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New Escapist Column! On “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”, and Saying Goodbye to Old Friends…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the passing of Christopher Plummer recently, and with the film celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, I thought it might be worth taking a look at Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The Undiscovered Country was the last Star Trek film to focus on the entire cast of the original show. However, it is not an entirely celebratory farewell. Instead, it’s a movie that makes a valid and convincing argument for the need to move on, for characters like Kirk and Spock to get out of history’s way and to surrender the stage to Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s an introspective (and occasionally even acerbic) rejection of nostalgia that is particularly hard to imagine today, particularly in the era of films like Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.

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

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Agnes is More…

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. I’ll be joining the wonderful Jack Packard and the fantastic KC Nwosu to break down WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki as they come out.

This week, we take a look at the seventh episode of WandaVision, with a large focus on the reveal towards the end of the episode and how that changes the nature of the story being told, arguably transforming it into something a lot less interesting.

New Escapist Column! On the Multiverse as the Future of Franchising…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The past few months have seen a lot of attention directed at the multiverse, with a suggestion that both Warner Bros. and Disney would be embracing it as a storytelling model going forward.

This shift is interesting, given how much effort these companies have build into fashioning internally consistent shared universes, singular narratives unfolding across dozens of films building inexorably towards a climactic pay-off. However, this shift towards the multiverse feels like a logical response to any number of market forces: the shattering of the idea of the monoculture in the midst of the streaming wars, the pull of nostalgia, and the demands of the actors making these movies. It’s a new world. Actually, it’s several new worlds.

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

New Escapist Video! “Wanda-Full Tonight”…

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. I’ll be joining the wonderful Jack Packard and the fantastic KC Nwosu to break down WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki as they come out.

This week, we take a look at the fifth episode of WandaVision, including the tropes and conventions of eighties sitcoms, the Full House allusions, who the real bad guy is, and – of course – that universe-cracking closing cameo.

New Escapist Video! On Why Chris Evans Returning to the MCU Would Be a Bad Idea…

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 the Monday 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 channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, with rumours that Chris Evans might be returning to the role of Steve Rogers, I took a look at why this would be a bad thing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has the opportunity to push ahead and evolve in a way that the comics never have been.

New Escapist Column! On Power Without Responsibility in the MCU…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With WandaVision launching this weekend and with reports that Chris Evans would be returning to the role of Steve Rogers, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at Captain America: Civil War as the point at which the MCU embraced the idea of power without responsibility.

Superhero stories are often about power and responsibility. However, one of the most striking aspects of the MCU has been its recurring embrace of the idea that power should come without any responsibility. Civil War is supposed to be a story about consequences, but instead becomes a story about characters desperately evading consequences, and asking the audience to cheer for them as they do. There’s something hollow and empty in that, and it’s arguably a rot at the root of the MCU.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Star Wars” Continuity Power Games…

I published a new piece at The Escapist today. As ever, there are rumours in Star Wars fandom about the possibility that the sequel trilogy will be removed from canon.

As ever, these rumours are most likely nonsense designed to generate clicks in an economy that has monetised outrage clicks by stoking and feeding fan resentment and anger. However, they also reveal something very interesting about the nature of canon in modern fandom. The idea of “canon” has nothing to do with continuity. It is instead a way of asserting power and ownership over media, of asserting that a franchise “belongs” to one particular group and not for others.

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

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “An Ever-Escalating Series of Star Wars”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Elijah Beahm for the sixteenth episode. Obviously, the big news is the slate of announcements from Disney’s Investor Day, including plenty of Star Wars and Marvel announcements, more news about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and reports about Tom Cruise’s rant on the set of the new Mission: Impossible movie.

You can listen to the episode here, back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “The Mandalorian”, Continuity and Brand Synergy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. There’s been a lot of Star Wars continuity dropped into the second season of The Mandalorian, with Boba Fett returning to the show following his apparent death in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and the live action introduction of characters like Bo Katan and Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars.

This is interesting, in large part because the first season of The Mandalorian was comfortable aiming for a broader sort of Star Wars nostalgia, things that looked like existing elements of continuity, rather than things that were existing elements of Star Wars continuity. The second season is much more heavy of Star Wars cross-promotion, populated with references designed to push viewers towards supplementary material. This is a nice illustration of transmedia storytelling in the streaming age, where it isn’t enough to attract fans, services have to retain them.

Streaming services hold on to existing subscribers by adding value, and Disney appear to have figured out that continuity offers its own added value. In its second season, The Mandalorian increasingly feels like an advertisement for the other riches that the streaming service has to offer, and a promise that any subscriber who doesn’t cancel once the season is over will have a treasure trove of archival material to binge at their leisure.

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

New Escapist Column! On James Gunn’s Upcoming “The Suicide Squad”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier in the week. With DC’s Fandome event at the weekend, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of their upcoming projects: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

Gunn didn’t actually premiere too much material from The Suicide Squad, primarily unveiling the cast roster and screening some behind the scenes footage. However, the announcement was interesting, marking a clear delineation from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. In these brief snippets, Gunn suggests an understanding of what has historically made the Suicide Squad such a compelling concept: its status the island of misfit toys in larger DC continuity.

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