I am not a big Star Wars fan. I enjoyed the original trilogy, think they’re fine, fun films. Not a fan in any sense of the new films. Never read a Star Wars novel. Don’t know one damn thing about the expanded universe. If everything Star Wars vanished tomorrow, my life would be fine aside from an Admiral Ackbar-shaped hole in my heart. This doesn’t prevent me from empathizing with the fans who get annoyed by George Lucas’s constant monkeying with the films. Just because something doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
Star Wars matters to an awful lot of people, and it is an undeniable part of our culture. Maybe you’re one of those people who don’t “get” it. And that’s fine. But it’s also important to realize just how much it means to so many people. It’s always struck me as obnoxious to blow off these concerns. At the very worst, it’s condescending, a suggestion that the emotional investment of millions is somehow meaningless. At the very least, it’s merely dismissive.
Maybe I’m annoyed by it because so many things I love are so often dismissed…
I love silly superheroes. The weird ones. The oddities. The stretchier, the shrinkier, the more absurd their special abilities, the more I love them.
Pragmatically, all superheroes are silly. A disdain for the bounds of reality is what being a superhero is all about. We’re talking about characters that can stick to walls, fly, teleport, and routinely violate the laws of physics. Even so called “normal” superheroes like Batman are always ignoring reality when it’s convenient. Unless you are foolish enough to believe all it takes is a few million dollars to become a master ninja / escape artist / detective / mechanic / jet fighter pilot / scientist / origami master / carpenter / master of disguise / etc. / etc. / etc.
For some reason though, some supers are considered sillier than others. Nobody suffers more from this than poor old Aquaman. We all know the jokes. Guy lives underwater and talks to fish. Why should any evil doer with his feet on dry land fear the King of Atlantis? Aquaman wasn’t always considered silly. His fall to one joke wonder came with that animated relic, The Superfriends. Yep, Aquaman was indeed lame on The Superfriends, but then again, so was everybody else. This was back when Green Lantern, space cop, could be flummoxed by a swarm of bees, and all you had to do to stop Batman and Robin was take away their utility belts. Then they’d just stare at you, holding up their pants. But while all the other characters were able to recover their heroic credibility, Aquaman has been trapped in that cultural quagmire ever since.
It’s been eleven years since the first X-Men film came out. In that time, we’ve had Iron Man, Hellboy, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, two Hulk movies, a re-launch of Batman, an attempted re-launch of Superman, Thor, Captain America, and (if I get my way) Squirrel Girl will probably get her own movie some day. Superhero movies are not a fad. They’re here to stay.
But I’m not here to write about the continuing trend of superhero flicks. Rather, I’m here to compare and contrast the modern day superhero comic to the modern day superhero film. Despite starting with the same basic premise, they are in entirely different places culturally. And I think it’s time to admit that superhero comics could learn a thing or two from superhero films. Superhero films are written with a wide-ranging audience in mind while superhero comics are so narrowly aimed, such a niche market, that they can only continue to become less relevant as time goes by.
What if Zeus was real?
Not in some abstract, incomprehensible way we tend to think of the divine, but in some genuine physical form. Not just a vague presence or an omnipotent watchmaker or even a warm, fuzzy feeling in your soul. No, I’m talking about a real guy who you might see walking down the street. For thousands of years, this was the conception of divine forces. Not as abstract ideas, but as people you could meet. They didn’t give two damns about faith because they didn’t need it. They were jealous, petty, cruel, and often clueless. In short, they were a lot like us.
This is where my novel, Divine Misfortune, sprang from. What if this ancient concept of gods was the world we still lived in today, and the gods of old were still part of our world? I’ve often heard people say they have a “personal relationship with God” (however they want to classify that), and it always brings two thoughts to my mind.