May 4th, 2007

Mixed Feelings

I just got back from Spider-Man 3.


The parts they did right they did very right – Venom and Sandman were spot-on, for instance.

But the parts they did wrong? Ugh. I cringed way too many times for a Spider-Man movie.

Safe to say that 2 is still my favorite Spider-Man movie.

February 27th, 2007

Collateral Damage

I like to see things being built. It’s fascinating to me to see how all the parts fit together to make a whole. I’ve been in the local Subaru plant and I saw the Corvette plant in Kentucky, and the whole process of fitting things together that were designed to fit together makes me happy.

(Side note: I think this is why I thought Voltron was so cool back in the day – all those giant lion-robots fitting together to make one huge robot?!? Awesome! Of course, I’ve since realized Voltron is anime and therefore awful, but at the time I was distracted by the shiny fitting-together robotitude of it all.)

(Further side note: This is also why I like to put together the “build it yourself” furniture like desks and bookcases that come in a flat box. It’s designed to go together and when it does, it activates the “Yay!” center in my brain. (That’s not the scientific name, but my Latin’s a little rusty.))

I particularly like to watch buildings go up – not the day to day business, that’s kind of boring. But driving by a building project every so often and seeing the progress or getting to tour a building before it’s completely done? I love that. It amazes me to think how much time, effort, and money goes into those projects. I’m a little envious of architects and engineers, even though I’d never be able to do either job. Their jobs are like watch-making on a grander scale – all the pieces have to fit together exactly right, or there’ll be trouble.

There are a few big building projects going on around town right now – a couple of new hospitals, talk of one or two more Starbucks (bringing our total to somewhere around… 500, I think), and even a new community center our church is building. The ground is barely broken on one hospital, the other is at the “skeletal beams in place” stage, and the community center is mostly closed in and just needs the internal stuff done.

Corporations like McDonald’s and Starbucks seem to be able to put up a new building in no time at all. One minute there’s a “Coming Soon!” sign and the next minute you’re getting your hazelnut steamer or Filet o’ Fish.

Different types of buildings in different areas are designed to withstand or accommodate specific circumstances. Skyscrapers are built to allow for being swayed by the wind. Homes along the coasts are designed to better weather hurricanes. Homes in the Midwest have basements because of tornadoes. Even igloos take the environment into account.

But no matter how much planning goes into a building, there’s one eventuality that can’t be protected against:


I think we can all agree that we’re thankful for superheroes. If a guy like Juggernaut or Galactus comes to town, you want a Spider-Man or a Wolverine or a Fantastic Four around to take care of it. I mean, what are you gonna do about a guy bullets bounce off or who can shoot electricity at you? Not much. Hide, probably.

People see these things coming and they can get out of the way. It’s the buildings that take the brunt of it. Villains are constantly blowing buildings up, and when they aren’t, they’re barreling into them in some sort of destructive vehicle, or, worse, just throwing superheroes through them. No one said being a superhero would be easy, so you expect this sort of thing to happen. The creators of the “Death of Superman” storyline were inspired to come up with the character Doomsday by the image of Metropolis with a wide swath of destruction through the middle of it. A dude who can kill Superman can also take down pretty much any building around, I guess.

But the heroes are just as bad as the villains in the property damage department. In the process of saving lives and protecting Earth, there’s bound to be some incidental harm.

In Superman Returns, there’s a plane headed for certain disaster until Superman shows up (or, if you will, returns) to take care of it. In the process of trying to bring it under control, he rips a wing of the plane off. Sure, the plane’s a lost cause at this point, so it’s not such a big deal that it’s losing a wing, but when Superman lets go of that wing to grab the fuselage of the plane, where does that wing go? What does it land on? Superman finally gets control of the plane and is able to set it safely down in a baseball stadium – again, no one’s faulting him for messing up the infield with the plane, but when it’s down and the people are out, he flies off. Does he come back later to remove the plane from the field? How do they get the plane out of there?

In Batman Begins, Batman’s in the process of rescuing Rachel, who is fast succumbing to the Scarecrow’s poison. He’s driving his big old tank of a Batmobile, and that’s garnered him some attention from the police force. They’ve got him cornered at the top of a parking garage, pretty much leaving Batman with one option: bust through the wall and start driving on rooftops. Structural questions aside (can a roof really support a car that big?), the Batmobile is tearing up tiles, knocking things over, and generally making a mess of things. Further along in the chase, police cars are flipping over and crashing. But in the end, he rescues Rachel and saves her life, so all the damage is worth it, right? We never see it, but I suspect Batman, as Bruce Wayne, donates money from the millions he has to various funds that work to repair the damage he’s done as Batman. If he doesn’t, he ought to.

Pretty much every superhero I can think of does damage to structures in the area. Spider-Man, Hulk, The Tick… the list goes on. I think an awareness committee needs to be formed. After all, just because you can drop a building on someone’s head doesn’t mean you should.