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Sorting Out the “Glass” Menagerie

Glass!

Nick Fury, Professor X, and John McClane walk into a hospital…, or, if you prefer, John Shaft, Mr. Tumnus, and David Addison…

Sometimes I’m too persuadable for my own good.

I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable in theaters way back in 2000, thought it had intriguing concepts and believable use of a comics-fandom backdrop, but I lost patience with its plodding, lugubrious tone (years before The Walking Dead and Marvel’s Netflix shows made snail-speed pretentiousness an acceptable norm) as well as the Dragnet-esque text-only ending that cheated the viewer out of any earned closure. Cutting a story short after the final twist worked well for Rod Serling, but not so much for other writers.

I saw Shyamalan’s Split in 2017 when word-of-mouth suggested we could call it a comeback, but it lost me with its To Be Continued ending that recast the otherwise taut thriller as the second chapter in Shyamalan’s very own superhero universe.

That brings us to the final act of the trilogy, Glass. I’ve skipped several Shyamalan films, but curiosity got the best of me. Was there a remote chance it would tie together the threads of the first two films with some sense of thematic satisfaction and retroactively redeem them, or at least provide a better sense of closure? Dare I hope?

Yep, I dared.

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

mary poppins returns!

Off we go!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2018 I made 24 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom twelve. And now, the countdown concludes with the twelve most relatively awesome:

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

pacific rim uprising!

We live in topsy-turvy times when Transformers don’t star in the worst robot film of the year.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Aquaman” End Credits

Aquaman!

I’m sure this same image was used on hundreds of reviews. I can’t help staring at it because I can’t believe movie magic somehow made this decades-old relic of a costume work.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Aquaman “The Most Entertaining DC Comics Film Since Wonder Woman!” Also, “The Best Screen version of Aquaman Ever!” Also also, “The Greatest Film with Patrick Wilson in it of All Time!” although my son insists I really need to see Hard Candy at some point. Until I do, Aquaman beats Hard Candy.

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Yes, There’s a Scene after the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” End Credits

Spider-Verse!

Introducing: Spider Squad Six!

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse one of The Year’s Best Films!

So…there’s that. But I can’t simply post a screen shot of Ralphie’s teacher from A Christmas Story writing “A++++++++++” on her chalkboard and be done with it, because we know that’s not how I roll.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Venom” End Credits

Venom!

For attending on opening weekend, our local theater gave us a free comic! It’s an adaptation of several random scenes, at least two of which differ from the finished film. Spoilers for anyone who peeks inside before the movie starts.

The character of Venom may not mean quite so much to you if you haven’t been a Marvel Comics collector within the past thirty years, or if you saw Spider-Man 3 and hold a grudge against Topher Grace and Sam Raimi to this day. When first introduced on the printed page, Venom was a team-up of two of Spider-Man’s enemies: Eddie Brock, a bitter workplace rival of Peter Parker’s who got fired and blamed him for it; and Spidey’s former black costume, which was actually an immoral liquid alien parasite that Mr. Fantastic had to help him escape. Venom was the perfect anti-Spider-Man — he all the same powers, the spiffy black design, all of Peter’s memories which the alien had absorbed, and the ability to sneak-attack Spidey without setting off his Spider-Sense. I was 16 at the time and thought Venom was a great idea for a nemesis…one among many nemeses, mind you.

Unfortunately in the ’90s, whenever fans liked any one character a lot, Marvel editors and/or executives would then decree that character must appear in as many comics as possible. Characters such as Wolverine, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider were each given two or three series to their name and/or dropped into other heroes’ titles as special guest stars, constantly and gratuitously. Sometimes it worked and sales spiked with every appearance, until the mid-’90s when their sins finally caught up with them and they knocked off the guest-star oversaturation for a while.

Among those Fan Favorites du Jour in the ’90s was Venom. One problem: he was a most heinous villain with a body count. Homicidal maniacs can be protagonists, but that’s a tough premise to weave into four to six comics per month. Marvel therefore tried reinventing him as an antihero and hoping the other Marvel heroes would forgive and forget, and not try to arrest or kill him four to six time per month. I never loved Venom that much, especially after he began spawning imitative spin-offs like Carnage, Riot, Toxin, Hybrid, Scream, and several more my son could name but I can’t because I never cared. Unless that was all of them. I wouldn’t know. I quit reading the various Spider-titles shortly before all those Venomettes hit the stage and spread the Venom plague.

I’ve run across Venom at random times since then (loved Rick Remender’s version starring Flash Thompson; had no strong feelings about Ultimate Venom) but don’t go out of my way for him. So why did I bother giving a Venom movie any attention? Because I was curious to see if Tom Hardy could sift gold from dross, because I really liked director Ruben Fleischer’s horror-comedy Zombieland, and because my son has been a Venom fan since he was a kid. The occasional father/son outing is a good thing, and we had fun trying to sort out this mess together afterward.

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