This is a reprint of the letter from the editor in Unwinnable Weekly Issue Fifty-Four. You can buy Issue Fifty-Four individually now, or purchase a one-month subscription to make sure you never miss an issue!
I saw Ant-Man yesterday. I am already having difficulty recalling the details.
If I had to summarize the experience of seeing Ant-Man, I would do it this way.
My buddy Mitch has just finished running a 5K and got his best time yet. Seeing me at the finish line, though, he rushes over to tell me something. He doesn’t stop to catch his breath. He’s been dying to tell this to me. In between panting breaths, his oxygen starved eyes seeming to focus on nothing in particular, he launches in a description of a cinematic dream he had last night, an improbable mash-up of Iron Man, Wet Hot American Summer and a weaponized Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
“Sounds pretty amazing, right?” Mitch asks as he pitches forward and collapses from exhaustion.
I bet that sounds like I didn’t like Ant-Man, doesn’t it? I did like it. I guess? I had a similar feeling after seeing Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, this kind of warm, fuzzy ambivalence.
Soon after getting home from the theater, I saw a headline claiming that Ant-Man and all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are really about the pitfalls of unregulated capitalism. I don’t know about that. I mean, just look at the size and scale of the corporation that is producing them. If anything, Disney has figured out how to successfully and safely monetize veiled criticism of unregulated capitalism. Meta, like making a movie about picking pockets to distract marks from the fact that their pockets are getting picked.
Honestly, I keep thinking about this Alan Moore interview from last year that recently resurfaced on my feeds. It contains, among many other gems, this monstrous quote:
To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.
Now, go Google around. See the conversation taking place about Ant-Man on various sites. About how it was a surprise, how it was a missed opportunity, how it fits in to the other MCU movies and what it means for Captain America 3. Do all that, then come re-read that Alan Moore quote.
If you can come up with a worthy rebuttal, let me know. Because I can’t.
* * *
This week, I speak to Johnny Galvatron about rock ‘n’ roll, life on the road and his forthcoming game The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti. No one is making money in playing music in Mitch Bowman’s hardcore scene and that’s all right by him. Luke Pullen reveals how he deals with the existential hell of Toronto in the summer time (hint: videogames). Finally, Argun Ulgen looks at how digital film is changing the visual language of cinema.
That’s it for this week. If you dig this issue, share it with a friend!
Jersey City, New Jersey
July 22, 2015