Hey, VICE: All Art Is Collaborative Content

Okay, okay, I read VICE’s article, “The Marvel Cinematic Universe Is Not Art,” today. I mean, the title is clearly clickbait, and the whole article itself is a lot of gatekeeping. And it draws an elitist line between “art” and “content” without really telling us what art should be. It reads like the screed of an angry 40-something guy who really wanted to insult the MCU and everyone who’s ever watched one of its films. And looking at the author Patrick Marlborough’s Twitter page, it seems like he is an angry 40-something guy who wants us all to leave the MCU and Star Wars behind and…watch Mad Men? Uh, okay, Patrick.

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Multiverse of Madness: What the Hell, Sam Raimi?!

SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange, and What If…?.

Yes, I know I still need to react to the finale of Moon Knight, but I need to talk about Multiverse of Madness first. While it’s not exactly a bad film, it’s not Character First (a phrase that Kevin Feige has said before) like MCU films usually are. Instead, the concept and the images came first, so this film felt extremely shallow compared to other recent MCU efforts. My sister said MoM is basically the Cars 2 of the MCU. And she’s right.

See, when I heard that Sam Raimi was directing this film, I was hoping we’d get Spider-Man Sam Raimi. He created the model for the 21st century superhero film. But instead, we got Evil Dead and Army of Darkness Sam Raimi, who prefers to have shallow character development that supports his pulpy horror story and images. We also got Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi, who wants to do as many things as possible in one film and ends up barely scratching the surface of the concepts he’s trying to tackle.

So much potential that was so, so wasted.
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Star Wars: Why My Favorite Obi-Wan Quote Isn’t “Hello There”

SPOILERS for the first two Star Wars trilogies.

Okay, so we FINALLY got a trailer for the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series. I’m so excited! Obi-Wan is one of my favorite Star Wars characters and has been since I was seven years old. I’m glad that the rest of the Star Wars fanbase is excited for this show, too. Unlike Boba Fett, Obi-Wan is a major supporting character with an established personality, so he has an actual character to explore, especially when he’s now in the throes of defeat while the Empire is at its height.

Yes, I found this progression image on social media. Yes, it rocks very hard.

However, I’m confused about the quote that most online Star Wars fans associate with Obi-Wan: “Hello, there!” …That’s it? Obi-Wan is the blueprint for most mentor characters in live-action speculative fiction, and the quote the fanbase most associates with him is a simple greeting?

What about “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” or “Mos Eisley: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious”? Or my very favorite: “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

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Mary Sues and Our Fear of Capable Women

SPOILERS for many works, including Star Wars, Hawkeye, Loki, and other things.

I wrote a blog in the first half of 2020 about how Rey and Captain Marvel aren’t Mary Sues. Since then, I’ve seen people call other recent female characters Mary Sues. This is particularly true for Sylvie in Loki. I think this phenomenon goes on because our society is afraid of capable women and we want to separate ourselves from fans who like those characters. Also, I think many of us just can’t wrap our heads around the concept that female characters can fulfill fantasies for women, not for men.

I began thinking about this topic again after I watched the first two episodes of Hawkeye. During those episode, I found myself really enjoying the character of Kate Bishop. She’s wealthy, pretty, clever, funny, and extremely capable in combat. All of sudden, I began to worry: Are people going to slap the term “Mary Sue” onto Kate Bishop and use that term as an excuse to dislike her?

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Captain Marvel: Why Carol Doesn’t Need to Fight Yon-Rogg One-On-One

SPOILERS for Captain Marvel. ALL OF THE SPOILERS.

My brother told me recently that some people on the internet believe that Carol Danvers should fight Yon-Rogg at the end of Captain Marvel. When he told me that, my immediate reaction was “NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE.”

Why did I react so negatively to that idea? Because Carol fighting Yon-Rogg (the man who manipulated and gaslit her for six years) one-on-one would completely defeat one of the movie’s major points.

And what is that point? That Carol doesn’t have to conform to Yon-Rogg’s rules or standards. She makes her rules and her own decisions. She will no longer deal with his or anyone else’s gaslighting.

Resolving Carol’s story with a one-on-one fight with her supposed mentor would only conform to straight white fanboys’ expectations for how heroes’ origin stories must resolve. But Captain Marvel is a movie that actively defies their expectations, which part of the reason that those members of the MCU fandom don’t like this movie very much. Let’s break down why Carol’s refusal to fight Yon-Rogg one-on-one is the right decision for this narrative’s conclusion.

This image can be summed up as “Woman stands between her new friend and her abuser.”
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Why Fear Street: 1994 is So Damn AWESOME

SPOILERS for Netflix’s Fear Street: 1994. There may also be spoilers for some of the original Fear Street books, which I read five bazillion years ago.

Gah, okay, I just watched Fear Street: 1994, and I am SO HAPPY! I loved the Fear Street books when I was in my tweens and early teens, and some of the stuff from those books still lives rent-free in my head*. When I found out Netflix was adapting Fear Street, I started freaking out with excitement. Now that I’ve watched the first of the three installments, I’m even more excited! They did a great job of adapting and updating the book series’ mythos of Shadyside, that ever-cursed town, without adapting any of the books directly.

Fear Street 1994
Three teens trying to put a 16th century witch’s spirit to rest. Just typical Fear Street stuff.

*Thanks to the 99 Fear Street trilogy, I had an irrational fear of garbage disposals that lasted into my mid-twenties. I could use garbage disposals, but I always had images in my head of someone getting their hand stuck in one. Thanks for that, R.L. Stine!

Before I break down what I loved about Fear Street: 1994, I want to talk about why I loved the books so much. They were the pulpy horror books that I devoured. I was never really into Goosebumps, but Fear Street was just the young adult (YA) series I needed when I was waiting for the rest of the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books to be released. Yes, there was a time when readers were still waiting for HP and ASoUE books to be published. Anyway, Fear Street was a series about the residents of Shadyside, a town where citizens tended to die at an alarming rate. As the books progressed, they became more about curses and ghosts and witchcraft, particularly with The Fear Street Saga trilogy and Fear Street Sagas, both of which combined pulpy horror with (probably not that accurate) historical fiction. The characters were pretty much always teenagers, and they often got into crazy horror/supernatural dealings. I always cared enough about the protagonists that I hoped they would survive. Mostly, they did, but a few weren’t that lucky. It was a great series for someone who was just beginning to have a more teenage view of the world. Also, most of the books had been published by the time I discovered the series, so I didn’t have to wait for anything!

Okay, now that I’m done babbling about the book series, let’s dig into why Fear Street: 1994 is fantastic:

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Characters Who Are Similar to Donald Trump

SPOILERS for ALL fictional works mentioned below.

Okay, folks. We are one month away from the election that could save or damn the United States’ soul. We just had the presidential debates. I did not watch them, though I saw some clips from it on social media. Instead, I read Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D. She’s Donald Trump’s niece, and she’s a psychologist who specializes in trauma, so she has a lot of fascinating insights about her awful uncle and her family at large. (To sum up: Donald Trump and his siblings are very strange people who were raised by a sociopath and his emotionally needy wife. They don’t trust or even like each other.) Between reading this book and just paying any attention to Trump’s antics over the past four years, I realized he reminds me of several prominent fictional characters.

This is the only photo of Trump that will appear here because I don’t want anymore photos of him saved to my computer.

Before I begin, I want to point out that these character are similar to Trump, but they are not exactly like him. In fact, I plan to point out the differences between Trump and these characters as well as the similarities.

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Mysterio and the Lack of Ethics in Technology

MAJOR SPOILERS from Spider-Man: Far From Home

I finally got around to watching Spider-Man: Far From Home, and I have a lot of thoughts about Mysterio.

If you have not seen this movie and you don’t want to be spoiled, please don’t read below the cut. THIS POST IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS!!!

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Superheroes Are a Phase, but They Came When We Needed Them

Today I read Alison Herman “As Disney+ Looms, ‘The Boys’ Is Sweet Relief”, and I have a few issues with the points she tries to make. Her article falls into some of the common critical pitfalls that I have covered in other posts: mainly the idea that you’re somehow superior (and even kind of oppressed) if you don’t like the big, inescapable mainstream thing that’s really popular for whatever reason. She also tries to narrow the satire of Amazon’s The Boys into being just a critique of Disney’s acquisition of massive franchises in recent years, and she also makes brief generalizations about Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman without taking into account what their adaptations mean for female representation in blockbuster film.

Oh my, there’s so much to cover here.

Using “Don’t Stop Me Now” in Visual Media: The Umbrella Academy vs. SHAZAM!

This post features SPOILERS for both Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy and the DCEU film SHAZAM!.

I’ve started noticing that Western visual media really likes using Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” for high-energy sequences. It’s popped up in no less than two TV commercials that I’ve seen since the release of Bohemian Rhapsody last November. One commercial featured the people in the ad singing it while walking, running, or doing other high-energy things, while the other one used the original recording with Freddie Mercury’s vocals. It’s also apparently showed up in works like Shaun of the Dead for action scenes. My new favorite Netflix obsession, The Umbrella Academy, uses it for an action scene in this way, while the new DCEU film SHAZAM! uses “Don’t Stop Me Now” for a comical superhero training montage. I bring this up because I think one of these two uses of the song works better than the other, and I want to talk about why that is.

First of all, which characters do these scenes involve, and what are they doing?

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