Every Movie Is A Superhero Movie

I just don’t know any more. Even a casual reader of this blog, one as casual as I am a writer of it, will know that I GODDAMN LOVE SUPERHERO MOVIES. They’re literally the best, Batman. But…but…

Seriously, guys?

Credit: Comicsalliance.com

That’s just so many films. When DC announced their slate of movies in some shareholder meeting or a Forbes article or whatever it was, I said to myself: Cool, I look forward to Justice League and Shazam has The Rock, so that’s good, and also ugh Aquaman and Green Lantern.

However, I’ve always had a lot more love for the Lee/Kirby side of the fence, so when Marvel dropped the entire remaining Marvel Cinematic Universe release calendar I immediately memorised the order and what month and year they’re all due to come out. Because…because that’s important information.

But I look at that combined calendar above, with not just DCU and MCU movies but your X-Men and Fantastic Four titles from Fox and your increasingly terrible Spiderman franchise from Sony and I think: Am I really going to go to the cinema and watch TEN superhero movies in 2017? Even if one of them is Lego Batman? (Though Female Lead Spider-Man Spin-Off has always been one of my favourite comics.)

I suspect that come April 3rd 2020 we’ll all still be so full superhero-stuffed from ten months prior–having watched Avengers: Infinity War 2 AND Justice League 2 in the space of six weeks–that we’ll be at saturation point. “No thank you, Mr. Cyborg. I’m done. I couldn’t eat another bite. Even if it is wafer-thin. And if you think I’m watching another Green Lantern movie you’re more gullible than those people who thought Marvel would actually kill off Chris Hemsworth and replace him with a female Thor”.

Still, Age of Ultron looks badass. Definitely excited about that.

Anyone Watching Arrow? You Should Be Watching Arrow

Ah, The CW. Bizarrely-named TV network, home of Dan and Mrs. Dan’s cheesy favourites The Vampire Diaries and its Bayou-based spinoff The Originals. Mrs. Dan also watches Reign, the Mary Queen of Scots historical soap where apparently everyone’s speaking French but it’s in English and it’s set in Scotland but who cares they have nice outfits.

I’ve got off topic.

The CW. Right. Where every commercial break is home to at least one trailer for another show on the network, from the excruciatingly titled The Tomorrow People to ‘how is this show still going’ Supernatural. And, of course, Arrow, based on the somewhat famous DC comics character, Green Arrow.

This guy.

Based on the clips I’d seen, it looked pretty mediocre. Probably kind of fun and fairly entertaining, but hey – there’s a lot of TV to watch and only so much time. But then I started coming across extremely positive reviews of episodes in the current (or rather, just finished) season two, and it seemed like it was time to give it a shot.

So I slowly worked my way through season one, and it was indeed kind of fun, quite uneven, some good episodes, some pretty bad, but still solid TV. Enough to make me want to stick with it for season two.

Which I just watched in a week.

Holy crap did it get good. I don’t know what changed behind the scenes, or if it was just a case of the writers hitting their stride, but season two starts strong and only gets better. The second half of the season is probably the most consistently excellent TV I’ve seen from a show that isn’t one of the critics’ darlings (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Americans). Well paced, exciting, funny, believable characterisation, explosions, people in masks beating the crap out of each other–what more could you want?

Ridiculously buff shirtless guys working out, you say?

Yup.

GODZILLAAAAAAAAAA! Etc.

Bryan Cranston? Check. Guy from Kick Ass? Check. Really, really big lizard? Check.

But a lizard so big that repeatedly being hit by nuclear detonations back in the 50s didn’t kill it? Really? I can get behind the idea of a thousand foot tall monster laying waste to Tokyo, but let’s be realistic.

In other news, NASA reported that they found a bunch of new planets. A big bunch. 715 more on top of the 1000 we already knew about. Only four are in the so-called Goldilocks zone–not too hot, not too cold, just right for us finicky humans–but that’s still quite a find. Now we just need a vast amount of money, resources and political will to go and investigate them, and we’ll be colonising the stars in no time!

Over at the Wertzone there’s a great list of female fantasy authors, who apparently Waterstones have never heard of despite being a major bookseller.

And there’s an interesting and well-written article on Tor comparing Sherlock, which I love, with Elementary, which I’ve never seen. Some really good points.

Last up: BATMAN VS. THE TERMINATOR.

30 years have passed since Bruce Wayne survived Skynet’s nuclear blasts in August of ’97. Iron demons now roam the planet, and without the requirement to defend the innocent against crime and injustice, Wayne has seeked refuge in the bomb shelter that saved his life; the Batcave.

Having scavenged the wasteland for resources, he discovers the radio of a dead soldier. There is static over a frequency. Flesh and blood is rising up to the west. With The Stinger; a riot control vehicular unit built before the apocalypse along with a refitted bomb blast vest, Batman makes his way across what remains of the United States to join forces with the man determined to neutralize the electronic menace – John Connor.

Fantastic.

REALLIFE, WRITERLIFE and Tom Hiddleston

Hey, look – I’m really nailing this one-post-every-seven-weeks plan. Keep ’em keen, that’s what I always say.

It’s not, of course. It’s just that WRITERLIFE has been frustratingly derailed by REALLIFE for the last few months. A lot of it’s been good stuff, like moving from Brazil to D.C. and settling into our sweet new apartment, but a fair chunk has been being stupidly busy at the day job. (Which has even been a night job sometimes over the last month. The telecoms software game isn’t all champagne and supermodels, I tells ya.)

But that’s enough of my grumbling. You’re here for superhero movie trailers and sweet, sweet hyperlinkage to stuff wot you should read. Some of you even care about when my next book is going to be out! Thanks to everyone who’s pestered me about that. It’s wonderful that you’re keen to read it, even as I apologetically mumble that no, it’s not going to be this year, but I’m damn sure going to try to get it out before the one-year anniversary of Venus Rising. If I can’t knock out a book a year, then something’s gone wrong. I’m not Fran Lebowitz, here.

So. Let’s get it on.

Continue reading

I’m Reading Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ And I Have No Idea What It’s About

Yet, I should say. Grabbed you with that controversial headline, though, didn’t I? Hopefully some of King’s many fans rushed here to defend his work in my comments section. (Hi!)

But no–I’m talking about the rare and happy occurrence of starting to read, watch or otherwise consume a book, movie, TV show or other art with absolutely no idea of what the story is about. Because how often does that happen these days?

I’ve heard of The Stand, obviously. I know some people think it’s King’s best book, and that others insist it’s overwrought, overblown, and in need of a good editor. I know that my mum started watching the TV adaptation some years back and gave up a few episodes in.

And that’s all I knew when I saw a copy on the shelf of the second-hand bookstore two blocks away from the new apartment in Washington, D.C. into which Mrs. Dan and I recently moved, priced at what seemed like a bargain $3.00. (The book, not the apartment. They run a little dearer than that.)

Stephen King for three dollars? And it’s a thick one,” thought I. Thumbed it open. “Small print, too. This’ll keep me going for a while.” Closed the book again, looked at the cover. ‘The Complete and Uncut Edition’, it says, and the brief foreword promised 150,000 words, or 500 pages, more story than the already lengthy version that was originally published.

No blurb on the back cover, no clue to the story. Just a black and white photo of an unsmiling King from twenty-odd years ago. And on the cover, a figure on horseback wielding a scythe.

Well, people are going to die in it, I can tell that much.” And I paid my money, and I took my new book home.

It doesn’t actually matter what The Stand is about, and I won’t risk robbing anyone of the same experience I’ve had by describing it. But it did make me think a little about what we’ve lost in this age of constant, immediate, instantaneous media. We’re flooded with trailers, reviews, articles and blogs, each movie studio or television network desperate to shove their product in front of our eyeballs, and a million other internet denizens waiting to pronounce it good, or bad, or simply broadcast that it exists.

God forbid if you haven’t seen the latest episode of Breaking Bad because you’re planning to watch it later. You’d better stay off the internet until you do. (And just to be on the safe side, don’t go to work either.)

We buy books and movies because we read reviews, and plot teasers, and friends tell us “Dude, you have to watch My New Favourite Show. It’s about this geography teacher from Arizona who has Alzheimer’s but becomes a Mafia don in New Jersey before faking his own death and joining the Baltimore police force. It’s fantastic. Netflix it. I’m on season eight.”

I loved The Avengers. And I’m already pretty damn excited about the sequel. So far all I know is it’s coming out in May 2015, and someone or something called Ultron is in it, but I’m sketchy enough on my Avengers canon that I don’t know what that is. But I guarantee that by late April 2015, I’ll know exactly who stars in the movie, who all the new characters are, what Ultron is, and will have seen four different trailers containing 90% of the best scenes from the film. Because I’m weak, and I won’t be able to help myself.

But wouldn’t it be nice, just once, to not have those teasers, those tasters, the constant little dribbles of information that leak out and draw us in? To go back to finding out about a film by seeing a poster for it on the side of a bus stop two weeks before it came out? Or discovering a great new TV show by flicking through channels one night and being gripped by a great scene? Or discovering a new book not by browsing a list of what customers who bought that item also bought, but by wandering into a second-hand bookshop that you didn’t even know was there and just picking one up off the shelf?

You can still do that last one, at least. And you should, I highly recommend it. Because, you see, The Stand is about–