Thursday 8 January 2015

References and the Pavlovian nerd response

One of the things I have to look out for when watching shows like Agents of SHIELD or Arrow is how pleased I get by little references. I'm not alone in this, its so reliable a formula that Marvel/Disney pretty much relies on it for good press. Think how whenever a new Marvel film trailer comes out the chatter online almost always focusses on details like how they “got the costumes right” or how some snatch of dialogue or half-visible prop that refers to something in the lore.

There are internet videos and even semi-serious articles all over the place that point out the Easter eggs in these movies, like the half-second in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when one of the helicarriers targets the Baxter Building.

Its a great trick, too, because the filmmakers have worked out they can use it to give themselves cover when they want to change the lore to better suit a film. Take Guardians of the Galaxy, for instance, which makes huge changes to Star-Lord and Drax's backstory, even to the nature of what Nowhere is, but is so faithful in spirit and in the little details that no one cares. It is also a fantastic movie, don't get me wrong, but I think there is a pragmatic trade-off going on.

And I fall right into it, I am by no means immune. The other day I ploughed through the first disc of Arrow season one with a friend and I don't think a live action comicbook adaptation has ever taken as many liberties with its source material than this one but it is also filled with little nods and references that had me laughing and my friend looking at me in confusion. And the biggest laugh that got the oddest look? When Ollie, Tommy and Dig wander into a fast food place and its Big Belly Burger. How do I even explain that? This silly little background gag from Justice League International that exists for no other reason than to give longterm comicbook geeks like me a little flash of recognition.

Though I must admit the reference that interested me the most was when Ollie says a train is going to Bludhaven because I would bloody love a Nightwing TV series. 


SallyP said...

It is the little things isn't it?

James Ashelford said...

Very much.