Posts Tagged ‘comic book movie’

Sadly I applied to Marvel Comics for an internship multiple times, and I never was quite let in.  I constantly debated including my Psychology degree on my resume.  Little did I know the person who created Wonder Woman, was, in fact, a psychologist, and psychology plays a huge role in comic books and how we relate to them.  I was never quite let in to Marvel’s writing areas of the internship (or like, five other areas)… which sucked greatly, since I live in New York City and busted my fucking bum to get it in early.  But, now I can safely say I will include it if I ever apply again (sidenote: I don’t know.)

Holy Sigmund Freud, Batman.

A little story for you first, as I always did:  Psychologically analyzing people is fun.  It’s slightly addictive for the psychology nerds of the world, in my humble opinion.  Psychologically analyzing fictional people is probably even more fun. 

But in all seriousness, there is now a legitimate psychologically therapy called comic book therapy.  I am not lying.  Go to Wikipedia, type it in, and read it.  There are mounds of books published on this.  Literally everyone takes these things seriously.

Now, I’m sorry, S type fans (Superman type), I’m focusing on B-type heroes (which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s heroes without a super-power).  S-types are very much defined by their ability, not what they’ve been through.  Yes, what they’ve been through can be shaped by their circumstances, but I mean purely being affected by something that might have happened to them without a power inducing that situation.

Firstly, and this is pretty cool: They make us comfortable with uncomfortable topics.  They talk about all the taboo shit society avoids.  Death, mass killings, murders, sexual assault, disability (as a technically disabled person I can say society hates talking about it).  And it’s cool, because comic books/comic movies shove it in your face and you’re cool with it.  They shove so much uncomfortable shit at you.  Everything from discrimination to death to disability is in a comic book.  But it makes you wonder why we’re cool with, like, seeing Barbara Gordon be disabled by the Joker and not an actual physically disabled person.  I wouldn’t call it empowering, but I’d say once it seeps into a comic book it’s a step in the right direction.  It’s a way of talking about things we don’t want to talk about, and it’s a way of simply opening up dialogue about things we don’t want to talk about.  Hell, this is so true, that it can be used in therapy sessions to portray something that happened to someone.  If someone doesn’t want to talk about a particular traumatic event, according to Wikipedia, “Comic book therapy is a form of art therapy in which those undergoing rehabilitation express their experiences through personal narratives in a graphic novel/sequential art format that enables them to process their memories and emotions.”  It’s still a form of communication, and it’s still a form of talking about things.  According to another article (cited below), a psychologist used superheroes as a means of therapy for kids who had gone through traumatic events.  It got them to talk about things they didn’t want to talk about.  They are literally used to analyze their deepest fears and traumas – and I can’t help but get the feeling every time you watch a movie or pick up a book you are doing the same to yourself for free because that is what these things feature.  We face fears without talking about it.

Only furthering this, I see a lot of people who were relentlessly bullied who take to the haven of comic books. They usually feature a classic underdog story.  It’s like everyone and their mother has been in some situation that they can relate to because of these things.  Like, some guy’s parents did actually die and that’s why Batman is their go-to.  I always find people explaining why a superhero is their favorite is a major league, deeply personal question.  I’m not asking for your social security number, I’m asking why Superman is your man.  It’s almost as if they become woven into the cores of us much like they become woven into the core of pop culture (and as such, that’s why comic con is so fucking crowded).  And maybe our parents didn’t die in an alley because of a guy named Joe Chill, but, maybe they were absent for things.  Maybe they missed your graduation, shit, I don’t know.  We can relate to the psychology of superheroes.  We can relate to their psyche… and maybe that’s why we all have our personal favorites.  We’re emotionally similar to them.  I find The Flash annoying because he’s hyperactive – which I am not.

Now the really morbid part comes.

You know, almost all of them have some kind of thing they want to fix or escape.  And if you tell me you have no regrets in your life, tell me your secrets.

Oh, please.

We all regret something.  And most of the time, a superhero is working off of a regret, an event, or something they wish they could’ve changed.  Isn’t that like, half of the population’s motivation?  Make something better?  Improve something?  Like, people pick certain careers because they want to be better than their experience sometimes.  Sometimes they like what they see and want to make it better.  And we can feel an undying pain of guilt for things we might regret.  They’re super, sure, but they have regrets just like the rest of us.  And we want to run from them, but we’re not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.  Maybe we want to fix something that happened to us.  And you know what?  You’re completely fucking powerless to fix it most the time.  The guy who sexually harassed you is somewhere in the world, the dying 6 year old is still dying, you still suck at math (I needed to lighten this mood).  Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes you can’t.  Things stay with us – and things stay with them.  It’s okay to be a little fucked up (coming from someone who is, decidedly, fucked up a little bit).  It’s taboo to admit these things, but in this world?  It’s all good.

And wouldn’t we all like to live in a world where fixing the wrongs of the world was as simple as putting on a suit and knocking out a few teeth.

Citation:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/17/the-rise-of-superhero-therapy-comic-books-as-psychological-treatment.html

So, Cap: TFA.   I did a story in the earlier Captain America: The Winter Soldier review, so no story this time.

So basically the premise is – this is Captain America’s origin story.  The Captain introduces us to himself, and he does become the Captain.

Don’t doubt this guy.

We see Cap kick ass.  We see Cap rescue the people nobody wants to.  We see Cap decide he’s not some guy in a Star-Spangled-Spandex-Suit.  We see Cap decide it’s up to him to do his own mission – nobody will help him and people will only stand in his way.  We see him still help the people who stand in his way.  We see him do amazing things – and happily so.  This movie really does Cap’s good nature and past justice.

But really, the entire movie has a very upbeat tone.  Once again, Marvel dazzles us with their usual superhero formula. Marvel pretty much makes everything be sort of the same while being different with their superhero origin stories.  Everyone sort of overcomes some kind of personal challenge.  It was a good way to introduce us to Captain America.  As a once member of the general audience, especially when I first saw this movie, it was a good way to set the stage for The Winter Soldier and also introduce us to Captain America.  Overall, it felt like it was about time we got a serious film about a character that is basically known because he exists.  I mean, it was only fair to assume America would enjoy a movie about a guy named, I don’t know, Captain America.

The movie, unlike a lot of superhero movies, had a very light tone to it.  I mean, we see this scrawny sickly kid trying to get into the army with his best friend urging him to forget it.  I mean, obviously, we know he’s going to get in even if you’re unaware of him being a living science project.  We all know he was in the military even before it needs to be said.  I guess I liked that about it – that it was lighthearted.  Nothing was imminent to blow up, nothing was like really crazy tense and dark.  I guess it was a step back from what we usually see – The Dark Knight was dark, The Winter Soldier was dark, the entire Batman trilogy was dark, and Superman even was dark.  Captain America gave us a break.  If everything is dark, it just eventually get’s old.  It feels like everything is always going to be in ruins.  And I like Captain America for giving us a break.

But sometimes, we get too much of a break.  The plot was decent, especially the juggle between origins and plot.  However, it really felt like it dragged.  I mean, I watched this movie with non-comic book people, and toward the end they just were pleading with me for the movie to end.  While I don’t consider it quite that bad, I think for the time it spent on the screen we could’ve gotten a bigger bang for what we sat through.  It did feel long.  The acting was great, especially Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, and Evans himself – but there were just some parts of it that felt like you were doing the army exercises yourself.  Loooooong.  The movie as a whole could’ve been paced better and I think part of that problem was trying to weave in all the information they were.  They were weaving in a plot, weaving in HYDRA information, weaving in Captain’s origins, weaving in Bucky, weaving in the future of Cap, weaving in Peggy, and so on and so on.  It was a lot to take on.  It felt a little bit jumbled to see all that stuff thrown in, and I think as a result, some things were lacking.

HYDRA.

HYDRA definitely came off more as a threat in The Winter Soldier.  It felt underdeveloped.  Red Skull was semi assumed to just know who he was, same with various other HYDRA officials.  It was just somewhat assumed that we know who they are.  Aside from that, they just didn’t get developed enough as a villain or villains.  A lot of it was Cap’s origin story, and Cap and Peggy.  At least, though, we learn something about them for their big debut in The Winter Soldier.  At least we get a taste of Bucky.  It’s hard to not view this film, solely, as the predecessor to The Winter Soldier.  As a standalone, it’s a little harder to appreciate this film for what it is.  I mean, yes, it’s still a fantastic film, infinitely better than The Amazing Spider-Man ever could have been, but when you do put it in perspective that this was truly the first of the trilogy, you sort of realize why HYDRA itself can’t be terribly developed.  Maybe Red Skull still could have used it, especially since he is such a harsh enemy toward Captain America, but not HYDRA, otherwise thunder would’ve been stolen from the sequel.  I generally like the plot, and the acting.  Out of all the films I’ve seen, I probably love the underdog tone the most in this movie.  It’s not hard to relate to a scrawny kid who can’t live his life’s dream.  I mean, maybe none of us are entering an Insta-Buff (TM) machine, but even so.  How many people do you know can’t do their dream job?  Whether it be illness, location, or just rejection, it’s an easy thing to relate to.

Especially if you happen to be a dermatologist.  You are screwed.

But, perhaps that’s what I love about this movie.

Even after Captain America get’s the Instant Buff treatment, he still is true to the character he was before.  Like, for example, being awkward around women.  He just doesn’t get it, despite the fact in the movie women are throwing themselves at him (the cheating scene).  I’m going to be honest.  I didn’t consider a lot of things memorable about this movie.  I mean in the sense of one liners or particularly really strong scenes.  But the part I will not forget about this movie – ever – is the tension and affection between Steve and Peggy.

I just loved it.

I wish I could explain why, but probably because in movies like The Dark Knight we see a slightly feeble Rachel be taken.  We see a Rachel split between Dent and Batman who obviously hides his identity. Gwen Stacy proves to be just as passive. I just loved seeing how strong of a character Peggy was.  Peggy shot at a super soldier.  And made him cower.

She’s a badass.

She’s the badass I needed in a movie.

And she’s not even a superhero.  She’s a love interest.

I needed that.

I don’t think we need absolute bombardment of women in media to get equality.  And I am a woman.  I don’t think we should make an All-Female version of Avengers (I don’t mean different female Avengers.  I mean a female Iron Man).  We need more like Peggy.  We need more like Black Widow.  We need more like Wonder Woman and Batgirl.  Peggy is totally aware of this whole spandex thing.  She doesn’t hide from it.  She’s so snarky even just when we first meet her.

The dynamics between them, for me, literally made the movie.  And it also made Captain America.  Captain America still managed to seem human despite being a technical superhuman.  Seriously, no other superhero than Captain America is so human.  Everything about him is so down to earth, like his “kid from Brooklyn” line.  Like rescuing the men they wanted to give up on.  I will say it again – Captain America is The Man (TM).

Overall, the music was good, the plot was good, the effects were great, but things needed improvement, especially Red Skull and his development.  Red Skull felt almost childish at some points.  Captain America, though, not only saves the day, but his movie from his villain.  And his relationship saves it too because it’s adorable.

Overall, it’s just a good movie. It’s just one of those movies you just sit and decide to watch because you can.

And where is the fun in anything else?