Labor Day Rants: Comic Books, Manga, Anime, and the DC Films’ Catalyst (or is that MoS 2’s Casting List?)

“The things that we love tell us what we are.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

Like the quote above states, the things we love are key. They help make us who we ultimately are and indications of how our personalities can affect the world around us. In my case, I love many things.

One of them is writing. Mainly how it is a form of communication and shape it takes on with each person; the nuances can be astounding! Most interestingly, each communication pinpoints emotional status, innermost desires, and divergent viewpoints. In this sense, most pieces of writing can be a window into the soul. However, this pursuit is also rife with setbacks, failures, and a bitter taste in my mouth. Acknowledging this, I continue to explore the medium.

Another is science fiction. Technically, according to the fandom consensus, I’m a Whovian, Trekkie, and a few other designations. As a child, I read many stories in this genre: Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, The Time Machine, 20, 000 Leagues Under The Sea, etc. On television, which was a staple in our home, The X-Files, Sliders, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seaquest: DSV, Time Trax, and many more. When I boil it down, the major point of intrigue was a tinge of… reality.

You weren’t expecting me to say that, were you?

Alright, let me explain: for example, in The X-Files, Mulder and Scully may be on a case where someone has an alien encounter or is murdered by a seemingly inhuman killer but what the creators managed to do was ground it; making the characters accessible through emotional relations and physical vulnerability; they could be hurt or even killed i.e. mortality. So even in such a fictional world, viewers like myself could plug ourselves in, so to speak. Shows like Fringe or The Walking Dead still get me pumped…

The third is comic books. This one is huge due to the fact that I can split it into three categories: traditional American comics, Japanese Manga and Anime, and the American Comic Book Movie Universe.

Again, as a young boy, I first picked up a comic book at the age of six. I loved the super heroic exploits of characters like Spider-Man, Silver Surfer (the titular hero in my very first book), Batman, and others. I used to have 20+ subscriptions spanning Marvel, DC Comics, and smaller companies such Image, Dark Horse, Milestone, and Ultra. Now, the cost is way too high for me to sink money into it anymore…which is sad. But I follow it, thanks to the grace of the Interwebs and a few choice friends. Besides, the continuity and history of these universes (especially Marvel and DC Comics) keeps my grey cells occupied.

As for Manga and Anime, a long time friend of mine introduced the plethora of gems out in the internet ether. With only Sailor Moon and Toonami featured works in reach, I honestly had no idea how incredible it all is. So…Naruto, Bleach, Gungrave (before they came to America), were the greatest thing since sliced bread. A decade or so later, my love for those Japanese creative teams has not been reduced. Manga, the comics which result in Anime, can be written with a great appreciation; the story, characters, action sequences, comedy, parody, and overall drama, end up really thought out and satisfying; part of what assists in this result is, finality. Whether it is death or a proper conclusion to a story, these writers are concise and disciplined enough to end a work when it should be (in most cases, Naruto: Shippuden and One Piece are prime examples of the opposite), not when the fans feel like it should, or the big wigs (corporation, studio, sponsor, etc.).

Lastly, the comic book film franchise, I both like and dislike the genre. As a fanboy, I had always wanted my favorite comic book protagonists (and antagonists) to grace the silver screen so I was elated when they finally did…and it started getting good. The major con of this development is heightened expectations, continuing momentum and quality throughout quantity. Which brings me to Marvel’s Phase 2, DC’s counterpunch, and my projected future of the genre itself…

First off, Marvel has expanded its efforts to maintain dominance by making more films, exploring new albeit obscure characters, and further building their push towards the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. IMO, they have their formula for success, their philosophy in hand, and a solid blueprint going into the next decade (at least).

On the other hand, DC Comics has fallen behind, despite being the beginning of this whole endeavor (Superman: The Motion Picture, Tim Burton’s Batman). Coming off the rewards of Nolan’s Dark Knight and Snyder’s Man of Steel, DC hopes to capitalize on an unseen track record of consistency and construct a formidable franchise; one which can compete with its bigger brother (in this aspect…DC’s New 52…whoa!). The catalyst for the resistance movement is: Man of Steel 2/Batman versus Superman.

Further into my continuing war against the Court of Public Opinion; in this case, comic book fans who the first to bitch and gripe at anything they don’t like, purists aside; they use the tiniest iota of proof to establish an often contrived monologue, bloggers as well; exposition, dialogue, appearance of cast members, voices, et. all small contrivances. Regardless of this banter, the casting choices for this movie could be worse…a known actor and award-winning director is cast as Batman…and this is balked at.

Instead, “we” suggest getting some muscle-bound dude who would look good in the part. I wish the confusion between aesthetics and character depth would stop. They are not the same and they never will be. If you only read comics or watch these movies for action sequences, I don’t judge you in fact I enjoy them as well but by limiting your view, you are really missing out.

Anyways, I am not saying that DC, Snyder, or the studio will necessarily get MoS 2 right. What I am saying is give it a chance before launching incendiary rants and raves at a future feature’s expense. If you have already decided that you are not going to see something in pre-production then power to you. Haste makes waste.

All and all, the future seems to be bright…even for DC’s films. They appear to have a direction which includes more than one offs and animated features (worth checking out). The optimist in me hopes they prosper and bring properties like Wonder Woman and Aquaman to life. They have a whole universe primed to be in Hollywood.

We shall wait and see.

Bye for now, KS.

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