Randomly Related Slightly Salient Stuff 10

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I’m out of town until January and off-line for the immediate future, but wish you and yours an awesome holiday.  DC is picking up steam so there is so much to enjoy if you’re traveling or have some free time.  Just some RRSSS until we meet again!

Superman Stuff

Appreciating Man of Steel through Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Film, etc.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Trailer #2 Reaction Mashup Epic | epictrailersonly

I generally don’t watch trailer reactions or mashups, but if you watch a few reactions to BvS Trailer 2, you’ll see how effective it was. People laughed when they were supposed to, their eyes widened in surprise, they gasped at the reveals, and celebrated at the end. It’s been well received by a broader audience and their delight is infectious. Regarding spoilers, the marketing and merchandising are going to kick into higher gear. Not to mention press screenings and advanced audience screenings. Disney has been aggressive about tightening the window on the release of The Force Awakens, but I’ve probably inadvertently learned more about the movie’s plot in the last three weeks than in the year of anticipation prior.

All of which is to say that it’s going to be tough to keep Batman v. Superman under wraps to nearly the same degree and I don’t think they ever intended to.  Generally, unless you scored one of the advanced tickets, you’ll be watching the film about two weeks after critics and one week after those fortunate fans.  So the risk of spoilers was always going to be present and better to diffuse the issue somewhat now than make people infuriated a week before the premiere.  Knowing the broad strokes of the film or its primary villains is not really anything you hadn’t deduced from the title, the synopsis, or anything else.

Comic fans relentlessly cry for comic-book accurate adaptations of their favorite works, yet aren’t concerned about how adherence to that would spoil the entire plot of the film?  The issue is a little overwrought.  We routinely enjoy faithfully adapted works with complete jeopardy of spoilage from the source material: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Jurassic Park, etc.  Often, those most familiar with the work are the most excited to see it play out on the silver screen.  While having that in the trailer may deprive you of it in the film, I’m skeptical of that.  First, I’m sure there will be plenty of other moments to wow the audience; and, second, maybe you’ve experienced this too, but often the best joke in the trailer still gets the biggest laugh in the theater despite the audience already knowing the punchline.  We want to be transported away and a good film will do that regardless of the marketing campaign.

Bottom line, despite some initial criticism, by and large the trailer has been received positively and done its job.

Batwing prototype from Batman vs Superman by SOAP STUDIO | Budget Stark

Speaking of merchandise, Budget Stark gives us a look into the Bat Jet display and game.

Supergirl | CBS

If you haven’t been watching Supergirl on CBS, now is your chance to catch up on Season 1 up to the mid-season break.  My favorite companion podcast for the show is Supergirl Radio; they do a wonderful job of breaking down each episode and have a really excellent Season Zero (leading up to the show’s premiere) exploring Kara Zor-El’s many incarnations and history.

A Supergirl Super Santa Story from DC Infinite Holiday Special (2007).

Frank Miller Wants To Write A Superman Comic With Batman As The Bad Guy | BleedingCool

It’s been a while since I’ve really enjoyed something by Miller, but I won’t deny his impact on the genre and the genius of some of his works. I consider Superman a robust entity that grows with every iteration.  Miller taking his shot, for all we know, could produce a seminal work referenced for decades to come. I’m open to seeing his take. In an recent interview with Miller said:

I’ve been particularly brutal to Superman, but that’s not because I don’t like the character; it’s because the point-of-view has always been Batman’s. If I did a story where Superman was the lead character, Batman would be the antagonist. I adore Superman, it’s just that Batman does not, so when I’m writing Batman, I do not. It’s very much a writer’s job to take on a character’s point of view.

I’m inclined to believe the man. Probably my single favorite Frank Miller work is The Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot, drawn by the obsessively intricate Geof Darrow, which had strains of that noble singular hero, laced with irony and satire.  The animated series was more sincere but struck a tone readily adaptable to a rendition of Superman.

Why we should go to Mars | Robert Zubrin

An interesting argument for aspiring to go to Mars because: it will drive science (scientifically addressing questions about origins and nature of life), challenge humanity (intellectual capital from such an ambitious program), and the future (new frontiers rewrite history more than politics).  Dr. Zubrin is persuasive and passionate but imagine if he survived the events of Man of Steel.  In one fell swoop, imagine how Kryptonians on Earth might undermine those beliefs and passion, acting as definitive answers rather than systematic science, handing humanity advances well beyond what our ethics or society was ready to receive, and supplanting the need for human achievement. That’s been one traditional justification for Lex Luthor’s characterization but I think it sells the spirit of the scientist short.

Frankenstein was about scientists going too far with playing with the fire of the gods… in fact, Mary Shelley’s novel had the lesser-known title The Modern Prometheus.  In BvS, it seems that Luthor hasn’t shunned these Promethean gifts, but has ambitions to wield them first.  To me, a scientist would absolutely light-up at the bounty not necessarily resent it immediately.  This might mean a fresh, but thematically truthful and compelling, imagining of Luthor.

Let’s Not Use Mars As A Backup Planet | TED

Dr. Zubrin advocates strongly for Mars as an ambitious goal, but Lucianne Walkowicz (who works on NASA’s Kepler mission) wants such ambition to be coupled by maturity and stewardship. She points out that until we can render Earth’s harshest environments habitable, we shouldn’t imagine Mars as a place to move to when we’ve messed up Earth. She cautions that planetary exploration and preservation of the Earth are two sides of the same goal. “The more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet.”

Applied to Man of Steel, it raises an societal reason why Krypton’s age of exploration might have failed and why the fruits of that effort would not necessarily translate into being able to save their home.  Indeed, Walkowicz uses this interpretation as an answer to the Fermi Paradox and why exploration and expansion must be tempered by the ability to be good stewards of what you’ve already been blessed with.  General audiences may be quick to ridicule the Kryptonians for being unable to survive after becoming a space-faring species, yet here we have a NASA scientist whose very expertise is searching for habitable planets explaining how aliens could befall this Great Filter if they don’t respect and care for their home planet.  The situation this expert in the field models Krypton’s downfall in Man of Steel as predicted.

Overview | Planetary Collective

Speaking of stewardship, some are quick to condemn the destruction of Krypton without seeing the beam in their own eye.  Foreseeable yet not avoided disaster is hardly implausible or novel to Krypton.  We routinely experience financial crises, political fallout, wars, diseases, extinction, and other preventable human suffering even with forecasting. The fall of civilizations and crumbling of empires is built into our history, our stories, and our religions.  Ragnarok, Armageddon, Doomsday.

Overview is a short film that can help you appreciate how transformative seeing Earth from space can be for Clark.  Once gifted flight and that planetary perspective, Clark would have a whole new appreciation for his responsibilities, the value of life, and the need to protect it.  The filmmakers were brilliant and deliberate in delaying Clark’s gift-of-flight because with that power comes perspective, enlightenment, and hope… but also responsibilities too big to address or contain in Man of Steel.  If Clark had flight in 2001, Americans might ask where was he on 9/11?  The film did not need such a thematic derailment and those kinds of issues were elegantly written around.  Further, by establishing a Superman with limits and who doesn’t and can’t literally save everyone, it creates space for the rest of the DCCU and preemptively addresses his absence from every trauma we suffer on the world stage.

The creators of Overview now have a full-length feature film available on Vimeo On-Demand now: Planetary… and the Oscar Award winning director of The Cove has an incredible documentary Racing Extinction available now on iTunes and Amazon.  These films remind us that Man of Steel‘s ecological message isn’t just a fable for a galaxy far far away, but an extinction event happening right under our noses just as it did for their calcified and unresponsive world.  I admire that Man of Steel took something from the mythos that often felt like a formality (“Krypton’s exists only to explode”) and layer it with something salient and plausible.

HISTORY: Wabi-sabi | School of Life

In MOSAIC 32, I raised the art and theme of Kintsugi, which stems from the larger philosophy of Wabi-sabi described in this video. Although MOSAIC 34 advised a level of optimism (“rose-tinted glasses”), one must avoid outright self-deception (“you still see the on-coming train”) and that can mean healing and embracing, rather than hiding your brokenness.  The holidays can be tough for some, but know that you’re not alone, people want to help, and want to see you whole and healthy.

If you’re a fan of Superman, you know the character stands for the potential everyone has even after calamity, to experience and share kindness, generosity, and altruism.  It’s fitting that we were recently informed that Snyder commissioned Superman’s BvS suit to be laced with the Joseph Campbell quote, “Where we thought to stand alone, we will be with all the world.”  You are not alone.  If you need it, ask for help: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars – Patrick Lin | TED-Ed

This video beautifully illustrates two applicable things: 1) Why we forgive moral dilemma decisions made in the heat of the moment; 2) Why moral dilemmas aren’t readily resolved programmatically.

This is applicable to the many moral dilemmas presented to Clark in Man of Steel and why Jonathan and Martha were wise to raise him to handle, “Maybe.”  He had to have strong principles but learn how to weigh and understand them and rather than just blindly follow them as absolutes.  That process itself allows him to act even when there is no easy or right answer.  Interestingly, MOS potentially sets Superman up to try and be programmatic about lethal-force… to bind himself to a code.  That’s the presumption of many, I don’t know if he will have something so simplistic or if the gravity of it refines his principles… but if it is a code, we’ll see how that approach can be problematic, versus relying on judgment and discretion.

On that note:

Is It Evil? Ep. 5: Decisive Machine | Codebreaker

Additional troubles with trying to reduce decision-making to discrete programs and the requirements of reducing ethics into machine language.  Interestingly, that paper includes a command decision checklist which can be used to evaluate Clark’s moral decisions in Man of Steel which is favorable and really mechanical when you really parse what’s necessary to make any given decision.  Maybe a future blog post.

Quantum Computers Explained – Limits of Human Technology | Kurzgesagt

Continuing on the theme of what discrete programming can do, a video explaining quantum computing and some of its potential. This has some relevance that I’ve forgotten… maybe about technological singularity?

What if You Were Shoryukened? | Vsauce3

You can apply these videos two ways: 1) What Superman could do to Batman; and 2) How difficult beating Zod was.

Could You Rip Out A Spine? | Vsauce3

What If The Earth Were Twice As Big? | Life Noggin

One of the reasons I’m prejudiced against Krypton having gravity magnitudes greater than Earth is the fact it barely “works” if Krypton has only twice the gravity of Earth. My “head canon” is that Krypton’s gravity is greater (to make the line in the script true), but imperceptibly so, which is why we don’t see any of its collateral effects throughout the film.

It kind of drives me nuts that people don’t fully grasp that gravity is one of the four fundamental forces of the universe! It entangles, affects, and visibly impacts everything around us in measurable ways. If you intuit that, it’s utter bollocks to use a gravity differential as justification for strength because there would be a cascade of collateral effects which upend your story far more than that stat enables your story.  To me, it’s like feeling a little chilly and “solving” that problem by setting fire to your house. Yes, you’ve warmed things up and beat the chill, but you’ve also messed up a whole lot more!

This is the kind of thing that makes me think of:

What Pisses Scientists Off the Most When They Go to the Movies? | Completely Optional Knowledge

Would You F**k An Alien? • Debatable | Buzzfeed

[Language and subject advisory] I can’t say the positions are sincere but they show a range of views.  Tenuous relevance?  Some have raised whether the “sensuality” in the MPAA rating for BvS refers to the relationship between Clark and Lois.

Controversy under Neuroscience and Law w/ David Eagleman | Big Think

Eagleman is not staking out an explicit position here (I’m not personally aware of what, if anything, his position is), but highlighting why positions can be divisive as well as clarifying terminology like “psycho” which may be apt given the “psychopath” exchange in the recent trailer.  On the subject of divisive opinions, I recommend the following podcast episode:

The Way It Is? (Taste) | Where There’s Smoke

Taste. What’s good? What’s bad? People often come guns blazing with their opinions on things – whether it be music, movies, art, food, or drink. But where do these ideas come from and why are they so deeply ingrained?

This week on Where There’s Smoke we talk taste. Producer Nick Jaworski joins Brett as co-host this week and shares a story involving Canada’s top selling recording artist, the United States Air Force… and soap.

And after exploring many influences and interactions of taste, we talk to Dr. Robert Woody from the University of Nebraska. He expands on taste as it relates to fandom, and teaches us about “burging” and “corfing”.

Guest: Dr. Robert Woody

Snyder Star Wars Tweets

A cinematic event!

by MessyPandas

The Bible of Zack Snyder | Charles Gerian
Back with new regular content!

Human Intelligence: A Holiday Tale | Studio 360
Fun short audio scifi holiday story.

by BlackCat

Linus Christmas Monologue | Peanuts Christmas

The Peanuts Movie – Now Playing

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  1. Another good amount of nice stuff Doctor, I wanna share something, if may I.

    As a Superman fan I can’t help but feel a little bitter towards Miller, even though I won’t deny his impact in the genre either. I can’t help but wonder; how would it have been if the roles would reverse? Miller would have made that back in the 80’s, made Superman the protagonist and Batman the bad guy in that novel that would become history.

    Do you think it would’ve worked? How would the images of Superman and Batman be seen today? I guess we would never know, but I enjoy to explore the thought.

  2. Thanks for sharing Zack’s Star Wars tweets, hadn’t seen those.

  3. Damn I really miss the podcasts, hope you’re doing well.

  4. Did you watched the new footage in German? You noticed the incredible Super-Speed entrance of Superman? Is very reminiscent of Faora’s speeding movements, it really shows how much has Superman developed his superpowers in 8 months!

    Man the more I watch of this film the more I wanna see it!

    • He seems to have come to terms with his powers.

    • I’ve caught animated gifs of the new parts. Looks cool and opens up his possibilities a lot. It also makes it hard to write around Superman getting beat, but I have faith for the choreographers and filmmakers in the scope of this film. That small addition really puts Superman on another level. Super speed is a huge trump card. Looking forwards to the film as well!

      • I’m also very excited for DoJ, I wasn’t so confident some time ago, but now I have full confidence that this film will give honor and justice to Superman. I have a question, you can answer it when you can, if you want: Do you think that such speeding visuals would be comparable to the ones they could use for Flash?

        I’m sure they will try their best to remain the most distinguishable possible from the TV series, but they wouldn’t use effects that could make it look like he’s a Kryptonian. There is enough visual distinction in most forms of media were Superman and Flash share the scene, so you think that their methods to depict the speed of Miller’s Flash could be more reminiscent of the TV series’, the DCEU’s Kryptonians’,or would they create a whole new method altogether?

  5. Happy early New Year!

    We will be getting a new special that showcases the DCEU with a new trailer for Suicide Squad on January 19th.

    It will air on the CW it is titled DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League.


  6. So…any one else has heard of the recent “Spoiler Review” buzz?

  7. Say, Doctorawkward, I have this suspission that The Green Lantern will not make an appearance in either “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” nor in ther follow on film, “Justice League”. My suspission is that the film rights to the property still belongs to Berlanti productions and has not yet lapsed. Do you think that this is a possibility?

    • dnno1, I’m confident GL won’t appear in BvS and wouldn’t be surprised if GL wasn’t in JL1. However, I don’t think it has anything to do with film rights. It’s not impossible for a production company to acquire film rights, but generally (not always) the WB / DC play it close to the vest and I don’t think they licensed out GL’s film rights. Not to my knowledge and I couldn’t find anything to suggest they did. GL is routinely pointed to as an example of studio interference which reinforces the idea that the WB held onto, kept, and did not license out those rights. (A counter example would be Disney’s inability to tell Fox how it should conduct its licensed properties, with the exception of already agreed-upon clauses like morality or parameter clauses.)

      If you have a separate source on this that says otherwise, please let me know so I can take a look at what is likely an uncommon agreement.

      Assuming you don’t have a separate source, I’d hazard a guess you’re confusing an options contract with the film rights. The WB likely has the contractual option to bring Berlanti Productions back to do GL (as part of the initial contract with the idea that the film would be successful, spawn a franchise, and subsequent sequels where the WB would want Berlanti on-board without having to renegotiate everything from scratch). Depending on the terms of that agreement, Berlanti might have a right of first refusal or something similar.

      Anyways, unless you have a source, I don’t think GL’s rights are tied up in any real way that couldn’t be gotten around.

      • Thanks, DRAWKWARD, for the response. I meant film option as you stated, and that Berlanti Productions would have the right of first refusal, but I don’t think that Warner Brothers either wants to have Berlanti Productions make the next Green Lantern film else they would have done so earlier. The only evidence I could find was the Copyright that was granted back in 2011 that mentions Berlanti, Gugenheim, Martin Campbell, and Michael Goldenberg (reference Copyright Registration No. PA0001733205 – see: http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?v1=16&ti=1,16&Search_Arg=green%20lantern&Search_Code=TALL&CNT=25&PID=7hQ_GfEDUPKVU5F22jCg8v_q1b91&SEQ=20160111172215&SID=7). This was a Transfer of Authority,which (correct me if I am wrong) means that the rights was transferred (or optioned) over to another party. Check me on this.

        • Eh, sorry dnno1, but I don’t think any of that is correct. I don’t think the theory is correct and the citation doesn’t support it.

          With respect to the right of first refusal, we don’t know that one exists… I made that up to try and support your point. Even if one did, they typically have a buyout clause where the WB could compensate Berlanti to pass… also Berlanti is unquestionably on good terms with DC given how many TV shows he’s actively producing, so if there was a right of first refusal, Berlanti would pass just on goodwill and wouldn’t force the WB to wait out the option or buy him out. If Berlanti got legalistic about the option, DC could make his TV production miserable. Neither wants to spite the other (the WB sooner buy out the first refusal).

          Of course, that entire explanation is under the unlikely assumption that right of first refusal exists, which it’s all but certain not to. The studios tend to hold most of the power and are unlikely to hitch a valuable IP to the fate of a creator. An option and right of first refusal is simply an employment agreement and has nothing to do with movie rights or copyright. In an employment agreement, generally the person with the money has the power and there’s absolutely no reason to tie IP into that. If Berlanti did an awesome job, the IP grows more valuable and- in theory- the WB could then choose a less expensive no-name to take over. The WB did this for stretches of Harry Potter and Marvel did that for a few films. I don’t think they’d make a special exception for Berlanti and GL.

          Other than the right of first refusal (unlikely to exist), I can’t think of how Berlanti would be tied to or tying up GL in any way.

          With respect to copyright, something that distinguishes DC from Marvel is that they don’t sell the movie rights outside the house (in fact, that was part of the Superman heirs’ lawsuit against the DC, arguing that the rights were sold internally to the WB too inexpensively, meaning the heirs got too little a cut… the judge in that case disagreed so long as the WB started production on a film in 2011, rather than sitting on the license doing nothing). I can think of no situation where they would sell or transfer the rights outside of the WB or to Berlanti.

          In terms of interpreting that registration log, it is NOT a “Transfer of authority” (the word of authority never even appears!). Under Transfer it says “by assignment” which simply means the copyright was created and transferred by assignment (versus by will, bankruptcy, or- in rare cases- operation of law) which is typical and what happened when the WB bought DC. Everything in the entry shows that the WB owns the rights. Although Berlanti is credited for the screenplay, note the entry states the entire production was “for hire”, meaning Berlanti wrote the screenplay for the WB and has no rights to it himself. I think this should relatively intuitive. Everyone works on a comic book or comic book movie is simply hired to do so, they don’t suddenly get the rights to the character because they’re working on it… and there would be no reason to give them the rights to work on it because there’s already a fair exchange of money for labor. They’re getting paid to work on it, they don’t need to have the rights to do it.

          Anyways, it’s good to think laterally about business and rights management which may affect what entertainment we get to see, but this particularly theory doesn’t come together right now.

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