Tag Archives: Iron Man

Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever

Superman

You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.

It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.

From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.

In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.

I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.

This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.

Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.

While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.

What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.

There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?

That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.

Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.

Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.

The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.

It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.

In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.

That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.

That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?

For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.

In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.

To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.

For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.

The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.

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Filed under Current Events, Marvel, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies

New Comic Book Day May 5, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Sometimes, the days of the week just line up perfectly. Like the years in which Halloween is on a Saturday or the 4th of July is on a Friday, everything just falls into place perfectly. For me, who identifies as both a comic book fan and a Star Wars fan, a year when new comic book day falls on or the day after May 4th is just too perfect.

For those of you who don’t know, May 4th is also known as Star Wars Day. It’s an annual celebration of the stories we love about a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. If you were on social media at any point yesterday, you likely saw people saying something like “May the 4th be with you.” That’s just Star Wars fans celebratory and being coy. It’s a beautiful thing.

The fact this is happening right before new comic book day this year just makes it even more special. Like many other Star Wars fans, I have more than my share of Star Wars comics in my collection. I also rarely need a reason to go back and watch my favorite episodes of shows like “The Mandalorian” or “The Clone Wars.” If I can do that and read a new stack of comics, then that’s a day well spent.

So, if you’re either a Star Wars fan or a comic book fan, today is a special day. If you happen to be a fan of both, it’s extra special. Find a way to celebrate and enjoy it. It’s not often the calendar works out this way. Cherish it as best you can. May the Force be with you all and here’s my pull list for this extra special new comic book day. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #65

Batman #108

Carnage: Black, White & Blood #3

Crime Syndicate #3

God of War: Fallen God #3

Green Lantern #2

Hellions #11

Heroes Reborn #1

Immortal Hulk #46

The Invincible Red Sonja #1

Marauders #20

Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart #4

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #4

X-Men: Curse Of The Man-Thing #1


My Pick Of The Week
X-Men Legends #3

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Captain America: Civil War And Its Overlooked (And Understated) Flaws

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while now. It breaks down “Captain America: Civil War,” a movie that’s held in high regard in the pantheon of superhero movies. I saw it too. I enjoyed it. However, I feel there were some significant flaws that got glossed over and overlooked.

This video is my way of highlighting those flaws, as well as a deeper exploration into what made the Civil War event in the comics so impactful. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube

New Comic Book Day November 4, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

We did it, America!

We made it through Election Day. I understand that can still change, but we still made it. That’s progress, in my book. I also doubt I’m alone in being relieved that we’ve finally made it through.

Now, I realize that there’s still plenty of post-election drama to unfold here in the United States. I may end up talking about that at some point. For now, I’d rather focus on something that brings objective joy to the world, namely comics.

The day after such a contentious election is the perfect day to indulge in some comic fueled awesome. I am not just ready. I need this and I suspect many others burned out on politics feel the same. The real world has been objectively awful on so many levels in 2020. An escape has never been more necessary.

That’s exactly what comics provide us. They are a simple, inexpensive joy that takes us out of this crazy world for a brief moment and into one full of wonder. I love every New Comic Day, but this particular day has never been more cathartic. To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Avengers #38

Batman #102

Black Widow #3

Captain Marvel #23

Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team #3

Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1

DCeased: Dead Planet #5

Deadpool #8

Hellstrom: Marvel Tales #1

Marauders #14

Mighty Morphin #1

Red Sonja #21

Star Wars #8

Thor #9

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #1

X-Men #14


My Pick Of The Week
Avengers #38

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Deep Fake Technology Can Now Make Tom Cruise Iron Man: Signs And Implications

Certain technology advances slowly and steadily. It’s why we’re still waiting for a cure for the common cold. Other technological breakthroughs advance at such a fast rate it’s hard to keep up with. Anyone who doesn’t regularly upgrade their cell phone understands that.

That brings me to the technology of deep fakes. I’ve talked about them before and the implications this technology has for the entertainment industry. Well, I’m here to report that this technology might be advancing faster than I thought.

Recently, a new deep fake video hit the web. It’s nothing overly nefarious. It’s actually a play on a real story from the mid-2000s. Before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the first “Iron Man” movie, Tom Cruise was in the running for that role.

He has since claimed he was never close to getting that role, but it’s still an interesting idea. For most Marvel fans, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than RDJ donning that now-iconic armor. However, there’s no denying that Tom Cruise being Iron Man would’ve changed a franchise, as well as cinematic history.

Well, thanks to deep fake technology, we don’t have to imagine anymore. We can now see for ourselves what it would look like if Tom Cruise had been cast as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. See for yourself.

Watching this, I have to say it was more than a little jarring. It’s not just that seeing someone other than RDJ as Iron Man is strange. I was genuinely impressed by how real it looked.

Yes, it did become a bit obvious at times that there was some digital trickery at work. I’ve seen enough Tom Cruise movies to know what he looks like. I could tell that the body just did not match the iconic face at times.

However, I’m still impressed at just how seamless it appeared, especially when he was in the Iron Man costume. It really did look like Cruise had embraced the role as much as RDJ had. Even though the voice had to come courtesy of a skilled voice actor, the graphics technology is definitely on pace to cross the uncanny valley sooner rather than later.

The implications here are profound. If the technology is already at this point, then it’s a given that Hollywood and propaganda pushers will start embracing it sooner. For Hollywood, who is reeling in wake of a historic pandemic, they may have more incentives to embrace it than most.

Beyond actors and actresses who get “cancelled” for their behavior, it may start as a cost cutting measure. If it costs too much to put Hugh Jackman or Tom Cruise on a movie set, why not just put a cheaper actor in their place and just deep fake the more iconic figure over it? If the technology is that good and nobody can tell the difference, it almost makes too much sense.

It may get to a point where nobody outside the studio knows whether the figure we see on screen was actually “there” to give that moment life. They may just be a digital scan mixed with digitally audio, which is also advancing.

This has even larger implications with propaganda. If the technology gets to a point where we can make any public figure say or do anything we want, no matter how deplorable, then how can we trust any media image? Would “cancel culture” even be feasible at that point? If people can just claim an embarrassing moment was a deep fake, how would we know?

It’s a distressing thought, but it’s something we’ll have to account for. We may end up having to contemplate it sooner than we thought. This technology can already show us a world in which Tom Cruise was cast as Iron Man. What other worlds will it reveal?

We’ll find out soon enough.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, futurism, media issues, superhero comics, superhero movies, technology, YouTube

Jack’s Comic Gems: Superior Iron Man

The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s part of my comic gems series that highlights an overlooked or underrated gem from the world of comics. Enjoy!

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New Comic Book Day September 2, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

What do you do when you’ve had a lousy week? How do you make it bearable or, at the very least, somewhat less awful? These are questions I’m sure many people have been asking throughout 2020. There have been many lousy weeks thus far for reasons I hope are obvious. This past week certainly threw in a few more gut punches with the death of Chadwick Boseman.

As objectively awful as that is, we still move forward. We still try to make the following days less shitty. For me, enjoying a stack of new comics is part of that process. I’ve had many bad weeks throughout my life. Between puberty, high school, and graduating college during a recession, there was never a shortage of misery.

However, every Wednesday morning brought a ray of hope. Thanks to Comixology, the prospect of New Comic Book Day has always offered a boost to my dampened spirits. After this past week, I need that. I think we all need that. We find that boost wherever we can. For me, it’s new comics on Wednesday morning.

I’ve got my iPad, a fresh cup of coffee, and a wounded spirit. I’m ready to feel slightly less awful about the world now. I hope my other fellow comic fans can do the same. As always, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Batman #98

Black Widow #1

Empyre #6

Fantastic Four #23

Guardians Of The Galaxy #6

Justice League #52

Marvel Zombies: Resurrection #1

Red Sonja #19

Wolverine #5

Young Justice #18


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #6

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New Comic Book Day July 15, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

For lifelong comic book fans, like myself, there’s usually one Wednesday in every month where all the major comic publishers drop a glut of high-profile comics. It’s not always predictable. You rarely know when a week like that will drop. Sometimes, you’ll just have weeks that dump a large amount of comics on the market. Those are fun, but like many things, quality counts more than quantity.

Without going too deep into spoilers on this beautiful Wednesday morning, I can safely say that this is one of those weeks. It’s a week where quality, and quantity in terms of new titles, achieves a harmonious balance that would make Thanos himself smile. There’s no need for an Infinity Gauntlet or a snap that wipes out half of all life in the universe. It just happened, thanks to the tireless work of this colorful industry.

It’s another sign that the comics industry, as a whole, is emerging from the many delays and cancellations caused by the global pandemic over the past several months. There will still be effects here and there. I doubt we’ll know the full extent of those effects for another year. For now, though, the comic book world is hitting its first grand slam in months.

We all need good, encouraging news more than usual these days. For comic fans, this might as well be a trip back to the middle of 2019 before we heard of N95 masks and social distancing. I encourage everyone to savor this rare, yet precious iteration New Comic Book Days. We don’t know whether the world will go to shit again before we get another.

As always, here is my pull list and pick of the week.


My Pull List

2020 iWolverine #1

Amazing Spider-Man #44

Avengers #34

Captain Marvel #17

Catwoman #23

Empyre #1

Fantastic Four #21

Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1

Guardians Of The Galaxy #4

Immortal Hulk #35

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #51

Rick and Morty: Go To Hell #2

Spider-Woman #2

Venom #26


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #1

 

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Patriotism Personified: A Tribute To Captain America

C6

The following is a video I made for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World, on the eve of the 4th of July. It pays tribute to the ultimate patriot, Captain America. It also covers on what it means to be a patriot a time like this. I hope it gets everyone in the 4th of July spirit. Enjoy!

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New Comic Book Day June 24, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’ve been reading comics long enough to both appreciate and dread big time comic events. Big events in comics are often framed like big blockbuster movies. Major publishers treat them as this must-see event that will knock your socks off, get your heart racing, and maybe even make love to your soul if you’re lucky.

Most events fail to deliver. I’ll just say that outright because it needs to be said. Most comic fans find that out the hard way.

That said, I still look forward to these events because those that do deliver are truly special. They’re the kinds of stories that make you glad to be a comic fan. It helps that comics, as a medium, can do a lot more than movies, TV shows, and cartoons can do. They don’t need spend millions on special effects, stunt doubles, or catering. They just need artists and writers who have a damn good story to tell.

This year, like many others, had a handful of big events planned. Like everything else in 2020, the pandemic undermined those plans. Now, after a steady reopening of the larger comics industry, some of those events are set to begin. The next couple of months promise to be eventful for reasons that don’t require masks or social distancing.

At this point, I don’t care how the events pan out. I’m just glad to see the comics world getting bolder. We need that in this world right now. As such, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Aquaman #60

Batgirl #46

Batman #93

Batman Beyond #44

Empyre #0

The Flash #756

Justice League #47

Iron Man 2020 #4

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #50

Suicide Squad #6

Thor #5


My Pick Of The Week
Empyre #0

 

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