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Author Topic: Why Marvel is Destroying America: Taught by Professor Tutweiller  (Read 1982 times)

Diego Tutweiller

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Why Marvel is Destroying America: Taught by Professor Tutweiller
« on: September 05, 2016, 02:43:35 am »
Alright you little shits, take your seats. Whether you signed up for this class at Tut University or not, you're going to have to suffer through it. It's $50 a class, so let's get those wallets out, eh? Chop-chop! My time is valuable to me!

The required reading for this course is John Tyler's Spider-Man 3 Review ($335, hardbound). I expect you will all have a copy in your possession by Friday, or else you will automatically fail the class. You must bring this textbook to class every day. Tut University is not responsible for any spinal injury resulting from carrying the review in your backpack. Also, make sure you get the 9th edition, with John's fully updated opinion on the movie. No, the 8th will not suffice. The review changes every six months or so.

With that out of the way, let's begin.

Lesson #1: The Humor of Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a literary/comedic device in which two different things are combined or compared, with a contrasting result. A fine example of this is the scene in The Big Lebowski in which The Dude wanders into the wealthy Jeff Lebowski's home. The subsequent face-off between a hippie slacker and the tightly-wound "Big" Lebowski is the source of much of the scene's humor.

But here's the thing. Juxtaposition is a very surface-level form of humor. It usually functions best as the setup for the joke, not as the joke itself. When utilizing juxtaposition in a film, you need something else going on. Something subtler. In The Big Lebowski, the scene I referenced just now is funny mainly due to the dialogue between the two characters, as well as Jeff Bridges' impeccable mannerisms and inflection. The dialogue flows naturally, one funny comment leads to another, and before you know it the movie has built a hilarious series of jokes off of a simple premise.

Now compare that to this.



We can't all be The Big Lebowski, that's for sure. I certainly don't hold every comedy film to that standard. But (call me crazy) pretty much any line would have worked more or less the same for this scene in Deadpool. The humor here-- the shallow, shallow humor-- derives from the fact that this superhero is saying something you wouldn't typically expect him to say in this scene.

That's it. That's the joke.

Why not "Did I forget to feed the cat?" How about "Damn, did I just lose my keys?" Plug in any run-of-the-mill mundane activity to that joke, and you'll have essentially the same result. This is not intelligent screenwriting, people. There is no setup and payoff to this joke. It represents everything awful about Marvel's tenuous grasp on the concept of "humor." It is just a single, stupid line, meaningless, pointless, devoid of any creativity, and given the green light because Marvel knows they're making movies for idiots. Needless to say, this doesn't hold a candle to The Big Lebowski (few things do), but on a broader scale, it's insulting to discerning viewers, and it's insulting to screenwriters who actually take the time to set up well-crafted jokes. Sometimes writers put thought into their humor. Shocking, I know. Anyway, let's look at another example, because Deadpool is certainly not the only culprit here.



Ah, yes. One of the worst lines of dialogue from one of the worst films of all time. This line was written with one audience in mind, folks-- halfwits from Tumblr like Dom Cobb who would instantly turn it into a meme. If you're starting to notice a trend developing here, then good for you for seeing the light. Marvel relies heavily on the humor of juxtaposition in their movies-- far too heavily for it to be successful every time. This particular scene in Thor is apparently funny because a Norse god is sitting in a coffee shop somewhere in rural America. Again, that's all the joke is. No setup. No payoff. Just the antics of a Marvel character being stuck in an unusual situation.

"But Professor Tutweiller," you say, "That can't be right. All of Marvel's movies can't rely solely on juxtaposing kooky characters in contrasting situations!"

Or can they?



Oh wait...



Uh... yeah...



You see now what I'm getting at. Screenwriting 101, ladies and gents. Don't talk down to your audience. But Marvel does that in spades. And why wouldn't they? They have no reason to shake up the formula now. Take a funny character and put him in a serious situation. Take a serious character and put him in a funny situation. Take funny and serious characters and mix them together to see what crazy, hilarious things they'll say to one another! Oh, Marvel! What a wacky, crazy, silly goofball bunch of contrasting characters you've created!

On a very basic level, these films are the embodiment of laziness.

Class dismissed. We shall reconvene soon. Homework: Read chapter one of John Tyler's Spider-Man 3 review (pages 1-65 in your textbooks) and write a two-page analysis of it. I'll collect it on Tuesday.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 11:49:33 am by Diego Tutweiller »

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Suspect #1

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I can't be here on Tuesday.  I...uh...am gonna have malaria by that day.
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Caleb Paasche

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Huh, interesting analysis. I'd argue though that most of Marvel's humor is basically one-liners (generally given to us by Ironman) but there's certainly truth to what you're saying. However, I'd also say there's an intrinsic difference between the two examples you used- the scene in Deadpool relies on him saying something the audience doesn't expect, whereas the humor in the Thor scene is predicated on him doing something out of place in a real life scenario that the characters in the scene don't think he'll do. May seem like a small thing but I think it's a relevant distinction.
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John Tyler

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The one thing about humor is that it's completely subjective. You may find something funny that I personally don't and I may find something funny that you personally don't. Deadpool and the MCU certainly fall into the latter category. I could explain why that is, but if I did, I would be plagiarizing Paasche and I'd be resurrecting pathetic days that I've given up on.

John Tyler

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The humor in the Thor scene is predicated on him doing something out of place in a real life scenario that the characters in the scene don't think he'll do.
There's also Thor trying to get used to his new, unfamiliar surroundings, seeing as he's in a certainly familiar fish out of water scenario, and that adds to the humor in the scene.

Cutler de Chateau

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Just teach us what's on the test.

Diego Tutweiller

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Huh, interesting analysis. I'd argue though that most of Marvel's humor is basically one-liners (generally given to us by Ironman) but there's certainly truth to what you're saying. However, I'd also say there's an intrinsic difference between the two examples you used- the scene in Deadpool relies on him saying something the audience doesn't expect, whereas the humor in the Thor scene is predicated on him doing something out of place in a real life scenario that the characters in the scene don't think he'll do. May seem like a small thing but I think it's a relevant distinction.

Raynor seemed curious as to why he couldn't remember specific jokes from Deadpool, so I thought I'd lead off with this. The jokes are not memorable because they do not come naturally from the dialogue or the situations. They're non-sequiturs. And while there is a slight distinction you can make between these two examples, I think it's somewhat negligible. Regardless of the way the characters in the scene are reacting, the humor still comes from a similar place, and it's the audience's reaction that counts at the end of the day. This is a major reason why these films are funny in the moment, but once you leave the theater, you start to realize you've been had. Humor may be subjective, but I know lazy writing when I see it.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 01:10:51 pm by Diego Tutweiller »

Diego Tutweiller

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The humor in the Thor scene is predicated on him doing something out of place in a real life scenario that the characters in the scene don't think he'll do.
There's also Thor trying to get used to his new, unfamiliar surroundings, seeing as he's in a certainly familiar fish out of water scenario, and that adds to the humor in the scene.

Pssssssst... juxtaposition...

Robert Neville

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Wait, is that literally all there was to that stove line? I mean, I haven't bothered to watch the film, but I thought he at least had the decency to say it after something big had blown up, or something. Yeah...

Btw, Diego will probably be pleased to hear that my friends in the academy generally dislike Marvel, including Deadpool, and one hates them all with a passion (though he's also strongly pro-LOTR, and we had a relatively heated argument over merits of Hobbit movies relative to the first Narnia.) They also all disliked the Farce Awakens, which actually seems to be the general sentiment in Russia. Notably, my brother also disliked both Force Awakens and especially Deadpool, which is somewhat weird, as that means he puts them below Independence Day: Resurgence, first Now You See Me, and Suicide Squad, among others.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 02:16:36 pm by Robert Neville »

Robert Neville

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I think you should also note that Thor 2 generally had very little of this type of humour from what I remember, and its jokes generally had context, yet it's usually considered to be worse than the first one (which I still haven't bothered to see, and so can't reasonably compare.)

J. Kashmir

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I think you should also note that Thor 2 generally had very little of this type of humour from what I remember, and its jokes generally had context, yet it's usually considered to be worse than the first one (which I still haven't bothered to see, and so can't reasonably compare.)
I don't remember much from either, but I think the reason Thor 2 is regarded as worse is due to its almost non-existent villain and a generally stakeless, uninspired plot.

Yeah, the first one might have those too (I don't intend on rewatching many of these superhero movies for a while), but The Dark World has them to a more notable degree, I would assume.

Robert Neville

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I think you should also note that Thor 2 generally had very little of this type of humour from what I remember, and its jokes generally had context, yet it's usually considered to be worse than the first one (which I still haven't bothered to see, and so can't reasonably compare.)
I don't remember much from either, but I think the reason Thor 2 is regarded as worse is due to its almost non-existent villain and a generally stakeless, uninspired plot.

Yeah, the first one might have those too (I don't intend on rewatching many of these superhero movies for a while), but The Dark World has them to a more notable degree, I would assume.

Honestly, I think those are mainly the problems if you had any particular investment in it and such. I didn't, and so to me, it kinda hovers at 5 or 6, because to me, at least, the bad parts often came across as so bad, it's good. I was always smiling whenever the film tried to claim that purple swirly bullshit thing could wipe out the whole universe (or whatever it was supposed to do), for instance, and the bit that I remember the most was actually a minor one where Heimdall, I think, says that he can't see Jane even though he watches over everybody in the whole Nine Realms. I thought it was really funny because of how badly this clashed with the general anti spy agency, anti-surveillance themes of other Marvel movies. The half-insane scientist guy was also a highlight.

Diego Tutweiller

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Wait, is that literally all there was to that stove line? I mean, I haven't bothered to watch the film, but I thought he at least had the decency to say it after something big had blown up, or something. Yeah...

It's quite shocking, isn't it? And you know, if that line had come after a big explosion, that might have been funnier. Maybe you should write for Marvel, Neville.

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Diego Tutweiller

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Students, assemble! Are you ready for another wonderful lesson at the Tutweiller Institute of Higher Learning? No? Well, deal with it! You're here whether you like it or not!

Lesson #2: "Acting."

Alright, look. I'm not a moron (at least I don't think I am). I don't expect superhero movies to feature tour de forces of acting. If these kinds of films can reduce an actor like Marlon Brando to a half-drunk talking crystal, my expectations will be sufficiently lowered. All I'm looking for in a superhero movie when it comes to acting is general competence, and the ability to make laughable dialogue like "I work alone" and "[Name of villain] is putting the [McGuffin plot device] in the blue laser beam" sound natural. Sometimes, this is asking a lot. But you know what? A lot of the time, the actors succeed in doing this. Sometimes there's even a standout performance, like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. If you asked me what my first complaint was with any given Marvel movie, the acting would not likely be at the top of the list.

But this class isn't "Why Marvel movies are bad." This class is called "Why Marvel is Destroying America." So when I see performances like Chris Evans' turn as Captain America in Civil War being lauded by moviegoers and critics, I start to get a little annoyed. In any Avengers movie, the lead performances can be characterized as serviceable at best. At worst, they're a bunch of overpaid Hollywood actors/actresses with big pecs and boobs (respectively) who phone it in at every turn, collect a paycheck, and flash toothy smiles at Comic-Con panels.

You do not want to know how many times I've asked people who their favorite actors are and they've responded with "Robert Downey Jr," "Chris Hemsworth," or "Scarlett Johansson." And when asked which movies they like these actors from, well, let me just say that nobody responds with Chaplin, Rush, and Lost in Translation. People like these actors because they know their faces and they know their names. They see them all the time on billboards and magazine covers. They pay attention to their personal lives. And none of this would be happening if it weren't for the exposure these actors get from Marvel movies.

At some point, we crossed the line between actual acting and filming rich, attractive people party onscreen for our amusement. And I think that line was somewhere around Avengers: Age of Ultron, when we were treated to an elaborate cocktail party the characters threw in their little superhero penthouse.



I hate to make the comparison, but it's the Adam Sandler/Grown Ups conundrum. Watching actors have a good time doesn't always translate into the audience having a good time too. But the Avengers movies seem to have successfully conned people in this regard. It's like watching an episode of Friends.  Maybe there are a couple of laughs. Maybe the performances aren't terrible. But the Avengers films, just like Friends, have a major problem. The characters are shallow. Sorry, it's true. No amount of artistically bankrupt banter and clinking champagne glasses will cure the movie of this.

You want to know why Marvel is destroying America? It's the same reason why the Kardashians are. If you ever get the feeling that religion is dying off, think again-- it's being replaced by a completely different cult. The cult of celebrity.

Now, I'm writing this for you guys. The Oasis users. I don't feel the need to explain to you that Chris Evans is no Jimmy Stewart. If this was a conversation with Dom Cobb, I might go more in-depth here. But let's leave it at this-- even though I like RDJ, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and many other actors and actresses who have appeared in Marvel's films, you simply cannot hold these performances up as some sort of pinnacle of acting. Some of these people have turned in good performances outside of Marvel, but the ones who haven't are likely not very good actors (looking at you, Hemsworth). Portraying an action figure and portraying a human being are two entirely different things. And you'd be surprised by how many people don't understand that.

So when people call Tom Hiddleston a "great actor," just ignore everything else they say. They are dullards. Their experience with movies amounts to watching the six or so superhero films that come out every year. Yes, my friends-- Marvel is destroying America. Because when my generation-- the Dom Cobb generation-- grows up and fills the positions of film critics and Academy members, I guarantee you that it won't be long before The Avengers ends up on AFI's Top 100 List. And what a dark, dark day that will be.

And this isn't to say that there aren't some truly godawful performances in these movies... we'll get to that later.

Class dismissed. Remember, books by Friday, homework a week from tomorrow.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 09:50:52 pm by Diego Tutweiller »
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Danny Darkoh

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Question...

Why isn't this class called, "Why DC is Destroying America"?

Don't you hate more DC films than Marvel?

J. Kashmir

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Question...

Why isn't this class called, "Why DC is Destroying America"?

Don't you hate more DC films than Marvel?
Marvel has the critical and financial edge, and presents more of a threat in terms of indoctrinating the sheeple. Opinions on DC films are split down the middle.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 10:22:16 pm by J. Kashmir »
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Cutler de Chateau

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Question...

Why isn't this class called, "Why DC is Destroying America"?

Don't you hate more DC films than Marvel?
Marvel has the critical and financial edge, and presents more of a threat in terms of indoctrinating the sheeple. Opinions on DC films are.split.down the middle.

Your mom was split down the middle last night.


Diego Tutweiller

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Question...

Why isn't this class called, "Why DC is Destroying America"?

Don't you hate more DC films than Marvel?

Kashmir has it right. Besides, for me to say DC is destroying America, I would have to take it seriously. To discuss DC's impact on pop culture requires believing that it has had an impact in the first place.

Cutler de Chateau

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This class is pointless.  If you want a quality education, join the Cutler Institute of Phallic Imagery today.



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