My faith in the Justice League movie just increased

Here’s yet another trailer released by DC at San Diego Comic-Con: Justice League part 1. One of my biggest gripes with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was how oppressively bleak and dour it was. It was as if Zack Snyder sucked all the joy…all the fun…all the excitement out of the characters (and all the color for that matter; just look at the color palette for the film). It was just dark and dreary throughout. I was worried that his Justice League films would follow suit. Well, if this Justice League trailer is any indication, things might be looking up for this film. Dare I hope to actually *enjoy* the movie? We’ll see.

(edit: it would be more accurate to state that this is footage assembled in the fashion of a trailer, rather than the official Justice League trailer)

My faith in the Justice League movie just increased
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The Wonder Woman trailer is here!

San Diego Comic-Con is currently going on and USAmerican comic book companies are revealing all manner of information about future material in the comics, as well as discussing casting decisions for ongoing television series, and most importantly for this post, showing trailers for upcoming movies. DC has released the trailer for the 6/23/17 debuting Wonder Woman, which sees Gal Gadot reprise her role as the Amazing Amazon (she first appeared in the dismal Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice flick earlier this year). Watching the trailer, it’s apparent that the filmmakers have gotten down an otherworldly feel to Diana, as well as her fighting skills and great power. The only thing I worry about is whether they will develop her beyond ‘warrior woman’. For me, Wonder Woman is best as a character who is a compassionate, empathetic, diplomatic warrior. Some of that might seem contradictory, but under the pen of writers like Gail Simone and Greg Rucka, Wonder Woman shines as someone with tremendous compassion for living beings (not just humans). She’s also someone who was raised in an all-female culture of immortals who mastered numerous fighting styles, but is also well read and highly intelligent. She’s a skilled diplomat who always strives to resolve conflicts without violence unless absolutely necessary. Which makes sense, bc she respects and values life. She doesn’t want to bring pain to anyone if she doesn’t have to. And at times, she’ll almost bend over backwards to avoid fighting. But when it comes down to it and a battle seems inevitable, the warrior in her will rise, and she becomes a relentless fighting machine. Trained. Skilled. Nearly unstoppable. She’ll fight to resolve the conflict at hand using every tool at her disposal (including diplomacy; she’s been known to continue trying to deescalate a situation in the middle of a fight), up to and including lethal force if her opponent(s) presents sufficient danger to others or herself. It is this combination of character traits that draws me to Wonder Woman, and is the thing I’m most worried about being accurately depicted in the movie. The trailer doesn’t appear to touch on any diplomatic skills, but it does show her as a warrior. Here’s hoping the finished product will present a much more rounded Wonder Woman, as it is time for this character to shine on the big screen and show the world how wonderful she truly is.

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The Wonder Woman trailer is here!

A Bad Feminist is coming to Marvel Comics

If you’re a comic book fan, you might have heard that Marvel Comics’ Black Panther is poised for some very big things over the next year or two. Several months ago, Marvel’s first black superhero made his live-action debut in the so-completely-awesome-I-saw-it-two-times (and supremely better than the bleak n’ dreary mess that was Batman vs Superman) Captain America: Civil War.  In the film, Chadwick Boseman plays the king of the fictional and technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. Boseman brought a gravitas to the role that thoroughly impressed me (I was also impressed that he was given a satisfying character arc in the film). Meanwhile, in the comics, one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary writers on race issues in the US, Ta-Nehisi Coates, has been writing the new Black Panther series since April (you didn’t know?! Well hie thee to a comic book store or Comixology). Then there’s the much-anticipated 2018 live-action Black Panther film, which sees Boseman reprise his role as the African ruler in a movie that may well position the character as a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (a role he very much deserves). That’s not the only cool news involving the character though, as a recent panel at the San Diego Comic-Con revealed. November sees the release of a companion title to the Coates series, titled Black Panther: World of Wakanda. The book will be co-written by Coates, the Bad Feminist herself, Roxane Gay, and poet Yona Harvey:

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A Bad Feminist is coming to Marvel Comics

DC Comics aims for more diversity

Mainstream comic books in the U.S. have long featured a sea of white, male faces. From the beginning of the industry back in the Golden Age, through the Silver Age, and into the Bronze and Modern Ages, there has been a lack of diversity in superhero comics. Characters like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Flash, Spider-Man, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, and so many more mainstays of Marvel and DC have been white guys. Now, that wouldn’t be such a problem if they didn’t dominate the comic racks. But they have. For the better part of the 20th Century and even into the 21st. It hasn’t been until recent years-the last 5 or 6 by my estimate-that Marvel and DC have made a concerted effort to diversify their output. With pressure mounting from readers, both companies have taken steps to produce content that doesn’t appeal to the same old, same old crowd. Which makes sense, bc GBLT people, women, and PoC read comics too. And in significant numbers. This can be seen by dropping in on any of the numerous comic book conventions around the country. The people showing up aren’t just white men, and they want to see themselves reflected in the comics they read. The pressure exerted on the companies by female readers has led to an  explosion of titles featuring women in starring roles. Where 30 years ago, Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, and Supergirl were pretty much the only women starring in their own titles, the last few years have seen Starfire, Harley Quinn, Black Canary, Batgirl, the new female Thor, Storm, Squirrel Girl, Elektra, Black Widow, She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel (among others) receive their own books. But the request for greater diversity from the Big Two is not limited to fans asking for more books with female leads. Many readers (myself included) want more books headlined by People of Color.

If I’m not mistaken, Marvel leads DC on that front, as the last several years has seen the New York-based publisher produce titles like Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Captain America (Sam Wilson), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Nova, Red Wolf, Spider-Man 2099, and Devil Dinosaur & Moon Girl. Meanwhile, over at DC, the company’s only books in recent years with a Person of Color in the starring role are Dr. Fate and Cyborg. The powers that be at DC cannot be ignorant of the demand for more racially diverse titles. In fact, this awareness is probably a significant reason why the company will soon be adding a new title to it’s publishing schedule, New Super-Man. The title will see a Chinese teenager acquiring some of Superman’s powers:

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DC Comics aims for more diversity

Black Panther fans have reason to rejoice

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It is fairly common knowledge that Marvel Studios has a diversity problem. 11 movies in and not a single one has featured a woman or a Person of Color as the title character. While fans have been demanding a Black Widow movie for years now, Marvel Studios has yet to even announce one will be made (they keep saying they are open to the idea). Similarly, there has yet to be a MCU movie starring a Person of Color. On the smaller screen, things are slightly better, as two of the four Marvel Cinematic tv series are headlined by women (Jessica Jones and Agent Carter). All told though, between the big and small screen, Marvel isn’t deviating much from its white male leads. The sea of white faces are not the only problems facing the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Issues of whitewashing, racial stereotyping, and the erasure of Asian identity (I’m looking at you Dr. Strange, and you, Iron Fist) also plague the MCU. The company has a long way to go before it can claim to be truly diverse.

Now, I tend to harp on the problems in Hollywood and/or the comic book industry bc I care. I care about movies. I care about comic book characters. And I care about racial and gender diversity in both. I want things to be better. I want greater representation (not just of women and PoC, but also queer and disabled people, and more still; but that’s a subject for a different post). Not just for my benefit. Not just for the benefit of others whose opinions align with mine on this subject. I also want greater representation bc it is important for future generations, as cultural anthropologist Michael D. Baran explains:

It is critical that children see all sorts of people playing both the good and the bad roles in media. Otherwise, they may take those absences as meaningful and it may affect how they understand social categories. And it is certainly important for kids to be able to identify with heroes that they feel represent who they are as people.

For very young kids, this might or might not fall out along racial lines and we must be careful not to impose our reification of race onto their knowledge. But we might as well err on the good side, by having a diversity of heroes for people to relate to – not just racially, but also in terms of gender, religion, body type, etc.

While Marvel Studios has much work to do in diversifying its interconnected universe, there are some bright spots on the horizon, and I think there is cause to have some degree of optimism that things are getting better (even if getting to better is like swimming uphill in a tar pit).

I’m optimistic because the Netflix series Jessica Jones was an intense, well acted, rollercoaster of a series that I loved from start to finish. Jessica Jones was presented as a strong, flawed, and three-dimensional character. The widespread acclaim of the show led to the quick announcement of a second season (speaking of which, I need them to announce *when*). On the big screen, I’m optimistic because 2019 sees the release of Captain Marvel, which will mark the first feature length MCU film with a woman in the starring role. Based on the Marvel Comics superhero (formerly known as Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird), this movie has the potential to position Captain Marvel as the premier female superhero of Marvel (in a way comparable to Wonder Woman’s position at DC). Though no actress has been cast in the title role, I am hopeful that this movie and this character will receive the respect they both deserve. Back on television, all 13 episodes of the Mike Colter starring Netflix series Luke Cage (which has been likened to the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire) drop on September 30. In the last decade, I’ve gone from ambivalence toward Cage to a fan of the character (writer Brian Michael Bendis may do a lot of things I don’t like, but his treatment of Cage has been exemplary). And then there’s the Black Panther, Marvel’s first black superhero. Seeing what Marvel has planned for the King of Wakanda between the comics and the big screen ought to please a great many Panther fans. I know I’m excited.

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Black Panther fans have reason to rejoice

Marvel just hit it out of the park!

See that guy above? That’s T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. He’s a fictional superhero/monarch residing in the Marvel Universe. He’s the king of a Wakanda, a scientifically advanced African nation, a member of the Avengers, a scientific genius, and the first black superhero in mainstream USAmerican comics. In 2018, he’ll be the first major black Marvel Comics superhero (Blade is neither major nor a superhero) to receive his own theatrical film.

See that guy? That’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, a USAmerican writer, journalist, and educator. He is the National Correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, social, and political issues, particularly where those issues intersect the lives of African-Americans.

Know what Black Panther and Ta-Nehisi Coates have in common? In a tremendous win for the company, Coates will soon be writing the adventures of the Black Panther in an all-new ongoing series from Marvel Comics:

Continue reading “Marvel just hit it out of the park!”

Marvel just hit it out of the park!

Such fragile egos these fanboys have

The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is ‘doomed,’ because the people you’ve just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man’s little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries – they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it’s high noon, the hottest day in history, and you’re about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.

 

That’s the opening narration to the ‘The Midnight Sun‘, the 75th episode of the Twilight Zone, by host Rod Serling. The Twilight Zone was a popular USAmerican science fiction television show that ran from 1959 to 1964 (and saw several attempts at revivals over the decades, as well as a movie). This particular episode is one of my favorites as it involves an apocalyptic scenario in which humanity is helpless. All our intellect, our wits, our technology, our weapons-all of it is useless in the face of a catastrophe of global proportions. The episode served as a reminder that for all our power and accomplishments, for all our money and wealth, we are fragile creatures.

 

This episode came to mind today as I was giving thought to the ongoing culture wars in society. Progressives have been fighting for decades (longer than that, really) for marginalized people to be treated with fairness and equity. They have fought to extend the rights enjoyed by the majority-white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied men-to everyone else. From the battle for women’s reproductive rights to the fight for LGBT equality to the ongoing crusade by the Black Lives Matter movement to dismantle systemic and structural racism, the culture wars have been fought on multiple fronts. And while some successes have been achieved (yay, LGB people can marry and oh look, some police departments are getting body cameras), there still continue to be setbacks (the reduction in abortion providers across the country and the lack of accountability of police officers around the nation). But not all such cultural battles occur on a national scale, nor do they all occur in meatspace. Some occur on a smaller, more private scale-the Internet. One such conflict-the push for greater diversity and inclusivity in the comic book industry (specifically at Marvel and DC)-has been brewing for a while now. Funny thing though, for all the pushback, it’s clear that just as Hollywood is making progressive strides, so too is the comic book industry. Of course, along with that progression comes the howling and screaming of those opposed to progress.

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Such fragile egos these fanboys have

Pop Culture Link Round-Up: Superhero Edition

Superheroes have been near and dear to me for most of my life. Growing up, the hero I most loved was Spider-Man. I used to run around the house, pretending I could stick to walls or shoot webs from my wrists. So much fun. Well except for the time I threw the rope from my bathrobe around a metal coat rack and thought I could swing from it. It fell. Hit my head. I was a young little one…maybe five or so. The rack looked similar to this:

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have the habit of removing the plastic coverings that fit over the ends of the hooks. So yeah, when it fell, I fell, and one of the hooks hit my head. I’m sure it’s just my brain filling in the details from my mother telling me about this, but I “remember” walking into the bathroom where my mom was doing something and she looked at me and freaked out. I had blood coming from my forehead. Parents out there can just imagine how they’d react if they saw blood dripping from the head of their child. Total [justified] freak-out mode. Turns out it wasn’t anything serious, thankfully, but boy did I scare my mom. As I got older, I branched out (though never away) from Spider-Man. I loved the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Alpha Flight, Justice League, Justice Society, Wonder Woman, the Authority, Flash, Thor, the Legion of Super-Heroes, every iteration of the Titans, Captain America, She-Hulk and so many more books. Even though I’m nearing 40, my love of superheroes has not changed. What has changed is the appreciation of superheroes in the world around me. No longer are comic books and superheroes treated solely as “kids’ things”. Today, superheroes are found all across the pop culture landscape, from movies to television to video games. They’ve even spread into non-conventional areas, and here are five examples:

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Pop Culture Link Round-Up: Superhero Edition

Marvel's all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity

I began reading comic books around the age of 7 or 8, and began to seriously collect them when I was old enough to get a job. Some of the earliest comics I had were Marvel’s Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was (and still is) the tagline. Captain America, Thor, Wasp, Hercules, Sub-Mariner, She-Hulk, Black Knight-they were awesome. But there was someone else I really liked reading about. Someone who I appreciated for different reasons-Monica Rambeau-Captain Marvel at the time. She was special to me because she was unique among the Avengers: she was black. Like me.

The second hero to bear the name Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau debuted in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.

Continue reading “Marvel's all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity”

Marvel's all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity

Marvel’s all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity

I began reading comic books around the age of 7 or 8, and began to seriously collect them when I was old enough to get a job. Some of the earliest comics I had were Marvel’s Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was (and still is) the tagline. Captain America, Thor, Wasp, Hercules, Sub-Mariner, She-Hulk, Black Knight-they were awesome. But there was someone else I really liked reading about. Someone who I appreciated for different reasons-Monica Rambeau-Captain Marvel at the time. She was special to me because she was unique among the Avengers: she was black. Like me.

The second hero to bear the name Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau debuted in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.

Continue reading “Marvel’s all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity”

Marvel’s all-new Giant-Man is another win for diversity