“It is forbidden for you to interfere in human history,” Jor-El says, and to the limited extent that means anything, he’s sincere about it. In Superman: The Movie, we’re supposed to admire the crystal palaces of Krypton, but the point of the film is the development of Superman’s connection to everyday life on Earth. Sure, there’s a galaxy-spanning backstory in there, but ultimately, the thing that’s really important is Earth, and real people. And then there’s Eternals, the new Marvel Studios movie that has kind of a different take on that question.
In this blog, I’m telling the story of how blockbuster superhero movies developed into a dominant cultural force, starting in 1978 with Superman and moving on chronologically from there. So far, I’m about an hour into the first movie, and there’s a long way to go. But out in the real world, that history is still going on, so when a new movie is released, I take a look at what’s happening in popcorn world, and what it has to do with the movie I’m currently writing about. Last month, I wrote about the Spider-Man spinoff Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and this weekend, the latest movie is Marvel Studios’ Eternals.
Honestly, I can’t think of a movie more appropriate for this treatment, because Eternals asserts that all of history was influenced by a set of gorgeous extraterrestrial cover models, who are responsible for every good idea in human civilization, specifically including Superman. Apparently, I’ve been writing about these people all along.
Continue reading Eternals 92.1: The Adventures of Fancy People
It’s a weird quirk of human nature, that we think old things are smarter than new things. I mean, when you’re talking about the course of a single lifetime, then yeah, children need to be educated by adults.
But then people generalize that to entire civilizations, thinking that people in the ancient world had wisdom, medicine and daily life practices that were better than we have now — that they were healthier, which is untrue, and they knew more about nature, which is unlikely. So people buy expensive treatments and nutritional supplements, or go on fad diets based on shaky anthropological assumptions, in order to live more like people in the past.
It’s nonsense, of course; human knowledge is cumulative, and we as a civilization know way more now than anybody ever knew before — or, at least, somebody knows it, and the rest of us can look it up on Wikipedia. The ancients were not smarter than we are; they had worse teeth, they died younger, and their pop music was dreary in the extreme.
Continue reading Superman 1.28: Grad School
Well, if little Kal-El thought he could stretch out and relax during the journey from there to here, then he was mistaken; his dad has prepared a three-year-long audiobook for him to listen to on the trip. We see the boy traveling through clouds of space plankton in his star bubble, and above the sound of a passing scherzo, we hear extracts from Jor-Audible.
The first fragment that we hear is “… which Einstein called his theory of relativity.” I don’t know if that’s chapter one or not; I would hope they’d ease the kid in a bit before jumping straight to Einstein. This is a weird belief that science-fiction writers have, that you can learn things more efficiently if you’re being brainwashed by a computer, because education is basically a data download, and actual engagement with the material just gets in the way.
So I want to take a look at what kind of schooling is going on here, and try, for at least a couple minutes, not to talk about Beppo.
Continue reading Superman 1.15: Journey Across the Gulf of Space!