18 November 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - J. Jonah Jameson

After a week off, we return to the triple J threat of J. Jonah Jameson.

When Spider-Man became a media sensation, Jameson strove to blacken Spider-Man's reputation. Casting the masked hero as an unhinged vigilante not only boosted the Bugle's circulation, but also punished Spider-Man for overshadowing Jameson's astronaut son. When Spider-Man tried to counter the bad press by rescuing his son from danger, Jameson vindictively accused the hero of staging the situation for his own benefit.

This episode set a pattern with Jameson's and Spider-Man's typical relationship: Jameson publicly accusing Spider-Man of numerous crimes and misdeeds, only to feel continually obliged to print almost as many retractions after being proven wrong. Jameson refused to accept responsibility for his unprofessional conduct, however, and blamed Spider-Man for trying to ruin him. While he would never admit it, Jameson was jealous of Spider-Man's selfless heroism, to the point that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he convinced himself that the hero had some hidden, sinister agenda. Even while Spider-Man saved his life and those of his loved ones numerous times, his determination to find some flaw in the hero only increased. Ironically, Jameson himself was something of a hero in his reporter days, when he labored tirelessly against organized crime and in support of civil rights, so Jameson's suspicion that Spider-Man cannot possibly be as good as he seems might be interpreted as an extrapolation of the impossible standards Jameson has set for himself, or a manifestation of the abuse he suffered from his "hero" father.

Jameson posted rewards for Spider-Man's capture or secret identity, hunted him with Spencer Smythe's Spider-Slayer robots, and even commissioned super-powered agents to defeat the masked man. He hired a private detective called Mac Gargan, put him through a regimen of genetic enhancement, and transformed him into the Scorpion—who soon went insane and turned on his benefactor. Although Spider-Man has protected Jameson from this monster, Jameson kept his role in creating the Scorpion secret for years. He was even so foolish as to create another superbeing, who turned into a minor supervillain, the Human Fly, who had his own vendetta against him. At one time, he hired Silver Sable and her Wild Pack to hunt Spider-Man down before he could be proven innocent.

For all his hostility towards Spider-Man, Jameson needs photographs of his heroics to sell papers, and Peter Parker soon took advantage of that by taking pictures of himself as Spider-Man and selling them to the Bugle with few questions asked.

Villain Profiles:

the Beetle
Black Cat
the Chameleon
Doctor Octopus
the Green Goblin
J. Jonah Jameson

Spider-Man 3 debuts in 167 days!

16 November 2006

Superheroes on Screen - More Venom

So, I thought the new Spider-Man 3 trailer was pretty good, that is, until I saw the leaked and unfinished version of the trailer. That was fantastic! While the trailer is no l;onger on google video, here is a glimpse of the Venom we are going to see.

14 November 2006

Ink Blots XXXVIII - Whisper of the Heart

Of all the films produced by Studio Ghibli (you should watch them all) Whisper of the Heart is the least fantastical, and yet it is still somehow magical. Even Grave of the Fireflies, with its darkness and war-time realism has a hint of the supernatural, but Whisper is completely grounded. Whisper of the Heart is a tale of a young girl named Shizuku finding her place in the world, not is some mystical enchanted world, or one full of beasts and monsters, just our plain old ordinary world. She struggles with relationships and with deciding what she wants to make of her life. Ultimately, it is when she hears her heart's whispers that she finds confidence to carve out her own role in the world. There is such realism and truth about the characters' portrayals that you can't help but be drawn into the story. I cannot wait for the day that my little girl is old enough to sit down and watch this movie. One of the things I loved was the use of John Denver's Country Road which plays throughout the film. For some reason, this little country tune fits right into the setting of a Tokyo suburb.

For Ghibli fans, this film has a couple of other interesting ties to other Ghibli films. The town of Tama where this story takes place was also the setting of the film Pom Poko in which the magical raccoons (tanuki) fought a losing battle to maintain their habitat. Also, the Baron, a main character in The Cat Returns, is introduced here (as a figurine). In fact, it turns out the story of The Cat Returns is actually supposed to be written by Shizuku following the events in this film. Throughout Whisper, we see some of Shizuku's inspirations for The Cat Returns as well as her first efforts at becoming a writer.

Just reading what this film is about probably does not provide a compelling reason to see it, but I cannot stress enough that there is so much more to this movie that what happens. It's hard to explain what makes this film so good, but it captures a sense of purity that is so rare in films. It is truly touching, and takes home an A.