Few filmmakers are as associated with comic books and geek culture in general than Kevin Smith
. Pretty much every movie he’s made is peppered with references to Star Wars
, Marvel Comics, and more. (He even thanked comic book writers like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore in the credits for Dogma
In addition to Smith’s work in print on characters like Daredevil and Batman, there’s his unproduced screenplay for Green Hornet
(which he later adapted to comics) and his stories about working with producer Jon Peters on an aborted Superman
movie which have become the stuff of geek legend. (Peters wanted Smith to add scenes to the script where Superman fights polar bears and a giant mechanical spider.) And, of course, there’s his comic-book store Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the setting of AMC’s new reality series Comic Book Men
(premiering this Sunday at 10pm/9c).
There are so many comic book references in his movies, it’s hard to pick just one. Let’s take a look at a few of the best moments in Kevin Smith’s geek-friendly filmography.
A running joke throughout Chasing Amy involves everyone referring to Jason Lee’s comic book artist character, Banky, as a “tracer.” Banky is the inker of Holden (Ben Affleck)’s comics, but everyone assumes he just traces over the artwork. This is the source of much irritation for Banky, a feeling shared by many an inker in the comic book industry. Only Smith could pull off this sort of inside baseball joke. In fact, Chasing Amy may be the most accurate depiction of the comic book industry ever put on film. It’s definitely the only flick that features a main character who wears a Madman T-shirt.
Comic-book geek Brodie (Lee again) achieves the ultimate nerd dream when he meets Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee at the mall comic-book store. And what does he do? Asks him about The Thing’s, er, lil’ Thing. Still, Stan does offer some fatherly advice on finding that special someone, in addition to boasting about how he’s ahead of Mick Jagger in the love department. He also reveals how characters like The Hulk and Dr. Doom reflected his feelings over the girl who got away. (Turns out Stan’s advice was actually a soliloquy from a Spider-Man comic.) A fun, heartfelt performance from Stan before his comic-book movie cameos got a bit out of hand.
Smith’s comedic road opus finds Jay and Silent Bob traveling to Hollywood to put the kibosh on a movie version of the Bluntman and Chronic comic that Banky and Holden from Chasing Amy based on the hapless duo. The scenes of the Bluntman and Chronic flick give Smith a chance to riff on Joel Schumacher’s rubber-nippled epic Batman & Robin and cast Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, as the villainous C–k Puncher. (James Van Der Beek and Jason Biggs are supposed to play Bluntman and Chronic, but Jay and Silent Bob take their place.) Riddled with pot jokes and bodily-function humor, the Bluntman and Chronic movie-within-the-movie is like Mystery Men meets Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. It’s a wonder that Smith hasn’t made a full-length version.
Silent Bob Flies Like Batman, Mallrats
Fans of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman got a kick out of seeing Silent Bob fly across the mall like The Dark Knight. (OK, maybe he more glided and then landed with a thud. Still, he got to wield a sweet Bat-grappling hook gun.) This is just one of the comic book references in Mallrats, many of which are dropped by funnybook nut Brodie (Lee). Beyond obsessed with superhero anatomy, Brodie expounds on his theory about how Lois Lane can’t have Superman’s baby in one memorably profane scene. Many a comic book nerd has pondered that conundrum.
Jar Jar Binks and The Lord of the Rings are just two of the beloved geek institutions that get lampooned in Smith’s continuation of his breakthrough film. Comic-book references abound as well, including Jay’s line about the “hard plastic cage” that houses Magneto in X-Men 2. It’s interesting how much comic-book movies have changed since 1994’s Clerks. Back then, all Smith had to reference was a handful of Batman and Superman movies. There’s so much now for his characters to poke fun at and dissect. What do you think Jay and Silent Bob would’ve made of Watchmen, a film which featured a naked blue dude for most of its running time?
Hooper X and Banky Debate Archie’s Love Life, Chasing Amy
Since it’s set in the world of indi
e comix, it’s not surprising that Smith’s third film features some of his best riffs on the world of capes and tights. In addition to the spot-on comic book convention scene, View Askewniverse fans love quoting the scene where Hooper X, the faux-militant African-American comic creator played by Dwight Ewell, and Banky debate the sexual proclivities of the Archie gang. Despite Hooper’s well-reasoned argument about Archie and Jughead’s close, uh, friendship (Holden points out that Archie never did settle on Betty or Veronica), Banky refuses to believe that his beloved Riverdale gang were engaging in tawdry affairs. The hilariously filthy scene rings true for anyone who’s ever engaged in a geeky late-night bar debate.
For more on the filmography of Kevin Smith (and lots about zombies), check out his appearance on The Talking Dead — and be sure to tune in to the return of The Walking Dead this Sunday at 9pm/8c!