What’s Old Is New Again: Robots and Superheroes!

This was going to be a post about robots and how I’ve seen it all and read it all, such that when new tech is developed, I’m rolling my eyes and muttering, “Yeah, I already saw that in Terminator; whaddya mean a tank-killing robot is the coolest new kid on the block?”

By the way, the tank-killing robot is in today’s news cycle. But I decided to keep my title that was meant to be about robots and talk about superhero films, instead, because everything is interconnected. I got bored of them. Are you sensing a theme here? I’m not generally a bored person. I can amuse myself for hours just staring at a wall. When it comes to media and its ever-growing intensity for the coolest way to blow up tanks and trucks and tanks that hover down from space and giant wheels that are going to destroy everything, not to mention New York, I get bored after a while. I mean, how many times do they have to destroy New York for it to be good enough?! Maybe they didn’t get the light quite right in that one Spider-Man film — or maybe it was the way the buildings fell or the way the cars crumpled that wasn’t quite good enough the last time Hulk batted around a bad guy like a ragdoll.

And don’t get me started on the growing number of heroes out there. It wasn’t enough keeping up with both Marvel and DC. Television shows had to start creating their own supers. Do you remember Heroes, for example? The first season was great. And then everybody became a superhero. Seriously, what’s interesting about supers is their uniqueness that gives them those angsty feelings of I am so unique, and I alone must save the entire world! Well, maybe, I’ll take my ragtag friends with me, and they’ll save the world with me because loyalty to friends is always a good theme, too. Or maybe we’ll just save New York! But not until it’s been thoroughly destroyed. Again! But in shows like Heroes, you’d turn a corner and a new super would be there waiting, walking toward you with flames emitting from their hands or some such tomfoolery. When everybody is super, nobody is super! Can we agree on just that one little tidbit?

After a while, I vowed to never watch another superhero film again. My friends and loved ones were appalled at my bad attitude. They started going to the theater without me, leaving me to stew in my own unique angstiness of the supervillain wringing my hands and plotting to destroy the Earth just to be done with superhero media altogether. I mean, I get it, some of the heroes are from space, but destroying the Earth would go a long way toward eradicating the worst of the Wolverines, Catpeople, and Bathumans.

Deep breath. Then, after a few long years, I decided to be mom-like and friendly and go see Guardians of the Galaxy with my family. I have to admit I loved it. It was funny and had Chris Pratt. The old joy inspired by heroes and justice filled my heart — that joy from my childhood love of wanting to be Wonder Woman. And then I watched the Guardians sequel, the new Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, and Infinity War. Infinity War gave me the desire to watch Black Panther, which I’d missed during its short stint in our local theaters. Despite what could be viewed as a theme of globalism, the acting was good, with the comic elements I always enjoy in superhero films.

That brings me to Incredibles II, which I just saw this week. Now my imaginary cape is again deflated. The makers of this film actually waited fourteen years to make the sequel, so they aren’t the ones cranking out the heroes en masse. However, aside from a few great fight scenes and a nice pro-family theme, it was ultimately predictable. I’d seen it all before. I knew who the bad guy was when [xxxx] entered the room. The best character was the unpredictable baby Jack-Jack, and I don’t know if I’ll care about him by the time Pixar decides to make a third installment: if too many superheroes are annoying, so is a super with too many powers (especially after he learns to be use them better).

The world always needs new heroes, but I need a break again. Sometimes, I need to see average people become great heroes — people who aren’t mutants or aliens and who don’t have access to magic potions and out-of-this-world technology. I watched Black Panther while we were on vacation, but do you know what else I watched? Queen of Katwe and Pelé, both films (available on Netflix) about real life people who overcame the odds of living in impoverished slums by working hard to be great at something. Those two films left an impression in my mind greater than all the super films put together.

And you know what else? Despite Terminator films, the world has need for great real-life tech, too, so I’ll leave you with a link to an article about the tank-killing robots. I’ll let that fill my imagination until I suddenly realize we may need Captain America to defeat such awful tech. At that point, I’ll be back in the theater watching him destroy…perhaps Los Angeles this time. Hmmm…sounds fun.

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3 comments

  1. I haven’t seen Black Panther, but I thought the theme was more pro-nationalism? Or was it pro-nationalism-transforming-into-globalism? It might’ve helped for the promoters to use “trans” because that’s a great buzzword. I don’t have any friends, so I have no idea if this is any good; no one to bounce things off of them in real-time.

      1. I’ll watch it and let you know, assuming you don’t do a re-watch soon.

        It could be a mix of both: nationalism assuming some aspects of globalism. I saw Infinity War and there were non-Wakandans hanging about inside the border. So there’s something.

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