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I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring to your attention that superhero films are the cover story of the New York Times Arts & Leisure section this morning.  I wish I could tell you what the article is supposed to be about though.

I’ll try, after the jump.


The article is titled “Super-Dreams Of an Alternate World Order: The Modern Comic Book Movie Has Become a Hollywood Staple. But Exactly What Is It Selling?” Film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis then set about, ostensibly, answering that question. Only they don’t. There’s the usual “comics are our modern myths” stuff that literary types like to trot out as if it’s some new perspective. Except that people have been trotting that out for almost 20 years now. From there, it’s pretty much just lamenting how uninspired the entire genre is.

Dargis suggests that any movie marketed as heavily as The Avengers is bound to make money, completely ignoring decades of over marketed cinema flops. A. O. Scott asserts that any critic who dares voice skepticism about a comic book movie will be shouted down by fans as an elitist snob. Interesting theory, given that the fans usually tend to be the harshest critics of superhero movies.

Dargis admits to having found The Avengers “unrelentingly dull”.  I guess she’s entitled to her opinion, but I have to wonder exactly what film she saw when she says that Scarlet Johanson’s character in The Avengers, “exists to smile indulgently at the super hunk, to be rescued and to flaunt her assets…her biggest superpower was her super rump.”

That must be news to, like, everybody else that saw The Avengers. Because up till now, the take away has been that Joss Whedon once again proved himself a great writer of female characters.  Check out this article and this one, and this one, and this one, and- oh christ, just google “‘the avengers’ black widow” and you’ll find plenty.

So again, what is the point of the Times piece? Judging from the full page ad for Amazing Spider-Man wedged into the middle of it in the print edition, and the digital version’s altered subtitle “The Amazing Spider-Man and the Modern Comic Book Movies”, I’d say it’s just a weekend filler, trying to leverage attention for the upcoming Spidey and Batman films.  So, I guess the joke’s on you, Scott and Dargis.

NYTimes digital version here.


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