Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Miller Time?

Occasionally at the San Diego Comic-Con, some comic book news sneaks out among the sneak peeks at the latest genre TV shows and movies and games. Over from the fine folks at DC, we learned there's going to be a new series called Superman: Year One. 

So we're going down this road again. About 10 years ago, writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Francis Yu produced Superman Birthright, a epic project that examined Clark Kent's transformation into Superman.  




A few years later, Geoff Johns & Gary Frank undid Birthright with Superman: Secret Origin, yet another epic project examining Clark Kent's transformation into Superman. 




Then the New 52 came along and immediately consigned Secret Origin to the dustbin of retconned history as Grant Morrison & Rags Morales crafted yet one more epic project that examined Clark Kent's transformation into Superman.   

Now with the latest Rebirth retcon of the New 52 retcon, it appears it might be time once more for a new epic project that explores Clark Kent's transformation into Superman.  And this time, the task of writing this latest epic tale of Clark Kent's transformation into Superman falls to Frank Miller.

Yes. That Frank Miller.  

Frank is no stranger to the Man of Steel, bringing him into the narrative fold of The Dark Knight Returns.   




The Dark Knight Returns is and remains a seminal work of creative genius as is other work produced by Frank Miller at the time on Dardevil and Wolverine for Marvel. 

But Miller's output since those heady days has been less than consistent. Miller's best known project of the last 10 years is the one he didn't finish: All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder. A series lavishly illustrated by Jim Lee that gave us mind-bending scenes like these.  








From the mind bendingly weird and frustratingly never finished All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder.  

And there was the recent Dark Knight III: The Master Race, plagued by numerous delays, dragged across the finish line by Brian Azzarello & Andy Kubert. Miller's involvement in that series varied depending on who you talked to in the last 5 minutes.  

So now Frank Miller is committing to a 12 issue run of a Superman project?God knows what we'll get or when we'll get it. Or IF we'll get it. Or if we WANT To get it.  

Yes, part of Frank's good rep is staked on a Year One story for Batman. But that was back when Frank knew how to write and how to deliver.  And it was just four issues.  




Now Frank thinks he can produce 12 issues of Superman. And even if he can and he doesn't screw it up, will we want to see it? The artist for this project is John Romita Jr.  



John Romita Jr was a long time artistic icon over at Marvel but his work at DC, especially on Superman has been inordinately stiff and sketchy.  

The one thing that might interest me in a Miller/Romita Jr Superman Year One story if that year was 1938, if the story of Superman's 1st year was an Elseworlds type adventure of a social justice warrior Superman unleashed on Depression era America, just like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster did way back in the beginning. I could imagine such a story playing to Frank's strengths and John's art would be evocative of that era.  

What we don't need is yet another retcon of Superman's beginnings and if that's what we're getting, I don't think Miller & Romita Jr are the ones to bring it to us.  
__________________________________

Hey, kids. So far I've managed to avoid politics since Saturday but too many stupid things are going on for me to ignore the topic. Sorry! 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Valerian & The City Of a Thousand Planets




I tried to make a case for Dunkirk, the World War II film from Christopher Nolan that was tracking really well on Rotten Tomatoes. But I lost Andrea’s interest when I said “World War II”. I pointed out it was about the British in WWII but unable to pin down anyone in the cast from Doctor Who or Broadchurch, that battle was lost. 

I couldn’t explain Valerian any better to her but she understood it was a science fiction thing and Randie was rather psyched to see it. I noted that Valerian was only tracking less than half of Dunkirk’s score on Rotten Tomatoes AND we were really pushing it to make a convenient show time for Valerian while there were more available showtimes for Dunkirk.  

However, as I frequently am in the Fortress of Ineptitude, I was outnumbered and our destination was the City Of a Thousand Planets. 

Although to be fair, I was rather curious about this movie myself. 

Valerian & The City Of a Thousand Planets is a visual spectacle with many variations of alien physiology, topography & technology. The city in the title is Alpha, an ever expanding space station that is the culmination of centuries of different human cultures uniting in the exploration of space and further cooperation between humans and alien beings.  Alpha represents cultures and societies from a thousand different worlds. It may seem that Alpha is a utopian ideal of interspecies cooperation but there is a  dark secret buried in Alpha’s core.


Years ago, a planet called Mul was caught in the crossfire of an intergalactic war. A human commander declared Mul as uninhabited which was a bit of a shock to the peaceful natives who inhabited it. Some Mul managed to survive and find their way to Alpha’s core. From there, the Mul plot their escape from exile and the return to their own world.  But the war commander is now in command of Alpha and fiercely determined to keep his secrets. 

Lacking any familiarity with the source material was not a detriment to understanding this world and what was going on. I've watched enough Star Trek to recognize the old "person in authority uses power and influence to cover up a bad thing only to make things worse" plot. (I'm looking at you, Star Trek : The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Into Darkness.)  In a world as complex as this City of a Thousand Planets, a basic easy to follow plot is not a detriment. And the movie is still quite engaging with several action sequences infused with humor. 

Where Valerian& The City Of a Thousand Planets lacks is with Valerian himself. Portrayed by Dane DeHaan, Valerian is introduced as a young, cocksure prick with abundant skills but sorely lacking in maturity and focus. For example, we're told he has a phenomenally good memory which isn't worth much if he doesn't bother to read the mission memo.

OK, we know the type. Han Solo in Star Wars, Tony Stark in Iron Man. But Harrison Ford and Robert Downey Jr made these guys likeable in spite of the douchebaggery.

Valerian by the end of the movie isn't there. He's seen things and experienced things that should make him a better person by the end of the movie. But you don't believe it. The opportunities are there in the story but Dane DeHaan 's portrayal of Valerian does not deliver.

Sergeant Laureline, Valerian's partner & love interest, fares a bit better with Cara Delevingne in the role, a sardonic adventurer who seems to have some small affection for Valerian for some reason.  

There are a trio of aliens, like duck billed armadillos, who are information brokers always looking for a score that move the plot alone with comic relief.  

There are some other standout performances from Alain Chabat as Bob the Pirate, Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp (think U2's The Edge but covered in neon) & Rihanna as Bubble, a shapeshifting entertainer. Bubble is a surprisingly sweet and interesting character whose tragic demise is one of the most moving events in the film. Kudos to Rihanna to making me care about Bubble.  

Over all, I enjoyed the world brought to lavish and spectacular life by director Luc Beeson. If you enjoyed his work on The 5th Element, you should enjoy Valerian& The City Of a Thousand Planets despite the hole in the middle that is Dane DeHaan. (Sorry, Dane.)   

OK, that's that for today. Until next time, remember to be good to one another.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

ENCORE POST: The Lost DRAGNET Episode

*Graphic courtesy of Bully, the Stuffed Li'l Bull Who Likes Comics)  






Yours truly, Dave-El of a piece I posted back on May 13, 2013 (which was a Monday), a little something I called....



The Lost DRAGNET Episode

And now, a scene from a previously lost episode of Dragnet starring Jack Webb as Joe Friday, Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon and special guest star Francis Bavier. ______________________________________________
DUM D-DUM DUM! 
DUM D-DUM DUM DUM DUM!
The story you're about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed. For example, "Los Angeles police detective Bill Gannon" is really "Las Vegas exotic dancer Barbara L'Enchante".
____________________________________________

Joe Friday (narrating): It was Thursday afternoon at the Los Angeles Police Headquarters. It had been a slow day. I was catching up on some paperwork while my partner, Bill Gannon, was on the phone, something by chiffon with sequins. It was about this time that the call came in. Bill and I were to head to a nearby neighborhood to check into a bizarre case of robbery and vandalism. 

Friday: "C'mon, Bill. We have a case to investigate."
Bill Gannon: "Can it wait just a minute, Joe? I've almost done placing this order for a cocktail dress and fishnet tights."

Friday: "Bill, while we are still on the clock, our only duty is the citizens whose taxes pay our salary."

Gannon: "Well, Joe, when you're right, you're right."

Friday: "It's not about whether I'm right. It's about the right of Los Angeles' hard working citizens to the best police work we can offer."

Gannon: "All right, all right! I'm coming!"

Friday (narrating): "Momentarily, Gannon and I arrived at the house on a tree lined street. There we met a woman who had witnessed the theft and the vandalism."

Gannon: "So you saw the theft of your neighbor's prized pink flamingo collection?"

Witness: "Oh, yes. What a horrible thing to do! Those were very beautiful flamingos."

Friday: "I'm sure they were quite fetching. And this person also defaced your neighbor's tool shed."

Witness: "Yes, I did! And it was a most distressful thing to witness."

Friday: “Ma’am, could you describe the suspect?”

Witness: “He was tall.”

Friday: “Tall?”

Witness: “Yes, tall.”

Friday: “How tall?”

Witness: “Very tall.”

Gannon: “Could you be a little more precise, ma’am?”

Witness: “Oh, I’d say 7 feet.”

Friday: “Seven feet?”

Witness: “Yes, that sounds about right.”

Gannon: “Seven feet tall?”

Witness: “Well, he may be shorter without the horns.”

Friday: “Horns?”

Witness: “Yes, horns. On his head.”

Gannon: “On his head, Joe.”

Friday: “I heard that, Bill. Ma’am?”

Witness: “Yes?”

Friday: “Anything else you can tell us about the suspect?”

Witness: “Other than the horns?”

Friday: “Other than the horns.”

Witness: “Well, not really.”

Gannon: “Uh huh.”

Witness: “Well, now that I think about it..."

Friday: “Yes, ma'am?”

Witness: “Well, he had the red skin.”

Friday: “Red skin.”

Witness: “And...and hooved feet.”

Friday: “Hooved feet.”

Witness: “Oh, yes, and a forked tail.”

Friday: “A tail.”

Gannon: “A forked tail, Joe.”

Friday: “Got that, Bill.”

Witness: “And glowing eyes.”

Friday: “Uh huh.”

Witness: “And he smelled funny, too.”

Gannon: “How did he smell?”

Witness: “Like sulfur? Yes, brimstone.”

Gannon: “Brimstone.”

Witness: “Yes, brimstone.”

Friday: “Ma’am?”

Witness: “Yes?”

Friday: “You just described Satan.”

Witness: “Satan?”

Friday: “Yes, ma’am.”

Witness: “Why, I suppose so. Never thought about it until now.”

Gannon: "Well, that might explain the 'Satan Rules' graffiti on the took shed."

Witness: "Oh dear! I didn't realize..."

Gannon: “Joe?”

Friday: “Yeah, Bill?”

Gannon: “Think we should let the uniforms handle this?”

Friday: “1-Adam-12 patrols this neighborhood.”

Gannon: “Thank you, ma’am.”

Witness: “Anything I can do to help.”

Friday: “Yes, ma’am.”

Witness: “I do hope you catch him. And soon.”

Gannon: “Because he’s Satan?”

Witness: “Well, yes, and one other thing.”

Friday: “One other thing?”

Witness: “Yes, he wasn’t wearing any pants.”
________________________________________________

Later, Satan was arrested and charged with littering, public indecency, theft, vandalism and shoplifting. He was tried in Los Angeles Criminal Court and sentenced to 150 hours community service.

Las Vegas exotic dancer Barbara L'Enchante performs nightly at the Sands with two shows on Saturday.



_________________________________________

Hopefully, with a little bit of energy and a smidgen of time, tomorrow will see an ALL NEW post. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.   

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Doctor Who: Welcomes & Farewells


It's been a week since the BBC announced that actress Jodie Whittaker will play the Thirteenth Doctor on Doctor Who and I'm still giddily excited by the idea of the first woman cast to play the Doctor. My sadness and more than a bit of dread over the departure of Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat has been more than offset by the my anticipation of what Doctor Who will be like with a woman as the Doctor.  

Unfortunately, this excitement is not universally shared. In a way, that's par for the course in casting a new Doctor.  See the Doctor Who Regeneraton Cycle chart below. 



Yes, we've been through this before. 

"Who is this young punk with the Flock of Seagulls haircut? Matt Smith? He's too young and what the hell is going on with that chin? This is going to be a big mistake." 

"OK, Matt Smith seems OK. But he's no David Tennant!" 

"Oh my God! Matt Smith is the best Doctor ever!"  

"Matt Smith is leaving? No! Doctor Who is doomed! He can't be replaced!!" 

"Peter Capaldi? Too old! Never going to work."  

Lather. 

Rinse.

Repeat.   

In this case, too many objections to the casting of Jodie Whittaker hinge less on her ability and more on her gender. 

There are comments out there on social media that certain so called fans will cease watching Doctor Who simply because a woman has been cast as the Doctor.  

Yes, everybody can have different opinions nut to reject this change with such ignorance and hostility simply because the actor is a woman. But I label these people as "so called fans" because such attitudes fly in the face of what Doctor Who is about.  

Doctor Who needs this infusion of energy that will come from this historic direction in casting. when 2018 rolls around, the revived series will have been one for 11 seasons spread over 13 years. Never mind the full history going back 55 years. 13 years is a long time for any TV show and let's be blunt, that kind of duration can spawn a dangerous level of familiarity. "Dangerous" in that familiarity can breed contempt or at least a sense of fatigue. No matter what new producer Chris Chibnall intends to bring to the show, the casting of one more white man from the United Kingdom would've been greeted with "meh". The casting of a woman has removed that element of familiarity and replaced fatigue with renewed interest.  

Whatever unfair backlash the casting of Jodie Whittaker has elicited, there is a least one thing we'll know will be fair.  Jodie will be paid the same as her recent male predecessors. In a world where women frequently earn 31% less than men for comparable work, it's gratifying that Whittaker's pay will be in line with Peter Capaldi's.  

Speaking of Capaldi....

Peter still has one more story as the 12th Doctor coming up this Christmas.  And here's one thing we've  learned about that special:  Mark Gatiss is appearing in the special but his character’s identity is not revealed. 

However, Peter Capaldi observed that Gatiss’ character is “a resonant echo in the whole Doctor Who story.” Since the special also features David Bradley as the First Doctor, I wonder if that might point toward's Mark's involvement as a former Doctor.  Bradley portrayed William Hartnell, the original 1st Doctor, in the Mark Gattis penned An Adventure in Time and Space, the story of the creation of the Doctor Who programme. Near the end of the film, Gattis has a cameo as Jon Pertwee who would go on to play the 3rd Doctor. Is it possible that has David Bradley goes from portraying the actor to the character portrayed by that actor, could we get a visit from the 3rd Doctor via Mark Gattis? 

Something to ponder. 

While we look to the future, we paid a sad farewell to a part of Doctor Who's past.  Deborah Watling, who portrayed “Doctor Who” companion Victoria Waterfield, has died after a brief battle with cancer at age 69. 




Whatling co-starred with 2nd Doctor Patrick Troughton on the BBC series in 40 episodes from 1967 to 1968.  

Here is a clip on You Tube with a tender moment between the 2nd Doctor & Victoria.  And here is a link to a You Tube video with the 4th Doctor and Sarah Jane that name checks Victoria.  

And back to the future...

We may have some Doctor Who news out of Comic-Con later today with some new peeks at the 2017 Christmas special.  

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.   

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dave-El's Autobiography

If I were to write my own story, to put down in words Dave-El's autobiography, what pray tell would the title of the tale be? 

How about this suggestion: 


Yes!  

I Was Too Beautiful!

The True Story of Dave-El, the Greatest Blogger Ever. 

Well, it makes sense to me. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

No Matter the Cost, Win!


In an article from July 18, 2017 and titled "How the GOP Became the Party of Putin", James Kirchick wrote of the email he received from a conservative Republican activist and donor. 



“Would somebody please help me out here: I’m confused. The Russians are alleged to have interfered in the 2016 election by hacking into Dem party servers that were inadequately protected, some being kept in Hillary’s basement and finding emails that were actually written by members of the Clinton campaign and releasing those emails so that they could be read by the American people who what, didn’t have the right to read these emails? And this is bad? Shouldn’t we be thanking the Russians for making the election more transparent?”


There are quite a few error's in this person's assumptions.


It was not Hillary Clinton’s controversial private server the Russians are alleged to have hacked although Donald Trump had urged them to do so, but rather those of the Democratic National Committee and her campaign chairman, John Podesta. 

But here is the crux of the Republican Party's current descent. This reflects unfettered opportunism, moral depravity and near treasonous actions that should leave most people mortified. Instead there are Republicans who think, hey, if it helps us win, why not?   

This is of course putting personal gain above the needs of the country. What matters the cost if something benefits my personal advantage? 


Regarding his son’s encounter with Russian operatives who were advertised as working on behalf of the Kremlin, Li'l Donnie had this to say: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!” 

And from elected Republicans, we get incoherent excuses or outright silence. Meanwhile, Trump and his cronies were saying they never even met with Russians; now Trump is basically saying, so what if we did?



Why are we surprised? Trump Sr., after all, explicitly implored Russia to hack Clinton’s private email server. He praised Vladimir Putin’s manly virtues at every opportunity. And GOP voters are OK with this. After all, this is what they voted for with 48% of Republicans thinking Don Jr. was right to take the meeting.




Republican leaders and conservative pundits not that long ago demanded prison time (or worse) for Julian Assange; now those same people cannot praise Assange highly enough for releasing the info hacked by the Russians. 


The involvement of Russian hackers has either been ignored, or even absurdly looked upon as altruistic Russian efforts tpo  meant to save American democracy from the sinister Clintons. 




Sen. Marco Rubio (R - FL) urged caution against the wholesale embrace of the Russian largesse of hacked emails. What could be done against the Democrats today can be done against the Republicans tomorrow. 

Today, only one-third of Republican voters even believe the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, no doubt influenced by the Trump's own selfishly motivated resistance to this intel.


James Kirchick  notes that he worked at a think tank bankrolled by Republican donors and regularly criticized the Obama administration. So he's not some "bleeding heart liberal" when he voices his disappointment that Republicans would act as willing accomplices of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. 
Mitt Romney, the GOP Presidential nominee in 2012 described Putin's Russia as the United States' #1 geopolitical foe.  Now Putin is our best bud? What gives? 


While America's political right has historically been very wary of Russia, Putin and his cronies have been wooing the American political right for years and it's been working.


In 2013, Putin enacted a law targeting pro-gay rights organizing and delivered a state-of-the-nation address extolling Russia’s “traditional values” and assailing the West’s “genderless and infertile” liberalism.


That same year, a Kremlin-connected think tank released a report entitled, “Putin: World Conservativism’s New Leader.”


In 2015, Russia hosted a delegation from the National Rifle Association, one of America’s most influential conservative lobby groups, which included David Keene, then-president of the NRA and now editor of the Washington Times editorial page, which regularly calls for a friendlier relationship with Moscow. (Ironic since Russia is not big on the individual right to bear arms.)


Russian intelligence services have been using the internet and social networks to target  the American military community. Conservatives love to talk up their support of the U.S. military. Yet those same conservatives are perfectly willing to cozy up to the Russians. 


Growing sympathy for Russia among some American conservatives is a very real thing. Pat Buchanan glowingly described Vladimir Putin as "a paleoconservative". Putin's anti-gay rhetoric and agenda resonated with the American right.  Once, Putin's authoritarian regime would have been condemned for exporting “godless communism.”


A poll in May showed 49% of Republicans consider Russia an ally. 32% have a favorable view of Putin. It should be noted that Putin is a long time KGB officer with a clearly expressed negative view of America. Yes, 32% of Republicans think this guy is A-OK.




Over on Fox News, Sean Hannity cites WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a reliable source of information or retailing Russian disinformation. Fox’s rising star Tucker Carlson regularly uses his time slot to ridicule the entire Russian meddling scandal and portray Putin critics as bloodthirsty warmongers.




Putin has been described as “the pre-eminent statesman of our time" by Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell.


Conservative Republicans once regarded Russia with suspicion and distrust. So how did they wind up bending over to let Putin routinely fuck them up the ass? 



Because Putin and Russia’s intelligence operatives have manipulated them into bending over. Rememeber that James Kirchick is a conservative Republican.  And this is his assessment of what state the Republican Party was in when the Russians began poking around.   


An intellectually and morally desiccated carcass populated by con artists, opportunists, entertainers and grifters operating massively profitable book publishers, radio empires, websites, and a TV network whose stock-in-trade are not ideas but resentments.


When conservative bloggers are willing to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from Malaysia’s authoritarian government to launch a smear campaign against a democratic opposition leader they know nothing about, how much of a jump is it to line up and defend what at the very least was attempted collusion on the part of a brain-dead dauphin like Donald Trump Jr.?


Surveying this lamentable scene, why wouldn't Russia try to “turn” the American right, whose ethical rot necessarily precedes its rank unscrupulousness? It is this ethical rot that allows Dennis Prager, one of the right’s more unctuous professional moralists, to opine with a straight face that “The news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does.”


Why wouldn’t a “religious right” that embraced a boastfully immoral charlatan like Donald Trump not turn a blind eye toward—or, in the case of Franklin Graham, embrace—an oppressive regime like that ruling Russia?


Whoa.


Then James Kirchick observes that if Republicans put country before party, they would want to know what the Russians did, why they did it and how to prevent it from happening again. But that, of course, would raise questions implicating Donald Trump and all those who have enabled him, questions that most Republicans prefer to remain unanswered.


Because, ultimately, who cares? Republicans won. Even if in the long haul America loses, Republicans won. and that seems to be all that matters. No matter the cost, win!  


And that's all that matters: winning. Defeating the enemy. The problem is that for Trump, the foreign power that elected to interfere in our election is not the enemy. No, for Trump, the enemy is anyone that would dare undermine his self view, his fragile ego's hold on power.  For Trump, the enemy is over half of the country he's supposed to lead. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quick Decision: Dance Or Cake

Sometimes when you have to choose between dancing and cake....


...fuck it, you gotta go with cake.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming



Hi there! Welcome to I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with the proportional strength of a spider. I’m Dave-El, your friendly neighborhood Blogger-Man.

So the El family went forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to see Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first Spider-Man movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There’s a lot that’s good about this iteration of Spider-Man on film. And let’s start with the guy in the center of the web Tom Holland. 

Holland imbues Peter Parker and his web slinging alter ego with a youthful energy, the awkward tension of being a social outcast and the exuberance of being a teenage with super powers. Holland’s Peter Parker is believable, trapped in that infuriating grey area of adolescence, between the innocence of childhood and the enticing promises of adulthood. Peter is under pressure; he can’t wait to show what he can do but not being quite he’s ready to do that.

There's a free wheeling energy that was missing from the too intense for it's own good Amazing Spider-Man reboot. Peter benefits from having a best bud named Ned who provides an effective sounding board and counter point to Peter's worst impulses. This friendship helps ground Holland's Peter Parker and makes his outcast high school nerd life more relatable.  

On the super hero side of things, Spider-Man is dealing with a mechanized Vulture guy who's stealing cast off tech and reselling it as super advanced weaponry. Michael Keaton brings both intensity and humanity to this long time Spidey foe from the comics. Events pick up after the alien invasion of Newe York City from the first Avengers movie. Adrian Toomes is the owner of a recovery company that gets chased off their gig cleaning up the city from the alien attack. Toomes decides to hold on to some of the alien tech he's recovered so far and start a new business.  

Business is good for the Vulture and his crew but they're tipping their hand. Spider-Man encounters a gang of bank robbers who are equipped way above their criminal class with some decidedly sci-fi weapons.  Peter thinks he's found his next big mission. 

Peter's still hyped up from his participation in the battle against Capt. America that Tony Stark recruited him for in last year's Captain America: Civil War. But Peter is frustrated by a lack of action or support from either Tony Stark or Tony's right hand guy, Happy Hogan.  So Peter is determined to get to the bottom of this high tech arms ring, to make his mark and prove himself to Tony Stark.   

Despite employing a high tech Spidey suit created by Stark with an A.I. Peter names Karen, Spider-Man finds himself on the losing end of his efforts to stop the Vulture's operation.  Iron Man intervenes as Tony tells Peter to give up the Spidey suit.  

Going on a date to his school's homecoming dance, Peter goes to pick up Liz and holy crap! Liz's dad is Adrian Toomes, the Vulture! Toomes is no dummy and pieces together that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Away from Liz, Toomes gives Peter some advice: back off or Toomes will kill Peter and anyone he cares about. He's cutting him some slack because spider-Man once saved his daughter's life. Otherwise, all bets are off. 

Peter is stunned as he enters the school but he can't stay. He knows he has to stop the Vulture. And he knows where the Vulture is going to strike next. 

Happy Hogan's been overseeing the shut down of the Avengers base in the New York City Stark Tower and is about to send a plane load of stuff to the Avengers upstate compound. Stuff the Vulture intends to steal.  

In a ill fitting Spidey costume, Peter races into action, engaging the Vulture in an aerial battle that results in the plane crashing. Despite Toomes' knowledge of Peter's secret and his threats, Peter saves the Vulture's life.  

And so... how was Spider-Man: Homecoming?

There's a lot of humor and heart. It's a teen high school movie right out of the John Hughes playbook except there's a guy with spider based super powers. It's enjoyable with an extremely likeable version of Peter parker at it's core. 

But...

A lot of this movie hinges on Tony Stark and also happy Hogan being total dicks to Peter Parker. None of the bad stuff that goes down in Spidey's efforts to take out the Vulture would've been a thing if Tony or Happy had just taken a damn minute to actually talk with our young Mr. Parker. Yes, Tony has a point; he put the FBI on the Vulture's trail but did he bother to share that plan with Peter? All Peter knew was that Stark was shutting him down and keeping him out of the action. And I know happy was annoyed that Tony lefty him to babysit Peter but still, the complete outright disdain that Happy shows Peter is nothing less than troubling. He even hangs up on Ned when he tries to call Happy and tell him about the Vulture's plan and that Peter is in trouble. There are any number of ways for Peter to get in trouble without Tony & Happy helping Peter along by being total dicks towards him.

In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch that the real villain in this film wasn't the Vulture but Iron Man. Toomes was just a schmuck trying to make a living but only to get shut down by the very people who created the damage Toomes is there to clean up. So the Vulture comes about because Stark is being a dick about who's going to handle the post Avengers battle clean up. 

Then Peter winds up in serious trouble because Tony was a dick, took away his high tech uniform and left him alone to sort out the Vulture once and for all. 

And then there is something that I didn't think I would miss: seeing Peter getting bit by that damn spider and the death of his Uncle Ben. No, we did not need to see that again. But the absence of these events takes away a key motivation for Peter. Using his powers for personal gain, a selfish course that leads to the death of his uncle and the lesson that tragedy burns upon his heart. No, we may not have needed to see all that again but it's a character development that is missing from Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Peter may have learned these lessons while we weren't looking but there is little sign that these lessons still resonate with him. His motivation is to impress Tony Stark, not to make amends for his failure.

And I like that we have a "hot" Aunt May in the form of Marisa Tomei but it seems she's there for Tony and the local bodega owner to make inappropriate comments regarding her hotness. It seems a big wrong to speak like this of someone who has recently lost her husband to murder. 

Speaking of Aunt May's relative youth, this does remove the whole "Aunt May is so old and frail, she would just up and die if she knew Peter was Spider-Man". So I'm hoping the last scene of the movie with May's started "Peter! What the fu-?" when she finds Peter in his Spider-Man suit holds up for the sequel. I would like to see a different dynamic where May is a partner to Peter, not a burden. 

Another facet of Peter's character is his intelligence, the same intellect that leads him to invent web-shooters. But that mind seems to take a back seat as Peter spends a good chunk of the movie as a passenger in the Tony Stark constructed Spidey suit.

That being said, I did enjoy Peter's relationship with the suit's AI that he names Karen. I wonder if that was for Karen, Plankton's computer wife in SpongeBob Squarepants. Peter's the right age to have watched Spongebob as a child. Really, I think that would be so cool if that's what Peter had in mind when he named the A.I.

And I do need to give a shout out to a classic Spider-Man comics scene brought to life. The Vulture drops a building on Peter, big honking pile of rubble that seems even beyond his powers to lift. But he forces himself to push himself past his limits to extricate himself. It's a scene lifted right from this classic Steve Ditko illustrated sequence. 

Image result for Spider man by steve dikto


And I should also mention that Spider-Man: Homecoming also features....



Zendaya.

No, she's not Mary Jane Watson so all the racists out there can settle down. She's an ascerbic observer of human nature who pops up at odd moments and her name is Michelle.

But she prefers to be called "MJ".

MJ? 

What?

And that is the role in Spider-Man: Homecoming played by....



Zendaya! 

All told, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an enjoyable film that does right by Peter Parker in a way that the previous two Amazing Spider-Man films did not. I just wish the story had not relied so much on boorish idiot ball hugging. But Tom Holland is a Spider-Man I'm looking forward to seeing more of.

So Mr. Parker, welcome to the MCU!

(Now if Marvel could wrest the Fantastic Four out of Fox's inept fingers.) 

Thanks for dropping by. until next time, remember to be good to one another. 

And remember to also be good to...




Zendaya!





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