1.11 – Time and Punishment

 

Take heed, Power Rangers fans. I have foreseen events in your future that may signal absolute doom if you allow yourself to be punished by them.

Should you not have the luxury of an older sibling equipped to guide you through the fog of doubt that fills your future, then let me offer you my aged hand. Consider it a gesture of compassion for the inner child that lie dormant within your heart until the potential of a big screen adaptation of your childhood heroes thrusts a syringe of pure caffeinated nostalgia serum into your adult chest cavity.

I have valuable advice to offer that may not light the path to successfully navigating this potentially perilous journey before you, but I can surely imbue you with a simple piece of guidance that can save your fleeting youth from dying a horrible death.

Relinquish your grip on your heroes’ origin stories. All of it.

Take with you only what you need to define these characters and brace for turbulence. Their story was forever changed the moment someone different from the source that originally shared it with you attempts to tell it to someone else.

And do not be mistaken; they are not telling this story to you.

Welcome to the part of the storyteller’s telephone game where the secret myth that was told to you becomes something else entirely after you’ve done your best to listen and share with meticulous precision when it was your turn to participate.

Believe me when I tell you that I understand what you’re experiencing. That first image of the villain that looks totally foreign. The first few story details became public and they sound simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. Those wild theories about how the plot will unfold that you reject on site but secretly fear could be plausible.

You begin making room in your heart for small changes, but surely the powers that be wouldn’t abandon the most precious parts of the story you hold so dearly, right? Well…

Let’s go bad news first. I’ve established my adoration for the Transformers in this series, and the current film franchise is an example of how this can go horribly wrong. It’s the first thing I thought about when I saw those “Iron Ranger” suits and read the backlash against the new Rita Repulsa attire.

My heart immediately ached for you. We’ve got being child victims of the “What can we take from Japan and Americanize” thing in common, after all.

Look, the possibility of a believable Transformers live-action movie was a pipedream for most of my life. So, when the first Transformers film started rolling out (not a pun), my optimism (not a pun, either) was primed (Okay, that one was on purpose. I’m sorry.).

I sat between my mother and my oldest childhood friend on the night the first movie opened, melting into a 5 year old when Peter Cullen’s familiar voice boomed through the theater delivering the opening narration. The ecstasy was sadly fleeting.

I left that first film rationalized into satiation in spite of the unnecessary Linkin Park tune over the closing credits. I involuntarily and quite audibly uttered “Oh, f*ck you” at the screen (twice) during the second film. I stood up at the end of the third film and saluted the screen while shouting “God Bless America” as I marched out of the theater, eyes front, half-step. I watched a chinese bootleg version of the 4th film because I refuse to contribute another dime to these movies. (Legal: My views and actions do not necessarily reflect those of Geek Versus or any other related parties)

I just can’t consider these films to be about The Transformers at all. Not MY Transformers.

These bad movies are no more than poorly constructed stories about entirely different robots that happen to have the same names as the robots I love because, apparently, intellectual property rights don’t extend to actual “character” details.

Google “Murder Prime”. It’s fun.

Hollywood plays fast and loose with this stuff, but it’s not consistently so nightmarish. I share a lot of the general concerns about Jared Leto’s take on The Joker, but I know better than to cast judgement just yet.

I was first in line to throw Heath Ledger up against the wall when I found out he was cast to don the sacred makeup of Gotham’s clown prince of crime. It should require little further exposition to illustrate why my first impressions of blasphemous character portrayal were wildly unfair. The Joker of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy does not mirror a specific version from the comic history, but the essence of the character was present in Ledger’s brilliant performance.

I assure you Leto’s seemingly Snyder-era leap from Ledger’s anarchist clown is not nearly the vast distance between Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s art mobster in 1989, nor will the future be without a dynamically departed version from Leto’s.

Sometimes it takes Hollywood a couple of times to get a character right.

It’s apropos that the first Punisher I felt came close to my idea of Frank Castle came in the second season of a television show I never thought I would see in the first place.

Daredevil issue #292 is one of the first comic books I remember buying, that wasn’t related to the X-men or a random grocery store magazine rack pick-up, sometime around June of 1991.

It wasn’t my introduction to Daredevil or The Punisher, but Castle’s appearance certainly inspired me to give the man without fear’s title a shot. I’ve been a Matt Murdock fan ever since.

I won’t re-litigate the virtue of that ‘04 Ben Affleck version of Daredevil, because my excitement of seeing the character on screen at all overwhelmed my analytical eye.

Go back and read what I said about the first Transformers film and consider this pretty much the same experience if not slightly more enjoyable. The good ship Daredevil’s course was corrected in the current Netflix series.

The same could be said for The Punisher. He didn’t have just one bad movie before showing up in the MCU version of Hell’s Kitchen.

Try three.

Three is supposed to be the magic number, but apparently Disney has dominion over all things magical. It took Disney magic to finally get a violent anti-hero close enough to the comics version to actually be familiar. The Punisher is finally getting a portrayal the character deserves.

That “magic” inspired me to walk out of Captain America:Civil War feeling hope for the kids of the post-millennial generation. Not because of anything having to do with the plot or primary characters, but rather the introduction of Spider-Man.

Spidey looked, sounded, and generally “felt right”. For a character that has long been considered Marvel’s flagship hero, an accurate cinematic version is long overdue.

This instance is significant in that it’s one of the first times I’ve realized that it’s not about me anymore.

My feeling was that kids like my young niece, nephew, and the rest of their generation are getting a Spidey with my seal of approval and it will be their Spider-man for a while.

At this point, it’s yet to be seen how Sony will handle the character, but he appears to be in good hands.

The big take away here is that no one is robbing you of your version of these characters.

If Hollywood jacks up the Power Rangers, remember that there are people in Japan right now that absolutely loathe the American version of these characters already and that position is perfectly valid.

Yet, here you are. Excited about a film that can be really great or horribly bad depending on whether or not they honor your version of history.

I recommend letting it be. If it’s garbage, then you’re only punishing yourself by letting it interfere with the characters you love. Those old episodes of the show haven’t been erased.

It could also be brilliant, so you’ll only be punishing yourself if you don’t take the opportunity to let it be brilliant.

I’m sure, if you take your kids to see it enough times, you’ll have a chance to see a better version next go ‘round. You can always counter-socialize them with the good stuff and let them figure it out for themselves.

Do me a personal favor and keep your kids away from those terrible “Bay-formers” movies, though. I don’t want them making it worse for my generation when it’s their turn to tell my romantic giant fighting robot war story again by thinking anything from those films is “right”.

Seriously, we’ve been punished enough.

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Versus The New Half-life is a satirical feature series documenting the experience of modern geek life beyond the 18-34 demographic. Are we simply nostalgia driven super-consumers refusing to embrace adulthood by indulging childhood fantasy or have the expectations of being an adult changed? Writer J. Aaron Poole over-analyzes various geek fandoms to explore common themes and appropriate behavior from limbo as an indubitable grown-up under the age of 40.

J. Aaron Poole is a 21st century writer, musician, and geek culture advocate. He is a member of the American Sociological Association with an academic interest in the relationship between media, technology, and modern culture. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Aaron can be found making absurd comments on Twitter, PSN, and other social media platforms as @JAaronPoole.

J. Aaron Poole

J. Aaron Poole is a 21st century writer, musician, and geek culture advocate. He is a member of the American Sociological Association with an academic interest in the relationship between media, technology, and modern culture. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Aaron can be found making absurd comments on Twitter, PSN, and other social media platforms as @JAaronPoole.

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