This is the latest in a series giving you the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of Seinfeld will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal). Here is an archive of all the Foggy Ruins of Time installments so far.
Today we take a look at a reference to a down point in Steven Spielberg’s career, as reflected in an issue of the Avengers…
This was suggested to me by reader Dennis L. to be used in my “hilarious in hindsight” column, The Past Was Close Behind, as Dennis notes “Wasp and Ant-Man remark that they have as little of a chance of winning as Spielberg has of ever winning an Academy Award.” And of course, in the years since this comic book came out in 1986, Spielberg has won two Oscars for Best Director.
However, that’s NOT what the reference was. Here is the moment from Avengers #275 by Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer…
As you can see, the reference is PAST tense.
That is because this is a reference to the 1986 Academy Awards where Spielberg was famously snubbed out of even receiving a NOMINATION for Best Director for The Color Purple, despite the film receiving 11 nominations in total.
The American Comedy Network put out an amusing list of explanations for why he was left off of the list…
“We`re sure you`ll have a favorite `Amazing Excuses` why Spielberg wasn`t nominated. Ours is he`s kind of wimpy looking and he needs a haircut,“ the Comedy Network says. Another possible reason: “Everyone voted for someone else because they all thought the other guy was voting for Spielberg.“
So Ant-Man is saying that they have the same odds as Spielberg had of winning the Oscar, which was zero percent because he was not even nominated. He was obviously being too pessimistic, since he and Wasp DO pull the victory out.
In any event, while it didn’t work for Past is Close Behind, Dennis, it DID work for Foggy Ruins of Time. Thanks!
If you have a suggestion for a future installment of Foggy Ruins of Time, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!