Cultural Crossovers #17: Thor: Ragnarok

In which there is an apocalypse.

  • Man, that’s a lot of chains.
  • Well, you’re an unlikely flaming chap. But I guess if there are ice giants, there should be fire giants.
  • Thor, you’ve been hanging out with Tony Snark too much.
  • Oh, you shouldn’t have said that. Keep your special hat secret.
  • We approve this music choice.
  • Well, Asgard’s standards in gatekeepers have gone all to hell.
  • …even by ontotech standards, Mjolnir is hax.
  • Don’t think their standards in Viking-inspiring women are doing so well, either.
  • Oh, Loki. Evidently you gave up completely on subtlety and subtlety-adjacent things when you kinged yourself.
  • Awwww. But you two were so cute! And no Jane means no more Darcy, Best Intern Ever!
  • Well, isn’t that… Strange.
  • Implication: Asgard also has wizards. Of course, Earth also had wizards all along.
  • Loki is having a really bad day.
  • And Odin seems to be enjoying his retirement.
  • Well, this introduction is going well.
  • Mew-mew! Noooo!
  • Hm. Bifrost is also a place. Interesting. And one you can be thrown out of mid-transit.
  • Well, shit. We’ve seen those guys fight, and so… implications unpleasant.
  • Is that… a planet-sized landfill? With wormholes dropping garbage out of the sky? But… but… (economists have meltdown)
  • (I mean, I suppose it could be natural, but there had to be something better to use it for.)
  • Guessing these folks got landfilled too, at some point.
  • A very drunk Asgardian?
  • Not bad “going through them” for someone that drunk. “Blowing through them”, one might say.
  • And so passes the last of the Warriors Three. (Hm. I wonder where Sif is right now.)
  • Ah. So, they have a sideline in slave gladiators. Delightful planet, this Sakaar.
  • (Oh, right, where the paper people come from.)
  • Of course Loki would turn up there.
  • This one is laid back for a gladiator. Insert obligatory stoned pun here.
  • One might think slaughtering the entirety of Asgard’s military forces would be something of a self-own for the new queen…
  • (And this is why historical revisionism is problematic.)
  • …oh. A giant army of the mostly dead. And giant wolf!
  • (Awww, puppy.)
  • The hammer is his… hammer. Yep. Just his hammer.
  • Okay, so if there was this elite force of women warriors, what was that whole deal back in Thor about Sif being one?
  • Tough crowd.
  • Oh, that’s where you ended up.
  • Not sure he likes that name.
  • Like he said, god of thunder…
  • puny god of thunder. And Loki gloats, of course…
  • …or not. Someone’s feeling their elemental associations today.
  • Es. 10 says Heimdall is running the resista —
  • — thank you.
  • Evidently extended runtime is good for Hulk. And he’s got himself a life now.
  • And a robust sense of humor. And, ooh, a statue.
  • Ah, Heimdall has an exit. Guess when you can see everything in the universe, you pick up on all the back doors.
  • Nice escape. Well, right up until the Quinjet got Hulked, and the Hulk got dehulked.
  • Man, how bad must two years worth of Hulk-hangover be.
  • “Melt-stick,” seriously?
  • The Valkyrie rode pegasai. Okay, let’s revise the mythologae recreation list.
  • “You’ve been on a planet before.” Heh.
  • And soon it will be three.
  • Well, except for Hulkfest Carnivale whatever-local-year-this-is.
  • Worst impromptu name ever.
  • The “Devil’s Anus”? Apt. And dreadfully entendric.
  • You have a terrible job, Grand Master’s chief minion.
  • That is a terrible strategy, but that’s a really nice ship.
  • That, on the other hand, was a very nice strategy. If a mite dickish.
  • …something about a black light…
  • That would be a fairly odd thing to have a doctorate in.
  • Maybe not a gun, but it’ll do.
  • Awwww, puppy.
  • One would think they’d have better methods of interrogation on Asgard, but maybe Hela gets her kicks this way.
  • A very convenient wormhole, indeed.
  • And Thor teaches us all how to do provoke and confront.
  • DON’T SHOOT THE — well, okay, guess you have to.
  • Well, that wasn’t the plan.
  • Just you and your undead slaves, eh, Hela?
  • Welp, Loki and an opportunity to be theatrical. Should’ve called it.
  • Big-ass lightning bolts speak louder than words.
  • This is the best fightin’ music ever.
  • Alas, poor Fenris. You deserved a better mistress.
  • (But, hell, no-one else even wounded the Hulk. Ever.)
  • Even unavoidable sacrifices suck.
  • And Skurge of Asgard, at the last, dies well.
  • Bloody hell. He wasn’t kidding about being mountain-sized.
  • The audience also hates this prophecy. Civilizations should not fall. That is literally the opposite of the proper course of events.
  • Hulk is disappoint. Biggest challenge yet.
  • Korg, your timing is just the worst.
  • Well, won’t Earth be surprised to receive a sudden shipful of Asgardians? (Especially those Asatru whose worldview wasn’t already beaten all to hell in the last few years.)
  • …assuming that leaves anyone alive, that is.
  • And what’s about to couldn’t happen to a nicer planetary slavemaster.

Cultural Crossovers #16: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Does whatever a spider can…

  • Guess we’re going to have to assume some sort of introductory foo, here. Otherwise no-one’ll know who Spider-Man is, in medias res and all. Apart from what we saw in Civil War.
  • Well, lady, you just lost all our sympathy. You don’t stiff someone on a contract.
  • Yeah, those are some pretty nice things.
  • Ah, quick recap.
  • Nice self-awareness there, Tony.
  • Yeah, waiting on the call sure does suck.
  • Seriously, a dick pun is the best you can do?
  • You need some sort of changing room. Really.
  • Also, more work, maybe.
  • Nice toys, boys. We can’t exactly approve of what y’all opening guys are doing, but still, you don’t stiff people on contracts.
  • Man, you broke the Death Star.
  • LARB.
  • Free pudding, yay! Hopefully not made from larb.
  • Although those would all be really cool powers. And they’re good questions. Should work on those.
  • Okay, how did they get Cap to make those videos?
  • Ah, the perks of Avenger-hood.
  • Okay, score one for the stunner-fist.
  • Oh, your boss is not going to be happy you lost that.
  • Your power-set is really very poorly adapted to suburbia.
  • Nice parachute feature. Needs some beta-testing.
  • Ooh, remote-control suits. Nice.
  • Also nice reference. Shame no-one has the background knowledge to get it.
  • “The Shocker”? Well, I suppose it’s slightly better than Taserface…
  • Seriously, you’ve got to remember which gun is which.
  • I applaud your lair-logic.
  • So, what do strontium, barium, and vibranium have in common?
  • “Training Wheels Protocol”? Seriously, Tony, that’s a name that almost demands that someone turn it off, and you had to know that Peter’d go looking. Maybe “Prevent Your Head From Exploding Protocol; Do Not Disable”? At least then he’d have to read the code first.
  • Really, ammo selection should be her job, or what’s a suit AI for?
  • I’ll take one of those portable doors.
  • At least it’s not a radioactive energy core.
  • Dear lift-lady: Less reassurance, more action.
  • Now that’s an awesome drone.
  • Someone throw that guy out of the elevator and let the reasonable people be rescued.
  • Well, that kinda-sorta worked.
  • “Man-Spider”? Come on, guys, get it together.
  • Seriously, WHO GOT CAP TO MAKE THESE VIDEOS?
  • …these protocol names really aren’t getting any better.
  • And seriously, Peter, get Karen to read you the instructions first.
  • Okay, someone needs to have a word or two with you about collateral budgets.
  • And, oh yeah, how even not fancy space guns can fire through wrapping.
  • …so close.
  • Ooh, a swarm of shovebots. We like.
  • Desperation. It’s a hell of a drug.
  • Man, harsh. Although it’s not like Tony doesn’t have a good point. Several of them. From experience.
  • Ah, young love. At least you’re getting good advice on this one.
  • …oh, my. This will work out badly.
  • Although credit to him, offering a life for a life.
  • At least he didn’t ask for your pants, dude.
  • Glad someone’s having a good time. In the chair.
  • Although Peter is definitely right that y’all should do more listening.
  • Is that self-repairing? I don’t think that’s self-repairing.
  • Good strategy. Much overkill. Smart. Not good enough, certainly, but still smart.
  • And there it is. (We were noticing your heroic quality all along. Glad you caught up with us.)
  • Pretty sure ‘retroreflector’ is not the term, there.
  • Is that really a case of arc reactors?
  • You can’t believe that worked?
  • …now that. Damn. That was an awesome landing.
  • It’s over. You know it, you know there’s nothing to be gained, and you’ve been an honorable enemy thus far. Don’t —
  • — do that.
  • Nice note.
  • Yeah, you’ve got to secure the bathroom first.
  • No, that may be your worst analogy ever, and it’s up against some damn stiff competition.
  • ..we hope you’re going to give him Karen back. They were really bonding.
  • Awwww. We’re all so happy for you crazy kids.
  • Ah, you did! Excellent.
  • Oops. (And, man, are we going to be disappointed not to see how that conversation ended before we see Spider-Man again in Infinity War.)
  • Well done, sir.
  • …you’re just trolling us now, aren’t you?

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.)

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 #13: Captain America – Civil War

Here we go again, into – this time – a land of some controversy:

  • Your codewords are pleasantly random, but the ISS would have picked a language that wasn’t theirs to use. Of course, Russian Hydra was probably trying to frame the rest of Russia.
  • We do love paranoia jokes.
  • The Falcon’s drone is adorable. So is the (later) fact that he named it.
  • Angry man with a power fist.
  • Moving things with your mind, eh, everyone does that. Molecular sorting with your mind, now that’s special.
  • Grenade in your own still-manned vehicle? Ah, Hydra. An organization that somehow persists despite being most lethal to its own men and contractors.
  • Aww, thank the drone. Machines need love too.
  • Oops.
  • That is some nifty sophotechnology.
  • Also, Tony Stark continues to act like a plutarch, seeding the future. Looks like his relationship is not in good shape, though, which, shit.
  • Yes, that was entirely Tony’s fault. Not like Ultron had, y’know, free will or anything, even if his creation was, charitably, a Very Bad Idea.
  • Okay, is everyone on this planet stupid? The only person who can reasonably be held responsible for those deaths was the guy who set off the bomb vest; the only legitimate criticism of the Scarlet Witch is that she didn’t save as many people as she could theoretically have saved in the optimal case – despite saving the crowded marketplace – and the only one in a position to expect perfection is a god.
  • Someone give that girl a hug, an explanation of the above, and arrange some more training scenarios.
  • And seriously, has no-one heard of collateral budgets? Because the alternative scenario here has Hydra walking away with a bioweapon, which I’m sure would end with hugs and bunnies.
  • Basically, RATIONALITY TRAINING FOR THE EARTHLINGS, PLEASE.
  • Hey, you didn’t say “through the door”.
  • Oh, god, it’s you. This will go well.
  • Ah, yes, here come the control freaks trying to use this to seize authority they haven’t earned. Rather the opposite, in fact.
  • Well, we’d call ’em “awesome adventurers”.
  • The only thing worse than trying to guilt people with pictures of them saving millions of lives is that they actually buy into this bullshit.
  • Do you seriously think you have any jurisdiction over Thor?
  • Correlation, causation, and also how is oversight supposed to prevent challenges? Especially when for a lot of that time they had oversight, and look how that worked out.
  • Oh, Tony, what the hell happened to you? You used to get it. Now you want to hand over control to the same people you once flipped off in Congress? So you fucked up once; unstir your damn brains. And do whatever you have to do to get Pepper back, for the love of hats. She betters you.
  • Yes, it’s the UN. A different, bigger collective-irresponsibility organization. Responsibility is always personal. Also, how many of those 117 delegations do you think might be, in the light of past history, Hydra-influenced?
  • And Agent Carter delivers Best Quotation posthumously: “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, *you* move’.” Now there’s something worthy of a standing ovation.
  • Captain America: still the best followee.
  • So: back under control or a fake?
  • You really didn’t agree with your father about the accords, huh?
  • And the first thing the new boss does is issue a kill-on-sight order for someone known to have been involuntarily brainwashed. Nice ethics, there.
  • Guess it was a fake, if Zemo is still learning to pronounce the command codewords.
  • And they’re also making the same mistakes as Hydra, like sending a bunch of mooks after the guy who they ought to know is capable of kicking all their asses.
  • Still make a pretty good team, huh?
  • Oh, look. New player. With shiny new claws.
  • Well, that’s one way to requisition a car.
  • In the next week, local clinics will be full of people who tried mounting skimmers the way Bucky just mounted a motorcycle. (A week after that, the microskillware goes on sale.)
  • “You’re a criminal.” “…and a good man.” At least if anyone imported Pirates of the Caribbean, too.
  • So, maybe the answer is synthetic amygdalas all around.
  • Oh, so you’re the smiley jailer? Cute.
  • Again, T’Challa, brainwashed.
  • Ah, yes, “due process”. We have dismissed that claim. You’re a Ross, all right.
  • Ah, this is a bifurcated-qalasír tragedy after all. The mistakes love helps us make…
  • That’d be a pinch, and your vetting procedures suck.
  • A wristwatch repulsor. Nice.
  • Is that… Howard Stark’s attempt to recreate the super-soldier serum? Shit, Hydra are lucky they didn’t end up with a whole pile of Crimson Crania. Or Hulks, funny as that might be.
  • The mantle of “government stooge” fits you poorly, Tony. Especially for that jackass.
  • Everyone’s doing insect themes these days.
  • Secret identities; still less than explicable. Also, curious view of responsibility, but the urge underneath kinda-sorta translates.
  • Thanks, Clint. Haven’t heard many people make that much sense today.
  • And, Vision, seriously. You haven’t figured out doors, but you’re entirely clear on emotional manipulation?
  • We very much like Agent Carter Jr.
  • Yep, there’s the other insect dude. And, man, this is the whole collection of people who do the right thing in the technically wrong way for unapproved reasons.
  • Brainwashed, dammit, does no-one remember that?
  • Right there with you, Spider-Man. And why not have a chat during a fight? Just don’t get distracted.
  • You know, those cars belong to someone. I mean, a certain amount of collateral damage, sure, but still.
  • Yes, please read the hazard markings before throwing things.
  • Oh, yes, the collective good. The favorite excuse of everyone wanting to do the individual bad. Damn utilitarians.
  • Uh, he ran because you were trying to kill him, maybe?
  • The only way for an ant to fly!
  • We’re with Spider-Man on the holy shit quotient of that one.
  • (We’re not even asking how badly that screws physics.)
  • Yes, Vision, a catastrophe you helped induce by your actions to prevent a catastrophe. Please consider this a learning experience.
  • And does anyone on the planet except Cap understand what brainwashing is? And that the person who undergoes it is also a victim of one of the worst crimes possible? Someone who is by definition not culpable? Someone you help?
  • And it’s a big submerged gulag for the Avengers. The audience is pretty damn sure Ross has been pleasuring himself nightly to the thought of this place ever since we first met him back in The Incredible Hulk. Nice choice of people to align with, Tony. Seriously.
  • Well, ain’t that interesting. But then, we figured personal revenge was on the menu as soon as we heard “Sokovian”.
  • Oh, gods, the sheer exquisite cruelty of it. Zemo, you bastard. For all the ethics of it, hearts in the audience are bleeding for Tony right now. Well, for everyone, really, but…
  • …and even for Zemo.
  • The humanity of Earth’s justice continues to impress. Just kill the poor bastard. He’s already lost everything but his life; torturing him subsequently is in even poorer taste than usual.
  • Nicely done, Cap, both the rescue and the reaching out. Also, graciously done, T’Challa, for forgoing revenge in favor of helping another victim, even if belatedly.

So, from the Imperial perspective, a magnificent movie. But gods’ teeth, what a tragedy, and while there is no question as to which side the audience will come down on, the sympathy is felt all around.

(And the audience is culturally primed to expect the Subsequent Triumph, and the Redemptive Actions of Tony Stark. It will not be happy if it doesn’t get ’em.)

 

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?