The Marvel-ous Culture

 

Jon Bernthal as “The Punisher” (Marvel Studios)

I am not an aficionado of comic books. I can not argue the merits of Marvel vs. DC. The only comics-based movie I can attest to seeing in the theater was Superman with Christopher Reeve and that was in a whole different universe called “1978.” Fast forward 40 years and my wife suggests we sit down and watch a Netflix series called The Punisher. She hooked me with the words “former Marine.”

OK, I’m in. But first, we have to watch another Marvel/Netflix offering called Daredevil where the protagonist, Frank Castle, is introduced. To put it bluntly, these two series are blood porn. They are violent beyond brutality and after a period of time, like sexual pornography, they are incredibly desensitizing — both in the portrayal of the violence and in the casual manner in which human life is snuffed out.

In a nutshell, these programs are also glorifications of vigilantism and the concept of justifiable revenge. If someone were to suggest that these shows had the slightest impact on the emotionally immature and mentally unstable who then seek to act out their own fantasy revenge scenarios through mass murder you can bet that there would be cries of censorship and laments about artistic freedom. A $300 million rights fee and $40 million production budget per series lament. While the leftists in Hollywood have no problem casually dismissing codified constitutional rights for you and me, they see no problem hiding behind the Bill of Rights provided there are millions (or billions) of dollars on the table for them.

Of course, everything about Hollywood seems to be contradictory. The product they push has one huge unifying theme: America and her institutions are corrupt to the core. Almost unfailingly they depict the government at all levels (including the CIA, the FBI, Homeland and local law enforcement) as being corrupt, business is corrupt, the military is corrupt … and then their political message is almost also unfailingly that we need more government, bigger government, more government entanglement in business and, oh yes, only the police and military should have guns. They push these ideas of entrenched government corruption and wonder where all these whack-job Second Amendment Types get their silly paranoid ideas.

They want you to dismiss their product as fantasy unless their fantasies advance their politics. It’s all harmless fun, right? And here, let me say something “profound” while I quote a Harry Potter line like it’s Holy Scripture. It’s maddening. Perhaps before Hollywood demands anything from us, they should demand something more from themselves.

There are 49 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    EJHill: I am not an aficionado of comic books.

    See, this is where you went wrong.

    Rule of Thumb: It’s often a pretty bad idea to watch a movie or tv show based on a comic book of which you’re not aware.

    The less you know about a comic book character, the higher the chance it’s going to indulge in ultra-violence and/or “adult themes”.  The more obscure comic book characters already tend to be more explicit, violent, and subversive, because obscurity provides the writers with increased creative freedom.

    When adapting such characters for the screen the producers have a choice: they can either a) stick with that formula and stay true to the spirit of the comic book, or b) water down the character until it’s no longer relevant.  Either way, a newbie should probably stay away from the character.

    Daredevil and Punisher are perfect examples of this phenomenon.  They can either go the Netflix route and pay homage to the violent Frank Miller version of the character (a la the Netflix show), or they can go in the other direction and do a terrible formulaic movie like the one starring Ben Affleck.

    Same goes for Punisher.  To stay true to the comics it has to be bloody and excessive and he has to be borderline psychopathic.  Or, you can do a half-assed movie starring Dolph Lundgren.

    You should probably stick with nice, safe characters from the golden age and/or the silver age.  Characters created between 1938 and 1963.

    Characters  created and/or popularized after 1980  probably aren’t going to be your cup of tea.

    (Daredevil was created in 1964, but wasn’t popularized until Frank Miller took over writing duties in the early 1980s.)

    Quick Tip: You should probably also stay away from Deadpool.

    • #1
  2. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Thanks, E.J. I’ve noticed this same phenomenon when it comes to gun violence. The same entertainment industry that preaches the leftist gospel that we must all turn in our guns absolutely glorifies gun violence in their products. I would say they’re unaware of the mixed messages, but I think they’re fully aware and don’t care.

    It’s particularly galling to see it in BBC shows, given the strict gun laws in the U.K. and their constant lecturing about how terrible the U.S. is for allowing people to own guns.

     

     

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Punisher is Mack Bolan in tights. Feh.

    • #3
  4. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Punisher is Mack Bolan in tights. Feh.

    I liked the movie with Thomas Jane.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Thanks, E.J. I’ve noticed this same phenomenon when it comes to gun violence. The same entertainment industry that preaches the leftist gospel that we must all turn in our guns absolutely glorifies gun violence in their products. I would say they’re unaware of the mixed messages, but I think they’re fully aware and don’t care.

    It’s particularly galling to see it in BBC shows, given the strict gun laws in the U.K. and their constant lecturing about how terrible the U.S. is for allowing people to own guns.

    Now I’m going to contradict myself: The most galling thing about the Netflix Punisher adaptation is they made him too sympathetic.  They really go out of their way to frame the stories as an apologetic for Frank Castle’s behaviour.  In the comics, it’s generally much less ambiguous.  He’s a nut-case.

    Heck, the character originally started out as a villain in Spider-Man comics!  The gimmick was that he didn’t differentiate between serial killers or jaywalkers when he meted out “punishment”.  All criminals were to be punished equally.

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Punisher is Mack Bolan in tights. Feh.

    I liked the movie with Thomas Jane.

    I still haven’t seen that one, but I’ve heard good things.

    Jane produced his own little fan film as a way to convince Marvel to let him take on the role again.  Didn’t work, obviously, but the short film is kinda cool:

    • #6
  7. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Thanks, @ejhill and all…I have enjoyed Daredevil for a long time; but the tendency of modern renditions of DD, et al. to be conflicted/anguished and angry beyond all reason, has put me off.  Initially, the self-mastery and exploration of compensating strengths/strategies was what attracted me to the “safe” Ben Affleck film.  Incidentally, didn’t the word “former”, attached to “Marine” in the description give you a hint about where this show might be going? :-) …Anti-hero to the max, no? Where have all the heroes gone?  Oh, wait, I know lots of them.  S/F, EJ!

    • #7
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending: Now I’m going to contradict myself…

    Et tu, Canuckman?

    • #8
  9. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Keep in mind that in season 2 of Daredevil, the protagonist stands against the Punisher’s methods with explicitly Catholic reasoning that seeks to honor the dignity of all human life.

    • #9
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Henry Castaigne: Keep in mind that in season 2 of Daredevil, the protagonist stands against the Punisher’s methods with explicitly Catholic reasoning that seeks to honor the dignity of all human life.

    Keep in mind that the youth in our country has already been conditioned to ignore the teachings of the Church. They’re all racist pedophiles, you know. They couldn’t give a rat’s patoot about the message of the church. Especially when they’re rooting for the blind guy that beats the crap out of people.

    • #10
  11. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Punisher is Mack Bolan in tights. Feh.

    I liked the movie with Thomas Jane.

    I still haven’t seen that one, but I’ve heard good things.

    Jane produced his own little fan film as a way to convince Marvel to let him take on the role again. Didn’t work, obviously, but the short film is kinda cool:

    I, uh, enjoyed that, I think…Oh. My. Very. Very. Goshness.

    • #11
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Keep in mind that in season 2 of Daredevil, the protagonist stands against the Punisher’s methods with explicitly Catholic reasoning that seeks to honor the dignity of all human life.

    Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…Frankly if your are going to be a vigilante you might as well kill your victims it is actually more rational. The problem superheroes have is that if they really wanted to help fight crimes they should just become police officers. How great would it be to have a police detective that can tell the guy they are interviewing is lying to them because they can hear their heart rate and smell the change in salinity of their sweat?And wouldn’t it be great if you had a cop that was bullet proof?

     

    • #12
  13. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Valiuth: Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…

    …in the same way Muhammad Ali was a “pacifist?”

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Valiuth

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Keep in mind that in season 2 of Daredevil, the protagonist stands against the Punisher’s methods with explicitly Catholic reasoning that seeks to honor the dignity of all human life.

    Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…Frankly if your are going to be a vigilante you might as well kill your victims it is actually more rational. The problem superheroes have is that if they really wanted to help fight crimes they should just become police officers. How great would it be to have a police detective that can tell the guy they are interviewing is lying to them because they can hear their heart rate and smell the change in salinity of their sweat?And wouldn’t it be great if you had a cop that was bullet proof?

    Has some one made a comic book of this yet. I’m thinking of the Mutant Registration Act in the Marvel Universe. Wouldn’t there be a group of mutants like the Japanese soldiers who fight for shield?

    • #14
  15. Roberto the Weary Member
    Roberto the Weary
    @Roberto

    EJHill: In a nutshell these programs are also glorifications of vigilantism and the concept of justifiable revenge.

    Having read literally thousands of comic books in my youth, kept me out of trouble, I can attest to there being a certain truth to this. But in the comics the narrative arc was always that of the hero, it was never about someone just picking up a baseball bat and seeking payback.

    Is that still true? I don’t know.

    • #15
  16. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…

    Matt Murdock is Catholic, not Quaker.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

    • #16
  17. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    The problem superheroes have is that if they really wanted to help fight crimes they should just become police officers. How great would it be to have a police detective that can tell the guy they are interviewing is lying to them because they can hear their heart rate and smell the change in salinity of their sweat?And wouldn’t it be great if you had a cop that was bullet proof?

    Every time they do that the law enforcement organization turns out to be a front for Hydra Nazi goons. Of course, that never happens in reality. That would be like having the Justice Department sell automatic weapons to organized crime or a president who believes that burglary is legal if the president orders it.

    • #17
  18. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…

    Matt Murdock is Catholic, not Quaker.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

    Yah but crusades where sanctioned by authority. As legal as any war in that era could be. He is just beating people based on his own judgement. I just don’t think you can square that with any christian tradition really.

    • #18
  19. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    I just don’t think you can square that with any christian tradition really.

    Who’s trying to?  Adolescents who feel like underdog misfits?  You think Matt Murdock’s caught on the horns of a dilemma, try Nightcrawler, the priest.

    • #19
  20. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Yah, but beating people with your fists until they go unconscious doesn’t seem all that Christian either…Frankly if your are going to be a vigilante you might as well kill your victims it is actually more rational.

    Murder is one of God’s top ten no-nos. A beatdown doesn’t really compare.

    As for the rationality of murder over beating someone unconscious as a means of combating recidivism I agree, but that’s nothing to do with religion.

    • #20
  21. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Violence is an incredibly fun thing to watch and write about. Shouldn’t we be happy that superheroes have a no-kill policy turns their violence towards some kind of Judeo-Christian morality.

    • #21
  22. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    Heck, the character originally started out as a villain in Spider-Man comics! The gimmick was that he didn’t differentiate between serial killers or jaywalkers when he meted out “punishment”. All criminals were to be punished equally.

    He’s also mocked in The Tick, where there is a character called Overkill.

    • #22
  23. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    (Daredevil was created in 1964, but wasn’t popularized until Frank Miller took over writing duties in the early 1980s.)

    Ah, now I understand.  I read Daredevil comics in the early 70s, and the Netflix version never seemed remotely consistent with the character I remember.

     

    • #23
  24. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    A-Squared (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    (Daredevil was created in 1964, but wasn’t popularized until Frank Miller took over writing duties in the early 1980s.)

    Ah, now I understand. I read Daredevil comics in the early 70s, and the Netflix version never seemed remotely consistent with the character I remember.

    I keep running into that myself.  Other than a similar costume, most of them have changed radically since then.

    • #24
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Like the motion picture industry the comic book companies used to subscribe to a code that is now deader than one of Frank Castle’s targets.

    • #25
  26. Ron Selander Member
    Ron Selander
    @RonSelander

    The term “Blood Porn” is  especially apt for many  of these shows with increasingly excessive violence. This stuff is worse than desensitizing – it damages our souls!

    • #26
  27. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Yah the 80’s gave us gritty comics filled with dark shadows, high contrast, and ambiguous heroes. They started marketing the comics not to kids but to teens and adults. I don’t think this is so bad. I like me some dark and violent comics as much as the next guy. I do though think that these options shouldn’t come at the expense of lighter more family friendly fare. This is why I wish they could bring back classic Fantastic Four. They always had a very nice family friendly style to them, filled with exploration and adventure and some nice sci-fi motifs. Maybe Batman can be dark and brooding, but Superman shouldn’t be.

    • #27
  28. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    A-Squared (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    (Daredevil was created in 1964, but wasn’t popularized until Frank Miller took over writing duties in the early 1980s.)

    Ah, now I understand. I read Daredevil comics in the early 70s, and the Netflix version never seemed remotely consistent with the character I remember.

    I keep running into that myself. Other than a similar costume, most of them have changed radically since then.

    Comic book historians tend to date the “big change” to around 1986, with the publication of Watchmen, the Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis On Infinite Earths when DC rebooted their shared Universe to get rid of the sillier elements which had gotten somewhat out of control (Supergirl’s super horse, Krypto the Superdog, the Bat-Mite, Superman turning back time by flying around the Earth really fast, etc, etc, etc), and injecting a wee bit more realism into the stories (i.e. making Lex Luthor a corporate overlord rather than some guy living in an abandoned subway station).

    Interestingly, there is a much-subscribed-to hypothesis that the overarching storyline in the current DC comics is a de facto admission that the post-1986 trend towards “realism” was a mistake.  In the current storyline, the Watchmen universe and the DC universe are interfering with each other, and it’s being revealed that Doctor Manhattan has been fiddling with the multiverse ever since 1986.

    The big question is, what will be the result when the current storyline ends?  Will the Watchmen characters be banished to their own universe?  Will the “damage” done by Doctor Manhatten be reversed, and the stories going forward will resemble pre-1986 stories more closely?

    Or, is it all just another marketing gimmick?

    • #28
  29. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    I keep running into that myself. Other than a similar costume, most of them have changed radically since then.

    That’s how I feel about the show “Riverdale” which is allegedly based on the Archie comics that I loved as a kid.  When you turn Mrs. Grundy into a hot young music teacher that Archie has an affair with in the back of someone’s VW Bug and Veronica’s dad into a Madoff character, you are not talking about the same universe.

    I couldn’t get past the first few episodes.

    • #29
  30. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    Or, is it all just another marketing gimmick?

    yes

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.