Monthly Archives: June 2022

Swamp Thing 3.23: A Time of Running

“In this sequence,” director Wes Craven said, “Adrienne Barbeau falls down twice, and my daughter, who at that time was about 14 when she was watching it, turned and looked at me very sternly and said, ‘Dad, girls don’t fall down when they run.’

“And I never forgot that, you know? Especially twice. [I said], you know, yeah, you’re right, and I think after this I did a lot of films with female protagonists that were very competent.”

I like that story, partly because it’s an appealing moment of self-reflection, and partly because it’s a good example of the redemptive power of 14-year-old daughters in American life.

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Swamp Thing 3.22: The Kid

Soggy, scared and running low on second chances, Cable stumbles out of the scenery and into a new relationship with a young sidekick who, in my opinion, might secretly be a ghost.

I mean, explain Jude, if you can. He’s an extremely unwatched minor who runs America’s grungiest gas station. He appears to be puzzled by Cable and the energetic shooting war that erupts around him, but he keeps his cool and helps Cable as much as he can, appearing in the quiet moments when she needs him, and receding into the background when there are other people around. There is no evidence in the text that he is a human child, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

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Daredevil 18.1: Literally the Poor Man’s Batman

Like Matt Murdock and his down-and-out boxer dad, Ryan Steans and I made a promise to never give up. Of course, that didn’t work out very well for Matt’s dad, but I’m sure it’ll be fine for us.

Our goal is to seek justice one way or another, specifically by watching the pre-MCU Marvel movies and doing funny podcast episodes about how terrible they are. This time, we’re discussing Daredevil, the 2003 Ben Affleck effort about a blind lawyer who believes in justice so hard that he’s willing to kill as many people as it takes to achieve it.

Join us as we ask the tough questions: How does Matt smell that someone is pretty, all the way outside and down the street? Why does he think the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for being smug? How does Bullseye get away with killing people in broad daylight while he’s showing off his unbelievably distinguishing mark? And most importantly: does Daredevil provide any useful service?

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Swamp Thing 3.21: The Other It

Well, everything has to start somewhere, even muck-encrusted melanges of plant matter and human remains. If Swamp Thing teaches us anything, it’s that surprising things can crawl out of the murk when you least expect them, made out of an awful admixture of the living and the dead.

Stories are like that, too. An interesting idea can ooze around in the half-remembered fictional consciousness for decades, until it finds itself bidden back to the surface, clothed in new material and walking the Earth once more.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Swamp Thing wasn’t the first shaggy swampman in American literature to lurch out of the mire and look around for playmates. He wasn’t the second, either; it turns out, if you pick up a couple of rocks and look under them, there was a whole subgenre of mud-soaked monsters that populated much of the 1970s from pretty much every comic publisher there was.

Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, the Heap, the Glob, the Bog Beast, the Heap (a different one), the Lurker in the Swamp… Corpse after corpse, popping up out of the sludge to make friends, take revenge and generally make the world a stranger and a soggier place.

But the genuine original was called “It” — but not the Stephen King one. This is the other one.

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Swamp Thing 3.20: Seize the Day

You know, they tell you on day one at movie school that every character is supposed to have a clear motivation. In a given scene, the audience should understand what the character wants, and what they’re trying to accomplish.

Well, Arcane’s been in this movie for what is it, thirteen minutes now, and it turns out that it’s not enough, just knowing what a character wants. You also need a grasp on why they want it, what they plan to do with it once they’ve got it, who they think they are, and what the fuck they’re talking about in general.

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Swamp Thing 3.19: The Unknown Soldiers

A swamp. A tree. Evening.

Estragon:  Where’s Danny?

Vladimir:  Where’s Willie?

Estragon:  Maybe Willie’s with Tyrone.

Vladimir:  Danny shot Tyrone.

Estragon:  Oh, yeah.

I mean, technically the dialogue is more Abbott & Costello than Waiting for Godot, but you have to admit that if it’s possible to have a Theater of the Absurd action sequence that makes you question the existence of God and the fundamental moral nature of modern society, then this swamp stomp is about as absurd as it gets.

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Swamp Thing 3.17: People Make Choices

“The film couldn’t and doesn’t rely on its special effects,” said director Wes Craven, erroneously. “As the producers went for the person who did the effects on the basis of who gave the lowest quote, you can understand why I had to make the film more of a human experience.”

Which is all very well — I like a human experience as much as the next guy — but the fact is that Swamp Thing absolutely does rely on its special effects, because the non-human is the lead character. This is a superhero movie about a big green monster who saves a beautiful woman from a mean wizard, which means you’re going to need, at minimum, a credible monster, woman and wizard. A story like that can’t just skate by on insights into the human condition, especially since I don’t think Swamp Thing has any of those, either.

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