City Of Heroes: What Is The Reloaded Revolution?

This article is over 20 years old and may contain outdated information
[p]As of November 6, the Matrix Trilogy is finished. It’s possible that it may be upgraded to a saga later as someone attempts to strip-mine the property for all it’s worth, but for the moment the Matrix is done. Whether or not you liked the films (or only one or loved all three) they have been a watershed for geek* movies – a different paradigm, one that is apart from fantasy and the space opera that typically dominates the sci-fi shelves.

[p]The Matrix Trilogy are superhero movies. Although it doesn’t have the normal trappings of the genre, the links are there. The incredible powers. Special costumes that visually separate them from the normal population. A bad guy that is potentially more interesting than the hero. Access to special knowledge that drives the characters forward. Parts of the Matrix movies look to have been shot like panels from a comic. Favourable critical reviews or not, the Matrix Trilogy has altered how superpowers are viewed by the mainstream.

[p]Indeed, the original Matrix can be seen to have kicked off the superhero film trend that is currently going on. It showed the Big Studios that people were willing to go and see large budget films about characters in silly costumes who could do spectacular things. Special effects technology was demonstrated to have moved past the point where characters could simply just be made to fly – it could be made to look like they were able to control time itself. Action films didn’t have to be stupid anymore; the audience could and would follow a plot that was at times convoluted and philosophical.

[p]This isn’t to say the Matrix Trilogy was perfect. It contains plot holes, cliched dialogue, clunky dialogue and too many characters. A large number of the audience has walked away from parts of it claiming to not understand what was going on. Whenever the action left the Matrix and went to the ‘real world’ things slowed down. Echoes of Star Wars and Star Trek appeared in sections. But as a perspective on the modern superhero it is a breath of fresh air that has been rapidly copied and absorbed into film and even general culture.

[p]Of course, other themes run through this series. The Saviour / Messiah imagery looms large right from the start, as does the eternal conflict between the ‘evil’ System and the ‘good’ Counter-culture (read: Empire versus the Rebellion if that makes it easier to understand). Aspects of philosophy and reality are discussed at length. It would be misguided to say that superhero idioms are the only thing you could see in this series. But it forms the backbone.

[p]The way superpowered characters act and look has changed thanks to the Matrix Trilogy. Gun use by superpowered characters isn’t as generally despised as it once was, provided you are able to fall back on something else (eg advanced martial arts). Having a long coat or perhaps some Bianca Beauchamp-influenced bodysuits are now slightly more believable as costumes (even if running in them isn’t).

[p]Away from the hype, the Matrix Trilogy is an important set of films. It may date badly, but it changed the concept of what a superhero could do in a movie. This ideology has moved across culture in general and in comics specifically. The Matrix Trilogy breathed new life into superpowers for a wide audience.

[p]This can only be a good thing.

[p]*I use this term in the most loving sense.

Can I Get This In TPB?
[p]No comic review this time, just an issue I have that I shall discuss using two examples.

[p]Example 1: I have all the Savage Dragon Comics up to about 50, when I basically stopped collecting comics altogether. After a while I came back, but I’ve never picked up any more Savage Dragon despite the fact I love the series. It’s because I can’t find the back issues. As a comic reader, I’m pretty much a completist, so the idea of missing large chunks of story doesn’t appeal. There are some Savage Dragon TPB collections, but they don’t cover the parts I’ve missed. I would love to complete the series, but without the TPBs I will never try to do so.

[p]Example 2: I picked up the Black Panther TPBs that cover the first twelve issues of the series. Loved it. Now where are the rest? I’m still 40 odd issues behind the series and know (having looked) that I can’t find the full series in the backbins of my local comic store. It appears that Marvel was committed enough to release a couple of TPBs for the series, so why not some more?

[p]I know, I know – TPBs are costly to do for the companies that print them. However, for the most part I see TPBs as a big part of the future of comics. Heck, they are a big part now. I hate having series I’d love to collect made unavailable to me. So… can I get this in TPB, please?

Recommended Videos

The Escapist is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy