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Art

‘The Old Guard’ stands tall among superheroes

 

Comic books have been the fertile fodder for television and subsequently cinema for more than half a century. Ever since Superman came on black and white TV, superheroes have excited viewing audiences and inspired them to ‘look, up in the sky [and see] it’s a bird; no it’s a plane; no it’s Superman!’ as the refrain from the weekly TV show used to chime.

For the latest generation of local superhero fans, it’s mainly DC and Marvel comics that have provided them with a slew of exciting superheroes, from Batman and Iron Man to Thor, Hulk, Wonder Woman and so many more.

But ever since 2017, The Old Guard has been out, first, in comic book form, courtesy of its creator Greg Rucha who used to write for DC but subsequently started his own Image Comics. Then early this month (July), the elite team of nomadic immortals who make up ‘the old guard’ came out as the newest set of action-adventurers on Netflix, Rucha having also written the screenplay for the film.

Starring Charlize Theron as the ‘kickass’ leader of this rogue band of death-defying warriors who have literally been around for centuries (and in Andy’s case, for millennia), ‘the old guard’ fight against evil doers, and for the proverbial underdogs. Theron also coproduced The Old Guard which has been the most-viewed new film on Netflix charts since it came out.

It isn’t often that we see women warriors leading an ‘army’ as Andy (Theron) describes her immortal band of ancients to her young initiate, the African American female marine, Nile Freeman (Kiki Layne). She’s just ‘kidnapped’ Nile from her base camp in Afghanistan shortly after it’s been discovered that there’s something very strange about the young black woman.

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There were witnesses who saw Nile’s throat slit in combat. Yet they also saw her a few hours later, up and ready to get back into combat.

It’s a dilemma the old guard understand well, especially now as they are being stalked by mercenaries sent by a big Pharma tycoon who wants to market their immortal DNA. But first, they must be caught which is why the tycoon enlisted mercenaries headed by former CIA agent Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to snag the Guard.

Having fought in and survived wars going back long before the Crusades, their Amazon-like leader Theron plays the millennial freedom fighter whose name, Andy is short for Andromache, named after the mythic Greek princess and wife of Hector whose brother Paris started the Trojan war.

Theron revisits the tough-girl character that she’s played previously in films like Atomic Blond and Mad Max Fury Road. But under the direction of African American female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood she stars as a woman leader who has the miraculous capacity to not just kill and be killed; she’s got the power to resurrect to fight another day.

It’s a power embedded in the story as well since a sequel is already under discussion between Rucha and Netflix.

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