Tag Archives: Superman

Hollywood and Space

Some interesting comments by Warren Ellis in today’s Bad Signal on film budgets, and Superman Returns in particular.

$250 million puts you in spacelaunch-budget territory. For $250 million WB could’ve given Bryan Singer his own communications satellite and spent the change on a George Clooney movie.

This is the absurdity of modern Hollywood; that taking more than the GNP of Luxembourg in a single weekend is not actually enough to put a movie in the black.

It’s the “spacelaunch” comment that I find most interesting, as I made the same comparison a few years ago, from the other side of the fence: Assuming that the Spirit and Opportunity missions to Mars are typical, price-wise, it doesn’t make sense to complain that we’re “wasting” money on space exploration when a mission costs as much as two summer blockbusters. Manned missions are, of course, more expensive, but robotic missions? If we, as a society, toss away $250 million several times a year on mindless action flicks, what’s so terrible about spending a similar amount to learn something about our universe?

Yes, I know the difference is public vs. private funding. Movies are financed by studios and private investors, and space exploration is usually financed by governments, and therefore by taxes. But comparing the dollar amounts puts things in a different perspective—whether you’re astonished by the literally astronomical movie budgets, or realizing that exploring outer space is more down to Earth than it seems at first glance.

Smallville Cyborg

I’ve seen a grand total of one episode of Smallville. It just never interested me. The one I watched was last season’s “Run,” which featured the Flash as a guest star.

Apparently Aquaman showed up earlier this year, and there’ve been rumors about the Teen Titans’ Cyborg. The Pulse reports that Lee Thompson Young will play Vic Stone in the February 19th episode.

Looks like I’m gonna be watching another episode of Smallville.

Ta’veren of the DCU

I was idly wondering about the way super-heroes and villains are named—not the code names, but the actual names like Clark Kent, Matt Murdock, etc. Was Hunter Zolomon destined to become Zoom? Was Roy G. Bivolo doomed to become the Rainbow Raider the moment his parents named him? And why do so many people with the initials L.L. gravitate toward Superman?

Infinite Crisis Taveren“Obviously, he’s a ta’veren!” Katie said. I laughed for a second, but then remembered an interview I’d read about Infinite Crisis. It actually fits.

Ta’veren is a term from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time that refers to a person who forms a focal point for history (or, from another perspective, destiny). Threads of probability bend around them, and the unlikely becomes likely. Babylon 5 referred to the concept as a nexus. “You turn one way, and the whole world has a tendency to go the same way.” Continue reading

Comical Third Parties

Wow… a new issue of Rising Stars! To be honest, it was a bit of a let-down. Usually JMS is better at showing, rather than telling. He’s infamous for laboriously laying groundwork in the B-plots and character moments of what seem like “ordinary” stand-alone stories, then kicking the arc into high gear and making use of it all. He did it with Babylon 5 and Crusade, with the first arc of Rising Stars, seems to be taking the same approach in Supreme Power, and from what I’ve heard (though I’ve seen very little of it) he did the same with Jeremiah as well. If you’ve seen B5 once the story got going, go back and look at some of the first season episodes, and you’ll be surprised how early some elements are established.

This issue, however, though it had some nice moments, was basically a plot summary. “Poet tells the story of…” It seemed an odd narrative choice, particularly for an issue so near the end of the story (#22 of 24) and for the first issue to hit the shelves in nearly two years. Maybe it’ll read better in context.

Anyway, that’s not what I really wanted to talk about. What’s interesting is that in this issue, one of the Specials runs for President. It reminded me of something about the way comic books tell campaign stories. When a fictional character is in the race (or the office), he (it usually is a he) is almost always running under one of three circumstances:

  • As an independent.
  • On a fictional third-party ticket.
  • On an unidentified party’s ticket.

As we all know, third party candidates are rarely high-profile, and they rarely get significant numbers of votes, and I don’t think one has ever won the office*. Yet in comics, it happens all the time. Of course, heat vision, teleporters, and people who wear purple tights to fight crime are also commonplace. Continue reading