Once upon a time, I was a normal guy, just like the rest of you. I’d get up, go to work and ride the trains with the other half-dead souls in this cold city.
Then it happened: I was holed up in some flea-bitten art house one moonless night when a glowing rat bit me on the ankle. What it gave me sure wasn’t rabies. I don’t know if it was due to the high amount of caramelized popcorn the rodent had consumed over the years, but I do know that when I got home, something had changed — I had acquired powers.
I found that I could see through shallow plots, stomp blockbusters to pieces in less than 750 words and telepathically sense what would happen in the final reel. Crap actors would feel my wrath!
|Rating||out of 5|
|Run Time||117 minutes|
But with great power comes great responsibility, and many questioned the righteousness of my personal vendetta against the various evil marketing wizards that had taken control of the studios. I soon discovered I had also acquired a nemesis, Fanboy, who stalks me online, inciting his troll minions to attack en masse, usually in typo-dense comments such as “your so reetardit betch!”
Fanboy was a pest, but I learned — to my horror — that he was a peon for the shadowy organization known as Marvel Studios, part of an even more sinister empire known as The Walt Disney Co., hell-bent on world domination. There have been more than 40 movies made featuring their comic book characters, and almost half that number have appeared in the past five years alone, featuring Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man and Thor. Three of these films rank among the top 10 highest-grossing films ever. And Phase Three of their master plan launches next year with another 10 films slated for release over the following three years.
After overpowering a legion of Goofys, I snuck into the Marvey-Disney underground bunker and broke out in a cold sweat as I overheard a black-cowled CEO giving a monologue about his evil plans.
“Soon we will have the world’s cinemas under our thumb,” the CEO said with a cackle. “Smaller studios cower under the loins of our advertising budgets! Mighty media outlets grovel at our feet and even The New York Times pays tribute to our products with puff pieces! Soon, every other film species will be driven to extinction by our unstoppable formula: One plot to rule them all!”
I fled in terror to the nearest cinema to see “Ant-Man,” the latest chapter in Marvel’s plot to raze the film world and turn us all into Fanboys.
Could it all be true?
Sure enough, “Ant-Man” was about … do I really need to finish the sentence?
It’s about a dude (a completely bland Paul Rudd) who, through the miracle of unexplained technology, gains superpowers. He can shrink down to the size of an insect and control mighty hordes of ants, with which he fights crime and thwarts the plans of an evil genius — and yadda yadda yadda.
Yes, this was the same movie again, with the obligatory 30-minute climax of nonstop digitally generated mayhem and a soundtrack that felt like electroshock therapy, not to mention the incessant cameos of other Marvel characters.
Like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man” is jokey and silly, and that’s usually preferable to the Marvel films that take themselves too seriously. Still, having already gone through most of their A-list superheroes, the point now seems to be that Marvel can take anything from their back catalog, throw a couple $100 million at it and dominate box offices.
Marvel’s goal is to turn us all into fans, to colonize our imaginations with silly fantasies of damsels in distress and heroes with limitless strength.
The less power you have, the more attractive fantasies of power become — that’s what Marvel feeds on. Now they’re pushing it right up in your face: You, yes you, are the ant. Get in line with the rest of the drones.