Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Harry Knowles, Wolverine, and Emma Frost

There's a minor epic Harry Knowles rant about the new Wolverine movie over at AICN in which Knowles goes ape over the new Emma Frost character spot for the flick (you can see it here).

It's such a perfect confluence: Knowles getting his geek flame going on a subject of relatively minor importance. And even better, Knowles is simply wrong on the geek facts. It's pretty clear he actually doesn't know what he's talking about.

And yet . . .

The new Wolverine looks dreadful--maybe a half-step up from the Catwoman spin-off. Which is fine, except that it looks like they are going to screw up Emma Frost.

Frost is, for my money, the most interesting character in the Marvel universe. Probably the second most interesting character in all of comics. (This is going way, way into nerd territory.) For the un-initiated, her story goes something like this:

Raised in an upper-upper class home, Frost is a Choate kind of girl who develops mutant abilities as a teenager. She becomes a mid-level telepath, kind of a JV version of Charles Xavier. As she grows up circumstance and her own inner narcissism lead her to disdain normal humans and she becomes a villain known as the White Queen.

Like Magneto, the White Queen is more about staking a claim for species and class superiority than she is about taking over the world. But after many years as a bad-guy, she falls in love with one of the good-guy X-Men, Cyclops.

And here's where her character gets really interesting: Frost is honestly in love with Cyclops; but for Cyclops, she's basically the rebound girl (after the death of Jean Grey). Yet Frost is a smart cookie and very self aware. She knows that she's not his first choice--and that she'll have to give up her super-villain lifestyle to be with Cyclops. And she decides to do it anyway.

So in the later comics, we have Frost as part of the good-guy X-Men, even though she not-so-secretly disdains them. Because, as Woody Allen once said, the heart wants what it wants. Her conflict concerning all of the above comes closer to approaching middle-brow art than just about anything else in comics these days. (See Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run for a good bit of it.)

And then there's the movie. In which Frost story seems to have been, well, re-imagined. It's like turning Bain into a mindless goon with 15 seconds of sreentime in the final Schumaker Batman.


Jacob said...

So who's the most interesting character in comics?

BJ said...

She probably isn't the only character that'll be poorly re-imagined for 15 seconds of screen time just so Fox can throw as many popular characters as possible into the movie.