Captain Marvel is already more valuable than Wonder Woman

The Captain Marvel teaser trailer came out the other day and I really liked it.

It looks like a good film.  It looks like a fun film.  I like it from the point of view of a film-goer, and I like it as a reader of comics.  I like how it looks, I like how it sounds, I like how amazing Samuel L. Jackson looks.  I like it from the point of view of a boy who has liked Carol Danvers since he was a teenager, and I like it from the point of view of an adult who has been thrilled to see Carol grow and evolve with the times – from a Ms. Marvel who wore a swimsuit to a Captain Marvel who got to share in the male privilege of being allowed to wear pants to super-hero-work.

sometimes we don’t need to respect the source material

I’m thrilled that Captain Marvel is coming to the screen and I’m thrilled that we are, that the world is, in a place where there’s genuine excitement to see Carol Danvers in a movie.

I think it’s amazing that we finally have a female icon on the screen who will be able to tell little girls that they can want to be Supermen too.  There’s so much value in showing that a Superman can be a woman without infantilizing her and without sexualizing her.

tee hee hee, I’m superGIRL because if I was superWOMAN, men wouldn’t buy my comicbook, tee hee hee

Like it or not, these big Hollywood tentpoles, these global phenomena that pull in a regular billion dollars like it’s little more than a default schematic, these big sweeping machine-made cornerstones of the cultural zeitgeist, these silly comic book movies, are currently the forum in which we are having big, important, conversations about our culture, ourselves, and our places in the world.

For better or for worse, a movie about a girl who shoots beams out of her hands to fight bad people who probably also shoot beams out of their hands to save people who don’t shoot beams out of their hands is making a cultural statement just by being about a girl.

This is a cultural statement being made about America, and broadly about the world, and about any other place that looks like America.

Among the statements I think are being made, and the conversation I want to have, is a statement about the framework of a female superhero relative to the male gaze.  And I want to have that conversation by talking about Wonder Woman.

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Why Black Panther Succeeds

or: Why Wonder Woman Fails

There’s a three-letter-word that can be used to summarise pretty accurately and succinctly the majority of the issues I have with Wonder Woman and, in my humble opinion, this same three-letter-word is also the single thing that separates Wonder Woman from being a good movie; albeit a flawed good movie, but a good movie nonetheless.

Thankfully, for my readers and for any hopes I have for my future career as a filmmaker, this article isn’t about that three-letter-word.

It’s actually about Black Panther.

But I can’t really talk about Black Panther without also talking about Wonder Woman because the thing I want to say about Black Panther is, for me, so inextricably connected to everything I’d been feeling about Wonder Woman that I actually had to sit down and watch Wonder Woman to make sure everything I had been feeling was justified.

and, for the record, it was

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Comicbooks and why i’m not sure i can be bothered anymore

So, obviously, the conceit of this article is going to end up being some wishy-washy incomplete notion that I might be at my fill of comics, because of reasons, and at the end of the article I’ll commit to neither continuing nor ending my support of the mainstays of the industry — thereby obviously and implicitly committing to my continued support and achieving nothing either personally or culturally at large.

I, therefore, acknowledge that this article is a wholesale waste of time– and so should be kept brief so to not leave any readers feeling as those they could have spent their time reading almost literally anything else.

Oh, but that might sound like I’m telling you not to read this– that’s not what I’m trying to do.  I’m trying to articulate why you should read this.  The headline makes it sound like the article is about me, which in some ways it most definitely is, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to read the article.

I want this to be about you.

I want you to read this and relate to my experience and understand my position and maybe, just maybe, you’ll also think about considering giving up on mainstream comics.

Because if enough of us think about it theoretically, then maybe some of us might act on it.  And if enough of us act on it, then, maybe, Marvel and DC might cut it with the bullshit.

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Is Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming?

About a year ago, there was this big rumour that the then-newly cast Zendaya was going to be Mary Jane Watson in the then-upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming.  As if by coincidence, nearly a year ago was the last time anyone wrote on this blog and we wrote about from where the racist outcries might be coming in a post about why and how Mary Jane Watson is a walking talking fetish.

The then-upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming is the now recently released film Spider-Man: Homecoming and now we finally know whether Zendaya was cast as Mary Jane Watson.


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on spider-man homecoming’s [potential] mary jane watson

or: the many amazing fantasies of spider-man

Before anything else is said, it is important for this essay to offer a clear preamble, so to avoid anything becoming misconstrued. So please:

  1. This essay is not aiming to apologise for, to condone, or to do anything other condemn the thick dribbling degenerate racism of the commentary against the rumours of Mary Jane Watson, a traditionally white character, being portrayed on-screen by a not-white actual person.
  2. This essay is going to suggest that there is a spectrum of vitriol involved, that while all this negative commentary may end in a racist position, it may not begin from a racist position.  It is hoped that this exploration  of the psychology of the ongoing engagement with the Spider-Man property will prove interesting and not destructive.
  3. This essay is not going to investigate what is and what is not racist.  That can prove reductive and, in the context of this conversation, damaging.  Indeed: beyond this preamble, the term will not be addressed further.
  4. To that point, the last mention of race will be here: Spider-Man operates traditionally as a white man’s fantasy.  There is a lot being done to open the property up to broader audiences – diversity in characters and audiences is ostensibly the major goal for this decade of comic books.  There is resistance to evolution, as there always, but ultimately this noise will fade into brooding silence until there’s nobody left to brood.
  5. Finally: this essay does not aim to make excuses for the outcry and outrage.  This essay aims to explore the narrative function of Mary Jane Watson, the interaction of her with the audience, and the ongoing truth that she is rarely seen as an actual character.  This is a discussion of power fantasies, fetishes, agency, and the ongoing combat between the evolution of comic book narratives and their fragmented audiences.

Now look at this picture:

strong female characters

Continue reading “on spider-man homecoming’s [potential] mary jane watson”

should superheroes kill?

or: a commentary on the philosophy of Piotr Rasputin

Given that Deadpool came out a fair little while ago now, I’m a little bit late to the party on this one.  soz lol.  But this piece was swimming around my head for a little while and I’ve been struggling to find the right framework for it.  Essentially the crux of this article is my inevitable conclusion that labelling Deadpool an anti-hero is a little bit shallow and the movie’s gratuitous and overbearing attempt at having Wade completely disown the hero moniker, while working really well for Wade as a character, comes across as a tone deaf conceit of the film as whole.

I wanted to frame that through discussion of Colossus.  Which makes sense, assuming you’ve seen the movie, because Colossus served three purposes throughout the whole film:

  1. Remind viewers that Deadpool is an X-Men character.
  2. Be strong and smack bad people.
  3. Attempt to reconfigure Wade’s moral compass through constant refrain: “Be an X-Men” “X-Men are good” “X-Men do not kill” “Wade you do not need to kill” et al.

So I was really going to get stuck into Piotr and totally break down his morals and philosophy and find that limit to it – because there has to be a limit.  That’s just superhero storytelling 101 really.  There’s a point where someone deserves to die; the point of difference is where these characters draw the line and when they choose to cross it.

handy tip: that previous sentence is essentially the point of this essay

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star wars is an okay film?

or how finn is totally non-functional as a concept

I want to be upfront and totally honest with you, giving you the opportunity to click away before reading through this essay to its conclusion.  This writing will, of course, contain spoilers for Episode VII and this is a big deal to most people (for reasons I barely understand) – so if you’ve not seen it yet, click away now for ye be fairly so warned.  Paramount to that, I feel, is the fact that a previous writing of mine apparently ruined (or, I guess and at the very least, gave cause to a re-evaluated opinion of) a film for at least one reader.  So, I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re currently very comfortable with the way you feel about Star Wars: The Force Awakens and you’re not particularly keen on having that challenged or otherwise reading any dissenting opinion on the matter thereof, well, close the tab and move along.

But, if you’re interested in the discussion, please read on.


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the long con (or: identifying Andrew Bolt as satire)

Okay so I don’t even know how to start writing this so I’m just going to post some choice quotes from an article written about former Prime Minister Tony Abbott posted on Andrew Bolt’s blog today.

In many ways he seemed too moral for the job

That’s a quote about a guy who wouldn’t let same sex peoples find legislative support for their relationship while the rest of the world moves forward on the very same issue.  That’s a quote about a guy who’s entire Prime Ministerial career was about refusing asylum and breaking international law in order to achieve it, while also dabbling in tax breaks for big business and cuts to pensions for old retired poor people and also medicare.

That’s a quote about a guy who winked when some lady phoned a radio station and mentioned she was a phone sex worker.

abbott wink_0
too moral for the job, folks

in the face of astonishing heckling and even vilification from our media class

This is my favourite sentence fragment of all time.  In context it’s talking about how The Great and Powerful One True Lord Tony Abbott saved the economy by cutting spending (untrue), saved the planet by abolishing a carbon tax (untrue), and single-handed murdered Vladamir Putin in a one-on-one bout of topless manly fisticuffs (untrue) — all while facing the terrible opposition of the NEWS MEDIA.

all of it.  the whole news media.  THE WHOLE NEWS MEDIA. or i dunno maybe just the abc?

I really enjoy that Mr. Bolt seems to pretend like he’s not a part of whatever exactly the media class is.  I also really enjoy that his audience totally falls for the trick and follows him into willful cognitive dissonance by the separation of one news media from the other news media as if editorial mandates are enough to stop all journalists from being basically a slightly different interpretation of the same old potato sack full of rotten lettuce. (except leigh sales she’s my spirit animal)

Anyway, I didn’t realise the rest of the article is behind a paywall AND FUCKED IF I’M PAYING TO READ ANDREW BOLT so let’s just move on to part two of my piece: the part where I rock your world. WITH TWO PICTURES.

First: a screen grab from an episode of Andrew Bolt’s show, The Bolt Report.

i feel like a jellybean

Continue reading “the long con (or: identifying Andrew Bolt as satire)”

ant-man’s stingers and the oncoming storm of cynicism

I’ve left this post on hold for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks because this post is going to be talking about post-credit scenes of the recent Ant-Man film and, for reasons that are still beyond my comprehension, people till let spoilers ruin their experience of a film.  So, to protect them, I’ve waited.  But, sometimes that isn’t enough, so I’m also not going to spoil anything until after the break and also going to spend a lotsa lotsa words meandering and padding this post out so the initial little preview bit on Facebook or wherever doesn’t include the spoilers because I’m just that great of a guy.  Beyond all of that, I’m also going to post a picture that has really nothing to do with the spoilers.

ant-man thinks i’m great

And now for the thing.

Continue reading “ant-man’s stingers and the oncoming storm of cynicism”

iceman comes out of the freezer

Yesterday, or this morning, or the day before or whatever it actually was because of timezones and because I’m late to this party, Iceman came out of the closet – or was dragged out of the closet kicking and screaming by a teenager with greater psychic powers than she has morality and ethics because nobody in an X-Men comic currently seems capable of actually educating anyone – in an issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ ALL-NEW X-Men that hasn’t even come out yet.

That last bit is really important.  Because it also means that nobody has actually read the book yet.  There’s a whole heap of conversation about the young Bobby Drake coming out as gay and it seems to be focussing on a number of things – notably it seems to be focussing on how great it is, or how terrible it is, or how disingenuous it is towards bisexuality.  The entirety of the conversation is framed around a few leaked pages in abstract to the rest of the issue and, for most people consuming and participating with the conversation, in abstract to the rest of the run and the whole X-Men comicbook universe of storytelling.  So it’s really hard to contribute to the conversation, or put much stock in the conversation, because the conversation is already totally moot and could very well be made irrelevant or redundant by the comic once it’s out totally.

So it’s important to mention that, while I’m very passionate about what part of the conversation I’m about to engage, I could be back here in a couple weeks totally back-peddling because the issue itself has rendered my abstract of the conversation sterile.  But, until then, I’m hoping I can contrive something with a potent offering to the discourse surrounding what should be a really important storytelling beat that I feel, very strongly, has been totally mishandled and misfired.   Continue reading “iceman comes out of the freezer”