POP CULTURE: How Clones Make Everything Worse
- by Señor Editor, 22 February 2015
There are a lot of things not to like about clones. Most people value individuality and originality, and clones will never have that. That’s just not what they’re about. They are copies, fakes, doppelgangers – you get the idea. Still, some creators may think that putting clones in their work may be a good idea! That it may be interesting! They are wrong. History shows, time and time again, that clones never make anything better. In fact, they make everything worse. Allow me to demonstrate.
At least it felt like 17 years.
Spider-Man’s “Clone Saga” is historically the biggest clone-related fail in comics. And it went on for a really, really, really long time. The hype behind the story that revealed the Spider-Man you liked for the last 20 or so years was really a measly clone, boasted that it’s the comicbook event that will change everything!!! And for me it did, because that’s the story that made me stop reading comics for about 4 years.
For those of you unaware, the Clone Saga is the story that revisited a 1970’s “Amazing Spider-Man” story, where Spider-Man gets cloned. He fights with the clone and in the end, only one of them survives. The Clone Saga says that no, both of them survived, and the Spider-Man we liked for 20 years is actually the clone! Or is he? It goes back and forth about 20 times, introducing more and more Spider-Man clones to the mix in the meantime.
Most people hated it, and they were right. It was poorly written, went on for ages, was depressing and had Peter Parker (the one we actually liked, now dubbed a clone) hitting his pregnant wife. It was terribly done, and it was a bad attempt at making us like the “real” Spider-Man (now going by the name “Ben Reilly” and looking exactly like Peter Parker, except blonde) more than the one we already liked.
While revisiting and retconning past stories is something Marvel has done before, Clone Saga is the first real major example of going back decades and changing something significant. These various Illuminati stories? The Iron Man being responsible for creating Hulk thing? The “there were other teams of X-Men before” thing? Does anybody consider any of these stories to be the best around, or modern classics? No. And we probably have the Clone Saga to thank for opening that door for Marvel, and getting them set on the idea that changing old ideas is just as good as making new ones.
Now wouldn’t it be better if clones never appeared in Spider-Man comics?
When Sir Alec Guinness made a vague reference to some past “clone wars” in the original Star Wars movie, he had no idea how much shit he just started. There are many articles about the problems with “Attack of the Clones”, and even though they are nowhere as good as anything you’d read on Trash Mutant, I’m gonna make this one a quick entry.
Everybody liked Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back. He looked cool, had a gruff, badass voice, and that was it. We didn’t need to know anything about him. In fact, it was the bit that he’s so mysterious that was cool about him. He was just a guy doing his job, and most of his scenes was just him standing around, doing his best Clint Eastwood impression, as he was directed to. Because he was the Star Wars’ universe Man With No Name. And that was good.
Leave it to clones to aggressively fuck it all up, like it’s some kind of attack… of clones…
Because nothing makes a character more badass than showing him as an annoying kid, we got a whole new backstory for Boba! He is a clone, but that’s not all! Boba Fett was the unaltered, normally-aging child clone of Jango Fett, which also meant that he was the dumbest person on the planet, since Kamino was otherwise populated by “mature” Jangos and alien scientists.
So thank you, Obi-Wan, for reminding everybody about the Clone Wars. Thank you, for not only setting the stage for one of the worst Star Wars movies, but also for taking a pretty cool, unique-looking character, and giving us annoying little clone Boba. The guy who is about as unique as several million other dudes that all look like him.
There is nothing cool about discovering Boba Fett’s past (I'm perfectly fine with Fett showing up in Empire and dying in Return of the Jedi), and there is certainly nothing interesting in him being a clone.
Here’s where things turn a little tricky. Alien: Resurrection, though a pretty entertaining flick, is without a doubt the worst of the four Alien movies. It kind of had to be, since Ripley dies at the end of Alien³ (which, by the way, is a good movie. Yes, I said it).
The non-tricky part of arguing against clones is Ripley herself, or what passes for Ripley in this installment. Our protagonist is a clone of a dead, xenomorph-infected Ripley. Due to problems in cloning something that has two DNAs in it, the result is superpowered human/alien hybrid. So, goodbye, strong, regular-human Ellen Ripley. You had a good run and you didn’t need to be a basketball champion and a super agile, super strong freak. We have this clone thing now, that isn’t nearly as interesting, relatable or fun to watch as you were.
THEN! We have a scene that’s probably the best bit in Resurrection. Not-Ripley enters a room full of failed clones of her alien-infested self. Disgusting abominations, begging for her to kill them and end their suffering. That “killll meee” bit is pretty iconic. It is grotesque, visually-striking, and very entertaining. Because as much as we don’t like clones, we do like seeing weird stuff like that. So is this a win for the clones here? Do they make the movie better? Maybe, but that’s not the way I look at it.
The way I look at it, is that this is Alien: Resurrection. A movie that didn’t really need to happen. A movie starring a clone, that is nowhere near as cool as the OG Ellen Ripley. We didn’t need to have a movie about clones in the franchise, and a few cool deformed Ripleys don’t balance that out. So, thank you, deformed Ripleys, but no thank you, clones in Alien.
What is worse than a bland, boring character? A clone of said character. It’s much worse. This is the second Star Wars entry on this list, which unfortunately shows that post-Original Trilogy Star Wars has a bad clone problem.
Galen Marek AKA Starkiller (though he’s likely the only person that calls himself that) is the protagonist of the “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” video game, a Mary Sue if there ever was one, and the most angsty, whiny character in the history of the franchise. If you thought prequel Anakin Skywalker was really emo, just wait until you meet his crappy Sith apprentice. Thankfully, he dies at the end of the game. Well, that is actually one of the endings, but it’s the one the franchise follows up on. It follows it up in the worst way possible: with clones!
In “Star Wars: Force Unleashed II”, one of the worst Playstation games ever, Galen Marek returns as a clone and manages to be twice as pathetic as the original. If you enjoyed Galen Marek’s sad faces and inner turmoil caused by whether he should be good or bad, and whether he should have sex with a female Imperial Officer, just wait until you see what his clone does! SPOILER: he does all of that, plus the usual clone angst:
“Who am I? :,-(“
“Am I a clone or am I not a clone? :,-((“
“How do I live, knowing I am a clone? :,-((((“
“Why am I a clone, why did this happen to me? :,-(“
“Would it be bad if I banged the girlfriend of the guy I am a clone of? :,-(“
“It is so hard being a clone! :,-(“
SHUUUUUUT UUUUUP! I mean, yeah, I get how being a clone would be a problem. There would be things to worry about! Identity crisis would be a nightmare. The problem is, clone problems are not interesting to hear about. They are predictable, very cliché, and just annoying. Clones always whine and Galen Marek’s clone makes Jar Jar Binks look like a loveable character. We never have any reason to like him or care about his pathetic problems, he is miserable, and we just want him to die. And thankfully, he does, because even Darth Vader can’t stand him. He decides to kill him and just forget about the whole apprentice thing, if that’s what it’s gonna be like.
Let’s not have any clones in the upcoming Star Wars stuff, please.
You know what they say about the exception that proves the rule. The only exception to clones making everything worse that I can think of, is Duncan Jones' 2009 movie Moon.
Moon, starring pretty much just Sam Rockwell (and Kevin Spacey's voice!) may be the greatest science-fiction movie of at least the past two decades. If you haven't seen it, I am very sorry that I have to reveal that it has clones in it, but that's hardly a spoiler, right? Well, maybe it is... You had 6 years to see it, though, and you still should watch it. And maybe stop reading this article here, and come back after you do.
Sam Rockwell is a man on the moon, running a harvest operation all by himself. His time there will soon be coming to an end, and he's looking forward to going back to Earth. Until one day, while outside the base, he finds a crashed vehicle with an unconscious doppelganger of himself. He takes him back to base and nurses him to health, only to realize that the company he works for has been cloning him over and over, to save money on training new personel. The clones start deteriorating after 3 years. Together with his sickly clone, he starts thinking how to stop this whole insanity.
Sam Rockwell's clones are not like any other clones. Sam Rockwell's clones work together! Sure, they have the identity problems that all clones come with, but they overcome it. These guys eventually look after one another. And it makes for an amazing movie. Clones not only NOT make Moon worse, clones MAKE Moon.
This is the one movie that really makes clones an interesting and well-executed concept. So if you have to clone anybody, clone Sam Rockwell. He won't waste time whining. He won't ruin otherwise good works of fiction. Sam Rockwell can be safely cloned.
But should we have more movies that are exactly like Moon? No. One is enough. More of the same would just be like cloning. And by now you should know how bad cloning can be.
Clones! Where do you stand on the topic? Do they make everything worse? Sure they do. But maybe you think otherwise? Maybe there are some things that have clones in it, that don't suffer for it? Have I missed something? Let us know in the comments!