Marvel comics made quite a bit of news this week after its Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, gave an interview with ICv2 on sluggish sales. He completely distorted the cold hard reality that fans are tired of politicized comics to say that we really just have a problem with “diversity.”
To see just what a disingenuous liar Mr. Gabriel is, I have provided a review of Marvel’s America by Gabby Rivera. I purchased the first two issues, which appear to be a perfect storm for social justice activism.
Check out my latest YouTube review to learn all about the “privileged” and evil white cyborgs who try to destroy Sotomayor University, or the being of “white energy” that imprisons an entire planet until it is defeated with America’s “brown fist.” I wish I were joking, but I’m not.
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: Our good pal Dave Huber just wrote a piece for The College Fix that touches on Marvel’s partisan politics problem: Don’t be fooled: ‘Get Woke’ campaigns really mean ‘Agree With Me (or else)’. He was also kind enough to reference my review of America.
Captain America: Civil War is downright amazing. It’s scary-good. It’s so good that it makes one wonder if Joe and Anthony Russo cut some sort of weird deal with Mephisto to make it happen. The script is so tight and the direction is so proficient that employers should ask questions about it during job interviews — any candidate who says Civil War is a rotten film should be told to have a nice day and shown the door due to their unfortunate lack of good judgment (I’m kidding … sort of).
For those who have been living in an underground bunker for the last year, Civil War involves the disintegration of the Avengers when the international community demands regulations governing the actions of super-humans. The United Nations has had enough with civilian casualties and diplomatic headaches linked to free-wheeling superheroes, and Tony Stark agrees. Steve Rogers decides the world is safest if he and his allies are only beholden to their own consciouses, and the disagreement puts everyone on a collision course.
Since this is a spoiler-free review, I will concentrate on what the Russo brothers professionally accomplished and only talk in broad brushstrokes about the of the film.
Imagine you’re the Russo brothers.
Now imagine Kevin Feige gives you $250 million and tells you to find a way to utilize Captain America, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man, Spider-Man, Crossbones, and Zemo. You need to make sure the script is tight, juggle all the weirdness that actors bring with them to the set, navigate countless professional mine fields, and then somehow deliver a product that can impress a fanbase that has been spoiled with excellence since 2008’s Iron Man.
The verdict is in: Captain America: Winter Soldier was not a fluke. These guys not only met expectations given an almost impossible task — they exceeded expectations. Civil War is a modern superhero classic and should be used as the gold standard by which future installments are judged. One almost feels bad for the pressure their own greatness has created as production on Avengers: Infinity War – Parts I and II begins.
Regular readers of this blog know I am a stickler for superhero stories that work on multiple levels. If some child (or an adult) just wants to see Spider-Man swing across the screen and come to blows with other superheroes, then he or she will exit the theater with a smile. If intellectually curious individuals want their superhero flicks to be much more than “popcorn fare,” they too will be happy after the end credits roll.
Civil War has gravity, but it also has lighthearted humor. There is plenty of action, but the blows actually mean something because the script took the time to adequately address every character’s motivations. As an added bonus, the world will now get to see cinematic killjoys attempt to nitpick the film into oblivion (e.g., Well, the score wasn’t all that great and it was a bit too long.)
“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t — don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No. You move,'” S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carton (Emily VanCamp) says at one point of advice her aunt once gave her.
After watching Civil War, it is obvious that the Russo brothers had a vision and refused to compromise on all the issues that mattered.
If you are a fan of superhero movies, then you owe it to the creative team that put Civil War together to see it before it leaves theaters. When you are old and grey you will watch it again and say, “Those were the good old days.”
A friend of mine sent me a fascinating Alan Moore interview from 2014. The comic industry icon told Pádraig Ó Méalóid at Slovobooks that the heightened popularity of Marvel and DC superheroes may be ‘culturally catastrophic’.
The Guardian reported January 21, 2014:
“To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence,” he wrote to Ó Méalóid. “It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.”
Mr. Moore is close — he’s so close — but he doesn’t seem ready to acknowledge that the catastrophe has arrived. It is now. We are living through it. An introduction to our cultural implosion can be found in my Nov. 14, 2014 blog post titled: “Rossetta scientist cries over feminist outrage at his shirt: It’s been fun, Western Civilization.” In short: societies that live in perpetual fear of the “micro-aggression” are societies that have seen better days.
For those who want to know just how obsessed our culture is with superheroes, I suggest watching Red Letter Media’s “Nerd Talk: Sequels, Spin-Offs, and Standalones,” which was posted July 22. It perfectly highlights just how much of an industry “nerdom” has become. Other symptoms of Western civilization’s disease might include the preponderance of men who spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games, collecting figurines, endlessly cycling through imgur, or trolling Tumblr — while simultaneously showing little to no interest in expanding their own intellectual horizons.
There is nothing wrong with having an interest in video games or superhero movies, but there is something culturally suicidal when large segments of the population delve deep into fantasy worlds before they have a sound grasp of reality.
In a strange way, technology acts like a double-edged sword: our standard of living is so high and our problems so few and far between that we invent dragons to slay (e.g., political pundits must be excoriated for not being “polite to the pronouns” of transgender individuals). The poorest Americans live better than the kings of old, and so they engage in sad and pathetic wars over whether or not The Dukes of Hazzard is too offensive for television.
As the character Cooper says in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar: “We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
For all intents and purposes, America has become a nation filled with infantile men and women who fight over intellectual belly button lint. They feign outrage over puerile affairs while legitimate threats to the safety and security of future generations mount around them. Bubble-butted celebrities bump serious news stories off the front page. Strange diversity quotas for Star Wars movies that don’t even have finished scripts are more talked about than state-sponsored hackers stealing the personal data of millions of federal employees. To put it more succinctly, we are lost.
If you get a chance, read Mr. Moore’s interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. It’s titled ‘Last Alan Moore Interview?’. If it is, then it’s definitely one worthy of the man’s exit from public life. Time and time again, he puts his finger on the pulse of all that ails us, but for whatever reason he doesn’t give his patients a frank diagnosis: Western civilization has a fever. Instead of going to the doctor, its men and women are going to movie theaters, man-caves to play video games, or San Diego Comic-Con.
Tom Cruise may be getting older, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving 110% in every role. With ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ it’s paid off. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) makes use of a solid screenplay (based on “All You Need is Kill,” by Hiroshi Sikurazaka), in addition to Cruise’s and Emily Blunt’s acting chops to create a product worth checking out. It’s impossible to ignore the ‘Groundhog Day’ jokes, but ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is no joke.
One element of ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ that makes it so good is Cruise’s ability to sell his transformation from self-absorbed public relations officer Major William Cage into a legitimate hero. Minutes into the movie Maj. Cage is informed that he’ll participating in a D-Day-type invasion that he helped sell to the world — and he isn’t happy. His response to the direct order given General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) is to try his hand at blackmail:
“I appreciate the confidence, general. I do this to avoid doing that. I was in ROTC in college, the war broke out, I lost my advertising firm — here I am. I do what I do — you do what you do, but I’m not a soldier, really. … General, I just inspired millions of people to join your army, and when the body bags come home and they’re looking for someone to blame, how hard to you think it would be for me to convince people to blame you? I imagine the general would prefer to avoid that. … I would prefer not to be filming acts of heroism and valor on that beach tomorrow.”
The general responds by having Cage arrested. As Cruise’s character tries to flee he is knocked out, only to wake up at a staging area for the next day’s big battle. Each time Cruise’s character dies throughout the movie, he is jolted into consciousness at that location; there he meets Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton). The no-nonsense NCO puts Cage in his place:
“You’re a coward and a liar putting your life above theirs. The good news is there’s hope for you, private. Hope in the form of glorious combat. Battle is the great redeemer. The fire and crucible in which the only true heroes are forged. The one place where all men truly share the same rank, regardless of what kind of parasitic scum their were going in. … I envy you, Cage. Tomorrow morning you will be baptized — born again.”
Farell’s words are prescient — Cage is born again many times, and the sergeant’s assertion “through readiness and discipline we are masters of our fate,” becomes one of the major themes running throughout the movie. “You might call that notion ironic, but trust me…you’ll come around,” he tells Cage. It takes countless “deaths” for him to realize the wisdom embedded within the quote, but eventually it takes hold.
Cage needs help if he’s going to save the world from invading aliens, and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), also known as the “Angel of Verdun,” fills the role. At one point in time Rita shared Cage’s ability to “reset” with each death, but lost the power. Between the two of them, they slowly and methodically go about figuring out how to save humanity from the alien “Mimics.” Overall, Blunt delivers — she is believable as a woman who could slice and dice her way through deadly tentacled aliens.
What made her character even more interesting was that as Cage began to learn more about her (and become more attached) with each death, she still managed to keep her guard up. No matter how many intimate details Cage knew about Rita, he would never truly know her until she decided that she knew him enough to relax and present him with her “real” self — the one behind the tough-talk soldier exterior.
Like ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ Cruise’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ wants us to know that people can change. It is possible to turn a cowardly liar into a courageous hero. It is possible to overcome seemingly impossible odds. “Through readiness and discipline we are masters of our fate.”
There is a treasure trove of positive messages in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ that, coupled with Cruise’s ability to carry a film, make it worthy of your time. Movie money used on seeing ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ in theaters is money well spent. If you like science fiction movies, give it a chance. You’ll be glad you did.
Every time Christmas rolls around stories pop up as to whether it’s healthy or appropriate to teach kids to believe in Santa Claus. Inevitably the question of lying comes up, and what it teaches children to start them off at a young age in what is, arguably a cruel hoax. When I have kids, I’m actually inclined to be pro-Santa with a scientific twist. I’ve talked about Barack Obama Wormholes, so it’s only natural that Santa use them as well!
Santa clearly uses wormholes, the tunnels through space and time that allow travelers to jump from one side of the cosmos to the other or—in this case, from one neighborhood to the next. But trying to give your kid a primer on relativity, gravity and negative energy would be pointless. Instead, take a piece of paper, draw a picture of your house on one half, then a friend’s home on the oppposite one. Trace a line from one side of the sheet to the other to represent the standard path—the route Santa would take in an airborne sleigh. Now fold the paper down the middle so the two houses are back-to-back, one on either side.
You don’t have to get into the curvature of space-time, but you can tell your kids that Santa uses deep scientific knowledge to see a different map of the universe, one that contains roads most people don’t know about.
When I was a kid, my belief in Santa came to a halt when I noticed that many of the gifts from him had Toys-R-Us stickers attached. It didn’t scar me in any way to realize he wasn’t real. Sure, it was a let down, but I’ll always have the memories of going to bed excited, wondering what Santa would leave under the tree.
The question at the heart of the Santa dilemma seems to be: Is it ever okay to lie? As with anything, it depends on what the underlying motive is. If you act in a way where the root motivation is to deceive another to benefit yourself, then it is wrong. A person who “lies” to their friend in order to buy time to set up a surprise party has done no wrong. A person who lies to their “friend” to buy time for a surprise party—knowing their friend has hormephobia (the fear of shock)—might be a really big jerk.
Kids today seem to have almost no window of time where they get to be a kid. They’re bombarded from the very beginning by a culture that seeks to strip them of their innocence, and to me the “lie” of Santa allows them to suspend disbelief, if only for a few moments each year. Thomas Hobbes said that life is “nasty, brutish, and short,” and he was right. I’d like to think that as long as the real meaning of Christmas is conveyed to a child, there is nothing wrong with a Santa charade.
Does the anti-Santa truth brigade stop the child who pretends to be a superhero or a princess and say, “Stop lying to yourself. That’s not real. That’s make-believe. It’s weird. Live in the real world,”? Of course not. It might be funny on some level…but no one says that. A child that dreams and pretends is healthy. They can have a sense of wonder about tall tales of fiction, and can glean very real, very practical lessons from them. Likewise, the child who realizes that Santa Claus isn’t real can be encouraged to figure out who Saint Nicholas really was, why he did matter (e.g., secret acts of kindness), and how the way he ran his life is important to their own.
I would even argue that when the Communist Chinese—openly unfriendly to religion—start to embrace the commercialized depiction of Santa they’re really just opening the door for millions of citizens to look into his origins. And when they look into who Saint Nicholas was, many of them will be led to that which China is notorious for stamping out—faith.
When I have kids, Santa’s tale will be told, but he’s generally going to avoid chimneys and opt for wormholes and advanced quantum mechanics. Hopefully yours will too!
Recently I was watching Bill O’Reilly discuss insurance companies, and how they “profit off the sick” with John Stossel. Normally I only like watching The No
Spin Zone when Neil Cavuto gives him an economic beat down, but I think I can grow fond of Stossel picking up the old Irish guy and giving him an intellectual suplex. However, it mildly frustrated me when John had an opportunity to deal Bill a devastating blow, but opted to pull back instead. The idea that anyone who “profits off the sick” should somehow provide their service for free (or a severely-reduced charge) is silly, emotional, and endemic of the kind of appeals liberals make for their Federal Government Stay Puft Marshmellow Man Dreams. If Bill wasn’t 90 feet tall I’d slap him across the head and tell him to read a book or two by Thomas Sowell.
Here’s an example. Years ago I worked as a substitute teacher in a high school just outside Chicago. Before I became permanently assigned to one school, my workload for the week fluctuated with how many teachers were sick, on vacation, or taking a personal day. However, the bulk of the time I was making money off the stuffy noses, sore throats, and hospital stays of full-time educators! Every week I was pulling in enough money to pay my bills, support a few hobbies, and still save money for a rainy day. But, according to Bill’s logic (who admits the insurance industry’s profit margins are rather tame compared to others), I should somehow feel dirty for providing a much-needed service to those who required it.
Are insurance companies perfect? No. I’m sure there are areas of reform both conservatives and liberals can agree on. However, my problem with Bill is that he’s made the decision to pander to “the folks” the kind of pap John “Two Americas:“The One Where I’m Faithful and the One Where I’m Not” Edwards did on the campaign trail. Why? Because he still maintains he’s “Independent.” Okay, Bill… Give me a break.