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New Escapist Video! On What the Cancellation of “Batgirl” Means for the Future of Streaming…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at the recent cancellation of Batgirl, following the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery Media. There has been a lot of noise and shouting about the decision from various angry corners of the internet, but what does it actually mean? And what does that cancellation mean in the context of the larger streaming landscape, which has become an incredibly volatile space within the last six months?

New Escapist Column! On “The Sandman” and the Art of Adaptation…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. It’s a big weekend for media releases, and one of those new releases was The Sandman from Netflix, an adaptation of the comic book series from Neil Gaiman.

The Sandman is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the source material, often lifting images and dialogue directly from the comic. However, it’s also an interesting illustration of the art of adaptation as it purtains to ten-episode seasons of streaming television shows. It’s interesting to see how the source material is tweaked and altered to make it fit that familiar template, and what the adaptational choices say about what the streaming service and the production studio want from the show.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On How “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a Film with Two Authors…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at a specific film: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s a Marvel Studios production from director Sam Raimi, and it manages to strike an interesting balance between those two creative poles. The film is very obviously of a piece with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, it is also undeniably a Sam Raimi movie. As a result, it is an interesting case study when it comes to talking about the idea of authorship within movies – in particular the idea that films can have multiple authors, and what makes Raimi so suited to working with Marvel Studios.

New Escapist Column! On “Prey” and “Predator” as Postcolonial Horrors…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s a big weekend for media releases, but the weekend’s best new release is Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey, a sequel to the science-fiction action classic Predator. So it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what makes Prey such a satisfying sequel.

The original Predator is a postcolonial horror movie. It is a film about a foreign intervention that goes horribly astray when an elite commando unit find themselves hunted while on the wrong side of the border in Central America. Predator evokes contemporary anxieties over Vietnam, but also about American foreign intervention more broadly. Prey is a worthy follow-up to this, expanding and deepening the theme by setting the story on the American frontier and focusing on an indigenous protagonist.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “Prey is Worthy of the Predator Brand”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Prey, which is streaming on Hulu from tomorrow.

New Escapist Video! On How Streaming and the Algorithm are Shaping Modern Franchises…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at a broader cultural trend: the way in which streaming services and the algorithms that drive them are reshaping modern franchise media in a way that makes them more aesthetically conservative. When the algorithm drives studios to push towards recycling familiar ideas and iconography, it discourages any attempt to do something new or interesting with these long-lasting properties. As a result, many of the larger franchises have become hollowed versions of their past glories.

New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Thor: Love and Thunder” and the Rise of the Anti-Legacyquel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of both Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love and Thunder recently, it seemed like an opportunity to unpack what might be described as “the rise of the anti-legacyquel.”

The term “legacyquel” emerged in the middle of the last decade to describe a new kind of franchise film, one that allowed an aging cast to gracefully hand over the series to a younger generation. For a few years, it seemed like this might offer a sustainable model for Hollywood’s future. However, recent years have seen a very firm rejection of this approach, with Maverick and Love and Thunder serving as two very recent and very high-profile examples of stories about an older generation seemingly welcoming a new generation of heroes, only to take back control at the climax of the story.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On The Rise of “the Fakeout Death”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist during the week. With the most recent seasons of both Stranger Things and Obi-Wan Kenobi playing the same familiar trick, it seemed like a good time to talk about one of my bugbears in modern pop culture.

In recent years, it has become customary for piece of popular culture to indulge in a phenomenon best summarized as “the fakeout death”: a beloved character dies, the audience feels sad, and then they are magically restored and resurrected. It has become ubiquitous in the past five or so years: Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett, even the recent Scream movies. Pop culture feels incredibly reluctant to kill off any characters with any popularity, and the result is part of the reason so many of these franchises are stagnating.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “Thor: Love and Thunder is a Fun but Ungodly Mess”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of Thor: Love and Thunder, which is in theatres this weekend.

New Escapist Column! On Thor as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s One True Superhero…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Thor: Love and Thunder, it seemed like as good an excuse as any to take a look back at the character of Thor within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what makes him unique within the shared universe.

Interestingly, Thor is perhaps the only major character within the shared universe who feels like an old-fashioned superhero rather than a product of the military industrial complex. This is particularly apparent within Kenneth Branagh’s Thor and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, both of which are essentially stories about Thor being exiled from or rejecting the structures of Asgardian society. The result of all this is interesting. In a universe where so many heroes are defined by their relationship to the armed forces, Thor actually feels like a superhero.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.