‘Ender’s Game’ director Gavin Hood on sci-fi battle sequences, integrity

Aug. 30, 2013 | 9:55 a.m.

Hailee Steinfeld, left, and Asa Butterfield star in “Ender’s Game.” (Richard Foreman / Summit Entertainment)
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NEW ORLEANS — The Michoud Assembly Facility just south of Lake Pontchartrain is the place where Saturn V rockets and the space shuttle’s external fuel tanks were put together. But on a muggy spring day last year, NASA’s largely abandoned manufacturing plant was the site of an intergalactic mission of a very different kind: bringing “Ender’s Game” to life.

Inside the massive complex, filmmaker Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) was barking out directions over a public address system to the movie’s young cast, which includes “Hugo’s” Asa Butterfield and “True Grit’s” Hailee Steinfeld.

“Boom, boom! It’s really unbelievable,” Hood yelled to his cast. Except it wasn’t, yet.

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The young stars, arrayed at computer terminals inside a deep-space military academy, were looking around frantically at an empty stage, Hood trying to help them visualize what that blank area would look like thanks to visual effects added in post-production: a 360-degree showground of space combat, human and alien crafts whipsawing through the heavens.

“This is where it’s going to hell in a handbasket. What the hell is going on?” Hood shouted over his microphone at one young actor, Suraj Partha, who was playing Alai, one of a team of pilots under Ender Wiggin’s command, all of them controlling their spaceships remotely. “I want you to get angrier. You’re yelling at Ender, ‘I’m losing all my carriers!’”

Director Gavin Hood and actors Suraj Partha and Asa Butterfield on the set of "Ender's Game." (Richard Foreman / Summit Entertainment)

Director Gavin Hood and actors Suraj Partha and Asa Butterfield on the set of “Ender’s Game.” (Richard Foreman / Summit Entertainment)

The film’s battle sequences represent a critical twist in Orson Scott Card’s award-winning 1985 book of the same name, and their staging was one of the greatest challenges facing Hood, who also adapted the novel for the screen.

That the production had even reached this point was momentous and dramatized the convoluted path “Ender’s Game” journeyed through three decades of development. Once set up at Warner Bros. with Wolfgang Petersen (“The Perfect Storm”) penciled in to direct, “Ender’s Game” is among the most expensive independent films ever put in production, although its $110-million budget was recently eclipsed by the $180-million “Pacific Rim.”

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“It has to be big enough to capture the scope of the book — to give a sci-fi classic what it deserves — but also be a tent pole that is financially responsible,” said producer Roberto Orci.

Responsibility, fittingly enough, is one of the major themes of Card’s novel and the film.

Set several decades in the future, “Ender’s Game,” which opens Nov. 1, imagines the planet teetering for its survival after devastating clashes with alien creatures called Formics or Buggers, wars that have cost the lives of tens of millions. The insect-like aliens are suspected of preparing for a final invasion, and the globe’s military options are dwindling.

As a last resort, children have been drafted to train as military commanders, and into the ranks of Battle School candidates comes Ender Wiggins (Butterfield), a slight but clever young man. Unlike his older brother, Ender is not prone to irrational outbursts, and he also isn’t as compassionate as his younger sister.

To become a great leader, however, Ender must learn to be more like both of his siblings, all while fending off rival cadets, at least one of whom would rather kill Ender than be commanded by him.

At the heart of the book’s action are two set pieces: a zero-gravity Battle Room, where teams of students perfect their fighting strategy, and the concluding battle itself, which to the young combatants feels like a complex video game simulation but may be something very different. The film’s cast includes Harrison Ford as Ender’s principal teacher, Hyrum Graff, and Ben Kingsley as famous pilot Mazer Rackham.

Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield star in "Ender's Game." (Richard Foreman / Summit Entertainment)

Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield star in “Ender’s Game.” (Richard Foreman / Summit Entertainment)

As with the best science fiction, Card’s novel presciently anticipated several things, including blogging and drone warfare. The novel’s take on leadership placed the book on the official reading list of the Marine Corps, to enhance “thinking and decision-making skills,” as the Marines put it, alongside “The Red Badge of Courage” and “The Art of War.”

Yet one of the book’s strongest and more enduring themes is its timeless take on integrity and compassion, somewhat surprising given Card’s recent remarks about homosexuals (whom he’s called sinners) and President Obama (whom he compared to Hitler). Even amid so many explosions, “Ender’s Game” ultimately is a coming-of-age story about the personal and psychological cost of warfare and the inherent goodness of children such as Ender.

“It’s about young people finding themselves in a place they are not emotionally ready for,” said Hood, who equated parts of the story with his being drafted into South Africa’s armed forces at age 17 during that country’s apartheid era. “And in that place, they have to find their moral sense.”

Producer Gigi Pritzker, who was joined by the visual effects company Digital Domain and distributor Summit Entertainment in financing “Ender’s Game,” was introduced to the book 13 years ago by her nephew. “That was the beginning of my journey to get it made,” Pritzker said.

She made acquiring the book’s film rights top priority for her OddLot Entertainment, but it took years to pry the project from Warner Bros. Once she had the rights, however, she was met with constant rejection by the studios, whose executives alternately worried that the film was too much like “Star Wars” or that it didn’t fit into a definable genre — were the battles real or a video game?

“The general fear was that it was intense — there’s some violence, and there’s a very young kid at the middle of it. And it’s funny — this was before ‘The Hunger Games,’” Pritzker said. “I don’t think we realized until we got very deep into it how complex it would be to get it made.”

Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield star in "Ender's Game." (Summit Entertainment)

Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield star in “Ender’s Game.” (Summit Entertainment)

Hood recalled that one studio executive even suggested that Ender in the film’s epilogue should kill all the surviving Formics, a total repudiation of the novel’s coda.

The challenge in adapting the book, besides compressing the years over which the novel unfolds into nine months, was to steer away from any “Star Wars” associations, a choice somewhat undermined by Ford’s casting. The next and more imposing step was to find a more cinematic way of presenting Card’s rather cloistered training sequences and two-dimensional battle scenes, all without losing the story’s heart.

As written in the novel, the Battle Room feels like a big, dark room, and the “Ender’s Game” combat situations unfold on something akin to personal computers.

“You had to feel it was the real thing — not a video game on a screen,” Orci said. “Visually, it had to be visceral, a you-are-there experience.”

Hood says two chance visits to Los Angeles landmarks — Griffith Observatory for a planetarium show and Disney Hall for a symphony concert — helped him solve two of his most pressing visual obstacles.

During the planetarium show, Hood realized that the battling spaceships could fly around Ender and his subcommanders like so many spinning galaxies inside the domed Griffith theater, immersing the cast (and the audience) in the clashes. And in watching Gustavo Dudamel lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the filmmaker figured out that Ender could conduct his team of pilots as if he were guiding them through a prestissimo symphony — front and center, orchestrating everyone’s movements in harmony.

Aramis Knight and Asa Butterfield in "Ender's Game." (Summit Entertainment)

Aramis Knight and Asa Butterfield in “Ender’s Game.” (Summit Entertainment)

Hood’s production designers also enveloped the Battle Room with panoramic windows, so that the cadets were both figuratively and literally floating amid the stars. “What is the point of going into space and being stuck in a black box?” Hood said.

But none of those cinematic ideas was as important to Hood as preserving the novel’s soul. And in some scenes, that meant toning down some of the book’s more brutal passages, particularly involving children.

“One of the points of the book is that power wielded aggressively and without compassion is ultimately doomed to fail,” Hood said. “We as a species are capable of terrible acts of violence but also incredible acts of kindness. I don’t want people to feel we’re setting up Ender as a good person. He’s a really great leader, but his ambition gets the better of him.”

Until Ender realizes there’s a better way.

“You can retain your integrity as an intelligent person,” Hood said, “and still come out a winner.”

– John Horn

Nancy Churnin: Should we boycott Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’?

This Controversy just won’t go away…



I have been looking forward to a film version ofEnder’s Game ever since I read the book with my son Sam when he was around 12. It’s a brilliant piece of work that was way ahead of its time when it was published in 1985, foretelling a world in which kids trained for battle on adaptive video games that grew more difficult as the kids’ skills increased. It casts judgment on a world that sent children to war because adults would be too aware of the cost of the war to kill as heartlessly as would be needed.

The book is a cry to understand the cost of killing and the need for compassion, even for alien races that may be attacking us out of misunderstanding. It is a celebration of creativity and the courage to challenge authority. Ender takes everything he has been told as fact and looks at it in a fresh way, allowing him to come up with more effective solutions to problems his elders failed to solve by doing the same thing over and over.

Now, just as I was getting excited about the first official trailer and the Nov. 1 release date, I have been distracted and disturbed by the controversy generated by the book’s author, Orson Scott Card. He has made remarks against gay marriage and has equated being gay with being mentally ill — an idea the American Psychiatric Association officially debunked, finally, in 1973.

Back in 1990, Card was quoted supporting laws against homosexual behavior. He was on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, from 2009 until this year.

The advocacy group Geeks Out has responded by calling for a boycott of the movie. I’ve been asked (and I’m asking myself): Which side am I on? And am I tacitly on one side or the other when I decide to see or not to see the movie?


Boycotts can be a wonderful thing. They can be a peaceful way of changing the world, as when Mohandas Gandhi exhorted his followers to boycott British goods in favor of Indian ones. They can kick off a revolution, as when American patriots urged a boycott of English tea in favor of American coffee. They can change the laws of the land, as when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urged a boycott of Montgomery, Ala., buses that lasted 13 months — until the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional and that all people, no matter the color of their skin, have an equal right to sit in whatever available seat they choose.

But boycotts are most effective when they set out to accomplish a specific goal. In this case, what would a boycott of a person achieve? And would it divide us even further by labeling those who see the movie as being against gay rights, when they may not really feel that way at all?

One reason this issue tears at me is that I believe strongly in the rights of all people to live with dignity and to marry those they love. I support gay marriage and gay rights. I treasure the relationship my cousin has with his partner of many decades and look forward to the day they can legally marry and enjoy all the legal rights that my husband and I do.

But this thought nags at me: There is no bigotry in Ender’s Game. What I see and what I love in the book is its condemnation of war as the solution to our differences and its plea for kindness and creativity in a world divided into winners and losers trapped in stratified roles.

Card is wrong to say what he has said, and I am glad there is an outcry that reflects zero tolerance for bigotry. Yet are we ready to reject all of those who have campaigned against marriage equality? Consider that pretty much every president has done as much, including President Barack Obama, who did not support it when he first ran for office.

Obama has “evolved” — his words — on the issue, as have many other Democrats and Republicans. I hope Card will, too, even as his crazy tirades expand. Card drew gasps after a blog post in May, in which he compared Obama to Hitler and predicted a dictatorship with the first lady waiting in the wings. (It should be noted that he ended his essay with “if I really believed this stuff, would I actually write this essay?” But his points had already been made.)

What I keep coming back to is that if he can show such empathy and understanding for the alien races he has conjured, surely there must be some well of empathy and understanding in him to be tapped for the humans with whom he shares this world.


I also look at this issue through the prism of my own childhood. When I was growing up, my parents, who lived through the Holocaust, would sometimes question my love of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. After all, Dickens had given us Fagin, sometimes just referred to in Oliver Twist as “the Jew,” a miserly ringleader of a band of thieves who cared about money above all. It was the kind of caricature Hitler had used in his propaganda machine in generating an image of Jews as worthy of extermination.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare had given us Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, the vengeful, duplicitous Jewish merchant determined to exact a pound of flesh from the good, kind Christian he loathed, as payment for all the insults that had been heaped on him over the years.

And what about Norse mythology — the stories of Thor and Odin that I devoured? These were the myths used by the Nazi regime. What about Wagner, Hitler’s favorite composer, who brought those myths to full-throated operatic life? Wagner’s operas have never been staged in the modern state of Israel, and the few public instrumental performances that have occurred have provoked much controversy.

Did I offer tacit tolerance of these artists’ horrific attitudes by reading these works and listening to this music? Some may say yes. In pre-Israel Palestine, Wagner’s music was banned by Jewish musicians after Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the horrible anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938 that served as a tragic foreshadowing of the horrors to come in Nazi Germany.

The ban continued through the creation of the state of Israel until 2000 — and even now, when Wagner is proposed for the repertoire, protests follow. Just last year, a concert in Israel that included works by Wagner was announced and then canceled.


So what is my position on the Ender’s Game boycott? Mixed. Troubled. Concerned. But I have decided to go see it, in the same spirit in which I still read Dickens and Shakespeare, dig into Norse mythology, listen to Wagner. I do not judge anyone who makes a different decision; everyone’s journey and the rawness of his or her pain is different. My parents were too close to the Holocaust. My mother suffered too much from anti-Semitic taunts on the streets of New York during World War II. She suffered too many nightmares on too many nights after losing cousins, aunts, uncles and a grandmother to a fire the Nazis set to a synagogue, where they had herded all of the Jews in Bialystok before bolting the doors.

I feel that pain, but from a greater distance that allows me to separate the greatness of these artists from their terrible flaws. I confess, perhaps naively, to hoping that Card’s views may evolve as I learned Dickens’ did after his correspondence with Eliza Davis, a Jewish reader who told him that his depiction of Fagin encouraged “a vile prejudice.” Many credit her with inspiring Dickens’ subsequent creation of the kind and caring Jewish character Mr. Riah in Our Mutual Friend.

I also appreciate the strong language with which Lionsgate, the studio producing the film, has repudiated Card’s position on gay rights and has pledged to create an Ender’s Game benefit for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

Card, 61, has known his own personal tragedy. He lost one of his five children, Charles, who had cerebral palsy, soon after the youth’s 17th birthday. He lost a little girl the day she was born. He suffered a stroke in 2011.

As a reader, I see the seeds for empathy in his books. He just needs to catch up personally to the ideas he expresses so eloquently in his fiction. I believe in believing in people. And I believe that when you believe in someone’s potential for goodness and change, then that person may start believing in it, too.

So, yes, I’m going to see Ender’s Game. I hope I will be doing the right thing. I hope I won’t be judged too harshly by those who disagree.

And I hope that one day soon, Card will be feeling and saying the right thing, too

Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card compares Obama to Hitler

Ok, I think Card’s doing everything he can to cause the movie to fail…

Per the UK Daily Guardian. Story written by: Ben Child


The sci-fi writer, who has already angered many with his views on same-sex marriage, expounds the comparison in a 3,000 word essay


Orson Scott Card

Essay crisis … Orson Scott Card

He has already upset many with his views on homosexuality. Now Orson Scott Card, author of the iconic source novel which forms the basis of upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Ender’s Game, has repeated the trick, and imagined a post-democratic USA in which the current president rules as an autocrat forever.

  1. Ender’s Game
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Directors: Gavin Hood
  5. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
  6. More on this film

In the essay, which was published on Card’s Civilisation Watch blog and titled “Unlikely Events”, the novelist posits a future where Obama rules as a “Hitler- or Stalin-style dictator” complete with his own “national police force” of “young out-of-work urban men”. He also suggests that Obama and his wife, Michelle, might amend the US constitution to allow presidents to remain in power forever before the next presidential election and would then “win by 98 percent every time”. Adds the author: “That’s how it works in Nigeria and Zimbabwe; that’s how it worked in Hitler’s Germany.”

Card labels the post “an experiment in fictional thinking,” adding: “Will these things happen? Of course not.” However, his work is unlikely to please executives at studio Lionsgate, already on the back foot over Ender’s Game after many – including gay group Geeks Out – highlighted Card’s opposition to same-sex marriage in the US and suggested film-goers might consider boycotting the upcoming movie based on his 1984 novel.

Card, a practising member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and key figure in the anti-gay National Organisation for Marriage, has been highly vocal on the issue for a number of years. His views, and the Geeks Out boycott, have seen him encouraged to stay away from promotional appearances to promote the Ender’s Game movie such as last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Lionsgate, meanwhile, has been at pains to flag up its equal rights credentials, issuing a statement describing the studio as “proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud to have recognised same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years”. The studio added last month: “We obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organisation for Marriage.”

Ender’s Game, which stars Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford, centres on a gifted child who is sent to a military school in space to prepare for an alien invasion. It is released in UK cinemas on 25 October, Australian cinemas on 31 October and US cinemas a day later.



‘Ender’s Game’ Movie News Update: Film Cast, Crew Attack Author’s Anti-Gay Stance

from Latinos Post


The forthcoming “Ender’s Game” movie is one of the most anticipated of the year, but it is slowly also becoming one of the most controversial.

The original source material’s author, Orson Scott Card, has been vocal about his disdain for gay marriage, spurring a great deal of gay rights activistvism against the film. The reaction forced the hand of the film’s participants, all of which spoke out against Card’s behavior.


“I’m a little distressed by his point of view on gay marriage,” said film director Gavin Hood. “However, the book is not about that issue. So I hope people can still appreciate the book because I think he wrote a great book, and the themes and ideas in the book, I think, are universal and timeless and applicable, and I hope the book will still be appreciated as a great work of art, even though I don’t agree with the author. I optioned the book, not an author, and I love what the author said in that book.”

“I think it’s slightly bitterly ironic that those themes that are present in the book are not carried through on his particular view on gay marriage,” he added, considering that the idea of equality is a major theme in the novel.

Harrison Ford, who stars in the film, also had a few choice words for Card.

“None of Mr. Card’s concerns regarding the issue of gay marriage are part of the thematics of this film… I think his views outside of those that we deal with in this film are not an issue for me to deal with, have really no opinion on that issue…. I am aware of his statements admitting that the question of gay marriage is a battle that he lost. He admits that he lost it,” Ford told fans at Comic-Con. “I think we all know that we’ve all won, that humanity has won, and I think that’s the end of the story.”

“Ender’s Game” is slated for a Nov. 1, 2013 release date. It stars Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin

Comic-Con: can Ender’s Game be saved by the incredible Orson Scott Card disappearing act?

As Lionsgate seeks to put distance between the anti-gay writer and its movie of his novel, the row underlines the need for film-makers to think more deeply about fans’ views


Per the UK Daily Guardian:



Comic-Con: Harrison Ford at the Ender's Game panel

Comic-Con: Harrison Ford at the Ender’s Game panel. Photograph: Denis Poroy/Invision/AP

They say all publicity is good publicity. If so, studio Lionsgate should be reaping the rewards from all the negative hype whirling around the repugnant views of Orson Scott Card, author of the novel upon which its upcoming science fiction movie Ender’s Game is based. Ever since gay rights group Geeks Out launched its campaign for a boycott of Gavin Hood’s film, whose stellar cast includes Harrison Ford, Britain’s brilliant Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin, the noise surrounding the movie has been firmly about Card’s homophobic attitudes rather than the movie itself.

  1. Ender’s Game
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Directors: Gavin Hood
  5. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
  6. More on this film

Lionsgate’s reaction has been to pretend that Card is a figment of everybody else’s imagination, rather than the source of its own worst nightmares. As the Hollywood Reporter has pointed out, the science fiction writer’s name has been excised from pretty much all publicity surrounding the movie: he is no longer visible on Ender’s Game’s Facebook page, and barely gets a mention on the film’s trailer beyond a tiny two-second glimpse on the end title card.

Card was not present at the film’s appearance at Comic Con in San Diego last night, despite the panel for Lionsgate’s other teen-orientated sci-fi flick, Divergence, featuring source novel author Veronica Roth. Producer Robert Orci simply batted back questions about the controversy in the way Lionsgate has done since it erupted. “Rather than shy away from this, I would reiterate that we support LGBT rights, and human rights,” he said. The studio has promised to hold a fundraiser for gay causes and argued that its movie really has nothing to do with Card’s nasty views, which have been detailed by my colleague Andrew Wheeler over on Comment is Free.

Comic-Con: Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in Ender's GameHarrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in Ender’s GameThe problem here is that Card has been far from a hands-off figure in Ender’s Game’s gestation period. While the current screenplay, based on both Ender’s Game and parallel novel Ender’s Shadow, is credited to Hood alone, the Mormon author has written at least two scripts of his own over the past 15 years. He is listed as a producer on the film and is said to have refused Hollywood’s advances several times in the 1980s and 1990s due to creative differences. He even gets a voice cameo as a pilot in the movie.

That Lionsgate failed to pick up on Card’s increasing notoriety for all the wrong reasons over the couple of years in which it has been involved in the film ought to be a salutary lesson for Hollywood. In a universe in which fanboy cred seems to matter almost as much as box office results, making a movie based on the ideas of a guy who professes to hate a large portion of your key audience so much that he once said he wouldrather overthrow the United States government than tolerate gay marriage is a very bad call indeed.

Conversely, geek culture has always been notable for its tolerance. But Hollywood is fast learning that the fanboy brigade are not just a great slavering mass of wide-eyed chumps desperate to haemorrhage their hard-earned cash in the direction of the nearest multiplex. Sometimes, the geeks bite back, and woe betide those who are not prepared to listen.

It shows how far we have come that Card, who was arrogant enough to make that statement about gay marriage and the US government only four years ago, now mewls plaintively about “persecution” from “triumphant” proponents of equal rights in the wake of the US’s historic legal ruling last month. How irritating it must be for the author that his two-decade battle to bring his best known work to the big screen has been scuppered by the very people he finds most repugnant in this world – and how wonderfully ironic.

As a science fiction movie fan, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that what might prove to be a rather decent example of the form is being overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Card. Should Lionsgate’s platitudes towards the LGBT community be accepted – the Oscar-winning writer of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, has proposed as much – I’d like to see the film do well. But if all that bad hype does doom the movie, and if studios take a little more care over who they choose to work with as a result, it may just have been worth it.

‘Ender’s Game’ and Spider-Man: Pop Culture’s Big Gay Panic

per entertainmentweekly.com

by  on Jul 19, 2013 at 9:55AM


Amazing-Spider-Man.jpgImage Credit: Jaimie Trueblood

Most artists and writers instinctively dislike the idea of cultural boycotts, and for good reason. The scales should always tip toward freedom of expression — even disagreeable expression — and when we fight over pop culture, our arguments should stem from knowledge rather than from a flat refusal to engage with questionable material. Besides, most cultural boycotts are strategically ineffective; it’s hard to tally the number of people who don’t see a movie or watch a TV show, and impossible to determine when staying away constitutes a statement and when it merely indicates lack of interest.

As a manifestation of anger or disgust, boycotts are extreme and, appropriately, rare. So it’s noteworthy that talk of an organized protest against the sci-fi drama Ender’s Game, which opens Nov. 1, has heated up enough to provoke responses from both Orson Scott Card, the author of the novel on which it’s based, and the movie’s distributor. Card is an outspoken opponent of marriage equality whose decades-long history of antigay public commentary is well documented; now that he has a movie to sell, he is saying that in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, the issue is “moot.”On July 8, he gave a statement to EW in which he urged gay rights supporters to show “tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

It’s hard to know where to begin to dismantle the smugness and intellectual dishonesty in Card’s words. His assertion that gay rights are now “moot” in a country in which 37 states still consider my marriage unworthy of recognition is weak enough, but I’d rather move on to his self-serving appropriation of “tolerance.” No group of people is required to tolerate those who would oppress them, but beyond that, Card is using calm and temperate language to disguise the extremity of his position. He’s not simply against marriage equality; as recently as 2008, he publicly called for straight married Americans to unite in an effort to “destroy” their “mortal enemy,” by which he meant a revolutionary overthrow of any U.S. government led by “dictator-judges” who support same-sex marriage. He’s an off-the-spectrum hatemonger cloaking himself as a voice of principled opposition, and he richly deserves to be shunned.

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But should Card’s extremism lead moviegoers to boycott Ender’s Game, which, after all, has nothing to do with gay rights? As gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), who opposes a boycott, has noted, the film was made by a gay-friendly filmmaking team working for a company, Lionsgate, that has now publicly rejected his views. I can answer only for myself: I won’t pay to see the movie. I can’t get past the idea that my purchase of a ticket might put even an extra penny in the pocket of a man who thinks I should be treated as less than human; a hit film will increase sales of his books, and I want no part of it. Is that a boycott? It’s a personal choice, and a boycott is really nothing more than a network of people whose convictions lead them to the same personal choice. I understand the case that the art should be separated from the artist, and I have seen plenty of art by reprehensible people. But everybody gets to decide for themselves where they draw the line. (Why didn’t I draw it at, say, Roman Polanski? Probably because he doesn’t want me demonized, but I’m aware that that’s a weak and self-interested argument.) In any case, I don’t believe that people who choose to see Ender’s Game are enemies of gay rights, but if you’re on the fence, here’s a compromise: Write a check for the cost of a movie ticket to an organization that opposes Card’s views, and then go enjoy the film with a clear conscience.

Now back to “tolerance.” Two days after Card made his statement, Andrew Garfield, the star of the forthcomingAmazing Spider-Man 2, cheekily asked EW writer Sara Vilkomerson what would be so bad about Peter Parker having a boyfriend. “Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality?” he wondered, slyly adding that he was “kind of joking, but kind of not joking” about Mary Jane, or M.J., being “a dude.” Garfield deserves great credit not just for open-mindedness but for being the first actor in years to say something interesting about playing a superhero; most of them just talk very soberly about the immense responsibility they have been handed and sound like they’re getting bar mitzvahed. But the way the comment board lit up, you’d have thought he stopped in the middle of the interview to roll a joint made out of a Dead Sea Scroll. The (printable) arguments against his suggestion were, in no particular order: (1) Andrew Garfield must have an “agenda.” (2) Spider-Man is not a “social experiment.” (3) “Don’t try to change a classic just to prove a point.” (4) Spider-Man isn’t gay! Go get your own superhero! (5) You’re gay. (6) No, you’re gay. (7) Why can’t there be an Aquaman movie? (You gotta love comment boards.)

Since comic-book movies are probably going to dominate screens for at least the next half decade, can we at least agree to lighten up a little bit? Moviegoers can be remarkably flexible when they feel like it. In the past decade, Spider-Man has been played by two different actors. We accept him as being in high school even though Garfield turns 30 next month. There has been an evil Spidey. Replacement Spideys. A Latino/African-American Spidey in a 2011 comic-book series. Alternate-universe Spideys. A singing Spidey in a lavish Broadway musical. Spidey has died and come back to life. However, the second anyone questions the sexuality of a boy who likes to dress in spandex and swing through lower Manhattan, suddenly you have a chorus of fanboys saying, “But that’s not realistic!”

I don’t think Garfield is suggesting that Spider-Man is gay; he’s merely pointing out that in a field as open to speculative imagination as comic books, the assumption of heterosexuality is more automatic than it should be. The sharp and even hostile reaction to his gentle provocation only reinforces the fact that it was a point worth making. What was that about gay people learning tolerance, Mr. Card? Thanks for the unsolicited advice. You first.


‘Ender’s Game’ stars find space ‘uncomfortable’ at first

Brian Truitt, USA TODAY8:57 a.m. EDT July 19, 2013


Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld brave wires and harnesses for sci-fi movie adaptation.

SAN DIEGO — Hailee Steinfeld garnered an Oscar nomination for her work in the remade WesternTrue Grit, but she’s off to a whole new frontier inEnder’s Game.

The upcoming adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic 1985 sci-fi novel stars Steinfeld as well as fellow 16-year-old Asa Butterfield, who plays Ender Wiggin, a gifted kid sent to a galactic military academy to prepare for an alien invasion.

The fact that Ender’s Game (in theaters Nov. 1) is at Comic-Con this week is no surprise — it even has a huge Ender’s Game Experience attraction parked in front of the San Diego Convention Center. But as the book itself is starting to become part of required-reading lists for kids, it’s another example sci-fi’s importance in culture.

“People are starting to really respond to it,” says the London-born Butterfield. “Ender’s Game as a book, it’s more than a science-fiction. There’s a lot to it, which is what made it so popular and one of the reasons why we’re so excited about sharing it.”

MORE: Complete coverage of Comic-Con 2013

Aside from the fact that the characters have been made older, the actor feels that the movie, directed by Gavin Hood and co-starring Harrison Ford and Ben Kinglsey, is as true to the book as a film can be.

That kind of authenticity also meant a whole bunch of space scenes and, for Butterfield and Steinfeld, training for zero gravity.

The filmmakers used rigs to hoist the actors and make them feel as if they were in space. “If you’re scared of heights, you just had to get over it,” Butterfield says. “There’s nothing you can do about it. We all had a great time up there.”

Steinfeld recalls about three months spent on wires “floating around, flipping around, being thrown into pads.”

“And shooting people,” Butterfield says.

“The list goes on,” says Steinfeld, who plays Petra Arkanian, Ender’s friend at Battle School. “I don’t really think we had time to worry about it.”

Does it help to be young when doing all that stuff? “I would assume so,” Butterfield deadpans with a smile.

“I guess we don’t really know any different,” Steinfeld says. “It is very uncomfortable and hard at first, to say the least.”

All that wire work meant the use of tight harnesses to keep them from falling, on top of wearing skintight material akin to a neoprene wetsuit that was covered in pads and rubber. “It was like a sauna,” Butterfield says.

Because of the sound, filmmakers couldn’t run air conditioning to keep them cool, says Steinfeld, though Butterfield notes that they did have fans in their 8-pound helmets, “which kept it from fogging up.”

All that made the teens and their fellow sci-fi youngsters feel much more immersed in the world of Ender’s Game.

“We’re sitting here talking about how uncomfortable it was, but the situation you’re in is uncomfortable and it works and you’re able to use that and take advantage of that,” Steinfeld says.

“I doubt they were comfortable 50 years in the future,” Butterfield figures.

“Yeah, I don’t know how we managed,” Steinfeld adds before giving him a high-five. “Maybe we’ll see. We’ll go to space in 50 years and see if the spacesuits are comfortable.”

‘Ender’s Game’ recruitment video: Harrison Ford asks you to enlist to fight the next invasion

per http://www.theverge.com/2013/7/17/4532856/enders-game-recruitment-video-harrison-ford


By Carl Franzen on July 17, 2013 05:24 pm Email @carlfranzen


Do you have what it takes to battle aliens in outer space? Interested in becoming a hero remembered by all humankind? And are you a child? If you answered yes to all three, thenew official “recruitment video” for the movie Ender’s Game should be right up your alley. The promo video for the upcoming movie based off Orson Scott Card’s hit sci-fi book series features Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff making his pitch for you to join the International Fleet, along with new previously unseen footage from the film itself. It also sends aspiring recruits on to the Battle School website, where they can take aptitude tests to evaluate their “strategic thinking” skills. It’s all part of the big promotional push forEnder’s Game that will be going on at the San Diego Comic Con, which starts tomorrow. As io9 notes, that marketing drive includes pieces of the film’s set across from the convention center, so attendees can visit the Battle School in real life, too. For the rest of us, the video will have to suffice for now.