Batman v Superman v Marvel v Trolls v Art v Culture

Before addressing the multitude of trolls now scouring internet comment sections for reviews of Batman v Superman, its important that I give some background into my childhood spent with comic books.

A Childhood With Comics

I was once an avid comic book reader. My youth was spent devouring adventures from DC and Marvel superheroes; I fondly remember riding my bike to the local convenience store to see what new books had been added to their newsstand spinney-rack. I generally liked the Marvel Universe more than its DC counterpart, but I was not exclusive to either brand. My thoughts and dreams habitually involved characters from these fictional universes, something my grade school notebooks and writing can attest to.

As I moved on to high school, many of my friends gave up on comics while I became even more enamored with the form. I would spend many an afternoon hanging around our local comic book shop, discussing and debating the convoluted story arcs and crossovers my favorite characters were embarking on. I attended Comic-Con in San Diego, combing long-boxes for hours, in an era before the event turned into an impenetrable pop-culture affair free of any social stigma.

When my fellow comic-compatriots heard rumors of Marvel and DC movies in production, we would ceaselessly ponder the possibilities. Yet, when they actually came to fruition, they were almost universally disappointments. We loved these characters and wanted to see them exposed to a larger audience, but throughout the 80s and 90s, it seemed they would only be revered in our dorky pop-culture ghetto.

By the time comics became blockbuster media franchises, I had outgrown the characters and structure of American superhero books. Rightfully, the allure of music, politics, and girls took precedent over the adventures of the X-Men and Green Lantern Corps. It would be easy to say I just “grew up,” but the reality is that the circular narratives in superhero comics felt derivative and tired by 2000. I had spent too much time and money reading universe-wide crossovers that always resulted in the status quo being restored by their concluding notes. It’s often said in the comic industry that every single comic book is someone’s first, and thus, it should be accessible by dedicated and new readers alike. Unfortunately, it started to feel that every story arc was just a rehash of previous arcs; a remix of ideas with the same characters and locations without any forward movement.

Superhero comic books are an odd literary beast. The major recognizable properties have undertaken thousands of adventures over the last 70 years, yet they scarcely change and grow as characters. The reality is that these characters originated as cheaply produced, disposable entertainment for children. Anyone who read the Golden Age adventures of iconic individuals would likely find them simplistic and juvenile. This isn’t to say comics are not worthy components of our cultural landscape, simply that these iconic fictional figures were not intended to be well-rounded, dynamic characters. Over time, many fine writers have crafted powerful narratives around Batman, Superman and countless other iconic properties, but the characters themselves could never really grow as individuals. They must remain grounded in the core foundations set at their inception so the average consumer can approach the superhero with ease.

This is where the genius lies in the recent explosion in superhero films. By tapping into recognizable characters with large backlogs of escapades to pull from, Marvel and DC have been able to pick and choose the finest narrative arcs for adaptation. With the advent of computer graphics, the cheesy elements that plagued earlier eras of comic films have been obliterated; men in tight spandex have never looked cooler. Each subsequent film based on a comic book property is basically a license to print money, and while I expected the super hero boom to end some time ago, there appears to be no end in sight.

Zack Snyder’s Superman

I wanted to like the last Superman film. This re-boot of a re-boot seemed promising, and I have always had a soft spot for the character. Although the archetype has changed little since the 50s, the concept of a god-like alien living among mankind fascinated me. Writing engaging stories with the character is a challenge. How do you create legitimate conflict and suspense with a figure that possesses such power? How does Superman interact with a team of heroes made merely of men with gadgets and tricks? Creating insecurity with an omnipotent character is a difficult task.

Unfortunately for Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has cast a long, cowl-shaped shadow over DC’s film franchises. The financial and critical success of those movies is too tempting to not replicate, even if their tone and structure are inappropriate for other iconic properties. I don’t know if The Man of Steel’s dark, brooding tenor was the decision of the director or DC’s producers, but, like many fans of Superman, I was disappointed in the excessively violent film. The critical mass seemed to agree with my overall assessment.

A conspiratorial mindset took hold of the film’s proponents. While Marvel films generally received positive reviews and accolades, films with DC properties were less well reviewed. DC fans started to see a grand collusion against their beloved characters.

I generally hate news stories made up of Twitter comments, but trolling by DC fan boys does provide an interesting in to discussing the role of criticism in our society. Based on the grammar of the comments, I gather many are written by young people who have not yet grasped that the things they like and appreciate may not appeal to others for legitimate, technical reasons. Believing the critical reaction to Batman v Superman is a conspiracy hatched by Marvel is laughably ridiculous.

Criticizing DC’s Internet defenders is too easy; they are likely no different than I was in my youth. I spent hours discussing story arcs at my local comic shop, and if the opportunity existed in the 90s, I would have waxed poetic about the state of comic films online as well. I also detest the whole click-bait culture present at many web magazines that puts a premium on incendiary content to drive up traffic. You don’t have to look very hard to find people saying stupid, sexist, racist and vile things online; writing a whole article condemning a few random trolls is the lowest form of web journalism. Yes, a few dummies made disparaging comments about Ms. Marvel being a Muslim, or having a black actress play Rue in The Hunger Games. Do these people represent a majority or even a large minority? Nope. Essays decrying these trolls, often juveniles who are speaking without thinking to begin with, are nothing more than an attempt to signal the author’s moral virtuosity at the expense of a few kids online. Noticing that trollish behavior exists is hardly a reason for vigorous cultural contemplation.

Having said that, I would like to address the anti-critic tendencies of many “nerd” communities online. I have seen numerous Youtube videos and read countless comments from videogame enthusiasts advocating for gamers to avoid critical reviews and “play the games themselves.” To this crowd, the critics are merely angry personalities, hell-bent on damaging the things they love. I don’t understand this position. A critical review from a writer well versed in what makes a videogame “work” can help make clear to an average consumer if the product is worth investing in. I have bought games, that while having a low overall score, included aspects that I personally look for in a gaming experience. The online play is lag-ridden? I play solo, so that isn’t a problem for me. It has derivative JRPG grinding? I actually enjoy a little classical leveling in my adventures. A good review, even if generally negative, may enlighten me to elements I look for in a gaming experience. Why shouldn’t the critic lay out the broken or unoriginal elements present?

Fans of popular films employ the same line of reasoning when award season rolls around. On an almost annual basis, I hear cries echoing the following proclamation:

“Why wasn’t (insert popular film) up for an Oscar? Clearly, people loved this movie, and I have never even seen any of the movies up for the Best Picture award!”

In some respects, this sentiment presents a recurring conflict in society between the masses and the “elite,” whose opinions are often treated with greater care and respect than the plebeians beneath them. However, a more base psychological and emotional reason for this argument is appropriate: we want the things we like to be respected by others. If an artist and their work speak to our experiences, we want to see that work affirmed by our society at large. I garner that even the most subversive contrarian likely wants affirmation from portions of their community, and wishes to see their work treated with respect.

The older I get, the more I am able to compartmentalize my personal interests versus what has actual cultural value. I see no conflict between my love for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport and the fact that it is far from high art. I have seen the film dozens of times, repeatedly at the expense of movies considered important to our culture. My love for Bloodsport does not necessitate a desire to see it honored as an important piece of our social fabric. Much like I know there are better cheeseburgers than those sold at McDonald’s, I am unapologetic in relishing these processed creations.

I also recognize that critical opinion, when provided by individuals knowledgeable about the art and craft, is more valuable than the insights of an average layman. I have opinions about film, but I am not well studied in the art of making movies. Getting the insight of one well-versed in the field seems to be a necessary step in better understanding what makes a film work.

In closing, I present a rhetorical question to the internet trolls now descending on negative reviews for Batman vs. Superman: if you find the opinions of critics unacceptable, why bother reading them to begin with? What compels you to have their approval? The film may be a mess, but you can still love it. Poor critical reviews don’t wipe it from existence. Go on enjoying it even if film critics do not, but don’t treat the opinion of knowledgeable reviewers as equal to those of fanboys willing to overlook any narrative and cinematic faults in a film with their beloved characters.

Nor should we assume that the critics are always “right.” Critics, upon its release, roundly condemned Black Sabbath’s first record. Unlike many records from its era, it has stood the test of time and influenced an entire genre of followers. The album has been reassessed and recognized for being ahead of its time by subsequent tastemakers. Fans of any art condemned by critics can take some comfort in the fact that time may be kind to their beloved creation, but this should not result in a disregard of clear, thoughtful critique. By excluding high-minded criticism outright, we dumb down the intellectual conversation vital to erecting and maintaining cultural fundamentals.

As unpopular as it may be, I support our cultivated vanguard of critics to firmly stand against the onslaught of mass opinion. Enjoy what you will, but let our society affirm standards unrelated to mere popularity.

(Image: Batman v Superman promotional – WB)


Staff Writer
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Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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151 thoughts on “Batman v Superman v Marvel v Trolls v Art v Culture

  1. I’m not sure why, but I have a strong urge to raise up a glass of scotch* and call forth, “Hear! Hear!”

    *Single malt, 12 years at least, no ice

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    • Completely unrelated, but I’ve never understood the idea of taking a fine and expensive liquor and adding ginormous amounts of frozen tap water to it to “cool” it.

      If you really need your drinks cold, put them inside your fridge.

      Second best, do as my mum does, use Perrier water ice cubes (truly – she does that – but she was raised in the France between the wars)

      Am I coming out as too elitist? Tell me the truth

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      • I’ll admit, I like ice with my Scotch, and I don’t have the fancy cubes like your mum. But I know I am not supposed to drink a fine booze in such a manner.

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      • No, neat is proper, not elitist.

        Elitist is going on about the barrel and the source of the tree for the wood that made the barrel like you actually can taste the difference and give a shit. Then you are approaching wine snob territory and we know you are full of it.

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        • If you can taste the difference (smell it, actually), that’s one thing.
          But you’re not a true winesnob unless you’ve had a wine that tastes like peanut butter (and you’ve proclaimed such, loudly, at a tasting). [This is a bit of a joke, as only Africans tend to get that taste-sensation from wine. I have had wine that tasted like I was drinking green pepper, before. No taste of grape, just green pepper.]

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  2. I think Kant would disagree with you. IIRC, the nature of beauty is such that if it could be analysed, it could be mechanically reproduced. Since beauty or great art is the product of genius, it cannot be mechanically reproduced. Therefore it is irreducible. If it is irreducible, then its recognition is not something in the domain of expertise since the latter requires the existence of an intellectualised and thus analysable property.

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  3. I think that superhero stories are important because they allow us to have moral and ethical discussions that we don’t otherwise have a vocabulary for anymore and superheroes allow us to talk about good and evil in straightforward (perhaps even childish) terms.

    The problem with Batman v. Superman is not that it sucks.

    It’s that the potential existed that it might not suck.

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    • It’s that the potential existed that it might not suck.

      Since it is nominally built from Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it surely could have been great. Unfortunately for DC, in Miller’s version, Superman is a dictatorial prick who is now using his powers to make sure the world is safe and orderly. Since they couldn’t have their flagship character represented that way in film, I hear the movie ends up being a bit of a mess.

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      • Not precisely Roland, in Miller’s Dark Knight the Batmans rather un-politically correct behavior and his unabashed contempt for those who protest superhero vigilantism pushes the populace into an anti-super hero kick wherein the assorted superheroes (Batman included) basically get retired or sign up to with the US government to work for them on the DL. Superman comes off pretty well in the initial Dark Knight when he’s basically a Reaganite stooge. In the sequel he’s treated considerably less kindly though ultimately Miller does leave his world to him.

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  4. A woman I know from college and her husband are very big and into comic books. It is literally their careers which is no small feat. Maybe it is because they have a very young son but they are very sour on Batman v. Superman. Perhaps because they feel comic book movies are not something that they can share with their kid until he is a teenager. The husband posted a picture of an old What If DC comic from mid-20th century about what if Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne were raised as brothers and posted wistfully about how he wishes this was a movie that got made. Another post said something about how he thinks the ultimate Superman v. Batman movie should be rated G.

    Comic Book movies are big business now but Zac Snyder’s run is the most divisive and not all comic book fans are pleased. A lot of them insist that the movies ruin the true spirit of the comics and the people who boo yeah at the movies and come out talking about how badass or kickass the movies were are not real comic book fans.

    To me, a lot of problem with comic book movies especially Zac Snyder ones is that they confuse pompousness and griminess and dourness with artistic seriousness and merit. You can make a highly artistic and even a serious movie with being dark and dour. What ever happened to filmmakers trying to exercise a light touch? Everything is about hitting the audience over the head with a sledge hammer. Zac Snyder is one of the worst offenders in this regard. All the trailers for his movies look so damn pompous. Also Superman is a good guy, a hero, and Christopher Reeve was the best Superman:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/03/superman-is-not-the-bad-guy

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    • You can make an awesome artistic movie while being light and airy and fresh.
      That’s Amelie, though — not a superhero movie at all.
      (speaking of which, I have to review that movie at some point…)

      Kick-ass and some of the more indie “Superhero” flicks are a better example of playing around with the genre.

      The genre I don’t think takes well to “light and fluffy”.

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    • Good points. You wrote:

      “To me, a lot of problem with comic book movies especially Zac Snyder ones is that they confuse pompousness and griminess and dourness with artistic seriousness and merit.”

      This has long been a problem with comic book properties. Unfortunately for comic fans, it really does show that the target audience for these works are boys between 13-20. This crowd, still becoming men themselves, sees dark, violent, grim material as more “mature” than the light hearted, airy, colorful, fun stuff. When they get older they will realize that something dark doesn’t make it more adult.

      This reminds me of internet comments related to video games. can probably attest to this. Plenty of commenters slag Nintendo games for being “kiddy” while games like Call of Duty are “adult.” While it is true that I would not have my young child play CoD, that doesn’t mean it reflects anything recognizably “mature.” When Zelda: Windwaker was released, this same juvenile fanbase slagged it off for being a kid game due to its animated appearance. The fact that it dealt with the same narrative and game mechanics as its predecessors was overlooked because 15 year olds want to see themselves as being adults, and they were too immature to realize that just having violence and yelling doesn’t make it more sophisticated.

      I am also reminded of a great interview with Grant Morrison, one of this era’s greatest comic book writers (I highly recommend his Superman/Batman/X-Men runs for people who think they could never enjoy a comic book). He talked about how much more mature the silly silver age comic books were than the overly angsty 90s/2000s stuff. He mentioned a Superman comic where a miniature Superman was spawned from his own wrist, and this smaller version was far superior to the larger one. The larger Superman then becomes depressed that he has been replaced by this newer, smaller version. On the face of it, that is a ridiculous premise, but the psychological undercurrent of that narrative is one I can totally relate to as an adult! Far more so than Superman killing and telling about stuff.

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      • You mentioned Call of Duty, there was a Nintendo game that came out that did the FPS thing called “Splatoon”.

        The goals were a bit different, though. You had all sorts of paint guns and the goal was to paint more of the playing field than your opponent(s) did in the time allotted. Sure, you *COULD* use the guns to shoot your opponent(s) instead of the field and, sure, it might temporarily incapacitate them… but it wasn’t necessarily in service to your goal. It was, arguably, the most fun FPS since Duke Nukem 3-D.

        The joke was that teenagers played Call of Duty and grownups played Splatoon.

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      • Those of us of a certain age grew upon on the Adam West Batman. (In reruns in my case, but still…) The various versions of Batman seemed to oscillate between high camp and grim darkness, with nothing in between. I find that part of the character’s charm, but the dark version seems to be sucking other characters in with it, which is not a Good Thing.

        On a different note, I have mostly given the current resurgence a pass. They aren’t the sort of movie I watch much nowadays. But I did recently catch the 2011 Captain America on Netflix. I enjoyed it in a fluffy sort of way, but don’t feel much of an urge to dive deeply into these waters.

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        • Some characters do well with dark, others do well with fluffy. (Superman is like the anti-dark superhero. You can make Superman be an asshole all you please, but he’s not Dark. No woeful backstory, nothing like that at all).

          But my favoritest superhero has managed to do both at the same time.

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        • The guy I mentioned above seems to be a big fan of the Adam West, High Camp Batman and also the 1970s Wonder Woman with Lynda Carpenter. Me, I just can’t get behind that either.

          Ant-Man managed to be charming without going back into absurd high camp. But Paul Rudd can make anything amusing. He could make reading Adorno amusing.

          There has to be some kind of middleground between high camp and grim darkness. Marvel Studio movies seem to be able to hit it more.

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          • Superman must be four-color, three of them being red, white, and blue. Captain America is the one who does the thinking about what patriotism means, and has conflicts of conscience from time to time, but even he should be done in primary colors.

            I liked the Michael Keaton Batman for trying to fuse the camp tradition and the angsty tradition (also, I think Burton is the only one who realized that you don’t cast Batman, you cast Bruce Wayne). But dark Batman works, although at this point it’s been done too many times.

            Wonder Woman is fantasy – part of a tradition that includes not just Lynda Carter’s WW, but Lucy Lawless’s Xena. It has to be kept light and airy because the magic lasso and such are so much part of the subtext. If you do grimdark, it gets creepy, or you end up with what I’m afraid next year’s film will be, a story of a female superhero who kicks ass and is not descended from Zeus and wears a costume that is bronze for the sky and wine-dark for the sea, and is in many other ways not Wonder Woman.

            Aquaman, OTOH. I could really go for a serious, even a dark, take on Aquaman. One that takes the idea that he is the freaking King Of The Sea and runs with it. With a trident. And telepathically communicating with sharks, possibly with fricken laser beams (although unless done carefully that would be too meta and would spoil the serious atmosphere).

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          • Have you seen Pan’s labyrinth? While much closer to grim darkness, I think you might appriciate the basis for much of the issues in the movie, that being reflections on the spanish civil war and the facism therein.

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          • “There has to be some kind of middleground between high camp and grim darkness.”

            I haven’t seen all the super hero movies, but I think the Iron Man movies (the solo ones, at least) seemed to have found that middleground.

            They were a little goofy and not too serious but far from campy. There was a grittiness and realness insofar as the titular character’s powers were more “sci-fi” than “super”, but the brooding was kept to scenes in which it made some sense.

            Fitting things into genres is always difficult, but they were more summer blockbuster action movie than anything else as far as I see it. They are probably closer to the “Fast and Furious” franchise (BEST MOVIES EVER!) than anything Nolan or Snyder did with super hero movies recently.

            A popcorn movie(s) no doubt but undoubtedly a comic book movie and one that I assume is necessary for the larger universe of the Avengers or whatever the F it is.

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          • Saul Degraw: There has to be some kind of middleground between high camp and grim darkness. Marvel Studio movies seem to be able to hit it more.

            The continuum, such as it is, doesn’t have high camp an grim darkness at the endpoints, though. If anything, the 60’s Batman show and the Snynder Superman are incredibly close cousins. They’re both incredibly cynical. We’re talking about camp as though it’s equivalent to light-hearted, but at least as exemplified in the 60s Batman show, there was a real element of sneering at the light-heartedness. The show is saying “look at how this is all bright and shiny, and how fake that brightness and shininess is”. Likewise, the Snyder films find the most bright and shiny part of the DC canon and try to rub as much dirt and ash on it as possible.

            You can get bright and shiny without the cynicism of Camp. The Richard Donner Superman movie is the perfect example of that. With the exception of Gene Hackman, the movie is unabashedly earnest. Watch it, and you’ll believe a man can fly.

            And, of course, it’s silly to pretend that gritty darkness is the only or best form of darkness. After all, consider the Bruce Timm Batman cartoon. It was a kid’s show, but it was also a sleek noir tragedy, and one that raised the bar on what the medium and genre could accomplish. It was dark, but that’s not the gritty darkness of dirt and ash. It’s the elegant and smooth darkness of rich chocolate.

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                • The problem is seeking realism in a comic book movie. They have those, but not under the “Marvel” label.

                  The fight scenes are actually pretty tightly scripted (they’re spaced out enough not to blur together, but not so far apart that it stops feeling urgent), they are well done — there’s few if any of the annoying camera tricks that make you lose focus, confuse you, or otherwise distort the action — you can tell what’s going on at any moment, rather than being a blur of confused movement.

                  The CGI is well done, but not mindbogglingly excessive or world breaking.

                  The dialog is witty, the sound track is fantastic, the characters are memorable and interact well, and the ensemble works tightly. (If anything, it’s a far more cohesive group than the Avengers, because it’s not 5 main acts playing together — it’s a team).

                  What’s not to like? It’s a solid summer blockbuster action flick. Solid cast, solid script, solid cinematography, solid soundtrack.

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        • I have seen a number of folks really embrace the Adam West version of Batman as of late. I may have to go back and watch some of that show, as it was a bit before my time.

          I still think Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite comic book movie of late. It was just serious enough to not be nonsense but was fun and full of adventure. I am surely not the only one who feels that way.

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      • One of my favorite jokes about Vertigo Comics was that it said it was For Adults, but it was actually for Kids Who Wear Black A Lot.

        Ouch, but kind of true!

        I sort of went through a phase where I liked gritty. And I still do, when done well. But I’ve also come around to appreciating breezier storytelling in its own right.

        I recently read Project Superpowers and Alan Moore’s Terra Obscura. Both use the same set of characters, but take them in different direction. Project Superpowers was very complex. The art was fantastic. Very modern. Terra Obscura was far more classical, as a part of Moore’s efforts to artistically undo what he did with Watchmen.

        I found that I liked the latter a lot more.

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  5. I think there is a big issue that pop culture has one the battles/wars in many ways especially comic book movies but a lot of fans seemingly have a huge chip on their shoulder from the years when being into comic books was a marginalized activity. The anti-critic tendencies of the comic book crowd seem to come from a place that views the critic as being a haughty outsider. Slobs v. snobs basically. The critic is always a snob who might give a superhero movie a good review but secretly wants to destroy it all and have everyone watch Goddard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her or Rohmer’s My Night at Mauds or Love in the Afternoon.

    The comic book fan in nerd rage seems to be hellbent on the complete destruction of the arthouse.

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    • Oh, definitely. My history is more from the written SF side of nerd culture, but this was definitely a thing. Isaac Asimov used to write essays on the topic, defending the SF side. The classic argument was that “mainstream” literature was about characters, while SF was about ideas. SF prose style was about clarity, while literary fiction prose style was about having the reader admire it. As for critics from outside the field, there was a strong sense that when they deigned to take notice at all, they turned out to be hopelessly clueless.

      At the time I sat and nodded along in agreement. In my increasingly advanced later youth I find most SF of that era now unreadable. Demotic prose turns out not to age well, and most of those ideas aren’t so clever in retrospect as they seemed at the time. In the absence of actual characters, what is left?. The defense of SF as trying to do something different from, say, Pride and Prejudice is valid, but we have to rely heavily on a strong version of Sturgeon’s Law to support the proposition that the defense reflects the reality on the ground.

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      • I dunno about you, but i like Dune. And those characters are flatter and weirder than most.

        You can do actual characters, or not, in science fiction. But I will swear to god, science fiction is about exploring ideas, not really characters — as much. And having really, really awesome ideas is FUN. It’s fun to see how something develops, to worldbuild, to explore a completely new, and interesting planet that works differently than the world you know.

        In case you’re a bit confused: There’s not a lot of difference between “science fiction book” and “well-written game, with innovative gameplay.”

        Of course, I know a science fiction author or two — and I know you’ve seen some of his stories, which are rather well-regarded for their characterization. (of course, it is still science fiction… so the realm is ideas, even if the character is the platform on which the ideas are built).

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        • I have been rereading books from my youth. Most have aged poorly, including some I thought I would do better. Dune is one of the exceptions: just as good as I remembered, which is very good indeed. I then tried Dune Messiah. This also held up just like back in the day: I got a third of the way through and then couldn’t think of why I would want to continue the slog.

          The Lord of the Rings also holds up. I was a bit worried going in, as through my twenties I considered it the defining book of my literary life. Of course it isn’t really from the same tradition as American SF.

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          • I would say that both Dune and LOTR have more than passible prose, which is not common among literature both high and low through the ages. It doesn’t show up as much in Lit Fic, as it gets weeded pretty quickly for just that reason, whereas SciFi and Crime/Myst have the same problem, namely that the readers arn’t reading it for the quality of the prose.

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            • Dune has good prose but poor characters. Also, drug trips just because.
              Game of Thrones has good prose when it’s not wanking about heraldry, or GRRM is overusing stuff again (He’s been deservedly ragged on for overuse of phrases. The “Winter is coming” shtick was cool — you took a phrase, and used it ten different ways. You didn’t need to do it for every damn book, George!).

              I’m not certain many people read for quality of the prose. You read for characters, or you read for plot…

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      • I’m uncertain about the early SF works where the idea itself was so broad that it filled all the space, leaving no need for character. Solaris comes to mind, although that’s not my cup of tea. Ringworld (if executed a little better), Rama, 2001…

        Also, there were the ones, largely space opera, that were so broad in scope that we don’t get a chance to drill down too far on any one character. Dune being the archetype. Glen Cook’s criminally underread The Dragon Never Sleeps. That kind of thing. Lord of the Rings, if it had been written by someone with slightly different goals (and even then, how much can you really tell the hobbits apart? Joking, but only partially).

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        • Merry and Pippen, you have a point. They aren’t precisely alike, but neither are they strongly differentiated. But for the other hobbits (taking this to refer to Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam; not the assorted spear carriers) they are clearly distinct characters.

          Indeed, Tolkien did a remarkably good job of giving the other members of the Fellowship distinct personalities. Even in a long book, that is an achievement with that many characters. Merry and Pippen are the only two that feel the least bit interchangeable.

          Now if we were talking about the dwarves that Bilbo ran with…

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          • I think Merry and Pippin are more alike in the movies than the books, and that’s made them blurrier than they used to be. Or at least, I never saw them as interchangeable. But then, best friends, cousins, are often alike – were seen as more so before the modern era – and Frodo’s *un*likeness was more noteworthy within their social circles than their likeness was.

            Frodo and Bilbo are quite a bit alike, only at a different point on their journeys – but again, they meant to be twin spirits and I never had any trouble telling them apart.

            Sam’s differences were mostly class markers. I think partly a way for Tolkien to pay tribute to his and his friends’ WW1 batmen, who were under-celebrated (like all the batmen who died in that war) …

            But I think the idea that characters must be dissimilar to be fully characterized is in some ways a modern one. Pondering, for example, Hugo’s two nasty innkeepers in Les Misérables who are EXTREMELY similar, on purpose, and yet somehow totally distinct on the page, I think just because of the rhythms of their speech or something… and yet they do sound alike too? It’s a mysterious fictional accomplishment…

            When it comes to the Hobbit’s dwarves, as you say, , or to, say, the modern example of Kevin J. Anderson, though – yes, there’s a lot more there there.

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      • I remember reading an Asimov article about good and bad SF in which he said that good SF was taking an idea, pushing it to the limits, and describing how the resulting world is different from ours.

        And bad science fiction was taking a common story and search-replacing (he didn’t actually say search-replace, but he totally would today) existing gizmos with technobabble gizmos, with nothing really changed. His actual example was a western with the horse replaced by an antigravity horse-like robot, fueled from a fuel trough while parked in front of a floating saloon, where the bad guys wore black space helmets and played poker with radioactive cards, while a three-legged Martian pole danced in the background.

        If you look closely at Asimov’s SF, there is very little said about technical matters. Some stuff is a given (hyperspace jumps, advanced psychohistorical math) in the background, some other stuff is important (positronic brains), but only insofar as it is the idea behind the stuff that changes the world.

        Asimov’s writing style was very straightforward and pedestrian. Stylistically, he never really improved past his origins as pulp fiction writer. But I have not yet found his equal regarding the breadth of his ideas, and the depths that he pushed them into Brave New Worlds (nope, not even him, but BNW is a worthy contestant)

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          • Frank Herbert reverses Asimov’s process. He starts with a different world, and tries to reverse engineer what might be the driver that brought forth this new world.

            Most times, this reverse engineering ends empty, and thus Herbert’s world lacks coherence and credibility. For instance, through which path can we go from from here and now to the Bene Gesserit. And why oh why were the Fremen ancestors so hated that they had to flee five different planets?

            Ringworld has my favorite quote ever, describing background music : “Beethoven…., or the Beatles. Something classic” Everything that we revere as classic was at some point hip and contemporary. Thus, those that despise everything hip and contemporary in favor of hundred-years-dead classic are just barbarians, worse than frozen-tap-water-diluting liquor drinkers.

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            • That seems like a really good description! And explains my lack of interest in Dune in that I don’t care all that much for the destination. (I’ve only read the first book.)

              I’ve been toying around with a similar process in my mind for a science fiction series. I start off needing a technologically advanced Arctic Empire that changes the dynamics of the Cold War, and then have to work backwards on how exactly that happened. It involves a spaceship, but I haven’t decided if they’re BSG-style refugees, or they died on impact and the people that discovered their technology built a civilization off of it. I’m kind of stuck until I figure out which way to go.

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      • I agree that literary fiction is a lot about admiring the skill of the writer but I fail to see why that is wrong or a bug. I read fiction for the stories but also for the skill of the writer. I also want my non-fiction to be written well.

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        • it’s merely that we have different preferences in our writing. For example, I’ve come to the realisation that I more motivated by setting than writing or even characters. What I want is a story that can create a world that seems real yet is utterly unlike the world I know. That’s why I read sci-fi and fantasy – literary fiction can’t engage me with setting.

          This is simply a difference in preference – but knowing what you like is an important part of finding books you want to read.

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          • Very true. (And I can think of some fascinating settings).

            Taking a look at fanfiction, one of the things I really like about well-done fanfiction (or rather, I suppose, the type I like) is one that explores, expands, or otherwise plays with the setting.

            I suppose that’s one reason I’m fond of crossover, alt-history, and fusion fics. They play with setting heavily. (Crossovers tend to have alternative viewpoints, fish-out-of-water views of the setting. Fusion fics obviously merge two, which is complicated and requires a lot of effort, and alt-history is just…fun. How do things change if something small does?).

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          • If you haven’t checked out Fate/Stay Night and Shadow World, you owe it to yourself to do so.

            (getting Fate/Stay Night done properly apparently took stealing someone’s house by helicopter, and putting a new house in it’s place…)

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  6. There’s actual reasons to hate critics.
    I’ve been playing through Majesty 2, a game people were rightfully excited about coming out.
    (Majesty was an AWESOME game. Go Play It!).

    Problem is: Majesty 2 simply spent money on art, missed the entire point of Majesty’s gameplay, and made itself “Russian Hard” to boot.

    And all the fucking critics reviewed it like it was actually a good game. I’m certain that I can pull half a hundred “fan reviews” that explain, in detail, why Majesty 2 sucked so hard. Because any fan of the original game isn’t going to like it…

    There are tons of people (even professionals) reviewing stuff online. They’re critics too, and critics who can come from the “I’ve seen enough of the comics” to get the references are going to be better than critics who are just seeing Batman for the first time (granted, the rookies are a good benchmark too — we saw this with Game of Thrones — but they ought to disclaim their lack of experience, and be willing to argue that their review still deserves to be read).

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    • “There are tons of people (even professionals) reviewing stuff online. They’re critics too, and critics who can come from the “I’ve seen enough of the comics” to get the references are going to be better than critics who are just seeing Batman for the first time (granted, the rookies are a good benchmark too — we saw this with Game of Thrones — but they ought to disclaim their lack of experience, and be willing to argue that their review still deserves to be read).”

      I get this, especially when it comes to something like comic books. I do enjoy reading what committed fans of the characters have to say about the movies. There will be little nods to those who know the backstories well and there can be a lot of interesting insights from those individuals.

      Unfortunately, they can also be the types of folks who can overlook every terrible structural and narrative element of a film to focus on tiny, nerdy elements of the character. I saw a lot of this with Iron Man 3 and the Mandarin. Being “true” to the subject material is nice, but it does not make for a good film. Thus, I would rather hear the opinions of those versed in film rather than individuals interested in the intricate canon of these characters.

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      • I don’t see why we can’t just have some film critics who happen to also like comic books. We should support them when they’re in their groove.

        That guy with the glasses had some nice bits when he reviewed Batman and Robin. The review’s better than the movie, anyhow.

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    • Majesty was pure genius, agreed, but I’d love to know your beef with Majesty 2. I agree it was inferior in many ways to Majesty but it was not remotely a bad game.

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      • Aside from the programmers not knowing what a rogue was supposed to be? (their comments have it as some sort of poacher)
        Aside from not noticing a bug on timing on anything but the fastest speed, and then fixing it to be nearly unwinnable?

        I think we can start with “Russian Hard” — the idea that you need to memorize everything that’s going to happen, and then plan for each, individual attack, rather than building a decent city that can withstand… well, most things. (Majesty had one map that was that hard, I’ll admit.) And then thinking that Russian Hard was honestly a good thing.

        We can continue with pathing/target choice for monsters. A dragon flying around your city should be something you either deal with, or it wrecks stuff. It shouldn’t be a walking “levelup” mine.

        While I’ll admit in the original Majesty having monks wander into the elven brothels was amusing… it doesn’t seem like this new game has any of the character differentiation of hero classes.

        It’s not exactly, exactly that Majesty 2 is a … bad game. It’s that it isn’t a game designed, at all, to appeal to people who liked Majesty for it’s innovative gameplay. At which point, why the fuck did they have to buy the license? Why couldn’t they just have called it Something Else.

        Dammit, better companies were bidding for that license!
        (and yes, that may be my true beef with Majesty 2.)

        Regardless, my beef is mostly with “game reviewers” and less with the game itself.

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        • Mmm you’re thinking of the Dragon Tomb map in Majesty one! Good lord(lady?) above that was a brutal fishing map!

          I agree there was definitely a… blurring, melding, weakening of almost everything thematically but it was not bad. I bought it and its expansions (and Monster Kingdom was really cute).

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          • The AI has minotaurs wandering through the entire base to kill someone on the opposite side.They gave the buildings armor stats, but they then put it in the “agility” portion of the database, so the buildings were defenseless.

            I’d rather play Thief again.

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            • Did you ever play No One Lives Forever? It’s not as aggressively pacifist as Thief (there are some levels it’s possible to play through with no kills, but not many), and there are times when the AK is the only appropriate weapon.

              But I did find the gameplay a very satisfying compromise of stealth and action. And like the setting in Thief is almost another character, NOLF’s pitch-perfect sense of genre conventions (a lighthearted take on Bond-esque spy films, without the aggressive silliness of Austin Powers, which only predated NOLF’s production by a year) fills a similar role in making the experience more than the sum of its parts.

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    • If only the film was a little more like Bloodsport. Superman and Batman infiltrate the Kumatae to break up an international super villain crime ring? Man, this thing writes itself!

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      • I always find the “it wasn’t supposed to be good!” argument amusing. I wonder how often those people see a movie and say, “Yeah, I was disappointed. It was clearly supposed to be bad, and yet they screwed up and it was good!” I could see that happening with, say, Bloodsport IV: “It was actually good. I want my money back.”

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        • There are a lot of different ways to be good. Complaining about, for example, The A-Team because the physics were preposterous, the relationship between government employees were obviously written by someone who has never so much as visited a DMV, and the presentation of Murdock’s “mental illness” was completely disrespectful to the very concept of PTSD… well, those criticisms are all pretty accurate. One could go on to complain that the story was kind of muddled, the motivations of the villains were cartoonishly dumb to the point where it was unbelievable, and on and on and on. All true.

          The A-Team, however, was AWESEOM. Capital A. Capital W. Capital E. Capital S. Capital E. Capital O. Capital M.

          If you wanted to go and see Terms of Endearment when you bought a ticket, the dumbest thing in that theater was not the movie.

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          • I agree, but there’s a fine line between clever and stupid, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap. I’ve been just as often disappointed by something I wasn’t expecting to be great art, but didn’t expect to be that bad.

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            • To give an example, Machete was clearly supposed to be dumb, trashy, violent fun in the vein of dumb, trashy exploitation movies, and I enjoyed it as such. Machete Kills was supposed to be dumb, trashy, violent fun and I kept saying “Come on! It’s not supposed to be that dumb!”

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            • “Did aliens make this movie?”

              Where the characters weren’t recognizably human. Where the dialog wasn’t recognizably human. Where the plot wasn’t recognizably human. Where the target audience wasn’t recognizably human.

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        • Rufus,
          It’s rare to see a movie that wasn’t supposed to be good (I’m calling most tax-evasion schemes that happen to be movies, just that — engines to defraud the government. It takes WORK to make a really bad movie).
          I’ve only really seen one TV show that wasn’t supposed to be good (Word of Author on that, too!), but then again, it wasn’t supposed to actually be televized. [And with that, I’ve said enough that it should be possible for you to figure out what show it is.]

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          • Sure, but it’s very common to see movies that weren’t supposed to be great art and watch them as entertainment. My problem is when you’ve accepted that the movie isn’t going to be great art and it’s still so stupid that you can’t even enjoy it as a popcorn movie and then someone says “Yeah, but it’s not supposed to be Truffaut, you snob!” Like, okay, I didn’t expect Django Unchained to be a great cinematic accomplishment, but I also didn’t expect some of the story and character decisions to be so stupid that I wondered if cocaine should have gotten a writing credit!

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            • Cocaine getting a writing credit implies something fast paced and kinda awesome. (like Kodocha or Amelie).
              ;-)
              I suppose, to prevent people from saying “You snob!”, you ought to say, “that was a bad popcorn movie. I came for popcorn, not plotholes.”

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  7. Putting aside the actual article, my short review of BvS – there’s three perfectly good movies trapped in one movie.

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    • Putting aside the actual article, my short review of BvS – there’s three perfectly good movies trapped in one movie.

      Weird. My opinion of it was some perfectly good action scenes looking for a movie, any movie, because no actual movie seemed to be happening, just a bunch of disjointed stuff.

      Seriously, that was *exactly* how to do a Batman v. Superman fight. Batman did exactly what he was supposed to do, Superman did exactly what he was supposed to do, I believed every second of it. The only way that fight could have been better is if there was more pathos, if the characters actually *knew* each other, but that wasn’t the premise of the thing, so whatever. Let’s call it a 9/10 fight scene.

      The Doomsday fight (How spoilery are we being here? But I guess most people know Doomsday is in it.) was…not quite as good, but still pretty good.

      The rest of the thing was a disjointed mess.

      Jr unq cerzbavgvbaf va n havirefr gung, nf sne nf *gur nhqvrapr* xabjf, qbrfa’g unir zntvp va vg. Lrf, vg’f tbg Jbaqre Jbzna, fb vg pyrneyl qbrf unir zntvp…rkprcg gung ab bar obgurerq gb *zragvba* zntvp rkvfgf. Jr nyfb unir Jbaqvr fyvpvat bss Qbbzfqnl’f nez jvgu ure fjbeq, juvpu, ntnva, znxrf ab frafr hayrff lbh xabj n) gung’f n zntvp fjbeq (V nffhzr? V qba’g xabj Jbaqre Jbzna gung jryy, be vs gung’f fbzr fcrpvsvp fjbeq, ohg V trarenyyl nffhzr nyy ure fghss vf zntvp.), naq o) Xelcgbavgrf ner whfg nf ihyarenoyr gb zntvp nf nalbar ryfr.

      Nyfb, jul vf Ongzna univat cerzbavgvbaf?!

      *Vafvqr* bar bs gur cerzbavgvbaf, jr unq Synfu gvzr geniryyvat (Frevbhfyl? N cerzbavgvba bs fbzrbar gvzr geniryyvat?!) va n havirefr, juvpu, ntnva, unf abg vagebqhprq gvzr geniry. Tenagrq, vg’f nyjnlf sha gb vagebqhpr gvzr geniry *orsber* vagebqhpvat gvzr geniry, ohg, hu, thlf? Zvtug jnag gb or n ovg pyrnere nobhg jung’f tbvat ba gurer. V qba’g haqrefgnaq jul gung fprar pbhyqa’g unir *npghnyyl* unccrarq ng gung cbvag, vafgrnq bs orvat n cerzbavgvbaf? Be, ubj nobhg gung nf gur *raq perqvg frdhrapr*, jvgu uvz guebjvat n jneavat gb na rzcgl Ong pnir orsber ur ernyvmrf ur’f va gur jebat gvzr?

      Fcrnxvat bs raq perqvg fprarf…V qba’g xabj vs QP arrqf gb jngpu fbzr Zneiry zbivrf be fbzrguvat, ohg gubfr ivqrbf bs gur Synfu, Plobet, naq Ndhnzna? Lrnu, vg’f *gubfr* gung tb nsgre gur perqvgf vs lbh qba’g jnag gb hfr gur Synfu guvat…be qb gur ‘qhevat gur perqvgf ba gur fvqr’ guvat. Lbh qba’g chg gurz va gur zbivr sbe ab ernfba.

      Yrk jnf…htu. Yrg’f sbetrg gung rkgerzryl jrveq gnxr ba gur punenpgre gung frrzf qrfvtarq gb unir nyzbfg ab zranpr ng nyy. (V’ir urneq fbzr crbcyr pynvz gung’f npghnyyl Yrk’f fba ohg…V qba’g guvax fb, abe qb V ernyyl guvax gung znxrf nal frafr.) Yrg’f sbphf ba gur snpg gung abar bs jung ur qvq gb ghea gur Nzrevpna crbcyr ntnvafg Fhcrezna fubhyq unir *jbexrq*. Fhcrezna qvq abg eha nebhaq fubbgvat hc n ivyyntr, gur ragver cerzvfr vf fghcvq. Rira vs Fhcrezna jnf na bhg-bs-pbageby zheqrevat yhangvp, jul jbhyq ur *fubbg* crbcyr? Yvxrjvfr, jul gur uryy jbhyq ur *oybj hc* gung urnevat?

      I’m reminded of a much better story in one of the animated series. I’m not entirely sure how well I’m remembering, but Lex Luthor invents a clean fusion reactor that uses Kryptonite, and builds a renewable energy mini-city that uses it as a sort of proof of concept, and gives away housing in it to the homeless. Superman, obviously suspecting some sort of plot, basically goes full blow paranoia, constantly harassing Lex, and even starts tearing the place up, to the point that Captain Marvel (One of the few people that can go toe-to-toe with Superman) steps in and fights him. In the end, we learn…Lex literally had no malicious plans with what he was doing, he just wanted to drive Superman crazy trying to figure things, resulting great PR for him, and horrible PR for Superman. And now he’s ironed out the bugs in his Kryptonite fusion reactor, resulting in more money for him, and an slightly less hospitable world for Superman.

      *That’s* how you turn the world against Superman.

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  8. Roland Dodds: This has long been a problem with comic book properties. Unfortunately for comic fans, it really does show that the target audience for these works are boys between 13-20. This crowd, still becoming men themselves, sees dark, violent, grim material as more “mature” than the light hearted, airy, colorful, fun stuff. When they get older they will realize that something dark doesn’t make it more adult.

    The weird thing is, the core comic book readership hasn’t been the 13-20 year old boys since the 1990s. Everyone younger than that has the internet to keep them entertained. The current readership is something more like “people who used to be 13-20 year old boys who read comics and never gave it up entirely” at least as a plurality if not a majority. The thing is, that group is split into pretty distinct halves: people who grew the fish up and are mature enough to enjoy the light & colorful things, and people who still have the worldview they had when they were fourteen. I’d argue that over the past few years, Marvel has mostly been trying to play to the former, while DC has mostly been trying to play to the latter. And that’s filtered up into their movie offerings.

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  9. J_A:
    Completely unrelated, but I’ve never understood the idea of taking a fine and expensive liquor and adding ginormous amounts of frozen tap water to it to “cool” it.

    It changes the flavor while you’re drinking; you get all the volatiles when you start drinking, but as your taste buds start to blow up the drink gets cooler & more dilute so the less subtle flavors come to the fore.

    (and if you drink cask strength whisky, you’re going to be diluting it anyway unless you like having your taste buds blow after the first two sips.)

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    • Less subtle flavors like rust? That’s what my tap water tastes off (I have a filter for drinking water, but my ice cubes come, so to speak, straight from the tap)

      More seriously, I can understand what you are saying, but why, o why, do not chose your water as carefully as your whisky? The Perrier ice cubes are a real thing.

      But I don’t believe everybody agrees with you. I rarely do whisky myself, but I did a driving tour of The Scotish highlands last spring, and every evening included two glasses of whatever local whisky they had, one before, one after dinner. No one ever suggested diluting it, or asked if I wanted anything on it.

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  10. Well I’ve seen Batman vs Superman. I am sad to say I’d categorize it under the brutal column.

    -Like Spiderman 3 the movie simply had far too much going on. Infinitely too much, frankly.
    >This clogging was primarily due to DC blatantly trying to catch up to Marvel. This movie was basically supposed to somehow to the work of the Iron Man (and Iron Man 2), Hulk, Captain America and Thor movies. Why are they trying to do this? Again they’re trying to “Catch up” to Marvel. The MCU is very clearly building to a climactic cosmic showdown. You see this referenced in every movie, obliquely at first and now quite directly. DC is, for some insane reason, trying to catch their own universe up so they can presumable have their own climactic cosmic showdown at the same time. Why the fishing hell are they doing this? Oh I just realized. They need to do it at the same time as the MCU does otherwise everyone will write it off as a naked imitation. Umm I think the ship has sailed on that dudes.
    -The writing was especially bad and the various plot points kept circling back around and crashing into themselves like bumper cars.
    >Okay so Alex Luthor is Lex Luthor’s son. He hates Superman and presumably Superman and Lex have gone round for quite some time then. But Superman is only just beginning to notice the existance of Batman, and vice versa? Does not Parse.
    >Also apparently Metropolis is across a bay from Gotham. Like literally. So Metropolis is Los Angeles and Gotham is Malibu? If you’re seeing the flipping bat signal from on top of the Daily Planet then something is very obviously wrong.
    >This Batman has to be easily one of the dumbest Batmen in moviedom ever. He has a very creaky flimsy reason for wanting Superman dead but apparently doesn’t notice or doesn’t care that LL is playing him like a fiddle? All the letters that disgruntled Employee #2 has been sending you don’t tickle the batsenses even a little. Good job detective.
    >One of the most egregious cases of “Just say what your fishing problem is” EVER. Five words Lex has kidnapped my mother nope… instead we hear such gems as the ever ambiguous “I was wrong” and the perennial “You have to listen to me”. *head-desk*
    >Superman is suspected of killing bad guys and villagers! In the desert! He shot all of those guys to hell. Yeah shooting the crap out of people is really a Superman kind of thing to do. Maybe Punisher stole his tights? No wonder Senator Sweet Tea was softpeddling her anti-superman schtick- even she didn’t believe it for a second.
    >The horrific schitzophrenia. “We hate Superman” “We love Superman” “Lets try and Kill Superman” “Lets be sad we think he’s dead”.

    Also the music was so loud that it was like a drill going into my temple. Worse yet I really loved Superman’s ditty from his reboot but it was used in an eye-rolling manner in this one. Goodness, I need to stop, I’m like giving myself a headache it was so bad.

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    • I saw it last night. What wrote.

      And I want to emphasize the lack of 12D chess playing for Batman. Maybe if this was year one I could forgive it, but Alfred says he’s been doing it for 20 years, so by now Batman should be pretty astute at looking through all the angles.

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      • “One of my advisers will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.”

        It’s not just for Evil Overlords!

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      • I’m pretty sure there was a gang of guys who were saying “We need items #1-20 included in the film if we are going to have any shot of narratively catching up to Marvel in time to run our Apocalypse showdown at the same time they roll out their Infinity Crisis.” And they presumably had more authority than the focus group saying “this film is an overstuffed turducken.”

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    • >Okay so Alex Luthor is Lex Luthor’s son. He hates Superman and presumably Superman and Lex have gone round for quite some time then. But Superman is only just beginning to notice the existance of Batman, and vice versa? Does not Parse.

      No. A few people have suggested that this Lex is the son of the ‘real’ Lex Luthor. But this does not really make any sense.

      For one thing, the ‘real’ Lex and Superman would have had no time together. In this universe, Superman did not exist until 18 months ago. No one mentions Lex having *just* taken over his father’s company, so we need to assume it happened more than a year ago. So, what, Lex Luthor and Superman had some sort of enmity for…a few months? And also…no one bothers to mention this? Everyone talks about Lex’s opinion of Superman, but no one mentions his father’s? Not even Lex?

      Moreover, having ‘the real’ Lex Luthor die *before* he ever shows up on screen…is nonsense. At least, without showing him in any sort of flashback or something.

      Also, this Lex has the *middle* name of the real Lex Luthor, ‘Joseph’.

      And I’m not exactly sure who people think the son of Lex Luthor is. That’s not a real comic character, we’ve never had an actual *adult* son of Lex Luthor in the comics. He’s had a kid, but the kid has never grown up. (Well, except on Lois and Clark, but that’s pretty far removed from the core Superman mythos.)

      There has been an ‘Alexander Luthor Jr.’, the son of the *Heroic* Alexander Luthor from Earth-Three, but that clearly isn’t who this is.

      Once, Lex *cloned himself* into a younger body without cancer that he brain-transplanted into, and that *clone* called himself ‘Lex Luthor the Second’ for a bit. I guess that *could* be this Lex, but that seems to violate Occam’s Razor.

      The conclusion we should probably take away is that they just made Lex’s father’s name be Lex, probably to justify a multinational company being named ‘LexCorp’, when this Lex Luthor is clearly too young to have built it himself. (Although they could have just had Lex *rename* it.)

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        • I don’t actually know the comics *that* well. I was thinking that ‘Lex Luthor the Second’ had called himself ‘Lex Luthor Jr.’ until I checked Wikipedia.

          And also I hadn’t known we did have a real ‘Lex Luthor Jr.’ (Well, he renamed himself that, but he really was Lex’s son.) on Lois and Clark.

          But I was pretty sure, and Wikipedia backed me up, that, in the comics, we’ve never actually had an adult son of Lex Luthor. Small children, yes. An adult offspring from an alternate universe heroic version of Lex, yes. Lex-in-a-cloned-body, yes. But never an actual adult son.

          That said, I have no problem with this changing Lex’s father’s name to also be Lex, to justify how this Lex is so young but still in charge of LexCorp. Lex’s father’s name and background has actually changed a few times in the comics, and Lex sometimes *does* inherit a bunch of money and corporate holdings, although I don’t think he’s ever inherited it *all*. But whatever.

          I do have a problem with a Lex Luthor with a *complete lack of menace*, though. And think people trying to justify it with ‘That isn’t really Lex, it’s his son’ are just attempting to delude themselves. No. This is ‘really’ Lex. This is this universe’s version of Lex Luthor. It’s the only Lex Luthor we’re getting. You can’t say ‘You’re thinking of some other character that we’ve literally never seen and never will see.’ That isn’t how it works.

          Hell, even *if* they had actually intended Lex’s dead father to be ‘the Lex Luthor everyone knows’, that doesn’t make things any better…it would just mean they literally created a Superman universe where Lex Luthor died before we ever met him! And he’s not even a posthumous character! This is *even more* stupid than their total misunderstanding of the character.

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    • Also apparently Metropolis is across a bay from Gotham. Like literally. So Metropolis is Los Angeles and Gotham is Malibu? If you’re seeing the flipping bat signal from on top of the Daily Planet then something is very obviously wrong.

      Metropolis and Gotham are usually somewhat close to each other, each being in New England on the Atlantic coast (Except Smallville, which decided to put Metropolis in freaking Kansas!), but they’re like ‘three hour drive’ close, not ‘in sight of each other’ close.

      The weird thing was, they didn’t need to be close to each other for the movie to work.

      1) Ongzna i. Fhcrezna svtug va Tbgunz, boivbhfyl.
      2) Fhcrezna svtugf bss gb Zrgebcbyvf gb qrny jvgu gur fcnprfuvc (Fubhyqa’g ur tvir Ongf n cubar ahzore be fbzrguvat?)
      3) Ongzna fnirf Znegun Xrag va Tbgunz, whzcf va Ongjvat gb tb gb Zrgebcbyvf (Be fbzrguvat, ur qvqa’g nccrne gb unir bar bs gubfr, ohg jungrire. Ur fubhyq.)
      4) Fhcrezna nggrzcgf gb syvtug Qbbzfqnl vagb fcnpr.
      5) Qbbzfqnl ynaqf ba vfynaq
      6) Ongzna, fclvat ba zvyvgnel fngryyvgrf be whfg *frrvat* Qbbzfqnl ynaq, qviregf gb vfynaq
      7) Fhcrezna trgf gb vfynaq
      8) Ongzna trgf gb vfynaq
      9) Fbzrubj Jbaqre Jbzna trgf gurer. (Ubj gur uryy qvq fur trg gurer naljnl?)

      Vg nyy jbexf bhg whfg svar. Gurer’f cyragl bs gvzr gb zbir crbcyr nebhaq. Fhcrezna’f gur bayl crefba jub unir gb zbir onpx naq sbegu dhvpxyl! Vs gurer vfa’g gvzr, whfg chg Qbbzfqnl’f ynaqvat-vfynaq *evtug bhgfvqr Tbgunz*, qhu. (Naq nyfb chg Jbaqvr *va Tbgunz*, naq guhf noyr trg gb gur vfynaq fyvtugyl oruvaq Ongzna.)

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      • This is my own DC shortcomings showing but I always thought Gotham stood in as a New York sort of city and Metropolis as an LA style city, thus I presumed they sat on opposite coasts. My bad.

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          • They are both New York stand-ins. Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham is New York by night. (New York also exists, somehow. But it might be smaller.)

            I think, *generally* in the DC universe, that Gotham is in south New Jersey, and Metropolis is in south Delaware, with them on opposite sides of the Delaware Bay. And there even is an island in the middle of the two.

            But the problem is…the Delaware Bay is pretty damn big. It’s 13 miles across! You can’t see across it!

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            • Oh, apparently, FWIW: In the *current* DC universe, they’ve apparently moved Metropolis to Kansas. So not only is it no longer east coast, but it’s a huge city in a place that does not, in fact, have any huge cities.

              This is as stupid as when Smallville did it.

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                    • Gotham also has a very Chicago or at least feel. Metropolis is booming Mid-West city while Gotham represents the industrial rust built, a Detroit that somehow remained populated despite losing its economic power. I never really saw Gotham or New York as being a coastal city. Neither really seem or feel like a coastal city. The entire DC cosmos seems much more Mid-Western and Great Plains while Marvel has more of a coastal American feel.

                      Despite how its illustrated by DC, Metropolis never seemed to be like it should be near an ocean. It seemed more like a city arising from the grass plains and wheat fields of the Mid-West. Its too new and shiny to be even New York at its brightest. Gotham has the run down feeling and it could be a port city but its too dark even for New York and too big for Jersey. Even in New York’s worst days there was a spirit of possibility that Gotham simply does not had. Gotham is too down on it’s luck to be New York.

                      Gotham is an old nick name for New York though. New York has long been the metropolis or real big city of the United States. There is the fan saying that Metropolis is New York above 14th Street and Gotham is New York bellow 14th street. Why can’t DC use real geography and make it easier for us?

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                      • There is the fan saying that Metropolis is New York above 14th Street and Gotham is New York bellow 14th street.

                        I think that’s actually a *writer* saying. Another writer said the ‘at night/at day’ thing.

                        Why can’t DC use real geography and make it easier for us?

                        That’s one thing I like much more about Marvel.

                        Even the Marvel movies have inherited it…with the sole except of the top half of the Metlife building being replace by Stark Tower (Seriously, who the hell tears down *half* a building and builds out the top of it?!), the street layout and everything in that fight is 100% accurate, as they actually built a 3D model of that area and built the fight in it.(1)

                        Likewise, SHIELD’s Triskelion in Captain America is on Theodore Roosevelt Island. Which in real life is a national park. This location, somewhat randomly, causes a bit of foreshadowing about top-level corruption because you can repeatedly see the Watergate Hotel in the background across the Potomac. Which is a happy accident for the film

                        Of course, even Marvel starts making stuff up when it comes to foreign countries.

                        1) Oddly, this is causing some weird continuity issues over in Netflix, as Daredevil and Jessica Jones seem to have no problem showing the Metlife building in shots of the city. Pssst, guys…that’s supposed to be Stark Tower. If you don’t want to spend the money to CGI in Stark Tower, fine,(2) but the solution is to just not *show* that part of the city.

                        2) Although considering that Marvel Studios already has a *perfect 3D model of that part of the city*, perhaps someone there could just, I dunno, run off a few seconds of ‘panning across the city’ that the shows can use! I know there’s a bit of a separation between the TV and movies side of Marvel, but this is getting a bit silly…you’re still the same frickin company!

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                        • I think the Netflix shows, in general, don’t do enough to tie in to the broader Marvel Universe. Like, they use the Battle of New York to justify the de-gentrification of Hell’s Kitchen in the first episode of Daredevil, and that’s about it.

                          I think you can maintain a distinctive tone while still managing to exist in the same world as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

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                          • I think the Netflix shows, in general, don’t do enough to tie in to the broader Marvel Universe.

                            Well, to be fair, there really are several distinct things going on in the Marvel universe, all of which *we* think of as ‘comic book stuff’, but the Marvel universe itself doesn’t. Here is what the average person knows happens in the last decade:

                            1) SHIELD collapsed and it turned out it was actually Hydra, and a bunch of terrorists. Weird, but the average person had no interaction with SHIELD anyway, so whatever.

                            2) An alien invasion happened, and then robots tried to take over the world. These plans were foiled by:
                            a) Tony Stark, professional flying-around-in-a-metal-suit lunatic, who also was involved in the kidnapping of the president and fights at the Gran Prix and various other Iron Man shenanigans that, frankly, have resulted in like 100 lawsuits against him.
                            b) A giant green monster that likes to smash things up. (See #3)
                            c) Thor, apparently. (Huh?)
                            d) Captain America…okay, now you’re just making fun of me, that guy would be like 80.
                            e) Some other people in funny jumpsuits.

                            3) The recent rise of metahumans, like that video of the guy who jumped out of the burning building (First episode of Agents of SHIELD.) and various other things, probably also the Hulk monster thing, and recently there’s been a much steeper rise in them, and some of them are apparently called ‘Inhumans’ and are part alien. (?!) Governments probably…need to start doing something about that? Maybe? Didn’t SHIELD used to keep track of them? Whatever happened to…oh, right. Full of terrorists.

                            4) Two vigilantes were roaming the streets of New York, The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and the Punisher, and neither of them seem to have any superpowers. (Jessica Jones is well below the radar, and doesn’t really do vigilantism.)

                            There’s not really any reason that (4) would connect with (2). In the *comic book universe*, Daredevil and Iron Man are both obviously ‘superheros’, but in the Marvel Cinematic universe, the Avengers do not run around vigilante-ing street crime, nor do they have secret identities.

                            As for connecting with #1…it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that SHIELD was aware of Jessica Jones, or even Matt Murdoch or Luke Cage, and that they were on SHIELD’s ‘list’. There’s no real reason they’d mention that, though, considering that by the point we meet them, SHIELD is (as far as they know.) gone.

                            And as for #3…that actually sorta did get brought up at the end of Daredevil, as what’s-her-name (the lawyer from Jessica Jones) and Foggy, had a discussion about people with special abilities. Of course, it was only between the two shows, instead of mentioning all the people with quite-public powers that have been showing up on Agents of SHIELD. Or, you know, the frickin Hulk.

                            It will be interesting to see how Spiper-Man in integrated into all this. Spider-Man *is* a New York street-level masked vigilante, exactly like Daredevil. And he’s obviously a metahuman. He’s going to blur the lines between (2), (3), and (4).

                            Like, they use the Battle of New York to justify the de-gentrification of Hell’s Kitchen in the first episode of Daredevil, and that’s about it.

                            And they only did that because the depiction of Hell’s Kitchen does not actually make sense anymore,and hasn’t for decades.

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                            • I mean, people know that the Avengers exist and do their thing as a team too. To me, the big glaring oversights were:

                              Season one of Daredevil involves a major apparent terrorist attack in midtown NYC. It is handled by the City Police. Which admittedly makes sense in a world where your primary anti-terrorism organization was dissolved a year prior, but say that. And either justify why the Avengers don’t show up to a series of bombings a mile away from their HQ–or even better, have a Black Widow cameo–remember that BW was Daredevil’s crime-fighting partner for years in the comics, and as the most angsty and most realistic Avenger, she could easily be made to fit the tone of the show.

                              Jessica Jones has a major theme of “special people are popping up everywhere” simultaneously to that same theme being the focus of Agents of Shield Season 3. There’s plenty of reference to people who can do weird shit, so why not an off-hand comment from JJ about that guy melting a police car in the AoS season premier? Why not namedrop Killgrave in AoS when they’re talking about scary people with superpowers?

                              I feel like there’s a balance between adding verisimilitude and a sense of coherent setting, and staying true to the individual narratives of each show. But It also seems like the Netflix shows just aren’t even trying to find that balance.

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                              • Season one of Daredevil involves a major apparent terrorist attack in midtown NYC. It is handled by the City Police. Which admittedly makes sense in a world where your primary anti-terrorism organization was dissolved a year prior, but say that.

                                SHIELD isn’t really for normal-level anti-terrorism. SHIELD is a weird multi-national force that runs around dealing with super-science and whatnot. The FBI and CIA still exist.

                                And either justify why the Avengers don’t show up to a series of bombings a mile away from their HQ–

                                See, you’re thinking in comic books. In the movie universe, the Avengers have *never* done that sort of thing. They got together to stop an alien invasion, and as we learned in the last movie, they’ve been hunting down the remains of Hydra, probably because Cap asked nicely.

                                They don’t fight street thugs. They don’t investigate things. They fight things they consider threats to the planet, not someone blowing up buildings.

                                You’re thinking of comic book heroes, who wander around patrolling, or who show up at crime scenes and attempt to detect things. And the MCU has exactly one of those: Daredevil. (And JJ did it for a bit.)

                                The closest the Avengers has to someone like that is Stark, who did investigate a bombing once…but only because his bodyguard was involved in it and it was connected to him. And Iron Man 3 sorta gave the impression he was done with wearing the suit to try to solve things himself. (Hence the robots in Ultron.)

                                or even better, have a Black Widow cameo–remember that BW was Daredevil’s crime-fighting partner for years in the comics, and as the most angsty and most realistic Avenger, she could easily be made to fit the tone of the show.

                                Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Black Widow’s backstory in the movies means it doesn’t make any sense for her to hanging around with street vigilantes. Because she’s never been one, and she’s also never been a super-villain, and thus doesn’t have any of the ‘meeting all the superheros’ backstory that she does in the comics…because superheros barely existed before the Avengers. Likewise, in the comic universe, DD does a lot of stuff that seems…unlikely to ever happen.

                                The comics have told *decades* of stories, more than enough time to move players around to get all sorts of things in place, and also are a good deal less realistic. (DD’s backstory is already a bit weird and complicated to start with, especially with Electra now there, given that it wants to wander into secret ninja societies and raising the dead.)

                                If we were *actually* going to get anyone like that, the logical person to get would be Spider-Man. Who, like I said, is basically doing the same sort of thing as Daredevil.

                                Oddly enough, Marvel could technically have always done that, without Sony’s permission. Sony’s rights to Spider-Man are for *movies*, not TV. (Hence why Spider-Man has long been in the Marvel Avenger cartoons roughly based on the MCU.) OTOH, I’m sure their new agreement explicitly says they can *mention* Spider-Man existing anywhere in the MCU at this point….but i doubt he’s going to show up, if only because of the complications of getting the actor. (And also the fact they’ve made the character so young.)

                                The real question is if someone going to point out that Daredevil exists when Spider-Man (another masked vigilante) shows up on the Avengers.

                                Jessica Jones has a major theme of “special people are popping up everywhere” simultaneously to that same theme being the focus of Agents of Shield Season 3. There’s plenty of reference to people who can do weird shit, so why not an off-hand comment from JJ about that guy melting a police car in the AoS season premier?

                                Not only that, but Joey, as we saw on TV, spawned a debate if he was a alien or a terrorist. Seems like some of the powered people would be quick to clarify that they are not aliens, and, later, not these ‘Inhumans’ that everyone is talking about. (Just like in the comic Marvel universe, where people with powers are sometimes quick to clarify they aren’t *mutants*.)

                                Why not namedrop Killgrave in AoS when they’re talking about scary people with superpowers?

                                AoS can’t possibly know about Killgrave. If they did know, they would have waged war against him the first time.

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                      • Metropolis is shiny and new, yes. But it’s also the financial and cultural capital of DC’s America in the same way that New York is the financial and cultural capital of our America.

                        It’s telling that movies have done a pretty good job of capturing Gotham’s feel: Gothic, Grimy, decaying. But nobody has managed to do metropolis justice on the big screen–It’s hard to capture “City of Tomorrow” when you’re shooting on location.

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                      • The entire DC cosmos seems much more Mid-Western and Great Plains…

                        Interesting. Back in the day — I reached my own “peak comics” in the early 1960s — as a kid in Iowa, there was no question in my mind but what both Metropolis and Gotham City were East Coast seaports with other geography (eg, nearby mountains) tacked on as needed. In hindsight, I might call them East Coast seaports as Midwesterners would envison them.

                        The notion of the Great Plains is just silly. None of the basic geography is right, and other than Denver (technically on the GP, but not of the Plains) there’s never been a big city there.

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        • For some reason, not a lot of things in the DC universe happen on the west coast.

          The dumbly named ‘Coast City’ is on the west coast, though. (Or, rather, *was* over there. Or is it back?)

          Edit: To clarify, it didn’t move. It got destroyed.

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            • Not if it was East of Coast City. Alien-death-structure-front property isn’t as valuable as beach-front property.

              On the other Hand, San Diego sunk underwater for a while and become Sub-Diego during an Aquaman run, so if Otisburg is further south it probably had a good couple of years.

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            • I think that one is a relatively modern retcon. The Mike Grell run in the late 80s and early 90s went for a more gritty, real-world feel, and moved the setting to the real-life city of Seattle to do that. When the book later moved back to Star City, it retained a west-coast tech hub feel. Weirdly, the TV show had it in Ohio in earlier seasons, but has said it was a west-coast city in the current one.

              Green Arrow was a Golden-Age hero, and pretty much all of their home cities were vaguely NYCish (though there’s a strong case that Early Metropolis has some Toronto-ish elements, too). Interestingly, the fictional city aspect of those heroes was so intentionally vague that the Superman Radio show depicted Superman and Batman as living in the same city.

              The Silver age heroes, by contrast, had pretty explicitly non-NYC homes. Coast City was in Southern California, Central City was in middle-America, and Ivy Town was in New England.

              Keystone, the hometown of the Golden Age Flash, and originally shown as a coastal town, was re-located to be in the same place as (but in a different dimension than) Central City, and then ret-conned again to be across the river from Central City. Smallville (which might well have been thought of as somewhere in upstate New York originally) gets moved to Kansas, and so occasionally you’ll also get a version of Metropolis that’s closer to Kansas–Though most of the time, it’s still on the East Coast. Gotham, though, stays a more explicitly New Yorkish city than any of the others. It’s got a statue of not-quite-liberty in the harbor, even. For a while in they even abandoned Wayne Manor, And I’m suspecting part of that was because a stately country manor actually within the city limits doesn’t make sense for NYC.

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              • I thought Star City was put on the west coast pre-Grell mostly as a compliment to Coast City also being on the west coast. Fitting with the personalities of their heroes, Northern Cal vs Southern Cal. The earliest reference I have is the Mayfair DC Atlas, which was published in 1990 (in the middle of the Grell era), and puts it in Northern California. Unofficial, though, like Metropolis in Delaware.

                I’ve also heard that early Metropolis might be Cleveland. I’ve heart Toronto as well.

                Weirdly, the TV show had it in Ohio in earlier seasons, but has said it was a west-coast city in the current one

                Which TV show? Arrow? I’d always assumed Starling was on the West Coast by virtue of the Asia connections (as well as Star City being on the west coast).

                I’d assumed original Keystone was in Pennsylvania if only because of its name, but not surprised that it would have been elsewhere.

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                • Sorry, yeah. Arrow had a map showing ohio in an early season, and then described it as being 600 miles away from Central City, which is right for Ohio since Flash has Central City in Missouri per the modern comic books. That said, the Salish sea makes a pretty unconvincing Missouri River, so who knows?

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