Calling screenwriter Max Landis “controversial” is probably incorrect usage of the word. It’s like when JBL calls John Cena “controversial” on Monday Night Raw… he’s not controversial, he’s divisive. Muhammad Hassan was controversial, John Cena is just a guy who splits the allegiance of the audience right down the middle. When I see reactions to Landis online, I don’t see controversy, but rather polarized opinions. Personally, I’m a big fan. I hang out with Texas independent wrestlers and bounce shamefully nerdy fantasy booking off them, so it’s not hard for me to live vicariously through a guy that hangs out with Dolph Ziggler and fantasy-booked his way into writing a Superman vs. Joker one-shot for DC. With any luck, I’ll evolve into him when I hit level 36.
I’m getting into this discussion because Landis has a new short film out, and it’s one hell of a ride. When he’s not developing a script or directing music videos for Ariana Grande, he occasionally has downtime which he’ll devote to frantic, long-form storytelling videos that he makes with the help of his friends. You may remember his explanation of DC Comics’ mid-90’s “Death and Return of Superman” starring Elijah Wood and Mandy Moore, but he’s been making similar videos since he was in college. He’s now tackling the life and times of his favorite wrestler, Triple H. Oh, and did I mention that most of the roles are gender-swapped?
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That’s Chloe Dykstra you’re seeing as the King of Kings, along with a MASSIVE rogues’ gallery of cameos from actors and wrestlers alike. Macaulay Culkin and Chris Hero in the same video!
I like to think that Landis is a solid portrait of the New Wrestling Fan. If you’ve somehow found your way to With Spandex, you probably fall under that banner, too. The New Wrestling Fan is a genre-savvy, pop-culture obsessed person who admires both athleticism and storytelling, and isn’t afraid to look beyond WWE in search of the best. There’s a healthy respect for vintage stuff and the Attitude Era, but also innate understanding of why that doesn’t quite play to a 2015 crowd. Wrestling isn’t Memphis, wrestling isn’t the ECW Arena, wrestling isn’t wrestling. But wrestling can be the closest we get to mythic storytelling in the modern, internet-driven age, and that’s what hits the switch in our brains that makes us stand up and do the THIS IS AWESOME (CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP) chant.
But seriously, why was there not a Terra Ryzing chapter to this?