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Old 04-30-2021, 04:33 PM   #1
neatoman
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When comic books fail to accept they don't take place in the real world

Sorry for the awkward title but I think it might need to be adressed. Keep in mind, the problem I'm about to detail isn't exclusive to comic books or their adaptations, but it is where I most commonly see it and where I think it might be the most obvious.

Alright, one of the major problems I have with shared superhero universes aside from seemingly having contradictions between the books is that they tend to forget how much they differ from the real world. Much of this comes down to either editors or writers wanting to deal with real world issues, or simply making the fictional world more relatable, but I think it might be unintentional as well.

Why exactly would it be a problem? If the world depicted was actually closer to reality, it wouldn't necessarily be a problem. But you can't really fill your world with aliens, mutants, sentient robots, living dinosaurs, time travel and whatever else on such a massive scale and expect everything else to just play out like in the real world. At worst, this creates a weird disconnect where the writer just forces the story to be whatever they want without considering the setting.

For example, these are pages from the issue of Spider-Man dealing with 9/11:
Spoiler:



Now I don't mean to trivialise 9/11 here. In the real world it was quite a horrible thing and no terrorist attack was as devastating before or since. But that is the thing, nothing compares to it in the real world. In the Marvel Universe, New York is constantly attacked and these attacks are theoretically comparable to 9/11, so why exactly would 9/11 be treated any differently in such a world?

And while most people like to point to Doctor Doom crying at this is weird, I need to point out that Magneto and Doctor Octopus stand alongside him being saddened by the events. Magneto had previously done this:
Spoiler:


And Doctor Octopus would go on to do this:
Spoiler:



I could probably go on to talk about how different the Marvel Universe or any similar works of fiction really should be from the real world, such as how they really should have space colonies or completely different religions but I think this one example is a clear cut one.

If you want a non-comic example, I think Star Trek would be a good one, even it mostly just involve the backstory. The eugenics war obviously didn't happen in the real world, but the episode of Voyager where they go back to the 90's they still seem to insist Star Trek is "our future", as there are no apparent differences from the real world 90's. And I'm also willing to bet WWIII isn't happening in the next five years.
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Old 04-30-2021, 05:50 PM   #2
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Please succinctly sum up your observation/point into a single sentence. Maybe even two would be fine. Regardless of whether or not you want to stand on that you did that already in your post.

Just do me the solid of chewing up that information above and sum up your head math here into a digestible sentence and then I'll ty to address what I think you are getting at.

Please humor me and trust me, it's better this way.
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Old 04-30-2021, 06:14 PM   #3
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Yeah, that Marvel 9/11 comic is some of the silliest, most emotionally-manipulative nonsense I've ever seen in my life.

I get what they were going for, and their hearts were in the right place, but as you pointed out in the Marvel Universe something like 9/11 happens every Wednesday, and some of those same characters standing there crying about the Towers are usually the perpetrators - and in many cases have done FAR worse. 9/11 would be small potatoes for a genocidal lunatic like Magneto, why would he even give a sh*t? Other than someone else doing it before he could? Same goes for Doom and the rest. Dumb. Were they just upset that the terrorists who hijacked the planes weren't Officially-Licensed Super-Villains or something? "How DARE they do Exactly What We Always Do, but without costumes or code names? There are RULES and PROCEDURES to flying planes into buildings!" What the f*ck?

People often gush about it being so awe-inspiring, but really, it was stupid. Well-intentioned, for sure. But objectively stupid. You literally have to ignore just about Every Marvel Comic Ever Printed for that issue to make any sense at all.
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Old 04-30-2021, 06:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMJ View Post
Please succinctly sum up your observation/point into a single sentence. Maybe even two would be fine. Regardless of whether or not you want to stand on that you did that already in your post.

Just do me the solid of chewing up that information above and sum up your head math here into a digestible sentence and then I'll ty to address what I think you are getting at.

Please humor me and trust me, it's better this way.
Alright:

You can't fill a fictional world with things that never happened or can't happen in the real world, then still insist that real world events happen the same way and have the same impact, nor does it make sense for the fictional world to more or less just be the same in general.

Example: If the Avengers have the ability to travel to other planets on the fly and everyone knows aliens exist, then why doesn't earth have colonies in space and why are real world conflicts relevant? If you have all this as an established part of the fictional world, then the fictional world would logically deviate far more from reality than it does.
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Old 04-30-2021, 06:37 PM   #5
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Alright:

You can't fill a fictional world with things that never happened or can't happen in the real world, then still insist that real world events happen the same way and have the same impact, nor does it make sense for the fictional world to more or less just be the same in general.

Example: If the Avengers have the ability to travel to other planets on the fly and everyone knows aliens exist, then why doesn't earth have colonies in space and why are real world conflicts relevant? If you have all this as an established part of the fictional world, then the fictional world would logically deviate far more from reality than it does.
Ok, that was pretty well stated. Awesome job at that. So with that said and to your point....

You can do that. It's artistic merit and in disregard of continuity in order to address a greater topic.

Now with that said, and as you pointed out and as Leo mentioned - the Spidey issue..... you know... is flawed from any POV other than 'it was an acknowledgment of the time". The simple fact is that you have to be discerning enough to bob and weave in between "continuity" and "artistic expression" and "additions for relevance". That's it. It really is that simple.

Now if we were to get really nerdy for that kind of "justify the story" kind of convo that we comic book guys have? I suppose, and this isn't to diminish the point I made above, but I suppose it could be argued that real-world things still happen around the Marvel characters because there are still real people running around doing things independent of Spider-Man or Kingpin or whoever. For example, the (Updated) Afghan war was still happening regardless of superheroes running around because Tony Stark went there, got blown up and became Iron Man.

So the first point above is to address that things like that are done for artistic merit or cultural relevance. The second point above illustrates that these things can happen. And so the role of Doom in that Spidey book doesn't diminish the event, but rather is maybe a mischaracterization. But we don't care because it's done for artistic merit.
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Old 04-30-2021, 07:11 PM   #6
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I agree so much on that 9/11 issue after all the shock, horror and everything have passed. It was a different feeling back then, even though I still found the villains page to be stupid. Especially Magneto who pretty much hates humans and would have used this to further his cause. "You see what I mean Charles, they can't even make peace with each other! That's why we need to rule over them!"

I mean in the MU either this would be just another Tuesday, OR Spider-Man and crew WOULD HAVE been there, they WOULD HAVE stopped the planes, they WOULD HAVE saved the day.

It's the same thing as stuff like cancer. You can't tell me, realistically, if all the tech that existed in the MU and DCU existed in the real world, Reed Richards couldn't just blast you with a 'no-cancer ray' or whatever, and there ya go, all better. There's like this magical cloud of dumbassery that hovers above every respectable genius in the comics world that wants to seek ways to better mankind and whatnot in all sorts of ways EXCEPT curing cancer. Or have reality warpers say 'No More Cancer' or something.

And like, I know the real world reason, because if you're actually terminal and you want to read some comics to get your mind off it at least for a while, you don't want to read about in some semi-realistic world where cancer is a joke and is as easy to cure as take an aspirin for a headache.

But in the comic book universe itself, it makes no sense to just ignore that when their world is packed with super geniuses.
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Old 04-30-2021, 07:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Coola Yagami View Post
I agree so much on that 9/11 issue after all the shock, horror and everything have passed. It was a different feeling back then, even though I still found the villains page to be stupid. Especially Magneto who pretty much hates humans and would have used this to further his cause. "You see what I mean Charles, they can't even make peace with each other! That's why we need to rule over them!"

I mean in the MU either this would be just another Tuesday, OR Spider-Man and crew WOULD HAVE been there, they WOULD HAVE stopped the planes, they WOULD HAVE saved the day.

It's the same thing as stuff like cancer. You can't tell me, realistically, if all the tech that existed in the MU and DCU existed in the real world, Reed Richards couldn't just blast you with a 'no-cancer ray' or whatever, and there ya go, all better. There's like this magical cloud of dumbassery that hovers above every respectable genius in the comics world that wants to seek ways to better mankind and whatnot in all sorts of ways EXCEPT curing cancer. Or have reality warpers say 'No More Cancer' or something.

And like, I know the real world reason, because if you're actually terminal and you want to read some comics to get your mind off it at least for a while, you don't want to read about in some semi-realistic world where cancer is a joke and is as easy to cure as take an aspirin for a headache.

But in the comic book universe itself, it makes no sense to just ignore that when their world is packed with super geniuses.
Sure, all of that and also there are certain things that you simply can't trivialize by "superhero solutions" in a comic book universe. Cancer. 9-11.

I mean in content and context it makes more sense for cancer to be resolved in Stark Trek than it does in the Marvel U. It makes for greater poignancy that Mar-Vell can die of cancer in the Marvel U which is "current" and street level sort of science fiction.

Of course Star Trek has "future analogs" for cancer - but again, all in context of content.
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Old 04-30-2021, 07:35 PM   #8
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I mean you "can" just do it for cultural relevance, obviously these comics wouldn't exist otherwise. But "can" isn't quite the same as "makes sense".

The problem is that things don't happen in a bubble, in real life or in fiction, and it's questionable how these real life events would occur without influence from the fictional elements.

Let's say Donald Trump was elected president in both the real world and the Marvel Universe, that is fine. However, in real life we can see why one of his campaign promises, the wall, makes sense because he adressed some issue important to people in the real world. In the Marvel Universe, the promise of a border wall might come across as a strange subject, since alien invasions are clearly a bigger problem than illegal immigration.

If Donald Trump became the president in the Marvel Universe, wouldn't it make more sense to change his promise from a border wall to making counter measures against alien invasions more robust?

I get that the writers want to be relevant, I'm just not sure superhero comics are really the best platform to talk about real life issues, at least not Marvel/DC style superhero comics? Maybe in a comic where the hero has relatively low-tier powers, all his allies have fairly simple powers too, they only deal with human threats who are (at worst) only capable of doing something like 9/11 and stuff like time travel never really happens. I could see a comic like that dealing real world issues in a believable way, but not really the aliens and mutants variety we get from Marvel/DC.

I get that these are the big sellers and it is what most writers spend their time working on, so of course they're going to use these comics to deal with those issues, regardless of how bizarre it may seem. They're not going to make some relatively down to earth indie comic to talk about 9/11 or the election of this or that president. But ultimately, it is just bizarre to ignore what the setting is like, just to make a point about the real world.
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Old 04-30-2021, 09:30 PM   #9
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I understand and agree with the point I think he's trying to make.

It's like when Imperiex massacred hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people in DC and it's business as usual a week later... but the World Trade Center got hit with a couple planes and it's a big months long mourning thing? It doesn't really compute.

The solution, I think, is to either treat real life events as happening, but not as big of a deal... or simpler still, just avoid mentioning them at all.
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