Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is sex appeal a requirement?

I have been trying to wrap my head around the subject of the provocativeness of female comic book characters. It’s a tricky subject. A lot of times it seems artists go out of their way to remind us that these super women are women. Their poses, their costumes, etc. seem like an attempt to keep the attention of teen boys and male fans in general. But as we know, the ranks the female nerds and geeks are becoming more prominent. It’s not like they were never there. I think the world is just becoming more aware that women and girls can be nerds too. But there is still a disconnect in what the comic publishers (and mass media in general) give us, and what the reality of readers are. Or maybe it’s just me.

In what I think is an example of what mass media deems as good business, and in a sense it was, sexuality again triumphs over good content. I’m not going to address exactly what happened at the VMAs. You should know by now even if you didn’t watch them. I didn’t. But let’s look at Miley Cyrus as a real world example of what I see in comics sometimes. When she grows up, somehow that means she has to flaunt her sexuality in what I can only assume is an attempt to look grown up. I know she is trying to shed the Hanna Montana image. She doesn't want to be typecast. I get it. But does she really have to take her cloths off (I know, she wasn't naked on stage) and be overtly sexual in her routine to prove that she is now an adult? Similarly, when a female character in comic books grows up, does she have to wear increasingly less cloths to be identified as a grown up character? Male characters go through redesigns too, but not in terms of their sex appeal. At least not that I have noticed. The problem is that weather it’s comics or it’s television, movies, internet, or whatever, we consumers still eat it up in mass quantities. It sells. So while media companies are responsible for their content, or lack there of, we are also responsible for giving them the impression that this is what we want.

Two years ago, during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, a teen girl brought up the fact that she had trouble finding female cosplay ideas that were age appropriate. Maybe people out there don’t think this is that huge of a problem, but boys in their teens and not yet in their teens have a lot to work with when choosing a character to dress like. Try to argue that girls have a similar wide selection. If I had a daughter, I’d be disappointed in the choices she had. Even if I were a woman I’d be disappointed in the selection of female characters whose costumes don’t take their sex appeal into consideration.

Lets take another example. The former X-Men character Marrow is a brilliant creation. Or at least she was. Her extreme bone growing mutation was painful to her, graphic to see, and it added layers to a character who was a tortured and very skilled fighter. She was very much like a younger Wolverine in a sense. Then she got streamlined. She became "prettier" but no less ferocious and her mutation was still pretty obvious. Then she lost her powers and it seems got lost in the shuffle of characters in the X-Men universe. So why not bring her back? Well, even better, instead of a girl with bones growing out of her body, lets just make a younger, hotter, girl Wolverine? Okay, I don't know if this was the genesis of X-23. But it kinda seems like it. I haven't read all that much involving her character so I can't really judge, but I'd rather have Marrow back at full power.

Okay, so to bring my rambling argument to some form of point, I don’t think a woman, fictional or real, should have to use any kind of sex appeal as validation for how good or talented she is. I know, I know, in terms of our superheroes, we like them to look good. But a little logic in what they look like would be nice. I mean, if a male character is going into battle in full armor, his female teammate looks pretty ridiculous if her body has less coverage because she looks better that way.

I'd love to hear any feedback and opinions. But if you bother to comment, let's keep it civil.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The X-Men You Haven’t Seen

As enjoyable as the Avengers was, that franchise needed a few stand alone films to put the team together. All the pieces of the Avengers are great films. But with the X-Men, we get the team from the start. It is a completely different dynamic. And it offers more opportunity for roster changes and tweaks on a more frequent basis. X-Men: Days of Future Past will bring Blink, Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot, and Quicksilver to the X-film universe. And there is still an entire world of mutants and other characters from the pages of the X-Men books that can potentially show up. Some may obviously require more CGI to pull off, but the results could be amazing. Here are my thoughts on which characters should be next on screen.

Sam Guthrie can create a blasting energy turning him into a human rocket. He is a founding member of The New Mutants and later, X-Force.  Sam has a habit of questioning his abilities but has proven to be powerful and effective as a member and leader of a few teams. He may also be an External, a mutant who is immortal.

Once a villain and thought to have been killed by Storm, Marrow became a member of the X-Men and even a love interest of Cannonball. She can grow and extract extra bones from her body in forms that suit her needs. Typically she makes blades. Being healed from an injury in a Skrull medical pod streamlined her mutation, making her “prettier.” But she is known as an animalistic fighter, much like wolverine.

Shiro Yoshida can generate superheated plasma and create enough thrust to fly. His character is known to be temperamental, arrogant, and not much of a team player. I like him mainly because of the redesigned look he received during the Age of Apocalypse storyline and as one of Apocalypse’s horsemen.

Illyana Rasputin is the younger sister of Piotr “Peter” Raspuitin aka Colossus of the X-Men. There is a lot of complexity in her story involving alternate dimensions and time travel.  Her powers have not been defined as genetic mutant abilities or as a result of being kidnapped and raised in the demonic dimension, Limbo. In Limbo she is a powerful sorceress trained by a Storm from another dimension. While not in Limbo, she has limited control over magic and the ability to teleport through “stepping disks.” She can teleport in space and time using Limbo as a midway point. She wields the Soulsword, which she made with a piece of her own soul, which can disrupt magic and kill magical creatures. This is the simple version of her powers.

Some of these characters are more likely than others to appear. I’m betting that Magik and Cannonball have a decent chance of appearing on film due to an X-Force film possibly being in the works. And ans some may know, X-Force started out as The New Mutants which had Illyana and Sam as members as well as Sunspot who will soon make his debut.s

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Will we see the Midnight Sons rise?

Marvel has the rights to a lot of characters. Fortunately it has enough film rights to make Avengers films. With the Guardians Of The Galaxy, the brief Thanos cameo, and of course Thor, there is a huge cosmic element in the Marvel film universe. But there is also a Doctor Strange film in the works, which in a literal sense opens up a new dimension to this film universe. But how will Marvel exploit this supernatural opportunity?

Hopefully, the magic of Steven Strange will not be rewritten to be of only cosmic origin. There is a whole world of supernatural stories that Marvel could tell that would not have to involve the Avengers. Especially when they now have the rights to Blade, Ghost Rider, and their associated characters. Honestly, my first thought when Blade and the Rider were acquired by a company that already owns Doctor Strange was, “When do we get a Midnight sons film?”

Franchises such as Underworld and Resident Evil prove that there is a market for action/horror films. And ghost stories seem popular movie fodder as well. Now imagine what a supernatural/horror action thriller would be like with the kind of backing that the other Marvel films have received. The Blade franchise will no doubt be resurrected at some point and it is doubtful Ghost Rider will escape a reboot. These could do well on their own. But there is so much potential for a dark, magic, and monster oriented Avengers level film, could any studio resist? It would appeal to fans of different genres since it’s a blend of superhero and horror. Or it could be, anyway.

In all likeliness, if such a thing happens we won’t hear or see anything of it until Phase 3 of the Marvel movies. But if Phase 2, which stated with Iron Man 3, continues to be a success, especially into Avengers 2, expect the film universe to expand even more. And we'll hopefully see sooner rather then later if that expansion includes the darker corners of the Marvel universe.