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New Escapist Video! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as a Response to “The Winter Soldier” and “Civil War”…

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 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, following the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seemed like a good time to take a look back on the series and in particular its relationship to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. In many ways, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a show that exists in conversation with the larger Captain America franchise.

New Escapist Column! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in Conversation with the MCU…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday evening. With the wrapping up of the first season of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seemed like a good time to take a look back at the show’s first season – and, in particular, how it positions itself within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is thirteen years old this May. It spans 24 films, a handful of television series and almost a dozen separate film franchises. That is a lot of baggage. Indeed, it seems like the MCU has reached a point where the baggage of its earlier installments exerts almost as much gravity as the source material itself. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feels like a prime example of this, with the series very much engaged in conversation with the films in the Captain America franchise.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Order 66” as the Unlikely Lynchpin of the “Star Wars” Universe…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier in the week. Given that The Bad Batch launched this week on Disney+, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the way in which it solidifies “Order 66” as an unlikely lynchpin of the larger Star Wars universe.

There are any number of big events in the Star Wars canon, many of which have been depicted on screen – the destruction of Alderaan, the Battle of Yavin, the Battle of Hoth, the Battle of Endor. However, it’s striking that the event that has played most frequently across a wide variety of Star Wars media is the implementation of “Order 66” from the end of the prequels. It speaks to both the power of the event itself, its versatility and scale, but also to how the prequels have been rehabilitated and integrated thoroughly into the canon.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Captain America 4″…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the announcement that Anthony Mackie would be reprising his role as Sam Wilson in Captain America 4, it seemed like a good opportunity to take stock of what is happening with Marvel’s streaming series.

Disney have long insisted that streaming represents the future of the company, investing heavily in bringing their existing brands to the medium. However, even with the boost that the pandemic has brought to streaming, there is a question to be asked about where the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lies. Are shows like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier paving the future of the MCU? Or are they just commercials for big-ticket feature films?

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

New Escapist Video! On “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” as the First Fan Service Blockbuster…

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 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, following the release of Mortal Kombat, we thought we’d give audiences what they really wanted. Yes, that’s right: a deep dive on Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

New Escapist Column! On Zack Snyder’s DCEU as a Joyride Through Comic Book History…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to dig into the movie’s portrayal of Superman.

One of the more interesting aspects of Snyder’s work on Man of Steel, Batman v.s Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the sense in which it offers a capsule account of a certain stretch of comic book history, effectively dramatising the characters’ journey from the “dark ‘n’ gritty” comics inspired by Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns to the more aggressively and pointedly reconstructionist work of Grant Morrison on stories like Justice League or Final Crisis.

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

New Escapist Column! On the Horror of Joss Whedon’s “Justice League”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League this week, it seemed like an appropriate opportunity to take a look at the original theatrical cut of Justice League, which remains one of the worst blockbusters of the past decade.

What makes the theatrical cut of Justice League such an insidious film isn’t just what it is, although it is terrible on its own terms. It’s what the film represents. It’s a very conscious and very deliberate erasure of a distinct vision of an expensive creative project, in the hope of serving reheated nostalgic leftovers that fans might gorge themselves upon. It’s pure, empty, vacuous content – a pale imitation of what other companies do better, without a single unique perspective of its own.

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

Non-Review Review: Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon offers a reminder of just how quietly and efficiently Disney have managed their animated properties.

For a while at the turn of the millennium, the company seemed to struggle to defines its place among younger and hungrier animation studios like Pixar or Dreamworks. The company responded with a push away from the princess-centric movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas and Mulan that had anchored their renaissance-era output, pivoting sharply: first to animated movies aimed at boys like Atlantis and Treasure Planet, and then to computer-animated adventures like Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt.

Raya hope?

However, towards the end of the decade, the company arguably found its feet again, with a wave of somewhat traditionalist stories. The Princess and the Frog is often treated as the end of an era of hand-drawn animation, but it also marked a rejuvenation of the classic “princess” movie. It was followed by Tangled, Frozen, Moana and Frozen II, all of which were computer-animated takes on a familiar Disney archetype.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a reminder of just how sturdy that old “princess” movie template is, demonstrating the hard work that the company has put in to keep its oldest archetype both resonant and recognisable.

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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.