Cultural Crossovers #15: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Yay, it’s these guys again!

  • Quill’s parents, we presume. Along with a very large violation of ecological safety practices.
  • Well, that’s a weird way of assembling planets into a megastructure. Wonder what the point is, apart from saying “we can make gravity our bitch?” Although that kind of is a point.
  • Ah, Rocket. Your adventurer-fu is strong. And, hey, you never know when another dance-off might be needed.
  • Well, that’s a whole pile of ugly.
  • Groot: Still adorable. Still trolling Drax. We approve. The space-rat riding is new, but we agree with that too.
  • Drax: still insane.
  • You guys sure love gold, huh?
  • Well, hello, Nebula.
  • Rocket, while we agree with your assessment, you’ve got to have a —
  • Okay, I’m pretty sure doing a “bit of both” wasn’t supposed to be at the same time.
  • Wow, you’re not just understanding but actually constructing metaphors now?
  • Well, that’s an interesting way to control your space fleet. Do they keep the high scores somewhere?
  • Quantum asteroids? Unlikely, but cool concept.
  • Drax: even insaner.
  • You have interesting-looking jump points.
  • $10 says Drax wants another go.
  • …called it.
  • At least it waited until you were done crashing to fall off.
  • Well, that’s a remarkably nondescriptive name.
  • Hey, it’s Yondu!
  • Hm. Ravagers have a code, mythos, a notion of exile. Hmm. Tell us more, plz.
  • Oooh. Nice nano-make-shit spray. Or nano-make-ship spray, in this case.
  • Cool-lookin’ egg-ship.
  • Drax, I don’t think that was a secret to anyone.
  • Oh, this ambush will not go well, if I know Rocket.
  • Yeah, I know Rocket. And the soundtrack makes it.
  • …but then there’s Yondu and his knife missile.
  • Wow, some of these guys came out of the shallow end of the gene pool.
  • Oh, Kraglin. Bad call.
  • Nice-looking planet, Ego. Presumably very much a product of ecopoesis, gravity being what it is.
  • Well, small g, maybe, but you’ve built a hell of a temple-museum to yourself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Yeah, that does look like mutiny. Traditional spacings and all.
  • Isn’t ‘metaphorical’ a bit too large a word for you, Taserface?
  • Taserface.
  • Quite the sense of revenge you’ve got there, huh, Nebula.
  • Sniff. Playing catch with the light-ball is all kinds of touching. But the other shoe has to be dropping any moment.
  • And that seems likely to be it.
  • “Too adorable to kill”, really?
  • Shit, he’s a champion asshole.
  • Not very clear on this, Groot – which is odd considering your language skills elsewhere. But evidently he picked up on Rocket’s love of body parts.
  • Now that’s a much better call.
  • Damn, but Yondu’s good with that thing. That’s friggin’ war-poetry, right there.
  • Oh, now that’s just showing off.
  • Love the incendiary mode. And that’s an impressive – if an expensive – use of a modular ship.
  • Y’know, it generally helps to speak of unspoken things. We find. As a rule.
  • And Gamora, as expected, cuts the matter to the heart.
  • Man, that ship gets crashed a lot.
  • Okay, how the hell is she even holding that gun? Damn thing must be made of spinmetal and aerogel.
  • Thanos has a lot to answer for.
  • Hey, making weird shit sounds good. Actually, it seems like a much better use of divinity than Ego’s starting to preach.
  • (Also, Mantis and Drax are adorable and bizarre.)
  • …that is a lot of corpses. And seeing as Ego is the entire damn planet and is keeping them inside him, dear gods, is that creepifying.
  • Now that was a heart-to-heart.
  • Oh, holy crapballs, you’re a class II hegemonizing swarm.
  • Beyond such things as friends? Killing the woman you loved so you wouldn’t be distracted by her? You are the worst god ever. And considering the competition for that slot…
  • Well, given that you want to turn everything in the universe into you, it’s not like he’d have been spending the next thousand years as anything else anyway.
  • Any chance you assembled a planet-killer bomb from that guy’s eye, Rocket? Would be handy about now.
  • Yeah, it’s actually quite surprising that you don’t have a lot more issues.
  • Hell, if you need that thing to get in, I’m impressed with the security of the Bank of A’askavaria. Beautifully flexible, though.
  • It’s cute that the Sovereign go to the trouble of projecting their faces on the AKVs they’re piloting just so you can see who’s killing you.
  • Or, y’know, you could just improvise a planet-cracker on the spot. That’s cool. Hey, can we hire you?
  • Oh, god, everyone’s going to die.
  • Drax: still a troll.
  • Good gods, what was powering that arm? Was it designed so you could tear it off and throw it as a grenade? (I mean, knowing Thanos, yes, but still.)
  • Also, that entire planet has a terrible case of resting bitch face.
  • Um, a sane, decent, loving one?
  • If you two are all there is, what else is he going to do for fun?
  • Pretty sure he can. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s obligatory. Bugger destiny anyway.
  • Just about any of the infinity of possible meanings. You’re a heggie swarm. Boring and meaningless are among the top concepts associated with heggie swarms.
  • And by some miracle, Groot doesn’t kill everyone.
  • (I wish the people in this hypothetical theater would get all the nuances of the Pac-Man joke.)
  • Not sure Star-Lord is ever going to be just like everybody else. He’s got you out-awesomed for a start, Mister Celestial.
  • The audience rises and salutes Yondu’s final sacrifice. If they could, they’d vote him into Valhalla unanimously.
  • And are delighted that the Ravagers agree.
  • Oops.
  • Okay, are those guys getting a spin-off of their own in which they steal some shit? Please?
  • More rigidity of the stick up his butt, too?
  • (Probably lacking most of the context for teenage Groot too, alas.)

A Modest Recommendation

I’ve been enjoying reading this webcomic a whole lot recently:

Grrl Power is a comic about a crazy nerdette that becomes a superheroine. Humor, action, cheesecake, beefcake, ‘splosions, and maybe some drama. Possibly ninjas.

…for all those reasons, plus recent SFnal elements, and that our protagonist’s brain seems to work in disturbingly similar ways to the brains resident at Chez Author.

And thus I recommend it to you, Eldraeverse readers, because I suspect it would also suit your taste.

Cultural Crossovers #14: Doctor Strange

A quick pre-note: while suspension of disbelief is needed to believe in magic, of course, it’s not an unfamiliar context to the audience. The eldrae have a fine old hermetic tradition of their own, even if it’s regarded these days mostly as philosophy and “how we scienced before we learned how to science”.

Sadly, however, that both doctor and wizard mean “wise man”, in a sense, will be a little lost: long-term readers will remember that *there* doctor is a purely medical title, and the learned in other fields are generally titled academician.

  • This folding of space is exceedingly impressive. Especially since everything isn’t collapsing.
  • Doctor Strange, we presume.
  • My, someone has an ego. (Not that that’s a bad thing when you can so obviously back it up.)
  • Well, okay, maybe that’s going a little far. Also, “Strange Technique”? Snerk.
  • Avoiding a challenge, Mr. Ego? Makes your perfect record a little meaningless, no?
  • …and that would be the world taking your valxíjir from you.
  • That avoidance bites back.
  • I’m not sure that’s mania so much as a very familiar kind of despair. And yet, that’s still no excuse for such discourtesy.
  • Always at the far end of the world, the wisdom is.
  • Hiding in plain sight, I see. Promising.
  • (Only some of the audience have the cosmopolitan experience to understand why it’s odd that the Ancient One doesn’t look ancient, because…. well, all the Ancient Ones they’ve met look like that.)
  • You know, much as the audience might be inclined to agree with him, being punched right out of your body should really be awfully convincing. Even without the free trip through the Realm of Forms.
  • …or maybe the Realm of Hands. What the hell, other plane?
  • Ancient Snark from the Ancient One. Also, seriously, you show him the true nature of the universe and then throw him out? That’s a real dick move.
  • Wi-Fi, indeed. Heh. Although the audience is unlikely to understand the whole Magic vs. Science trope this is playing off.
  • Especially since the Ancient One’s spells-as-programs metaphor is exactly how they’d be inclined to think about magic anyway.
  • “No knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices.” Ooh, we like you.
  • Okay, as a general rule of thumb, rituals that make your eyes all charred-looking are probably not from the puppies and rainbows side of the force.
  • The “sling ring”? I mean, the device is nifty enough, but it needs a much cooler name.
  • Yeah, control by surrender doesn’t make much sense to these guys, either. Harmony vs. Discipline trope, and all that.
  • No educational methods quite as effective as the ones ending “or death” anywhere, I see.
  • Didn’t take you long to figure that out. But really, the one on his desk? That’s just trolling.
  • A mirror dimension? That’s awfully convenient – artificial, we suspect.
  • One does wonder who exactly the Living Tribunal are.
  • Ah, the shiny green pupil of the Eye of Agamotto. No-one’s in any doubt whatsoever as to what that is.
  • Oooh, time rewinding. We want one. Well, actually, we want quite a lot, because Just Think of the Potential Applications.
  • …ah, yes, “don’t screw around with time”. That’s a universal everywhere. Alas.
  • Extradimensional invasions, parasite universes. Gotcha.
  • Yeah, that’s something that could have done with a little explanation up front. Maybe one of those cute sayings about great power and great responsibility?
  • Hey, you don’t need to look surprised. You have the Ring of Everywhere-Going, and all.
  • …best windows ever. (The Claves in the audience grin smugly.)
  • Got to love the old infinite passage trick.
  • Man, I hope that wasn’t expensive.
  • Best cloak!
  • Nice portable prison.
  • Also, Kaecilius, I like your ambition and your distaste for time and death, but someone should really have explained to you the charred-face thing and the fundamental problem with borrowing power from extradimensional assholes.
  • See, he gets it! Easy principle, right?
  • Still best cloak!
  • And now for an astral asskicking. Astkicking?
  • From remote viewing to remote electrocution. I bet that application wasn’t in the library.
  • Well, your world’s been thoroughly upended. Was the bigger revelation that the world works completely differently, or that Strange grew up?
  • You know, people with the powers to alter natural law defending natural law per se is remarkably ironic, inasmuch as complete devotion to that principle would require doing absolutely nothing.
  • The architects in the audience really, really want to be able to fold space like this. Such possibilities!
  • (Also, is there really only one Dark Dimension? Or is Dormammu just kind of Spell-My-Name-With-A-The pretentious.)
  • Well, her method evidently sucks less than theirs.
  • …the audience hisses. Their lives have plenty of meaning without the prospect of death hanging over them, thank you so very much.
  • Awww. Best cloak really is best cloak.
  • Steal centuries of life from a giant abomination? Not the worst deed ever.
  • Always nice to see a too late arrival from time-to-time. Especially when there’s a convenient rewinder.
  • Heh. Stuck in a fish tank as time unwinds. What an embarrassing way to go.
  • Listen to Wong. Wong understands the rules of ethical singularities.
  • A time loop to trap a timeless being? Strange, you magnificent bastard!
  • …and getting killed over and over again how many thousand times? Dammit, man, we have to offer a standing salute to your collection of moon-sized orichalcum balls!
  • Yeah, they really should inscribe those the other way around.
  • Oh, for frak’s sake, Mordo, the whole damn planet was about to get eaten. How could there possibly be a bill larger than that?
  • Called it!
  • Well, hello. So, there weren’t wizards on Midgard before? (And, even more importantly, Asgard doesn’t have self-refilling steins?)
  • You walking away makes you undutiful. Going around taking away everyone else’s powers, starting with those which allow such unnatural acts as walking? There aren’t words for how much that makes you suck.
  • And what’s wrong with the world is that not enough people subscribe to the naturalistic fallacy? You cosmic jackass.

 

Cultural Crossovers #10: Guardians of the Galaxy

Oh, this should be fun —

  • As we’ve said before, mortality sucks. And being the grandfather who loses his daughter and grandson in the same moment sucks unimaginably.
  • Those who remember the very first trope-a-day will know why one might have to explain the whole alien abduction thing to this audience.
  • Well, look who’s rockin’ the adventurer archetype, complete with hint of xia. (Imperial culture loves this archetype so hard, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the audience will be rooting for Star-Lord from now on.)
  • We have artifact sign!
  • Oh, yeah. Nice ship, nice gadgetry, this is how this shit is done!
  • …oops.
  • Well, aren’t you an interesting lot.
  • So, looks like the Kree go heavily in for the big, dark, and gloomy architecture.
  • …also for the unnecessarily repulsive bathing habits.
  • Well, hello. You seem more interesting than the average bounty hunter.
  • (Also, is everyone else a hominin in this universe? Wut.)
  • Even the one from a completely different tree, heh, of life. At least in body plan.
  • Yeah, it’s amazing how many adventurer circles meet that way.
  • Prick, indeed.
  • And are described that way.
  • Xandarian prisons would appear to be about as bad as the audience expects. And have no respect for private property! Bastards.
  • Let’s see: a wanderer, the hand-crafted pawn of an insane Power, a prototype uplift, and a tree. Oh, and Broody McEngravedPants. Yeah, sounds about right.
  • Looks like he earned that name honestly, judging by the reactions.
  • Nice even-with-translation difficulties, there.
  • Someone wants to speak to the organ-grinder. I don’t think he’ll enjoy it.
  • Ah, it’s going to be one of those plans.
  • I love an enthusiast with a gun taller than they are.
  • The things that make up a chap’s reputation. My, oh my.
  • Okay, even by the audience’s local standards, this is a brilliant escape plan. Although it raises some questions about the maximum-security prison’s security.
  • Yeah, some things are important.
  • …or an enthusiast for blowing up moons. Love those too.
  • And eww. Even without black light. Especially since the audience can see in UV.
  • Is that arrow a knife missile? Shiny.
  • Well, that’s novel. And creepy. And faintly disgusting. Squishier than we would usually expect ancient Powers to be.
  • Aww, Groot.
  • Okay, someone’s going to have to explain that reference.
  • All the love for the phrase “pelvic sorcery”. Three logotects submit a new word to the Conclave by morning.
  • We might like you if you weren’t such an asshole to your staff, or perhaps we should say slaves.
  • Well, that’s some suitably terrifying ultimately-paleo paleotechnology.
  • And this is the pragmatic reason that you shouldn’t have slaves.
  • (Also, what the heck did that do to the other Infinity Stone you have lying around there?)
  • That’s a good reason.
  • Drax, never get drunk again, ‘kay?
  • And for him, it was Tuesday.
  • You like that plan, huh? RAMMING FTW.
  • Well, that’s definitely a basis for a relationship…
  • Hell of a play, Quill. The audience applauds, anticipating the follow-up gambit.
  • Groot, thoracic surgeon?
  • Oooh, someone’s caught ambition.
  • Oh, gods, this meeting. Just… this meeting. But especially the moment that it ends with.
  • …and then Rocket.
  • Wait, wasn’t that a metaphor?
  • What is it with you and other people’s body parts? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.
  • Hell, “Not 100% a dick” is a pretty apt description of the entire adventuring profession. Certainly as viewed from the outside.
  • (Sadly, the dick message will require cultural translation. As will Kevin Bacon.)
  • Now, that’s a neat trick, but I think the audience might question the practicality of turning your mobile defense into an immobile shield, especially when the enemy has mobile units of their own,
  • Ah, Drax. Tact is something else that your culture missed out on, isn’t it?
  • …you do grok friendship, though.
  • Oh, yeah, that’s a knife missile!
  • Urgh. Macrotech cybernetics are ugly when self-repairing.
  • Evidently, he has reserves. And Saal, you’re kinda racist towards the one saving your city’s ass right now. Well, okay, part of it.
  • Keep working on it, Drax, you’ll get there.
  • And that’s why you don’t bring Sakaarans to a Groot fight.
  • Well, damn.
  • Aww, Groot. Is this theater dusty? I’ll call someone to clean the filters… in a minute…
  • And Star-Lord wins the furthest-beyond-left-field improvised plan award, this and possibly all years.
  • Yes, that you most certainly are.
  • Well, now, isn’t that interesting?
  • Looks like Drax has also caught some ambition. I hope it ends better.
  • Also, good for the Nova Corps in actually, unlike maybe 99% of similar organizations, having some gratitude.
  • Oh, don’t troll the poor man. Well, too much.
  • Grootling!

Oh, yeah. Despite the pop-cultural references – spoken and visual – needing a gnostic overlay or two to make sense, this one fills theaters for months, easy. The audience loves it. The fan community starts building stuff from it. The soundtrack inspires musicians to the sincerest form of flattery. Just about perfect, in fact.

So that went well.

Cultural Crossovers #9: Captain America – The Winter Soldier

Once more into the cinema, dear friends, once more:

  • Captain America continues to be awesome.
  • He don’t need no steenkin’ parachute, although why the vibranium ain’t glowing is a mystery.
  • Ah, multitasking. Always room for a banter thread.
  • And this is why concealed mission objectives are a bad idea unless you’re concealing them from yourself with a conditional-release trigger. Even for compartmentalization purposes.
  • Heli-cruisers, is it?
  • Ah, the idealist versus the pragmatist. The audience sides with the idealist. (The sentinels in the audience sigh softly.)
  • Oh, that reunion. It could make a stone weep, and we all still hate mortality.
  • Hiding things from yourself, Fury, or something sinister going on?
  • Nice car. Smart. Just the thing for a nice day out in hostile territory.
  • …not quite good enough, but damn close.
  • The Winter Soldier, I presume?
  • Well, that’s a nice trick, Mister Cyborg.
  • Oh, he is so not dead.
  • And, Pierce, this is possibly the most obvious frame job since they hung the Mona Lisa.
  • Son, you don’t have enough STRIKE units. The whole of SHIELD doesn’t have enough STRIKE units.
  • And, as usual, the Council of Holographic People is being played like an organ-grinder’s… organ. The Imperial Security Executive is deeply unimpressed.
  • Nice moves – and you schmucks call yourselves a tac team?
  • YOU UPLOADED A MIND-STATE WITH THAT!? (in a bunker? with a box of scraps?)
  • Oh, you cunning bastards. When working with a population of kneelers, anyway.
  • (And how the hell was Fury blind to this all these years? This is why the Imperial Service has three, count ’em, three, Departments of Impropriety.)
  • “I shoot my housekeeper to demonstrate how unnecessarily evil I am!”
  • Oh, it’s Senator Asshat being… well, yeah, exactly what we’d expect.
  • And that’s how one conducts an interrogation. Also, really nice jetpackoskeleton.
  • Ah, proleptic algorithms. Nice tech, lots of useful applications, shame about the grotesque abuse of it here.
  • Well, shit. How did you end up there? And then?
  • Excellent timing, Agent Hill.
  • Oh, Rumlow, don’t you know that the traditional cliché is to make the prisoners dig their own graves?
  • Called it.
  • Ah, more freezing, after a run through the brain laundry. That makes sense.
  • Please note: the tech in your laundry also sucks.
  • …and yeah, seriously, when you’re this compromised, you BURN IT TO THE GROUND. And then shoot the ashes into the sun. And then blow up the sun.
  • Good impromptu speech, that.
  • And glorious moment-stepping!
  • And then, sudden transparency. Everyone in the audience who doesn’t secretly work for the Fifth Directorate applauds. So does everyone who does, because, y’know, secrecy.
  • “Order only comes through pain”? Man, HYDRA are all about the fucked-up mottos.
  • Well, this is a spectacular mess.
  • Nice catch!
  • And after their respective multiple high-risk plays, the entire audience would be more than delighted to go into battle alongside either Cap or Black Widow. Any day of the week.
  • Well, that’s a hell of a loose end to tie up.
  • …and there are some idiots playing with the scepter of mindfucking. That’s going to work out well.

Also doesn’t take much cultural explanation, same as the last one in this sub-series, except for two really big details:

One, how did you get a supposedly non-evil organization to think that Project Insight doing preemptive executions was a good idea (don’t tell us, pragmatism – which is why we don’t like pragmatists around here); and

Two, how in all the blazes of nucleonic eggbeating fornication did, I repeat myself, Fury let SHIELD get that compromised? I mean, there’s suspension of disbelief, but based on previous films and characterization, we’re not supposed to think of him as hilariously incompetent, so…

Wut?

 

Cultural Crossovers #8: Thor – The Dark World

Straight on with it:

  • Well, they don’t look much like pre-stellar ignition creatures, but we’ll roll with it. (Anyway, wouldn’t they be Hot Ones in that case, not Cold Ones?)
  • …using a K does not make words extra-special. Just ask the Krell, the K’kree, the Kazon…
  • Don’t Seal the Evil in a Can! That trick never works!
  • Ah, Loki. Snarking in the face of death.
  • …Thor? Have you been listening to your brother?
  • THEY HAVE A CAVE TROLL.
  • This audience would point out that yes, Odin has a point about relationships between the short-lived and the long. But also that there is a cure for that, and if they haven’t figured it out yet, why the heck not?
  • Ah, Darcy, never stop being you.
  • Someone’s suffering some aftereffects of being brain-stirred with a scepter, methinks.
  • Welp, something’s plaited space-time like a much-used handkerchief. Wacky fun with metric engineering?
  • That’s a mite impressive.
  • Evidently you can explode more than once.
  • Holy shit, indeed. Bifrost is a delightfully showy method of interstellar travel. And your reaction, Jane, is simply adorable. The scientists squee and proclaim you one of their own.
  • Yes, “soul forge” is definitely a more poetic name. Our science team agree, although the description of what it does is… odd.
  • Rather civilized dungeons, Asgard has.
  • Interesting cosmology. One presumes that the Nine Realms are themselves an artificial construct.
  • There is perhaps something to be said about what one ought to bring to a battlecruiser fight.
  • Given some earlier comments about woman warriors, it’s good to see that the Queen of Asgard is appropriately badass. And tricksy.
  • …and dead. Shit.
  • A worthy funeral.
  • Lecturing the nuthouse. A sorry end for a great mind and someone who got drunk with a god.
  • Ah, Loki. You may not be a troll, but you’re definitely a troll.
  • Nice flying… for a vehicle you’ve never seen before.
  • Hell, a man takes that many pills, no wonder he’s crazy.
  • Nidavellir: it’s a miserable place.
  • Loki, damn it.
  • Let me rephrase that: Damn, Loki!
  • Oh, well played with that grenade.
  • Is there anyone in this audience who believes that Loki actually just died? Signs point to no.
  • You may have found a body, but the audience still doesn’t believe it.
  • Given that Mjolnir can lay down the smack on someone wielding the functional equivalent – or actuality – of an Infinity Stone, Asgardian weapons technology is really quite impressive.
  • And, hell, where are they gonna run to, anyway? Might as well get a good video on the off-chance the universe survives.
  • Welcome to Vanaheim, gentlemen. Hope they have airfields.
  • Excellent rising to the occasion, intern’s intern.
  • …kinda hope we get to visit Muspellheim sometime. It looks interesting, what we can see through the big ol’ skyhole.
  • Rendered ‘armless. Ho, ho, ho.
  • …aww, the fighter pilots didn’t get to stay in Vanaheim long enough for any mead. I hear it’s excellent.
  • Oh, Loki, you magnificent bastard! (And one wonders what he did with Odin?)
  • And he’s back! Good thing too, bilge snipe and all.

Anyway. Perfect movie for this audience – modulo some serious suspending of science disbelief – complete with perfect demi-villain. Couldn’t be better.