Opening Credits Sunday: The Others (2000)
Bishop: “I prefer the term ‘Artificial Person’ myself.”
The whole idea of synthetic people, robots, androids, call them what you will, gaining, or trying to gain sentience is really nothing new. Data, on Star Trek: The Next Generation spent seven seasons of TV trying to do just that and I think there’s an argument to be made that HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey gained sentience, and that’s what drove him nuts. But just because all this has been done many, many times before doesn’t mean that story creators shouldn’t be using those same types of characters or exploring those same kinds of stories today. Even if they’re treading over the same story ground that others have already gone over before their stories will be different since they’re creating them through the lens of the present.
I don’t know if it’s the world we’re currently living in or something else but stories about robots becoming self-aware is really popular these days, with movies like Ex Machina and Ghost in the Shell and TV series like Westworld and Humans all exploring this same idea and coming at it in very different ways.
Humans is a series that originates in the UK and aires here in the US on AMC, the second season of which debuted last week. The series takes place in a very-near future world where “synths” are everywhere, do all the jobs that most people really don’t want to do and have even started turning up in homes to act as housekeepers, cooks, nannies, etc. But one scientist invented a code that made some synths self-aware, and in the first season these synths start coming together to try and escape the officials who want to wipe their memories since the fear is that self-aware synths would be the first step in knocking mankind down a few pegs on the evolutionary ladder.
The second season of Humans continues the story of the synths on the run and introduces a few new characters, namely Dr Athena Morrow (Carrie Ann Moss) who seems to have come up with the next step in computer artificial intelligence except she needs more computing power, and sees these self-aware synths as the final step in her AI quest.
Humans reminds me the most of the movie Blade Runner, in so much as it has the synths on the run from people who are out to kill them. But not so much in the tone and feel of that movie to the TV show. In many ways Humans is a bright series that takes place in gleaming offices and warm homes. I’d say that in tone and structure Humans is more akin to a 1990s series than the more modern series of today — and I don’t mean that as an insult.
“They created me, but they cannot control me.”
So far this year I’ve got articles written, or mostly written, to ones that will start publishing in early April. I’ve got one on Kong: Skull Island, Power Rangers almost complete and my annual summer movie preview in the works too. And another article after that which will either be about movies of 2007 or more probably a self-examination of my TV watching habits then we’ll be in the summer article season. I’ll tell you, it’s much better to be looking forward out a few months to things I’ll be writing when the weather’s started warming up than looking out a few months to things I’ll be writing about when it’s cold and cruddy outside.
To me, the modern era of superhero films began on November 21, 2000 with the release of the first X-Men movie. To be sure, superheroes had been a part of movie theaters since at least the 1930s and one of the biggest movies of all time Batman came out in 1989. But it wasn’t until the release of X-Men which was the first superhero team movie, had a big budget and used modern special effects is when our modern era of superhero films started.
And over the last 17 years there’s been dozens of other superhero movies to follow like Spider-Man, Hulk and new Batman and Superman movies to name a few. But the one constant over this time is that actors will cycle in and out of roles portraying the heroes. Since 2000, two people have played Batman, two Superman and two The Incredible Hulk. And while this really hasn’t happened for characters like Iron Man or Captain America yet, Marvel has announced that while older characters like those will still be a part of the Marvel movie universe, other characters in other films like Doctor Strange and The Guardians of the Galaxy will be taking their places in future movies.
That’s why it’s so interesting that since the start of the modern era of superhero movies, only ONE actor has played the character of Wolverine consistently over all those years and eight films; Hugh Jackman. Jackman began his career in his native Australia before relatively quickly landing the role of Wolverine which made him an international star.
Logan, aka Wolverine, debuted in X-Men sort’a like he was in the comics at the time — an oddball loner with two incredible powers. Logan can heal himself of any wound almost instantly and has a set of six adamantium covered claws that pop out of his hands whenever he wants to cause mayhem. His backstory is a mystery. The most he can remember is of military experiments that enhanced his powers, hence the claws of adamantium. But the side-effect was to effectively erase his memory. So, with his incredible healing factor Logan might be 30 years old or he might be 130 years old, we/he can’t be sure.
And because we can’t be sure means that Jackman as Logan has been able to pop up in some unexpected places in X-Men movies over the years. There are really two different X-Men movie franchises, the first trilogy that began in 2000 and the second First Class trilogy that began in 2011 and went back into the 1960s to see what the origins of the X-Men with new actors. But a clever plot-twist with the second film in that series Days of Future Past meant that a Wolverine living in our present could be sent back to relive his life and have adventures in the 1970s since Logan would look the same as he does today as 40 years ago.
But all things must end and now comes what’s reported to be the final Wolverine movie Logan, due in theaters March 3. This time, it’s the near future and an older Logan, still Jackman, and a much older Professor X (Patrick Stewart) must protect a girl with special powers from a group of rogue robotic assassins out to steal her for themselves or eliminate her if they must. And it’s up to Logan, who’s healing powers have started to break down, and Professor X, who’s begun to lose his grip on sanity, to save the girl to start a new era of X-Men.
The only thing is this idea of the “last” Wolverine movie. Now I could see it being the last Jackman Wolverine movie, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Wolverine continues long into the future with many different actors all playing that role. Don’t believe me, just ask the likes of Adam West, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer or Christian Bale if they thought they’d be the last guys to play Batman and see what they say.