The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth Part II: from Greek to Geek

Are you even a good franchise without at least two parts?

Shonda Rhimes (Titan and notable Nerd) said every good story has one simple message: you are not alone. In this sequel we explore the magic (and art) of Big Nerds who are changing the world. Or at the very least, mine.

I’ve already regaled you with tales of my Little Nerding (see part I) and how it’s already altered the course and content of my life by simultaneously: annoying many of my friends and making me a more open-minded, tolerant, diverse, interesting and interested human being. I learned to be unapologetic in the things I love, accepting no limits (social or otherwise). The Big Nerds change popular culture with this fervour. In leiu of a definition, I offer this visual representation instead:

One of the coolest shots in modern cinema

Any work (of art or writing) that makes you feel like you want to do homework and find the bibliography is a wonderful thing. Where you feel like understanding the references and influences will both enrich the experience as well as introduce you to a while new world (or, in most cases, old work being reintroduced to a new audience).

I spent a lot of time in university referencing papers (the most arduous part of the process for those of us who hadn’t hacked life) and wondering why any of us bothered writing anything because apparently every idea has been thought of already. If we’re all just recycling and referencing endlessly, why not read the original stuff and leave me out of it (This was usually at around 2am, peak hour for desperation and procrastination)? Now I know better: influences do not stand in the way of originality. Only you can use the information that already exists and make something entirely new. A nerd learns all the rules and breaks them interestingly [*].

If Greek mythology defined an era of storytelling, The Superhero movie behemoth that has dominated the cinematic landscape of the last two decades and helped translate traditionally “nerd/geek” culture to the mainstream, is ours. It started because a lot of Big Nerds took some big risks. 20th century fox took a risk on some marvel properties it owned and delivered the Xmen to big screens (with varied results including a career defining turn as Wolverine by noted theatre geek, Hugh Jack man) at around the same time that Sony did the same with their marvel property about a certain beloved Wall Crawler and here we are. We do not speak of the Fantastic Four (if Michael B Jordan couldn’t save the reboot, it’s best left alone).

Comic books as a medium is an age old nerd staple. The people behind it are as dedicated to the artwork, dialogue and story as your favourite artist, director or writer. At least the greats did. The movie that inspired this post (Spiderman: into the Spiderverse) had me going to the cinema (an unprecedented) 3 days in a row, is the culmination of a lot of Big Nerds at work from Bob Kane, Stan Lee and Jack Kirbey to Kevin Feige, Christopher Miller and Peter Ramsey.

Now is as a good a time as any to mention that, traditionally (that is to say initially) I’m a DC girl. I’ve talked about this at length to anyone who patiently suffers (or enjoys) my rants. Batman is my favourite Superhero (Spiderman is a very close second) and in terms of iconography, every kid knows who Superman is and has at least heard of the Justice League. The Avengers were, by comparison, as obscure as the Guardians of the Galaxy (with whom they’ve been known to team up with in the source material) to regular audiences. I mean seriously: what even was a Thor (OK, he actually exists in Norse mythology so that’s a bad example)? Iron man anybody? Pre-Fiege, could you even mention these guys in the same breath as Wonder Woman, The Joker or even Professor Xavier?

Enter Kevin Fiege and 2008’s Iron Man. It didn’t help that Christopher Nolan (another Big Nerd) was at the climax of his critically acclaimed Batman trilogy, restoring the iconic cowl and Cape to its former glory iconic restoration (read: rescued). Kevin Fiege had a dream and Big Nerded his way into popular culture, ushering in a then, unprecedented era of interconnected stories, post credit scenes and a cinematic universe. The Avengers laugh at the Justice League now (well, at least in cinema).

Enter Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse

I spent the dying moments of December 2018 campaigning for everyone to go watch this now Academy award winning film (please. note for the record that this particular sentence was “a leap of faith” typed in early February prior to the actual Oscars ceremony). It stole my heart and renewed my faith in the now over-saturated Superhero market. I got to watch see a young Black/Latino boy don a beloved hero’s uniform and literally make it his own. He got to be complex and interesting and something entirely his own and now gets to define a new age of the Superhero for younger audience (not to mention its gorgeously animated in a exquisite detail. It is clearly a labour of love). If Walt Disney (another giant Nerd and lowkey weirdo) changed the face of animation, this movie took a mother giant leap forward. Go. See. It.

Editor’s (Smug) note: its now also a Golden Globe and Academy Award winning movie.

On the eve of the final season of Game of Thrones, I would be remiss not to mention that this dusty 20 year fantasy epic (and let’s be clear, fantasy falls squarely in the traditional geek box) was brought to life by the Big Nerds DB Weiss David Bennioff. The biggest drama series of modern times was brought to life through literally fangirling. The now legendary story of how they got the rights to adapt A Song of Ice and Fire series to television is that George RR Martin, creator and notable nerd, (influenced by and improving on the formula of the Fantasy giants that came before him, see: Tolkien, Lewis) asked them a question that only humans deep within (then unconfirmed) fan theories: R+L=J.

Winter is coming and the nerds aren’t going anywhere. You should want to be a part of it, you could be the next game hanging Big Nerd. The world will never be the same.

*. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso


Next: Part III Rise of the Black Nerd

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