Will there be an “Alpha Flight” movie?
Some of us who were kids in the 1980s felt a twinge of nostalgia this summer thanks to rumored plans for a film about the Canadian superhero team, Alpha Flight. The news couldn’t come too soon. John Byrne’s well-written and expertly illustrated comic book series, which spanned from 1983 to 1994 and saw several one-off revivals here and there, could be a thrilling cinematic experience if done right.
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I can count on the fingers of one hand how many superhero movies I have loved. It’s not just guilt about enjoying things that I should have gotten past; is that so many adaptations make tons of money seem oddly overrated. The Avengers movies embody our Faustian market with CGI, which would have made up nearly 100% of Infinity War’s visuals, including the protagonists, and the Endless Show fails to distract from the mediocrity of the writing. Three hours is a long time to wait for lines like these, from Thanos to the climax of Endgame: “As long as there are those who remember what was, there will be those who can’t. accept what can be. They will resist.
The 2000 X-Men movie is fine for about fifteen minutes. After the thrilling first scene where Wolverine fights an alien in a cage at a bar in remote Alberta, the whole thing turns into a dead mess with a somewhat incoherent plot. The 2009 Watchmen adaptation flaunts a working vice cardinal that strives too hard to be daring, as gratuitous and nasty backdrop succeeds each other with the apparent expectation that viewers overlook the vulgarity of the dialogue, characters, and situations. It just doesn’t gel, and the whole thing has an arching, smiley quality that makes it hard to sit down. The scene where Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” plays isn’t inspired, it’s awful.
But an Alpha Flight movie has real potential. If you were an American kid in the 1980s, here’s a show that took you to a society like ours, but different in subtle ways. The cityscapes of Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver have been vividly rendered and beautifully depicted in well-written and informative captions, as has the wilderness of northern Quebec , the desolate borders of the western plains states and remote areas of the Northwest Territories. A mysterious atmosphere attracted the reader. Behind the pleasant or bland facades of everyday life in Canada lay the sinister actions of immensely powerful villains and the machinations of Secret Ministry H, a government agency tasked with harnessing and deploying the powers of mutants. against threats to the security of Canada and the world.
And the mutants were a very engaging bunch. Here we had imperfect individuals who attracted awkward young readers who were just beginning to find their way in life. All the protagonists of Alpha Flight were sympathetic. But aside from James MacDonald Hudson, who had something of a reserved Clark Kent personality and whose superhero alter ego Guardian almost always had a bold, daring presence, the members of Alpha Flight had a quality. or an attribute that could make it a target of jaded. bigots.
Marrina was a hybrid of human and aquatic creature. Eugene Judd, aka Puck, was a dwarf. Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, alias Aurora, was struggling with dissociative identity disorder, that is, split personalities. And his brother, Jean-Paul Beaubier, aka Northstar, would become the first openly gay character in a Marvel comic book. Adding more diversity, the team included a First Nations mystic, Michael Twoyoungman, alias Shaman, and a Polish Jew, Walter Langkowski, alias Sasquatch.
All of these characters struggled. Northstar and Aurora were both alienated from a very traditional sectarian order that sought, as late as the 1960s, to enforce certain mores and ban certain literary works in Quebec. Shaman, too, was at the crossroads of the contemporary world and a world that modern people have failed to understand or accept. Aurora’a’s relationship with Langkowski was complicated by the existence of not only two personalities but an emerging third. James Hudson’s relationship with Heather MacDonald Hudson was heading for tragedy. Marina and Snowbird were unlike any other on the planet. Puck was ostracized in bars who learned to stand up for himself, and even though he was little you certainly wouldn’t want to receive one of his punches.
They stand guard for us
The authors explicitly described Alpha Flight as a team drawn from different parts of Canada and, therefore, a kind of unifying force for a country torn by internal strife. Alpha Flight could play the role of a galvanizing and mobilizing team, a team that people could believe in no matter where they live in Canada or whatever their accent. It is a crucial role.
Today, it is not easy to say what precisely Canada is, other than in the crudest geographical terms. The nation’s identity was the subject of a furious controversy that came to a head when the criminal actions of radical secessionists sparked a national emergency known as the October Crisis of 1970. More than 40 percent of Quebec voters chose secession in a 1980 referendum, and barely less than 50 percent in a second in 1995. Today, the embers are still burning, the feelings are still there, even so many Quebecers tend to avoid the subject in the conversation.
The villains of the Alpha Flight series, no less than the heroes, are outgrowths of a complex social reality. In some cases, these are mutants that Department H enlisted and who went out into the field with good intentions but then became unhappy. One of the more interesting characters in the series is Alec Thorne, aka Smart Alec, whom James Hudson personally recruited to serve in a prototype group known as The Flight. Thorne has no other powers than his exceptional intelligence.
Some people consider him to be the smartest man in Canada, and he claims to be the smartest man in the world. Thorne wields no weapons but dons a device called a brain helmet that increases his already awesome IQ in the stratosphere. By wearing this helmet, Thorne can anticipate the movements of others and can see and hear strata inaccessible to most people.
Smart Alec is one of the most complex and believable characters in the world of Alpha Flight. While it may be in bad taste to talk about his IQ, it is fascinating to watch Thorne strut confidently around a chess tournament and haughtily tell a lower intellectual that this player might want to take another look. on the absurd position in which he has moved. his queen.
Mostly, Thorne is fascinating because he’s a believable villain in a larger-than-life setting. He is an impetuous egotist. Sure, he’s smart, but the smartest man in the world?
But Thorne is as erratic on the pitch as he is personally conceited. His anxiety over a real emergency, triggered by villainous Egghead’s plan to launch a nuclear missile into New York City from Canada, resulted in the death of another member of the Squadron. Following this incident, Hudson decided that a tiered structure for mutants in the service of Department H would work better. Therefore, the real pros are Alpha Flight, the middle level is Beta Flight, and those like Thorne who need guidance and training the most make up Gamma Flight. Indeed, Hudson demoted Thorne. This predictably fuels Thorne’s resentment and helps him accept an offer from wheelchair villain Jerome Jaxon, who harbors a long and deep grudge against Hudson, to join another group, Omega Flight.
In issue 12, titled “One Shall Surely Die”, Jaxon’s plan to get revenge on Hudson sets off events leading to a furious battle between Omega Flight and Alpha Flight inside the World Trade Center, culminating in the disappearance apparent from Hudson. For his part, Thorne loses his sanity after grabbing the Shaman’s Medicine Pouch in the heat of the moment and watching it despite warnings from its owner that Thorne has no idea what’s going on. hides in its depths. This leads to an unforgettable scene. One image shows Thorne’s perfectly distinct features under his encephalo helmet. In the following image, they are slightly blurry. In the following, they are blurry. What goes on in his mind is entirely left to the reader’s imagination.
Canada’s greatest heroes
The makers of an Alpha Flight movie have an array of fascinating options to explore. It would be interesting to see a Mission Impossible-type apocalyptic scenario in which the negotiations between radical secessionists and the rest of the world boil down to a chess match, and Alpha Flight must find or release a player qualified enough to compete with Smart. Alec and deflates his claims to be the smartest man in the world.
But whatever the plot of the filmmakers, what’s important is that they give us more Northstar, more Aurora, more Puck, more Marrina, more Sasquatch, more Shaman, more Snowbird and more Guardian, more endearing and vulnerable characters that spoke directly to young readers who are just starting to find their way around the world.