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New Podcast! Craft Disservices – “Constantine”

I was delighted to join the wonderful Aaron Coker for an episode of his film podcast, Craft Disservices.

The premise of the podcast is built around the discussion of movies that were perhaps undervalued at the time, or that were greeted with critical hostility, and placing them in a broader context. Constantine is an interesting subject for such a reappraisal, and not just because there has recently been a sequel announced. Constantine represents one of the last of a certain breed of comic book adaptations, movies willing to play fast and loose with the lore in the process of translating them to screen. It is also a movie that exists among the last of a wave of truly diverse comic book adaptations before the superhero genre takes over.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

New Escapist Column! On “She-Hulk” and Unnecessary Origins…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of She-Hulk, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The first episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Like a lot of these streaming shows, She-Hulk suffers from an identity crisis. It is caught between the show that it clearly wants to be and its obligations to the familiar formula of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In particular, She-Hulk begins with an extended and unnecessary origin story, which the show itself doesn’t seem particularly enthused about. It’s strictly formula. Giving the first thirty-odd minutes of the show over to this generic and paint-by-numbers exercise undermines a lot of the show’s potential appeal.

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

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 Podcast! The Spookies Podcast – “The Dark Knight And The Joker “

I was thrilled to be invited to join the wonderful Michael and Stephanie Black for an episode of their new podcast, The Spookies Podcast.

It was a fun conversation, in which I got to chat a little bit about The Dark Knight, one of my favourite blockbusters ever. The nominal topic of the conversation was the Joker himself, but it was a broad and wide-ranging discussion that ended up touching on everything from modern fandom to Christopher Nolan to the state of modern auteurism. I hope you enjoy.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

271. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (-#86)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Graham Day and Niall Glynn, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Sidney J. Furie’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

It is a turbulant time in the life of Clark Kent. He finds himself considering selling the family farm. The Daily Planet has been brought out by an aggressive media conglomerate. A young boy has begun to question his faith in Superman, asking whether the Man of Steel can truly protect the world from the threat of nuclear annihilation. Tired of standing by as a passive observer, Superman decides to finally take action. However, an old enemy is lurking in the shadows, waiting to spring a trap of his own.

At time of recording, it was ranked 86th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Topps Comics #1 (“Not to Be Opened Until X-Mas” / “A Dismemberance of Things Past”)

I’ve been thrilled to guest on The X-Cast over the past few years, and have really enjoyed digging into The X-Files with the guests and hosts. However, this is particularly thrilling, because it’s particularly geeky. The wonderful Tony Black asked me join him for a discussion of the first two stories published by Topps comics, Not to Be Opened Until X-Mas and A Dismemberance of Things Past, written by Stefan Petrucha and illustrated by Charlie Adlard.

I have made no secret of my long-standing affection for these comics. I think that they are probably among the very best licensed comic books ever published. So it was a delight to be asked to talk about them, and to get to geek out with Tony about these stories. There’s a lot of fun stuff here, including context about the comics industry in the nineties and the question of what was possible in a monthly tie-in to a weekly television series.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Escapist Video! On the Myth of a Grim and Gritty Batman…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. 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.

With the release of the latest trailer for The Batman, it seemed like a good time to delve into a recurring debate among Batman fans, the argument over whether portrayals of the character are too dark and gritty. It’s a strange argument, given that the only solo Batman movie in the past decade has been The LEGO Batman Movie, so it’s worth unpacking.

New Escapist Video! “Eternals is Flawed and Messy, But Also Beautiful – Review”

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 Eternals, which will release in theatres next weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “What If…?” and “Mary Sues”…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. I’ve been covering What If…? for A Marvelous Escape, and it’s been a very fun experience. However, I have noticed that’s there’s a weirdly pervasive school of criticism that argues that the show has turned characters like Peggy Carter and T’Challa into “Mary Sues”, a criticism that has become increasingly common in discussions of modern franchise media.

Of course, it’s often very hard to come with a clear definition of what a “Mary Sue” is that doesn’t manage to encompass characters that the person using the description would never describe using such a term. It often seems like an “I know it when I see it” accusation, which can apply to Rey Skywalker but not Luke or T’Challa but not Steve Rogers. More to the point it demonstrates how blind some observers are to the appeal of these sorts of empowerment fantasies, and the double-standard that they appear to hold in an era where most franchise media is effectively fan fiction.

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

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “The Variant”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the second episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.