Travis Cohen

Travis Cohen

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Marvel Cinematic Universe: Main-Stream Cinema's First Megaseries

    First coined by comic book writer Dennis O’Neil in his book "The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics", the concept of a megaseries is a narrative that spans multiple subplots within a greater whole, almost emphasizing them over its main plot. The main example used was DC’s first massive crossover event “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. In his description, O’Neil described it more as an art of the creative process and less of the work itself. Much like comics’ close relative, television, the megaseries has been used to create immense story arcs that expand across multiple creative visions, giving the audience pieces of a larger world.

    The MCU is special because this is cinema’s first time at this, at least on a theatrical-level. The article could go into the cultural impact these films have had and how their inter-relativity might have contributed to their success. It could also go into the relationship of the main plot (“Avengers”) and how it contrasts to its multiple "subplots". What’s most interesting is how film –as a medium– works within this design. Within a megaseries prose, comics, and television use subplot in heavily passive ways. For the most part, they’re shorter. In comics, one issue could suffice for an important arc. In television, one episode. But with film, one would need to use an entire movie that could range hours. Within the same time-frame that almost every other film creates and concludes its universe, the MCU simply builds a tiny piece upon theirs. Regardless of how people feel about the quality of these movies, volumes can be said of their importance both culturally and structurally.

    The most important thing to take away is their success. No studio or creative property has been able to support this investment. Very few stories (ever) have the wealth of content, cultural impact, and audience recognition of current mainstream comic books. So despite the IP’s strength, could this paradigm be used for a completely original concept? And could cinema ever have its own megaseries, birthed and intended only for the medium’s use; not as a cash-grab, but as a testament to its own art?

    • Very interesting topic. One suggestion I have for exploring the ways to expand on this franchise is also how the MCU has branched into other forms of media such as television, since Agents of SHIELD and Daredevil tie into the main story of the film series. You could also look into how the MCU's success has prompted others to re-create their success, such as what DC is doing with Batman v Superman and what Sony tried to do with The Amazing Spider-Man. – Seth Childers 5 years ago
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    • This is a great topic, one I'm eager to see! I think it would be worth looking at how the real world has and eventually will impact these films. Take the recasting of Rhodey in the Iron Man films or Bruce Banner. And maybe look towards the future, such as what happens when RDJ and Chris Evans eventually leave? Where does that leave the mega-series? Obviously it's going to hang on for dear life with new properties, but the passage of time and the demand from an audience will cause problems that could only really impact cinema. The comics these films are adapted from don't have this same problem as, if Tony Stark were to die one month they could easily bring him back the next and the devoted fans would still be there. But once RDJ walks away from Iron Man? It's over for that era of film. Would the fans accept Don Cheadle in the role of Iron Man/Patriot/War Machine? There's no way to know for sure, but it's worth exploring the longevity of the series as a whole. It'll be interesting to see if the Marvel movies themselves can keep going after Infinity War on story alone or if the mainstream fans will simply stop caring once their favorite characters have either died or changed forever. – Shannd1 5 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    Travis Cohen

    You’ve brought up a very very good point with the caricatures. That was a huge part to WB’s style, especially with celebrities. But where I disagree is that one can be offensive when lampooning the enemy. Not every single German was an enemy and the same goes for the Japanese (especially those in internment camps), yet the portrayals were exploiting the physical distinctions between these people. It was meant to degrade our perception of them on a physical level, not a political one (for the Japanese at least). The Germans were made fun of as Nazi’s because, I’m guessing, that was easier to recognize and exploit.

    Warner Bros. and the Infamous Censored Eleven
    Travis Cohen

    Nope, they’ve released collections and have openly admitted to their historical merit.

    Warner Bros. and the Infamous Censored Eleven
    Travis Cohen

    I always found it oddly romantic how films like Akira, Godzilla, and Metropolis (the anime) show how a culture has struggled in a post-WWII world. Just how we wished we had a Übermensch to stop the Nazis (Captain America, Superman, and every other comic produced in that era), the Japanese created their heroes to cope with the bomb. Also found it ironic that Rock resembled a Nazi the most out of everyone, yet didn’t believe in the idea of a Übermensch, or that it could be a robot.

    Akira, Metropolis, and the Quest for the Übermensch in Postmodern Japanese Animation
    Travis Cohen

    That is definitely the heart of the series, the idea of balance. It’s great that you mentioned spiritual awakening too though, because that’s a reoccurring theme in both series. This idea that everyone is searching for some sort of enlightenment or redemption, which are things more spiritual in nature. Though that might be my main qualm with Brotherhood. Brotherhood’s villain (I won’t spoil), as a character, despite their origin, was the only one to really defy this theme (which made them a great villain). But the original series’ antagonist worked better within the theme and really showed how far equivalent exchange could go. Even citing historical examples.

    Full Metal Alchemist: Science vs Religion
    Travis Cohen

    VERY well put! I never put much thought into is use of clutter. This is used heavily in his short “Good Morning”.

    Satoshi Kon's Otaku: The Dangers of Technological Fantasy