Thursday, November 8, 2012


It is a term closely related to comics…the illusion of change. Pretending to present something new to the fans, while really not moving forward at all, and just giving them more of the same. And as a creator, that's very disturbing to me.

Fans have always seemed to want it both ways. Humans get bored with their entertainment very quickly. Probably why sequels do well to begin with, but by the third or fourth outing, numbers diminish and it's time for a revamp. Fans want new stories, but when you do that, they sometimes rally against it and would rather see old characters again and again. Comics are notorious for not having characters age and keeping things status quo. But readers get bored and want new, and when you shake things up and give them new, they dissent and want the old classic versions again. It's a fine line to walk, and it's not just in comics but in most forms of entertainment.

Bond...both new and old
Last night, I got the chance to see an advance screening of the new 007 "Skyfall" film before it opens wide in North America. After it was over, I definitely felt this sense that it was less about furthering the stories set up in Daniel Craig's previous outings, as it felt more like a "Best Of Bond" homage to much of the past (of course, it being the 50th anniversary to the franchise might've also come into play). To me, it feels more like a step back to the traditional Bond with the humor (some awkward one-liners), recognizable characters (reintroduced behind the desk or in the labs),  over-the-top villainy, and a return to the classic cars and eventual gadgets. I feel like we barely got to see a more real world, dark, and different take on Bond as presented in Daniel Craig's first two-part outing in "Casino Royale" and "Quantum Of Solace"; that we're already moving away from that back into something more comfortable. But to me, it's a missed opportunity. I feel like we had gotten 20 or so movies like that in Bond's previous run, and was excited to see where they'd take things after "Quantum". But instead, it feels like that experiment was quickly stopped, and now Bond has returned to its comfort food elements of every previous film. Maybe that's what the producers feel that fans want, or maybe they've missed it themselves, and there's been no shortage of high praise for this new film's return-to-form. But while the movie was enjoyable, it feels like a missed opportunity for me (one who felt earlier Bond films had a time and place, but really enjoyed the last two films so much more). And I see that same outcry or hesitation with comics as well as comics in animation.
Batman…not the one fans need or want, but the one they deserve?
When more was revealed about the upcoming "Beware The Batman" cartoon, most of the fan outcry was over the producers decision not to use any of the traditional villains most associated with Batman (i.e. Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, Ridder, etc). Instead they decided to dig back through the history of the comics, both past and more recent in Grant Morrison's stories, to use villains and characters that have been underused, and even more importantly…those that have never been featured in animation before. As a working professional, I actually really love that choice. It's a way for them to write and play with many characters most don't know or see often, and bring something different to a Batman cartoon. And you would think the fans would agree, after having seen every new iteration of Batman cartoons with the same rogues gallery over the past few decades. But it was just the opposite…so many fans felt it was a mistake NOT to have Joker and the other villains we've seen used countless times. It can be a frustrating thing trying to please the fans and please the creators working on this stuff. And it's not like the next Batman series won't go back to the traditional villains again (they always find a way to resurface). Heck, I wouldn't put it past the producers to have time to introduce the newer villains in one season, and eventually sprinkle back in the classic rogues eventually in further seasons if they get to it.

But it's the more-of-the-same mentality that can end up being an anchor for entertainment. Never fully embracing trying something new and going forward, when the audience seems to want their favorite standbys to show up again and again. And I'm not without being guilty in the same regards. The first storyarc of Justice League Beyond is a call back to many characters that fans of the shows are familiar with. But in some of the stories that follow, I will be expanding and bringing in different characters as well. It's a fine line to walk. A tightrope. And storytellers seem to fall off of it into the comfort of the familiar all too often.


  1. Absolutely. Casino Royale and Quantum explored themes never adequately fleshed out in a Bond film. Specifically, the reality of consequences. Quantum, in particular, forced Bond to deal with the repercussions of his selfishness and the impact of his hopeful naivete regarding Vesper. And I think that helped forge what was so interesting about his character: a Bond that struggled with the implications of actually being a successful 00 agent. The movies acknowledged the manipulative nature of his relationships. They showed the price of ambition and the very real loss he incurred as a result of it. They made him human.

    I think people have this conception that they want change, but they forget how uncomfortable it can be. They say they want fresh content, but whenever something truly fresh comes along, they're disappointed because it's contrary to their expectations. As you said, this problem is at its most rigid in comics. Of all the stories I've pitched, I'm proudest of those that shake up a character's dynamic or explore overlooked aspects of their personality or deal with the consequences and implications of their overall identity. Yet, almost always, these are the ones that are passed over. Because they're unfamiliar. Because people are uncomfortable exploring the path less taken, regardless of how rewarding it might be to take the risk.

    1. I'd even go so far to say, the film isn't necessarily bad, but just less enticing to me as a fan of the last two Bonds that it's already falling back into the most familiar territory to the franchise. In a way, it ends up being more of M's movie (which in itself is interesting) but scuttling everything built up in the last two films to map out all future installments as been-there-done-that. Whereas the last two felt very much like Craig's films as he brought new life and experiences to the character, the new direction makes it entirely easy to plug in any actor as Bond going forward. The universal praise from critics and fans just leads me to believe that people like their Bond films to fit into a certain box, and aren't interested in the growth or challenge of the character outside of that. I realize that's the standard the films and novels have always presented him as, but it leads to a stagnancy of the character where the audience is only there for the car, the gadgets, the countless women he beds, the over-the-top villainy, and who cares anything about Bond himself. The audience starts to expect or to treat him much like his own bosses...he's a weapon for them to point and shoot with.

  2. I for one am very excited for Beware The Batman :)

    1. From what they showed and talked about in the panel at San Diego Con, it looks very interesting.