5 arguments against overt, negative criticism of super heroes and comics

How respectable are comics, really? Comic book movies attract millions of people to cinemas. But what level of respect do these characters in costume receive?
Some might answer:
Yes, they are a respectable character archetype.
It’s not about the money the films garner.
The characters have meaning for the audience. We can look up to their example, if we want.
But others might argue that a man or woman lifting a car overhead, wearing bright colours, is disrespectful. Childish, and meaningless: a shallow stories punctuated with special-effects.
For situations where the criticism is negative in the extreme, there are several valid replies.
Here are five arguments against overtly negative criticism of super heroes and comics

1. Comics cross generations. Comics are stories that have the Same impact to an 80 year old as an 8 year old.

You might here someone say, or imply, that comics are for children. Comics connect with people of any age, or at least have the potential to reach people of any age. And media that unites generations is valuable.

2. Comics show ideas Of justice. Abstract concepts like justice become concrete and meaningful in comics.

Justice can be abstract. Abstract concepts are difficult to understand. A well researched and pitched comic story can act out and demonstrate abstract justice. They make justice concrete. And concrete concepts are easier to grasp.

3. Comics speak out against oppression.

Many different productions – novels, TV, and theatre- speak out against oppression. But comic books have gained a large platform. With that platform, they can speak out against oppression. Comics have supported the disenfranchised for decades, going back to the stories of Marvel’s X-men in the 1980’s.
Of course, no media is free of problematic issues. Some comics arguably maintain oppression. This point falls beyond this article’s scope, but is a fair point worth discussion.

4. They show us that caring about values and communities is fun.

Comics such as Ms.Marvel tell stories about thriving communities. Super Heroes in comics can care about their community. Comics tell stories that represent core values (humility, compassion, empathy) in a fun and engaging, playful way.

5. Superheroes in comics embody Communities. We follow their journeys, and gain a modicum of empathy.

By representing diverse communities more and more, audiences gain an insights. They get to know other people, and other communities we are not familiar with. Like argument number 3 above, other media can achieve this. Comics combine words and pictures, however. They can give insight in a unique and engaging way not found in other media.
These arguments were gathered from a talk held at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) on super heroes and the real world, which I wrote about in a previous post.
For more comics content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer.

The best Marvel comics to read if you’re enjoying Marvel’s movies.

It’s becoming harder to find a place to jump in and start reading the comics that inspire Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. A new movie arrives almost every three months.

However, there is one solution:

Listen to comic book experts for their advice on what’s worth reading.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane hosted a panel discussion on comics in the real world last Sunday, May 28. The panel is part of the Marvel exhibition in Brisbane. The guests shared their expertise on comics  and the Marvel Universe – in print, and on screen.

The GOMA website summarised the career of each guest:

  • Professor Jason Bainbridge, Head of the School of Communication, University of South Australia
  • Ryan Griffen, Creator of sci-fi television series Cleverman
  • Dr Naja Later, Sessional Lecturer in Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. And Sessional Academic, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
  • Dr Paul Mason, Lecturer in Art Direction, Griffith Film School, and comic book illustrator on Kid Phantom (Frew Publications)

I was excited to see Ryan Griffen, the creator behind the new Cleverman series, share his thoughts and expertise. The season one story arc and plot were excellent.

Dr. Paul Mason is the skilled artist behind the new Kid Phantom comic from Frew Publications based in Sydney, Australia. It is always worth listening to Paul’s insights.

And for the first time, I thought it was exciting and interesting to listen to Dr. Naja Later, Prof. Jason Bainbridge, and the panel MC Scott Stephens.

Goma Panel Guests shared which comics are excellent “jumping in” points for new readers. Here’s their recommendations:

Ryan Griffen – Black Panther And The Crew (2017)

Paul Mason – Fantastic Four 1960’s collected editions or omnibuses

Naja Later – Bucky Barnes as Captain America (2004 – 2010)

Jason Bainbridge – The original Secret Wars (1984)

Four excellent recommendations for any Marvel fans who are enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You can find more comics content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer.

Here’s a list of all the books and writing references in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Last Week, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast arrived in cinemas. While most of the world saw the movie release on March 17, Australia was one week behind with a March 23 release date. Regardless, the movie celebrates reading and books through avid-reader, and protagonist Belle. This post is a comprehensive list of the books and writing referenced in the new, live action film.

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare – 1623 folio

In the inital opening song, Belle tells a surprised gentleman about a book she just finished reading. The red and gold volume she carries is about “two lovers in fair Verona”. This may be a small anachronism, however,  Belle is living at some point in the early 1700’s, and as a result, history may be on the side of the producers. A folio version of the Shakespeare play was available from around 1623 onward.

A Crystal Forest – William Sharp – 1913

While definitely an anachronism, the poem Belle selects to describe the ice and snow cloaking Beast’s garden could is definitely evocative and descriptive. William Sharp published a book of poems in 1913 that contained A Crystal Forest. Belle does not complete the poem, but The last line of the poem from where Belle leaves the reading ties up the sense of winter cold:

Each branch, each twig, each blade of
grass.

Seems clad miraculously with glass :

Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends

Vulgate Cycle – Prose Lancelot – 1210 – 1230

Belle and the Beast share a connection over reading and stories. The Beast slowly warms to the idea of connection with another person, after long-term isolation from the world at the hands of the enchantment. As part of this process of reconnecting, he finds the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. This version is likely a collection of stories from a legendary text called the Vulgate Cycle. This cycle consists of five volumes telling the story of King Arthur and Camelot. Lancelot and Guinevere’s romance takes place in one of these volumes. The Prose Lancelot collects several of the five together. Beast most likely reads from the collect edition Prose Lancelot.

Another interesting point – The Vulgate Cycle contains the stories of Merlin, King Arthur, and the sword Excalibur. These stories form the basis of another Disney film The Sword in the Stone.

Sleeping Beauty – 1697

This one is not explicitly stated. While no confirmation that Sleeping Beauty features as Belle’s favourite book, there are some hints that Belle is describing Sleeping Beauty when she sings “here’s where she meets prince charming…”. Reddit user comatoseduck identified some evidence for this theory:

Far off places: … a different kingdom.
Daring Sword Fights: Prince Phillip fights Maleficent (who had turned into a dragon) with a sword.
Magic Spells: Maleficent, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather all do magic in the movie.
A Prince in Disguise: When Aurora meets Phillip, she doesn’t know he’s a prince.

Four resources where useful for gathering this information:

  1. The Genius.com article on Romeo and Juliet.
  2. The TimelessMyths.com article on The Vulgate Cycle.
  3. The Internet Archive copy of Poems, by William Sharp.
  4. The Fan Theories sub-Reddit page.

This post was written by Joe at The Wallflyer. You can find more posts here at The Wallflyer, and you can follow me on Twitter for more updates.

Screenwriting advice that The Batman script rumour made clear – scripts need good endings.

Some rumours about the film, The Batman, from Warner Bros. and DC entertainment turned up online today in a Forbes article by writer and screenwriter Mark Hughes. The essence of the rumour can be distilled to this: the script for The Batman will be discarded and rewritten. The rumour was later thrown out as completely false. Regardless, the grain of information existing behind all this is screenwriting remains important. This post is a short summary of screenwriting advice from John August and Craig Mazin, from an article by screenwriter Christoper Boone.

Screenwriting is a priority to Super-hero films. The script needs to condense backstory, super abilities, and a supporting cast. Cement these features with witty dialog, and the script might work out. At least, that is how the process looks from the outside.

One of the key reasons to have a script is to show a character moving from one place in their life to (here’s hoping) a better place.

Following the advice of Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin of the Scriptnotes podcast (reported by Christoper Boone at nofilmschool.com), screenplays must build to a solid ending.

If you think about any movie that you see in the theater, hopefully you’re enjoying how it starts, hopefully you’re enjoying how the ride goes along, but your real impression of the movie was how it ended. – John August, Scriptnotes podcast.

Other Screenwriting advice the pair spoke on:

  • Characters must achieve something important by the end of the film that they wanted, or were not aware that they needed.
  • Endings capture something about the beginning of the film – the structures reflect each other.
  • Reviewing, and re-editing the last pages of the script are just as important as making sure the opening grabs the audience.

You can read the report on the podcast at nofilmschool.com. Mark Hugh’s article is available at Forbes.com.

Writing research – atomic bomb test film declassified

For science fiction writers, and screen writers, and fiction writers, knowing a bit more about the facts behind explosions can be of use. For example, a writer could be thinking of an action sequence where a character sees an atomic bomb blast from far away (like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but better).

A writer might need to see different kinds of weapons detonating, not just the documentary footage of the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagisaki.

A science writer might need to know more about the impact and lasting damage of these weapons.

A team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have put their preservation skills to the test, and tracked down declassified filmed footage of American nuclear weapons tested between 1945 – 1962.

So far, team lead Greg Spriggs says they have restored somewhere between 400 to 500 individual weapons tests. Somewhere about 750 have been declassified. In total, there are 10,000 weapons tests filmed that the team hope to restore.

How this effort helps science writers and fiction writers is that the LLNL have released many of these films on their YouTube channel for public viewing.

Watching some of this footage can be confronting. The sheer power involved is almost unbelievable. After watching films that use the mass destruction of Nuclear Weapons as an essential narrative component, or part of the themes (Akira, Watchman, Terminator 2: Judgement Day), it is at once hard to believe what I am watching actually took place, and that these weapons have been used in actual warfare. It’s truly devastating.

Writers can make use of the valuable resource for research.

“I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them.”
-Greg Spriggs, Weapon physicist at LLNL.

The LLNL YouTube Channel has the complete playlist. You can read more about the project at the LLNL news page.

Iron Fist lead Finn Jones left twitter on Sunday night (temporarily)

This is not a “hot take” (The phrase makes me shudder, because it implies thoughtlessness and chasing social media metrics). Having written about the Iron Fist trailer, it would be remiss to ignore, or fail to mention, more of the impact online talk and discussion about Iron Fist has had on viewers of diverse backgrounds, specifically Asian American audiences, and Asian audiences worldwide.

This post is selected sections from a report of what happened written by E. Alex Yung for Vulture.com, and a reblog of Asyiqin Haron’s writing from Geeks of Colour – Why Iron Fist Danny Rand Should Be Asian-American. This post is intended to promote inclusive, diverse film and writing by sharing writing from diverse creators.

Well, we can’t all be woke white bros. Finn Jones, the star of Netflix and Marvel’s upcoming superhero production Iron Fist, quit Twitter this weekend after getting into a debate about race and representation with Asyiqin Haron, the creative director of Geeks of Color. The whole thing started when Jones tweeted out Riz Ahmed’s speech to the Parliament about representation with an Upworthy-esque headline: “Representation is important. and here’s why.” The tweet raised eyebrows because Jones didn’t seem to recognize the irony that his upcoming role as Danny Rand in Iron Fist is yet another story of white exceptionalism: White guy goes to Asia, learns a martial art, and is better than the people he learned it from. Hi-ya!

While the character in the comic book is also white, the casting around Iron Fist stirred controversy because it seemed like a missed opportunity to cast an Asian person in the role rather than rehash a tired narrative. (In fact, actor Lewis Tan, who is on the show, has said that he was also up for the part.) Haron, who has previously written about why Iron Fist should be Chinese-American, engaged in a conversation about race and representation with Jones on Twitter. When Jones wrote that the show was “the most diverse” one out of the Marvel-Netflix bunch, she replied, “That’s great and all but you do see why Danny Rand being white is problematic right?”

The full report from Yung at the Vulture also contains screen caps of the relevant tweets.

Asyiqin Haron’s article: Why Iron Fist Danny Rand Should Be Asian-American discusses several key points: Asian audience don’t need to see more white saviours, it would bring more depth to the character, Asian characters knowing martial arts is not [necessarily] a stereotype, and white versions of Iron Fist already exist in the source material.

That’s two articles, and there are many others. Checking on the #AAIronfist hashtag on twitter also gives an insight into how Iron Fist has impacted Asian American audiences, and Asian audiences worldwide.

Exclusive Breath of the Wild artwork and art book from Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts gathers and displays artwork from 31 years of Legend of Zelda games. This includes entries in the art book from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was released today, March 3, 2017 alongside the Nintendo Switch.

Just nine days ago on February 21, 2017 the new art book celebrating the 31st anniversary of Legend of Zelda games was released, alongside a special edition of the art book. The special edition featured a master sword acetate cover. The art book is published by Dark Horse.

This isn’t the only exclusive artwork Nintendo has released for the Legend of Zelda anniversary, and for the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild release. Some of the earlier ideas, the initial thoughts and brainstorming that Nintendo worked through, behind Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were available to view at Game Developers Conference 2017:

I like Link’s flying V guitar, even though it works against the fantasy genre standards.

This gives an insight into the steps Nintendo’s development team went through to reach the Breath of the Wild idea. Not all ideas are of no use. Mostly, they are stepping stones to stronger ideas. This is why brainstorming and developing an idea is so useful to learning to write stories.

You can find more information on the Art and Artifacts art book on the Dark Horse website.