Plight of the Moronic Savant (or Why DC Comics Shouldn’t Try to be Perfect…Just Interesting)

There’s a recurring theme in modern fiction of the secretly talented jerk. You know the type: not really idiot savants–who exhibit brilliance despite disability–these cats usually choose and wear their yokes because they just don’t care. They’re the James T. Kirks, the Good Will Huntings, the Fresh Princes of Bel-Air. They’re the gifted slacker, the moronic savant just waiting to figure it out. They’re stuck in dire circumstances spiraled out of control (but not really), because the Man is hateful and the Man just don’t care.

All they need is that little nudge, and suddenly the Matrix makes perfect sense. 0100101110…whoaaaa, there is no spoon!!

We all love this archetype because we all believe we exemplify it. It’s our way of reconciling failure when nothing else makes sense: It’s the American Dream stopped short by societal interference, the American Dream reached by divine intervention.

And if there’s one place this archetype has legs, it’s in comic book fandom.

Anyone who know me or read this blog knows I’m a comic book geek. i love the costumes and the powers, the melodrama and its hidden subtext, the power fantasy and sexual politics. And that’s just superheroes, never mind the menagerie of other genres that grace the page of this underrated art form.

But most of all I love the culture: the theatre of the absurd. Oh, my friends, you’ll not find larger stage for rationalized lunacy. It’s catnip for the cerebellum.

And there’s no better show, no bigger musical production than anything involving DC comics or, alternatively, the DC movie universe.

Just to give you a sample of the weekend:

Late Friday came the news that Tom Hiddleston, best known for portraying Loki for rival Disney/Marvel Studios, might be the running to play Joker (or some vague other role) for WB/DC’s new Justice League franchise. Maybe. Perhaps.

Ridiculous, I know, considering how ruthlessly vise-like Disney is with Marvel properties at the moment, going so far as to kibosh FF/X-Men toy distribution and firing quirky creative types for even the slightest hint of defiance.

No, Hiddleston wasn’t gonna happen, but comic book culture has its own worldview and its own logic in step with A Clockwork Orange if, y’know, you replace candy and cigarettes with cheap body spray and meth.

So instead of ending ignoring a rumor that has little chance to be true, the conversation quickly morphed to accusations of DC hating the very characters it’s investing millions of dollars to rush to the big screen, (psychic) admonishments of the plot of a Batman/Superman movie that’s a year from even being released, finger pointing at how DC is trying to ape Marvel but not doing enough to copy Marvel’s success, and mourning of the lack of Shakespearean acting chops Ben Affleck possesses as he prepares to play the goddamn Batman.

Oh, and Marvel because…whatever.

So, in recap:

1. DC casting rumor
2. rampant speculation
3.confusion and outrage that spreads to tangential and often unrelated issues
4. non-sequitur comparison to Marvel and illogical rumblings about talking raccoons *grumble grumble* talking trees *grumble grumble* DC hates women, kids, puppies *NERD RAGE*

In other words, a typical DC Entertainment discussion.

But no, this isn’t about Marvel, and I’m not here to defend DC or Warner Bros. Woe be the fool to do so in these turbulent end-of-days. They’ve made dumb decisions, then dumber decisions, then even dumberer decisions of the taint-scratch-sniff-and-lick variety. Too many to go even name. I mean, crazy gimmicks, screwing retailers, creator unrest, borderline misogyny (although I refuse to point the finger solely at them for that), and some generally prickish behavior.

But there’s a reason they’re talked about so much among the nerd-erati. No, it’s not just schadenfreude. I think it’s the fact that they have the brightest, coolest–and yes, you sometimes insufferable Zombies–best heroes in the market, and we’re waiting for that spark of inspiration, that nudge of genius, that will light DC’s fire and give us the heroes we need, not just the heroes we deserve.

DC is the moronic savant we’re waiting to watch figure it out.

And, for all of their faults, DC is in a interesting place right now. On the surface, they can do nothing right. The New 52 is underwhelming. The superhero movieverse is in its stalled infancy. Any every minute mistake is constantly magnified, unlike St. Marvel with goodwill oozing out its sphincter from a string of fun, ultimately insubstantial, movies, so much so that it can shit on directors, fire actors, ignore creative contributions, and just be general jerks about everything with fandom ready to merely say. ”Oh, I’m sure it was for the best, dearie.”

But this isn’t about Marvel.

Unlike what some Facebook soundbytes might suggest, DC/WB isn’t afraid of looking foolish (I mean, these are the same people who made the Catwoman movie, Birds of Prety tv show, and pimped GL’s ridiculous CGI costume for months on end).

What they need to do is embrace that foolishness and turn it into something interesting.

There’s an advantage to being rough around the edges, of being so defected it’s become the default. Perfect diamonds might be nice to find, but the real value comes with a few well-placed flaws.

DC, and specifically the DC movieverse, is in the ideal place to not only be the moronic savant who figures it out, but to be interesting while doing it. Not every script needs to be ideal, not every character appearance well-placed, not every beat perfectly timed.

Continuity doesn’t have to always make sense.

Not everything needs to be connected.

There’s room for imperfection, There’s a place for the off-kilter bits, the strains in the wood that give furnishings character.

DC doesn’t have to be Marvel Studios, where there’s always a plan, where everything has to intricately connected, where one–just one–random pebble in the gears sends the entire machine out of whack. Let Marvel be Marvel, where the movie-making process increasingly resembles the safety of the Disney Princess-era in the 90s rather than the risk-taking verve of the Marvel bullpen era in the 60s.

DC, you be you. You do you. Don’t try to be perfect, just strive to be interesting. Perfection is Marvel’s area. Let them kill themselves trying to maintain it.

But this isn’t about Marvel.

But then again, isn’t it always?


About lacolem1

I'm a first-year Physics graduate student who spends his long drives from Mississippi to Texas thinking of new ideas and writing/enacting stories and publishable content in his head. I've been a comic book geek since I was 12, an internet philosopher since 18, and a wannabe media inventor since five minutes in the future. I love the beauty of short form fiction a la Maupassant, the ticklish excitement of flowery prose a la Bradbury, and the strict directness of blunt imagery a la Hemingway. Alas, this is countered by my love for bad black-and-white sci-fi from the 50s, bad Benetar-esque pop music from the 80s, and Bridezillas and the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I'd like to think I have a natural talent for words and storytelling, but I guess it's up to you guys to decide
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