Table of contents

Doctor strange 3

The possibility that the market will extinguish the sources of story-telling

Our is an age of glamour, which is a fine word for an ugly thing–polished mediocrity. Glamour is what one feels for beauties seen on screen or the covers of magazines, as opposed to what one feels for one’s lover. It does not correspond to the psychological experience of perfection that attends on love; but it does not correspond to a social understanding of propriety either. If it can be said to correspond to any basic experience, it is hearing someone else talk about their beloved. Admiration by proxy.

The new superheroes tend to be made in that mold; manliness is reduced to bodies produced in a gym, in a world where actors talk about the difficulty & pleasure of achieving musculatures in the use of which they have no interest. The mind, as I said, is reduced to a troubled, but simplistic faith in scientific transformation of life–such as the one really at play in creating these new scientific bodies enshrined on screen to be idolized rather than desired.

These actors are not mere bodies, however, they do speak–in fact, all plots are now dialogue-driven. It is best, however, not to speak about the quality of the dialogue, whether in relation to plot or characterization. Sarcasm has replaced humor & stands in for everyday conversation; at the outer edge of experience, platitudes pass for principle; there is next to nothing in-between these most perishable private experiences & those most removed universal statements, in the realm of judgment. Sentimentality has replaced just about every form of love and the individualism of the age is enshrined without even the promise of happiness–which is dismissed sarcastically. These heroes are unhappy & advertise unhappiness, which apparently would be tolerable were it more glamorous. This may be a public opinion.

The directors hired to do this work are sometimes men of prestige & a classical bent–consider Sir Kenneth Branagh. At the same time, Marvel is buying up actors with more & more Oscar prestige. But they are on the leash, it would seem, of Mr. Kevin Feige, the producer who runs the Marvel enterprise, & who has not flopped since 2008.

Compare Marvel with the DC products that epitomize thoughtful superhero stories–the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. There are only three of the latter over about eight years, whereas Marvel puts out at least two movies a year; the director wrote & directed the movies in that case, but directors have almost no influence in this, & one could not recognize a poetic mind either by style or theme were one confronted with the immensely popular & profitable Marvel movies.

In short, beauty, speech, & poetic intention have all been taken out of the movie-making business & the substitutes are a remarkable success. The market seems to have spoken, at least in this generation. The American market especially is being transformed into an opening night for the worldwide audience, where most of the money is for the Marvel kind of spectacle.