The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Nov. 24–30, 2012

NEWS Round-up | Nov. 24–30, 2012
Published on Friday, November 30, 2012 by
[UPDATED] Dan Slott on last week’s Amazing Spider-Man #698, Stan Lee to hit Cowtown in Spring 2013, X-Men: Days of Future Past casting news, making sense of the whole mess over James Gunn’s superhero-sex blog post, gratuitous Judas Priest, and more on this week’s NEWS Round-up.

Worlds collide when the “Age of Apocalypse” and… zzzzz…

With a teaser image and a headline that our editors assure us is an actual sentence and not just an academic linguistic demonstration à la Noam Chomsky’s “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,” CBR’s Kiel Phegley has confirmed that the next X-book crossover, scheduled to launch on March 2013, will have an “X-” pun for a title and that—shock of shocks!—at least two mutant superheroes will be fighting each other, likely due to some misunderstanding or other. (Just spitballing here, but we think that Wolverine and Nightcrawler will eventually reconcile with each other in order to face a greater, common threat neither can defeat alone.)

We don’t really have much to add to this story so here, for your edification, is Judas Priest’s “Nightcrawler,” which isn’t really about the blue-skinned mutant teleporter, but hey, we’ve got to fill all this space with something:

Deathstroke in trailer for crossover plot generator video game

GameSpot has exclusive in-game footage of Deathstroke as a playable character in the latest trailer for NetherRealm Studios/WB Games’ Injustice: Gods Among Us

One problem with fighting games featuring established superheroes is that unlike characters designed from the ground-up expressly as fighting game playables, licensed superheroes weren’t really designed with competitive play balance in mind. Game developers and designers inevitably have to come up with some contrived reason for how, say, Wolverine can beat Thanos in a straight-up, one-on-one throwdown (Infinity Gems, in the case of Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes). We’re guessing that Kryptonite or magic will be involved in explaining why Superman doesn’t just wipe the floor with Nightwing’s dismembered torso within a second of their match in NetherRealm’s game, unless the devs go with the lame “he’s holding back because he’s Superman” excuse. There’s no denying that many of these types of games turn out to be fun for the most part, though, and players who don’t read the comics won’t really have any qualms about a guy like Green Arrow surviving being punched straight up into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the subsequent re-entry and landing, but gamers who are also comic book fans might have stronger opinions about that type of power-level inaccuracy.

Zack “Shlo-Mo” Snyder on Man of Steel

Zack Snyder on his upcoming Superman “reboot” film Man of Steel, to the New York Post:

We tried to approach this as though there’s never been a Superman movie before, but at the same time respecting the canon and mythology. There are the pillars that you have to respect, and I’m not about to break them. But it is fun for me to bend them and mess with them.

Snyder didn’t mention if he was going to use his signature “slow-it-down-then-speed-it-up” technique for the film, although it’s assumed he will, probably in a scene where Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent first demonstrates his powers in public or something, and likely every fight scene.

Stan Lee to hit Stampede City

Stan Lee is set to make an appearance in next year’s Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (April 26–28), offering his wealth of anecdotes, cheery exhortations, and autographed pictures to a city still reeling from a disastrous Grey Cup showing by the Stamps and an NHL season that seems destined for the toilet. The early list of confirmed guests also includes Eisner and Harvey Hall of Fame inductee Neal Adams (Uncanny X-Men, Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), artist Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan), James O’Barr (The Crow), Brian Froud (Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book, Good Faeries/Bad Faeries), Wendy Froud (puppet designer for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth), director and composer John Carpenter (The Thing, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China), musician “Weird” Al Yankovic, actor Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1, Saving Hope), WWE Hall-of-Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and nerd-rockers Kirby Krackle.

Exclusive: Reporter pulls a boner

In an exclusive scoop, HitFix reporter Drew McWeeny broke the story that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been cast for the role of Batman in the upcoming Justice League movie. Some select quotes from this inspired piece of investigative journalism:

According to sources, Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely will be appearing in Justice League as the new Batman.

and

… the more poking around I’ve been doing, and it’s looking like we may see Gordon-Levitt in the suit earlier than that.  They’re a long way from filming anything “Justice League” related, but they appear to be solidifying deals for Gordon-Levitt and, potentially, at least one other actor from the Nolan films to do… something.

There was much celebration and high-fiving and celebratory high-fiving across the Internet among the Geek Assembled, who saw the news as a tenuous but nonetheless real thread linking the ensemble superhero film with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and quite possibly Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel.

That is, until the HitFix exclusive story turned out to be untrue according to Entertainment Weekly. After reaching out to Gordon-Levitt’s agent to ask about the reports of his client’s casting as Justice League‘s resident Dark Knight, the news magazine’s website posted that:

… when contacted by [Entertainment Weekly], a representative for Joseph Gordon-Levitt declares the report entirely false.

For their part, McWeeny and HitFix remain unbowed, posting in an update that “actors and their representatives routinely deny things that are not ready to be formally announced.” It’s okay to admit you jumped the gun on the rumors, guys, it happens to the best of us.

Stewart, McKellen sign on for X-Men: Days of Future Past; Hugh Jackman to follow?

In reliably-sourced casting news, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen (should we just call them the X-Knights? The real Excalibur?) have indeed signed on to reprise their respective Professor X and Magneto roles from the 20th Century Fox X-Men film trilogy in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, the sequel to X-Men: First Class, which was a prequel to 2000’s X-Men (got that?). The story comes straight from the horse’s mouth—no “anonymous sources” and shady “poking around” for us here at the Comixverse—as producer Bryan Singer tweeted the confirmation on the morning of November 27:

In a related development, the Hollywood Reporter noted in an exclusive (there’s that word again!) report backed up by “anonymous sources” that Hugh Jackman—who had a brief cameo as Wolverine in X-Men: First Class—is in negotiations to play the part of Marvel’s most popular Canadian (sorry, Alpha Flight) in the Matthew Vaughn-directed film, hopefully in a scene that lasts longer than 23 seconds this time.

Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-Man #698

With Amazing Spider-Man #698 now having been on the stands for over a week, we suppose it’s safe to talk about the issue’s big twist: Peter Parker is dead, his mind or soul or however you choose to call it having perished while trapped in the body of Doctor Octopus, and it is now Otto Octavius’ consciousness residing in Parker’s body, where he has access to all of Parker’s memories and of course, his powers. We still don’t know how long the mind-body swap has been in effect, but we’re sure it will be revealed in time.

Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott talked with Newsarma‘s Albert Ching about the work leading up to the title, its implications, and Slott even waxed philosophical a bit about how we never get to experience media naively anymore:

We live in a day and age where the generation I’m from, and everyone following, we never get to watch the movie Psycho for the first time. We grow up, knowing through osmosis, that Norman Bates dresses up as his mother. We never get to witness that or experience it for the first time the way audiences did back in the day. It’s just a given. So we’re really all watching it for the second time.

What all the fuss was about last week.

Slott raises a good point, but it also makes us aver: If a given story can be so significantly undone by the premature revelation of a plot twist or surprise, then perhaps the story isn’t as strong as it should be or the promotional campaign behind the publication is approaching it from the wrong angle. Wouldn’t a mainstream superhero story where character development and the cultivation of themes are the primary narrative driving force—as opposed to barreling past plot points to reach a predetermined event junction—retain most, if not all, of its impact even with the reader’s incidental foreknowledge of “shocking” plot details, regardless of whether this knowledge came from spoilers or the reader’s observation-based deduction?

We’re not saying Slott is wrong to be concerned about the effect of spoilers on the comics-reading experience (we actually sympathize with him on this point, if you haven’t noticed from our no-spoiler stance last week), or that Amazing Spider-Man #698 and the stories that will grow out of its revelations aren’t worthwhile apart from their twists and surprises, but we also think that the problem is part-and-parcel of the shallow hype-based model of third-party analysis and “news” reporting that publishers have condoned, encouraged even, since the early days of Wizard magazine, and if they’re going to play that game, well, they’ll just have to take the good with the bad.

His name is Rob Paulsen

No, not this guy:

We’re talking about the veteran voice actor who has played some fairly high-profile indie comics-related roles over the years, such as Raphael on the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon,

Arthur on The Tick,

and Donatello on the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series airing on Nickelodeon

Anyway, Paulsen did a fairly extensive review of his most famous roles with Will Harris of the A.V. Club. Here are some choice excerpts:

On how he got the Raphael gig on the 1987 TMNT cartoon

A number of us—Townsend Coleman and myself, who became Michaelangelo and Raphael, respectively—were working on the animated version of Fraggle Rock with Stu Rosen, and Stu came into work one day and said, “Hey, so I’m casting this thing called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…” I was vaguely familiar with the comic, but not really. But Townsend and I, we went and read for it, along with Cam Clarke, Barry Gordon, and a bunch of other folks. We mixed and matched as far as who was voicing who. In fact, I remember when we got the job, at the first episode, nobody knew who was going to be which Turtle, so we just kind of said, “Well, why don’t you do this one, and why don’t you do that one?” And so on and so on, down the line. And then they hired Pat Fraley to be Krang, Renae Jacobs to be April, and James Avery, a.k.a. Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, to be Shredder. We all went in there and banged it around for a bit, and they said, “Okay, why don’t you guys stay with the Turtle voices you picked?” And that was it.

On the rumors that the Ninja Turtles in Michael Bay’s film adaptation will be aliens

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know what Paramount and Mr. Bay have in store for the movie; that’s their business. But man, the whole story of the Turtles is so bitchin’, anyway! I mean, it’s a very cool story, and we know that Krang and some of those guys are from Dimension X and all of that, but the Turtles? No, man, they were created from the ooze and the sewers, and they get to go up and find pizza for the first time, and it’s really neat getting to go through all of that again.

On fans’ reactions when they learn that he voiced Arthur on The Tick

When I go to Comic-Con, people know the things for which I’m most known, like Animaniacs and Pinky and Turtles, but they find out about Arthur and they freak out all over again.

Huntress knows best

Arrow‘s Jessica De Gouw on her inspiration for playing the Huntress:

I went back to the comics. I think the comics are the best place to start. That’s where it originated. That’s what the fans want to see. That’s what I wanted to go for.

Michael Bay could learn a thing or two from this kid.

[UPDATED] Guardians of the Galaxy director under fire for old blog post

Not one to let the competition pass them by, Marvel Studios recently showed Warner Bros. that they’re not the only superhero movie production outfit with a high-profile project helmed by a director saddled with a reputation for having the sexual politics of a poorly-socialized 13 year-old.

Apparently, James Gunn (Super, PG Porn), the writer-director for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film, wrote a blog post two years ago that has been described by The Mary Sue as “slut-shaming” and “homophobic.” The post in question (“The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With: 2nd Annual Poll Results!”) has since been taken down after being the subject of various Tumblr micro-blogs, but it is still in Google WebCache—featuring such creepy comic nerd gems as

I’m hoping for a Marvel-DC crossover so that Tony Stark can “turn” [Batwoman]. She could also have sex with Nightwing and probably still be technically considered a lesbian.

 

[Catwoman] has been making my penis feel funny since I was four years old

 

Disco Dazzler, Rave Dazzler, and Punk Rock Dazzler, they all have one thing in common – a friggin’ GREAT vagina

 

[Cassandra Cain]’s father taught her how to kill people when she was eight. Which means she has the ultimate daddy issues. Which means she’s just my type.

 

The whole time I’m fucking [Spider-Woman] I can’t get her face out of my mind as the skrull leader who tried to conquer the world. I know it’s not her fault, but I just can’t help it. So I finish on her face to help block out the painful memories. There. That’s better. I love you, Jessica.

and this ode to the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman

Just once wouldn’t you want to look back and forth from a pretty blonde’s face, to your penis actually having an orgasm inside of her vagina?! I know I would.

As you can well imagine, there’s a lot of fist-shaking and gnashing of teeth over this recent discovery, with some quarters even calling for Gunn’s removal from Guardians of the Galaxy‘s director’s chair.

We can see this snowballing into one of those things where bloggers and comics pundits and comics forum members give over whole weeks of their lives to arguing and rationalizing and white-knighting and invoking Godwin’s Law and all of the other nonsense that comes with participatory pop culture on the Internet, but let us save you the time and trouble and link you to the one thinkpiece about this issue that’s worth reading out there right now: Dark Horse Comics editor Rachel Edidin’s “Parsing the James Gunn Mess.” It’s a temperate take on an incendiary topic that has inspired shrieking histrionics and hyperbole elsewhere and is a good starting point for a more reasoned discussion of the issues at hand.

INTERVIEW: Adam Warren on Empowered

Knowledge of context is key when it comes to evaluating parody.

Edidin’s view, in summary, is this: Going by what she’s heard of Gunn from people who actually know him, there’s a good chance that the blog post was written as an over-the-top parody of the sexual objectification of women in comics. (We’ll one-up Edidin here and say that we’re almost certain that it was intended to be satirical, given the tone and subject matter of many of his other blog posts and Gunn’s film and video game ouevre.) For Edidin, the parody excuse, even if true, doesn’t mitigate the objectionable nature of the material, because the post was written “in a context where a lot of the people in positions of relative power and visibility, as well as significant vocal blocs, are actually that misogynist.*

What Edidin is saying is that such an extreme parody of objectification only works if the target audience already holds negative attitudes towards female sexual objectification. Presented to an audience that, presumably, counts a good number of males who genuinely objectify women among its members, the parody no longer serves as transgressive satire, but instead promotes sexual objectification and affirms the beliefs of those who already objectify women to begin with. To wit, there is a very fine line between parody and exploitation that is contingent on the extant attitudes of the intended audience, and it’s very possible that Gunn crossed that line with his blog post if parody indeed was his goal.

Now, one could make the claim that sexual objectification attitudes aren’t all that prevalent in the comics community, and thus, in such an environment, Gunn’s ill-considered attempt at parody is no more or less harmful than an offensive joke uttered thoughtlessly in the company of strangers. But it is difficult to stand by that contention while being aware of the decades-long legacy of fetishized male-on-female violence in superhero comics art, the many ridiculously hyper-sexualized superheroine costumes, and any number of things an adult comics fan will have been exposed to over years and decades of reading comics, learning the medium’s history, and following industry news and trends.

Still, we have to wonder if, in the rush to condemn the contents of Gunn’s blog post, the comics community is in danger of losing the thread and turning this into an issue of prescriptive moralism. Those watching these events unfold and commenting from the sidelines should keep in mind that the problem here isn’t that Gunn wrote a salacious, ribald, and sexually explicit public blog post; that in itself should not be open to question in a free online society—even as we make it clear that it only makes sense that the freedom of expression should be conditionally moderated when it conflicts with other rights. Rather, the problem is that Gunn used sexually degrading and objectifying language in a manner that can be reasonably interpreted to be promoting harmful emotional and sexual attitudes towards women and gay men.

We probably won’t see the professional fallout from this little brouhaha until after some of the online furor has died down and some perspective can be gleaned by those immediately involved without the distorting sensationalism of the Internet pop culture news cycle. Guardians of the Galaxy is in the earliest stages of pre-production (it was undergoing rewrites as recently as August of this year), so Marvel and Disney might elect to wait for the negative publicity to blow over before committing to an action regarding Gunn’s status on the project one way or another. But if there’s one lesson we should take away from this ongoing narrative, it is this: Freedom of expression does not guarantee freedom from the consequences of expression.

[UPDATE]: James Gunn has offered an apology for his post in a statement to GLAAD, saying that “[the] attempted humor in the blog does not represent my actual feelings. However, I can see where statements were poorly worded and offensive to many. I’m sorry and regret making them at all.”

*In recent years, it seems that misogyny, originally defined as “a hate of women,” has been used in popular discourse as a blanket synonym for sexual objectification, sexism, and/or male chauvinism. 

That’s your NEWS Round-up for this week. Until next time, READ BETWEEN THE HYPE!

6 Responses
    • For my two cents, I hope Gordon-Levitt does become the connection between the last Batmovies and the upcoming Justice League movie. I expect Hugh Jackman to reprise Wolverine a few more times in a few more movies. I really don’t care what stupid stuff a director once said, I want Guardians of the Galaxy to be good but don’t expect popcorn eaters to flock to it like they did Avengers.

      • I think the Gordon-Levitt casting thing might yet turn out to be one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. The buzz generated by the fake news likely didn’t escape Warner Bros.’ attention.

        Two more thoughts about the Gunn story:

        (1) It’s rather disappointing (and a little scary) how quickly he was tried and “executed” in the court of public Internet opinion based on a (non-parodic and non-contextual) reading of his post. I understand calling someone out on what they write or say in public (and I do think the post required some explanation, if only to clear up his stance on female superheroes with Disney/Marvel, who did hire him to direct a superhero film), but give a guy a chance to mount a defense before shouting (and consequently shooting) him down.

        (2) Funny forgives everything. At the peak of his comedic powers, Dave Chappelle could make potentially offensive stuff hilarious. Heck, Mel Brooks won an Academy Award for The Producers (which had this scene). The “parody defense,” when he was allowed to make it, didn’t really work for Gunn because the post was more creepy than humorous, making it hard for many readers to believe that he was actually trying to be funny. Tricky stuff, balancing transgression and humor in parody… let this be a lesson: Leave parody to the experts (or at least work on the material first before springing it on the public).

    • “Hugh Jackman is set to reprise his role as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Hollywood Reporter. Ian McKellen (Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier), will also be joining Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult.”

      http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20652442,00.html?xid=rss-fullcontent

      People.com is now reporting that Jackman is signed on to reprise Wolverine. That seems like a firmer announcement than what we had from Hollywood Reporter last week. Personally, I think that is good news. I’m a fan of Jackman’s take on Wolverine.

    • The AV Club did a fun interview with Rob Paulsen, but they neglected to mention his work in both incarnations of Biker Mice From Mars. It is cool that Paulsen has worked on 2,000+ half hours of TV programming.

    • […] from repercussion” or a similarly-themed aphorism. It’s a phrase I’m familiar with—I’ve used it myself to describe how public statements and online posts can come back and haunt their sources—but its […]

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