This Week

Scott Pilgrim sought and found

Jun 15, 2007

A Space Pirate's Bounty

HOLLYWOOD – The estate of Christopher Summers is suing the mammoth Disney corporation for royalties from the recent films ostensibly adapted from the company’s own theme park ride. Attorneys hired by the late Christopher’s son Scott Summers and his wealthy “professional” associate Emma Frost (a name as reputable in the business world as it is in fashion circles – that is to say, roughly bottom of the barrel) claim that the record-breaking Pirate blockbusters, what some have called Disney’s current saving grace in an otherwise faltering few fiscal years, have cribbed numerous characters, events, and the “general feel” of the life of buccaneer Christopher Summers – known to the many readers of Marvel Illustrated News as Corsair of the Starjammers (pirates of the cosmic seas).

The last two installments in Disney’s series, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, have prominently featured a Captain Davey Jones and his monstrous crew of shipmates. The Summers family claims that the idea and in some cases appearance of this crew share more than a passing resemblance to the Starjammers. The space crew has a long history of welcoming animal-human hybrids into its fold. For some time, Christopher shared a close relationship with “Catgirl” Hepzibah; while she may not have an exact duplicate in the Disney films, humanoid amphibian Ch’od would have fit right into Jones’s sea-creature entourage.

Furthermore, Emma Frost has even called Captain Jack Sparrow a “caricature of Scott’s father. Disney just accentuated his swashbuckling facial hair to a comedic degree. And what Mr. Depp likes to call a Keith Richards impression is really a crass rendition of Christopher, lacking only the kindness, nobility, and loving nature that made him respectable even in such an unseemly profession. But trust me, I know Keith Richards very well – too well – and his swagger is not nearly as sexy as Mr. Depp’s.” These potentially circumstantial connections could in fact be another example of Disney’s oft-accused (though never proven in court) trend of appropriating stories and characters and rearranging them to fit into Disney molds. See for example, the controversy over Atlantis, which some critics claim to have lifted most of its content from the Japanese docudrama Namora: The Secret of Blue Water.

Yet the connection remains tenuous in the eyes of most outside parties, and some have called the entire suit a “money-grubbing ploy” to, as one clearly sympathetic editorialist put it, “fund scientific research into the feasibility of quadruple-F breast implants and self-adhesive ‘clothing’ of microscopic sizes.” Some (more sincere) advocates of the Summers estate and their infamous allies have rallied behind the cause with little attention to its legal merit; caught on a night on the town with the Hilton sisters, Northstar was assailed by tabloid reporters begging for a comment. The Canadian mutant did not hold back: “Think of it as reparations. Whether Disney stole Corsair’s stories or not, they are a corporation built on the foundational power structure of this country that has been exploiting and demonizing mutants for decades. The Disney guys know it, they just try to hide it – why do you think they’ve kept Song of the Siryn locked up in the ‘Disney Vault’ all these years? They know their cartoons are racist, but these days they like to pretend they’ve always been about equal-opportunity family entertainment. That said, if Disney ever needs to cast their first male Princess – or Queen – call me!”

In the Big Apple’s old Mutant Town, M of the controversial X-Factor echoed Northstar’s sentiments: “I heard they’re even trying to make a big publicity deal about the first ‘Mutant-American Princess’ in their next movie. Yeah, as if Ariel was just a pretty white girl with your average birth defect. You ask anyone with some sense, that girl was either a self-loathing mutant or a grossly racist caricature of an Atlantean. Yet she remains one of Disney’s flagship cash cows. The Summers deserve every penny they can get from those *******s. I just hope the X-Men share the wealth with the rest of us (not that I need it).”

But why now – why have the Summers only spoken up in time for the third Pirates film? The estate claims that the latest installment has exploited the sensational death of pirating patriarch Christopher in order to sell tickets. The “lucky timing” of the film’s opening, coming directly on the heels of (within weeks, and according to inside studios sources on an “accelerated” track for release) has tickled many as crass. The X-Men’s Iceman offered his feelings on the matter: “Even if it wasn’t intentional, they could have at least given us time to mourn and wrap our heads around recent events, instead of just rubbing it in by exploiting imagery of the kind of swashbuckling we just lost from our real lives. There’s a sensitivity needed here that big companies like Disney just can’t fathom.”

But not all 198 mutants are rallying behind this cause. Outlaw, a mutant only tangentially associated with the X-Men “family,” saw no problem with what Disney has firmly asserted was a complete coincidence. The Texan knockout asked her fellow mutants, “Just because our favorite pirate is dead, we are all supposed forget that cute scurvy dogs like him ever existed? We should be cherishing the kind of raping and pillaging that Corsair embodied – if we just suppress it, the Shi’ar win!”

Prominent tinseltown producer Al Kraven could not muster up any sympathy for the Summers: “I don’t even see the similarities. Corsair is a space pirate. He runs with a bunch of alien refugees. His life is REAL. Have you seen any of these Caribbean movies? They have all these wooden boats – like in oceans and whirlpools and stuff – and they go around fighting skeleton ghosts and giant octopuses, octopi, whatever. It’s complete fantasy. Some people need to get a life.”

Christopher Summers will be missed by sons Scott and Alex. He was recently sent to join his wife Katherine in that great cabin in the sky at the hands of his alleged third son, Gabriel – by whom we assume he will not be missed.

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