Sunday, November 16, 2014

Movies Are Dumber Than Comic Books

So I noticed something this morning. Movies are dumber than comic books.

Comic books have gained legitimacy in the public perception during the last thirty years, but we still have not shed the cultural inertia whereby the average person thinks comic books are for kids, but movies and television are just dandy. I've long found this fascinating, since the vast majority of TV shows are dumber than a bag of hammers: far less intellectually challenging than most comic books in terms of vocabulary, artistic effort and dramatic structure.

I'm thinking of this because of a few WTF moments in the movie "X-Men: Days of Future Past", all dealing with Magneto's powers. For those of you who don't know, Magneto is "The Master of Magnetism". He's a mutant, and his mutant power gives him the ability to create ridiculously powerful and precisely modulated magnetic fields.

So there's this scene where Magneto levitates some steel railroad tracks, shreds them into fine wires, and insinuates them into the innards of some giant anti-mutant robots that are being transported by train, because comic books. At this point, I was all "Cool! The robots were made out of non-ferrous materials (Don't ask. Comic books, remember.) so that he can't control them, but he's going to get around that by lacing them with metal so that he can puppet them."

But then the wires snake all the way into the heart of one of the robots, and... connect to the processor. And the processor lights up, and the robot's eyes light up.


Magneto controls magnetism. He's not a damned IT savant. Even if he could produce an electrical current in the wires (Yeah, it's actually not impossible; electrical fields induce magnetic fields, and vice versa, so you could produce precisely modulated electrical signals with precisely modulated magnetic fields) but Magneto doesn't know how to talk to computers. There's a big damn difference between controlling magnetism and... and... being freakin' C-3PO.

Later in the movie, there's a similar moment, when Magneto swipes his hand over a security card reader and fools it into letting him through. And again... WHAT??? Yeah, it's a magnetic card reader, but the magnets are there to read a damned security code. Control over magnetism would do nothing in that case.

Why am I blathering about this? Simple. This would not happen in a comic book.

Yes, comic books are ridiculous and often slapdash, poorly-written, poorly-drawn affairs. But a lot of them aren't. And, in general, the writers strive for an internal consistency that is superior to the internal consistency in movies. Movie directors can wave their hands and mutter "because magnetism", and the average movie audience will accept it. Movie directors can get away with that.

Comic book writers can't get away with such shoddy work. Comic books aren't that dumb.

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