Revisiting the Past: Geek Genres as Language
I’ve had a few discussion about Iron Man 3 lately, and it occurs to me that what I’ve been missing, what I haven’t quite put my finger on when it comes to what bothered me about the film, is something that goes back to an older post I made in this blog.
My wife is geeky, but she is never going to read comics or download them onto her tablet. She doesn’t mind the concepts, but to actually sit down and read sequential artistic storytelling just isn’t her thing. But she gets the ideas behind a lot of that storytelling.
So when we share something that should serve as a means of allowing us to share more of our “geek” language with each other, when a concept is not just less defined or has different details, but is defined as something else entirely, it intrudes upon something that I would rather we be able to share, on some level.
To use another translated property, if I have read that Magneto was a grown man during World War II that was already married, and my wife has seen in a movie that he was a child during WWII, both of us at least understand that being a Holocaust survivor plays a big part in what shapes the character and gives him depths.
If some other media comes along and says that Magneto is an alien robot pretending to be a mutant that is harvesting mutant brains for his alien masters . . . suddenly there is no commonality between what I know and what someone has seen in this new media expression.
Grant Morrison talks about IM3 in this link:
I understand what he’s saying about the next generation retelling stories, but I think Grant would agree that those stories usually have the same base elements. If they don’t, then they aren’t retelling the old stories, they are telling new stories inspired by elements of the old stories, and to use the same names is to create a confusing frame of reference.
But he hits upon another reason to have a commonality of “language” in different movies. I think that if someone were to be inclined to check out a concept’s “native” media, those new readers are probably more likely to stay and settle in for more stories if the elements they have been exposed to are actually similar to what they have already seen.