Friday, April 1, 2016

One point to ponder and another to excite you

I'd planned to write about one thing this week, but then I heard some news that gave me a second subject to talk about; and since the two happen to be tangentially related, I'm giving you both.

First, let's talk about a little movie coming out soon, which you might have heard about: X-Men: Age of Apocalypse. The most recent trailer and promotional images include several shots of Apocalypse's eyes turning white when he uses his powers. Now, if you've followed the X-Men comics for a while, you know that several mutants have white eyes - either permanently white, or just white when they use their powers (Storm seems to go both ways. Hah....Sorry.)

Now, I grew up reading DC comics instead of Marvel, and (as I've said many times) watching Superfriends and other Saturday morning cartoons that used white eyes to show that a person was under someone else's power rather than to show the person had special powers of their own. Then there's that drool-inducing scene in Big Trouble in Little China that I'm sure pushes all our buttons. With all that in my history, I'm much more inclined to connect white eyes with MC than with power.

But it's not that simple. Think about white-eyed zombies, again mindless and will-less; but then contrast them with video game characters whose eyes turn white when they use magic. The fact is that in fantasy and SF, white eyes can have one of two contradictory meanings. My guess is that the "white eyes=power" meme is newer and probably started with Marvel Comics, but that's just a guess; and figuring out the origin of the idea is less interesting than figuring out why someone came up with it. I like to imagine that he/she/they were already MC and/or white-eye fetishists who just couldn't get enough, so they decided to tack a second meaning onto the look just so they could include it in more comics. Maybe that's how it happened, and maybe it isn't. All I know is that I get almost as turned on by white eyes that symbolize power as I do by white eyes that symbolize MC.

And now on to my second, related topic, the one that I hope will excite you as much as it excites me - and I am very excited indeed. You probably know who Oscar Isaac is now that he's played Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, and of course that's him in the top photo playing Apocalypse. He also starred in Ex Machina, which I raved about back in January and which - stay with me here, because this is important  - was written and directed by Alex Garland. Garland is a genius and Oscar Isaac is this generation's Pacino, only with a geeky SF bent. And the two of them together are going to be working on the movie adaptation of Annihilation, a book I blogged about several times last year because it's the start of a trilogy that leans heavily on hypnosis and MC. The actual star of the movie is another highbrow actor-geek, Natalie Portman, but I'll wait until the next paragraph to tell you who Oscar Isaac is playing because it's a small spoiler and I want to give you a chance to back out if you want to stay spoiler-free. But I'll try not to say anything that you wouldn't see in the movie trailers, so I'd personally recommend you keep reading. This is going to be hot.

Okay, still with me? Natalie Portman is playing the biologist (None of the characters in this book have names), and she's one of four women who've been sent into what might possibly be alien-occupied territory in the Florida swamps called Area X. I wrote more about the setup in my previous posts, so I'll let you follow the link above if you need the details. But here's something I didn't tell you before. We find out somewhere near the middle of Annihilation that the biologist had a husband who was on the expedition prior to hers. He came back, but only sort of, and finding out what happened to him is one of her chief reasons for going there. You see, before hubby went into Area X, he was a brilliant, vibrant, and probably very sexy man. But the person who came back from Area X was just a shell: reminiscent of the man the biologist loved, but flattened and confused and just...not all there.

Well, Oscar Isaac is playing the biologist's husband, and Oscar is a brilliant, vibrant, sexy man. Seeing him go through that transformation will be simultaneously horrifying and hot as fuck. I'm going to be even more sexually confused about him than I am right now, and I have a ginormous straight crush on the guy (How could I not? Just look at him!). Watching him get turned into a zombie is going to throw me into system overload. Even now, I'm getting dizzy thinking about it.

So there you have it: Oscar Isaac and Natalie Portman in a SF/fantasy/horror movie with a strong MC element, written and directed by Alex Garland. It just doesn't get any better than this...until you add in Jennifer Jason Leigh as the psychologist! I'd never have thought of her for that role, but whoever did think of her was a genius. She's going to knock it out of the park. They all are. I can't wait for this movie to come out.


Silver Nerd said...

I read the plot of the entire novel on Wikipedia (a cheat, I know). Having an idea of everything that happens in the story, I really can't help but wonder if this Vandermeer cat is a total MC fetishist. I mean, it all sounds like MC fantasy. Maybe he even wrote it originally as a jerk off story and after getting to X number of pages figured, "Well, I only have to add so much more and I could pass this off as a novel to my publishers."

thrall said...

Vandermeer is certainly obsessed with MC, but I don't think he's a fetishist because he always makes it threatening rather than hot. Still, those scenes are a great read for us fetishists because we can *add* the hotness on our on! ;-)

Anyway, I've read several of his books and blogged about him a few times. He has a really unique imagination and is always worth a read. I don't blame you for using Wikipedia as a spoiler (I've done it plenty of times, myself), but don't let that stop you from reading the actual book or seeing the movie. I can be certain, even without reading the spoiler article, that it didn't capture the true creepiness of the story.

Fax Paladin said...

I strongly suspect that the whiteout eyes in comics, both as a symbol of power and of being MCed, simply comes from the early days when you couldn't rely on ultraprecise printing, and white eyes were simply easier to do and liable to introduce fewer complications in 4-color printing.

thrall said...

Well damn, that would be a disappointing explanation! But it would fit with all the old superheroes wearing masks and just having white spaces where their eyes should be.

Still, I'd like to think the real explanation is something kinkier. ;-)