Angry Nerds, I’m talking to you

Several weeks ago I ran across a YouTube video of a clip from Cartoon Network’s “Young Justice” featuring the relatively obscure villain Black Spider. The original intent of the poster was to point out the “glaring” similarities between this particular version of Black Spider and Marvel’s Spider-Man character, specifically the Peter Parker, 616 Universe version (in case anyone doubted my nerd cred before I criticize other angry nerds). He swung from the roof of a building with some kind of line, he cracked wise and he wore a black, skin-tight costume. That was it. Now, did it remind me of Spider-Man? Yes, it did; I could see the video-poster’s point. The funny thing was the comments beneath the video. Hundreds of angry posts insisting that Marvel sue DC for blatantly ripping them off. Some even asked how a DC could stoop so low. Well, as a nerd, and a former angry one at that, I’d like to offer some insight as to why there is not nor will there ever be a lawsuit and how they could “stoop so low.”

There are quite a few issues in both of those questions, so it’s a little difficult to know where to begin so I’ll start with an equally obscure Marvel super villain team called, “Squadron Sinister.” Squadron Sinister was a group of villains the Avengers fought in the 70’s. Sometime later, in an alternate-reality storyline (a type of storyline which fans of the Young Justice cartoon should already be acutely aware) the Avengers met Squadron Sinister’s “good” doppelgangers, the Squadron Supreme. This is important because both the Squadron Sinister and Squadron Supreme were straight rip-offs of the Justice League. The Squadron Sinister specifically was a joke! The Marvel writers were making fun of the DC heroes. No one, not even the characters themselves, took them seriously, so much so that when the Avengers and Justice League finally crossed over in the early 2000’s, Hawkeye actually laughed at the Justice League for being so similar to the Squadron Supreme. Since the 70’s the Squadron Supreme has made more appearances alongside the Avengers, with varying degrees of seriousness, but even before then, many characters in the Marvel stable have closer ties to DC then most people know.

Iron Man was originally conceived as the Marvel version of Batman. Look at the similarities between Marvel’s Namor and DC’s Aquaman. The X-Men are almost a straight rip-off of the Doom Patrol. Then there’s Plastic Man, Elongated Man and Mr. Fantastic (Elongated Man was not always a DC character).  Don’t forget Black Cat and Catwoman, not just cat-themed but both began as villains. What about Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate, the Watchers and the Guardians, Ultron and Amazo? Hell, Hercules appears in both universes! At one time in the early 21st century Marvel had three different characters inspired by Superman making appearances at the same time*. I think I’ve made my point: there have been lawsuits over stolen intellectual property and ideas in the past but they’re tricky because proving an idea was ripped off or unoriginal is actually very, very hard. I think it goes without saying that the Young Justice version of  Black Spider ripping-off Spider-Man is hardly the first or worst case. The original version of the Black Spider character, outside of name, had very little to do with Spider-Man, even if the character was partially inspired by him; he possessed no super-powers, he was a common criminal and certainly didn’t display a sense of humor. This appeared to be a case of the writer(s) having a little fun with the character, quite possibly completely aware of the impact it would have on certain diehard fans.

Perhaps the most wisdom I have to impart comes from my peak of nerd anger, a fanboy rant letter written to Wizard magazine more than 5 years ago (seen here: https://plus.google.com/#photos/113515003667179283092/albums/posts/5769099871078834226), which was actually rather tame compared to some of the comments I saw on the video. The casting for the Joker in “The Dark Knight” had been announced and I was incensed, livid. At the time, Paul Bettany, Adrien Brody and Lachy Hulme were all being considered for the part and I believed all three to be superior choices to Heath Ledger. Now, the letter was printed in a severely edited form, making it quite different from what I had sent. In it I had given good reason for my anger on the casting:  I still had visions of Halle Berry’s “Catwoman”, Shaquille O’Neal’s “Steel” and the awful “Batman & Robin”. So not only was there precedent in DC comic movies, previous Batman films were the worst offenders. These weren’t just bad casting choices, these were movies so insulting to their source material as to be jokes themselves.

What I had failed to understand at the time was that just because my favorite version of Batman was the 90’s Animated Series, to include that version of the Joker, didn’t mean it was the only version and others could not exist. I was an adult (legally, by age anyway) at the time and I was aware of other versions of the Joker such as the 60’s TV show Cesar Romero version and the 70’s cartoon version. Additionally, despite how good “Batman Begins” had been, I still preferred the 1988 Tim Burton film “Batman” that featured what was considered by many to be the definitive version of the character for the modern era and the one upon which the animated version had likely been based. I could not see that little else in “Batman Begins” was inspired by the Animated Series. I wanted that version of the Joker and no other. Let’s ignore the fact that Ledger’s death colored the way people interpreted his performance, he showed us the true essence of the Joker which has always been a clown that is both funny and terrifying at the same time. I had forgotten that what is funny and what is scary is subjective from person to person and era to era. On top of all that, I was so deep into comic fanboy mode I failed to understand the impact of “Batman Begins” as a movie. It succeeded not on casting but on it’s thematic elements and direction. I also did not give Christopher Nolan enough credit. This was grossly hypocritical because I certainly blamed Joel Schumacher for the problems with “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”, above even the issues of story and casting (of which there were many).

In the end I realized my personal feelings on how the other actors might have done are irrelevant. It’s not logical or fair to judge the movie, or any art for that matter, on my expectations. You consume it as it is and judge it by its own merits. It’s okay to not like something, to not enjoy something, but to decry and deride it because it wasn’t what you wanted means you can’t appreciate any perspective but your own. Not only is it selfish, it gets kind of lonely on that high horse when no one wants to listen to you anymore.  You obviously aren’t listening to anyone else.

*In 2003 at the same time Marvel was rebooting Squadron Supreme, featuring the Superman pastiche Hyperion, under the MAX line, the Sentry was re-entering the 616 universe while a character exactly like Clark Kent with a superhero secret identity exactly like Superman featured in a short Spider-Man story-arc.

More bad, context-necessary jokes! For Jonolobster

I suck at blogging, weeks since I last posted anything. Watched “The Man Who Knew Too Little” after the coolest Google Plus Hangout with the “robots in my computer”. Wrote some jokes, but I realized it was pointless to tweet them at 3 AM. I sent my best stuff, at least what felt like my best stuff, to Jonolobster to read when he returns to Twitter today, whenever that may be but here are the rest.

One tiny request to anyone who reads this, any feedback on any of the jokes would be greatly appreciated.

Oh! It’s based on a book!

Wait when did I turn on Spaced?

This is a Saturday Night Live commercial for “virtual reality” games!

Bob just Flew into London before the wedding at the end.

Pretty high tech pay phone

Crime on Film: Third Degree Murder (The hitman deliberately killed those actors just because they irritated him! LOL)

The actor who got shot was in Doom with Dwayne Johnson!

Nice Clint Eastwood! Overpower those punks with moral superiority!

Spanish maid in London? #UnintentionalRacism

Dude just Shot a martini! Olive and all!

Styx song running through my head new. #Lorelei

“Whoa, that was loud!” Best gun joke EVER!

He’s got the Dalai Lama on his side, remember.

There is no way that mallet in the door Was written into the script.

I think he was holding two phones just now.

Wait, when did I turn on Doctor Who?

The Protestant Butcher is the name of my *

The Protestant Butcher is the name of my Jars of Clay cover band.

That is the best, fake, Alfred Molina mustache!

Slow Clap at the dead body is AMAZING!

“Tell him to “‘use a plunger or we’re sunk'” . #PoopJokeInASpyMovie

Only an asshole complains about his own acting in front of other actors. No winner he paid REAL MONEY for the experience.

He conveniently found the letters and then acted like an ASSHOLE! #TomCruiseInMissionImpossibleFive

Hitting on the hot chick, because as an actor he’s a ladies man. #Meta.COM

Driving on the left side of the road is an American fantasy, And Bill Murray showed us what it felt like.

“left side driving, sex joke,” beautifully shot as a sitcom smash cut

He’s a good driver, simply because he is American? Because British are stupid? Asshole. #ActualJoke

Worst. Russian. Accent. EVER.

I think this was an episode I of Archer!

Unsurprisingly, “Bobbies” have no patience.

“Is this actually a talking cigarette case?”

This movie is literally two people talking to each other without listening to each other!

Hooker talking the Finer points Of handcuffs with the cops. #MelBrooksJoke

American Secret Agent = Poor Actor #SamePerson

This is practically a Mel Brooks movie

He just ninja’ed that Kerplunk stick.

Just flashed back to Meatballs. #PigNose

Yep, that’s right, real actors bitch at each other mid scene.

Geriatric. S&M. #ActuallyHappened

Hey, I didn’t know I got the BBC.

Geriatric Bondage is the name of my age appropriate Sex Pistols cover band.

“There’s a hallway, we can walk there!” Peter just gave me a Chandler Bing impression.

“Time Out. TIME. OUT! I got something in my eye, Jack-off!” #RealBillMurrayQuote

Apparently part of this fantasy his brother paid for included saving a little boy from a sexual predator. #Acting

Japanese tourists! #ElevatorTheater

Gay, Theater joke In a Spy movie.

Insensitive Native cultural Joke… The dancing is? #AccidentalYoda

When did I turn on Tetris? #WhiteCultureMusicJoke

When did I turn on Tetris? #PopCultureMusicJoke (this is less racist)

“At the end of the day, there’s a guy with a big mustache standing behind you” -Peter Gallagher

Why did that explosion remind me of the guys from Trading Places In Coming to America?

He’s ironically reading the newspaper story to his “actress” girlfriend, like Connery would.

GHOSTBUSTERS REFERENCE FTW!

Recruited! World’s Best! Five a week, kids and old people once a week. He means to kill them, of course.

Hammy acting On the beach, to please a mad man.

Last of the Secret Agents by Nancy Sinatra. #NuffSaid

Six Years Revealed

I mention on Twitter pretty frequently my “six-year plan” but deliberately keep details to a minimum. The truth is while I have a final goal in mind and I talk of the various phases of the Plan, I’m still not entirely clear on the details of each phase myself. I’m not even sure of the number of our importance of the phases themselves. The planning phase, which I claim is done, is probably as far from being done as a plan could be. Until this blog, I haven’t even committed much to paper (metaphorically speaking). (Also, going to apologize up front for the overly wordy and explanatory nature of my writing but I fear the lack of detail leads to confusion so I offer as many as I can).

The first phase post-planning was too create an awareness of who I am and what my intent is, through some kind of branding. This rather accidentally coincided with a Twitter presence I was already building simply for fun, but an old idea from my high school days of selling t-shirts with my name and goofy phrases on them also coincidentally buttressed quite well with the idea. The problem I find is that I don’t have the slightest idea how to create an inventory to sell and I lack the confidence that a clothing with my name on it, no matter how funny the goofy phrase might be, would speak to anyone, even my friends both on and offline.

Phase two would have involved taking my brand to the next level with some kind of media, either a podcast or YouTube channel where I basically continue to do the same thing I’m already doing, but hopefully sell some advertising along the way. At each level of the six-year plan, a percentage of the income I earned would be stocked away for the final phase.

The plan falls apart at this phase because along the way I hope to collect a few like-minded individuals who shared my vision and enthusiasm. I have already identified a few and gotten their support but without a truly epic plan to foretell future success, I fear no moral support will equal the special talents I require from each individual.

So I sit here, blogging when I should be working, trying to figure out how best to start that T-shirt idea and wondering if a well-formed plan in my head is sufficient to get started.