Saturday, 18 April 2015


"I don't think this stuff happens in a Mylar-snug vacuum. I think that it's when this kind of material works, it's drawn from the sources around you but it's turned into metaphor. 
I'm waiting for the pop-cultural metaphor for 9/11. I haven't seen a sign of it yet. But just like Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a response to Communism, and film noir itself was a response, essentially, to Pearl Harbor and the Second World War, there will be something that surfaces. It might be a Western. It won't, specifically, resemble what happened."
-- Frank Miller speaking to Gary Groth of The Comics Journal in January 2003.

There's a case to be made that the Marvel cycle currently tearing down the box-office is exactly what Miller is describing - a pop-culture reflex that clearly delineates good and evil. The Avengers, made up of an ex-GI, an arms dealer, and a couple of rehabilitated assassins on super-secret service retainer, are the good guys. Thanos and the army of vaguely Egyptian jackal-men he gifts Loki are the bad guys. As with Star Wars and Vietnam, the culture heals itself by dreaming up realms untainted by implication.

That's not to say the Marvel material isn't evolving. Captain America: The Winter Soldier talked about the potential for duplicity when you have an organisation that puts itself above the governments of Earth. Avengers: Age of Ultron might even demonise Tony Stark's relentless push towards total automation. Those ideas are trace elements though. In comparison, this trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reads like vandalism.

Although casting rumours point towards an overstuffed mess, this trailer is refreshingly simple. A mechanised Batman has made it his business to tear Superman out of the sky. Colour provided by talking heads that reference The Church of Superman that rose out of Metropolis' ashes in The Dark Knight Strikes Again. This underwhelming, underperforming Man of Steel is explicitly framed as a God. Ben Affleck's Bootstraps Batman means to teach him some humility. A different kind of simplicity, aggressive and nihilistic, but at least it's cinematic. Warner Bros and DC are blowing their wad, racing through Frank Miller's deathlessly antagonistic work to firmly establish an alternative to Marvel's conveyor belt of three-star entertainment.

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