Monthly Archives: May 2015

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon From A Humble Fanboy:

Dear Mr. Whedon,

I’d like to start by saying that I saw your movie Avengers: Age of Ultron this past weekend. Twice. So what did I think of it?

I FREAKING LOVED IT!

You’ll note the above statement is underlined, bold, and italics. I want there to be no mistaking my meaning. The purpose of this letter is in no way to criticize your work, tear you down, or cast aspersions on your character. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is something of a love letter to you, so I’ll try not to make it too awkward.

I think there are other directors who could have helmed Age of Ultron, and done quite well with it, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Your directorial stamp  ̶  the skillful flip/flop between humor and tragedy, the banter and dialogue, all those little moments that made Ultron great  ̶  sold me on this movie. Now, I’m not blowing smoke here or trying to get all butter-y on you; the truth is that I love this movie because you made it.

And that is why I have such a hard time understanding the vitriol leveled at this film, particularly from those saying that it’s misogynistic in some way. I get that you can’t please everyone, particularly for a movie that will be seen all over the world, but this, really? I don’t know what film they were watching. I honestly don’t.  And to level this at you of all people! You gave us Buffy and Willow, Zoe and Kaylee, and Echo and Fred, just to scratch the surface. Black Widow is another in the long line of strong, beautiful, badass ladies you’ve brought to life on screen.

You have written/are writing/will continue to write some of the strongest female characters that exist. A great multitude of writers could really learn from your lesson, particularly in the realm of comic book movies. (David Goyer, I’m looking in your direction. She-Hulk, really?)

I don’t know what it was that compelled you to deactivate your Twitter account, but I’m sure that this backlash didn’t help. Regardless, I hope that you will come back at some point. Your fans love you. (Also because it will be significantly harder to Tweet this to you if you don’t.)

Look, I’m not a movie director, and certainly not one tapped to helm a tent-pole blockbuster like an Avengers sequel.  I have no clue what it’s like to work with Marvel Studios, or the pressure and worry that come with it. I’m sure it was no picnic. Furthermore, you had to set up so much that will take place in future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. No rose garden there, either.

But when you resolve people’s expectations of what they wanted Ultron to be, along with all the things it had to be, I’d say that you were given a Herculean task in all this, exceeding that of even the first Avengers.  And in my estimation, you didn’t just choke the Nemean Lion, you popped his head off with a flex of your mighty bicep to score a sweet basket from center court. Nothing but net.

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve been listening to “A Promise” from the first Avengers soundtrack.  It’s my favorite track on that album, and that’s saying something. If I recall, this music plays during the part where Nick Fury and Agent Hill are talking on the bridge of the helicarrier. When Hill asks Fury what makes him so sure that the Avengers will come back if Earth finds itself once again in peril, Fury simply says, “Because we’ll need them to.”

That is my hope for you, Mr. Whedon  ̶  that you will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe one day, despite it all. These superhero movies need you, whether they will admit it or not.

Now, I hope you don’t take all this as the little kid tugging at the pant leg of the hero in the third act, saying: “You can do it, mister! I believe in you!” No, I think the best-case scenario for me here is to be the convenient wind that carries Indiana Jones’ fedora back to him as the music starts to swell. At any rate, you have a true gift for this work and a love of these characters that is undeniable in the finished product. You are a Big Damn Hero to me and to so many other fanboys and fangirls out there.

Please remember that.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

– Matt Carson

P.S.  ̶  You may not remember me, but we met once. It was at the last Buffy Bash in LA, circa 2004. I was the long-haired gentleman in the suit who gave you a semi-translucent plastic card of Buffy from the Buffy trading card game. Good times.

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The Golden Age of the Geekosphere

Tonight, I’m going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron (the movie I’m most excited to see this summer). That got me to thinking about the multitude of things that make being a geek/nerd/fanboy/fangirl just so cool these days.

Yes, we’ve got it pretty good, and here are 5 of my favorite reasons why:

1.) Nerd/Science Culture Acceptance

Bazinga!

What he said.

Let’s start with the most general of them. Over the last few years, what has been traditionally ‘nerd’ culture has leaked over into mainstream. Game of Thrones has been instrumental in this shift, along with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Sherlock. While the former has given us our share of fantasy and dragons (historically in the purview of geeks), the latter two have shown us that intelligent characters can carry a narrative, going far beyond the tape-around-the-glasses/pocket protector stereotypes of generations before.

We also have TV shows like Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, where we can see the beauty of science, and why it’s useful. We have websites like Geeks are Sexy and IFLScience. We can watch the livestream of the ISS, see sunsets from the surface of Mars, and use brand-new images of planets from Mercury to Ceres as our computer wallpaper.  We may not have starships (yet), but little by little science is spreading into the public consciousness.

Maybe we’re a long way from mainstream or wholesale acceptance, but it’s a start. I’ll certainly take it.

2.) The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Assemble!

A triumph of the human spirit.

Okay, so you might think this is a big step down from #1, but go with me for a moment.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe did the impossible – it wove individual movie franchises into one big story. Despite its name, it isn’t just about the cinema anymore. We now have TV shows like Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Daredevil, not to mention comic books and cartoons, all of which take place in the MCU.

While this by itself makes the comic book fanboy in me want to do the Snoopy dance, the MCU showed audiences and studios alike that this is viable way to make movies. Marvel has plans for more movies in the MCU through 2020 and beyond.

That means that we will wind up with at least two decades of superhero movies, if you start the clock with X-Men in the year 2000. And the current generation of movie-goers will have had the privilege of living through this era, of seeing all this unfold in the theatre. That’s pretty exciting.

One of these days the MCU might play out, but right now it’s going strong.  Even if others try to emulate the MCU badly (*cough* DC *cough*), we at least got Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy out of the deal, so go us!

3.) The Regeneration of Doctor Who

Vale Decem

You don’t have to go.

The years 1989 to 2004 were a dark time for Whovians. The only Who we got back then was that pretty awful TV movie that was a weak attempt at a reboot. I do admit to liking the style and charismas that Paul McCann brought to the character, and this was the first time we saw Who with more ‘modern’ effects. But… the Seventh Doctor got a punk death, Eric Roberts played the Master, and the story was just plain bad, and clearly written by people who were not invested in the franchise.

In 2005, however, Russell T. Davies rekindled the series with Christopher Eccleston as the title role. Steven Moffat took over as showrunner after David Tennant’s run, and the show is still going strong. I hope the BBC will learn from its mistake in 1989 and keep the show going indefinitely. Now that the ’12 Regeneration Limit’ issue has been addressed, there’s no reason why Doctor Who can’t continue to move forward with new adventures.  Doctor Who is something that science fiction fandom needs, and for the foreseeable future, we have it.

4.) Netflix & YouTube (& All the Social Media)

<3

I laughed, I cried, I rebuffered.

This is a pretty broad category, to be sure.  Netflix and other video streaming platforms have given fans an unprecedented access to episodes of our favorite shows, past and present. Previously, fans had to make do with a library of DVDs or VHS tapes.  Though there is often a delay between when a program is broadcast and when it ends up streaming, it gives fans nowadays the ability to binge watch whole shows.  It’s just as easy to watch the original G1 Transformers as it is to watch the Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

Youtube has made a great addition to fandom as well. Here you can share fan theories and lateral content, parodies, song covers, and cosplay advice. Some of the fan-made trailers for movies and TV shows are in many ways better than the actual thing. It’s a wide-open canvas for fans to express their creativity. If that weren’t enough, social media sites bring fans news and information with unprecedented speed, as well as giving us a way to connect with the people who make the TV shows, movies, and music videos unlike ever before.  You could Tweet Neil Gaiman, Lindsey Stirling, or Emilia Clarke and they might actually Tweet back.

TECHNOLOGY!

5.) ThinkGeek

Hey, listen!

With or without a promo code.

What’s the surest way to know that geek fandoms are doing well? Merchandising. Manufacturers wouldn’t make a pizza cutter in the shape of the Enterprise, or plush facehuggers if they didn’t think there was a market for them.  Turns out there is.

Marketing licensed merch and cool gadgets is nothing new, but no one, and I mean no one, does it better than ThinkGeek. There are endless places online to find fan-based T-shirts, but ThinkGeek goes above and beyond. They have collectibles, apparel, gadgets, toys, and things you didn’t think anyone would make but you are sire glad that they did.  Seriously, folks, there is a spotlight small enough to sit on your desk that is a miniature Bat Signal.

Beyond that, it feels like the people at ThinkGeek actually get these licenses.  They know what these properties mean to the fans because they are fans of them themselves. Do yourself a favor and go sign up for their email newsletter. When it comes in, read it. Does is it sound like you are being pandered to by people who wouldn’t know a Wookie from a Dalek? Nope, not at all. It’s more like walking into a meet & greet at a local convention. They’re the friends-in-fandom you never knew you had. If haven’t already, go check them out.

A Final Word

There are many more things I could list about the awesomeness of modern geekery, but that would take more than a humble blog post to even scratch the surface.  The upshot of it is: there has never been a better time to be a fan, and I’m glad to be a part of it all.

May this emerging golden age of the Geekosphere Live Long and Prosper.