Stealing From the Next Generation

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 NEXT
 

Awesome, as per usual. I myself am one of you're younger fans, but unlike most of my brethren I really do despise changing something to fill the needs of the wider agenda. This may be partly because I quite quickly got over the whole "self conscious, hardcore" phase in my life and the fact that I became a gamer once I got a Gamecube so my first Zelda was actually a lot more different than others, once twilight princess came out I was a bit disappointed to see that Nintendo had gone back to an older (and come on lets admit it) slightly less original style just to satisfy the needs of others. After playing Wind Waker which gave the whole "Zelda" formula an EVEN MORE original outlook, this essentially set a gold standard that no game so far has reached (at least on my account). This has made me lean more towards originality than anything else. I guess its all on how, and when you got into gaming.

I agree with you here. Right now, Bob, Generation Y, that is, the dudes and dudettes who grew up in the period after Generation X which you are a part of - are the new Lost Generation - not because we've fought in a civil war in Spain or anything but because due to the focus on Gen X controlling the current media that drives stuff like Transformers and GI Joe remakes - us Gen Y kids got nothing. And when we do get it I'm hoping it won't end up like what you just described.

There's hope for Pokemon staying cute and cuddly though - Pokemon in Japan is like a nerdier version of Hello Kitty - and Nintendo is notorious for not darkening up their games originally intended for children. The Japanese have a very different sensibility when they come up with something for children than what Americans come up with - not saying American media for children is bad - Spongebob Squarepants for example was one of the most inventive ideas ever offered to my generation. I'm just saying that when a Japanese game designer makes something cute enough for children - it tends to stay cute because the character has an identity associated with children. Americans on the other hand grow up and tend to outgrow old franchises - whereas the Japanese are even more nostalgic than the Americans and Australians combined - have you seen how many high school anime they make? It's not just there for the fanservice.

Capcom have slightly been the exception to the rule though - Bionic Commando for example when it got remade turned out to be horrible - at least Street Fighter because of it's goofy ironic world warrior branding retains the fun and silliness.

God knows, if we saw a Dungeons and Dragons movie in the 1990s or early 2000s (I can't remember which) we might be seeing a Magic: The Gathering movie soon. That would more likely be a hardcore movie as opposed to Pokemon. Because Pokemon remembers that its main appeal is its childlike charm.

Excuse me while I get back to writing my own books which I hope might get adapted into movies one day. I gotta give this generation SOMETHING that isn't all doom and gloom and apathy.

theSovietConnection:
In fact, who is to say the whole Pokemon world isn't something darker in itself?

This is the sort of thing that proves English degrees are about one's own ability to BS.

well this article points out the obvious. Yes, light-heartedness should never, ever die and looking at stuff ONLY with darker tones does not make you smarter and mature. But we also do need darker things and scream all you want, ROBIN ISN'T GOING TO BE IN BATMAN 3.

Bob, in the relatively short time I've spent following your works on The Escapist, you've probably had more of a hand in refining my palate, as far as game/comics/films are concerned, than any other external influence.

I never thought there'd be room in Nolan's Gotham for a Robin until you made the case. Your unbridled enthusiasm for the impending Avengers film, and what such a thing means to the zeitgeist of cinema AND comic book culture actually inspired me to head to a for-real comic book shop for the first time and start buying monthlies, instead of the more sterile "graphic novels" section of your major bookseller.

And I've always known that "dark" or (ugh) "gritty" re-imaginings weren't better or cooler, I just never quite knew why.

Yours is an enthusiasm free of irony or cynicism, one that defends what has been good without fearing or rejecting what's coming next. For that, I salute you.

Dude... seriously, I LOVE your movie reviews, I LOVE the TGO, your voice is an absolute joy to listen to (it's seriously almost nationally-syndicated-radio-talk-show-host quality), but are you really going to go over the "I don't like dark and gritty all that much" lecture again? Really? Don't you think people are kind of sick of hearing it by now, even if they agree with it? I sure am.

I think you might need to go up to the guys at the Escapist and ask them,
"You think I could start doing these blogs just every second week, instead of every seven days? Because I really have nothing to talk about half the time."

Yahtzee, you see, is able to pull the weekly blog gig off because video games take more time to talk about than movies. He spends five minutes talking about almost nothing but the current week's game (and magically never breathes) then usually he'll use his articles to dig deeper into the game at hand, going off on some behind-the-scenes aspect, some subtextual element or concept he noticed, or any unrelated topic he was reminded of.

You, however, usually sum up your opinion on a movie in a matter of seconds (you're really good at that) then spend the other four-and-a-half minutes on the semi-unrelated, over-thinking stuff (and you're really, REALLY good at that). So come on; isn't having a weekly blog in addition to that a little overkill? Maybe you do have the ability to come up with better stuff to talk about and you're just busy or distracted right now, which I suppose is fine, and I actually kind of hope that's the case.

This post seems rather... angry. Before now, I've made all of one posts on this website, and even then I still managed to do something in that solitary post that a moderator didn't appreciate. I was told that I was flaming. All I did was I criticized someone on their blog-writing skills (way more harshly than I did to you ;D). I didn't insult anybody, I didn't say anything that should reasonably offend anybody, I just provided feedback, and if I also happened to be pissed-off, I'd wish people would get over it. Well anyway, I'm not trying to say the mod was wrong to correct me like that, I just had to make a disclaimer that I AM NOT TRYING TO FLAME MOVIEBOB OR INSULT HIM. I'M GIVING HIM THE SAME KIND OF HONEST OPINION THAT HE GIVES TO FILMS AND GAMES. ^ʚ^

Traun:

Nateman742:

Traun:
Did we REALLY, REALLY needed to hear how Bob is trashing the hardcore fanbase AGAIN!?

No, you didn't. You could have closed the article. It's that easy.

I agree with Moviebob in many cases and in general I enjoy his shows, which is why I read and sometimes comment on his works. Also the fact that I can "close the article" is not an excuse. The same could be said for half the shit out there, it doesn't justify it's existence.

I'm glad to see that someone else is tired of Bob's constant whining of hardcore... stuff or whatever. But more importantly: you deserve a f*****g gold medal for standing up and fighting the battle against the idiotic forces of "IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS, DON'T WATCH/READ/VIEW/PLAY IT!" Also known as the most retarded and embarrassing bullcrap excuse in human existence.

Little children; gather 'round and tell me, what are comments for?
"...saying only positive things?"
No, dumbass.
"Honest feedback?"
YES! Good work! You're getting really smart! Tomorrow, I'll teach you how to tie your shoes.

I remember when things that were considered hardcore at least had heart, specifically in the 80s. For instance as a kid I was really into Rambo and Robocop, two film franchises that were heavy on the gore and f-bombs but still had a fair amount of character development.

What I'm trying to say is I don't think grim and gritty is the problem, an inability to create a decent relatable character is.

If you want a prime example of the opposite of the machismo b.s. you see in films and video games today look at Jar Jar Binks and that stupid The Clone Wars movie, or any of the wannabe Pixel 3D animated films being made on every corner of Hollywood.

For me, a franchise being Disney-fied is just as depressing as seeing it get the bad watchmen treatment, they're really the same because the fact is they're both developed on the note of cliches and desperate extremes in order to gain our interest.....and hopefully our money.

Great art is not restricted to mature execution. Mature subject matter, sure. But you can do that without being explicit. Take a look at Up, or Secondhand Lions they have mature subject matter, but it's executed in a family friendly manner. Games might be a bit harder to do that with, but I still love me some Mario. No major change necessary. Now being older I do appreciate things like There Will Be Brawl, I thought it was a brilliant neo-noir look at our favorite childhood heroes. It however knew it was just that, a re-imagining for a mature audience, it never tried to redefine the source material. Good article Bob.

Sometimes the first duty of intellegent men is the restatement of the obvious.
- George Orwell.

Really, there's no way i could disagree with that. There's nothing i can add to it either. This article perfectly represents my opinion on the subject. I don't have anything against actual maturity (say, a well-executed film noir), but i do have a lot against GRIMDAKR - and when it comes to grimmification of the old franchises... UGH. Just... ugh.

No. No, no, no, no. NO. It's not rare that I'm disagreeing with you, but now you a just WRONG. And I'm not talking about the article itself - I'm talking about this part:

I'm awaiting my copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2 right now. In the broad strokes, Mario hasn't changed much since I first met him in 1986. What if he had? What if his face was just a bit more grim, Bowser just a bit more threatening, Princess Peach a bit more affectionate? I dunno. Might make a nice comic. Or a spinoff, even. Maybe. But as the Mario? No. It would be a betrayal of what he'd meant to me in the first place; and it'd be selfish of me to try and keep him for myself and deprive the next kid who hasn't found him yet. Especially for a stupid reason like "I don't want people looking at me weird when I ask for it at the store."

I've just played through 120 stars of Galaxy 2 and it's been long since the last time I was pissed off by a game that much. The reason? They dumbed it down YET AGAIN. Galaxy-1 was the closest Mario game has ever made it to having an awesome, compelling story. Yes, it still suffered because of the stupid and totally unnecessary Bowser-Peach bullshit that was thrown there only so fanboys won't start crying about their childhoods. Still, Rosalina was the first compelling character in the Marioverse EVER, The Book was so awesome I almost cried while reading it (and ever since I still feel that way every time I hear THAT music), and the whole story really looked like an epic adventure to save the Universe. It was awesome, and it would really be perfect if the villain wasn't as pathetic as... hell, I can't even come out with a proper analogy for Bowser's uselessness... and if "the special one" wasn't a cardboard cutout made out of a dumbest cardboard in the world.

So, yeah. What they did in Galaxy 2? They threw away everything good that Galaxy 1 made, and doubled the Bowser-Peach bullshit. Just... WOW. They really think that their audience is so dumb they can't even read a sad book? Well, I've never really been a Nin-fanboy, so I don't know, maybe they're right?.. But what I can say is that "and it'd be selfish of me to try and keep him for myself and deprive the next kid who hasn't found him yet" is bullshit. You know why? Because they were different when we found them.

Bowser in SMB-1 was FUCKING SCARY. He lived in a grey castle with so much fire it looked like he is the ruler of hell himself. He was covered in spikes. And he had so many hammers it was really frightening. He was The Villain. And we, being kids, loved and hated him for that.

And Peach? She also wasn't a dumb inconsiderate bitch that makes people want to kill her every time she opens her mouth to make her "cute" noise. No, she was a Princess, a girl worthy enough to travel through hell and back to save her. We haven't seen her all that much, so all we knew is that "hell, she must be awesome, if Mario wants to save her THAT much". For all we knew, she might've fucked Mario's brains out the very second game ended, Right there, in Bowser's castle, right on his still warm body. And I'm not saying that she did - but she could have. Because she wasn't yet turned into a dumb cake-eating trophy.

So, here is what I'm trying to say. Should be Bowser just a bit more threatening? YES. Should Princess Peach a bit more affectionate? HELL YEAH. Will it ruin Mario for potential new kids? FUCK NO. Kids are not that dumb. They can handle evil that is more threatening than a pencil sharpener. And they can handle heroines, that know what a kiss is, like to be a little sexy and most importantly - have, you know, personalities. Want proof? Almost every good Disney or Pixar movie is a proof. And Ratchet. And Psychonauts. And Looney Tunes. And lots and lots other things that are made for children, but not for dummies.

NeutralDrow:
Can't really say I disagree with any of this...although I did find that opening bit hilarious once I figured out what it was leading to.

Elesar:
1) Aiming a story at children is going to restrict your art. Are Wall-E and Up good films? Fuck yes, I loved them. Will they ever have as much brilliance and meaning oh what are my top 3 adult films, say Godfather, Blade Runner or A Clockwork Orange? No, never.

Why not?

Actually, yeah, why not? Wall-E and Up had quite a lot of genuine human drama, and a fair bit of meaning. If you had used, say The Little Mermaid, perhaps I would have agreed. Really, making something for children doesn't restrict it as much as you think, because if it is made for children, and made intelligently, it is possible for everyone to relate, because everyone was a child once. For example, The Little Prince. You can't argue that that story is lacking in meaning.

Jiki:
It saddens me what is counted as maturity.

Yeah... is this really what it means for games to grow up? Damn, this way gaming is doomed to remain a teen forever and gaming won't have its Moonlight Sonata or Anna Karenina or Citizen Kane...

Bob uses the wrong definition of hardcore.

If you look at Nintendo and at casual online pc games, happy brightly colored games are very common. I don't think there's any danger of this style disappearing.

If the industry don't appeal to kiddies, or rather not make the games that adults would want to buy for their kids, it loses potential future customers to get hooked on gaming.
Games suitable for kids (and adults too) is Nintendo's greatest contribution to the hobby. Nintendo also make alot of money doing what they do, so no worries.

At 16+ dark grim scenarios is what many gamers apparently want to see. This isn't hardcore. Just the fluff surrounding the actual game, which is usually too easy nowadays.

Just FYI, I'd totally play that pokemon game, and I want that murderous pikachu doll to put in my room. But yes, I don't like the way industry has turned from "Let's make fun stuff" to "Let's mass produce FPS and 'dark and gritty' because it will make u filthy rich"

Then again, I may be a minority, what with my sense of childish wonder and a level of maturity that enables me to be immature in a mature fashion.

I was born too late to really be affected by the grim 'n' gritty transformation. The fad blew over as soon as I was starting to be interested in the mediums it had infested.

To me, nostalgia-goggles are not only far more common, but more justified.

...the emotions behind them, that is. Not necessarily the arguments.

I disagree, kind of. My childhood memories of fiction were always better when they weren't dumbed down for me. I loved cartoons like Batman the animated series because they usually were darker and more interesting. Instead of the typical cartoons of the generation that were riddled with unnecessary censorship and propaganda.

Fair point. Some things remain unchanged though. I for one am looking forward to Toy Story 3. My seven year-old self is cackling with glee.

The next time you find yourself looking on some less-than-R-rated vestige of nerdity-past and wishing it could be more mature

I can honestly say I've never done this.

As has already been pointed out, Lord Of The Rings was created precisely because Tolkien wanted to write a darker story for those who had read and loved the Hobbit. If he had simply written another fairy tale, we wouldn't have gotten a story with anywhere near the amount of depth, emotion, or just plain out awesomness. Or again, The Dark Knight Returns. At the start of the eighties, Batman was a joke. The reason? Because all people thought of when they pictured Batman was the Adam West series and the older, camper-than-Graham-Norton comics. Frank Miller took a character written off by everyone, and showed people that the person they joked about and let their kids watch on the telly is actually a vicious psychopath devoted to vengeance, and who ultimately dresses up as a bat and beats up thugs because he's addicted to violence. Oh, and Superman? He's not Christopher Reeve. He's an all-powerful ageless alien who has given the US government his unwavering allegience. Stuff like that doesn't end up as Saturday morning cartoons. It ends up in international political crisis and war. In the end, Frank Miller didn't add grit and darkness to the DC characters, he simply looked at them from a more realistic perspective. And made one of the all time great comics in doing so.

While I can understand what you are saying MovieBob, I can't agree. Things stagnate if they are kept the same. Maybe you can still enjoy Mario, but I sure as hell wouldn't mind seeing him doing something other than rescuing the same goddamn princess over and over again. Iconoclasm isn't a bad thing. Sure kids need their Saturday morning heroes, but why can't they get their own? Why is it a bad thing that as I grow up, I want to look at the idols of my youth through a different prism? Hell, that pitch for Pokemon, satiricial as it was, is still far more interesting than anything the series itself has offered of late.

Wicked article MB.

O ya, and what is all this about the Watchmen character name change business? They had other names before, that were more gritty? Someone fill me in so I don't look like a total loser next time I try to talk to comic people.

MovieBob, I notice you mention The Venture Brothers. Are you a fan?

I think it's one of the most brilliantly-written shows on television, and it's tended only to get better as it has developed. It's one of two shows on TV I'd honestly claim to be a fan of.

I...agree with MovieBob? Hey, I got a perfect example of what you're talking about. Brightest Day. Jesus H Christ, dude gruesomely beats his/her family to death. Black Manta kills 3 people because the TV 'mentions' Aquaman, the hell? OK, I get it, these guys are bad guys. In fact DC writing is getting creepier and weirder by the day.

I think a lot of you are missing the point with your 'Bob bashing the hardcore again...' accusations. I saw nothing in the article where he said that Hardcore was stupid or whatnot, what I got out of it was, in essence: "it sucks that so many established franchises are being redone to be made dark and gritty and more mature, just because the producers are trying to target a specific demographic."

Bob has mentioned before that 'the Godfather' is in his pantheon of 'best movies', I believe. I'm sure he likes the classics such as 'Clockwork Orange' just fine, but what he appears to be ranting about is what I mentioned above.

I happen to agree with him. I have certain childhood memories that I do not wish to see 'updated' or 'rebooted' or 'evolved' or however the execs who want to jam their hands back in my wallet would like to label it. I like to be able to return to those things and have them the same, so that, for just a moment, I can hopefully experience a world where Saturdays mean eating super-sugary cereal and then entering into an almost trance-like state while watching cartoons, instead of meaning chores, yardwork, paying bills, and all the other responsibilities of adulthood.

Now, this is not to say that all reimaginings are evil: for example, it made a lot of sense to explore the dark side of Batman, since the character, if you stop to think about it, is as crazy as a shithouse rat. But the success of the more mature-themed Batman seems to have spawned a trend-- a cynical money-grab, really-- of making other franchises 'grittier' and 'mature', just for the sake of appealing to a now-older audience, whether or not it makes sense for that franchise... and this is not a good thing, at least to me and Bob.

but to leave on a lighter note: wallet chains always make me think of this

Elesar:
And the new Battlestar (which is what I assume you're referencing) is only about 10,000 times better than the original. Not joking.

To me, the new Battlestar is a perfect example of what Movie Bob was talking about. I'm about 20 years too young to have watched the original show when it was new, but I remember hearing about how it was basically an entire series made up of the space battles from Star Wars. This is what I was expecting when I watched the pilot. What I got instead was a bland, overly dark mess completely devoid of fun. When Sci-Fi later did a marathon of the original show, it proved to be everything I was hoping the new one would be, and more.

I think Japan does a better job of getting the mix of dark and light right. As dark as, say, Zeta Gundam is, with its themes of war and death, there's always an occasional respite from the horrors of war, a brief moment of wonder where we, the audience, can see that the characters actually have something worth fighting for. I didn't get that out of the new Battlestar, and sadly, I've been getting that less and less out of all nerdy media since the early 2000's.

Growing up in the 90's, we had all kinds of shows that, while they could be dark when they needed to, were just plain fun most of the time. Hercules and Xena are great examples of this. Sadly Legend of the Seeker, their spiritual successor, is a perfect example of the overly dark nature of today's shows.

One thing though -- if the IP needs to be dark, by all means let it be dark. The example of Blade Runner in the below quoted post is perfect:

Elesar:

And as for Blade Runner, do you think the scenes in which the androids were executed would have been NEARLY as effective if they hadn't been bloody and disturbing.

That film really needed the violence, and as a matter of fact, the international cut, which had scenes cut from the American release to avoid an X rating, was even better at making you think about what Decker was doing.

However, not every film has to be Blade Runner, and we should have very few series like Lost. For me, as I believe it is for most people on this site, television and film are forms of escapism. I don't want to escape from the real world to some place worse.

Nateman742:

While we're talking about robots: Wall-E deals with loneliness, extinction, free will, totalitarianism, death, mental instability and illness, racism, greed, regret, nuclear war, and what it means to be alive. It just doesn't shove its themes in your face to be edgy. And don't try to tell me A Clockwork Orange wasn't trying to be edgy for edgy's sake. That was part of its point.

Exactly. And Up has a lot of important, adult themes in it too, that children won't understand when they watch the movie the first time, but will get when they grow older. That's the genius of the Pixar movies. On the other hand, a children probably can't appreciate A Clockwork Orange in any level.

Whoever says a movie made for children will never reach the artistic level of more grown-up stuff is really falling into the same trap that makes things Darker and Edgier. A similar trap to the one that says that comedies will never have as much artistic merit as dramas. "Artistic" must mean "serious", "brooding", "angsty" and possibly "bloody". It is this line of thinking that is really limited.

Also, the article doesn't say "there shouldn't be mature, grittier things". It's funny seeing people misunderstand the point of the article and then trying to argue with a point the author never made.

I did agree with Moviebob, until about 1/2 way through the article (probably the longest I've ever lasted as I disagree with almost everything he says).

His fundamental argument is solid. But the examples he used where all examples of stories where making them more mature actually improved the stories - Batman? Seriously? Do we remember the ridiculous 90's Batman movies?

I thought he might get into all the kefuffle about movies like Transformers, Ninja Turtles, you know, actual childhood cartoons being revamped to be more hardcore. Instead he picks good movies like The Dark Knight and tries to use the argument that making them mature was bad.

I disagree again. At least your articles are well written though Bob :)

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Frank Miller took a character written off by everyone, and showed people that the person they joked about and let their kids watch on the telly is actually a vicious psychopath devoted to vengeance, and who ultimately dresses up as a bat and beats up thugs because he's addicted to violence. Oh, and Superman? He's not Christopher Reeve. He's an all-powerful ageless alien who has given the US government his unwavering allegience. Stuff like that doesn't end up as Saturday morning cartoons. It ends up in international political crisis and war. In the end, Frank Miller didn't add grit and darkness to the DC characters, he simply looked at them from a more realistic perspective. And made one of the all time great comics in doing so.

I understand your premise, but I'd disagree with the basic logic in as much as these are fictional characters, so they can be "shown to be" whatever the person holding the pen wants. From where I sit, the Batman of "Dark Knight Returns" isn't a vengeful psychopath because of some long-supressed "original design;" he's a vengeful psychopath because that's the pretty-much the only way Frank Miller writes heroes (see also: His villains are almost always vaugely "gay" in some way, and his female characters are always slutty and/or outright prostitutes.) Batman isn't real, so he isn't "really" a psychopath any more than he's "really" a totally well-adjusted father figure who keeps his own brand of shark-repellant in his ostentatiously art-designed personal helicopter.

DKR makes an interesting case study, I think. Has anyone gone back and read it again recently? Because whenever I do, increasingly, it doesn't really "hold up" all that well for me now that "OMG! Batman is violent!" isn't a shock to the system anymore. It's a "romp," but it has all the depth of a WWE arc and what characterization it DOES attempt - the child of hippie stoners craving discipline, Superman as tool of "the system," etc - is dime store "edgy" pablum. Back in the day, I think it "worked" for me because you could take it as a satire or a "Watchmen"-style tragic cautionary-tale (one of the overriding themes of Watchmen was that "the problem" began with the idea of superheroes "leaving" comics for the real world) ...but looking at it now in the broader context of what's left of Miller's career, it looks more and more like that sort of quasi-fascistic hypermasculine B.S. is actually the way he sees the world, which kinda kills out a lot of the fun in and of itself.

HappyDD:
Wicked article MB.

O ya, and what is all this about the Watchmen character name change business? They had other names before, that were more gritty? Someone fill me in so I don't look like a total loser next time I try to talk to comic people.

No need to feel like a loser ;) For whatever reason, this isn't really an "everybody knows" kind of reference.

Basically, "Watchmen" happened like this: DC Comics in the 80s liked to flesh-out their universe by buying up characters from publishers who'd gone out of business. A particularly big aquisition was Charlton Comics, who had a bunch of fairly-unique heroes created mostly by Steve Ditko (co-creator of "Spider-Man") in the mid to late 1960s. The DC editors put Alan Moore, who was the "rising star" of comics at the time, on the job of creating a big "event" miniseries that would re-introduce the Charlton stable.

The story he came back with was pretty much a rough draft of what would eventually become "Watchmen," using the Charlton heroes to imagine what might happen if costumed heroes had existed in reality (answer: nothing good.) DC was wild about the story, but figured that if this story was used for the actual Charlton heroes they'd never be able to "fit" them into the larger DC Universe. DC and Moore ultimately agreed it would be better if he told the same story, but changed the Charlton heroes into original characters of his own (loosely based on the originals) and publish it as it's own thing. Thus, "Watchmen."

Ironically, DC didn't end up getting much use out of the majority of the Charlton guys anyway, though fans of some recent stories and especially the "Justice League" cartoons are probably familiar with The Question (the inspiration for "Rorscharch"), Captain Atom ("Dr. Manhattan") and Blue Beetle ("Nite Owl.")

That opening Pokemon bit was the funniest thing I've read in a good while.

MovieBob:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Frank Miller took a character written off by everyone, and showed people that the person they joked about and let their kids watch on the telly is actually a vicious psychopath devoted to vengeance, and who ultimately dresses up as a bat and beats up thugs because he's addicted to violence. Oh, and Superman? He's not Christopher Reeve. He's an all-powerful ageless alien who has given the US government his unwavering allegience. Stuff like that doesn't end up as Saturday morning cartoons. It ends up in international political crisis and war. In the end, Frank Miller didn't add grit and darkness to the DC characters, he simply looked at them from a more realistic perspective. And made one of the all time great comics in doing so.

I understand your premise, but I'd disagree with the basic logic in as much as these are fictional characters, so they can be "shown to be" whatever the person holding the pen wants. From where I sit, the Batman of "Dark Knight Returns" isn't a vengeful psychopath because of some long-supressed "original design;" he's a vengeful psychopath because that's the pretty-much the only way Frank Miller writes heroes (see also: His villains are almost always vaugely "gay" in some way, and his female characters are always slutty and/or outright prostitutes.) Batman isn't real, so he isn't "really" a psychopath any more than he's "really" a totally well-adjusted father figure who keeps his own brand of shark-repellant in his ostentatiously art-designed personal helicopter.

DKR makes an interesting case study, I think. Has anyone gone back and read it again recently? Because whenever I do, increasingly, it doesn't really "hold up" all that well for me now that "OMG! Batman is violent!" isn't a shock to the system anymore. It's a "romp," but it has all the depth of a WWE arc and what characterization it DOES attempt - the child of hippie stoners craving discipline, Superman as tool of "the system," etc - is dime store "edgy" pablum. Back in the day, I think it "worked" for me because you could take it as a satire or a "Watchmen"-style tragic cautionary-tale (one of the overriding themes of Watchmen was that "the problem" began with the idea of superheroes "leaving" comics for the real world) ...but looking at it now in the broader context of what's left of Miller's career, it looks more and more like that sort of quasi-fascistic hypermasculine B.S. is actually the way he sees the world, which kinda kills out a lot of the fun in and of itself.

I know what you mean with the way Miller writes his heroes. The Dark Knight Returns is the only comic by him that I really enjoyed (though I liked the Sin City movie, if that counts). What sets it apart from his other comics, I think, is that it isn't all presented from Batman's point of view. You get other characters, like Commissioner Gordon and Clark Kent, adding their own dialogue, and ultimately showing that it's not all as simple as Bruce Wayne may think it is. While Batman is ultimately shown to be in the right, you get enough people questioning his methods along the way to at least feel a little uncomfortable with his brand of justice. Miller's later works forget that, and he's since become an imitator of his own style.

Analysis of TDKR aside, I know that Batman isn't real. What I'm saying is that what TDKR did, along with Watchmen, is take the whole Superhero concept and say "What would it be like if Superheros were real?" Now, as you've pointed out, different writers will have different ideas about this (and Watchmen and TDKR offer fundamentally different outlooks on the subject), but the common thread running through the idea is that, no matter the political allegience of the writer, the stories are fundamentally violent, adult stories. Because the whole idea of having caped heroes in a real life setting will ultimately lead to nasty situations. That's what the comics of the previous decades, marketed at kids as they were, forgot. Both Miller and Moore, by taking a fundamentally childish idea and looking at it as adults, were able to move comics in a genuinely new direction. This is where I disagree with you. Some of the best works of fiction have come about because the writer took a concept beloved of childhood, and looked at it through an adult lense. Hell, one of the best episodes of Doctor Who (a series marketed at kids) was also one of the most damned terrifying (Blink, if you've not seen it. Check it out).

Believe me, I'm totally against gritting things up just for the sake of it. The day a franchise decides to go dark and moody just to attract a 15-year old metal-head demographic (see Prince Of Persia), is the day that franchise loses me as a fan. But there is a difference between that, and taking a series or a franchise in a new direction, and exploring avenues previously left alone. Often it is the case that in doing so, the series will become much darker and, for lack of a better word, 'adult'. If it produces a work of fiction that actually has something to say, then I'm all for it. That's the difference I guess.

The Dark Knight Returns: a dark, gritty story with something to say.

POP: Warrior Within: a dark, gritty story with nothing to say.

By, the way, if you've not read it recently, I would definitely recommend re-reading TDKR. Because, Millerisms aside, it did do a lot to move comics forward (the stream of conscious narrative style, beautiful artwork, multiple narratives, etc).

MovieBob:
Stealing From the Next Generation

Geeks grow up, but that doesn't mean the things they love should.

Read Full Article

The oposite is also true, new geeks are born everyday, it doesn't mean that the things we love have to keep being mindlessly dumbed down for them.

This even though it ends in failure after failure ; like with Deus ex 2 which was horrible, and now rumors of Deus ex 3 having regenerating health and heavy focus on FPS action.
I'd like to think this is not just a fan's whining, I liked complicated and challenging games, with sometime a deep story, as they were.
"Appealing to a larger audience" is always a doomed effort, I despair at the single mindedness of the developers who keep doing that.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
This is where I disagree with you. Some of the best works of fiction have come about because the writer took a concept beloved of childhood, and looked at it through an adult lense.

I can more-or-less get behind that, though in answer to your question re: DKR, I read through it again a few months back, and it still works for me less and less, and I pretty much lose the ability to take it seriously once the "Superman is a douche because I say so" business kicks in. If you haven't seen it, check out this link to an circa-1980s Alan Moore short making fun of Miller's writing style in "Daredevil": http://xrayspex.blogspot.com/2008/03/alan-moore-spoofs-frank-miller.html What's amusing is, most of these jokes could apply to stuff Miller is writing TODAY.

In any case, I don't so much have a problem with the "dark" stuff until it starts "replacing" the original model. I know it's nerd-blasphemy to say, but for the most part superheroes (just for one example) are a children's-fiction concept down to their core, in as much as they make no sense in an "adult" context. Batman makes PERFECT sense if your a ten year old: Why wear an elaborate, instantly-recognizable costume when your ultimately a stealth guy? "Because it's more awesome." Why keep all your gear in a giant cave UNDER your huge, roomy house where you live almost entirely alone? "Because you keep ALL your best stuff in your clubhouse, duh!" Even his psychology is juvenile: "Someone wronged me and got away with it, so I'm gonna go beat up everyone who's like him until I feel better."

From where I sit, that's why "adult" superheroes really only "work" as parody re: "Watchmen." (By the same token, you probably couldn't make a non-parody "children's version" of, say, "Se7en.") And I've enjoyed a lot of material in that regard, both for humor and for analysis. What I worry about is when those "alternate" dark versions end up supplanting the "original" version. Going back to Alan Moore for a moment, did you know he's flat-out "disowned" his in-continuity "Killing Joke" Batman story for some of the same reasons? He seems to blame himself for a lot of what "went wrong" in 90s comics.

solidstatemind:
I think a lot of you are missing the point with your 'Bob bashing the hardcore again...' accusations. I saw nothing in the article where he said that Hardcore was stupid or whatnot,

Oh, well you might be right. But...

solidstatemind:
what I got out of it was, in essence: "it sucks that so many established franchises are being redone to be made dark and gritty and more mature, just because the producers are trying to target a specific demographic."

Yes this is closer to what he was really saying, and trust me, he's talked about THAT way too much too.

Look guys, you don't have to waste your time telling Bob how his argument here doesn't apply all of the time, or criticize the examples he used (although I agree that the story in main Mario Games have been generic for so long that it's not funny anymore), the fact-of-the-matter is (the way I see it anyway) that this week, he was so desperate for something to talk about that he threw together his regular "don't be too dark and realistic" presentation and changed-up the words here and there. Unfortunately, this time he didn't put it together as well as he usually did.

You want your disagreeing views to be 100%, completely, utterly destroyed? Watch the holy triforce of Game Overthinker episodes...

Why dickish hardcore gamers are the way they are (and what damage they're doing to themselves)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD2c4aEQ3OU
What dickish hardcore gaming is doing to the industry (and the worst thing that could possibly happen to it)
http://www.youtube.com/user/moviebob#p/u/29/9joAb4XMaUs
And finally, the Overthinker ends the console wars in ten minutes flat
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByPcQBveWOA

PS: Bob, have you seen any of the Alice in Wonderland game on the DS? It's like, totally different than the movie, with a gorgeous minimalist cartoon art style that makes it possibly the best looking DS game ever. It has some wonky controls, but after playing it for an hour or two so far, I think you'd really like it.

Well this was a good column and I generally agree with most of it (as I usually do with Bob, sometimes to the point of fanboyism I must admit) but I do have 2 points to raise:

I'm awaiting my copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2 right now. In the broad strokes, Mario hasn't changed much since I first met him in 1986. What if he had? What if his face was just a bit more grim, Bowser just a bit more threatening, Princess Peach a bit more affectionate? I dunno. Might make a nice comic. Or a spinoff, even. Maybe. But as the Mario? No. It would be a betrayal of what he'd meant to me in the first place; and it'd be selfish of me to try and keep him for myself and deprive the next kid who hasn't found him yet. Especially for a stupid reason like "I don't want people looking at me weird when I ask for it at the store."

While I agree with the general sentiment here, I think Mario actually MIGHT benefit just a bit, maybe for just one game, by being just a BIT more like Bob suggests here. OK, there's no real need to make Mario scowl more, but years of constant failure when he only ever has a single simple objective have turned Bowser into a laughable parody of an evil mastermind- he was arguably more threatening back in Super Mario Bros 3. I'm not saying he has to bloodily murder innocent toads to show how "HARDCORE" he is, but what if he was simply rendered with a design slightly closer to the uber-powerful 'Giga-Bowser' from Smash Bros? And likewise, Peach in the main Mario games has become a parody of the "Distressed Damsel" archetype who EVERY game gets kidnapped by Bowser and sits around waiting for Mario to come rescue him so she can bake him a cake or give him a chaste kiss on the cheek at most. Again, I'm not suggesting she needs to get her tits out and start humping Mario's leg in gratitude, but maybe something that actually suggests a bit more of an actual RELATIONSHIP between the 2 would be nice- at least some more dialogue or something. Or possibly she could actually MARRY the poor sclub (making him Royal Consort rather than King, just for the sake of consistancy).

If that sounds like it still might be a bit of a dangerous move, consider that Disney is making Epic Mickey for the Wii and that's being met with considerable anticipation.

The next time you find yourself looking on some less-than-R-rated vestige of nerdity-past and wishing it could be more mature, ask yourself: In asking something to grow up, are you not also asking it to grow old? And if so, are you not also asking it, implicitly, to eventually die?
And what sort of person, in the end, wishes for their heroes to be dead?

While I get what you're saying here Bob, and I KNOW you didn't mean it this way and almost certainly would have rephrased this if you realized, but doesn't that line of argument sound disturbingly like what Joe Quesada used to justify 'One More Day' and his total rape of the entire Spider-Man canon? His desire to return Peter Parker "to his roots", make him "young and hip" again? He even accused fans who supported the Spider-marriage of "(wanting) him to grow old and die". The parallels were just so unnerving that I HAD to mention them.

I agree. I'm currently re-watching a TV show that I (sorta) grew up with, which is Digimon Tamers. The whole appeal to me is that it's childish and I can just enjoy its simple and straightforwardness.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here