Monday, February 24, 2014

Deathlok In Name Only

If you keep up on your comic news and/or are a viewer of Marvel's Agents of Shield, then you might be aware that they just recently added a bonafide superhero to their ranks, namely Deathlok.  Or at least, that's what all the hype (both sanctioned and fan-generated) would have you believe going into their last new episode.  Sadly, who they introduced has about as much to do with Deathlok as they do with Captain America.

This was the least badass picture I could find.  I wanted to give poor Mike a fighting chance.

For those of you not in the know, AoS's Deathlok is Mike Peterson, the super-ish human from the pilot episode.  He ran around the pilot episode as a man corrupted by the power he was given, trying desperately to show his son he was a hero while coming off more like a monster; Standard tragic hero stuff.  For a one off, it wasn't terrible even though I personally hoped that he was someone from the Marvel catalogue and not someone made up whole cloth for the show.  

Ten episodes later, Mike showed back up as a Shield agent in training until he was assigned to a mission with the team that brought him in originally.  And of course, in the name of dramatic twists, he betrayed the team and met his apparent demise running between two exploding trucks (like you do).  Alas, he wasn't dead, just missing a leg and kinda singed with a spy camera implanted in his brain ready to blackmail him into doing more misdeeds.

Is it healthy to leave those scars exposed like that?

In the latest episode, T.R.A.C.K.S, he received a fancy bionic leg and got all stone cold killer on us.  After his rampage, at the end of the episode as he's asking the people on the other side of his blackmailing camera eye if he can see his son again, the camera zooms WAY into his leg to show us that it is indeed the fabled 'PROJECT: Deathlok'.


It's just…  ugh.  Like most of Marvel's Agents of Shield, it misses the point.

You know, if this was a licensed show (like how X-Men and the Fantastic Four are licensed properties to Fox), I would be less disappointed, but it's because of Marvel Studios fantastic track record of adaptations that makes this sting.  I expect this kind of hodgepodge mentality when it comes to other executives who think they know better, but not something under the fantastic stewardship of Kevin Fiege.

Deathlok, at his core, his a character about humanity: It's a man fighting against technology to reclaim his identity.  Honestly, he's Robocop, just instead of a Detroit police officer he's a solider.  Meanwhile, Mike Peterson is a man fighting for redemption, like The Hulk.  He's made some mistakes, but always for noble reasons, and now has to prove that he's better than the monster he's made out to be.  It's a fantastic arc, but it's not a Deathlok arc.  You can't just slap a robot leg on him and call it Deathlok; that's disingenuous to the character.  Both of them.

I had really high hopes for Marvel's Agents of Shield coming into the season, but all it has done since is let me down.  The characters are bland, the stories are shoddy, and now they're not respecting the source material.  Worse, the show runners come off as smug assholes when responding to valid criticisms about the show.  

For the record, I don't really want Agents of Shield to feature a new superhero every week or am holding out hope that Tony Stark is going to show up.  I just want the show to be compelling, with interesting characters and engaging plots, but if they opt to debut a hero from the books in the show, I want them to be faithful to their core.  

So far, they're off to a terrible start.


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