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Posts Tagged ‘Marvel comics’

Books vs Movies vs Comics

The Medium of Mediums – an illustrated story and captured frame!

JLA / Avengers vs Dark Phoenix - John Byrne

JLA / Avengers vs Dark Phoenix – John Byrne

We first suppose that the story trumps all. But! – the visual is the lure that elicits interest. Books are marketed with an excerpt that shows the literary style and depicts a dramatic turn in the story. Movies are marketed with a trailer, containing short clips of action or drama meant to build curiosity behind the course of events that lead to these glimpsed moments. Comics are marketed with a bold depiction of a character(s) and a plot-teaser related to the action or drama of the story.

 

 

For most, a book still represents one of the purest forms of storytelling. It is the shortest distance between two points: the story being relayed by the author and the mind of the reader who absorbs the words and translates them with their own experiences and imagination. If the writer describes an attractive character entering the room, the reader will translate the loose description and couple it with ‘what would make that person attractive to them’. You are always guaranteed to be on the same (sorry for this) page as the author. A movie, beyond budgetary concerns, has to deal with casting. They need to not only consider the character the author has depicted, but also take into account-  who the readers have created in their minds. What actor can bring this character to life? Who is enough of a draw to bring in those unfamiliar with the story?

 

A comic walks the line between both worlds. It is an illustrated story. Nothing more, nothing less. We may simplify a comic into being Idealized (or stylized) people in dynamic poses, but we miss the critical consideration. A comic must be successful at both story and art to survive. Where the graphic novel represents a full story designed to be absorbed as a standalone ‘cinematic’ experience, the comic book is a serialized episode and a small slice of the larger story. You must entertain the reader and keep them curious. You must display the story and events in plain sight, but also engage the mind and allow the blank spaces (or panels) to be filled in with imagination. You can’t grab the hottest actor or actress available (both in popularity and charisma) and cross your fingers. You need to depict them and convince your readers again and again- with every panel.

Penciler: John Byrne Inker: John Byrne

Fantastic Four, Issue 248, Page 6 Penciler: John Byrne Inker: John Byrne

The story is the origin, which is why so many of our most beloved franchises started from text medium. A written account is a near-perfect medium for the sweeping saga. The nostalgia and heavy imprinting was aided by our own imagination. We remember both the story AND the experience of taking in the adventure. Comics get their re-releases, special editions and reboots. A classic book isn’t necessarily re-written by different authors, but several versions of the same story are common. In the same way different writers and illustrators may visit the same material (usually the origin story) and add their own voice and version to the mix.

 

Competition affects and challenges comic books in a unique way. Movies are scheduled to avoid box office competition and it’s rare that similar movies arrive close together. Books, with their extended shelf life, can survive weeks moving up and down the rankings, on different selling lists and charts. Even if a movie is a weak contribution to its genre, the timing can be beneficial as it gets a run as the current offering. With comic books, it’s more than likely that the best example of an idea is STILL being sold and that franchise also has a current comic book for sale. So yes, a comic book must compete with EVERY book in its lane. And for so many comic books, focused on such a narrow subject-matter, the competition for your attention (and dollar) is steep.

 

The idea that ‘anyone can film something’ is pushed back by the gatekeepers of the industry and the studio system (that’s the reason six different companies are listed at the start of films). The open door of ‘anyone can be a writer’ is usually closed with the challenge of writing a good book. A good comic book is one that excels at BOTH story and art, which is why comics provide so much material for books and movies. Maybe that’s because a comic is both – the depicted word and also a captured frame of motion. A measure of appreciation can be earned from understanding the challenges surrounding the creation and presentation of a comic book.

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The Avengers (2012) Movie Review

The Avengers (2012) Movie Review

TheDynamicUniverse Movie Review The Avengers

The Avengers have always felt like a motley grouping of superheroes. There was always the power-class problem. How do you find baddies that can be handled by an enhanced human (Captain America), a invincible berserker (The Hulk) and a god (Thor)? After that, you have the clashing of personalities and each characters own history and lore to consider. It’s a tough challenge for anyone to write a story that accounts for this much diversity among the characters. Writers Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (+screenplay) have done a remarkable job in adapting the comic book franchise, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, into a blockbuster film. It’s a treat for both the older fans and younger audiences that might not be well versed in all things Avengers.

The film easily tackles all of the individual storylines and movies and gives enough head-nods to the previous events in each hero’s past to keep the continuity on point. Each hero is given ample screen time and shown doing what they do best. The two members without their own films are the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Each character is well developed and makes a solid addition to the core line up. In a nice touch, secondary characters are also given weight as SHIELD’s Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is surrounded by team of capable individuals.

The Plot surrounds Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) outcast adopted-brother Loki (well acted by Tom Hiddleston) enlisting the help of an alien army in his bid to exact revenge and rule over earth. A team of earth’s mightiest heroes must answer the call to avenge despite their individual differences and motivations. This movie seems purposely written and paced with an awareness of other superhero movies and more importantly what has worked and what has not. We can dispense with some of the set up since you have seen their individual movies and should be up to speed on how we got here. The combat sequences are wonderfully choreographed and play to each characters strengths and exhibit great insight as to how they might interact if trained to do so. There’s a moment when Iron Man used Captain America’s shield to deflect his beam and take down several baddies at once. There are times when one character rushes in to save another at the last minute…and those scenes work because there are also moments when you expect help to arrive and it doesn’t and a hero is left to get themselves out of a jam.

The X factor

You can’t really do too much thinking about superhero teams without considering the X-Men. They represent another iconic assembling of superheroes and find themselves with a recent series reboot. The last outing X-Men: First Class (2011) really disappointed me with the climatic battle. It just wasn’t exciting. They teased us with the warheads being stopped by Magneto, but never gave us any real action sequences to Marvel at. I couldn’t help myself, sorry. The Avengers delivers quivers [ouch, I know]. You will get to see every combination and pairing of hero as teammates and as adversaries. This is a fanboy dream come true and it serves to show how formidable each Avenger is and shakes up the usually boring ‘heroes being recruited’ part of the film.

Action Acting

The script takes advantage of the actors and their onscreen alter-egos (meant both ways) and gives us great dialogue and lines to enjoy. It’s great to see each character interact and trade bards, display wit and take cheap shots at each other. This is one of those movies where the funny lines are actually funny and the audience literally applauded for many of the scenes. How often does that happen? This is what I would pretty much call a perfect superhero movie. It’s not weighted down by melodrama and doesn’t feel the need to prove its merit by tackling larger issues. It understands, it’s an action filled superhero movie and is content to be exactly that for its entire 143 minutes.

There’s a lot more to say about the Avengers. There’s the fine casting job of the new Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). I think we have room for another Hulk movie. There’s the great CGI work for both the Hulk and all of SHIELD’s toys. There’s a similarity of the final battle sequence to The Transformers Dark of the Moon (2011) and there’s the promise of what this new franchise could bring in regard to sequels and spin-offs. We’ll end here and simply say; if you’re a reader of comic books, a fan of superhero movies, you need to run out and see The Avengers. I am not a movie critic, I am simply critiquing a movie.