FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – GENERAL ZOD (I know, I know, we did it already)

ZodHey hey hey friends and foes, welcome back to another does of your weekly villainy.  Can you hear that? Can you? Mr. Anderson! That is the sound of regularity. OK fine, so it doesn’t sound like Agent Smith from The Matrix but it does sound like the posting schedule is working. And that is a good thing.

Today is Friday and that means it’s time for your Friday Night Fiend (Fiend Fiend Fiend…) Last week, we looked at the first of our previously Crooked-ized villains who had been rebooted and dove into the JJ Abrams version of Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness. This week, we hit the other dastardly do-over with Zod from Man of Steel awesomeness.

And I am biased. I LOVED this cat!

Well…loved is pretty strong. I LIKED him. A lot.

We’ve looked at Zod before. In the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman: The Movie and Superman II masterpieces, we are introduced to a Hammer pants and deep-V Zod played by a Pimp Named Slick Back AKA Terrance Stamp (if you watch the Boondocks, you know how funny that is). He’d been caught by the Kryptonians for the crimes of sedition, trapped in a couple hula hoops and sent off to live in a Romper Room pane of glass with this threat, “You will bow down before me! Both you, and one day, your heirs!” Not bad. He gave us some fantastic lines that I still use everyday like “Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” (my kids love it!) and, of course, “Kneel before Zod!”

But beyond the revenge thing, there really wasn’t more to Zod. He actually got bored in the movie. After he beat the cowboy shit out of Superman, what was the plan? Boom, one dimensional character.

Then they made Man of Steel.

This Zod was on some other shit. Entirely other shit. Not just world domination shit, but he was on a world-building, people-saving bent. The first time we saw Michael Shannon as Zod he walked in the door bucking people. Shutting down the studio. “On whose authority,” they said. “Mine.” Pew pew and people started to die. He killed a council member, launched a coup and killed Jor-El in 20 minutes—the first 20 minutes of the movie. He tried to kill a baby (Kal-El), spit on people, threatened Supes’ mama (twice) and when he said “I WILL FIND HIM!” you knew that MF was serious.

And then he found him. Best Hide And Seek Player EVER. Across the entire universe, Zod found his man, showed up and threatened a whole planet. Then, once he had Superman, he told him the truth, told him he was gonna kill 7 billion human beings, told Kal-El a) he better pick a side; and b) that he killed his daddy, and then threatened his mom for the second time. He had his folks tear up a small town then got busy terraforming planet Earth with this lovely little exchange:

Jor-El: You’re talking about genocide.

Zod: Yes. And I’m debating its merits with a ghost.

I mean, Damn. And when everything was lost, when he realized he didn’t have any people, Zod decided he was going to just kill every single person on Earth. By hand. He learned Supes’ powers, learned how to fly—he beat the shit out of Superman and made him commit the one atrocity that prevented Man of Steel from being a billion dollar movie.

As a character, Zod has always been an issue for Superman. I’ve kind of delineated his role in the comics already and I think this version strikes much closer to the original intent. Zod has always made Superman choose between being a Kryptonian or being a human—this was no different. What I loved was you actually saw Zod snap. Not that his terraforming-kill-the-humans plan wasn’t already fucked up; you actually saw him lose his rationale for everything he ever did. What started as an imperative to save the remains of his dying race—a noble sentiment for Zod—became full circle to a revenge story in the end. And you saw Zod lose his shit on screen.

It was awesome.

That’s my word! I’ll swing back on Tuesday for more crooked nonsense.

Out!

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – KHAN (Yes, Again)

Benedict-Cumberbatch-khan-changedSo I actually wrote this last night but the combination of the family being out of town (at Disneyland, leaving me behind with the Damn Dog) and walking into the Labor Day weekend, I completely forgot what day I was on.

Now before I bring up a new villain, I figured it’d be best to do some updates. You may or may not recall but I started this little villain shit by participating the A to Z Blog Challenge in April 2012. Since then, a couple of our marvelous miscreants have been rebooted in major motion pictures and that means they deserve a second look.

Let’s start with Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness:

The last time we saw Khan Noonien Singh, he was the feathered-banged, vest-but-no-shirt Ricardo Montalban in all his fine Corinthian leathery goodness. He’d stolen a Federation starship, put worms in Chekov’s ear, and killed Spock. And then blew himself up. But he was awesome to the end. He even gave us poetry.

But that was 1982.

You know how Hollywood machine works: people run out of ideas, someone says “Hey, you know what we could do? We should remake shit! How about Star Trek!” and the magic happens. But can you blame them? It’s been 31 years, William Shatner refuses to lose any weight, and special effects have now progressed to ridiculous levels. So they find a couple writers and a popular director with a penchant for lens flares and writing the longest, most confusing, unresolved show in the history of television. Recipe for success, right?

But the reboot proves successful and that means sequel. Actually that means trilogy. You know they have to throw Khan into the mix now, right? There is a formula to these movies, these trilogies. Can you see it? Trilogies are just larger renditions of the three-act structure we all know. You introduce the hero in movie one, give them their greatest challenge in movie two, and then the third movie really pushes them into a longer, more resolved trajectory. You can see it very clearly in the Dark Knight movies, the original Spiderman trilogy, the Star Wars movies (the good trilogy), even the first three Alien movies (we shall not speak of Alien: Resurrection—that piece of cinematic garbage is dead to us).

In terms of the rebooted Star Trek movies, we’re in the middle of the trilogy and that means a great challenge. And that means Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (say that three times fast). And don’t be fooled by that John Harrison bullshit—we all knew you were bringing Khan.

Anyway, this version of Khan is…okay. Kinda meh. He’s played well and there is a seething anger in his approach but he doesn’t do anything really fucked up and the things he does do, he’s wholly justified. The Khan in the original series and in Star Trek II is bent on revenge and Kirk’s death is his sole purpose. He’s horribly effective in this endeavor because he has no qualms about how he achieves his aims: there is no nobility or honor in his actions. This is revenge pure and simple.

Cumberbatch’s Khan is more the victim of blackmail. He’s doing what he has to do to protect the ones he loves. It’s a defensive posture to me, one fitting the unwilling accomplice than a major antagonist. He does, however, have this one fantastic exchange:

Khan: Because I am better.

Kirk: At what?

Khan: Everything.

And to his credit, he is. Whipping EVERYBODY’S ass! Spock, Kirk, about 47 Klingons, and he kicked the shit out of Carol Marcus’ leg. I’ll give him that. But in the end, this villain was just ok. He was, however, successful in breaking Kirk ALL THE WAY down, in a way the original could not, and I guess that makes him pretty impressive. An impressive Meh. I don’t know, maybe I should rewatch the movie.

As a side note, this movie cheats: the whole premise of the original reboot was that someone from the future came and changed historical events which meant an alternate reality for the folks who boldly go where no one has ever gone before. You’ve heard of those What If? stories, right? What if the Nazis won WWII? What if Kennedy hadn’t gotten shot? What if we decided against giving the Kardashians a tv show? This is a story like that. Fine, I can buy it. Opens up all new possibilities and a chance to tell old stories in new ways. Great! But then you can’t have new Spock calling up old Spock for info on new Khan. What the fuck is that? Since when did we get an interstellar time-travel cell phone? With FaceTime? Is that on the new iPhone 5S? Fucking Apple.

Next Friday, we will look at the all time Galactic Hide and Seek Champion: Zod!