BuzzFeed News recently (is a month and a half recent?) had the opportunity to interview one of the most prolific comic book authors of our time, Geoff Johns. In the article, they covered a varying range of hopes for the cinematic universe as well as the current and upcoming titles for TV shows especially. If you want to see this interview in detail, check it out here. All in all it was exciting to be informed on the direction that they will be moving towards. The thing that resonated with me most was John’s response to an interview question for what their intentions were for the TV shows and the feelings that they wanted to evoke to the audience. To which he responded-
“Celebrate and Embrace” Geoff Johns
Celebrate. I think this idea stems from the very powerful emotive and psychological response of nostalgia. We feel nostalgia when we see childhood homes/areas, find letters from loved ones and past relationships, and seeing friends after a long period of time. The interesting thing is that sometimes even the most random things can trigger feelings of nostalgia but whatever these triggers are it connects with us on an emotional level. Personally I’ve always had difficulty describing and defining what nostalgia is and how it feels partially because it is a mix of emotions. Admittedly, I did have to look it up.
A wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.
(“Nostalgia.” Def 2) Merrian-Webster.com
When we celebrate, we take time to remember and appreciate using a moment in time to spotlight something that is special in our lives. In the same way birthdays are used to focus on an individual(or individuals if you’re a multiple like me) and focus and appreciate how wonderful it is to be interwoven into their life. As I interact with coworkers my age, every so often we will break into nostalgic things that we loved during our childhood and it is interesting to see how emotionally invested we were with the various things of our generation. One of my personal favorites is the discussion of the cartoons we used to watch as kids. Usually by the end of the conversation, I usually hear, “The old cartoons were way better. Not like the ones we have now.”
The interesting thing is that the kids in this day and age will eventually grow up and have a near similar conversation that I had with my coworkers and will think that the cartoons they had were better that the ones that will be out for kids in that time. We seem to forget that kids are invested as much now as they were when I was a kid. The idea is that these stories and fads build up our childhood and become common threads that bond people together. Regardless, celebration and nostalgia happens across many generations.
Embrace. For us as we become old geezers, it becomes harder and harder to accept the new and the changes that come along in life. It is easy to accept the old ways and the old thoughts and reject the new. If you have a conversation with someone of the older generations, especially in reference to remakes of movies, they will most usually prefer the old to the new i.e. Total Recall, Star Trek, Star Wars (I’m actually on board with IV, V, VI ), and Ninja Turtles. The thing is that it is hard to pull away from the old feelings of nostalgia because of the excitement and wonder they experienced seeing these movies for the first time in comparison to seeing them as adults.
I have students who raved about how good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) was and I for one love the old ones. You know, the tacky yet hilarious real life rendition where they pretty much were wise cracking and joking the entire time. I remember my excitement as a kid and how I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I look back on it and see how dumb the movies are, yet I love them because I remember the fond memories they hold watching it with my family. I recently got the chance to watch Michael Bay’s rendition and I can see the appeal that made it enjoyable for my students. I have to say it wasn’t half bad. There were small parts that paid homage to its predecessors, but there were plenty of elements that allowed it to step forward into its own. I really liked how the turtles individuality was pushed even father into the realm of physicality and outfits rather than just relying weapons and bandana color. Overall, not the best movie ever but it was enjoyable nonetheless. In comparison with new ideas and new stories, we have to let go or at least suspend our nostalgia and approach it with child like wonder again. When we take the time to embrace the new it allows us to celebrate and appreciate the old while ushering in the new contemporary versions.
I think Geoff Johns accurately describes what his goal is for DC appealing to new fans while remembering the old fans. Celebration and Embracing are two ideas that work in conjunction together. Without each other they would simply be isolated and empty. You cannot celebrate without embracing the next step forward. I have heard apprehension or choices to avoid certain shows simply because the show didn’t follow the story or the characters don’t totally follow their literary counterparts or just simply didn’t get “everything right”. Then they find themselves clinging to the past and not embracing the future, which I find rather sad. Embracing the new characters and new interpretations help us to appreciate and celebrate what has been established. We wouldn’t have the new without the old but all repetition and no creative expansion starts to make something feel stagnant and dated. So as the new plans and ideas arise with the advent of more comic book related entertainment, let’s embrace the new and exciting ideas that the studios have to offer so we can celebrate the nostalgia and memories that their previous counterparts left for us.