Episode 355: Give Us This Day Our Daily Chewbacca

The Overthinkers tackle a playlist of trailers for Star Wars, Batman v Superman, Terminator Genisys, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

otip-logo-podcastoneBen Adams, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink the trailers for Star Wars, Batman v Superman, Terminator Genisys, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and which terrible movie they’d rather watch than Paul Blart Mall Copy.


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12 Comments on “Episode 355: Give Us This Day Our Daily Chewbacca”

  1. Margo #

    I admit that I too have had a weird compulsion to watch the Atlas Shrugged trilogy. Its’ problems are myriad. Among the more significant problems is how industrialist BAMF Dagney Taggart is played by three different actresses. The first and best Dagney was Taylor Schilling, who has since found better things to do.

    I have read Atlas Shrugged. It’s not something I’m proud of. A film/TV adaptation might work with a dystopian Hunger Games-type mood crossed with a Disneyesque retro-future aesthetic. And if you can’t get Jon Hamm to play John Galt, don’t even bother.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      The biggest problem with Atlas Shrugged, I think, is that the story is a fantasy (A very basic and universal childhood fantasy – wouldn’t they miss me if I ran away?), but it’s treated with a lot of verisimilitude, which tonally just makes no sense. Especially since the name is about a fantastical mythological creature who does not actually exist.

      Atlas Shrugged is a story meant to be told under the sea, like in Bioshock. Or in space. Or in magical castles. Not in like an actual sort-of-real-life railroad company.


      • Margo #

        But nothing says rugged individualism and contempt for the collective good like public transportation!


  2. Benjamin Ragheb #

    I watched Unbreakable last night. Had Fenzel not set it up with the question of what it is trying to say about superhero culture, I don’t know if I would have.

    The brief Animal House style captions at the end — “David went to the police and turned him in” — were actually kind of funny. I don’t think they were intended to be (the whole film is Very Serious) but they are sort of delivered like a punchline to a long joke.

    One part that stuck out to me was when David, accepting his role as hero, goes to where the people are (a train station?). He has visions of several crimes: a woman who shoplifted some jewelry; a guy who raped a woman; and a pyschopath who has murdered a father, tied up his family, and taken over their home.

    First of all, this scene is only possible because David is not just “unbreakable”, but he also has an ill-defined psychic ability (a sixth sense, if you will) that gives him visions when people do something wrong. Without that, the film would have to deal with the real world problem of how vigilantes even find crimes to fight.

    Second, David has a choice of which crime to pursue. What criteria is he using to make his decision? Assuming the visions were all of the past, not the future, rescuing the children seems like the one where he could do the most good. (Though now that I think about it, he wasn’t aware of the children until he got to the house.) The film seemed to be pointing out how little benefit being unbreakable delivers when dealing with crime in the real world. Even the psychopath could have been handled — maybe even more competently — by the police.

    It’s kind of funny, because one of my favorite tropes is The Superhero’s First Day On The Job, where he stops a petty thug from stealing an old lady’s handbag and scares the crap out of the thug with an overwhelming demonstration of force (e.g. Superman crumples up a handgun like it is tinfoil).


    • Mark Lee OTI Staff #

      On behalf of the rest of the panelists, let me express my profound regret that we did not make an “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” joke while we were talking about “Unbreakable.”

      If someone hasn’t made a version of the Kimmy Schmidt theme song where Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis’ lips are synced to the music, well, I ma just have to get on that. After I finish all of these Eurovision videos, of course…



    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Right, the criteria are weird. He doesn’t do hero things because it is right or because of the positive impact on people or society. He does it because, in a new agey way, like transcendental meditation or The Secret, it is some sort of semi forgotten ancient wisdom that doing this will make him happy and help his relationship with his wife.

      So, he vigilantes the thing that is truest to his nature and most likely to make him happy, which also tends to be a very rare and brutally violent situation.

      And the implication is that these rare situations in real life are very common in comics because stopping them is very psychologically satisfying to superheroes.

      And also by implication they are that much more psychologically satisfying for super villains to cause.

      And then in the end you sorta see why society has no use for superheroes anymore, or super villains, because these situations are not what modern life is about.

      And thus being one of these things is much more a “me” problem than an “us” problem.


  3. Shane #

    Hello Overthinkers! I found your podcast several months ago, and have enjoyed spending too much time on things that may not deserve such attention since then. I always enjoy when the conversation brushes against issues of religion because I am a pastor/theologian. I wanted to offer a catagory that may help fit into place some of the discussion around this episode’s topic. The Eucharist is all sign and symbol and participation, but it points to the event called “atonement.” This is a made up word from medieval English that is just as it sounds at-one-ment. Or the act of reconciliation. In Christian theology there is no one answer to what the atonement (the cross death of Jesus) was or accomplished exactly. All the councils and creeds say on it is that it works. Meanwhile, these trailers are like the same thing just as you all pointed out the participatory nature and the desire of audiences to reconcile with themselves, the series, and each other. Or it is sacrificial. Or it brings together the community. In any case, whatever the question is the atonement is the answer. This has been true in Christian theology. Star Wars has always played a religion-like role. One may even register in Britain as an official Jedi practitioner. This whole discussion generates a new hope, and am glad to join you in overthinking!


  4. Three Act Destructure #

    I see Wrather’s hesitation around the term “modern mythology” echoed a lot, coupled generally with a more didactic and skeptical attitude than it is here, in think pieces around the web. I wonder if maybe part of the problem is that when we think of mythology we tend to think of more classical mytholigizers and the ways in which religion, heartfelt belief and politics have found common ground all the way back to antiquity.

    But isn’t a heavily connected, multicultural society with an atheistic, or at least agnostic, government and a daily relationship with scientific inquiry and advancement going to have a different relationship with any kind of mythology, not just the commercial kind, than its forebearers or even some of its less rational and progressive contemporaries? And speaking of commercial, why wouldn’t our myths be sold to us by the Disney corporation? We’re capitalists, aren’t we? It’s distasteful, sure, but only in the same way that everything that comes out of America is, at least a little bit.

    Then again, we could just be using the wrong terminology here. I imagine people would be more comfortable with the term “folk tale” or “legend” being applied to the superhero genre and that would avoid some of the uncomfortable subtext, even if it is spot-on. Batman’s used the latter without comment for decades.

    I hope this isn’t just blanket cynicism but doesn’t every culture inevitably tell the stories that it deserves?


  5. Tyler #

    Before listening to this episode I watched a ton of trailers to prepare, and really the only one I enjoyed besides Star Wars was for Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t think that is a coincidence: the trailer for Fury Road seems to be playing up the nostalgia factor much like Star Wars. The aesthetic is straight out of the latter two Mad Max movies. This is extremely apparent in the trailer that straight up uses footage from the earlier movies as an introduction. I also found it to be a good comparison piece to the Terminator: Genisys trailer. Where Terminator: Genisys gets lost in its own twisting canon and loses what people liked about the franchise to begin with, the Fury Road trailer is two minutes of crazy dudes riding spiked dune buggies and blowing stuff up in the desert. That sold me on it right away, and isn’t that the point of trailers?


  6. Margo #

    As long as this thread is still open…

    We don’t have TIME to watch all three Atlas Shrugged movies!

    Instead, you can escape from Jack Bauer’s interrogation by subjecting Jack to the horror of watching himself as a corrupt Roman senator (Is there another kind of Roman Senator?) who sounds like a castrated Brit. Or something. I am referring to the 2014 film Pompeii, a disaster movie by every definition of that term. Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t just chew the scenery. He swallows it whole. It’s case study of when Bad Accents happen to Good Actors. See also: Jodie Foster in Elysium.


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