Deleted Scenes

Text (howard_buttonfor context) and a deleted footnote (the fun part) from the methodology chapter of my dissertation, currently in development:

Superhero comic book culture itself recognizes its own media situation: the Marvel Comic Universe is sometimes, in fandom particularly, referred to as Earth-616, while the Cinematic Universe is conceived of as an ‘alternate dimension’—a variation rather than a derivation—known as Earth-199999.[1] 

[1] This is an intentional distinction on the part of the content creators, but the discursive situation is further complicated by other factors, such as business and politics.  For instance, the Spider-Man and X-Men films do not exist in nor recognize the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–or each other, for that matter–yet they nevertheless stand in an identifiable proximity to the same Marvel Comic Universe that provided their origins and which, through the assignment of designation numbers, both recognizes them and reserves some potential for mounting future narrative mergers and crossovers featuring them.  Their designations are as follows: the Spider-Man series beginning with 2002’s Spider-Man is denoted as ‘Earth-96283’, while the ‘reboot’ is known as ‘Earth-120703’, effectively validating the concomitant canonical existences of both: according to Marvel, both are Spider-Man.  The X-Men series, beginning with 2000’s X-Men and extending into the Wolverine franchise constitutes Earth-10005 (though others, such as 2016’s Deadpool and 2017’s Logan, occupy Earth-TRN414; the new television show Legion, meanwhile, takes place in another X-Universe offshoot, Earth-TRN620).  Interestingly, the Marvel Database ( lists the original X-Men film universe, Earth-10005, as ‘destroyed’, due, narratively-speaking, to the timeline-bending events of its ‘last’ film, Days of Future Past, itself a plotline culled from the 616 universe.  But it doesn’t end there, the complexities of licensing have also given us, among others, Earths 121698 (beginning with 2005’s Fantastic Four film), 400083 (2003’s Hulk, as opposed to the iteration of the character that appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers films, part of the aforementioned 199999), 92131 (cartoons such as X-Men: The Animated Series), 58627 and 58732 (the 1989 and 2004 Punisher films), and even 58470 and 58472 (the Howard the Duck film and its own subsequent comic book adaptation, respectively; ‘58471’, oddly, has no listing).  

Our own material reality is designated as Earth-1218, but we also inhabit what Marvel calls the “Omniverse”, which itself comprises: 

“every single universe, multiverse, dimension (alternate or pocket) and realm. This includes not only Marvel Comics, but also DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse, Archie, Harvey, and every universe ever mentioned or seen (and an infinite amount never mentioned or seen)….  The Omniverse is EVERY reality, including those published by all other companies. Even fan-fictions, cancelled works, mere thoughts created by people, and fictional universes yet to be published are considered part of the Omniverse, simply put the Omniverse is every version of every type of reality and existence imaginable.”  

Thought Experiment

Here’s something fun.  You can actually do it if you want, but I think reading it’s probably just as effective for getting the idea across:

On a sheet of paper, with a pencil, write anything you want–something short, to keep this manageable; maybe something about how awesome your day’s going to be.  Then, just to double down, write it all over again, just the same.

Now, erase the first version.  Put the paper aside and go to your computer or phone.  In some text field somewhere, type another message to yourself: maybe it’s different, though the possibilities for questioning seem exponentially increased if it’s the same as the message you originally wrote.  At any rate, make sure you do it at the very beginning of the text field.

Whatever you’ve chosen to type out, skip a few lines and do it again.  Don’t copy and paste, either; go through the motions again, pay attention to the fact that you’re doing what you’re doing.

Now, of course, erase the first version and all the spaces before the second.  There should only be one version of the statement on your screen, at the very beginning of the text field.

So, now, what’s on your screen?  Is it the ‘Second’ version of the message?  If so, why?  What, at this point, distinguishes what’s there now from what was there when you typed the message originally?  You can clearly see that the two versions of the message you wrote are still two versions, despite the fact that one was ‘erased’ (its space, its impression maintained).  And, if you typed the same message that you wrote, how many versions of that message exist now?  Is it some different number than once existed?  Does the difference matter?

Random Theory

Ce ne sont pas Mark Gruenwald

Mark Greunwald (1953-1996) was a writer and editor of numerous Marvel titles, including Captain America, What If?, and most relevantly here, a number of editions of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Mark Greunwald is the [psychoanalytic figure of] The Father of the Marvel Universe.

Grueny: Keepin’ it firmly away from The Real since at least ’78.




The Trouble with Naming

What have we already named?  What do we not yet have a ‘proper name’ for?  In English, we tend to rely on ‘thing’ as a placeholder until we’ve come to consensus on a better term–or, at least, until various parties have submitted their respective names for the subject and one or a few have shaken out in regular discourse.

Here, then, maybe the start of that process.  What do/should we call those media products that are made to appear within a narrative?  Products that, at some level, are still made for us–the real-world audience–yet which don’t directly acknowledge any intended audience but that of the narrative in which they appear?  Should we be calling them full-fledged ‘media products’ in the first place, or does their contingency on the larger narrative somehow negate the fact that they were yet produced and can be independently viewed, at least sometimes?  For example, see the comic book that appears in the trailer for Logan, a page of which was released via Tumblr, as well as the newscast that serves as the trailer for Stranger Things‘ second season.

Are these ‘inward facing’? ‘Narrative-bound’? ‘Viewer-blind’?  None seems entirely accurate for the unusual position of this type, though I’m not yet sure that the two examples cited above are even the same animal themselves.  Specifically, the end of the Stranger Things newscast, in which we see only an empty chair, might be the point at which that product specifically stops being for its own narrative realm and starts being only for us.

Suggestions for tagging this phenomenon would be welcome.


Random Theory

​ If we could, would we really want those we care about to care about the things we care about quite as much as we do, in the same ways we do? Because, if they did, couldn’t they become as much of an authority on those things as we are? And then, wouldn’t that change our relationships with them? Would we continue to be the sort of authority about that thing that we were, that we enjoyed being?