So lately, I've been rather excited about the future of many things superhero related. First, off they just released the first image of Thor in the Marvel Comics movie scheduled to hit theaters next year. I love the character because of his relationship to my favorite superhero team the Avengers (featuring such characters as Iron Man, Captain and America later on starring my favorite line up in the New Avengers: Buck Barne's Cap, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye), but I've also respected their choice on approach. Rumor were that the role of the Norse god of thunder would be done by a WWE star, but they chose to go a very different direction. The film large features a British cast with Thor cast as an Ausie actor. Further, Kenneth Branagh, known for his Shakespearean film directing and acting is overseeing the project. The film will also tie into the crossover universe they're creating between other Avengers character films like Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America, all leading up an Avengers film. Now, they've cast comic book film familiar face Chris Evans as Cap in his solo film and my jury's still out on this choice. However, many of my concerns were appeased after he provided a hysterical performances in the Vertigo/DC Comics film The Losers that came out last weekend. Here's a link to my review on the film for my newspaper job. Let's hope he can buff up and be serious as the star spangled hero who's captured my heart (even though I never consider myself a patriotic person...I'm still fleshing that one out).
This all then leads me to some news about this universe I'm more excited about, Marvel's choice of Joss Whedon to direct The Avengers. Whedon may seem like an odd choice to many since his only feature film job was the 2005 film Serenity, based on his canceled TV show Firefly. This is the man behind such wonderful cult following endeavors as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel (to of my favourite TV shows), and the webisode experience Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. He also has history with Marvel Comics, writing for the series The Astonishing X-Men, along with writing continuing comics volumes for his TV shows. All that to say it's exciting to see someone direct this film with a personal investment in the characters and Marvel Universe.
This is all very exciting to discuss for two reason. First, May 7th will mark the third comics film this year with Iron Man 2 (The Losers and Kick-Ass came out over the past couple week). Second, I've been finishing up my thesis on fanboy culture. As you can probably tell, I approach the subject with great bias and it's been a challenge to address that bias in an academic way. I've spent so long trying to take first-person out of my paper writing and leave it to blogging and film reviews (even with film reviews, I waited over a year to use personal pronouns, allowing myself time to develop an audience that would be OK hearing my me personally in such a setting). My thesis has been both fun and exhausting, trying to determine what research to use and when to back off the scholarly works and tell the story myself. I'm proud of the direction it's taken and plan to try to publish it. Without providing too much spoilers for it, I'm taking up the challenge of determine what fanboys like. By collecting and categorizing user responses to superhero films I attempt to understand how fanboys (myself included) interpret popular superhero films. The project began with the questions of how do fan communities oppose popular film texts they find insulting. The project morphed into something very different as my sample group showed less signs of resistance to the media production system (somewhat to my dismay because I greatly hoped to find that fanboys (I do addressed the gendered use of the term as well) resisted the idiocy of Transformers 2 as much as I did). Instead, I learned more about what constitutes a good superhero film for the group. I'll leave it at that for now and simply close with, "It's a good time to be a fanboy though I do hope he does get a little smarter."
We're back with another original video. This one's called 702. The premise is a zombie horror-comedy mockumentary that questions the nature of objectivity and journalistic involvement in a post-apocalyptic setting where the end of the world makes critical analysis through say film a rather fleeting endeavor. I've always wanted to make two films, a documentary about the house I live in and a zombie movie. I never thought that I would just merge to two ideas together and go from there.
Here's how it all came together. I proposed an idea to a three other classmates and then we started writing. We went through several drafts before filming. Here's a link to the first draft I created, and here's a link to the second draft Saralyn created based on our brainstorming. And even during shooting, the process was very organic. My roommates just sat in front of the camera and talked. I also had a bad spill out of my attic, fracturing my ankle-caught on video and in the film. After that happened, we had to rewrite some parts and pass off my lines to other people who could still walk. It was difficult to keep a 12-person crew focused and quiet during shooting. We also had trouble finding a day that worked for everyone. Luckily, my two roommates who had to get to work decided to call in and say they couldn't make it.
The editing process was pretty enjoyable as well. Unlike the video essay, where I tried great a very tightly edited package, there weren't as many cuts here and that made things dramatically easier. Since I was stuck on a couch for several days after the great fall, I started editing earlier. I approached it by thinking about a mix of documentary styles and viral videos, thus the final product was a mix between a heartfelt exploration of place and something more akin to Cloverfield or Quarantine. We had some challenges with footage since we ran out of time to do reshoots and some shots didn't fully show everything going on (people running, fake blood, etc.) but the final product was very raw and looked great to me. I also found another challenge in choosing music. I didn't want to use any music that I couldn't get copyrights for, thus the music in the film was either created by me (three songs), a bluegrass song made by my friend, another acoustic song made my another friend, and, during the credits, a rock song performed by Nick Maldonado's band Destroy the Runner, the fine gentleman who got someone to cover his shift and drove up from San Diego to play the lead zombie in the film.
We went into the project to create a piece that questions the nature the documentary and, really, the point of higher education when people are dying. However, the final project did so much more as the interviews revealed some fascinating things about representation. Horror-comedies often critique their own form and we do that here too. We have some cliche moments: Elliott saying "I'll be back" and then getting killed first; the final showdown where several people die; the angry locals at an outsider who caused the problem in the first place; and the issue of representation. As in most horror, women usually remain in subordinate roles, either by dying first or relying on male leads to protect them. Here, we stay with that by having two girlfriends/fiances already dead prior to the incident with significant others with nonchalant responses to their permanent absences. Further, the death of the female documentarian solidified this view. This gender issue was not intentional prior to filming. One story about Bryan having to mercy-kill his fiance was actually rooted in a real dream he had but the story Roy tells was just something that he jokingly said (with his actual girlfriend in the other room) during filming. Even though no as visible in the film, we also had two female zombies (no intentional but more based on who could show up for the day). The other unintentional representation came after my injury. Anyone in a wheelchair or with a crutch dies first in these films and, well, I needed to because my actual ankle was the size of a softball and I couldn't run to the care, thus I died early in the final showdown so I wouldn't cause the swelling to grow.
I'm very proud of the final project and it's given me new energy to start doing more writing and filming like this. Welp, with that said, hope you enjoy the movie and be sure to pay attention to the credits, there's a few easter eggs in them.