Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Season of the Witch > Black Swan. No, seriously.

I went to see Season of the Witch because I was bored and movies are six bucks on Tuesdays and I love Nicholas Cage. After watching Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, one of my all-time favorite movies (up there with Taxi Driver), I realized that the man’s an artist. That film was like the Rosetta Stone to his career; suddenly films like Knowing and Ghost Rider became works of art and I discovered classics like Vampire’s Kiss. Nicholas Cage is a fucking genius.

So six bucks, why not, I bought my ticket and went into the theater expecting insanity and cheese. And, you know what? It was a pretty absurd film, pretty damn cheesy, but not that bad. It was certainly not Nicholas Cagey enough, it played more like an ensemble piece which was a pity because the characters weren’t that interesting. The story, though, wasn’t terribly written (though full of anachronism), the special effects weren’t distractingly bad (more like the high end of mediocre), and the acting was passable. It was a decent shitty movie. I do not regret seeing it. I do not regret giving them my money.

The reason I say it was better than Black Swan is because the same people who sat down to do what they always do just did a better job in this context. You expect the best from Black Swan’s effects team and you got some weird, sometimes goofy-looking stuff. You expect GameCube graphics from SotW’s team (shit like the Scorpion King) and you got something pretty decent. You expect a great script from Black Swan, you got a pile of hackneyed drivel. You expect a shit script from SotW and you got a pretty entertaining fantasy action-adventure. You expect great acting from Black Swan and you got… yeah, it was pretty good, hell, up to par. You expect shit acting from SotW and, relatively speaking, they blew it out of the fucking park.

My one complaint is that Cage’s acting was just not weird or surreal enough to make this film worthy of the canon. But we’ve got Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2 this year, so there’s hope.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black Swan was a completely pointless movie.

“Pointless” is not to be confused with “plotless”; it certainly had a plot, just not one worth giving a shit about. Natalie Portman weeps and weeps as she portrays a ballerina who has invested her life in pursuing her dream that’s more likely her domineering mother’s—a former ballerina who had to throw that life away to give birth to little Natalie. But when all seems to be going smoothly, a wrench is thrown in the works by way of Mila Kunis, a sexy, dangerous ballerina who smokes cigarettes, rolls E, and smooches strange men.

So Natalie, a spineless, virginal doormat of a girl must overcome her frigid innocence to dominate the role of the black swan—she plays both, white and black, though, never having seen the ballet, I don’t know if that’s standard. The black swan role requires Mila-style sexiness and Natalie is threatened by her presence.

Now in case you’re an idiot and you’ve already forgotten what’s going on, Aronofsky jabs you with this duality theme through abundant symbolism. Get your pens out, freshmen film students, here’s the final paper to your intro course. Black and white, black and white, black and white. Natalie’s pretty much always wearing white, Mila black, Mila hands Natalie a black negligee to wear when she’s trying to coax her into ‘badness’, the director’s whole fucking apartment is black and white, and on and on. When Natalie jerks it, behind her is a plush little black swan, in the bathtub are little carvings of white swans. Further, to really drive home the idea of fragmented identity: mirrors. Here are some mirrors, here are some more. Oh look, everybody’s bodies are divided or scattered or multiplied because mirrors are fuckin’ crazy like that. Ya get it yet? Hmmm? Yeah?

Behind all the wacky bullshit is… really, nothing. Take away the smokescreen of substanceless Kafkaesque nonsense and you have a plot that you’ve probably seen several dozen times before. Frigid protagonist learns to loosen up with the help of some wacky friend (The Hangover comes to mind), subservient hero learns to stand up for themself against overbearing relative (…The Hangover comes to mind again (and also Carrie)), prodigious champion (I’m clearly struggling for synonyms here) struggles to fulfill expectations (actually, the Wrestler… in fact, the ending’s practically the same). The film is just a collection of stale, canned plots, driven by characters who aren’t engaging doing things that aren’t engaging, served out a punch bowl spiked with peyote. It doesn’t suck, it just has no reason to exist.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by how NOT irritating Mila Kunis’ voice was.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A brief lesson in Russian New Year tradition

In honor of this Christmas season, I thought I'd share with you all a holiday tradition that we Soviet ilk celebrate. Now I'm not Christian, though my love of pork products and my many subscriptions to anti-Semitic newsletters may have made you think otherwise, but my family does have a tree. A New Year's tree. You see, the Soviets, in their brazen attempt to be as cartoonishly supervillainous as possible actually banned Christmas in Russia. And much like the Nazis went East and West, conquering nations and purging them of Jews, the Soviets did the same with Christmas. The Poles, the Czechoslovaks, the Ukrainians, all these people were forced to surrender their most cherished holiday, and this time they weren't so eager to collaborate (that's right, fuck you, Poles).

One could call it a Christmolocaust... if one were so inclined.

But as we all know, because American cartoons and sitcoms have bludgeoned us nearly to death with this fucking point, canceling Christmas is like destroying our souls. You may as well outlaw smiles while you're at it. So Stalin and his crew had a great idea, "Maybe," he thought aloud, "we could cancel Christmas but then have like... New Year's trees and gifts and potato feasts, and there could be like... some fuckin' Santa thing that's, you know, totally Slavic or whatever." His henchmen nodded, "Yessirthatsoundsgreatpleasedontkillus." And the Russian people at large were too drunk to notice anything had changed at all.

What I'm going to share with you now is the story of our fuckin' Santa thing that's totally Slavic or whatever. His name is Deyt Maroz and he is not just an ersatz Santa. This is the tale my mother would tell me as she tucked me into bed on the eve of New Year's Eve, images of presents and pickled herring swirling around my little boy brain.

It all began in a time before… before there were czars, before peasants boiled beets and cabbage to make their meals, before bears roamed the snowy plains and mountainsides, before our blood was poisoned by the rapists of the Mongol horde. A purer time, a time of gods and magic.

The forest and its animals were ruled by a young god with great vision. He was friend to all manner of beast—bears brought to him the spoils of their hunt, the sparrows showered him in berries, chickens even offered to him their eggs. He spent his days polishing stones into fish, making sure the flowers bloomed bright, and the trees rained enough nuts for all the squirrels and chipmunks. He spent his free time conjuring up new plants, new animals, to fill the canvas of the forest. He had it pretty good, he thought, life was pretty simple.

The goddess of death didn’t have it quite so good. You see, the forest god was an orphan, so he didn’t have to deal with divine Slavic parents getting all up in his shit all the time. “Ven veel vee be see-inks grant-child?!” Her mother badgered, “You ahr neer terty! Yo vant be hyag?! Hyag veef cats, cat-hyag?! Expektahnsee of laiyf eez ohnly feeftee yeers fer Slav-gods.”

“Yees,” nodded her father, “Slav-god govr-mhent cohr-oopt, dok-tors eez bad, alk-hol aboos pahn-dyemic. You haf behbee naow!”

The goddess of death left her family’s one bedroom underworld apartment intent on finding a man to marry and finally satisfy the expectations of her overbearing, intrusive parents. This would be the day, she thought, for she had a plan.

Now this plan may not seem too novel for us now, but mind you, these were the gods. They invented fire, wind, water; all this shit was new to them. On this day, the goddess of death invented a scheme that many Slavic women would come to rely on: she would find a man, get him drunk, fuck him (or, rather, get him to fuck her as she stared vacantly at the ceiling), get pregnant, and shame him into marriage. It was foolproof.

Trouble was, the divine Slavic realm was full of absolute creeps and weirdos. The god of the sea smelled and was missing teeth, the god of the sky was alarmingly overweight… and also smelled and… well, was missing teeth, the god of war had really greasy hair and a gaudy fashion sense. Slavic god men just did not know how to take care of themselves. And so she wandered and wandered, feeling more and more miserable with each and every step. That is, until she wandered into the forest.

And there he was. He was rugged, muscular, his teeth were alright and he smelled kinda piney: the forest god, frolicking around with his animal friends.

“Hyello!” she waved, “vat is name ahf yours?”

The forest god stopped mid-frolick to see who it was calling to him. Now, I should probably mention, the forest god had always been something of a recluse… I mean, he lived in the forest, after all. The closest he’d ever come to a she-gods touch was that one time he choked out a deer and fucked it. But here, right in the god-flesh, a bona fide female deity.

“mmm,” he thought, “I nyever mahch eento moteef ahf goff but mehbee kinky, yes?” Having convinced himself that hooking up with a goth chick might be pretty cool, he galloped over to her side (did I mention he had horse feet? He had horse feet.).

“Hyelo!” he said, “Ahy ehm goht off fohrest. I do makeenks of ahnmals.”

“You vant get dreenk wif me?” asked the goddess, coyly.

“Oh-khey!” agreed the forest god.

So they drank and drank until finally the goddess said, in the most romantic voice she could must, “You want make fah-kings in mine vah-gina weef pehynis of yours haveenk?”

The forest god narrowed his eyes, “Is you comeenks on to meez?”


“Oh,” replied the forest god. He promptly began wrapping his hands around her throat.

“Wat you doink?!” she yelled, shocked.

“Eez how I makah da fahk in foh-rest wif deers.”

“Oh, oh-khey,” replied the goddess of death, rolling her eyes up to the sky, going temporarily catatonic.

Pretty soon it was over. The forest god woke up alone the next day, feeling pretty good about himself. He called over the bears and tigers and bragged about his conquest. Months had passed as the forest god continued frolicking merrily and free. But then, one day, a letter arrived via… uh… bird, or something: the goddess of death was pregnant!

“Sheet” lamented the forest god, knowing he had but one course of action: marry the goddess. He’d considered suicide but even then he’d be cast into the realm of the dead, where her big ‘ol fuckin’ hard-on of a dad would harass him for eternity. “Fahk eet,” he sighed, and conjured a ring out sticks and stones and whatever.

As he marched into the underworld, the trees wept in his wake, their leaves falling to the ground, their limbs shriveling. A coldness crept onto the forest.

The two promptly got married and the goddess never lost her baby weight. Every year, for but a few months, the forest god managed to get her off his fucking back so he could finally get some work done in this goddamn hellhole GODDAMMIT and he’d storm back into the forest to conjure. But the magic inside him… just wasn’t quite there anymore. He couldn’t think of new animals to make, he could barely make the trees drop enough nuts for the squirrels, make enough grass for the rabbits, enough fish for the bears. “Veel you stohp ryidings ahf ass-mine?!” he found himself screaming at a bear. He couldn’t concentrate, he just wanted to forget about everything and just jump off a bridge or something.

The goddess of death let herself go pretty hard after marriage.

It’s worth nothing he also looked like shit. He had bags under his eyes, his hair’d started falling out, he’d started gaining weight from all the booze. But he was too dead inside to care.

His son, who they named something totally unpronounceable but who I will refer to as Sergei because that's sufficiently generically Slavic, was a sensitive young lad. Kinda gloomy like his mother, but also creative like his father. He spent his time taking black and white photographs of railroad tracks and empty shacks and writing poems about the darkness inside him (remember, this is way back when in the olden-god times, before this shit was totally lame).

One day Sergei approached his father, who was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking, “Fazer, I vant to go to skool ahf stadees ahf ahrt to be arhteest.”

“Noh fagh-yot sohn of mine havinks vil be major of ahrt! You be dohkt-or and make-ah de mohnee fer mazer and me for the livinks!” Grumbled the forest god, his hairy, skin-tagged man-bosoms sinking deep into his mustard-stained sleeveless t-shirt.

Sergei’s heart sank into the deep, dark pits of his stomach. He could feel his veins twist into knots, his blood curdle with anger, “YOU ARE DEH FAHK!” he screamed, his eyes mashing down on tears he could no longer hold back, “I AM NO FAGH-YOT YOU ARE DEH FAHK WHO MAKEENGS DAH GAY I VIL SHOW YOU!” He grabbed his leather jacket and bolted out the cramped studio apartment the Slavic gods called their home.

He ran off, past the outer boundaries of their apartment complex, past the rundown park, past the Hasidic neighborhood and Chinatown and that part where all the Puerto Ricans lived, right into the forest. The dark, cold, neglected forest. “Ahy nhot gay! I veel shyow who gay! I veel maka-de-sex veef woman!” Fueled by rage and passion and teenage libido, he got down on his knees, grabbed clumps of snow (yeah, there’s snow because it’s like winter now since the forest god's all gone and stuff, it's solid symbolism right there), and started assembling a real, proper woman to have sex with and show everybody that he was totally straight.

He poked eye-holes with his fingers, pulled down his pants, and whipped out his forked demon dick and started plowing the shit out of this mound of snow. He came fury, the magic of his god cum brought the snow girl to life. “Hyelo!” she shouted, awakening for the first time, “ahy ehm Sneygurochka (Russian for maiden of snow-cum) eez naice meetings weef yous you seem goot mahn, haf job, yes? You veel poot reeng on fyeenger mine! I not whore! I vant baybee!” She began spouting declaration after declaration about commitment and joint bank accounts and all this shit that Sergei just couldn’t handle so he punched right through her snowy skull, right the hell through.

Stunned and shaken, Sergei stared at his trembling hand; he unraveled his fingers and his eyes tensed at the site of snow-brains twitching in his palm, "Fahk," he whispered. But not even spectacular, magical murder could shake Sergei of his resolve. He grabbed the limp snow-girl's feet and dragged her body behind some trees and tried again. And again. And again.

But he soon found that snow beneath his feet was getting packed and hard. It was nigh unusable for the purposes of sculpting a fine lady friend. He needed some fresh powder, but he couldn't just make it snow, after all, he didn't inherit that kind of power from his old man. "Vat to do, vat to do..." he thought, "Ah!" an idea struck him from above, so he looked up. And what did he see? Trees! The pine trees, still green in the winter, covered in layers and layers of fine snow. So he knocked the trees over, grabbed them by their trunks, and ran his palm against their bristles, knocking loose all that snow.

He kept at it for a long while. He'd been at it so long, in fact, that Spring was now nearly upon the forest, which meant the forest god's return. Sergei noticed the snow begin to melt and drip off the trees, the budding blades of grass beneath his feet, and he began to panic. He knew that if his father came by and saw all the trees scattered about that he'd totally lose his shit. He had to think fast.

He ran around the forest, panicking, trying to find some serendipitous source of inspiration, "Hyalp me, bear!" he pleaded, "Hyalp me fauchs! Hyalp me crokadeel!" But alas, his pleas fell on deaf ears, for the animals knew but one master, the forest god himself. When all seemed lost, out of nowhere there appeared a small group of children, doing the things Russian children tended to do in the woods--burying their middle-aged grandparents and passing around a small flask of crudely distilled grain alcohol.

Sergei dashed over to them quickly, his genitals flapping and slapping his thighs, "Cheeldren! You mahst hyalp me! Take trees ay haf ahp-rooted to hauses of yorz and I veel pahy you backs mooch!" The children, being obedient and pure of heart as children tended to be because they were beaten regularly and I turned out fine so shut up and get me a beer, did exactly what that giant, naked demon requested and dragged the trees back into their homes.

When the forest god finally arrived, he found not a single fucked up tree, just a pile of dead girls. "Vat eez dees?" he asked. "Oh! Ah..." Sergei stammered, "...I try use god-majeek ahnd make-a deh veemen for dah sex."

"You make-ah dah veemen of snow?"


"Theys in gooht shape, weef boozom."


"But you no layke?"

"They eez deemahndings ahf tyme ahn mohneez ahn attentions."

"You try eemproof?"

"Yehs, ahy try make-a deh veemens weefout bohx ahf voice ahn brain of want."

"You make-a for me too?"


His father nodded approvingly, finally accepting his son and his artistic passions, in exchange for the promise of a perfected concubine down the road. So Sergei continued sculpting every winter, making new girls, killing the shitty ones, knocking over trees, talking to kids, and so on and so on. Because snow-concubines don't do too well in the heat, even the good ones didn't last too long. As the seasons cycled, so did the workload.

At home, the children covered the trees with decorations and stuff because why not. And Sergei, true to his word, went from home to home and wherever he saw a tree, he would leave a gift (usually a turnip or possibly an amusingly shaped rock of some sort) to honor his eternal debt to the children. He used his snow concubines to help him find and deliver all these wonderful presents.

And he was forever known as Deyt Maroz, deyt being Russian for “debt”, maroz does not have a direct English translation, the best I can muster is “pulsing forked demon cock”.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Please read, charity fundraiser a user emailed me about.

A reader of the site sent me an email about a charity event he was hosting, I promised to post something on the site about it but because of finals and delays among guest artists I couldn't update in time. So check this out:

Penny Arcade Forum Members Hold Grudge Match for Child’s Play Charity
Joe K and HLPRMNKY will fight for their respective hospitals. Matches will be shout-casted by EG.iNcontrol, one of the best professional Starcraft 2 players in the world, and Trus, the premier tournament shoutcaster of Starcraft Arcadia.
November 29, 2010 – What started off as a playful back and forth about each other’s inadequacies as Starcraft 2 players has escalated into a Child's Play fundraising grudge match.
On December 4th, 2010 at 9PM EST/6PM PST, EG.iNcontrol and Trus will be shout-casting a Rumble in the Bronze between Joe K, representing Abington Memorial Hospital, PA and HLPRMNKY, representing the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
All proceeds will go to Child's Play; the lion's share will go to the winner's hospital and the loser's hospital will receive the rest. For more information please visit the following sources:
Battle in the Bronze Trailers

Donation Page

Battle in the Bronze Thread



Promotional Assets

Hosted and planned by members of the Penny Arcade forums.
Joe Kisela
E-mail: jkisela@gmail.com
Ph: 215-694-9082

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

California... what the fuck?

Proposition 19 has failed, marijuana remains illegal to cultivate and sell for recreational use. That's not to say it won't be done, drugs are not hard at all to come by in the United States. So the people who want to be smoking weed, will be smoking weed, the state will still be spending a fortune to find the people selling and growing, it will still be trying and incarcerating these people, and it'll still be broke. The black market will remain vibrant, healthy, and will continue to find funding in illicit drug sales.


Last night, I had a pretty stupid argument with someone on tumblr, about whether or not marijuana consumption was a fundamental right, or a human right--I think I used the terms interchangeably, but there's probably a contextual difference that I didn't bother meditating on. I don't think there's really a definitive list of natural human rights, or fundamental rights, since the whole notion of "rights" is an unnatural construct. But assuming there is, and I think most of us are compelled to say there ought to be, a set of such right, I would definitely say drug use qualifies.

A question I received on tumblr:

This question probably came from one of the followers of the person I was arguing with. The claim is, my probing of "why isn't drug use a fundamental right?" (answered with, to effect, "because it's a recreational desire," to which I further probed, "why is that sufficient to say it isn't a right?")was irrational, and the answer to the question is so obvious, I must be high to not intuit it.

Anyway, my response:
What simple shit?

I’m not a regular pot smoker, but I still think it’s a valuable right that people ought to have. And why not? Why should a person not have the right to determine what substances they want to consume, if they have knowledge of the risks and consequences? Isn’t that an assertion of our basic human right to autonomy?
Paternalistic legislation comes in two flavors (well maybe more, but two that I can think of right now), and that’s prohibitive and informative. Informative legislation is like putting warning labels on cigarettes or requiring calorie counts be posted next menu items in fast food joints—the information is available, but the government doesn’t believe we’re ever going to look it up. Fair. I don’t have a problem with this sort of thing because all that they’re doing is improving out decision-making power.

But then there’s prohibitive laws—the prohibition of alcohol, of transfats, of drugs in general, obscenity laws, etc.—where the government plainly asserts that we are incapable of making the right decision, and it will do so for us. I think this is bullshit, I think, as long as we’re not hurting other people, it ought to be our right to do what we please.

So by this argument, smoking pot is a fundamental right. Or a manifestation of a fundamental right. And I believe that.

Now what simple shit am I not comprehending?

The original argument was far more asinine, I won't delve into its details because they don't make any sense. The point is, I'm pretty disappointed this morning in the step Californians have decided to take and I'm confident this will set the nation back a good decade in the war against the War on Drugs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

nyoonch, nyoonch, nyoonch, smoking weed, smoking weed

Thirty minutes before polls close in California; I don't know shit about the gubernatorial race, and most Californians probably don't either (if they're anything like us apathetic, jaded, lazy New Yorkers). If Prop 19 passes, as all sensible people hope it will, the sale, possession, and cultivation of weed will be legal in the state--subject, of course, to regulation and taxation--and the nation as a whole will take one short step towards sanity.

The benefits are many and great; a new revenue source for the financially emaciated state, millions saved on prison and prosecution expenses, reduction in police and enforcement costs--the state might just bank enough money to salvage its public education system into one that could rival Mississippi's. Oh, and lets not forget that whole incalculable liberty gain; another right secured by the people, men and women, unjustly imprisoned, seized from their families, friends, and communities, set free (all noble characters, surely). And legalizing weed nationally could potentially undercut 60% of Mexican drug cartel income--10,000 people a year are killed in Mexico's ongoing drug war, if you needed any sort of idea of how significant this could be. California itself could have a strong impact, based on its population size and proximity to the border. Hell, if federal fears materialize and Californian weed starts saturating the American market (and why not?), this might actually be a significant blow to Mexican organized crime.

But is the road ahead actually all pot smoke and rainbows? Or will big, bad federal government take a shit on this parade?

Attorney General Eric Holder promises to vigorously enforce federal law in the sunshine state.

I'm just going to go ahead and quote that blog right there:
In 2008, according to the FBI's numbers, there were about 848,000 marijuana arrests in the United States. The feds accounted for less than 1 percent of them. The DEA has about 5,500 special agents nationwide, compared to nearly 70,000 local police officers in California. It certainly can make trouble, but it simply does not have the resources to bust a significant percentage of the state's marijuana offenders now, let alone after every adult is allowed to grow his own pot. If the DEA could not block access to medical marijuana under Bush or Obama, what chance will it have after the drug is legal for recreational purposes as well? Not much, says Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
Under our system of government, states get to decide state law. There is nothing in the United States Constitution that requires that the State of California criminalize anything under state law. If California decides to legalize marijuana through the passage of Proposition 19, nothing in the Constitution stands in the way. In fact, Congress has explicitly left to the states wide discretion to legislate independently in the area of drug control and policy. States do not need to march in lockstep with the federal government or even agree with federal law.

The reality is that the federal government has neither the resources nor the political will to undertake sole -- or even primary -- enforcement responsibility for low level marijuana offenses in California. Well over 95% of all marijuana arrests in this country are made by state and local law enforcement. The federal government may criminalize marijuana, but it can't force states to do so, and it can't require states to enforce federal law.

The federal government can't force California to enforce federal law. It can't direct the actions of state police, and it certainly doesn't have enough DEA agents to make a dent in what's coming.

Though Congress could always... cut California's highway funding or something. Or leverage some other federal program to force them to comply; but if that would require another ballot initiative, it may be difficult to find a program that could mobilize a significant enough portion of the Californian electorate to face heel turn on the issue.

Monday, July 26, 2010

If your IQ is in the triple digits, Marvel does not want you writing their movies.

You can suspend your disbelief, and invest yourself in a narrative if what you're surrendering is somehow enumerated in a cohesive way. For instance, the basic premise of Inception is that people can enter one another's dreams--alright, we accept that, and the particulars that follow seem reasonable or rational given that initial acceptance. In Terminator, a robot time travels from the future in the beginning of the film, and that's really been the foundation of the series. While I didn't see the fourth, I am aware it has robots doing a hell of a lot more than time traveling, but whatever abilities they do have are in line with the basic rationale of the canon.

This is the problem with comic books, but adaptations and reboots can adapt--though, for some reason they rarely do. To clarify: Batman is a millionaire gone mad and he's waging a personal war against Gotham city's criminal underworld. There doesn't seem to be much sense for him to fight aliens or magical creatures, as that would incongruous to both the themes of his character, his journey, and his catharsis, but also to the world of Gotham city. Gotham isn't a battleground for the superpowered, it's a relatively grounded reality. We walk in, we accept that there are people who put on costumes and do all sorts of wacky shit, and then we proceed as normal. The plot can go on to have emotional resonance and be meaningful and interesting.

Superman is a humanoid alien who has every fucking power in the catalog. He fights aliens and gods and all sorts of silly shit. Well, see, crossovers sell so lets team him up with DC's other iconic big seller, Batman... aannnd... whoops, shit just got stupid. Real stupid. Iterate some more (Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern...) and we've got Batman fighting Greek gods, superpowered alien warlords, wizards, hyper-intelligent apes, the Westboro Baptist Church... whatever.

This is was a severe problem in Iron Man 2. Marvel's writing staff, which fucked it up on oh so many levels... missed the boat on assembling that Avengers storyline. It was absolutely tacked on instead of intelligently integrated. The original Avengers comic was scrapped together from these separate storylines haphazardly, because comic book readers don't really have a ton of discretion and Marvel certainly wasn't going to spend the money to reboot all of the characters and establish a cohesive universe when a simple team-up was a far faster cash-in. But with the movies, made decades later (that's many many many many hours of hindsight), there aren't any excuses. When Tony Stark makes a new element, or rediscovers it based on his father's designs, why can't it be the shit Captain America's shield is made out of? What if the Captain America project was partly his father's work? What if some moral qualms that he had with it resulted in his seclusion and alienation of his son? Suddenly this nonsensical collage of a story ideas begins to mesh into a cogent narrative. Hell, we have a reason to be invested in this whole nonsensical SHIELD garbage because it has real emotional stakes for our protagonist and even future relationships, such as Tony Stark and Captain America's, begin to develop in subtle ways.

This is why the Thor movie, as this article describes, is fucking moronic. Between Iron Man and its sequel, and the Incredible Hulk movie, the three existing films in the Avengers canon, not once do we see aliens or gods. And yet here we are; instead of some tech-powered, deluded, crazy-but-benevolent human Thor (which in itself would be a tremendous source of dramatic tension, if he were, for example (and this is straight from the ridged insides of my ass), a SHIELD scientist gone crazy off of an updated or modified Captain America serum, outfitted with experimental tech, who needs to be taken down but whose aid is invaluable in conquering some greater threat...), we get a humanoid alien from a planet inhabited by Norse gods.

I'd just like to say, if you yourself are a writer and if you absorb even one thing from these rants, humans as aliens was a concept that was long outdated by 1970. Star Trek got away with it because they had a church choir budget, but what the fuck is Marvel thinking?

But back to the point of this tremendous ass-pull:

Could you imagine, Terminator 5: John Connor, fleeing from a pack of raging robots, stumbles into a crystal cavern where he meets Gaia, the spirit of the Earth. She tells him the machines, running on gasoline and seal blood, are poisoning the planet and that he, and four other scrappy freedom fighters, must band together and harness the power of the elements to destroy the techno menace. Each is given a ring... fire, water, wind, earth, and heart... and when their powers combine, they summon a cool, green-mullet wearin' dude who appeals to the 8-14 year-old demographic, who defeats the evil machines. I'm pretty sure everyone in the theater would drop their popcorn and say "what the fuck is this shit?!"

We checked our disbelief-coat at the door, guys, we don't have... a second, under-coat of bullshit detection that we can just hand you again. I honestly thought this was some cardinal rule of writing... like if you even took that joke of a high school creative writing elective, you know where you had to hear all your classmates' fruity poetry about how sad and lonely and boring and suburban those assholes were but they still managed to look up at you from their banal narcissism and criticize your shit for being too experimental but really they all just have lumps of rotten dogshit where their brains should be... if you took that fucking class, suspension of disbelief, universe consistency, that's day 1 stuff.