Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Mythology gag

Amanda Waller as depicted in Justice League Un...Image via Wikipedia
Mythology gag (n.) - Any subtle reference to the larger continuity of a TV show, movie, or book -- especially if it's the kind of namecheck that only devoted fans would pick up on. The 2009 film reboot of Star Trek got most of its comedy from well played mythology gags, and the TV series Smallville seems to stay on the air simply so it can perpetuate as many DC Comics mythology gags as humanly possible (quality optional).

I bring it up because: Apparently mythology gags are now so pervasive and expected that fans feel entitled to get upset about how they are presented. Case in point, fanboys getting bent out of shape that Angela Bassett is playing Amanda Waller in the Green Lantern movie. Waller, nicknamed "The Wall," is portrayed in comics as having roughly the same build as a starting NFL nose guard. Thus, having the slim and trim Bassett portray her is viewed by some diehards as a kind of fan betrayal. The outrage, by the by, has nothing to do with Hollywood once again skinnying up a curvy character for the mainstream; the fanboys are raging because Bassett as Waller is inaccurate. Nevermind that Waller is tangential as best to the Green Lantern mythos -- she has had almost no major encounters with the Green Lantern characters in comic book continuity -- and that including her in the movie at all is simply a gift to knowing comic book fans. There was a time when simply having any version of Waller in a Green Lantern film would have been a grin-inducing gift to comic readers. Today, we not only expect six dozen mythology gags in the trailer alone, but we want them on our terms. Oh, how fanboy entitlement hath grown.