11 minutes ago
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Thor and Wonder
I saw Thor yesterday and thought it was good--though I wonder if “good” superhero films have gotten common enough that I’m no longer impressed by mere competence. I do know that the formulaic elements of the “successful comic adaption” are beginning to wear thin.
So anyway, Thor drapes the Iron Man frame with interesting enough characters, a von Daniken-Kirby "gods from space" rift, and some cool action. It was in this second part, though, I was a little disappointed in their choices, given the source material they were working with.
What Kirby started with the Asgardians in Journey into Mystery--and developed to its fullest “are they aliens, gods--or both?” fullness in the New Gods at DC--is a science fantasy blurring of traditional definitions, a thread only Grant Morrison, among all of Kirby’s successors, seems particularly interested in exploring. Kirby seems to be saying that in this modern world, tech should be as much part of a god's trappings as ever-full flagons and flying goat-chariots were in the past.
Check out this scene:
A somewhat bug-eyed monster alien-looking troll captured and carried in some mechanical contraption, guarded by warriors in retro-futuristic armor, against a backdrop of strange planetoids.
Or how about Kirby’s vision of Asgard:
A pulp sci-fi future city on an asteroid floating in a romanticized cosmos with a very literal rainbow bridge connecting it to the rest of the universe.
Obviously, some of this stuff might have come across as silly on film--maybe some of it teeters on that edge as it is. The movie makes some gestures in this direction with some of its design, but it also is very insistent about Einstein-Rosen bridges and its implication that the Nine Worlds can be seen with Hubble. The point (well worth remembering for gaming I think) is that the oft-quoted Arthur C. Clarke line that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” doesn’t have to mean that the wonder and strangeness must be stripped from either.