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.

 

Cultural Crossovers: Iron Man 2

Wow, our watching cycle is short these days. Maybe I’ll start dribbling these out, oh, once a month or so, so they don’t eat the blog.

Once again, I live-blog in-culture:

  • Oh, yeah. Tony’s entrance to the Expo is exactly how they do it in Mer Covales. The audience loves it.
  • (Of course, I’ve mentioned before how I based the second movement of the Empire’s anthem on Make Way For Tomorrow, Today.)
  • Also, he just won all the points with the audience for shutting down and openly mocking Senator Thieving Assclown.
  • The audience that saw the first movie is undoubtedly cheering on his choice in successor, too.
  • (To step out-culture for a moment, I personally love the Elon Musk cameo.)
  • Kudos to Vanko for coming up with a functional equivalent of the mollywhip which isn’t suicidal to use. (This falls under “acceptable breaks from reality”.) Still not a very practical weapon, but it is showy as hell.
  • Man, the “suit-case” is some awesome tech-porn.
  • Vanko’s not wrong about what happens when the illusion of invulnerability is broken. The military guys nod along. (Remember, one of the key doctrines in their way of war is “shock and awesome”.)
  • Man, mortality sucks and makes folks crazy. Still, hell of a way to end a party.
  • And yeah, an intervention probably was called for…
  • …WHICH STILL DOES NOT MAKE TAKING THAT SUIT OKAY, RHODEY.
  • (Even if Tony did set it up.)
  • SHIELD has some… interesting ethics. (Especially if they knew what they were hanging onto all these years.) Of course, they are more or less this universe’s version of the Fifth Directorate, complete with the awesome-mixed-with-squick sensations.
  • The public safety people just cringed at the thought of all the folk about to go out and build particle accelerators in their basements.
  • Oh, God, Hammer, you are such an asshat. Also, an idiot. Also, a walking cliché of everything a businesssoph shouldn’t be or do.
  • On the other hand, it’s a pleasure to watch Black Widow work. And without benefit of PK-fu, even.
  • I could have said this at any number of moments through the movie, but Pepper is definitely one of the best executors to have ever executored.

In general: yeah, as I said regarding the previous one, with minor cultural fluency tweaks, that’ll play just fine.

(Oh, and regarding the stinger: well, that’s a funny-looking KEW.)

 

Cultural Crossovers: The Incredible Hulk

So, remember this?

Well, now that our long-delayed rewatch of the MCU is restarted, we’ll be getting the rest of them, starting with The Incredible Hulk. What do our merry protagonists think of this, the hurling of popcorn at the screen to yells of “Gamma rays do not work that way!” aside?

Let’s find out as I live-comment in-culture:

  • So, we only get to see the enhulkification experiment in the credits? That’s going to confuse people who don’t already know the outline.
  • Blood-transmissible? Gamma radiation REALLY doesn’t work that way.
  • Seriously, General, your plan to catch a giant green berserker is to send a bunch of regular dudes with standard weapons to hunt him down, without briefing them on the target? You have the tactical acumen of a rutabaga.
  • (Also, 200 bpm? I can buy experimentally discovering the hulking point, but that is a… suspiciously regular number. The sort of thing that, yes, the eldrae audience will care about. Careless, y’know?)
  • (And could someone please hang a lampshade on the conservation of mass issue for the sciency audience? Since the Hulk obviously ain’t made of Styrofoam.)
  • “That man’s whole body is property of the US Army?” Welp, you just grabbed the villain ball right hard, didn’t you?
  • So, you have one giant, uncontrollable berserker and your weapons plan is to make more just like him? So, your balls are the villain AND the idiot.
  • Ooh, fancy sonic weapons. (Also, you’re a lousy family man, too.)
  • So, not only is the general an idiot, but his minion is also an idiot. Seriously, who let these asshats into the military? The Legions would have cashiered them ages ago.
  • Awww, the big green guy has a heart.
  • Oh, man, adrenaline-triggered powers are so Blessed-With-Suck-esque.
  • Ah, Mr. Blue, you’re our kind of scientist. “More curious than cautious”, indeed. Nice ambitions, too.
  • Okay, let’s forget cashiered, and go for shot.
  • …and this is why you need a control group. Hey, General Asshat, how d’you like your new weapon?
  • Guys, you’re bringing a rocket launcher to a KEW fight.
  • The audience makes “collateral damage” jokes right about now.

So, to sum up: you would need a lot of work, but you could salvage things: you’d need to firm up the handwavium (the standards even for comic books are higher in such a scientifically literate culture) and remove the subtext about Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, but the basic thematics on power and wrath and self-control would resonate nicely with the eldrae, so you’ve got a substructure there to work with.

Also, the antagonists are going to need work, because no-one outside the cosmopolitans is going to believe that any vaguely civilized culture is going to let those guys be in charge of, or in, anything military. Professionalism, don’ch’know. Also, competence.