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.

 

Cultural Crossovers #7: Iron Man 3

Don’t really have to say anything at this point, do I?

  • Nice “you know who I am” badge.
  • Ooh, nanoficus.
  • Less cool: exploding ficus.
  • JARVIS continues to be best house brain.
  • Your R&D process really looks unnecessarily painful.
  • See, now folks like this asshole is why the King of All Known Space sometimes orders the King’s New Glass Marina.
  • (Also, War Machine was so much better as a name.)
  • Post-traumatic stress sucks; and while the audience recognizes it, they’re from a culture that is very predisposed to repress the hell out of it. (Which is why the Imperial Military Service spends so much time and effort watching for, guarding against, and dealing with it.) ((And as honers of the will to a razor edge, those cases that do show up are exactly this bad.))
  • And for the record, both they and I think it was handled very well.
  • Nice holoballs. (“Conversation balls”, as we call ’em.)
  • The empty slots in the brain really sound different to a species that actually was designed.
  • Well, someone’s not solved the nanocyborg waste heat problem. (To reference a recent discussion: catching fire and then exploding is exactly what happens to people who get overenthusiastic about the extrinsic power sources. If you want high energy, go metal.)
  • Damn, that’s some degree of control. (Also, no anti-air defenses, Tony? We would have thought that you’d have thought of that.)
  • …they killed Dummy and Butterfingers? Someones need to die. A lot.
  • (And we really hope Jarvis is a fully distributed system.)
  • We applaud you, kid. You have… potential.
  • Dear media networks: your security systems are a giant ball of suck. I mean, seriously. Kids with a My First Firewall kit could follow this act.
  • Yeah, that is a terrible password. It’s also fairly terrible to be using a password.
  • Ease back there, fanboy. A little dignity, please.
  • IN A HARDWARE STORE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!
  • … well, of course they have a decoy schmuck.
  • Killian, your personnel policies are all kinds of terrible.
  • Pretty sure a flamethrower – even an implanted flamethrower – is better than the potential of, y’know, exploding.
  • Ah, the Vice-President has a sympathetic motivation. Which, in Imperial terms, means he’s earned a pistol with one shot left overnight in his cell in between arraignment and trial for treason.
  • Now that’s a rescue back in the proper form!
  • Autonomous mode for the win.
  • You gave them all individual names? Awww.
  • Oh, shit.
  • …but best not-actually-resurrection ever. Damn, Pepper. Nicely done.
  • And the audience delivers multiple standing ovations for that series of endings, which cap things off exquisitely.
  • (Especially the salvaged robot arms.)

Yeah. Just… yeah. Works perfectly. Both on its own merits, and because, in a different way to Captain America, Iron Man is exactly the kind of hero they write stories about.

 

Cultural Crossovers #6: The Avengers

Again, you know how this works…

  • Ooh, monologue-ing. That’s a good sign.
  • Well, someone forgot the first rule of mucking about with poorly understood paleotech artifacts, didn’t they?
  • Mind-zapping scepters work much better, I feel, when they don’t change your eye color.
  • Free from freedom? Well, someone just lost any possible audience sympathy.
  • Nice paranoia training, Agent Hill. The ISS approves.
  • Even nicer reverse-interrogation technique. Likewise.
  • Hello, Reason Why We Tend Not To Leave Things To Councils In Our Universe.
  • Good to see Tony Stark putting his tech into practical use.
  • Ah, Loki, you brood so well.
  • Well, someone graduated posturing school summa cum laude.
  • Ah, a flying carrier. Evidently SHIELD, too, knows the value of Shock and Awesome.
  • Big ‘ol science sighs at this abuse of iridium.
  • You, good sir, are the one person in that crowd we respect.
  • …love the entrance.
  • …and the next entrance. Bringing the storm, eh?
  • Y’all are the worst ever at conflict resolution.
  • (Well, maybe not all audience sympathy, inasmuch as Loki looks kind of beaten up around the eyeballs and maybe under the influence of his own scepter. But it’s pretty definitely reserved until we find out more about that.)
  • We bow in awe to Tony Snark.
  • Another very nice interrogation – with the truth – there. Plus understanding of clemency and obligation.
  • Your engine redundancy ain’t great, though. Pair and a spare, guys.
  • I’d also just like to say that this is a very badly designed engine and you ought to talk to somebody about that when you get home.
  • Ooh, virus delivery by arrow. I like it.
  • Again with the quality paranoia training. Never trust a field deconversion.
  • And Phil Coulson shows us all how to earn your way into your local equivalent of Valhalla.
  • Good for you, Mr. Security Guard. Unflappable and highly decent.
  • “I’ve got red in my ledger; I’d like to wipe it out.” is such an eldraeic sentiment.
  • …yeah, that ain’t going to work. *tink* *tink*
  • The audience can only imagine how embarrassed Loki, who is quite the snappy dresser, must feel about being stuck with leading this army of ugly-ass cods on their ugly-ass space-bikes.
  • And that’s a giant bone-plated space-planaria? Really?
  • (Definite case of brainfucked-eyes right there.)
  • Yeah, these Chitauri are definitely a warrior culture, insofar as their battle plan is the awesomesauce “leap into buildings and fire randomly at civilians” strategy. If they didn’t have their tech and huge numbers advantage, a Girl Scout troop could mop ’em up with time left over for cookies.
  • Cap shows us the right way for Asskicking to Equal Authority.
  • Yes, that is definitely a stupid-ass decision. The audience gives Fury a standing ovation.
  • The Inadvisable Weapons researcher is taking a bunch of notes on Hawkeye’s arrows, too.
  • SHIELD are quite distressingly good at shooting at themselves, aren’t they? Also, I’m pretty sure the Imperial Military Service have the right position on firing IRNs at your own cities; to wit, don’t. Even if you’re ordered to, because how the shit is that a legal or ethical order?
  • …your troops are all hard-wired to suicide when you lose the central command point? Did you guys learn everything from Amazingly Self-Defeating Strategies Monthly?
  • Yeah, that just confirms that Fury would be better off without the Omniscient Council of Asshats armchair quarterbacking.
  • …not that unruly. Just some of them. And oh, look, it’s the blue-eyed thing behind the thing.

It’ll work for the Imperial audience, although human culture/nature and distressing flexibility about the knees is still different enough to require some translation/explanation.

(It also comfortably confirms their prejudices that governments in general – looking at you, Council guys, and Senator hold-the-Avengers-responsible – tend to be made up of idiots and assholes and it’s always up to the few, the proud, the heroic cooperating individuals to save the day again despite the former’s best efforts to worsen the situation.)

 

Cultural Crossovers #5: Captain America

You know how this works at this point…

  • Ooh, glowy cube. Wonder if it’s an actual tesseract inside?
  • Yeah, you can see where Tony got it from.
  • And this, gentlesophs, is what we call estxijir.
  • Ooh, we like her.
  • The culture that makes a point of the importance of spiritual values to the sentinel daressef is nodding along with Dr. Erskine here. They are, as it were, the hardest and most vital part.
  • So, on the topic of qualities one wins wars with… and hell, this civilization doesn’t even have vector stacks.
  • Impressive results. Now someone get him a steak dinner.
  • Even more impressive for someone presumably still suffering from ‘shell dysmorphia.
  • And that’s what happens to you when you Obstructive Naysay a supervillain.
  • And the audience gives a standing ovation to the local taste in musical propaganda, despite the waste of fighting talent. The idealist school always plays well.
  • The Red Skull, incidentally, makes a superb villain for this audience, even without knowing the local politics. It’s not at all hard to read in him the Renegade-perverting-technology-and-awesome-to-ill-ends archetype that all their best villains are made of.
  • Now that’s how you pull off a rescue!
  • Nicely unspoken, Colonel.
  • Vibranium, huh? For once we’re going to try hard to just roll with the impossibilium.
  • Got to give it to the old Crimson Cranium, the Valkyrie‘s a really nice ship. On the other hand, HYDRA have a ridiculous salute and a slogan that by rights should kill morale.
  • Manned bombs? Seriously? Are they trying to grow more heads?
  • And that’s why you should take great care when playing with paleotechnological artifacts.
  • It’s not that the Imperial audience can’t appreciate a heroic sacrifice, but at some point, I think, someone needs to explain to them why we have so many of them in our media, being generally in favor of Taking a Third Option themselves, which their media reflects.
  • Seriously, SHIELD? Lies do not become you.
  • (Although this, along with differences in how the us.gov has been portrayed here and in the previous movies, is really playing into a “lesser sons of greater sires” vibe in their eyes.)

So, overall, yes – would work very well. Some cultural translation required, partly because the background does rather depend on having The War in your history, which this audience does not. Also, explaining why everyone seems to have a single-sex army given how much ass Agent Carter kicks right there on screen.

(And why you might not need to explain the concept of bullying, you might have to explain to the less cosmopolitan members of the audience why society at large doesn’t stomp on it with the vigor which they would expect.)

 

Cultural Crossovers #4: Thor

Y’all know how this goes by this point in the series, so let’s get right into it…

  • I love the smell of science in the evening.
  • Ooh, Asgard is shiny! And flat! When did they start filming in our neck of the woods? (Seriously, feels familiar.)
  • Oh, that’s what it is. (See previous entry in this series.)
  • Impetuous, aren’t you, Thor? Good quality in an adventurer. Less so in a statesman.
  • I refer you to the Things You Are Not Allowed To Do List in re appropriate answers to “are you a god?”, lightning or no lightning.
  • Okay, when we invent translocation, and in particular interstellar translocation, it needs to look that awesome.
  • Yeah, definitely rocking that adventurer attitude.
  • …loving the cloak that stays clean even when you fly right through something’s head.
  •  You go, science team! Pursue that evidence!
  • Well, that’s quite the fuck-you to inertia.
  • Yeah, mortality kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
  • …Odinsleep really does look kind of like a healing vat.
  • A lot of smarts in that hammer. (Meanwhile, someone from the Eye-in-the-Flame Inadvisable Research department is on to their second notepad, over in the corner.)
  • Ah, yes, magic and technology. Good answer, Jane.
  • Loki, you treacherous weasel! Throne and family in one go, and you still thought Mjolnir might accept you? (Good hammer.)
  • Now that was some magnificent bullshit, Dr. Selvig. Shame Coulson bought exactly none of it.
  • Also, kudos for the attempt to keep up with a godly liver.
  • Ah, so Yggdrasil would be this tech’s version of a stargate constellation.
  • Man, Heimdall is good.
  • You might want to specify something a little less general than “Destroy everything” to your robot weapons system. Just sayin’.
  • This is a terrible plan. Noble, but terrible.
  • Yes, actually, that is your god.
  • …ooh, a double betrayal. That would have been a good plan if you could have kept Thor off the board. At least until Odin woke back up.
  • The many uses of an inertialful hammer.
  • Even the Imperial audience would have to feel a mite sorry for Loki in the end, being that cracked in the brain-pan. Not that that would count for a whole lot of mercy, but it might get him some clemency.
  • Necessity is, as ever, a bitch. Still, one presumes that having built one once, they can always build another.
  • Now that’s an ominous-looking glowy cube. Hey, don’t we have one of those in [REDACTED]?

As for overall: you don’t need to do anything. This one works perfectly.