Sunday, July 3, 2011


This is the first of three entries based off of Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. One of the subplots in that movie involves a mermaid. I'm also going to be drawing in some inspiration from another movie about a mermaid . . . no, not The Little Mermaid (that took place in the same universe as the other animated princess movies), but Splash. (Splash was made by Touchstone Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista, which means it's at least connected to Disney).

Mermaids as presented in On Stranger Tides are basically predators. They take the form of beautiful women, from the waist up, and use their beauty and their singing to draw sailors close enough to, well, eat. However, rather than killing a man, they can choose to give him the ability to breathe underwater. Likely, this is how they breed, as the pirates agree that mermaids have no men among them (presumably they cannot bear male children). When removed from the water, the fishlike tails of mermaids will separate into legs, making them indistinguishable from human women, at least until they get wet again.

In Splash, there's no indication that mermaids eat men. However, we do see Madison, the mermaid who comes on land to pursue her love for Tom Hanks, eat a lobster by tearing through its shell with her teeth. As in On Stranger Tides, we have mermaids who turn human when out of water and who can give men the ability to breathe underwater. Splash adds some extra detail to the mermaids, giving them their own language (which resembles the sounds of dolphins), the ability to learn a language in an afternoon, a city under the sea, and the idea that there is a time limit on her visit to the surface world. As I interpret it, if Madison stayed on the surface until the full moon, she would never be able to return (the line in the film was a little vague, and apparently a deleted scene referred to a bargain struck with a witch, much like The Little Mermaid). Men who are taken under the sea by mermaids cannot return to the surface (presumably losing the ability to breathe air), but they retain their human form.

Fitting it into the WW4C

Until now, the WW4C doesn't have an Atlantis, but the city under the sea that we see at the end of Splash can serve. Since this city was built by the mermaids, it doesn't fit perfectly as it was never sunk, but if you need heroes who come from an undersea kingdom, this fills the role.

At the time of On Stranger Tides, mermaids are common knowledge, and although they will occasionally take men to live with them, their primary use for humans is as a food source. However, one mermaid, known as Syrena, falls in love with a missionary and takes him to live with her.

Presumably, the missionary teaches the mermaids that they should not prey on mankind, and the mermaids hide from humans. By the mid-1980s, they are only known as myths until the mermaid called Madison is exposed and briefly becomes national news. Mermaids are known to exist now, although the location of their city is unknown.

I'm going to posit the existence of good mermaids, who live in an undersea city, and take men to husband voluntarily (or mate on the surface and then return below), and evil mermaids, who did not abandon the old ways and still attack and kill sailors.

Heroes could include mermaids or men who live among the mermaids (and require breathing apparatus on land but can survive in the ocean depths unaided). Villainous man-eating mermaids could serve as a threat to heroes in general, or as a barbarian horde devoted to the destruction of the kingdom of the mermaids.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Here's where I break the rules.

Because no one asked for it . . . .

Okay, turns out one guy asked for it, but I forgot about it during the year hiatus, and this is the movie that got me back to the blog, so without further ado . . . .

Howard the Duck (1986)

The Plot:

Howard is a duck from another world, who gets sucked through space and across dimensions and deposited in Cleveland, Ohio. He meets up with Beverly, a family-friendly punk rock girl (played by Lea Thompson with a display of weapons-grade cuteness), who takes him in and seems oddly drawn to him. Bev introduces Howard to a doofy scientist, Phil, (played by a not terribly famous yet Tim Robbins), who happens to be dating one of her bandmates.

Phil also happens to work with Dr. Walter Jenning, who created the device which brought Howard to Earth. When Jenning tries to use it again, though, he ends up calling down one of the Dark Overlords of the Universe, which possesses him while it incubates to take form in our world.

Howard and his friends (including Dr. Jenning/the Dark Overlord) have various misadventures, including a trip to a country Cajun sushi restaurant where Howard is almost cut up and cooked by the locals, until Dr. Jenning uses his newfound powers to destroy everything and rescue Howard.

They get back to the lab, and Dr. Jenning starts to use the device to bring more Dark Overlords down, intending to put at least one of them inside Bev. Howard and Phil get a neutron disintegrator that the lab had made for the military and use it to destroy the device and to fight the Dark Overlord, which has come out of Dr. Jenning and is now a giant stop motion monster.

In the end, the day is saved, Howard becomes the manager for Bev's band, and everything goes back to normal. The movie didn't do well, though, and there ended up being no sequels.

Fitting it into the WW4C:

Okay, this breaks all the rules, like I said in the title. It's not a Disney movie. It is a Marvel movie, but from before Marvel was acquired by Disney. However, I'm going to allow it.

The whole "Duckworld" idea, which is present in the movie and in the comic wasn't the intent of Howard's creator, Steve Gerber. Gerber meant for Howard to be from the same universe as Mickey, Donald, and Goofy--the universe I wrote up earlier as Calisota. Even in the movie, there's nothing to say that there can't be intelligent dogs or mice there as well. So I'm going to say that Howard is from Calisota. With the last name Duck, he might even be related to the McDuck clan.

What's more, the device (the name of which I've forgotten, to be honest) which brought Howard to Earth kind of reminded me of Thor, where the Rainbow Bridge which allowed for travel between the worlds created Einstein-Rosen bridges - wormholes. (Which would make Howard's world Duckheim, I suppose.) In addition, Howard gives a good idea of what happens when a character from Calisota travels to another, non-cartoon world: it ends up as a "real" humanoid animal.

I'm torn over whether Howard should end up in the WW4C or the Marvel universe. I kind of want him in the Marvel universe, alongside Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America. (I really do want this; I would love a remake of Howard the Duck in-continuity with those movies.) However, since the Marvel universe is only a sideline to this blog, and because the tone of the movie seems more in tone with the WW4C, I have to put him here.

It's questionable how heroic Howard was in the 1980s and 1990s. He is a master of Quack Fu, and although he's not the type to seek out trouble, he does seem to stumble across it fairly often. If Howard was involved in superheroics, it's only reluctantly, but when trouble did come up, he'd step up to the plate.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

The plot:

The plot on this one is a bit muddied, since it involves time travel, but here we go:

Dastan is an orphan adopted by King Sharaman of Persia and raised as his own son, alongside the King's actual sons Tus and Garsiv. The King's brother, Nizam, serves as the King's advisor. The brothers attack the city of Alamut, believing it is selling weapons to the enemies of Persia. During the attack, Dastan acquires an unusual dagger, and Tamina, the Princess of Alamut agrees to marry Tus to cement the peace.

After the attack, Dastan presents King Sharaman with a cloak which turns out to be poisoned. Dastan flees Alamut with Tamina. They have various adventures, and Dastan learns that the dagger contains the Sands of Time, which can be used to turn back time. Using the dagger to survive attacks on their lives, they learn that the villain is Nizam, who fabricated the reasons for the attack on Alamut so that he could go back to a time when Sharaman's life was in danger and make sure he died, so that Nizam would become king.

At the climax, Dastan and his allies fight against Nizam and his hired Hassansins. Everyone but Dastan dies, pretty much, and Dastan does the thing he shouldn't do: plunge the dagger into the Sandglass from which the sands are obtained and open it up, allowing time to flow freely. Dastan reverses time to the point where Alamut is taken, prevents the death of Sharaman, exposes Nizam, and ends up with the dagger and the girl.

Fitting it into the WW4C:

The star of this movie, for purposes of the WW4C, is really the Dagger of Time. Anyone who has possession of it can reverse time, undoing moments, days, or even years (as Nizam wanted to do). It doesn't make its wielder invincible, but it does give them a lot of second chances to get things right. From a game standpoint, though, the only person who knows time has been reversed is the wielder, so the wielder just looks like he's supercompetent.

Also of note are the Hassansin, which appear to be just Assassins, but with weird powers. Zolm, the leader of the Hassansin, appears to be able to control serpents. All superhero universes seem to need a secret villainous organization based around a snake theme, and so I'm going to take the Hassansin, call them the Assassins, and use the snake theme for them. (Even though I've grown accustomed to the Assassins being the good guys after the Assassin's Creed video games.)

Alternate Universe: The Grid

In Tron and Tron: Legacy, we see two versions of an alternate universe, the Grid, which exists inside a computer mainframe. It's possible, with a specially-designed laser, for people from our world to travel into the Grid. It's also possible, with the right code on an identity disc, for things from the Grid to come into our world.

Tron (1982)

Hacker and game designer Kevin Flynn is trying to prove that Ed Dillinger, a senior executive at Encom stole his software. When he gets access to Encom computers, the Master Control Program, which appears to be artificially intelligent, takes control of a "digitizing laser" and shoots Flynn. Flynn isn't killed, but is instead transported into the world of the computer, the Grid.

Flynn discovers that the Grid is inhabited by humanlike Programs, who speak of their creators, the Users, as gods. The Grid is under the control of the MCP and his right-hand Program, Sark. Flynn helps Tron, a security program created by his friend Alan Bradley, and Yori, created by his friend Lora Baines, overthrow the MCP. Flynn discovers that as a User in the Grid, he can create things by imagining them.

Flynn eventually gets out, using an Input/Output tower to beam himself back into the real world, exposes Dillinger, and becomes the new CEO of Encom.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Set twenty-seven years after the original film, Tron: Legacy finds Kevin Flynn's son Sam as the majority shareholder of Encom. Encom, however, seems to be in the hands of the Dillinger family again, as Kevin Flynn disappeared twenty years previously. Alan Bradley is an executive at this new Encom. Sam contents himself with living off of his dividends and playing an annual practical joke on the board (for instance, releasing the code for Encom's new operating system to the world for free).

Alan gets a page from Kevin's old arcade, which has been shut down since Kevin went missing. Sam investigates and finds himself zapped by a digitizing laser and sent into the Grid. This is a new Grid, though, Grid 2.0, which has better graphics than the old Grid, but still the same problem: a tyrannical program has taken control of things. This time it's Kevin Flynn's program, Clu. Sam gets drafted into "the games," and is revealed to be a User. He's facing death at the hands of Rinzler, the champion of the games, but he's rescued by another Program, Quorra.

Quorra takes him outside the programmed confines of the Grid, where Sam is reunited with his father, who has been trapped in the Grid for the past two decades. The plot is revealed: after his experiences with the first Grid, Kevin Flynn created a new Grid, and used the digitizing laser to travel inside it. He took his Program, Clu, along with him as well as Tron. Curiously, new Programs started appearing which had not been written by anyone. Called Isos, these new Programs were a spontaneously-created form of life. Clu, having been programmed to make a perfect Grid, saw the Isos as an imperfection and waged a war of extermination. Kevin Flynn went into hiding inside the Grid because Clu was attempting to obtain his "identity disc," which would enable him to use an I/O tower to go into the real world.

Kevin, Sam, and Quorra go back into the Grid to escape and bring down Clu and prevent him from taking an army of programs into the real world. It's revealed that Quorra is the last Iso, and that Clu rewrote Tron, creating Rinzler. Kevin Flynn sacrifices himself to defeat Clu, and Sam and Quorra escape into the real world.

Fitting it into the WW4C

In the first movie, the MCP was attempting to take control of the world by taking over other computer systems. This implies that, even if the Grid originally started on one computer, it could expand into other computers. In the second, Clu was attempting to take over the world not by expanding into other computers but by actually sending an army of programs into the real world.

Tron: Legacy answered the question I'd been wondering for quite a while, whether travel between the real world and the Grid was only possible for Users, or whether Programs could do it, too. Programs seem to need the special code that only Users possess to make the transfer, but it is possible.

At the end of Tron: Legacy, Sam and Quorra have come into the real world, and Quorra appears to be a real, live flesh-and-blood woman. Kevin Flynn said that the Isos could revolutionize the real world, so the question is whether there's something special about the Isos themselves, or just their existence.

Since this is a superhero setting, I'm imagining there's something special about Quorra herself. I'm imagining she's something like a human-form Cylon, but with heightened strength, speed, agility, etc. She can probably also interface with computers. (Note: there's nothing in the movie to support any of this, where from what we see, her only abilities in the real world are riding tandem on a motorcycle and enjoying the feeling of sunlight on her face.)

There's also the question of how much Clu could have brought through into the real world. Could non-Iso programs have made the transition? Could the vehicles and weaponry make the transition, and would they work in the real world? Obviously the more fun answer is "yes," so that's what I'm going with.

Encom (which seems to be the Microsoft of the WW4C) could use the Grid and digitzing laser not just to travel to and from the Grid, but to create new things in the Grid and then bring them into the real world. Perhaps more importantly, since Encom seems to be a benevolent corporation with Sam Flynn and Alan Bradley in charge, an evil genius could steal the technology and use it to make anything he or she wanted.

I'm back.

That hiatus ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. And I still haven't read and digested DC Adventures, or Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition. I still mean to, but I got distracted by shinies. Anyway, we're back in business.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Temporary hiatus

The blog isn't dead. I've just been distracted. I don't know how frequent updates are going to be for a while, but I intend to get back into the swing of things once the DC Adventures RPG becomes available and I can start statting up some characters.

Until then, I really do intend to finally rewatch Sky High and post about it, and maybe just some random posts trying to collate the data so far. It's not helping, though, that Shout Factory just released a DVD box set of "Tales of the Gold Monkey."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alternate Universe: Calisota

I had been planning to take a break from "historical" movies and take a look at Sky High, so I can start putting things together into the modern setting. However, yesterday I discovered that my storage area had apparently been hit by a tidal wave sometime in the past few months, so I spent a good chunk of this evening digging out piles of mutilated boxes and seeing what sort of damage had been done.

Anyway, inspired by a thread on, I got to thinking about the alternate universe of Calisota, where animated shows like Darkwing Duck and Ducktales took place. The universe of Calisota is named after the state of Calisota. It's a universe of funny animals. Ducks seem to be the dominant life form, with dogs a close second, and scatterings of other animals. It does not contain humans, and travellers to Calisota will become funny animals for the duration of their stay.

The Great State of Calisota.

Calisota is one of the United States. It contains just about every climate to be found in the continental U.S. It's also got several major cities including Duckburg, St. Canard, and Spoonerville. The descendants of the Clan McDuck can be found in Duckburg, St. Canard is protected by the Terror That Flaps In The Night, Darkwing Duck, and Spoonerville is home to the Goofs, scions to an impressive family history.


Inhabited primarily by warthogs, Thembria was the "other side" during the Cold War.

Cape Suzette

Cape Suzette is a city-state located somewhere in the South Pacific. During the 1930s, it was a hotbed of spies, air pirates, and pulp adventure.

The Justice Ducks

The greatest super-team in the state of Calisota, the Justice Ducks are composed of Darkwing Duck, Gizmoduck, Stegmutt, Morgana McCawber, and Darkwing Duck's sidekick Quiverwing Quack.

S.H.U.S.H. and F.O.W.L.

S.H.U.S.H. is a government spy agency headed by the owl J. Gander Hooter. It is locked in seemingly endless struggle with the agents of the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny. S.H.U.S.H. will often draft superheroes to its cause.

Current Events in Calisota

The cartoons on which Calisota is based ended in the mid-1990s. If time advanced normally from then, consider the following:
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck are probably in their early 30s by this point, as is their childhood friend Webby Vanderquack.
  • Gosalyn Mallard, adopted daughter of Drake Mallard (aka Darkwing Duck) is in her late 20s.
  • Drake Mallard and Morgana McCawber would get married.
  • Donald Duck and Daisy Duck would likely get married as well.
  • In an old Carl Barks story, Scrooge made Huey, Dewey, and Louie his heirs.
More Stuff

There's a lot more than can be done here. Honestly, Calisota is its own full setting. Checking wikipedia for Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, and Quack Pack and following the links is a good way to waste an afternoon. Some things don't line up 100%, like the fact that Quack Pack took place in a world with mostly humans and eliminated most of the characters introduced in Ducktales.

My own personal take on this is that Huey, Dewey, and Louie retain the character traits they had in Quack Pack (Huey is the leader, Dewey the computer expert, and Louie the athlete). Daisy remains a television reporter, and Donald (having gotten out of the Navy) works as Daisy's cameraman. Otherwise, it's like Ducktales continued.