Welcome to Breaking Geek, a weekly column where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary and reactions to the most interesting news of the week, using his expansive knowledge of all things geek!
On this very special episode of Breaking Geek, I review the importance of Kevin Smith in my life after Sunday’s scare and suggest a direction for the Men In Black spinoff that may be close to casting Chris Hemsworth.
Kevin Smith Lives! – What The Man Means To Me
As I hold my action figure of Kevin Smith from Mallrats, given to me by a friend in college at the height of my Kevin Smith obsession, I realize this toy could have been my first action figure with a deceased actor’s likeness, should events have gone differently Sunday night, when Smith had a massive heart attack (I mean, I have original trilogy Star Wars action figures, but I don’t think I ever had a Princess Leia… and I had Wizard of Oz over-sized action figures — or dolls — but I was in preschool then). My Mallrats poster in the kitchen too, would feature a deceased star.
More than that, we would have lost the King of the Geeks, a man for whom I owe my outright geek identity, many of my interests, and filthy, yet often polite, way of speaking (Kevin Smith calls everyone “sir” unnecessarily, and now so do I). Though we usually celebrate someone’s life after they pass, we did have a scare this week, so why wait to celebrate the life of Kevin Smith and his extremely important impact on my own life.
I was late to the Kevin Smith train for someone my age, but when I finally caught it, I rode it… hard.
In February 2006, for my final birthday party sleepover before my graduation from high school in a few months, we were set to see Lady in the Water, but at the last minute, chose Clerks II instead, without having seen the original. This decision changed my life, though I should note I had seen Jay and Silent Strike Back in 2001, but at that time was overwhelmed by a movie that referenced all of Smith’s work, including actors like Ben Affleck and Jason Lee playing multiple past Kevin Smith characters.
After Clerks II, I devoured Kevin Smith’s entire catalog, loving it all — in the end, my favorite being Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — but finding myself best represented in Mallrats. This idea is what first brought me into the Kevin Smith fold, that there were characters like me on the screen, not the ones saving galaxies, but the ones who talked about philosophy from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
After catching up on all the films and now in the dorms at college, I rented An Evening With Kevin Smith on Netflix (DVDs, as this was very, very early days of streaming) and realized the man had a lot to say outside of his screenplays… and that Silent Bob is a surprisingly fantastic talker, weaving beautiful and hilarious stories in and out of questions at Q&As.
After discovering this new cult of Smith, I moved onto his first podcast, Smodcast. As the years passed and more podcasts were added to the Smodcast Podcast Network — most notably Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave which doesn’t feature Kevin Smith at all, but rather his best friends – I listened to all of it. Smith would tell me personal stories when I commuted from college in Orange County to my internships in L.A. He and his friends would accompany me as I developed photos in the dark room. On my way to class, or even walking about L.A. to the grocery store or movie theater, I always took Kevin Smith with me, my friend when no one else was around who would tell me anything.
Smith is more than just an intangible entertainer, he feels like an acquaintance or even a long distance friend, even when I too was living in Los Angeles. I know about the night he first met his wife, and the painful sex that followed due to Smith cutting his penis on his pants zipper while dry humping prior to the real thing. I know his greatest accomplishments, fears, and failures, with Smodcast disappearing for months after Zack and Miri Make a Porno flopped, returning as a 24 hour pothead. Most importantly, he drove home the message that the only way to do anything, is to try and just don’t stop.
I saw his first performance at the Hollywood Improv, a live recording of Smodcast with Scott Mosier that was incorrectly recorded and heard by only us few in the room. I bought Smodcast posters and actual art based on Smodcast from Gallery 1988 on Highland Boulevard not far from my West Hollywood apartment. I loved Kevin Smith, and while I still appreciate all he has given us, his latest films haven’t driven me wild, and in his stoner state some of his podcasts suffered.
Kevin Smith gave us the first Stan Lee cameo of note and the first movie universe that culminated in an event film bringing together all his wonderful characters. He had his own online forum where he interacted with fans constantly before they were cool and long before modern social media. He revolutionized the podcast scene, introducing many talents to the platform that have gone on to create their own podcasting networks. But most importantly, he pulled back the curtain of his life, showing us the good, the bad, and the ugly, reminding us the only way to accomplish our dreams is to stop being afraid and just do it!
Would I be writing a column called Breaking Geek, here today, were it not for Kevin Smith? Very unlikely, as I may not have chosen the right path to get to LRM, and I certainly wouldn’t celebrate the title of geek quite as enthusiastically.
That is why Kevin Smith is more than just a filmmaker, podcaster, or entertainer, he truly is the King of the Geeks. And I very much look forward to what he has planned for us next!
Long Live Kevin Smith!
Chris Hemsworth In MIB? My Pitch For His Partner & Direction of the Franchise
Should the deal go through, Chris Hemsworth may be your next Man in Black!
Any good Men In Black film, or buddy cop type team for that matter, needs a straight man and a loose-canon/comedic partner. Though Hemsworth could play the straight man or comedic side of this classic buddy dynamic, my money is on him being the comedic one. After all, Sony did see him shine in their own film Ghostbusters (2016), and Hemsworth’s comedic chops in Thor: Ragnarok garnered a lot of attention (and box office dollas’).
So, who to play the straight man? (Go forbid they go double funny cop, that’s what kills most modern buddy cop films). I mean, Tommy Lee Jones got to be hilarious, but it was accomplished by playing it straight opposite the enthusiastic Will Smith. No nonsense. That sort of thing.
I say, make it weird, throw everything on its head, and be inclusive of other races and sexes. Don’t get two white guys.
I propose, and stay with me here ‘til the end… Zendaya.
Here’s the pitch. Zendaya actually plays an alien who is far older than Chris Hemsworth. She’s the straight “man,” an elder alien who has been on the force longer than even Will Smith’s Agent J. If aliens were allowed in the MIB before then. I don’t want to get too Bright with this, but maybe she plays the first alien allowed to be an MIB agent? Just brainstorming here. Point is, I see her character from Spider-Man: Homecoming, with a few tweaks, fulfilling all the requirements of the role… and giving it quite the twist!
But, if you did go double comedy, you could give Will Arnett a break and bring back his agent from MIB3. I’d be down with that.
I’m sorry if you hate me for the idea, but we cannot have two white men, or even two men be the Men in Black in 2018. I mean, why should we when there is so much underutilized talent in Hollywood? Yes, MIB canon allows for a woman to be a “Man in Black.” Just look at the end of the first film, which the sequel quickly erased in Alien 3 fashion. Chris Hemsworth already fulfills our white guy quotient, now let’s be progressive.
If for no other reason than to avoid an all-female remake of MIB. Because, going back to Ghostbusters, I hate when Hollywood just gender swaps roles. Write an original movie instead!
And yet… where I really want Men in Black to eventually head is closer to the comics, R-rated and less comedic. This film, a spinoff or “soft reboot” will surely be a comedy, though an R-rating would be nice now that it has been proven again and again that R-ratings don’t kill Blockbusters unless they were already dead (though honestly, the MIB franchise may be out of steam).
Then, someday, perhaps when this movie fails, we can actually reboot the franchise two decades later and lose the comedy. I mean, I love MIB as is exists (though could do without MIB2), but a serious take could be cool… especially if it were set in the first few years on the MIB’s existence in the early 1960s/1950s. That is my ultimate MIB movie (though this version would require two white guys due to MIB canon).
Now, I want to hear from YOU! Agree with my opinions? Think I’m wrong about everything? Let me know! Let’s get some fun discussions and arguments going in the comment section below.