Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Traitorous Confessions of a Former DC Fangirl

I've had a pretty bad week, ladies and gents, for reasons that aren't particularly relevant on what I am still determined shall be a professional blog. (IT WILL, DAMN IT.) What could possibly be a better distraction for me than a couple of margaritas, some friends, and a Big Dumb Fun Movie? Especially when it's wearing a red cape and a bratty grin that ought to require a license?

That's right. I went to see Thor, and I loved the hell out of it. Why the subject line, you ask? See, I'm a DC girl, always have been and until very recently thought that I always would be. I once wrote a song about Frank Miller. (I can't remember the lyrics now, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they probably involved whores.) I can write you a ten-page paper comparing and contrasting various Supermans (Supermen?) without even cracking a book. (Tom Welling is awesome, haters to the left.) I might be able to rattle off a half-dozen Marvel characters if I concentrate hard and am allowed to count the X-Men as individuals rather than a unit, but more and more I've come to look forward to the newest Marvel superhero extravaganza while dreading DC's next effort. There are three reasons for this.

Narrative cohesion. The same way that a book picks up speed in its final chapters, Marvel is pushing towards one massive (if probably not final, because no one is walking away from this franchise while there's still profit to be made) event in The Avengers. Each movie is keeps this in mind, makes references to others in the franchise, and shares a visual style. I can't imagine Nolan's Gotham existing in the same universe as Singer's Metropolis, let alone characters crossing over. Apparently, the DC folks can't imagine it, either, if Supes is now also going to be headed by Nolan, but, well… let's say that my hopes when it comes to the next Superman have been steadily diminishing.

Fun. Thor was a blast to watch in large part because everyone involved was clearly having the time of their lives and realized that "deep" (and believe it or not, the flick has its moments) doesn't have to mean "unremittingly grim." Marvel superhero movies as a whole seem to get this, actually, from the quick dialogue to the bright filters used in filming. I'm still holding out hope for The Green Lantern, but that's mostly because Ryan Reynolds can't not be a smartass. He does not understand how. I didn't realize what an adorable dork Brandon Routh once until I stumbled across his Funny or Die videos. Come on, DC. To quote one of your most memorable characters: why so serious?

And finally, Marvel has started to embrace a fact that DC can't quite seem to grasp: girls like superheroes, too. It's at its most blatant thus far in Thor, which has several moments of female gaze seeded throughout, and it also looks as if it's also going to play a role in Captain America. (The trailer here features a shot of the female lead struggling very hard not to grab at Chris Evans's pecs. You and me both, sister.) Looking back, while Thor is the most explicitly lady-friendly Marvel venture to date, none of their offerings are unfriendly, either. Shots of Pepper's cleavage are matched with Tony selling copious tickets to the gun show. Meanwhile (and apologies to the fanboys and fangirls that this is going to piss off, but it's true), Chris Nolan has never met a female lead that he couldn't fridge and thinks that Batgirl is so ridiculous (while dressing up as a giant flying rat rather than getting a Celexa prescription happens every day) that he'll invent a son for Commissioner Gordon to bond with rather than showing Barbara's civilian self. Zack Snyder made certain that the climactic moment of heroism in Sucker Punch involved submitting to a gang rape. If Lois Lane makes it out of the next Superman movie alive, without being sexually assaulted, and also without a brand-new set of Kryptonite nipple piercings? I'm going to be over the moon. Comics and comics fandom have long been spaces where male characters overwhelmingly hold sway. (Hey, I'm working on it!) Marvel, however, has realized that half the human race is female and that they can make more money by appealing across genders. Quite apart from making me all fuzzy inside, that's just good business sense, and I wish them all the luck in the world.

Besides, Thor's just a damned good movie. It's funny, it's well-acted by charismatic leads, and seriously, Mr. Hemsworth, it has to be said: yowza.

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