Friday, February 13, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Spider-Man Begins

Tomorrow is Valentines Day.  Not my favorite holiday, I admit, but I suppose somebody out there must get a charge out of it.  Plus, there’s a new Fifty Shades of Grey movie out if you swing that way—although the movie itself barely swings if the reviews are to be believed—and on top of that, it’s supposed to be freezing cold here in the northeast.
Eh.  The weather at least gives us an excuse to snuggle up together in bed.  Not that we needed one…
More than a dozen New York City buildings inspectors and clerks have been charged with exploiting their positions as gateways to the city’s booming real estate industry to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, law enforcement officials announced on Tuesday.
In return for bribes of home mortgage payments, sport utility vehicles and a luxury cruise, among other payments, city buildings inspectors cleared complaints and stop-work orders, expedited inspections and tried to remove tenants under false pretenses…
The corruption charges, in an industry where inspectors are tempted by kickbacks with some regularity, opened a window onto the way people with stakes in a growing real estate market sought illegal financial gain.

New York City at night.
They arrested fifty people in this sweep, and I won’t be surprised if more follow.  Sometimes I think corruption is endemic to this city, and sometimes I have hope that honest men who take their offices seriously can someday clean it up.  I don’t know whether this particular sweep is a drop in the bucket, some kind of tit-for-tat political vendetta, or the beginning of a true reform movement, but I certainly hope that it’s the latter.  Too many people wander around New York with their hands out, and once that becomes part of the status quo, the whole system breaks down.  
It’s no wonder that people are losing faith in government.  We’ve gotten to the point where half the government seems intent on using their offices for their own personal gain—first, last, always.  This is no way to run a country, especially one where the people ostensibly select the folks in charge.
The National Research Council (an arm of the National Academies) released pre-publication copies of two reports this week that look at a pair of geoengineering scenarios to address greenhouse gases and warming temperatures: carbon dioxide removal strategies and technologies that prevent some sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface, known as albedo-modification. The reports conclude that while the techniques could contribute to a broad approach to combating climate change, particularly CO2 removal and sequestration, geoengineering is still nowhere near a feasible substitute for the more challenging and complicated task of greatly reducing global emissions…
Carbon dioxide removal strategies could be as low-tech as restoring forests, the nascent practice of pumping CO2 from biomass-based energy underground, or riskier ideas like fertilizing the oceans with iron to create blooms of phytoplankton that would take in CO2 and then effectively sequester it when they die and sink to the sea floor.
Sure.  I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
3. Friday Hair Metal: Civil War

To your kids, that's the Beetles or Elvis Presley.
4. Henry Cavill is “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

I like that.  It’s supposed to come out on August 14th.

Under a deal revealed Monday, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will have an opportunity to… [bring] Spidey into Marvel’s blockbuster cinematic universe before the hero goes spinning back to anchor his own franchise for Sony Pictures, his movie home since 2002.
Feige’s expanded involvement in Spider-Man’s movie future might be the best thing to happen to Peter Parker since Mary Jane Watson moved in next door. The architect of Marvel’s movie landscape has presided over an unprecedented string of hits — to date, the company has released 10 films that have brought in more than $7 billion.
While this is undoubtedly good news, I’m annoyed by it for two reasons.  First, they’re recasting Spider-Man while I personally thought Andrew Garfield was great.  Second, they’re gonna reboot the character again, and from what I’ve heard, they’re gonna stick him back in high school.  
I don’t understand that at all.  The newest Sony Spider-Man movies are so recent that ignoring them in Marvel’s continuity seems both unwise and functionally impossible.  It’s also unnecessary.  Marvel made no effort to ignore the first two Hulk movies before Avengers, and as we saw, that choice worked perfectly.  Okay, they cast a new Hulk, and I can live with that, but we also had Hulk’s rages in New York as an extant, important part of the character’s mythology.  This was in the background, and as a result, it was expected that audiences knew who the Hulk was even though the particulars of his movies weren’t important to the story in Avengers.
This seems like the right template to use with Spider-Man.
We have had five Spider-Man movies.  Everyone in the world has heard of Spider-Man; he’s even got a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  He is an established character.  The last thing the world needs is another reboot, another origin story, or anything like that.  We know who he is.  More to the point, some of the best stuff in Spider-Man’s cannon is not from his early, high school years.  In fact, the first four years of Spider-Man’s existence occurred in real time in the comics, with the character graduating from high school roughly four years after his introduction.  This by itself was revolutionary.  Peter Parker has aged more slowly since those early days, but he has continued to age.  He was even married and then had marital troubles, and the whole thing made sense in the context of his story.  It was compelling.  If you grew up with Spider-Man, watched him grow up and get married as you yourself were growing up and getting married, it was very compelling.  
Even now, the stuff that’s going on in Spider-Man comics is very much of a piece with an older man’s story.  Spider-Man is in his thirties.  He is an occasionally successful professional, and a large part of what makes his story work in the comics is that he has been a superhero for so long, that he started in high school and has now been at it for nearly twenty years.  That is why guys like Tony Stark and Captain America care about what he has to say.  This very ubiquity is key to Spider-Man’s part in Civil War.  When Spidey unmasks himself at Stark’s behest, he’s doing it as one of the longest running, most iconic superheroes in the entire world.  It forces a reaction from everyone in the superhero community because everyone knows who he is.  Even in the world of the comics, he’s been at it for a long, long time.  He’s a household name.
I don’t know how they do Civil War without that, and I don’t know why they bothered to fight for the rights to Spider-Man if they’re just gonna turn around and roll him back to his origin.  Who cares what some teenager in a suit has to say?  The point of Spider-Man in Civil War is that he’s not a teenager.  That he’s a real guy with a real life, and when he comes out, it imperils his family.  He sacrifices his privacy for the greater good, and then it’s up to Stark and the government to keep up their side of the bargain.  Given the current nature of government, you can guess how that works out.
If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, this list is terrific.  There are several on there that I’ve not seen.
Have a good V-Day.  Tell your wife/husband/spouse/what-have-you that I said hello!

Like this article?  Check out Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki, available now for the Kindle.

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