This post features SPOILERS for both Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy and the DCEU film SHAZAM!.
I’ve started noticing that Western visual media really likes using Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” for high-energy sequences. It’s popped up in no less than two TV commercials that I’ve seen since the release of Bohemian Rhapsody last November. One commercial featured the people in the ad singing it while walking, running, or doing other high-energy things, while the other one used the original recording with Freddie Mercury’s vocals. It’s also apparently showed up in works like Shaun of the Dead for action scenes. My new favorite Netflix obsession, The Umbrella Academy, uses it for an action scene in this way, while the new DCEU film SHAZAM! uses “Don’t Stop Me Now” for a comical superhero training montage. I bring this up because I think one of these two uses of the song works better than the other, and I want to talk about why that is.
First of all, which characters do these scenes involve, and what are they doing?
I have noticed that a lot of people, both professional critics and random people in comment sections, seem to completely write off a story if the plot feels at all familiar to them. If they can guess any aspect of what’s coming, the story is trash. This worries me because it seems that both critics and average viewers are thinking mainly on a plot level, and not seeing that even mainstream stories (or the good-ish ones, at least) have themes and motifs that recur throughout the narrative.
Additionally, because of this plot-level thinking, there are entire essays and videos dedicated to 1) trying to figure out the internal logic of fictional universes (spoilers: there are almost always plot holes and inconsistencies), or 2) nitpicking lines or moments that the reviewer didn’t like.
An example of the first kind of video/essay is this 10-minute video of a guy trying to figure out how the Tablet of Akhmenrah works in the Night at the Museum franchise. While I agree with him that the Tablet probably imbues the statues (like Teddy Roosevelt and Sacagawea) with the souls of the people they represent, I think that he spends too much time trying to make the Tablet’s behavior throughout the series make consistent sense. NATM is a silly franchise (though it has its merits in terms of themes and character development), so the Tablet works whichever way the screenwriters want it to work to advance the plot. Yes, sometimes the inner works of fictional plots and plot devices really are that simple.
The Dark Knight came out ten years ago. I was 18-going-on-19 when the film was released*, and I was absolutely obsessed it. It was so dark, so gritty, so unlike any other superhero movie at the time. It was raw and real and got straight to the darkness in men’s souls.
Ten years down the line, I kind of despise it for what it did to superhero and blockbuster movies.