Sunday, December 4, 2016

Inward Significance For Imagination’s Sake

Honestly, I do not understand what people are expecting when they attend a movie or tune into television. For me, while I want to be engaged and perhaps given thought-provoking material, I also want to be entertained. Criticisms of the latest Star Wars offering, The Force Awakens, center around its supposed similarity to A New Hope; I love South Park too, and understand their nostalgia-fueled critique. Is it not enough, though, simply to appreciate that Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker once again graced our screens played by the original actors - even more, as an integral part rather than in glorified cameos - in an age of reboots? In a few weeks, we even will get another highly-anticipated prequel, Rogue One, to the original movie, as well as a Han Solo prequel movie in the near future. Given, in my opinion, George Lucas’ previous prequel abominations, I never could have imagined any more movies in the franchise. Wrong.

Nowhere is this more relevant than with cinematic and televised comic book adaptations. When I was a kid, I never dreamed of seeing the Batman, Captain America or Iron Man whose adventures that I poured over on the colorful pages in any kind of live-action format. Guess what? That happened in our lifetime - first with Michael Keaton’s Batman, followed by Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America. Now, it is difficult to imagine any of those characters without thinking of their fantastic portrayals. And while we still need to see more of his version of Batman, Ben Affleck - full disclosure, of whom I have never been a fan - has won me over as quite possibly the most genuine portrayal of the iconic character. Agents of SHIELD, Avengers and Justice League live-action? Forget about it, never would happen. Wrong.

Granted, there have been some misses among the hits. Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider, Thomas Jane’s Punisher and Ryan Reynold's Green Lantern come to mind. But you know what? Even as maligned as they might be, each of those versions are still entertaining. While Ghost Rider and Punisher have found successful new life on the small screen, perhaps the same fate awaits Hal Jordan on the big one. Yes, Hal Jordan. The other Green Lanterns - namely, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner - easily could show up in part two of the Justice League movies...thus, perhaps initiating a spin-off Green Lantern Corps movie franchise? You listening DC Comics?

Then along comes Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I mean, how could anyone replace Lynda Carter’s 1970s version? Not a chance, right? Yep, wrong again! As if the lasso of truth itself has wrangled around our collective minds, I have never been more excited for a movie. From her performance in the wrongly criticized Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to the trailers, this solo movie looks not only to be an epic comic book adaptation but also one of the period piece variety. Call it sexist if you want, but the majority sentiment that Gal is hot in the part is undeniable. You know what else? From the footage so far, she also embodies the very essence of Diana from Themyscira, aka “Diana Prince,” as envisioned in the comic books since her creation by William Moulton Marston in 1941:  god-like strength but compassionate warrior; preference for peace and love over war and violence; symbol of female empowerment and independence.

DC Comics and The CW Network just finished an epic and fun crossover among their television shows, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the much-anticipated Defenders and Punisher series are riding high. Yet, by all accounts, both companies have much more planned for future development. What, are you kidding???!! We are living in a golden age of live-action comic book adaptations...get over yourselves, stop complaining and enjoy the entertainment!

©2016 Steve Sagarra

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