Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gender-swapping: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

There has been a lot of talk (whining), lately, about gender-swapping, and a lot of those talking (whining) about it, seem to be misinformed as to what gender-swapping actually is.

I am going to try to clarify things.

(I am going to ignore fan-fiction, here, and focus on gender-swapping (or not) by those who own the characters I will be talking about.)

                                                            Bond. J**** Bond.

Gender-swapping occurs, generally, when a character, or franchise, is being rebooted/remade, and that character, or characters, are portrayed as a different gender than the one originally created. The new Ghostbusters movie is a gender-swap. If it was a sequel, let's say the ladies inherited the business, or bought a Ghostbusters franchise, then it would NOT be a gender-swap. But, because it is a remake, or reboot, or whatever, it IS a swap.

Look at it this way: If I remake Casino Royale, and my main character is Jane Bond, that's a swap. If James Bond retires, or, more likely, dies of syphilis, and a woman takes over the 007 designation, that is NOT a swap.

                                                         There's Something About Riri

Marvel Comics has announced that a new character, a 15 year old, African-American girl, named Riri Williams, will be taking over the Iron Man armor, from Tony Stark. As soon as the news hit the web, I saw many people talking (whining) about another gender-swap. I'm here to tell you that this is NOT the case.

If I decide to reboot the Marvel Universe, wiping out everything that has happened, and starting from scratch, and I introduce Antonia Stark, millionaire weapons manufacturer, who builds a suit of high tech armor, and fights crime as Iron Woman, THAT is a gender-swap.

Are you with me so far?

Now, in a Marvel Universe in which Tony Stark has been Iron Man for decades, before he decides to retire, and pass the mantle to a young girl, well, this is NOT a swap. Tony Stark is NOT being changed. He still exists. His adventures as Iron Man still exist. This is simply a passing of the torch. As far as I know, there has been no announcement regarding Riri's superhero name. While the book she appears in may be titled Invincible Iron Man, that does not mean that that will be her identity. (My theory is that Marvel will see what kind of reception the character receives, then they will either change the name of the current title, or, more likely, spin Riri off, into her own book.)

What's important here is that Iron Man is NOT being gender-swapped.

                                                           Touching a Thor spot

This one is gonna ruffle some feathers.

Thor has NOT, I repeat, NOT been gender-swapped.

If I decide to reboot the Marvel Universe, wiping out everything that has happened, and starting from scratch, and I introduce Dr. Donna Blake, hiking, attacked by orange rock creatures, trapped in cave, walking stick, strike ground, BOOM! Thor Odinsdottir! Say it with me: "THIS is a gender-swap."

What Marvel has done is NOT a swap. We are talking about a world in which an alien has taken on the mantle of Thor. A world in which a FROG has taken on the mantle of Thor. (I'm not talking about the time that Loki turned Thor into a frog, I'm talking about the frog who found a piece of Mjolnir, and became THOR FROG! Or FROG THOR! Either way, he is the greatest animal character ever.)

Jane Foster was found worthy, and, like the alien and the frog before her, has taken on the mantle of Thor. The original, Thor Odinson, is still around. HE has not changed gender. How can Thor Odinson be gender-swapped, when HE is still around? Think about it, people.

Looking back at what I have just written, I notice a pattern. All of these characters that people are talking (whining) about, have gone from male to female. Hmmm. Maybe it's not about gender-swapping (or not), but about men fearing that their "power" is being usurped by women. Or, maybe, it's just a bunch of people who don't like change. Either way, when talking (whining) about gender-swapping, please, try to use the term correctly.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Is it four movies for the price  of one?
Is it one movie that can't decide what it wants to be?
Is it a desperate attempt by DC/Warner Brothers, to catch up with the Marvel cinematic universe?

The answer is yes, to all three.

I just got home from seeing Batman v Superman:Dawn of Justice, and I'm still trying to sort it all out.

Let's start with what worked.

Ben Affleck is fantastic as Bruce Wayne/Batman. This is also my favorite version of the Batsuit; it;s the first time it doesn't look like either rubber, or armor plating. And the armor suit ain't bad either.

Gal Gadot is an amazing Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. There is a point, during the fight with Doomsday, as she's about to reenter the fray, when  she gives this little smile. It says "Yeah. This is what I'm here for, and I love it." It is a tiny little thing, that tells us a lot about the character.

Surprisingly, to me, at least, is Jesse Eisenberg's performance as Lex Luthor. (Or, rather, Alexander Luthor.) What I saw in the trailers had me worried, but he pulled it off with just the right amount of psychosis.

Henry Cavill is just as good as he was in Man of Steel. Take that any way you like. I happen to be a fan.

The fight scenes are great, especially those featuring Batman. The headliner, Batman v Superman, actually works. All I will say is that Batman has more going for him than just the armored suit.

The Aquaman cameo is cool. The Cyborg bit isn't bad. The Flash...well...

I guess it's time to talk about the bad stuff.

The first appearance of The Flash is just bizarre. The second, well, they seem to have made Barry Allen a long-haired, trying-to-grow-facial-hair-but-can't-so-he-looks-like-a-douche character. I'm afraid of where they are going with this. (If you want to see The Flash done nearly perfectly, watch the TV show.)

Some of the writing is terrible. It felt as if someone thought of a line or two of dialogue that they thought sounded clever, and found a way to force it into the script. Really, there is some seriously cringe-worthy dialogue. 

The scene in which Thomas and Martha Wayne are killed...wait...what? They are showing us Batman's origin AGAIN? Are you kidding me? They could have left this out of the movie and either made it shorter, or shown us some of the Batman stuff that led up to this more grizzled version.

The dream sequences, while cool(ish), were pointless. Well, pointless as far as THIS movie is concerned. Setting up future movies, on the other hand... (Think the Thor vision sequence in Avengers:Age of Ultron.)

Side note: to those complaining about the Batmobile and Batplane having guns, I believe Christian Bale's Batman fired more bullets in any one of the Nolan movies. It's just that this movie had the balls to show the real consequences of those bullets.

So, back to those three questions, at the top. The first two kinda go together. This movie feels like four different movies. It's a lot of parts that don't always fit together very well. 

As a Man of Steel sequel, it brings up some interesting questions about Superman's responsibility, as well as his place in the world, but it never really answers these questions. 

As an introduction to Batman, well, do we NEED an introduction to Batman? Instead if showing us the creation of the character, they could have shown us his evolution.

As a Lex versus Superman story...why? Perhaps I missed it, amongst everything else going on, but why does Lex hate Superman?  I know why Lex is evil/crazy, because at one point he mentions that his father hit him, when he was a kid. (A throw-away piece of character developement if ever there was one.)

As a Wonder Woman story...okay, Wonder Woman was great.

And, as for that third question, I think it's obvious that DC is trying to play catch-up. They have tried to differentiate themselves from Marvel, by taking a darker tone, but, according to recent reports of reshoots for Suicide Squad, to make it lighter in tone, this doesn't seem to be working. Also, instead of taking the time to establish each character, leading up to The Justice League, this movie attempts to throw them at us, all at once. 

In the end, the Batman v Superman:Dawn of Justice is relatively entertaining. The good stuff just barely outweighs the bad. It's biggest problem being that it suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Greater focus would have made for a greater movie.

Friday, March 11, 2016

American Pride is Bullshit

So, you were born in The United States of America. Congratulations! That "achievement" reflects upon you just about as much as when your favorite team wins the Super Series.

Let me ask you a question. Which of these things should one take pride in? Earning a paycheck, by doing a worthwhile job, to the best of their ability, or having money fall into their lap. Much like that paycheck, pride must be earned.

You should not be proud JUST BECAUSE you are white, or black, or male or female. You shouldn't be ashamed of any of those things, but you shouldn't feel pride for something over which you have no control. Being a Proud Black Man/Gay Woman/Old White Male should mean "A person who has accomplished something to be proud of, who happens to be a Black Man/Gay Woman/Old White Male."

The same holds true for being an American. You want American Pride? Do something to be proud of. The United States has so much potential, but it is being destroyed by infighting, ignorance, and hatred.

 I was about to type that the current political race is like a three-ring circus, but I realized that it is more like an old-timey freak show. A loud and garish huckster gathers the crowd, and them shows them the things that frighten them the most. Things that aren't actually what they seem to be.
"Step right and up see the TERRORIST AROUND EVERY CORNER! Don't look away, when confronted by THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR GUNS! You will never forget the horror of MEXICAN RAPISTS!"

Yeah. I'm super proud to be a part of  the country that has created this kind of thinking. And created the politicians that try to take advantage of, and manipulate, peoples fears.

Oops. Watch out for that big puddle of sarcasm.

I know that The US is not the worst country in the world, but, at the moment, I'm hard pressed to think of anything that makes it the best. We can change that. If we stop living in fear and ignorance, and start being compassionate, rational human beings, we can make The United States of America a country worthy of our pride.

Here are a few suggestions, for behavior to be proud of:
Raising a child, with love.
Being kind.
Being charitable.
NOT hating/fearing someone, just because they are different.

Here is a suggestion for behavior you should not be proud of:
Being a dick. (This covers A LOT of ground.)

I'm not saying that you should be a doormat. Stand up for what you believe in. But, maybe, consider whether or not what you believe in is actually something worthwhile. You want American Pride? Earn it. Be a good person. Inspire those around you to be good people. Don't let fear and ignorance dictate to you how you think, and how you live your life.

If we, the people, raise the level of discourse in this country, if we raise the level of education, if we raise the level of compassion, if we help raise people up, instead of kicking them when they are down, then, when you talk about American Pride, I won't call "BULLSHIT!"