The ever amazing Alex Yi has worked up a fun sketch reminiscent of old Marvel Vs. Capcom video games. I’m looking forward to seeing this one again. Full of twists and turns and a classic Spider-Man villain ripped perfectly from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. There is no question in my mind that Tom Holland is perfect embodiment of Spider-Man/Peter Parker and here’s hoping he has as long a run as Hugh Jackman did with Wolverine in the X-Men Franchise.
Ok, so I know there are about a billion and one reviews on the film and just as many theories floating around. I just walked out of my second viewing of the movie and I did have a few things to ponder, 5 questions really with some possible thoughts on the answers. Even though JJ Abrams and company decided to torpedo the canon books after Return of the Jedi I think a good chunk of those ideas are still here and I can't really tell if he's trying to pay some kind of uber fan service or if it's just destiny. I mean that is kind of how the force works anyway. So here are my questions with some educated guesses on the answers there will be spoilers below so be warned:
Who is Rey and how is she able to do what she does without training? There are so many questions swirling around Rey and Director JJ Abrams doesn't make it any easier with his familial implications throughout the film. Take into consideration her skill in machinery and knowledge of the Falcon just like Papa Solo. I mean she was finishing his sentences, it seemed pretty cut and dry to me. Leia also seems to at least have an idea of who she is, she doesn't treat her like a complete stranger, but in the end if it were her child I can't imagine why at the end she wouldn't have just said so. They were all very clear about their bad boy son Kylo Ren so if Rey was their daughter we would and should already know that by now. There is also the rumor running around that she is Ben Kenobi's grandchild. Again people are grabbing at this because both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness have a few lines during her dream sequence with the lightsaber. But I don't think that's enough for her to be Ben's grandchild we never even established he might have had someone on the side all this time. It's clever but would require too much explanation.
Rey touches the lightsaber and has very clear force powers which Maz Kanata's character deeply implies she may be Luke's kid. She basically says to her that the Force is strong in Luke's family and it was Vader's lightsaber then Luke's and now it's hers. Not much of a stretch there. Also when Rey has her vision she is clearly tapping into her own memories of when she was left on Jakku and her short time at the Jedi Temple when Kylo Ren and his knights of Ren wrecked the place killing the new Jedi. She's got some gaps in her memory and needs them to be filled. I personally think she has some Jedi training buried in there which allows her to do what she can do. Also I think going further on the thought that she is Luke's offspring I think the mother must also be a Jedi which makes her even more one with the force. In the former canon books Luke marries and has a child with another Jedi, Mara Jade. Could Mara still show up in this re-invented universe? I kind of hope so.
Is Kylo Ren truly evil? Is he, as some Star Wars fans have theorized, a mole in the First Order playing the system to get to Leader Snoke? There will be spoilers especially here so don't say I didn't warn you! Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, to those in the know seems to be struggling mightily with his ability to stay on a dark path. This is an interesting proposition given that in the past the series has made it pretty clear that going to the dark side was pretty easy if you let it. Being on the light side is much harder work. But in the movie Ben seems to be having a much harder time with this then Vader, Darth Maul and the Emperor ever did. Also he kills his father Han Solo which would imply that he might be over all of that. I tend to think that this is something he is going to be outwardly struggling with no matter how deep down the dark path he goes. Which goes to the second part of my question.
There seems to be a lot of chatter about Kylo Ren being some kind of Snape (Harry Potter) type working the First Order from the inside to bring them down from within. Interesting theory and I thought about that a lot as I was watching it and honestly I just don't see it. We've seen his private moments we've seen his struggle, this is guy who idolizes his Grandfather in a pretty unhealthy way. Even Snoke knows his struggle as he recognizes it's hard for Kylo to face his family. I admit his conversation with Han before he killed him makes that scene even more interesting especially if that's what Han wants him to do but in the end I think it's a pretty big leap. Also this kid has some anger issues I would find it unlikely that someone with this many emotional problems could seriously keep his shit together long enough to fake being on the darkseid.
Who is Snoke? So there has been some interesting chatter on this one on the web and I actually really like both of them. One of the supposes that Snoke is a character named Darth Plagueis who is referenced in the third pre-quel film the Revenge of the Sith. In that film the soon-to-be Emperor Palpatine tells Annakin (Darth Vader) about what we can assume was his former master, Darth Plaguies who is able to bring people back from the dead. Palpatine says the apprentice killed Plaguies in a bit of irony as Plaguies couldn't bring himself back to life, or did he? It would be very interesting but for one Andy Serkis who plays Snoke in the movie shot that down directly. He also says that Snoke is a new character to the series which kind of puts a kibbosh on any of these other theories that have Snoke as the Grand Inquisitor or possibly my favorite that Snoke is the evil force ghost of....Darth Vader.
Honestly I really love this one and hope that there is something to this theory. The thought is that Darth Vader's soul splits into two and his good side shows up to Luke as a force ghost but this supposes his dark side also has a force ghost that is pure evil. You gotta admit his head dent is similar and I like the idea that you have an evil force ghost, hadn't seen one of those before. Even if it isn't Snoke it would be interesting to see Annakin and Vader as force ghosts helping their respective sides on the light or dark.
What is in store for Luke now? If he wasn't all messed up about what happened when his nephew went all rogue to kill his school of Jedi I can't imagine what he's going to do when he finds out the same nephew killed his best friend/brother-in-law. Is he gonna run further this time? Will he stay and fight? That is probably the most frustrating part of the movie as he doesn't really say since all we were left with at the end of the film is Rey and Luke staring at each other with her hand outstretched holding his old lightsaber. Infuriating I know!
My personal favorite theory is that he didn't run at all he's been devising a plan in secret. Rather than run and hide with his tail between his legs like Yoda and Obi Wan only to resurface years later, I think he's been building up for a fight against Snoke and his nephew. I think when he found the secret temple he's been training a whole new batch of Jedi. If there is one thing I'm waiting to see in a full Star Wars movie, Jedi's fighting a bunch of Sith warriors. This would be epic and insane with this many force users going at it at once. This needs to happen Rian Johnson, make it so.
Is there more to Finn then we realize? There hasn't been as much chatter about Finn as there has been about some of the others but I'm going to go through and pretty much discount that he is Lando's kid. That just would be really stupid at this point. I personally like the idea that Finn may have some latent force powers but he may need a certain Jedi Master to coax them out. Not everybody with force powers has them in the start look at Luke himself. He doesn't really feel much of anything until the end of the first movie maybe when Finn fought Kylo Ren with the lightsaber they were starting to come through which would explain why he would be able to go toe to toe with him.
I also like the idea that his former Storm Trooper team is gunning for him hard for his traitorous ways. Things have finally begun to trickle out about them. The one at the beginning of the film that gets blood on Finn is nicknamed Slip and he was supposedly Finn's friend and the shock of his death jarred his brain to override the conditioning the First Order grilled into him. Clearly it happens since later they ask if he needs to be re-conditioned after his superiors notice his difficulty in following orders. Then we meet what seems to be everyone's fan favorite TR-8R, he's the badass Stormtrooper with the stun baton that yells out traitor at Finn. It looks like that guy was cut short by Han Solo but it's possible ever so slightly that he's still around. He's gonna want some payback on Finn big time. Perhaps they put a bounty on his head. That would be an interesting problem for Finn to have to deal with on top of the First Order.
Bonus: Remembering Han Solo may he rest in peace: His death was unfortunately very predictable but it is in keeping with the character. If you've seen the original trilogy enough times the irony of his predictable death was probably too good to pass up. Han thrives on being unpredictable and thinking on his feet. Think secret compartments in Star Wars, an Asteroid Field in Empire Strikes Back and last minute Trojan Horse idea to get inside an Imperial bunker in Return of the Jedi. The moment Han stepped onto the Death Star planet for the Star Killer base you knew he was a marked man he was going to confront his son and he was going to die. Not to mention the heavy foreshadowing with Leia right before he left. It was destiny so the double irony here is that Han Solo who claimed his entire life is not guided by some mysterious force is indeed brought down by that very thing. Heavy. But I'll leave you with some of his most memorable quotes:
- Greedo: "I've been looking forward to this for a long time." Han: "Yes, I bet you have." BLAST! Han: "Sorry about the mess." - Star Wars: A New Hope
- "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops boy! Without precise calculations we'd fly right through a star, or bounce to close to a supernova and that'd end your trip will quick, wouldn't it." - Star Wars: A New Hope
- "Laugh it up Fuzzball." - Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
- "Never tell me the odds" - Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
- "You Like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life." - Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
- Han: "Chewie and me'll take care of this, you stay here." Luke: "Quietly, there may be more of them out there." Han: "Hey it's me!" - Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
- Finn: "We'll figure it out, we'll use the force!" Han: "That's not how the force works!" - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- "Women always figure out the truth. Always" - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Rey: "What are you going to do?" Han: "Same thing I always do, talk myself out of it." - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
One of my favorite writers of comics has to be Alan Moore: Watchman, V For Vendetta, From Hell, Batman: The Killing Joke and of course The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The man is certifiable, and his genius as a comic book writer is unparalleled. However, a filmmaker has yet to come along to properly translate his work to the screen. Not to say all film adaptations of Moore's work are bad; in fact, I like quite a few of them. They just have never been able to capture his particular quirks and tone very well. Moore, of course, will dislike anything any studio tries to do no matter what, but it would be great to have someone with some vision actually do it right.
As luck would have it, or if you are cynical, the money wheels at a studio started turning to try and actually remake this again. In May of this year Variety reported that Fox is remaking this with writer Jayson Rothwell. No cast or director has been named yet so I thought I'd take this opportunity to weigh in and give my thoughts on the matter. If you are listening, Fox, this may help you make a better movie than the Movie-That-Will-Not -Be-Named from 2003 and that subsequently ended Sean Connery's film career.
Now what would be our plot? This is also tricky as there are now about 15 issues from 1999 to the present, plus two graphic novels. There are about 8 or 9, depending on who's counting, members of the league that span from the 1600s and hops around every few centuries ending up in around 2009. The previous film tackled the first adventure and it's probably best to not be repeated. It involved The Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes', greatest villain Moriarty played by Richard Roxburgh - so I wouldn't suggest telling that story again. I also wouldn't suggest using the second story since it's basically a rehashed version of War of the Worlds which has been done to death over the years and would be difficult to put to film in my opinion. The real appeal of this property is the literary characters brought together in crisis much like the Avengers or Justice League but in Victorian London. Alan Moore said as much when asked to describe it. So I would say simply go with the original cast and possibly include Carnacki and Orlando and build on a crisis from that period, whether literary or historical. I personally would start with H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu since many of the monsters that appear is derived from Lovecraft. Combine the cult group in the 1910 volume that is focused on the Moon Stone. They bring forth a creature that the League must band together and destroy. Perhaps they can also explore a bit of the Blazing World run by Prospero (yep, of The Tempest), which is a surreal place not of this Earth. It could be confusing but intriguing.
DIRECTOR: This is going to be the hardest part of the entire production because I think that most directors would have a hard time with this subject matter. If you've ever read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you will realize that even though it follows a plot you may have seen before and has characters you know (if you read a lot of Victorian-era literature), it is unconventional in its approach. There is only one man who can make this film, Christopher Nolan. That's right, there aren't many mainstream director's who can dabble in difficult subject matter or genre and still make it palpable for mainstream audiences. If you can't get Nolan lets just be honest, it probably won't work. From Memento to Interstellar this guy has mastered the art of storytelling through cinema and he would make a very honest, kick ass, slightly fucked up version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that could possibly bring Alan Moore back into the cinematic fold. I would look to The Prestige, Inception, and the iconic Batman/Dark Knight trilogy. This guy understands the power of myth, he totally gets the period piece and he's extremely capable of creating a visual but complex world either in the real world or a dreamlike world, which is a large part of the League's overall story.