can do the same thing he does to undermine the suggestion that The Dark Knight deals with any true moral ambiguity.

In the last year or so I've become more willing to accept the flaws of The Dark Knight (I always accepted that "five dead, two of them cops" was a plot hole, most likely a carry over from an earlier draft where Ramirez wasn't left alive).  It's still my favorite movie, and will probably never leave my top ten.  But it does have failures.  Something many people who fell in love with Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in 77-80 haven't been able to do in far more time even though they have far more flaws.

The key grey area is the sonar plot.  When I first saw the movie I was so in awe of seeing a movie have Batman do something that ever so slightly alludes the side of Batman that results in things like Tower of Babel, War Games and Brother Eye/OMAC Project.

However at the end of the day, it was okay for Batman to cross this line just once because he always planned to fry the system after using it.  The same way so many other movies and cop shows have hand waved having their heroes doing questionable things, it's okay in this fictional context because we know these characters can be trusted.

It's not quite so simple when Batman does these kinds of things in The Comics.  He stood by his decision to create contingency plans for the League.  Even after War Games he was unwilling to fully admit he'd crossed some dangerous lines.  Yet the writers were clearly criticizing Batman for crossing those lines.  In the comics Batman pulling those kinds of things has negative consequences, in TDK it didn't.

As far as it being wrong to lie about what Harvey Dent did. That is only even really suggested in the sequel.  And I'd be less bothered by it taking a sequel to address that if other things about that Sequel didn't completely undermined why I loved TDK's ending.  To me Rises is a great stand alone film, but a horrible sequel and why I can't consider the Nolan films a True Trilogy.

Back to Winter Soldier.  Does putting all the villainy on HYDRA really undermine the questions it brings up?  To me HYDRA is only a slightly more cookbooky version of how I view the real Military Industrial Complex, (the not as direct as people make it sound Nazi connection included) in fact I probably feel more sympathy for HYDRA.  To me what undermines things is how for the sake of a climax with immediately high stakes HYDRA had to be planning to do something horrific right away, even though they had been patiently biding their time for 70 some years.

And some HYDRA villains including Alexander Perice, are presented as villains who honestly believe they are doing what's best for the world on some level, but like Light Yagami have been corrupted by power.  People fail to see this in HYDRA simply because Red Skull was such a textbook Supervillian in a different movie, and because of the Nazi connection, because people forget Nazis were real people with real beliefs behind what they did.

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