Spiderman versus Wonder Woman

Spiderman Wonder Woman

Spiderman and Wonder Woman

Recently, two critically acclaimed superhero movies came out from competing studios.  I’m talking about Spiderman Homecoming and Wonder Woman. Both have iconic comic book heroes coming to life on the big screen, breathe new life into their cinematic universes, and have received great reviews. But is one better than the other?

Such a review is obviously subjective and they’re hard to compare. But let’s look at the categories where each shines. Spoilers ahead. And before you think I hate the whole DC universe and am a Marvel fan, take a look at this.

Heart

Both movies have something a lot of movies are lacking: heart. They’re earnest and want to share their message. In fact, I’d say this is what has been missing from the DC universe films until now (which admittedly only consists of Man of Steel, Batman Vs Superman, and Suicide Squad). Wonder Woman defies the anti-hero doom and gloom and makes you want to believe in her goodness and purity. She inspires instead of brooding, acts instead of whining. It’s completely different than Superman as portrayed in this universe but similar to how he is portrayed in the comics. 

Spiderman also has plenty of heart, more than most Marvel films. Peter Parker is enthusiastic, wants to help people out and make a difference. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out so well for him, but he doesn’t give up.

Which film has more heart? I’d say it’s a tie.

Humor

Wonder Woman also has something the other films in her universe don’t. Humor. I’m not sure there was a single joke in Batman vs Superman, unless you count the unintentional ‘Martha!’ But Wonder Woman uses Diana’s naiveté and Steve Trevor’s wit to inject plenty of humorous moments so the tone doesn’t get overly depressing. 

Spiderman, however, is probably one of the funniest Marvel movies, and that’s saying something. At times the humor can take away from the seriousness of the situation, but for the most part it is spot on.

While both are funny, Spiderman wins this category.

Profundity

Wonder Woman touches on a lot of themes, from inspiring others, going out and selflessly doing what’s right, and the nature of war. That last one is particularly interesting, as Diana is convinced Ares, the God of War, is behind World War 1, while Steve Trevor thinks it’s just because men are screwed up. Personally, the way it played out, though, wasn’t very satisfactory. It turns out that Ares did cause the war, basically, and then Wonder Woman defeats him, which begs the question: who caused World War 2? The Korean War? The Vietnam War? The War on Terror? History tells us Steve was right, while the movie takes the simpler approach. It felt like the studio forced the director to abandon her themes from before in order to have a big final battle. But I was literally trying to stay awake during that fight, whereas before, in the trenches, I was literally trying to hold back the tears. This video pretty much sums up my thoughts: 

Spiderman’s themes are about proving oneself and taking responsibility for your actions. Though it is never said in the movie, the phrase ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ weighs down on Peter Parker. While showing the consequences better than other Spiderman movies, it isn’t anything new.

Even though I feel Wonder Woman wasn’t quite true to the ideas brought to the table, it still brought up a lot of deep and interesting questions, so I’ll give this one to her movie. 

Relationships

Wonder Woman’s relationship with Steve Trevor is based on mutual respect, not passion or hormones. He’s no dude in distress, but has his own strengths that complements Wonder Woman’s superpowers. I feel this is a more mature approach to relationships than seen in superhero movies. 

Peter’s relationship with Liz is more tell than show. In fact, every chance he has to spend time with her he turns down to play Spiderman. So the reveal at the end, when he finds out that *SPOILER!* the vulture is her father could have been more powerful if we actually believed he loved her. And when she announces she’s moving away, he offers pity but doesn’t seem too affected. And she does play the obligatory damsel in distress once in the movie. I think Peter’s relationship with Karen, his suit, was more interesting. This is possibly one of the weakest aspects of the movie, especially compared to the earlier ones. Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst were good, and Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were even better (the only saving grace of Amazing Spiderman 2). That being said, Peter has a nice bromance with his buddy Ned.

This one goes to Wonder Woman

Villain

Neither DC nor Marvel has done good villains up to this point, especially when compared to The Dark Knight’s (not in the DC universe) Joker. I’ve already mentioned my complaints about Ares. He would have made a better idea than a physical being, a phantasm that tempts men that Diana has to counteract with persuasion instead of brute force. And he looked silly with his mustache. The reveal was pretty good, though, with him in the glass. If only he’d stayed there.

Spiderman’s villain fares a bit better. The Vulture is more down to earth, running an underground criminal organization to support his family. And when we find out that he is Liz’s dad, that ramps up the tension. Now we wonder if Spiderman will kill his girlfriend’s dad. And there’s no magic moment he turns to evil, unlike the first two Spiderman films. I just feel they could have done more with Michael Keaton.

This one goes to Spiderman.

Formula

Wonder Woman defies the DC universe formula, mostly because it has heart and isn’t afraid to have a superhero who stands for something. It injects hope into the universe that was beginning to feel hopeless. Let’s see if any of that can continue and if Warner Brothers learned something from it. Speaking of formula, Wonder Woman breaks many of the bad Strong Female Character tropes that I’ve mentioned before.

Spiderman, on the other hand, had the Marvel formula applied to it. Marvel makes good films, but not great ones. They are fun and enjoyable escapism, where we know the heroes won’t die, but they don’t go deep enough to truly stand out. The closest ones were the Captain America ones, but Spiderman plays it pretty safe. It is made by Disney now, which has sanitized the Marvel and Star Wars universes, for better or for worse.

Wonder Woman wins because it breaks the formula.

Importance

Both are good movies, a step above the movies that came before. But I think Wonder Woman’s impact will stay longer than Spiderman’s. The first Spiderman was important because it showed that superhero movies could be good. Wonder Woman is important because it shows audiences will see female superheroes and because it basically negates the gritty, depressing feel the DC universe has followed up until now (trying to copy the superior Christopher Nolan Batman films but not getting it right).

Spiderman: Homecoming is a good, fun movie, but it won’t impact culture like Wonder Woman did. 

Conclusion

Both are good movies. Both have good things going, as well as a few flaws. Neither topples my current favorite superhero movie: The Dark Knight, but both were enjoyable. I think Wonder Woman, although it stumbles, reaches closest to greatness, while Spiderman was a very fun popcorn flick. 

 

Sci-Fi Science (or not)

Alien science

Humans have wondered for a long time if they are the only intelligent, sapient life in the cosmos or not. That has become the basis for much of science fiction. But much of science fiction is just that: fiction. That’s my problem with sci-fi. Fantasy owns up to being completely untrue. But sci-fi pretends to be realistic, even though a lot of it isn’t based on science, or even if some parts are, there is usually one assumption that puts everything else into disbelief.

To Infinity and Beyond Science

The problem in most sci-fi novels, television, and movies is that faster than light travel is not possible. In order to get around the light speed limit, things like hyperspace, a higher dimension, are made up. But there really isn’t any scientific evidence for theories like hyperspace. So because of the light speed limit, most interplanetary sci-fi is grossly improbable/impossible.

The movie Interstellar tried to stay true to science, but it featured a conveniently placed wormhole and at the end delved more into theories. So Interstellar really offers no practical insight on how to get to another world to colonize it. The book and movie The Martian tries to stay closer to hard science. It highlights the difficulty of survival on a desolate planet, plus the expenses just to send a few people to one of Earth’s closest neighbors.

If we wanted to escape the solar system, the closest star is Alpha Centauri, 4 light years from here. That’s about 17,000,000,000,000 miles. To imagine the space just between planets in our solar system, go to http://joshworth.com/dev/pixelspace/pixelspace_solarsystem.html Then imagine the length to go much farther to get to Alpha Centauri and beyond. Some probes go about 17 kps, or 38000 mph, which is about .08% of the speed of light. It would take a current probe around 52000-70000 years to get to Alpha Centauri. And there’s no indication yet that life could exist on any of Alpha Centauri’s planets. With solar sail technology, acceleration would be slow but could theoretically get up to 10% of the speed of light. The journey to Alpha Centauri would then only take 45-200 years. So far that technology is only for tiny probes, not for something that could take humans through the stars. And it would take a lot of work for humans to survive that trip even if size weren’t an issue. Even reproduction would be an issue in space, as well as bone deterioration, gamma ray exposure, and a multitude of other issues.

So the first manned mission to an exoplanet probably won’t occur for a few hundred years, if ever. And that’s if we don’t destroy our current home planet before then.

If we barely got clear photos of Pluto, imagine how little we know about exoplanets. Right now, we can only find exoplanets when they cross in front of their star. We guess at their atmosphere by aberrations in light.

Faster than Light Travel

Ever since realizing the vast distances in space, people have looked for ways to defy the maximum speed limit of the universe, the speed of light. But it’s all fiction or hypothetical right now. In 2011, some scientists believed neutrino particles had gone slightly faster than light. It turns out they made a mistake in their measurements, sending up jokes through the internet.

The most promising way of cheating the light speed limit involves compressing and expanding space. Using negative energy, a ship would compress space in front and expand space behind it to push it forward. This is basically a warp drive. Doing this wouldn’t technically break the speed limit. But what is negative energy? How can you harness it? And how much is needed? And it brings up the question, is space a thing, if you can warp it? Does that make time a thing, too, since they exist on a continuum?

Existential questions

According to scientists, there was nothing outside or before the singularity that turned into the big bang. All space, time, energy, and matter of the universe were crunched up into that singularity. When it first started expanding, the universe expanded much faster than the speed of light. Time is sometimes defined as a measurement of entropy, or disorder. Entropy only goes in one direction, like time. But how did the universe start out in a state of order?

If we could travel into the past, some think the only way to get around the paradoxes seems to be creating or journeying to a new universe. Humans think in cause and effect, so they look for the cause of everything. But that gets hard when going back far enough. Did something cause the big bang? If so, what caused the cause of the big bang? Was it all God? And what caused God? If God is the only self-existing being, does that make us His imagination? Can we act independently of God? Why does matter or energy even exist? Why is there something instead of nothing? This type of questioning is called infinite regress, and really gets us nowhere, because we have no way of knowing. But people have been thinking about infinite regress for ages. It’s nothing new. According to big bang theory, if there was something before the big bang, it doesn’t matter, because everything was reset and no information made it past the singularity.

Evidence of life elsewhere

People have been looking for aliens to come to us. Maybe if they’re more advanced than us, they could travel between the stars. Some scientists look for what they call a Dyson Sphere as evidence of alien life on other stars. A Dyson Sphere is a theoretical sphere constructed around a star to absorb all it’s energy output. It is supposedly a sign of an advanced civilization, but an analysis of different galaxies could find no signs of a Dyson Sphere.

People have been listening for radio waves and other communications from outer space, but radio on our planet has existed only around a century. If we could communicate with an alien race, most likely generations would pass before we could get their reply.

Then there’s the issue of seeing whether any aliens we encounter are hostile or not. Because if an advanced civilization decided to wipe us out, it probably wouldn’t happen a la War of the Worlds or Independence Day. We would be pretty helpless. And no species would travel the light years to get here and conquer if they weren’t prepared to utterly destroy us.

So, we’re not likely to go out and find new life, nor is it likely it will find us. I think there’s life out there, because the universe is just so big, but because of the immensity of space, we might not ever detect them, nor them us. There’re just so many hurdles to overcome. Still, it’s fun to think about.