Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not Really What I Wanted

So I went to see Wanted this morning.
When I got to the theater, I randomly bumped into someone I used to know at AOL. I asked him if he was still there, and he said that no, he works for Microsoft now, and will be moving to Redmond next week.
Deciding that a hot dog was as good a breakfast as any I was likely to get at the theater, I headed over to the condiment stand.
In my life I’ve gotten, and continue to get, a lot of, well, I don’t know what to call it. Flack? Grief? Ribbing?
Whatever you want to call it, people generally make some sort of comment on some of my idiosyncrasies. The most notable is how quiet I am, as that’s probably my most prominent characteristic. Apparently failing to flap your gums 24x7 makes you enough of a freak that people feel the need to say something about it, since, unlike me, they feel the need to be constantly talking. The most common form this takes is people sarcastically saying something like, “Jeez, Jon, will you shut up already? You never stop talking!”
Ha ha ha ha…fuck you.
But whatever. I’m used to it.
The other thing I’ve had people comment on a lot is the way I carry myself. I don’t hear this one too much anymore, as it’s easier to change your posture than it is to change some innate part of your personality, or at least that’s how it is for me.
Anyway, people used to comment on how I always looked “guilty,” as I would walk in a slouch, with my head hanging down, and my eyes on the ground.
These days I’m much closer to the shoulders back, chest out, head held high ideal than I am to my old slouching ways.
Because of this, as I walked toward the condiment stand, head held high looking directly in front of me, that I didn’t notice that someone had spilled a large drink on the floor right by the condiment stand, and so I stepped heedlessly into a huge sticky puddle of some kind of piss-yellow soft drink. At least, I hope it was a soft drink.
The younger, downward-looking Jon, would have been able to avoid the mess.
As it was a very early matinee there weren’t very many people in the theater. I’d say that, at most, there were fifteen people in total. This meant that anyone coming in could choose to sit almost anywhere.
Naturally, to very large, very loud people decided that the best seats in the house were directly behind me. At least they didn’t talk a lot, but they managed to eat their candy and popcorn loud enough to make the Big Bang feel like a pussy in comparison.
Now, for my spoilery review of the movie itself.
It was okay.
It had some absolutely bat shit crazy action sequences in it that have raised the bar for bat shit crazy action sequences, and which will be endlessly copied in every action movie that follows for years to come (and will be spoofed in all of the parody movies that are churned out over the next 25 years).
The other significant aspect of the movie was that Angelina Jolie, as always, was unbearably hot, infusing raw sexuality into even the most mundane activities in the way that only Angelina Jolie can.
As for the plot…well, the movie is “based” on the 2004 comic book mini-series of the same name written by Mark Millar and illustrated by J.G. Jones.
I say “based” on the comic, as it was “based” on in inasmuch as both stories shared some common characters and, at least initially, a similar premise, but it soon veers off into a wildly different direction.
Let’s compare and contrast the plot synopses for each:

Wanted (The Movie): Wesley Gibson is a loser. He has a shitty job and a boring life. His girlfriend is fucking his best friend, and while he knows this, he lacks the spine to stand up and do anything about it. In short, he is a pathetic nobody, an insignificant, unimportant face in the crowd. However, he soon discovers that the father he never knew has been murdered, and was, in fact, a super-assassin working for a secret society of assassins, and now Wesley has been tapped to take his father’s place, learning that he’s special in a way that he could have never imagined. Now, as part of The Fraternity, the Assassins of Fate, Wesley uses his new-found abilities to help provide balance to the world, “killing one to save thousands,” and working to find the man who killed his father.

Wanted (The Comic): Wesley Gibson is a loser. He has a shitty job and a boring life. His girlfriend is fucking his best friend, and while he knows this, he lacks the spine to stand up and do anything about it. In short, he is a pathetic nobody, an insignificant, unimportant face in the crowd. However, he soon discovers that the father he never knew has been murdered, and was, in fact, a super-villain, a member of a cadre of evil that secretly runs the world. He further learns that the world is nothing like he believed it to be, as it was once populated with colorful heroes and villains, and was like something straight out of comic books. However, one day the villains, tired of constantly being defeated by the heroes, banded together and, in an apocalyptic battle, killed every last hero on the planet and seized control of the world, turning it into a much darker place. Through various means, the villains who now rule the world alter the memories of the entire population so that no one remembers that there were once costumed heroes and villains or that the world had once been a much brighter, happier, more exciting and colorful place. Taking on his father’s position within The Fraternity, the villains who rule the world, Wesley learns that he’s free to do whatever the fuck he wants, killing, raping, and pillaging with impunity, engaging in the most vile and depraved activities imaginable, simply because he can.

Notice anything different?
All of the comic book-related aspects were stripped away in the movie, and the characters were changed to make them more sympathetic – there’s nothing sympathetic about the characters in the comic – and the story, which, in its original form, was a biting commentary on every aspect of modern comic books, including the fans, the characters, the creators, and the publishers. Shorn of that context, Wanted the movie was nothing more than a standard action flick. Sure, it was a decent standard action flick, but it bore almost no resemblance to the material on which it was based.
If there was any “message” to the movie, it was one of empowerment, and taking control of your own life, and about how cool it is to be a bad ass. Sure, Wesley killed people, but he did it for a noble purpose, which made him at least somewhat admirable and very much unlike his comic book counterpart.
The best way to sum up the differences between the movie and the comic is to examine the movie’s final frame, and the last page of the comic.
In the final scene, we hear Wesley in a voice over talking about taking control of his own life, and as the camera zooms in on him, he turns to look at us and says, “What the fuck have you done lately?”
At the end of the comic, Wesley gives a speech to his companion, The Fox (based on Halle Berry in the comic, and played by Angelina in the movie) and says that what they’ve been doing is wrong, and that they should stop going around killing and raping as they please, and give control of the world back to the ordinary people who are like Wesley once was. The Fox considers his words and then says, “You’re just fucking with me here, right?” To which Wesley responds, “’course I’m fucking with you, bitch.”
Wesley then goes on to explain what pathetic assholes we all are as we live our ordinary, boring lives, with no idea of what the world is really like, and on the last page we are treated to this:

For those who don’t want to click on the image to read the text, it says, “This is my face while I’m fucking you in the ass.”

So, yeah. Just a little bit different.
Judged on its own merits, Wanted was a decent movie, and I enjoyed it. However, it totally missed the point of the comic, and by being tweaked to be more accessible to a general, non-comic fan audience, it lost a lot of its depth and its frankly disturbing appeal.
I will say that my one major complaint about the movie – apart from how it departed from the source material – is that, in the scenes in which we see just how pathetic Wesley’s life is, they stole my theme song!

I think the filmmakers were spying on me. And hey, even if she was a cheating whore, no matter how pathetic his life was, Wesley still had me beat in that he at least had a girlfriend.
I hadn’t had a chance to get to the comic shop before today –well, I had the chance but didn’t take it – so I decided to stop there on the way home from the movie. Naturally that’s when it decided to start raining. Hard.
Parking spot anywhere near the comic shop? What do you think?


Brian said...

Ha ha ha ha…fuck you

Merlin T Wizard said...

Yup, that's pretty much what the original comic was, one big F-off to the reader. It was pretty entertaining actually.