Friday, 7 September 2012

Film 10 - The Incredible Hulk

Following a disastrous gamma ray experiment, Doctor Banner finds out that he can transform into a giant green-skinned hulk after his pulse rate gets too high. However a solider finds out about the technology and uses himself, turning into an evil version of the hulk.
Although it is an unusual superhero in the sense that Banner cannot control when he turns into the hulk, it does follow the following superhero conventions:
  • Having an extraordinary power - Bruce Banner's alter ego means that he's incredibly strong and has abnormal strength.
  • A moral code - Although in his Hulk state, Banner seems like he cannot control it, he does realise that he has to protect the city from evil.
  • Secret identity - not many people realise that Bruce Banner is the Hulk, so in this sense, he can hide away from people.
  • Financial support - originally, the Hulk was a scientist and earned all of his money from there, but then after becoming the Hulk, he had to work in a soft drinks factory.
  • Backstory - Doctor Bruce Banner was an ordinary man, having a normal life before becoming the Hulk and then everything changed.
  • Costume - The Hulk himself doesn't actually have a costume, however he is most recognisable by the fact that he is green skinned and has purple shorts.
The Incredible Hulk is mainly for teenagers and above as it contains some frightening scenes where Banner transforms into the Hulk, which could be frightening for young children. Also there are a lot of explosions, fighting and a lot of gore such as the sound of bones breaking. How there isn't much sex and nudity, as the only time is when Bruce Banner is sitting naked in a bathtub but even then you can only see his bum.

Bruce Banner himself presents a binary opposition in this film, as we see the calm and gentle nature of Banner before the explosive and violent side of the hulk comes out after Banner has transformed. Another would be that Blonksy's aggressive nature versus Banner's calm manner shows the difference into what they transform into. 

The film does reinforce gender stereotypes as Banner's love interest and the main girl character in the film, is firstly sent away from Banner so she doesn't get hurt, therefore staying on the sidelines instead of getting involved with the action. Also it's always the boys that are doing the fighting, as you don't see any girls getting into any of the action.

To conclude, the Hulk seeks to entertain it's audience by having a completely different superhero, than one we are normally used to. Also the fight scenes between the Hulk and all of the military raise the tension in the film, waiting to see if their hero, the Hulk, would come out on top, but also to see how much destruction can be caused between them. Finally the audience want to see if Banner can truly control when he morphs into the Hulk and see how well his meditation is getting on. 

Film 9 - X Men (2000)

Two mutants who have extraordinary powers go to a special academy with people who are similar to them. Yet they have to work together to face a terrorist organisation who have similar powers to them.
Superhero conventions found in this film are:
  • Having extraordinary powers - each person aka mutant, has their own power such as shooting lasers out of their eyes.
  • A moral code - The good group of mutants, lead by Charles Xavier, strive to be accepted into society as normal human beings, as well as learning to use their powers responsibly.
  • A secret identity - The mutants use different names in public to avoid being shunned by other people.
  • Motif - their motif is a circle with an big X touching each of the sides.
  • Headquarters - the mutants currently reside in a mansion together as well as being trained in using their powers responsibly.
  • Backstory - each mutant has their own backstory, such as Wolverine, who was found not having any memories of what had happened to him.
  • Rogues gallery - the x-men have to fight a band of other mutants who work for Magneto.
The film is suitable enough for young teenagers as there is a lack of sex and nudity as the only time we see something close to this is a man shirtless in a window. However there is a bit more  violence and gore as a man physically dissipates into water, as well as a girl stabbed in the back and several fight scenes between the mutants. There are also several uses of profanity and some intense emotions scenes with Rogue.

The binary opposition present in this film is the humans/mutants. The humans see the mutants as a threat as they can do things that the humans cannot do. The humans think the mutants will over throw them so they want them kicked out.

The film does challenge gender stereotypes as one of the main characters is a girl and she gets into the heart of the fighting! Although there are more boys than girls, the girls are still in the thick of the action. However, one of the two main characters is a girl, and it is seen that she is lead away from the group, as the others have to try and 'rescue' her, so in a sense she is the damsel in distress.

To conclude, X Men entertains it's audience by using intense fight scenes which raises tension and makes the film more thrilling to watch. You can also watch each character go through emotional developments and see each mutants superpower, how they differ from each other. You also get to see how they react with other mutants, as they all live in a mansion together rather than the film just focusing on a sole superhero. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Film 8 - Thor

After going behind his father's back, Thor is cast out of Asgard, doomed to live a mortal life on Earth forever more. However his brother Loki finds out he was adopted and causes great destruction back on Asgard. Thor realises what he has done, and with the help of this friends, he defeats on Ice Giant on Earth before going back to Asgard to help out.

Thor has an extraordinary power of being super strong and he can wield his hammer which he can send lightning bolts out of. Thor has his own moral code which at first is to protect Asgard which he thinks will be achieved by killing all of the Ice Giants but then is cast out to Earth so then he feels it's his duty to protect it and it's people as well. Thor has a lot of supporting characters such as his friends in Asgard and his new companions on Earth. Thor doesn't have a motif but his symbol is his hammer which he carries about with him everywhere. Thor's backstory is of him growing up in Asgard with his brother Loki, in which he thought he could rely on him. However when Loki finds out he is adopted, he turns against everyone, including Thor, which breaks his heart. The rogues gallery is the Ice Giants which Thor has to fight both on Earth and Asgard while the real villain is Loki. Also Thor doesn't have the traditional tight fighting costume which normal superheros wear. Instead he wears a medieval costume and cape.
The film is aimed at teenagers and above because although there is a lack of sex and nudity (the only time you see this is briefly when Thor is getting changed, you can see his buttocks). As  for violence and gore, Thor fights several Ice Giants but they don't bleed, only crack and crumble. Also several of the character receive a frostbite from the giants. The time when you do see the blood is when Thor flies through the head of a monster but this blood is black. Also another time is near the end of the film where you see Thor violently backhanded by the Destroyer leaving bloody contusions and wounds on face and chest. Young children might also get scared at the scenes of fighting with the Ice Giants.
The first binary opposition present in this film is the hot/cold. The warm colours of Asgard, such as the red, gold and amber reflect the hot and how they are always full of life there in Asgard. Thor himself dons a red cape whereas Loki represents the cold as he wears a green cape. Also the Ice Giants physically represent the cold (hence the name) and it is dark and the colours reflect this as is dark blues and browns. The second binary opposition is the God/Human. Asgard represents the 'Godly' world that Thor lives in and they all refer to the people on Earth as Mortals. However the people on Earth think that Thor and his people are Gods as they have an unearthly power which they cannont match (such as Thor's strength).

This film does reinforce gender stereotypes. However firstly the women on Asgard are seen as strong and independent, they hardly appear and the only main characters in Asgard are Thor's friends and his mother but even at the end of the film, his mother continues to stay at Thor's beside while his friends are elsewhere. On Earth, Thor meets his love interest, Jane, but during the fight scene with the Destroyer, she is told to stay out of the fight and on the sidelines.
In conclusion, this film seeks to entertain it's audience by firstly taking a different approach to the Superhero film genre. It's not about a person on Earth being extraordinary, but a person from another different planet entirely. Also there is the complex relationship with Loki and Thor, as Loki finds out he is adopted and suddenly takes on an entirely different stance on their relationship, feeling very jealous of Thor. Finally we get to see Thor grow, from a naive man who think he can kill of of the Ice Giants, to a man who wants nothing more than peace between his people. The opposite can be said for Loki as he at first, is a peaceful person but as soon as he realises who he is, he then wants to wreak havoc on everyone.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Film 7 - Fantastic Four; Rise of the Silver Surfer

After a gatecrashed wedding, the Fantastic Four learn that they aren't the only super humans in the universe when they have to square off against the powerful Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus. 

Although there are four superheros rather than one, it still creates a highly action packed film, which includes the following conventions:

  • Having super powers - after being hit by a cosmic ray, each of the Fantastic Four have their own unique power whether it be from being incredibly stretchy, can turn themselves on fire, are as hard as rock or can turn invisible. 
  • A moral code - Each member of the Fantastic Four will risk their own safety when it comes to the protection of Earth but they at first try to do so, without fighting (the instance where they capture the Silver Surfer rather than kill him). This embodied in particular by Sue Storm. 
  • Motif - Their motif is a silver circle with a number 4 in the middle. 
  • Headquarters - Their headquarters was establised in Baxter Building in the midtown Manhattan.
  • Archilles Heel - in this film. the Archilles Heel for the team was when they all thought Sue Storm had been killed by the spear yet it was this that had temporarily unhinged them, but them spurred them on to kill Galactus. 
  • Costume features - They all wore tight blue fitting latex catsuits which enabled them to move and fight more freely. Also, they all bare the Fantastic Four logo on their chest so everyone knows who they are.
The film is aimed at mainly young male teenagers aged about 8-14 because of the lack of swearing, but it still has lots of action packed fighting scenes. It also contains a lot of light hearted humour although there is the odd reference to sexual activity from Johnny. 

The most obvious binary opposition in this film is the very alien presence of the Silver Surfer compared to the earthly Sue Storm, when she tries to speak to him in the forest. Also you get the feeling that Earth is very small and primitive compared to the massive planet eating Galactus, and it seems nothing can stop it.

Although we do get some action from our female protagonist Sue Storm, it is ultimately an all boy showdown at the end of the film, when it is believed that Sue has been killed by Doctor Doom. This means she is away from the main action, in a sense the damsel in distress, although surprisingly enough, it is the antagonist who saves the day, meaning that Sue can come back to life.  

Overall this film seeks to entertain it's audience by using creating an complex character of the Silver Surfer, who at first seems hell bent on destroying the planet but deep down, is very passionate about protecting his own planet. Also the CGI used to create the Silver Surfer makes it look like he actually made out of molten silver. Finally, the directors decided to bring back an old villain so the Fantastic Four had to face not one, but two enemies.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Film 6 - Batman Begins

After witnessing the death of both of his parents, Bruce Wayne becomes distraught and disappears out of Gotham City for several years. Whilst being asked to join and destroy the City, Wayne instead comes back and enlists the help of Alfred (his butler) and Lucius Fox to help create the 'Bat' image to help intimidate villains and protect the city of Gotham.
Conventions included in this breath-taking film are:

  • Special skills - Batman doesn't actually have a super power, rather he has more wealth and intelligence in which he combines the two to make an extrordinary superhero.
  • A moral code - although this is quite a dark superhero movie, Batman still keeps his morals of trying to protect Gotham city.
  • A secret identity - Bruce Wayne is very protective of his Batman secret identity, so he only tells Alfred in fear that his enemies would know who he really was.
  • Motif - Batman doesn't have a motif as such, but his symbol is a bat.
  • Financial support - orphan and heir to over billions of dollars, Bruce Wayne essentially doesn't need a job, as he can descend into becoming a full time batman. 
  • Headquarters - under his mansion, Bruce Wayne builds the Batcave so it could be easily hidden from society. 
  • Backstory - it all began when Wayne was only a young child who witnesses the brutal murder of his parents right in front of his own eyes.
  • Archilles heel - when Wayne thinks he has been his secret identity has been compromised, also he is very protective over his family, Alfred and Gotham City.
  • Costume features - his mask covers most of his face, so nobody can recognise him, also he has a utility belt which is full of useful devices.
As it is a more mature film, it is aimed at teenagers and above because it contains drugs, drinking and smoking, as well as explicit language and lots of violence. It also contains some very dark themes, as well as a brief mentions of sex but a lot of consumerism.

In this film, there appears to be a blurred line between good and evil, at the main protagonist appears to be quite dark and foreboding. The binary opposition present in this film is the young innocent Bruce Wayne just before his parents got murdered, too the mysterious and grief stricken man that he has become.

Batman Begins does reinforce gender stereotypes as Bruce Wayne develops a complicated relationship with Rachel who ultimately stays on the sidelines whilst Wayne goes on to fight the Scarecrow. 

Batman Begins is a highly awe-inspiring film which keeps the audience on edge throughout the whole of the film. Christopher Nolan, who directed the film, keep the audience entertained by raising the tension throughout, to make the audience more interested. Also the choreographed fight scenes between Batman and his enemies are highly thrilling. Finally as well the fight scenes, there are also some awesome stunts with the batmobile which include lots of jumping over other cars and a high speed car chase. 

Film 5 - The Incredibles

The Incredibles are a undercover family who aren't allowed to use their powers in public. However one day, Mr Incredible gets fed up with his normal life and is unsuspectingly helps Syndrome with his evil plan. It is then up to the Incredibles and a little help, to save the day.

Each member of the family has their own unique special power. Mr Incredible has super strength, Elastagirl can twist and contort her body into different shapes, Violet has the ability to make herself invisible and create force fields whilst Dash can run at the speed of light. However it isn't until the end of the film, that it is revealed that Jack-Jack can morph into a monster. All of the family have the same moral code of trying to protect their city, which we see is especially empathized through Mr Incredible as we see him being forced to become a 'normal' man. At the start of the film, they all live a 'normal' life, as each superhero has their own secret identity which to hide it when they are superheroes, they wear a simple black mask. The two other main supporting characters  are Frozen, Mr Incredible's best friend, and Edna Mode the sassy woman behind the costumes. Their motif is a black circle with a yellow 'i' with two orange swirls.
We get to see the backstory of Mr Incredible, Elastagirl and Frozone from the very beginning as Superheros got cast out of society. As well, we get some insight to how Violet and Dash are struggling to hide their superpowers from everyone at school. During when the Incredibles are trying to infiltrate Syndrome's hideout, they caught and Syndrome uses this to his advance to try and take Mr Incredible down a few notches which is his achilles heel. Also during the time on Syndrome's island, Mr Incredible has to take down several 'drone' robots (rogue gallery). Finally the Incredible's has some very special costume features such as having it bright red to distinguish themselves, as well as bearing their motif on their chests. They wear black masks to protect their identity and their costume is made of tight fighting latex. 

The film is aimed at the family audience as it is light hearted and the fighting scenes aren't very violent (as there isn't any blood).  There is no explicit language and the tone of the film is quite fast paced to keep the audience interested.

The binary opposition present in this film is the idea that teamwork will triumph rather than working by yourself. This is shown in the instance when Mr Incredible tries to defeat Syndrome and his drones by himself, but ends up getting caught and taken prisoner. However once his family find him and break out from the island, they manage to defeat the drone together once and for all. There is also the concept of being 'ordinary' and being 'super' where being 'ordinary' means that your life is dull and uninteresting which is why Mr Incredible wants to revert back into being a superhero, as being 'super' means you're special.

The Incredibles does challenge gender stereotypes as at the start Mr Incredible tries to fight the drones by himself but it is with the help of Elastagirl, who gets straight into the heart of the action, as well as Violet and Dash; although they are insisted to stay behind at first, they get straight into the heart of the action.

The Incredibles entertains it's audience by using CGI to help bring the characters realistically to life. It also includes lots of action to help the audience stop getting bored (as they are a lot young children so if you including lots of scenes with slow talking that drags out, then they would start to lose interest). As well there are lots of scenes of witty dialogue where it makes the audience laugh such as the scene where Frozone is in distress about not being able to find his costume, "Honey have you seen my supersuit?". Using humour often engages the audience better, as you see real life situation collide with trying to save the world.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Film 4 - Iron Man

Tony Stark; billionaire, playboy and genius. After giving a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan, Tony is kidnapped and forced to make his latest weapon for his kidnapper. However after he has escaped, Tony decides to quit making weapons and start on something completely afresh: the Iron Man suit.

Superhero conventions present in this film:
  • Special item - Tony Stark is an intelligent man and gets straight down with his newest project, redesigning and creating the iron man suit.
  • A moral code - at the start of the film, we see that Tony Stark is irresponsible (missing one his award ceremonies to play poker and also tinkering around with his cars meaning that he is three hours late for his plane journey). But towards the end of the film, we see Tony realise what he has done and how he wants to change the world for a better place (even if some of his peers don't agree with him).
  • A secret identity - at first Tony keeps the project to himself, but as difficult circumstances arise, his closest friends including Pepper find out. After a showdown with Obadiah, Tony reveals his secret during a press conference, unusual to what a normal superhero would do.
  • Finical support - Tony Stark is the son of a billionaire, and originally used to sell weapons for millions of pounds. This of course gives him enough money to fund making his new 'super' suit .
  • Archilles Heel - Tony is unhinged at two points of the film, firstly when he is kidnapped in Afghanistan and secondly, when Obadiah steals his electromagnet out of his chest. 
  • Rogues gallery - In the first half of the film, Tony has to fight his way out of the cave against a load of Afghan soldiers, who all work for Obadiah.
  • Costume features - Tony has made a red and gold trademark suit out of titanium alloy. It is light enough enabling for him to fly. Also he can shoot laser bolts out of the palms of his hands, as well as sending flares from his shoulder blades.
It was the first film installment of the Marvel Universe and it was aimed at mainly the male between the ages of 12-40 (this would include a diverse range from young teenagers to middle aged comic book nerds). 

The binary opposition is shown is the whole Arab/American military war as we see a lot of the on the news where the Americans are the 'heroes' trying to fight in a war against the 'evil' Arabs which is reinforced in this film as you see Tony Stark being taken hostage by the 'brutal' Arabs. The military are then flown in to try and rescue Tony however it takes a interesting plot twist when Tony defeats them all by himself.

Again, Iron Man is yet another superhero where it reinforces the gender stereotypes as Tony Stark is the typical male lead. and although he is seen flirting with a lot of women (hence the playboy status), we see Virginia "Pepper" Potts being introduced as Tony's love interest. Near the end of the film, Tony makes sure Pepper is protected by six agents, whilst he fights Obadiah by himself. 

Iron Man seeks to entertain it's audience by using special effects to bring the Iron Man suit to life. It also uses the special effects to create the fast paced battle between Iron Man and Obadiah at the end of the film as well as the weapons that Stark Industries has created. In Iron Man, they also go to the desert to shoot some of the scenes such as the revealing of the Jericho missile and the kidnap. Finally the banter between Tony Stark and some of the other characters, such as Rhodes and Pepper, increase the humour in the film, making it more entertaining to the audience.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Film 3 - Captain America

First in a series of the world's greatest heroes, Captain America is the world's first super soldier who was injected super serum in the hope that he would be able to do an army's work with the strength of just one man. Unfortunately, plans for more super soldiers were  thrown out of the window when the man responsible for the formula was murdered. Yet Captain America and his rag tag team of combat soldiers were able to defeat the German 'Hydra' group but with dire consequences as Captain America was forced to land the plane in the middle of the ocean due to a large unexploded bomb onboard. He was then found frozen seventy years later by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Falling into the superhero film category, it has to several conventions including:
  •  Having special powers - after being injected with the super serum, Steve Rodgers (aka Captain America) develops exceptional strength and enhanced ability which doubled with an indestructible shield, makes Rodgers a very formidable man.
  • A moral code - in the film, Steve Rodgers has a very strong sense of good and wrong, constantly being beaten up but still standing up for what he believes in. Later on in the boot camp, he shows complete loyalty after trying to protect everyone for a fake grenade which then leads on for him to be chosen to be the first test subject to subjected to the super serum. 
  • A secret identity - like every classic superhero Steve Rodgers superhero alias is Captain America, but even though the public of America doesn't know who he is, only a small group of people do, "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn".
  • Supporting characters - in this film, we see that Steve develops a love interest for Peggy but that devastatingly ends once he is forced to crash the plane into the ocean. Also one of Steve's other close friends was Bucky, who remained loyal until the very end.
  • Motif - Being Captain America, he bears the America flag in a very unusual style, a silver star with blue, white and red stripes, which can be seen on his shield.
  • Backstory - Steve would constantly fail to get into the Army because he was too small and light to be able to help fight alongside other soldiers, and he was constantly getting beaten up due to the fact he was stubborn and loyal to his country (such as the incidence with the film at the start of the movie).
  • Rogues gallery - in the movie, the Nazi group Hydra, have got their hands on the tesseract (which has transformed their leaders appearance, hence giving him the name the Red Devil) and Captain America and his team mates are forced to break into their headquarters to try and stop them.
  • Costume features - Captain America sports a blue uniform with a silver star on his chest and a silver A on his head. His costume covers over
the top half of his face, to help protect his identity. Another significant feature is his shield, which he uses to distinguish himself from the other soldiers and as extra protection.

The target audience for this film is "male (64%), mostly over 25 (58%)" according to due to the fact it is the first film in the Marvel Universe (timeline wise), meaning that diehard comic book fans would be wanting to watch the movie adaptation in the cinemas to see one of their favourite heroes.

The binary oppositions present is firstly the second world war (Germans vs America in this case in the movie) so you get a sense it is a battle between good/evil, in the sense that  when taking the tesseract, the Red Devil has turned "insane", creating weapons that atomise a person (in which he plans on using during the war). However thanks to Captain America, these weapons never make it out into the world. Another binary opposition is the weak/strong, as at the start of the movie Steve Rodgers is a 'weakling', seen as unfit to serve in the army, an image which the Americans don't want to associate with their army. However when Steve has been subjected to the superserum, he is suddenly put in the spotlight now that he is seen as 'strong'.

Captain America does reinforce gender stereotypes because it is set in World War Two where women have yet to have an equal role in society (at the end of the war there was great social change), so throughout the film, it is only the men that do the physical fighting and hardly any women make any appearances. Peggy, the strongest women role in the film, however she is one of the most important officers of the American Army. Although she doesn't need to be rescued, she is often on the sidelines rather than in the middle of the fighting action.

Finally, the film seeks to entertain it's audience by firstly creating a hero for the audience to root for, as at the beginning of the film, we see Steve being brutally beaten but refusing to stand down from the fight. Also we get to see the transformation of Steve into Captain America, via the super serum. This has the audience on the edge of their seats as they don't know if it is going to work, and for a heart crunching moment, when they consider calling the experiment off. Another heart in the mouth moment was when Captain America and his comrades were on the train in the middle of the snow locked mountains; however not worrying for Steve, but when one of his friends fall off of the train, plunging to his death below. This moment is lifechanging for Steve as he realises that he will now sacrifice himself for the greater good of the war. 

From zero to hero.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Film 2 - The Amazing Spiderman

This epic reinvented tale of Spiderman tells the story of how Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, after visiting Dr Connors who he goes for answers after finding on of his fathers old pieces of work. Upon discovering his new found powers, Peter witnesses the shocking murder of his uncle and begins tracking down his killer. However in the process Dr Connors has made what he thinks is the cure to regrowing his missing arms. But instead he mutates into a massive rampaging lizard which Peter (aka Spiderman) has to stop once and for all.

In this film, it clearly defines the classic superhero conventions including:
  • Having special powers - after being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter suddenly finds he can shoot ultrastrong webs from his wrists, climb buildings as easily as blinking and having highly developed senses.
  • A moral code - at first Peter seeks vengeance on the man who murdered his uncle but after his first fight with the Lizard on the bridge, he realises that there is more to just getting revenge.
  • A secret identity - Peter hides his powers from the world at first but then tells Gwen and is accidently revealed to both her dad and Dr Connors. It is also implied at the end of the movie that his Aunt May knows that he is Spiderman too.
  • Motif - Peter uses the spider as he motif to clearly define who he is.

  • Backstory - in the Amazing Spiderman, the backstory is very important to future event that unravel in the main plot. We learn that Peter's parents were fleeing from something when Peter was only a young boy, but Peter still has no idea where they were going.
  • Archilles Heel - Peter feels very strongly for his family and becomes temporary unhinged upon witnessing the death of his uncle. Further on in the film, Peter then becomes worried about the Lizard attacking Gwen while she is making the antidote.
  • Costume features - In this film, we see Peter at first inspired to make a mask so his enemies couldn't recognise who he was, however it became impractical so Peter is forced to re-adapt his designs to the signature blue and red look, which has become the most defining feature about Spiderman.
The film is rated a 12a, which shows that the film is targeted at mainly teenagers of both the male and female gender due to the fast paced action and the social awkwardness which many teenagers can relate too. It is slightly dark in content and the fact the Marvel have casted Andrew Garfield to play Spiderman and he has become a teen sensation suggest that it is for a teenage audience.

The binary oppositions which are present is the animal imagery of the lizard vs the spider (lizards are known to eat insects) where you can see the stealth and agility of Spiderman  compared to the strength and stamina of the Lizard. Another binary opposition is the superhero/police as although both try to fight the Lizard, neither of them are successful by themselves. The police are under the impression that Spiderman is out to spite them, where as Spiderman believes that they are more of a hinderage than help. 

However in this film, it does reinforce gender stereotypes; as you have the handsome male superhero who is the lead character and develops a love interest for a beautiful young woman. Also the antagonist is impaired in some way in which is one of his main focuses to try and change for what he thinks is the greater good. The gender stereotype is reinforced further as we see Spiderman rushing to the rescue once he realises that Gwen is in danger from being killed by the Lizard and when she is saved, she is forced out of the action making it an all male showdown.

Even though the Amazing Spiderman does greatly reinforce gender stereotypes, it is still a thrilling film which leaves the audience on the edge of their seats due to firstly the vast scale on which it is film. It takes place in New York City and although a lot of CGI is used to make up for the majority of shots (such as the ones that take place on top of buildings), when following Spiderman's journey through the city, it leaves the audience wanting to see more of the city through Spiderman's eyes. Another way in which the Amazing Spiderman seeks to entertain it's audience is the fantastic chemistry between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The most riveting scene between the two is when Peter reveals his secret identity to her on the top of their apartment which Gwen remarks "I'm in trouble". Finally Peter's humour is often very amusing, especially with the audience as they see him play Bubble Pop whilst waiting for the Lizard to appear. Another instance is when the car robber bares his knife out at Spiderman, which he sarcastically remarks "You've found my weakness, it's small knives", before shooting the car robber with web.  

Monday, 6 August 2012

Film 1 - Avengers Assemble

After a wild underground chase, the tesseract is stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D by the powerhungry Loki, who then in turn converts some of S.H.I.E.L.D's most loyal agents into his own bidding servants. Provoked and angry, Nick Fury begins his most daunting mission to date; assembling the worlds most mighty band of warriors! However it proves difficult as the Avengers have trouble working together at first but after a major blow to the S.H.I.E.L.D airship, the Avenger realise that they have to stop bantering with each other and start battering the enemy.

Interestingly enough, although it revolves around six superheros instead of just the one main character; Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and the Black Widow. All of them possess either a special power (such as the Super Serum which was injected into Captain America and the Hulk, and Thor's unearthly strength and power) and skill (Iron Man's unrivaled intelligence, Hawkeye's smooth grace with a bow and arrow to the Widow's incredible elasticated body moves). 
Each Avenger has their own moral code although each very similar; to protect the Earth from Loki and the Chitauri, for slightly different reasons (from Thor still trying to believe that Loki can be convinced otherwise to Bruce Banner who initially only came to join to help find the Tesseract but then was angered by Loki for letting him destroy part of the airship).
Each Avenger has their own secret identity, such as Bruce Banner is the Incredible Hulk. Yet however Thor is the exception to this convention as he doesn't reside on Earth, as an Asgardian God he can travel between worlds, so he doesn't need to create a secret alias for himself.
The motif is for them collectively, S.H.I.E.L.D's logo is an eagle encased in a circle.

At the start of the film, S.H.I.E.L.D's headquarters are destroyed by Loki, so Nick Fury uses an airship to be the base of his operations as it is unusual and more dynamic in the search for the Tesseract.
Although the Avengers have their own backstories, Marvel doesn't include these in this movie due to the fact that they all have their own premovie. However the exception to this rule is Hawkeye and the Black Widow as they have only appeared in small parts of the other films. But in the Avengers movie, small snippets of their past are slyly revealed. "You and I remember Budapest", Hawkeye refers to a possible battle where he and the Black Widow were both on different sides before she joined S.H.I.E.L.D as an agent.
Another one of the strong characters we see in the Avengers, is the clumsy yet fiercely loyal Phil Coulsen who ultimately becomes the archilles heel, as the Avengers are temporary unhinged as Loki murders Coulsen. Yet this backfires on Loki as Nick Fury uses this to his advantage to give the Avengers a final 'push' in working together.
Finally the Avengers each have their unique costume, in which they don for different purposes. For instance, Tony Stark has invented his own fascinating "iron" armor which has multiple function including; shooting 'bolts' of electricity out of his hand, the ability to fly, shoot missiles, send off flares, increased strength and also the ability for him to go underwater and into space still breathing!   

The film in itself is rated a 12a which you would think means that Marvel has aimed it's target audience for male teens, due to the fact that it contains the typical fight scenes, awe inspiring stunts and witty humour . Yet this film appealed to all ages, from the comic books buffs to secondary school teenagers, the kind of people who themselves "fangirls" and "fanboys" whether they are new to the franchise or spent several years obsessing over the Marvel comics. The thing they have in common is that they have spare time to sit down and read/watch any fictional character franchise (as opposed to soap operas which are more realistic like Eastenders).

There are many binary oppositions present in the trailer for this film. The most obvious one would be the fight between 'good' and 'evil' which can be symbolised as the team of Avengers fighting against Loki and the Chitauri. 

This film does reinforce gender stereotypes, with five out of the six main characters being male. However Natasha Romanoff  (the Black Widow) does challenge the gender stereotype as females of usual superhero films are seen as sweet, caring, and generally on the whole weak. Natasha does well to challenge this; she's sly, manipulative and cunning. Although she has no superpower as such (compared to Thor or Captain America), she's incredibly skilled as espionage agent earning her nickname "the Black Widow". 

This film seeks to entertain it's audience by firstly creating complex battle sequences to wow the audience (the big fight in New York). It also uses CGI to create a visual scene meaning that the audience can imagine the scene better for themselves (again especially with the New York battle scene to create a more realistic and indepth feel). Finally Marvel uses humour, especially from Tony Stark, to make the movie more memorable to the audience.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What are the conventions of the Superhero genre?

The word "Superhero" dates back to 1916 but it wasn't until 2009 where both Marvel and DC comics jointly registered "SUPER HEROES" as a trademark. 

A superhero is a person who is dedicated in order to protect the public from harm. They usually have a secret identity so the public cannot guess who they are, but whilst saving people from harm, they usually wear a costume and mask and have a signature trademark (such as a bat for Batman).

The Superhero genre itself does have several conventions including:
  • Having either extraordinary powers, equipment or skills - a wide selection of superpowers including flying, super strength, x-ray vision or even the unnatural animal powers (such as Spiderman's uncanny ability to climb walls and shoot webs out of the palms of his hands). However a person does not need superpowers to become a superhero. Instead they could have special items (such as Wolverine's claw or Capetian America's sheild). Or a superhero might not even have a special item, but may just be incredibly skilled (like the Black Widow for instance).
  • A Moral Code - when a superhero has a willingness to risk their safety for another person/group of people without having a reward. The code often means they won't kill or use lethal weapons against another person.
  • A Secret Identity - a superhero will almost always have a secret identity (like Superman's alias is Clark Kent) to help protect their close friends and family. The superhero will often have a confidant who they will have sworn them to secrecy.
  • Supporting Characters - a superhero may have a sidekick (for instance Batman and Robin) but this may become a complicated relationship due to the superhero's dual lifestyle.
  • Motif - A motif will be individual to a superhero and this will distinguish them from a different superhero. It can become their signature trademark and will often affect their lifestyle in some shape or form. 
  • Financial Support - often independent wealth (Batman or Iron Man) or having an occupation that requires minimal supervision (Clark Kent who is a reporter)
  • Headquarters - this is a place where a superhero (or sometimes the supervillian) can have their base of operations. Their headquarters are often disguised so they can avoid detection from the general public or even their enemies! The superheros will often deck out their headquarters with top of range/alien technology however for some superheros, they will not have a permanent headquarters but rather a mobile base of operations where they can store their costume, information etc.
  • Backstory - a backstory will often add depth to a superhero's personality and usually explains how the superhero got their powers (usually in a tragic/freak accident) or how they got spurred onto wanted to become a superhero.
  • Achilles Heel - this is also known as the superhero's specific weakness which is an important plot device which the supervillians use to unhinge the superhero.
  •  Rogues Gallery - the superhero has to normally fight a set of villians (known as rogues) on a regular basis. Often a superhero has an arch enemy who is more troublesome than the other criminals and will often be the doppelganger to the superhero's personality (e.g Batman is silent and dark whereas the Joker is flamboyant and garrulous).
  • Costume features - a superhero's costume automatically makes them more recognisable to the reader, and often the costumes are a specific colour set to make them more iconic. They also normally wear the following items:

  1. Masks to protect their secret identity.
  2. A symbol to make a superhero more distinguishable. 
  3. Form fitting clothing (often referred as spandex).
  4. Even pants over their tights.
  5. Interestingly enough, although capes are often associated with superheros, very few actually wear. As both Batman and Superman wear them, they were the most popular of the superheros and as a result, the cape quickly become associated with superheroes.
  • Role Playing Games (RPG's) - in RPG's, players often organised superheros into categories based  upon their skills and assets.