Randomly Related Slightly Salient Stuff 4

I was away for work and now playing catching up.  Not sure if I’ll have an episode up in time this weekend but hopefully I can do Suicide Squad and some mailbag questions.

  • Every Suicide Squad Member’s Origin Under 5 Minutes
  • IMDB user deciphers “Wayne Tower Devastated” article from BvS trailer
  • NYC’s Population Doubles With Commuters
  • Ghost Cities of China and WTC report thoughts
  • What if there was a black hole in your pocket?
  • The History of Aliens In Film
  • No Man’s Sky Procedurally Generated World
  • Eye In The Sky
  • The Death of “Superman Lives” What Happened?
  • Justice League Gods and Monsters: Bomb
  • Death Battle: Goku vs. Superman 2
  • “…and we have to destroy him!”
  • Inspired by Justice Lords
  • David and Goliath and Malcolm Gladwell

Based On – Every Suicide Squad Member’s Origin Under 5 Minutes | ThingsAndStuff

Haven’t had time to prep for the podcast but the plan is to do shorter Suicide Squad impressions and focus more on fit and tone than details. I selfishly kind of want to preserve the surprise of this movie for myself, so I don’t think I’m doing an exhaustive frame-by-frame analysis. I don’t want to do an origin rundown which you can look up yourself more easily and here’s a great concise one. I’ve read every Suicide Squad story from about 2004 on, but I haven’t read the vast majority of the Ostrander stuff… so I’d probably miss some pretty obvious stuff referring to that era. All that said, I haven’t started prepping the episode yet so stay tuned!

Details I discovered in the Wayne Tower Devastated article I deciphered. – Dick-Dastardly | IMDB user

A IMDB user has painstakingly endured eye-strain to decipher as much of the article seen in the Batman v. Superman Comic-Con Trailer as possible.  Of course, I haven’t independently verified this, but it’s worth a look.

In MOSAIC Ep. 23 we talked a lot about articles like these being written by the prop department and their canonical import or lack thereof. In this case, the article is distinguishable from prop paper (which doesn’t exactly make it into the movie) and Lois’s Arctic Adventure article (visible for a split second) in Man of Steel as this paper is front-and-center and meant to be read (even if not in its entirety).  That means the contents of this article probably underwent more scrutiny and input on its writing and has greater canonical weight.

This is densely packed with considerable amounts of information that I haven’t begun to process but it tends to imply that the casualties were Wayne employees or their families, it addresses why they were considered “family” by the person who sent the letter (the spokesperson uses that language), gives us the scope of the casualties and the damage to the city at large, and much more.

Submitted for your consideration:

Wayne Tower Devastated
“Dozens Killed”
By Brad Elliot
Staff Writer

Once heralded as the most forward thinking building in North America,
Wayne Tower was not the only building the devastation affected
in Metropolis during the attack many are calling the Black Zero event.
Although the building fell further than all of the others in the vicinity,
there was nothing that could have been done to save everyone. Among the 48
people who had lost their lives in the devastation, 8 were children under
the age of 10. In a press release William Willis a spokesman for Wayne Enterprises
said, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and will do everything we can
to help the victims heal. Although there is nothing we can do to ____ the good
we all have to ____ __ __ __ __. We will continue to support our Wayne Enterprises
family at this __ __ __ __ of Wayne __ __ was __ __.

extraordinary ventures in the city.

The Wayne Foundation has set up the victim’s relief fund which will do
charity work on behalf of the victims and their families. ____ ____ Wayne Manor
especially doesn’t

as they need with providing housess, medical care and financial expenses for
all who were involved. Mr. Wayne said, “Although there is no amount of money
that can undo what has been done, the good people of the Wayne Enterprises family
would like

way that the Wayne Foundation has already started making payments available to the
victims of the attack that will somehow ease the pain and grief

demonstrate the lives of these affected by this tragic day.

The long term consequences are of course yet to be known. The overall devastation
proves this was one of the worst domestic attacks that the United States has ever known.
The attack completely leveled over 35 high rise buildings and damaged over 200 more.

It is obvious that the City of Metropolis will be forever changed by this event.
Even though the cleanup efforts are underway it is clear that the city will need
several years to rebuild all that was lost, and longer to heal the deep emotional
and physical scars. Both Wayne Enterprises and Lexcorp have together held an event
to raise funds for and are donating material to the cleanup efforts. Up to this point,
there is over 12 million dollars allocated to the rebuild Metropolis fund.

Many across the bay in Gotham have different feelings about the attack.
Gotham Mayor Buckley has said, “While we all grieve for those who lost
so much in the attack we offer our support and condolences in this time
of great need.

There are others….

Wayne Enterprises will most likely be focusing on…


NYC’s Population Doubles With Commuters. | Frumination

In relation to the above consider how those numbers may be. Especially if Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow and Gotham is right there to absorb the commuters.

A Look Inside China’s Ghost Cities | CNN Money

I’m continuing to think about the casualty numbers and wonder if there’s any insight available from China’s ghost cities. With shares plunging earlier this month and concerns about a bursting bubble, some have pointed back at the alleged Ghost Cities as examples of excess and out-of-control spending. These mostly empty cities were brought to the attention of the press in 2013 and again this year with the publication of Wade Shepherd’s book. I honestly don’t know enough about the topic to tell if the pundits are right or whether this is a bit of over-hysteria over aggressive development. Some reports suggest that the cities are slowly gaining adoption and projected to succeed. I don’t know either way, my interest, as always on this site, is if may be applicable to Metropolis.

Consider this: What if Metropolis is or was an example of an American attempt at a brand-new planned mega-city, built at a startling pace almost in condemnation of Gotham? In other words, in the Federal District of Metropolis, city planners took a look at the old, decaying, sprawling, chaotic, dirty, poor, and crime-ridden city of Gotham and said, “Let’s do the opposite of that.” Imagine if Metropolis was built with the astonishing speed of a Chinese city skyline to the best of intentions and specifications for the City of Tomorrow. Planned to deal with optimally with traffic, infrastructure, emissions, sustainability, and more. A quasi-futuristic city planned like that may have a modular and/or self-healing power-grid allowing the city to stay lit even when blocks are leveled to the ground.

A city like that would also fuel the animosity between Gotham and its little, spoiled sister, Metropolis.  Instead of all that money and effort being spent towards improving, restoring, or rescuing Gotham, the powers that be gave up on it, shrugged, and started anew with Metropolis.

The reason I wonder about things like whether Metropolis was a brand-new experiment yet to be fully adopted or how its population may swell and diminish with commuters, is in ruminating about Watson Technical Consulting’s report commissioned by Buzzfeed on June 17, 2013, just three days after the domestic release of Man of Steel… and I question how WTC could possibly have accounted for things like that in their report. I don’t wonder long because the obvious answer is that they didn’t.

Answers may change as we get more data but Snyder has casually estimated around 5,000 off-the-cuff and Buzzfeed commissioned WTC report estimated 120,000. The problem with the report is that they don’t show their work, their assumptions, or how they reached their conclusions. More or less they presented a figure, asked us to accept it based on their brand and unseen models, then hid their work behind a fictionalized editorial that mostly just restates their estimate in more flowery prose.

If we’re honest, this was a project thrown at a busy grad student, done for publicity rather than scholarly or professional rigor. That student no longer works at WTC and WTC no longer hosts the report on their website. The report is entertaining, at best, but clearly not serious or intended to be taken seriously both from the website and the report itself. Without the methodology or the assumptions made, the resulting figures could be off by magnitudes! We’re given no margin of error precisely because this wasn’t a serious consultation.

There were three big red flags aside from failing to show their work: 1. The speed of the report; 2. Fictionalizing the report; 3. Assuming Lex could rebuild Metropolis on his own:

  1. The film comes out on the 14th and Buzzfeed wants to publish on the 17th… how much real analysis was really done? I think we all know what happened: a journalist contacted them and offered them money to estimate damages on a film that wasn’t yet on Blu-Ray or streaming. So their busy grad student compiles estimates from vague recollections and glimpses of a scenes she doesn’t have time to watch and rewatch. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she buys one or two tickets to scribble down notes in the dark theater… but this is just a publicity stunt for the firm, not something on which real lives or her academic future hangs. Far more likely she goes by general recollections and trailer clips rather than careful study of the film to get it done in time.
  2. So why the fictionalized section? It’s what you do to pad out a paper. A few wild and barely substantiated assumptions are made, churned through the mathematical models, and the results are assembled, but without the rigor of real research, she takes some time to pad the report with two creative writing assignments… one page re-presenting the results and half-a-page allegedly purporting to explain why the results are explained by prose instead of expert technical detail. I’m guessing more effort went into writing the prose than into analyzing the film or the models.
  3. However, not much more effort since in a creative-writing flourish, the report makes the unnecessary assumption that Lex Luthor would be given the sole contract for the rebuilding of Metropolis which, as we’ve discussed in a past episode, doesn’t scale with today’s concept of wealth. If they are willing to assume an individual with more wealth than has ever existed in the hands of a single individual through all recorded history… how many other poorly founded assumptions were made for the report?

All that said, I don’t blame them or think them particularly hostile towards the film. They were paid to do a non-serious rush-job and they approached it as a non-serious rush-job, which is clear from the disclaiming language and tone of the website and the report itself.  I raise this primarily so people choosing to cite it understand the report should only be taken as seriously as those who composed it… which is to say, not that seriously at all.

What if there was a black hole in your pocket? | Kurz Gesagt – In a Nutshell

Reinforcing the idea that the Phantom Energy Singularity Was Not A Black Hole.

The History of Aliens In Film | Digg

The glimpse into how Jonathan may have perceived humanity’s reaction to Clark based on popular culture as discussed in MOSAIC Episode 15.

No Man’s Sky Procedurally Generated World | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios

As we’ve discussed in the past, the assets generated for Jor-El’s presentation and Zod’s interrogation weren’t likely consciously created in-story (though certainly carefully and lovingly composed by the VFX houses in the real world). This short look into this videogame gives a little insight into how processes like those might be automated on a certain level. Less because of the content but more because of the aesthetic filters which allows the machine to- hopefully- arrive at a stylized result. For good measure, Chef Watson.

Eye In The Sky | RadioLab

A podcast on surveillance which makes me consider and reflect on how we implicitly trust Superman not to abuse his powers.

The Death of Superman Lives What Happened | Jon Schnepp

I think I’ve paid for this thing three times over. I crowd-funded, I pre-ordered the Blu-Ray, and when that didn’t arrive soon enough I ended up ordering the streaming copy because I wanted to see it that bad (and had a tiny limited window of free time to actually watch it, so the opportunity cost meant watching it right then or waiting a month or more). I’ve become a fan of Jon Schnepp because of how great an ambassador he is for comics, his optimism and open mind, and a lot of the same overlapping tastes. For a freshman documentary, it’s pretty solid. I’m a documentary fiend so this isn’t Ken Burns, but the topic is so compelling to a Superman and film fan, I was engrossed.

The editorial is in the edit, but it’s pretty even-handed even there. You get a lot of insight into the creative process, the studio gatekeepers and process, and more. It’s not the Superman movie that I ever wanted, but I’m always fascinated by the “why” and loved learning their reasoning for something largely derided or ridiculed for over a decade… and to come away at least seeing their point of view and respecting it to an extent. This isn’t for everyone, but it’s a must-see for those curious about this tale. It’s also fun to consider where some of the interviewees were then compared to today… Kevin Smith turning his storytelling into a career or Colleen Atwood not being able to get her Superman on screen, but now getting to see her Supergirl on screen.

(July 24 update: Got my Blu-Ray… ended up spending all evening watching several long form interviews.  The features add a slice-of-life aspect to the documentary that is compelling on its own and it’s really interesting to listen to disparate views on Superman, Man of Steel, superheroes, film making, and more.  If you have the inclination and the time- and maybe even if you don’t- I recommend the full-featured version of TDOSLWH.)

Justice League Gods and Monsters: Bomb | Machinima

I’ve pre-ordered by Blu-Ray and still waiting for it (I know it’s available for streaming but don’t have time to watch it yet). However, I’ve watched the three shorts and read the digital-first comics. As an Elseworlds fan, I’m enjoying this so far and can’t wait to get the disc. I’m really impressed at how much of Superman’s essence is still captured in Bomb despite challenging so much else about the character. It’s why I love this stuff, it makes you turn over the icon in your mind and consider what were your assumptions, what are the essentials, what does it all meant, etc.

Death Battle: Goku vs. Superman REMATCH | Screw Attack

I really appreciate all the work they do on these, always enjoy watching them, but generally don’t take the analysis too seriously.  To be clear, I’m not deriding them… I think they know exactly what they’re doing… more the people who probably take the videos more seriously than they were ever intended to be.

The approach may make a certain level of sense for these kinds of thought experiments, but we’ve discussed on the podcast before why the application of such thought experiments are of limited probative value. For the purposes of reigning in discussion and attempting to reach more conclusive results, people engaging in these kinds of debates accept all sorts of ground-rules which guide the debate… whether character is a consideration, plot, environment, killing rules, battlefield removal, starting gongs, allies, gear, foreknowledge about the opponent, and more… nearly all of which divorce their meaning from the actual writing process that goes into “actual” storytelling conflicts and- unfortunately- adherents to these kinds of battles tend to let it infect their thinking and prejudice them when the stories don’t mirror or take the same approach as their battles.

Generally speaking, I really hope writers aren’t trying to ignore “low showings” and considering “peak feats” and writing with that kind of mentality necessarily… rather, I hope the aim is to tell a compelling story first, which is true to an aggregate or average or holistic view of the character rather than one driven by the extremes of precedent. The entire landscape of Superman storytelling would be different if it was assumed he had infinite effortless strength at all times because of two “feats”.

All that said… as long as one recognizes the limitations and the purpose of such thought experiments, it’s extremely fun and engaging pastime if you have a deep knowledge of precedent to draw from, you know the axioms and rules of the “court” you’ve selected to fight on, and know how to use them to persuade your audience. Decent brain exercise if you’re good at it in a reasonable community… pointless shouting if you’re bad or your community is bad.  Personally, it’s a dream of mine to make a community of people who debate this kind of stuff, but who use more sophisticated and realistic rules and precedents (“realistic” in the sense of how persuasion works in a court of law), which would serve to better mirror actual storytelling and thus be more applicable and useful and intuitive… rather than being arcane in precedent, rely on community-specific rules, and community-moderator rulings in a highly artificial discussion, but real-life… right? 😉

“…and we have to destroy him!” | Theory

So I don’t get to discuss genre stuff at work much, but I sometimes do outside the firm. During lunch, I noticed a clerk browsing Fear The Walking Dead news and we got to talking about SDCC. The clerk broached the topic of the BvS trailer and started floating theories, one which I thought was imaginative enough to share and perhaps less bounded by preexisting rumors and maybe inspired by her reading material.

The theory was that Zod actually carried a deadly infectious Kryptonian pathogen. Kal-El didn’t, because he wasn’t raised on Krypton, but it was a real concern in Man of Steel. Zod, however, grew up on Krypton and shared a ship with a bunch of other scummy Kryptonians. This never became an issue in Man of Steel because the Kryptonians were always on the ship or in their mostly-sealed armor… except Zod at the very end!

That’s why Zod’s body is being kept by the Infectious Diseases division of the military and that’s who has “the power to wipe out humanity” and why Bruce says, “…and we have to destroy him!” meaning Zod’s infectious body which could turn into a pathogenic apocalypse if weaponized by Luthor. Their theory goes on to say Batman’s assault on LexCorp was to destroy the body, which he does, but doesn’t get a secret sample… the one Luthor uses on Superman- who is susceptible to Kryptonian diseases-  to turn him into a mindless zombie that Batman and Wonder Woman have to fight until they can figure out a way to cure him or prevent the pathogen from spreading to humanity.

I asked the clerk if they had been following any of the rumors and the clerk claimed the trailer was the first time they had really thought about the film. I really enjoyed the imagination and reconciliation… even if I’m not on board with a Superman out-of-his-mind being the third act threat. At least to me it affirms that even more casual fans are getting inspired by the trailer (and maybe a little by The Walking Dead)!

Inspired by Justice Lords | Theory

In the most recent podcast, you might know my theory about the horseback riders and the sepia-tinted scenes. To sign off, I’m just going to double-down on that completely unsubstantiated theory and wonder what if they approached it like this and with this intent. Basically, you have the meta concern of satisfying the age-old question of “Who would win?” for both sets of fans but with limited moves and matches you can do in-story. The ideal might be three fights with each fighter prevailing in one and ending in a draw, but I don’t think the run-time would allow for that, much less a compelling story if there’s that much of the same fight. Instead, imagine if you get Superman winning the Elseworlds… basically a statement affirming what we all know, that if Superman didn’t hold back and acted like a monster, he would win.

This sets up Wonder Woman’s reason for being in the film, but it also acts as a narrative tension for the audience. So often, the information we have tends to diffuse tension, but here we’d be like Diana and know- having seen through her vision- what Superman unleashed is like… and that builds the threat for Batman, because without the vision, we’re basically talking about tries-to-be-peaceful Superman. Then in the “real” story, Batman “defeats” Superman in that he’s fighting someone who is decent and not as monstrous as Vision Superman (I put “defeats” in quotes in the sense that Batman defeats Superman in TDKR… he makes a statement but doesn’t exactly win). Batman is able to bring Superman to the brink … however, the character moment for them is Superman has the opportunity to act like the vision version… but doesn’t (ideally because of Wonder Woman’s subtle intervention). Superman has a moral victory by not succumbing, Batman has the Rocky-styled victory of going 10 rounds with his better and surviving- an amazing and astonishing and awesome feat that earns Superman’s respect like Rockey earned Apollo’s, and it’s because Wonder Woman actively intervened… forging the Trinity and setting up their cooperation against the third act threat.

This idea was essentially used in the DCAU with how Superman reacted to President Luthor and the formation of the Justice Lords… seeing what happened in that version and that threat looming over the actions of the characters in the “real” storyline.  In short: Vision Superman destroys Batman, Real Batman goes Ten Rounds with Superman like Rocky and is just as awesome for it, Real Superman doesn’t destroy Batman and Batman is able to forgive Superman, in part because of something Wonder Woman does.  Complete and utter speculation, but fun to theorize.

The unheard story of David and Goliath | Malcolm Gladwell | TED

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a love-hate relationship with Gladwell. I really enjoy reading his books, how they pull from various sources, studies, and stories to achieve a sort of narrative thrust that tends to defy conventional thinking or challenges your assumptions about the world. I love that. However, he isn’t a scientist or sociologist and his proposals (conclusions?) meant to provoke thought sometimes result in unintentional stubborn adoption. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to deprogram a jury based on something popularized by Gladwell. Nonetheless, I’m still a fan and enjoy much of what he produces and I’m guilty of cherry-picking his findings as they suit me just as he does.

Ever since Entertainment Weekly cited the Valley of Elah (the battleground for David and Goliath) in reference to Batman v. Superman, I can’t get the idea out of my mind and wonder how or if that plays into the approach to Batman v. Superman at all. My preference is Rocky and Apollo, but there is something mythic and resonant about David and Goliath, but also something incredibly subversive about it in modern interpretations like Gladwell’s… that Superman’s advantage is his disadvantage and other parallels you might find in Gladwell’s 2013 book. The part in the TED Talk- essentially the first chapter of his book- wasn’t as illuminating for me when I read it back then… they were conclusions reached decades prior and often used to illustrate how advantage faces diminishing returns… and success tends to come not from engaging in a progression arms race (bigger soldiers who can carry more arms and armor) but a lateral step or innovation which forgoes that treadmill. However, the rest of the book is thought-provoking in his typical fashion and worth a read.

I don’t know how or if this factors in. After all it was EW that made the reference, not the filmmakers to my knowledge. However, I keep wanting to apply it fifty different ways and keep trying to silence the inspiration and impulse until we know more. However, a more immediate application of Gladwell’s book seems to apply to how Superman- a farmboy with no combat training whatsoever- managed to defeat Krypton’s foremost military leader. In my Myths video, I sort of sum it up as luck, but I think we can get at the reasons a little better than that using some of Gladwell’s theories about diminishing returns, asymmetric warfare, and unfamiliarity. I’ve wanted to do an exhaustive break-down of the fight to establish the point, but need to learn how to produce animated gifs for each part of the fight to be analyzed… I apparently don’t know what I’m doing since each gif I’ve tried to make never looks as sharp or smooth as the ones culled from Tumblr. Anyways, at some point, I’m going to publish the explanation for Zod’s defeats at the hands of Jor and Kal.

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  1. I really like the Zod theory. It makes sense as well. What are your thoughts on Eli Snyder as Robin (possibly) and the Jared Leto Joker theory?

  2. The Zod virus hypothesis is plausible, and it would explain the infectious disease angle. And the comics have recently had two virus based threats (Amazo virus in Justice League and the Joker virus in Batman, both just a few months ago).

    But I kind of hope they don’t go the virus direction, mainly because I don’t want Superman to be under the weather or able to be mind controlled or otherwise controlled through his infection. We are just now about to get Superman as Superman (after the great set-up to the character in Man of Steel), and they’ve established some really smart and deep tensions between Batman, the public, and Superman… a virus (if it infects Superman) seems like a step away from the more profound. If the virus doesn’t affect Superman in those ways, though, maybe it could work.

    • I agree that I’m not really on board with mind control. I think there are other issues with the virus theory, but I liked how this causal fan was trying to reconcile a bunch of things in the trailer and remembered from Man of Steel and thought it was a creative effort.

  3. Here are some totally back-of-the-envelope estimates about the death toll from the Black Zero Event:

    Looking at the final shot of “ground zero” in Metropolis, it appears to have leveled about 6 city blocks. Walking around Manhattan just now I estimate that a block consists of about 6 buildings, which would be consistent with the article stating that 35 buildings were destroyed.

    If roughly 2,500 people died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 (the total death toll minus those at the Pentagon and in the planes) and each tower was somewhere between 2-3 times size of an average office building (let’s say 2.5), then 1 fully staffed average building might hold around 500 people. That would mean that maybe 17,500 people could have been in those 35 buildings that were leveled. Higher than Snyder’s estimate but much lower than the WTC one.

    However, the article says “Dozens Killed” in the Wayne Financial Tower collapse. This to me implies fewer than 200, otherwise they would have used the more dramatic “Hundreds.” So why fewer than 200 and not more like 500? I suppose part of that could be people evacuating, since the WFT was not destroyed by the Black Zero and they had more time to escape. But you make a good point that if there was already unrest at the time of the attack, then it’s likely a lot of people stayed home. And if that building wasn’t fully staffed then it’s reasonable to assume that many other buildings may not have been either.

    So by that metric, in the 35 buildings destroyed there may have only been around 7,000 casualties, much closer to Snyder’s estimate. And since it’s his movie, he can make up any reasons for why those buildings may not have been fully staffed including or beyond the ones you’ve come up with, making his estimate seem pretty reasonable.

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