Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Mary Jane, Dan Slott and Double Standards.


Recently it was announced that in the new Spiderman film the new version of Mary Jane is to be played by Zendaya, a black actress. Some fans have voiced criticism and it is understandable as it is yet another instance of where a gender or skin colour of a character has been changed for a film or comic and people have been told by the press that it is a good thing. Anyone who doesn't like it could and have been in the past labelled as either sexists or racists as a way of shutting the conversation down. Someone one on my Twitter feed pointed out that he had not seen much mentions of it and wondered why; this led me to think about this myself and after I had dwelled on it for a while I came to a rather simple conclusion.

I really didn't care.

When it comes to comic book films, I have only seen two at the cinema this year: Deadpool and The Killing Joke, add to that that I have only been to the cinema two times this year in total because frankly there has been nothing worth seeing. I want to see Suicide Squad but life has not allowed me the time which I suppose is part of being a parent, at least they put some effort into the trailers, unlike another certain film that came out this year. When it comes to Marvel and DC films, particularly Marvel ones, is that you can be certain of some big fight scenes, an acceptable but predictable story which works out well in the end and maybe some good acting, but that's it.

All style, very little substance.

I realised that I had lost interest in the Marvel universe almost completely, the only things I take interest in now are the Netflix series of Dare Devil and the approaching Punisher series because the right people are involved and they certainly appear to respect the source material, especially Jon Bernthal who was a brilliant Punisher and clearly researched the part as he discussed in an interview with Conan O'Brien. When someone with Bernthal's commitment is cast in a role it can almost be assured that we the viewer are in for a treat. But are we the fans sexist or racist for being critical of such castings that go against the source material? No, most of us grew up with Marvel comics and when you do grow up with something as such a fondness is developed for it and you don't like seeing it messed with and we have a right to criticise it.

That being said, being blatantly racist, sexist about it or even going as far and as stupid to send death threats is quite frankly as such, so please don't do any of those. Even if one idiot does any one or all of those things it can be guaranteed that the media will use it as a stick to bash everyone with so just don't give them the ammunition for it.

Marvel's comic sales have dropped massively, especially with the titles where title character has been changed for progressive reasons etc and in fact, only two of their titles have sold over 100,000 units last month, both Civil War 2 titles. It is not something I take pleasure in seeing but with some of the people working there now I do take a little satisfaction in it, especially the way some of them behave on social media. Marguerite Bennett's writing on Angela Queen of Hel was quite frankly a joke and that series wasn't so much as cancelled but really put out of its misery, fans of the original Angela that I have spoken to have told of their disgust at the changes Marvel made to the character and I don't blame them. The new Captain America Steve Rogers, written by Nick Spencer, has dropped around 35,000 units since issue one after fan's disgust as the character's treatment and it is hardly surprising, it is another case of Marvel using a gimmick to sell comics and it has bit them in the ass. Even Chris Evans himself did not react positively to this news and who could blame him, but at least Spencer acknowledged it.

Jason Aaron's run on (fem) Thor started out well when the first issue sold just over 150,000 units but after that, the sales numbers dropped to just over 86,000 units before the series was restarted as The Mighty Thor, last month's issue selling for just shy of 49,000 units. Tom Taylor's writing on All-New Wolverine was below average at best and again the sales numbers showed how fans felt about it, issue one sold for almost 120,000 units, last month's issue sold for just over 38,000. The series Old Man Logan is still outselling it by around 20,000 units.

But then there is Dan Slott.

Whilst it must be mentioned that his writing on Amazing Spiderman has won him awards and is one of the better selling Marvel titles, his behaviour online is quite frankly immature. The YouTuber The Main Event tells the story in this video how he and Slott clashed in what was quite frankly an immature and pathetic behaviour by Slott and I found the whole thing strange so I asked Main Event about this on Twitter one day. I wasn't nasty about it (although I did refer to Slott as a dick at one point) I was quite relaxed in my criticism of him, you can see the conversation here. Notice that I didn't tag him in the conversation at all? A few days later I decided to take a peak at Slott's Twitter profile to see what he was talking about. I was greeted with this:

I was highly amused by such a display of immaturity from a grown man but none the less I shrugged it off and moved on, not wanting to bother with someone who clearly name searches himself. Slott managed to add his opinions with the Mary Jane casting and was quite negative towards those who voiced their criticisms of such in this article. It was even more amusing that when one user on Twitter addressed with him about it being ok to change one character's race but not another, Slott referred to it as racism. It is no surprise that his run on Amazing Spiderman, whilst still pretty good, are not as good as they once were as issue one of the current Amazing Spiderman sold almost 600,000 units. The current issue's sales? Just shy of 88,000.
Ouch.
By the way, Dan, if you do happen to read this: Grow up. I have seen children act more mature online that you.

I realised that with people like the above behind the scenes and now in charge of writing these once wonderful characters, I really had no problem leaving it all behind and not caring what they did with it. As I have repeatedly said before, independent publishers are the way forward now I think and companies like Marvel are relying on gimmicks and gender & race swaps to get sales as it seems they really have run out of ideas and as said above, we're racists or sexists if we say anything about it. I addressed this whole thing with a friend of mine, his name is Matthew and he is black. I told him about the changes Marvel had made to their characters, especially Iron Man soon to be a black teenage girl and Mary Jane now being black for the new film, at one point I thought he was going to knock me out as he was so annoyed, but then he simply said "Why can't they just leave shit as it is?"
Good question.

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