Posts Tagged ‘Justice League’

Author’s Note:  This is a post/note written for Facebook in May 2011 at the conclusion  of Smallville on television.  Since then, it has been announced that Smallville will be continuing in comic book form from where it left off at the end of the 10 season finale.

As Bilbo once said, “I’m going now, this is the end; goodbye”  For Smallville fans, that was last night.  For the past decade the world has watched the story of how Clark Kent of Smallville, the Last Son of the planet Krypton, became Superman, the Man of Steel.   I have watched the show since shortly after it began, and have enjoyed it.  In this appreciation I am not alone – as my whole family watches it too – from my parents and brother to an aunt and uncle who are pretty much Lois and Clark in real life (my Uncle looks like Christopher Reeve).  While some enjoy the early seasons more, being a fan of the entire Superman mythos, I enjoyed the latter seasons to a greater degree once characters like Brainiac, Zod, Darkseid, and the fledgling Justice League (JLA) came into play.  (I also wonder how the latter seasons might have differed if Miles and Millar had stayed on as showrunners…as most of what I would consider missteps have occurred within the last three seasons).

I had trouble with Season 8 and the way Doomsday was portrayed.  I’ve watched the special features on Doomsday and how/why it was done this way, but trying to bring humanity to an entity that was created solely as a killing machine; I can see who fans who are more into Superman than I was might have stayed away.  I did enjoy the dichotomy of showing what Clark could have become if not for the influence of his earthly parents though.  The brightest spot in said season for me was Geoff Johns’s Legion episode with the Legion of Superheroes.  It reminded me much of the similar episode in Superman:  The Animated Series when the Legion comes back in time to help Clark defeat Brainiac – and much the same happened here, opening the door for James Marsters to return in Season 10 as Brainiac 5.  Another (smaller) highlight was the story of Lana’s exit and what a great execution of vengeance on Lex’s part that was – showing how power can often distance those who have it from everyone else.

Season 9 hold my favorite episode:  Absolute Justice, wherein the audience is introduced to the Justice Society of America (JSA) the precursor to the JLA. Everything was well executed, from the backstories to the casting, to the characters included; I just loved all 90 minuites of it.  To see Hawkman and Dr. Fate in action – just fantastic.  It edged out the Justice episode from Season 6, showing the beginnings of the League, which up until the JSA was the highest point in the series for me.

Season 10 had it’s hopes and high points (like Darkseid, Deathstroke, and the Finale) but I feel like Darkseid and his minions were underutilized.  Where was Steppenwolf?  Where was Wunderbar?  What about the ParaDemons?  Now I understand that a show can only do so much, but NO OMEGA BEAMS?  It’s Darkseid’s signature thing, as much a “finishing move” to him as one can find outside Mortal Kombat.  Speaking of Darksied, the whole idea to make him to be like Christ in the finale with all the talk of “end of days” “rapture” “salvation” and “apocalypse”? (I know they meant Apokolips)  The idea of Dessad, Granny Goodness, and Godfrey as “The Trinity”  That was overkill.  The idea of Clark being “Lucifer, the Bringer of Light” to save the world against Darkseid’s darkness?  I was sorely disappointed that the recent showrunners decided to do this with the finale, but this final season has had it’s share of pokes at those who are conservative in their politics and religious beliefs.  I really appreciated Gough and Millar staying away from that.  What’s more, while I liked Darkseid possessing Other-Lionel and Lex being given the “dark heart”, Clark beat him WAY too easy.  Put plainly, the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) has done Darkseid much better.

I will readily admit that one of the main things that drew me to the show was the portrayal of a younger Lex Luthor and how all that he is (as one of the greatest villains of all time) came to be.  A friendship and brotherhood with Clark Kent (and the events and choices that caused it to all disintegrate) was a large portion of a majority of the show.  Michael Rosenbaum was/is the best Lex; better than Clancy Brown in the DCAU, better than Spacey in Superman Returns, and leagues better than Hackman.  To see the struggle in the character and how family, environment, and expectations can form who a person becomes; tackling questions of destiny – these are large and important themes.  I will say that Lex became who he did because he CHOSE it, although he would argue it was always his fate.  It’s interesting to tackle issues of fate and freewill in the context of Heroes and Villains (but then again it’s been done with the Skywalker family too).  Lex’s return to the screen is one of the things that made the finale worth watching more than once, in spite of my previous criticism; I loved it.  To see the final “confrontation” between Clark and Lex, for them to realize who/what each of them are (as well as the other) was rewarding.

As the show progressed, and I grew over the last decade as it did, I began to appreciate more and more the role that John Schneider played as Jonathan Kent.  Seth and I met him recently and I think he was surprised that a whole family could be such fans we are (it is Seth’s favorite non-animated TV show).   Mr. Kent reminds me a lot of my Dad and as I’ve heard Mr. Schneider say in times past – Jonathan Kent represents the kind of man someone should be, an example to emulate.  Like Mr. Kent on Smallville, my Dad has done so much in my lifetime to teach, train, and provide for me.  TV doesn’t make me shed tears often, but the finale did, as my put myself in Clark’s shoes, trying to imagine a world in which I might be called to greatness without Dad there to be part of it – such a thought is beyond difficult for me.  In my own way I relate with the wisdom of both Clark’s parents in  beseeching him to not forget his past, even if it’s painful, because it is part of what makes him who he is (and so it is with all of us) – I know both my parents would say the same, and there are certainly things I would like to forget.

I would like to congratulate the minds behind the show and thank them for an ending worth a decade of waiting.  The last 5-7 minutes, I have watched over and over again. Chloe as a mom. Conner Queen/Hawke (Conner Queen/Hawke; with Warrior Angel PJ’s).  Perry White. Jimmy Olsen (with Aaron Ashmore back).  President Luthor. Lois and Clark.  The Shield.  The Theme. The End Credits.  All Brilliant.  All Wonderful.  I felt like a five year old on Christmas who just got a puppy. It’s been a fantastic ride, I, and the rest of the Welty clan will always be grateful for.

Long Live the House of EL; Always hold on to Smallville!

*cue John Williams*

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“In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, no evil shall escape my sight; those who worship Evil’s might, beware my power, GREEN LANTERN’S LIGHT!” – The Oath of the Green Lantern Corps.

Those words were first penned many decades ago and for many decades since then, fans of the Green Lantern comics have waited for silver screen treatment; on June, 17, 2011, it came (kicking off a big weekend for me which included a birthday and the return of The FENX to Washington once again for my use). The story of Green Lantern is very much a cross between Top Gun, the original Star Wars and The Last Starfighter (all movies I love). The main character, Hal “Highball” Jordan, is a former United States Air Force (USAF) pilot who works as a test pilot for Ferris Aerospace a company started by former USAF pilot Carl Ferris (a friend of Hal’s aerospace daring father who died in a crash Hal witnessed as a young boy). Hal works alongside Mr. Ferris’s daughter (and fellow pilot) Carol “Sapphire” Ferris with whom he has an on again/off again romantic relationship. Both characters are asked to fly a sortie against a pair of UAV fighters that Ferris Air is development for the Department of Defense, an exercise which results in another plane crash.

Meanwhile, in another galaxy far from the Milky Way, an ancient threat that feeds on the fear of others known as Parallax has escaped imprisonment by the Green Lantern Corps, a group of intergalactic law enforcers who wield green rings which channel the will power of the wielder into anything they can think of. Having escaped, Parallax hunts down Abin Sur, the greatest of the Green Lanterns and the one responsible for imprisoning him. Wounded in their encounter and fading fast, Abin crash lands on earth and instructs his ring to choose his replacement; the ring chooses Jordan. In short order Jordan is transported light-years from earth to the planet Oa, the home-world of the Green Lantern Corps; here he begins his training at the hands of Kilowog (a brutish alien version of R. Lee Ermey) and Sinestro (an emotional magenta skinned Vulcan looking character). As the story progresses Jordan’s two lives collide and new villains and heroes are born.

In all honesty, I loved this movie. Not everyone will but I did. In full disclosure though I’ve been a fan of Green Lantern since the Justice League show on Cartoon Network so I’ve been waiting for it for about a decade. When DC Comics unleashed the Blackest Night crossover a few years ago it only solidified my position as a fan of the Corps. When it comes to a film like this my greatest concern is how close the movie stays to the source material and I never apologize for that fact. Green Lantern did a marvelous job here (no pun intended). Most of the characters were spot on as were costumes and locations like Oa. (Ryan Reynolds was what I expected Jordan to be, but even if Blake Lively had a good moment or two I hope she steps up the game going forward; she has to for the story arc of Carol).

One of the most important elements in the film was properly dealing with the relation between the Power of Will and the Power of Fear, illustrated by the colors green and yellow, and how they are often antithesis to one another. It brought to mind the mantra from the Dune universe “Fear is the mind-killer, fear is the little death that brings total inhalation; I will face my fear, I will let my fear pass through me and when it is gone only I will remain”. Critics complained that there was too much Computer Generated Images (CGI), and while A LOT of the movie was that, to not do it in such as way would have made the cost of the film astronomical and harder to execute. Additionally, critics expect all superhero movies such as this to be on par with The Dark Knight or the first Iron Man; without his powers, Hal Jordan is “Pete Mitchell” from Top Gun and with the power of his Lantern Ring he can’t be Batman. This is a film about finding courage (and the will to act) in the midst of overwhelming fear, and the places that courage comes from. It illustrates the power and influence of fathers (and how much younger men are affected by it) and mentors (in much the same way the Star Wars film did). It also hints at the cost of fighting as one’s enemy does (I expect the sequel to deal with this more), as well as the dangers of great power and the arrogance that can come with thinking oneself unassailable.

This film is a big step for DC and Warner Brothers, as it is really the first mainstay DC character to get his (or her) own movie (not TV show) and your name isn’t Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. Seeing as how Marvel Studios is creating their own Marvel “movie-verse”, DC is finally taking a stab at the same (as illustrated by the inclusion of Dr. Amanda Waller; a character I expect to see much more of going forward who crisscrosses DC story-lines often and nods to the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO)). In short, I look forward to future adventures and returning to Oa.

Finally, I couldn’t help but see a Christian parallel when it was the Sun that was ultimately the undoing of the interstellar baddie. On that note I will simply end with something I wrote years ago, inspired by Christian belief and the Oath of the Lantern Corps – “In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, We Cannot Escape His Sight, He who loves us with all His might, He Casts Out All Fear, Jesus Christ, the Light”

*UPDATE* I just returned from an unexpected special Green Lantern in 3D screening in DC. One of the points in the film I didn’t cover but should have is Hal Jordan’s struggle with being chosen to join the Green Lantern Corps. Tomar-Re, one of Hal’s mentors (and his wisest), makes it very clear that Hal was chosen by the Ring even if he doesn’t understand why; that the Ring doesn’t make mistakes. Hal really struggles with this because in most areas of his life he is a failure who cannot overcome his fear. Ultimately, the Ring’s choosing Hal gives the character a sense of destiny that is both freeing and a burden; a burden because it is a difficult undertaking, but freeing because the die is cast and any sense of confusion and doubt about the path is past once he realizes why he was chosen. This is probably my favorite subplot in the film because ever since Star Wars and Terminator destiny has fascinated me.

In something totally unrelated, I am convinced that post-production conversion to “3D” is just a Hollywood gimmick, but when it’s actually filmed in 3D that is something else entirely.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

Over the last few months I’ve begun to listen to sermons given by Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Texas. This morning, as I was listening to his sermon series on Habakkuk he quoted something he attributed to Martin Luther while it’s really something offered up by A.W. Tozer: “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly, until first He wounds him deeply.” Now I don’t know if this is true in one-hundred percent of cases (therefore I can’t say it’s a law in the same way the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a law – always true in very case) but in my life it appears to be truth. I also wonder if the term “wound” is synonymous with “burden” – it would seem that it could work out as such. These deep wounds in my experience are often things which, as a result of carrying said wound, forces an individual into closer proximity and deeper understanding of both themselves and the Heavenly Father, the Creator and Master of the Universe. This proximity is something He desires for us but we don’t desire for ourselves because of the sacrifice and/or pain that is often required to bring someone to a point wherein an epiphany occurs: alone, you cannot hold your own life together – you are in need of something more (and He IS that something more) in order to cope with the difficult thing life WILL hand to you. When this realization occurs, often amidst trial, then closer proximity to Him can follow. (Not to say that it cannot happen otherwise, but the crucible of trial is often the best teacher; it is why what the Apostle Paul has to say about suffering – In Romans 5 – will ALWAYS be leagues better than anything Jedi Master Yoda can come up with.)

I’ve found that my wound is multi-dimensional. One part of the wound is Cerebra Palsy (CP); another part of the wound is an inner spirit that seems incompatible with the CP, a spirit that wants to excel and perform beyond what oftentimes a CP body allows; yet another facet is the physical pain that stems from the clashing of the first two parts – the spirit forces the body to excel beyond it’s limits for an extended time and the body screams in protest. It wasn’t always this way; it has been over the last decade that I’ve grappled with this new reality of pain and deterioration – one I was NEVER prepared for. What’s more, this wound/burden has a mental facet as well, wherein I often have to confront my reality/experience with what I know to be the Heavenly Father’s Truth about Himself and His Character (namely His Sovereignty and Faithfulness – two very hard things that finite minds contend with). I’m willing to admit that I sometimes have a tough time wrestling with the idea that He has MY BEST interest at heart; why would He? I am small, broken, and less. It is in these times that I have to remind myself that I am looking at me through the same looking glass that society at large sees me; the same looking glass that says I, and others, are of less worth because the mold culture fabricated to place us in – we don’t fit it, we NEVER will (so much for Carbon Freezing; better luck next time, Ugnaughts). In these times I don’t have forefront in my mind that my Father sees me differently – I am a son to Him, not JUST part of His creation; He says I am worth it and that should be more than enough.

It is easier for someone to expose something within society that they know is a lie if they have experienced it’s devastation, have seen first hand it’s destructive capability, or know full well the lie is active and they were spared it’s consequences by the actions of another.

In the midst of all this, I am blessed. My parents don’t see me the way I often see me and I’ve gotten to the point wherein I’ve realized my close friends don’t either, be they of the Todd, Inklings, Justice League, or Inner Ring variety. One of the greatest weapons to combat against the darker mental and emotion facets of this wound/burden is none other than The FENX. That machine takes what society (and even I sometimes) see as a weakness and helps to make it an asset. As my friend Carl Sears, a producer for NBC Nightly News, once said “The FENX is like Superman’s cape”. It draws attention, it opens doors, and allows me to sometimes broach deeper issues in a way that seems natural; to talk about some of the “how” and “why” of the FENX is to have to broach some of these important realities – to realize that the FENX is a creature of necessity – if I was not as I am, without this wound/burden, the FENX would never have been.

Some of us endure hard things (and sometimes continually) in difficult places which seem beyond our own aptitude. These wounds often exist, so that when we are elevated – it is obvious to all that we could not have done this under our own strength or ability. Rather, it becomes clear that the Master of the Universe is at work. May that realization encourage and especially drive the wounded/burdened ones into closer proximity to the Father, knowing He will use them for His purposes.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron