Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: The Cosmic Olympic Edition

I’ve only really got two things on my mind this week--the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Olympics.  Take that for what it’s worth.
1. Guardians Trailer Feedback.
The trailer for this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie premiered on Tuesday night, and then I ran it on the blog on Wednesday morning.  I liked the trailer tremendously, of course, but beyond that, here’re my initial thoughts:
  • --The movie looks much funnier than I thought it would be.  But now that I’m thinking about it, the Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning (DnA) comics from which it draws most of its inspiration are also very off-beat and funny, so I guess maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised.
  • --I’m amazed that they’re putting Star Lord in his full helmet and facemask.
  • --I’m now cautiously optimistic about our chances of seeing Cosmo the Space Dog.  That would be incredibly awesome.
Cosmo, the Russian Space Dog.
  • --Still not crazy about Dave Batista’s look as Drax.  
Everybody else looks great, but while Batista definitely looks huge, he also looks a little old and beaten down to me.  I hope that’s a storytelling choice and not a function of the fact that they needed somebody who was really huge to play Drax, and Batista was the biggest guy they could find who was also a decent actor.  Unfortunately, that second scenario seems a lot more likely.
Still, in the comics Drax is old enough to have an adult daughter--former Avenger and New Defender Moondragon--so as a matter of reality, Batista probably is about the right age for the character as he was written during the DnA run.  I just think it’s an odd storytelling choice for the movie, like casting Clint Eastwood’s character from the movie Unforgiven as your team’s powerhouse/tank.  I mean, maybe they can do it and get away with it, but it seems a lot more likely that either the character’s arc gets short shrift or else we’re just not supposed to notice that the most muscular / indestructible guy on the team is also somehow in his mid-forties, making him about a decade older than anybody else.  It’s fine either way, I guess, but I just think it’s gonna look weird to see the oldest guy in the room throwing other guys through brick walls and whatnot.  You can do it, but I think you at least have to drop a line in there to acknowledge it somehow.
  • --I’ve read that the movie’s gonna get a PG rating rather than a PG-13, and all things considered, that looks like a great idea to me.  With both a talking raccoon and a talking tree, this is a movie that’s pretty much made for kids anyway.  My kids in particular can’t wait to get their hands on their Rocket Raccoon toys, and that’s fine with me.  
  • With that said, this is a movie that looks like it’s gonna have a lot of cheesecake.
Gamora, smokin' hot.
And one for the ladies...
Again, I can live with this.  Because however bad it gets, it’s still a decided improvement on some of the older designs, especially Gamora.
Gamora, from the cover of Nova (vol. 2) #6.
Tell me I‘m wrong.
2.  Thanos: The Infinity Revelation
While we’re talking Guardians and all things cosmic over at Marvel, writer/artist Jim Starlin is putting out a new 100-page original graphic novel (OGN) about ThanosAdam Warlock, and the Silver Surfer later this year titledThanos: The Infinity Revelation.
Promo art from Jim Starlin's Thanos: The Infinity Revelation.
Starlin, of course, co-created Thanos, as well as Drax and Gamora, and he wrote a lot of the source material that is the foundation underneath most of these characters.  
There’s no date yet for when the new book’s coming out, but I personally think it’s cool that just as so many of Starlin’s creations are unexpectedly getting major time in the spotlight, he himself is back writing and drawing the kind of epic-scale stories that form the basis of these film franchises in the first place.  
I also can’t help wondering if Starlin’s going to get a cameo someplace in the new Guardians movie.  Stan Lee is on record as having said that he will not do a cameo in the Guardians because he neither created nor wrote any of the characters back in the day.  But if those are the rules, the Starlin would definitely be the guy to drop into the movie somewhere, and personally, that’s something that I would really like to see.  I interviewed Jim Starlin one time back when I was writing for PaperbackReader.Com, and he was the nicest, most interesting guy.  I had a lot of fun meeting him, and I’m super-happy for his most recent success.
3.  I don’t hate Lolo Jones.
But.  The reality is that there are a giant bunch of much more talented athletes at the Olympics, and that’s been true at every Olympics at which Jones has been a star--even in the sports in which she competes!  
It’s fine that she has an unfortunate backstory, and I don’t blame her one bit for doing as many commercials as she can get paid to do.  Hell, even her social media presence, annoying as it may be, is still just a part of her job, i.e. connecting with her fan base as often as she can.   None of that bothers me.  No, the things I don’t like about Jones actually have nothing to with her personally.  What I don’t like is that it seems like her personal story is the kind of schmaltzy nonsense that makes the networks drool, and that they therefore can’t take their eyes off of her long enough to do justice to the actual competitors out there, and this Olympics it’s been worse than ever.  NBC has spent so much damn time covering Jones’s personal story when, in fact, she barely even made the Olympic team, and she was on the only American sled that has absolutely no chance of medaling.  
By contrast, American Team 1Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers—sat in first place overall after the first two runs on the bobsled course, and Williams was the first athlete since the 1920s to have a chance at grabbing gold medals in two separate sports, one summer and one winter!  But NBC barely had time to cover that story because—presumably—it somehow wasn’t a human interest story, it’s a story about sheer excellence in athletics.  
As it happens, Williams didn’t win gold in bobsled; her team finished second.  But she is certainly one of the most successful athletes in American Olympic history, and right now, I think that the whole country ought to be celebrating her a achievement.  
And yeah, that’s not Jones’s fault.  But she did reap the benefits, and for that reason, I find it hard to root for her.
4.  Curling’s Gold Medal Game
The men’s gold medal game in Curling is today, pitting a surprise British team against perennial powerhouse Canada.  It ought to be an exciting game, although I expect Canada will win handily.
Still, I confess that I will be rooting for Great Britain.
The British team barely made the semi-finals, having tied Norway in round-robin play.  That led to an incredibly exciting tie-breaker that Britain won on the very last rock.  Down 5-6 in the last end, British skip David Murdoch made what he would later describe as the greatest shot of his life, a double take-out that left him with two on the board.  That gave Britain the win, 7-6, and sent them on to the semi-finals to face Sweden.  I missed that game, unfortunately--CNBC shows Curling at night, and we watch it while we make dinner, but they showed the Canada/China semi-final late, not the more exciting Britain/Sweden semi--but it was supposedly another barn-burner that came down to the last rock.
Anyway, Canada beat China handily, and the Canadians have looked dominant in every game I’ve seen them play.  However, the British team has to be the hottest team in the tournament right now, and certainly, they’ve been coming through in the clutch.  So the game’s not a gimme.  It ought to be exciting, and I’m looking forward to watching it.
5.  Other Odds and Ends.
  • --It’s been in the forties some this week, so while it’s still been rainy, at least some of the accumulated snow and ice has finally started to melt.  I have high hopes of getting out on my bike for a couple of hours tomorrow.
  • --The Russian Men’s Hockey Team was eliminated from medal contention by the Fins on Wednesday, prompting another round of national soul-searching.  I don’t much follow hockey, but I feel bad for the Russians and hope they aren’t percuted for their loss.
  • --On a related topic, isn’t it weird that the Russians can’t field a decent women’s hockey team?  NBC reported that hockey is the most popular sport in Russia and has the second-highest participation rate, behind only cross-country skiing.  So I take that to mean that Russian soccer moms are schlepping their girls to hockey practice--at least when they’re young.  Moreover, there is no question that the Russians can skate.  So… why doesn’t their women’s hockey team ever amount to anything?
  • --It might have sounded like I was ragging on Batista and his character Drax earlier, but that wasn’t my intent.  Reality is, Drax’s story is one of the most interesting parts of the DnA Guardians run.  He’s this violent mercenary who’s trapped in a cycle of grief over his daughter’s recent death.  As the story develops, Drax and his daughter’s old partner Quasar (Phyla-Vel of the Kree) bond over their shared memories of Moondragon (whom they both call “Heather”), with Drax basically sorry that he was such an absent father for so much of Heather’s life.

@Marvel put this out on Twitter yesterday.  Instant classic.
This is why serialized, ongoing comics are great--because you can give an arch like that time to develop without rushing into it.
That’s all I’ve got this week.
Have a great weekend!

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