#1. Focus groups.
Obviously, “Kneel Before Zod” is going to be the main theme of our re-education program, as we transition to a fully Zod-based society. It’s a simple message of global submission that everyone can understand. However, it’s not testing as well with all demographics, especially the elderly and the injured, who are having trouble getting into the correct kneeling position. It’s important to pay attention to the injured demographic, because there are a lot more of them now than there used to be.
Continue reading Superman II 2.38: A List of Things That Our Kryptonian Overlords Don’t Care About
Everything seemed possible back then. If a movie about fishing could make $260 million and a movie about film-serial space battles could make $307 million — and now they were making a big-budget special-effects movie based on Superman, of all the crazy things — then maybe what people wanted was lighthearted, high-concept blockbusters. All they needed was a big idea, preferably somebody else’s.
“Comics Strip for Next Film Cycle,” Variety reported in 1978, proclaiming that “the next cycle of big budget films will be centered on comic book characters.” Then they rattled off a list of comics with a film in development — Flash Gordon, Popeye, Tarzan, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, The Phantom. They even mentioned a live-action movie based on Marmaduke the Great Dane, which seemed deeply unwise. It was like last call at Kevin Feige’s place.
Continue reading Superman II 2.37: Another World
They could not have been more clear about this.
“Once exposed to these rays,” Lara said, “all your great powers on Earth will disappear forever.” He said he was okay with that. “But consider,” she said, “once it is done, there is no return.” He did it anyway.
And now here he is at customer service, with his receipt for one slightly used mortality, and he’s asking to speak to the manager. He’s got a green crystal powered by pure narrativium, which comes with an “all his great powers”-back guarantee.
So now I don’t know who to trust. What else did the crystal machine lie to him about? Next, you’re going to tell me that you’ve seen a poem lovely as a tree.
Continue reading Superman II 2.36: The Do-Over
Well, after centuries of stories assuring us that sacrificing something for true love is admirable and worthwhile, we finally have a movie that begs to differ. Superman II tells us that making sacrifices for love is selfish, and benefits bullies who try to take over the world. That’s why there are so many bullies currently running things. People need to keep that in mind.
Continue reading Superman II 2.35: Mainly About Hot Dogs
In the first half of my Fantastic Four adventure on The Signal Watch Podcast, we discussed the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, and here in Part 2, we talk about the 2015 reboot, which is seriously just as bad as everybody said it was.
This objectively terrible movie shows the FF as nobody wanted to see them: deeply unhappy government assets, who are locked up in a secret underground bunker and despise each other.
But you can sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude as Ryan and I tear apart all of the decisions that director Josh Trank and the incompetent studio execs made, as they desperately tried to land this film. Body horror! A completely unnecessary CGI chimp! Finding a clearly dangerous and unstable form of energy in an unknown dimension, and sticking your hand in it! And the two words you must never say to anyone who has seen this movie: Pattern recognition!
Continue reading The Fantastic Four 60.1: Fun with the Fantastic Four, part 2
The coup, when it comes, is ridiculously easy. Like, not even easy for people with superpowers, but just actually easy. It feels like a high school field trip could take control of the United States, if they had a little time to prepare.
Continue reading Superman II 2.34: Mars Attacks
You have to be careful with stories, especially the big mythological ones.
If you leave them sitting around in people’s brains for long enough, stories become ideas, and then ideas become attitudes, which become worldviews. And that’s not a linear process, obviously. Your attitudes affect how you interpret stories, and how you choose the kinds of stories you’re interested in engaging with.
At a certain point, you’re not telling stories anymore. The stories are telling you.
Continue reading Superman II 2.33: Who You Callin’ Kleenex?
Man, don’t turn your back on Superman during date night is the lesson of the day. After their champagne dinner at the Fortress of Not As Much Solitude As Usual, Lois excuses herself to change into something more comfortable, and I can’t imagine what that means, since she’s never been here before and they didn’t arrive with luggage.
But while she’s out of the room, Superman takes the opportunity to call his mom and tell her that he’s quitting his job, which is probably something that he and Lois should have discussed first.
“If this is what you wish,” Lara tells him, based on a procedurally-generated AI conversation from the distant past, “if you intend to live your life with a mortal — you must live as a mortal. You must become one of them.”
So I’ve got a question that I’m not sure they’ve considered: How come?
Continue reading Superman II 2.32: Mama Don’t Preach
Meanwhile, on the newsstand, Superman is busy battling a monthly parade of aliens and snake gods and audiologists and science-fiction writers. Here’s what was happening in the Superman comics of 1981…
Continue reading Superman II 2.31: War of the Wordles
At this point in the blog, Superman II has two current plot tracks. In one thread, three powerful, untouchable people drop from the sky, and immediately start exploiting and gentrifying, destroying both the environment and the economy of a struggling rural town. Meanwhile, nerdy Clark Kent finally gets a date with the girl he’s been crushing on by revealing to her that he’s secretly rich and famous, and now he’s driving that point home by whisking her off to the ice mansion party palace that his dad built for him.
In other words, this is a movie about white people.
Now, obviously, that’s not unique for the genre. It turns out that big-ticket superhero movies tend to be produced by rich white people, so they’re usually about an individual or a small group of people who become immensely powerful, often from birth or by accident, who then battle the forces of disruption and social change, in service of the status quo.
And then there’s The Batman, which is all about how terrible white people are. And I have to say, it makes a compelling case.
Continue reading The Batman 94.1: This Would Be a Good Town Not to Be From