Our Awesome Avengers

Sometimes, you have to know what you’re doing. Where you’re going. What your purpose is.

I never quite understood this until recently.

A matter of days ago, while writing the next chapter of Sibling Rivalry, I came to a startling realization: Knowing what I know now, I could have structured the story a lot better by rewriting everything after chapter three, delaying the actual romance between Spike and Sweetie Belle, and have his affection for her form a bit more gradually as a consequence of their budding friendship, as he teaches her magic. It would allow the story to focus on the romance, rather than the bullshit deception.

So I’m an idiot. I think I might go back and rewrite the whole story with that in mind. Or I could just say ‘fuck it’ and move on at this stage.

I don’t know.

I think the problem is, I didn’t think the story through well enough. I didn’t think it through deeply enough. I should’ve seen the plot holes before they came. But it really goes to show just how important preparation is. How important it is to plan a story out well in advance. As a writer, you might find it frustrating, not getting to the good bits. But overall, it’ll mean the story you write will be better, and much more coherent.

Which might be the reason Marvel made it work. They thought it through, and planned it all out from day one. They didn’t just make one film left open for sequels. They designed the whole thing to fit together as one giant franchise.

I am of course referring to the epic and sublime Avengers film franchise. Five films: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: the First Avenger. All tying together and referencing each other, with the purpose of reaching the ultimate crescendo, with film six, The Avengers.

The Avengers

By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, I love this film. Continue reading

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Magic and Nazis and Gods, wait-what!?

The Marvel Universe is weird.

We have advanced technology, genetic engineering, genetic mutations, magic, cosmic beings, supernatural phenomena, gods, parallel universes, aliens, and Samuel L. Jackson, all coexisting in the same world. It doesn’t make sense.

With the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, none of these things exist here, in reality, so it can really strain credulity to have them all coexist in the same world.

Yet somehow, it works. Somehow, all these things can come together. And somehow, it makes sense.

Advanced technology can coexist, and even work with, magic. It can be used to spur genetic mutations, and travel to parallel universes. It can even make Samuel L. Jackson more of a badass!

But how? With interesting and relatable characters, compelling plotlines, and a consistently goofy tone, we can overlook the tiny contrivances and inconsistencies, because overall, it makes a better story.

Which brings us to the second half of the Avengers franchise, or as I call it: clusterfuck heaven. Continue reading

Star Trek Redundancy

Star Trek, as a franchise, has a rich and varied history.

It’s a franchise all about the bright future humanity has waiting for it, all thanks to technology and scientific development.

The future is a world of peace. A world without poverty. It’s a world we all want to live in.

I find it odd that so many people think the future is dismal and dreary. Best guess: it’s pure selfishness. The truth is, now is the best time to be alive. A century, or even a decade ago, life sucked in comparison.

In 2003 we didn’t have DVRs, or Wi-Fi. The internet was still in its infancy, and medical technology was… well… we’ve made advancements. Okay, no cure for cancer, but there is the HPV vaccine, to start.

So given all that, many people hope the world would end tomorrow, so this time isn’t just the greatest time to be alive in comparison to all that came before it, but all that came after it. They don’t want to think that life gets better, because then they’ll just be jealous of the future.

I’m honestly jealous of the future. It saddens me to think martian colonies will not be established in my lifetime. My children will probably be long dead well before that happens.

But regardless, the future is waiting for us, and life will only get better. So let’s keep pushing that.

The second Star Trek series, The Next Generation, pushed the franchise from the 23rd into the 24th century. Which was a brilliant move, since we got to see how things get even better as time marches on.

Enterprise, the fifth entry in the franchise, was a prequel series set in the 22nd century, and is often considered Star Trek’s biggest misstep.

I don’t know if I can agree, I kinda like Enterprise. But I understand why some may not. It pulled the series back, when it probably would’ve been better to move forward.

I mentioned last time, that there were proposals to continue the franchise into the 26th, and 31st centuries. Both would have been fantastic. I would have loved to see either of those series in the light of day. It would have been the right move. Pushing the series’ history further and further into the future.

Sadly, they didn’t do that. Because the powers that be decided to do something completely different, and completely stupid. After Enterprise, the only follow-up we got brought us back into the 23rd century, a century we already covered. Following a crew we already know, the one from the original series.

And I honestly think it was a bad idea.

But ideas don’t matter, only execution. Something I’ve learned over the years. So I think it’s time I gave this film a fair shake.

Let’s talk about Star Trek… wait… I mean… I think I should start talking about Star Trek- no that still doesn’t work.

Okay, there’s a film, called Star Trek, and it’s a recent entry in the franchise called Star Trek. I’m referring to the specific film, not the franchise as a whole, when I say I want to talk about Star Trek… the film… made in 2009…

I hate my life. Continue reading

Closed Logic

What I love the most about TRON and TRON 2.0, is the feel of it: Surreal and fantastic.

It’s a world where anything is possible, where information is free, and where one’s very nature can be altered on a whim.

It’s not grounded in the logic we know. It’s a purely fictional world. Every element is distinct from reality.

Even something as simple as a city street can be bizarrely surreal.

There’s also the bright colour scheme, with flat colours maintaining the world’s artificial feel.

It’s a fantastic look, and a fantastic world. So how can someone fuck that up?

Well, by changing the look to reflect reality, and reducing the colour scheme to black, black, more black, off-black and the occasional neon light.

This is TRON: Legacy, where the TRON franchise went to die. Continue reading

Inside the Computer

To many, computers are an enigma.

The average computer user doesn’t understand the first thing about what goes on behind the screen.

They know how to do what they need to do. They know how to play games, browse the web, check email, use a word processor; but everything else is a mystery. And if something goes wrong, or things get complicated, they wouldn’t even know where to start. In those cases, they might call their friend or acquaintance who once used the word ‘processor’ and ask them for help.

It’s much like my relationship with cars. And as one of those ‘processor’ people, I should tell you, it can get annoying. Especially when you’re asked to do mundane stuff that a trained monkey could pull off.

However, these days, if you don’t use a computer, you’re either Amish or trapped in an underground cave. So people do have a general idea of what they do. But back in the 80s, this was not the case.

Most people didn’t use them at all, or at least, they didn’t recognize them as computers. The closest the average person might get to an electronic computer system was in an arcade, or through the Atari 2600, if they were lucky and rich.

Even their use in business was extremely rare. They were a brand new technology, that not everyone saw the purpose of, or potential in. Even the idea of a computer as a consumer device was received with skepticism, since few understood what a computer could actually do.

It was mysterious, and confusing; and as always, such mystery and confusion allows science fiction writers to do what they do best: make stuff up, and not get questioned on it.

You all remember the series, Reboot? Canadian-made by the way. It starred Bob, a sprite in the city of Mainframe, and his friends, Dot and Enzo. Ostensibly, Mainframe was actually the hard drive of a computer system, or something. Our characters were essentially packets of data… I think. It’s actually a little confusing at times, but the show was generally entertaining, and the computer nerds had a laugh with all the puns and inside jokes.

The series sort of took a turn for the dark in season three, which I kinda liked. But in season four, it just got weird. And there was never any need for Dot and Bob to get married, especially since they never actually dated or anything before then.

But, that was the 90s. We’re talking about the 80s, when this idea, of a story starring characters that were merely several ones and zeros strung together, first got traction.

It all started, with TRON. Continue reading

Batman Retires

The first two films in Nolan’s Batman trilogy were bizarre, dark, and fun. We got to see some interesting villains, some fantastic set-design, some exciting fight sequences, some compelling storytelling, and some fascinating ideas.

Why would someone dress as a bat, and beat up street thugs? What kind of training would he need? What kind of equipment would he need? How could he do it?

These are all easily addressed in the films. And thanks to Nolan’s commitment to realism, the entire idea of Batman seems much more plausible, and in turn, much more compelling.

Sadly, by the time the third film rolled around, it seems the well ran dry for interesting villains, fantastic set-design, exciting fight sequences, compelling storytelling, and fascinating ideas. Because while the third film does maintain the realism, themes, and characters of its predecessors. It’s boring as hell. Continue reading

Batman Resurges

Batman, as a concept, isn’t very realistic. But in 2005, Christopher Nolan tried to change that with Batman Begins. He gave the character a logical origin story, and even explained where all of his gear comes from. A man, trained in ninjutsu, inspired by the death of his parents, and with billions of dollars at his disposal, takes down criminals with a persona mirroring his greatest fear: Bats.

It’s a little ridiculous, granted. But it’s a nice attempt. And while the whole thing seems unlikely, it’s also plausible.

The first film had a bit of a sci-fi element, with the introduction of the Fear Gas, and some of Batman’s gear. I’m pretty sure memory cloth doesn’t actually exist. But nonetheless these elements didn’t seem too ridiculous, or too far outside the realm of possibility. Unlike the Burton series, with the magic automated homing Batarang.

Okay, now you're just fucking with us.

In fact, you know what this reminds me of? James Bond. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t seen every film, because… fuck that. But every film I saw always had the scene in the MI-6 headquarters, where Q introduces 007 to all his gadgets. These were always great scenes. He not only introduces all the gadgets and show what they do, but often explains how they work. Like the invisible car; it has a camera on one side, and the image is projected on the other. It’s pretty cool, even though we actually know that it wouldn’t work since people have tried that and it didn’t. But it’s still pretty cool.

Anyway, in the new Batman films, Morgan Freeman is basically Batman’s Q. And that’s the greatest thing about these films; The fact that even though the gadgets are a bit fantastic, they still feel real, or at least on the cutting-edge. And it’s all thanks to Morgan Freeman, as he gives James Bat his load out. Only instead of a BMW, he gets a tank.

The sci-fi elements in Batman Begins even carried over into the design of Gotham city. Specifically, the designs of the Narrows, the monorail, and Wayne Tower.

I touched on this last time.

They make me think of the classic German expressionist film, Metropolis. (Admittedly, I still have to see that film.) It gives a bit of a how-the-past-thought-the-future-would-look feel. But this film takes place in the present day (I think), and we don’t design buildings like that. Though I wish we did.

Nonetheless, as amazing as the designs are in Batman Begins. For the sequel, Christopher Nolan decided to scrap all of that. Wayne Tower is redesigned into a generic skyscraper, and the monorail is gone. And I think, because of this, the first film had a much better aesthetic. However, that doesn’t really matter, because the second film had a much better everything else. Continue reading

Batman Reboots

The biggest, and most interesting thing about Batman is that despite his ‘superhero’ label; he has no superpowers. He’s just a guy with a lot of gear, fighting criminals. Because of this, he is also one of the most iconic superheroes in history.

I’ve talked about his history before. How his properties have fluctuated in tone, between comic and cheesy, to dark and bitter, and how I approve of both. However, it seems Batman’s most popular portrayals have taken the latter tone over the former.

For some bizarre reason, people, particularly Batman’s most vocal fans, have this knee-jerk desire to insist that Batman be taken seriously. See, they’re forgetting that he’s a superhero, a fantasy character. His closest allies include an Amazon with magical powers, an invincible alien with super strength and x-ray vision, and a fighter pilot with a ring that can conjure any object he wants. His most prevalent enemies include a woman who’s half plant, a seven-hundred-year-old immortal, and a man who can only survive at sub-zero temperatures. Yes, this is a franchise that is begging to be taken seriously.

The first four Batman films did fluctuate in tone, but even the dark and ‘serious’ ones floated on the border near fantasy and absurdity. After all, we have Catwoman coming back from the dead, and the Joker managing to create a toxin that makes people laugh to death.

Anyone who tries to take Batman seriously is obviously fighting a losing battle. Or at least they were, until 2005, when the Batman film franchise was given a fresh coat of paint under the direction of legendary filmmaker, Christopher Nolan. But this time, things were different. This time, Nolan got the franchise to strive for realism… and oddly enough, it worked. Continue reading